War Sermon Illustrations

War Sermon Illustrations

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In the midst of the darkness and misery and sin and horror of world conflict, nevertheless something there is stirring and uplifting about the fact that so many splendid young men rise up to say, "Here am I; send me" (Isa. 6:8). That, indeed, is their splendor and glory. Over the gate of the Soldier's Field at Harvard University—the athletic stadium dedicated by Henry Lee Higginson to Charles Russell Lowell, James Lowell, and Robert Gould Shaw, "friends, comrades, kinsmen who died for their country"—are cut these lines by Emerson:

Though love repine, and reason chafe,
There came a voice without reply, "
'Tis man's perdition to be safe,
When for the truth he ought to die."

The two most famous legions in the Roman army were the Tenth Legion and the Thundering Legion. The Tenth Legion was composed of Caesar's veteran shock troops. In every great emergency it was upon that legion that he called, and it never failed him. The Thundering Legion was the name given to the Militine Legion in the days of the philosopher emperor—and yet one of the worst persecutors of the Church—Marcus Aurelius.

Tertullian tells us how the legion won that name, the "Thundering Legion." In A.D. 176 the army of the emperor was engaged in a campaign against the Germans. In their march the Romam found themselves encircled by precipitous mountains which were occupied by their savage enemies. In addition to the danger the army was tormented by thirst because of the drought. It was then that the commander of the Praetorian Guard informed the emperor that the Militine Legion was made up of Christians, and that they believed in the power of prayer.

"Let them pray, then," said the emperor. The soldiers of the Legion then bowed on the ground and earnestly besought God in the name of Christ to deliver the Roman army. They had scarcely risen from their knees when the great thunderstorm arose, accompaniec by hail. The storm drove the barbarians out of their strongholds; and, descending from the mountains, they entreated the Romans for mercy. His army delivered from death at the hands of the barbarians, and delivered from death by the drought, the emperor decreed that this legion should be thereafter called the "Thundering Legion." He also abated somewhat his persecution of the Christians.

At the Battle of Shiloh, where Johnston tried to push Grant into the Tennessee River, there was nothing but victory and enthusiasm for the Confederates on the first day. Yet this was Henry M. Stanley's arraignment of war:

"It was the first Field of Glory I had seen in my May of life, and the first time that Glory sicked me with its repulsive aspect and made me suspect it was all a glittering lie. My thoughts reverted to the time when these festering bodies were idolized objects of their mothers' passionate love, their fathers standing by, half-fearing to touch the fragile little things, and the wings of civil law outspread to protect parents and children in their family loves, their coming and going followed with pride and praise, and the blessing of the Almighty overshadowing all.

"Then, as they were nearing manhood, through some strange warp of Society, men in authority summoned them from school and shop, field and farms, to meet in the weeds in a Sunday morning for mutual butchery with the deadliest instruments ever invented, Civil Law, Religion, Morality complaisantly standing aside while 90,000 young men who had been preached and moralized to for years were let loose to engage in the carnival of slaughter."

A man was once asked, "Is it true that all the peoples of the earth could get into Texas?" "Yes," he said, "it is true—provided they went in as friends."

On the cottage at Rijnsburg where the philosopher Spinoza lodged from 1660 to 1670 is this inscription:

Alas, if all men were but wise,
And would be good as well,
The earth would be a Paradise,
Where now 'tis mostly Hell.

"Whence Come Wars"

There is something pathetic in the way humanity raises its wounded head after each war with a new determination to stop all war. Man repeats his age-old mistake of building without God. But there has been of late rather a widespread recognition that war is more than a material problem. Two outstanding military leaders have expressed this thought, as reported by Time (Sept. 10). Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur
Harris said: "If you couple the atomic bomb with the projected missile you have something with possibilities that hardly bear contemplation. . . . The whole world is now in the range of this weapon. . . .War will go on until there is a change in the human heart—and I see no signs of that." At the Japanese surrender General MacArthur said: "Military alliance, balances of power, League of Nations all in turn failed. ... We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advance in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past, two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh." Sir Arthur Harris has got to the root of the trouble ("the human heart") and General MacArthur goes a step farther by pointing out that "the problem . . . involves a spiritual recrudescence." These statements approach two basic truths of Scripture, that the human heart is desperately wicked, and that man must be born again, and General MacArthur has indicated in a number of public utterances that he knows and believes the Bible. Scripture plainly teaches that the whole world will never be converted, and that wars will not cease until the return of Christ. But we may still hope and pray that men like Harris and MacArthur, and other leaders, may go still farther and recognize that even the human heart can be changed by the Gospel, which "is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth."—Sunday School Times.

The Lord, a Man of War

Question: Is there a single precept or example in the New Testament justifying the use of carnal weapons for any cause?

Answer: Why restrict your question to the New Testament? Is not the God of the Old Testament the same as the God of the New Testament? Moses said of Him, "The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name" (Exod. 15:3). The record goes on to relate that He destroyed the hosts of Pharaoh in the Red Sea. There are righteous wars, such as wars waged in defense of one's country, or in defense of our civil and religious liberties, all of which necessitate the use of carnal weapons. Usually such wars are not wars of aggression, waged for the enlargement of territory. Again, righteous wars have been fought at the direct command of God for the punishment of national sins. For example, men, women, and children were ordered by God to be destroyed by the Israelites (Deut. 2:34). Concerning the New Testament teaching, has the questioner never read the book of Revelation? Of the rider upon the white horse, called faithful and true, that "in righteousness he doth judge and make war" (Rev. 19:11) ? There are armies even in heaven (v. 14), and some day they will be victorious upon the earth (vv. 19, 20). We deplore wars, but sometimes they are righteous and necessary.—Courtesy Moody Monthly.

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