Our God is Marching On

This was the verse that came to me upon hearing the news of the shootings in Connecticut: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children: she refused to be comforted, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:18). 

I recently read this verse in preparation for my Bible study, where I am teaching 4th and 5th grade students. In fact, I made the conscious decision to avoid this passage which records King Herod’s order to slaughter the baby boys in Bethlehem. I chose to focus on the Magi and the gifts they brought to Jesus instead. This seemed more appropriate for my audience. Don’t we all sometimes avoid the negatives in favor of the positive and the pleasant? It seemed easier than trying to explain the dynamics of good and evil to children. How ironic to be confronted with a modern massacre that echoes back to the Bethlehem tragedy on the eve of trying to protect the children from thinking on such atrocities. It is a startling, gruesome fact to be reminded that our children are on the frontlines of a war. Every parent defends against such brutal realities, just as the teachers instinctively shielded the children with their own bodies.

Connecticut shatters our illusions about the world. Evil is a very real present reality. Jesus is a threat to evil. He was at His birth, and He continues to be now as His Kingdom advances. Jesus reigns forever in righteousness, justice, and peace. Evil continues to be evil, refusing to concede in defeat. But, alas, the time is near. Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book…Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy…Behold, I am coming soon bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22: 7, 11-13).

The book of Revelation calls for “patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints”. We are His holy priesthood, a royal nation, a people belonging to God. We have been called out of darkness into light.

He know that the Messiah has come

He is the Lamb of God sacrificed for us on the Cross

He has risen and ascended to heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God

We know He will come again to judge the living and the dead

And His Kingdom will have no end.

 “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’

I’ve rethought my position on teaching my Bible Study since last Friday. Jesus calls His people to be the light and hope in this tragic hour of weeping. He says, “I am sending you out…do not be afraid…what I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your war, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:16, 26-28). I will not shrink from the brutal reality of evil by pretending it does not exist. I will not curtail the cruelty and violence in Bethlehem by following the star with the Magi. Lives were lost in Bethlehem and Connecticut. These precious, innocent lives matter to God. They did not die in vain. We honor them by remembering the eternally significant place they have in the Kingdom of God.

Today, we mourn with those who mourn. We are patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. We say with confidence, “Come, Lord Jesus”. We hold unswervingly to the hope we have in Him. We are strong and courageous, for we know Our God is with us. We stand in His Mighty Power and wield the Word of Truth. We are the city on the hill that cannot be hidden. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). We are the beautiful feet bringing good news of the Kingdom of God. We look forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. We will enter Zion with singing and everlasting joy will be our crown.

 He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:

Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!

Our God is marching on.

 

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Our God is marching on.

 

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

While God is marching on.

 

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Our God is marching on.

  (The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Ward Howe 1856)