Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The War is Over, But it is Not Over

     On April 9th, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant.  The war was over, but it was not over.  It was not until April 12th, that The Army of the Tennessee under Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his 90,000 men.  The war was over, but it was not over.  It took another several days before Rebel Calvary Commander Nathan Bedford Forrest decided it was hopeless to continue fighting, and he too surrendered his command.  The war was over, but it was not over.  Near Brownsville, Texas, on May 12th a small force of 350 Rebels defeated 800 Union troops for what became the last shots of the Civil War. The war was over, but it was not over.  

In the Indian Territory, Native American General Stand Watie kept his troops in the field ready to fight, until he finally acknowledged defeat, and surrendered his unit of the Confederate Cherokee on June 23rd. The war was over, but it was not over.  The CSS Shenandoah, a Confederate raider was still terrorizing Union shipping up until August 1865, until it finally received definitive word of the South's surrender. The war was over, but it was not over.

The shooting on the battlefields of the Civil War may have ended, but the fight to unite and heal a fragmented Nation was far from over.  Bitter hatred between the peoples of the North and South still remained.  Anger over the destroyed towns and ruined economy of the Southern states would not be quickly forgiven.  The loss of friends and family members, that now filled to overflowing our Nation's cemeteries remained a constant gnawing bitter reminder.  The deep rooted prejudice of whites toward the newly freed slaves did not end when the last shots were fired, or with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment.   Bitterness, prejudice, selfishness, unforgiveness, and resistance to change, these still  stubbornly remained on the fields of America's landscape.  The Civil War of cannon fire and musket blast was over, yet man's warring hearts do not so easily surrender.

The last words Christ breathed out on the Cross were these, "It is Finished."  John 19:30  What was He saying?  What did He mean?  Clearly, Jesus was saying, the battle had been won.  The payment for the sin of the World had been paid.  John the Baptist said of Jesus, "Behold, the Lamb of God, that takes away, the sin of the World."  John 1:29   The Scriptures go on to say, Jesus completely defeated the devil and death by His sacrifice on the Cross.  "He cancelled the certificate of debt against us, having taken it away, and nailed it to the Cross.  He disarmed principalities and powers. God made a public display of them, triumphing over them through Jesus."  Colossians 2:14,15. Paul further pressed home this point in the book of Romans,  "We are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus."  Romans 8:37

The war is over, but it is not over.  The Christian life in many ways mirrors those years that followed the end of the Civil War.  The armies of the Confederate states had been defeated, the South had been beaten, yet open resistance and deadly battles still continued.  Likewise, the devil has been defeated, but even so, he continues to terrorize and attempts to thwart the work of God.   Even so, The Church will keep battling his forces until the King returns.  BUT WE HAVE ALREADY WON!   Let us be very clear on this next fact, the payment for our sins has been paid.  Paid in full. However, there are many people, still out in the fields, who have not yet heard that Christ has won a victory for them.  They have not yet received the Good News.  The war against sin, death, and the devil has been won.  We are the couriers to take that message.
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us to triumph in Christ."  2 Corinthians 2:14

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