Summary: The enemies of God's people are entrenched oppression and their own loser's heart, but God is a God of victory, who calls us to participate in His victory.
I like winning. I do not like to lose. If I am going to compete, I want to be the winner. Number two is not good enough. Silver medals are not good enough. Almost is not good enough. I like winning. I do not like to lose.
Grantland Rice may be more deeply Christian than I, as he wrote, “When that one great scorer comes to write against your name, it matters not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game.” Mr. Rice, I’m sorry, but I don’t feel that way. I want to win. I do not like to lose. My mentor is the legendary Vince Lombardi, who blurted out, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing!” Amen to that!
I am so addicted to winning that when my children were little, and my daughter would get upset when she was losing some simple family game, I would ignore my wife’s hint that we should throw the game. Throw the game? Give it away? I don’t care if she is only four years old, I want to win. When our teenage nephew visits with us, he always asks to play caroms with Uncle Joe. And I always happily oblige. I love playing caroms with Michael. Do you know why? Because I have a very mean caroms shot, and … and … this part is important … and Michael doesn’t seem to mind losing. Uncle Joe wants to win. Uncle Joe needs to win. I like winning. I’ve tried losing. And I don’t like it. I want to win.
And who doesn’t? Who doesn’t thrill to the ecstasy of victory?! All of us do. All of us want to be on the winning side. And if life is aptly described as a battlefield, we know that it’s more than just wanting to be winners. We need to be winners. The stakes are high, and we need to be winners. To lose in the battle of life is unthinkable. To lose our souls, our identities, our hearts – that’s too much. We can’t do that. We hunger and thirst for victorious lives. If there’s any one theme that I hear in the people that I counsel with, week after week, it is that they do not want to be defeated. They do not want the things they have worked for to be lost. They do not want their families, their achievements, their dreams to be crushed and forgotten. All of us want to be victorious.
Sunday by Sunday over the last several weeks we have been singing a line that holds out such promise. In our theme hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up, for Jesus”, we have sung, “this day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.” And I have found myself feeling motivated, pumped up, by that line – “this day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.” And the more we have sung it, the more I have wanted victory. The more the song has promised that victory is coming, after the battle, the more I have thirsted after victory. I have wanted to see victory, spiritual victory, in you, in the church, in my life.
Men and women, I believe that the day of victory is here. I believe that spiritual victory is upon us. Not tomorrow, not next month, not pie-in-the-sky, by-and-by, when-you-die, but now. Victory. “This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.”? Oh, I think it’s better than that. I feel it: “This day the victor’s song.” This day is God’s day. This day. And I feel ready to sing the victor’s song.
Victory? Now? Let’s look at the evidence. Go with me in your imaginations, back to banks of the Reed Sea. Egypt lies behind and Sinai lies ahead. Pharaoh and his army lie mired in the mud, and the wide open spaces lie ahead. Years, generations, of servitude under oppression lie far behind, and the sweet fresh air of freedom lies ahead. It’s a great moment of victory for Israel and for Moses. It’s a great victory for God. So much work, so much prayer, so much struggle, so much effort, but it’s finally happened. And God’s people are free. They have won. They are victors and they sing! “This day the victor’s song”.
One thing that made that victory so sweet was that it was a victory over long-entrenched, well-established evil. Egypt was the superpower of its day. No one could defeat Egypt. Pharaoh on his throne was supreme. His authority extended over every living thing from the upper cataracts of the Nile to the sands of the Arabian desert. Egypt’s power was well established. Nobody dared challenge the system. It was well established, entrenched.
But that system was defeated! Entrenched oppression was overthrown! What everyone said could not be done was done! And Israel saw that a great work had been done. Whose work? Whose work was it? Israel’s work? Moses’ work? No. The Lord’s work. Listen to the text: