“Down in the valley, when waters rise, I am still believing hope is alive. All through the struggle, and darkest day, I will remember the empty grave.”
(“Remember” by Passion)
On June 26th, 2016, the Nigerian army was proud to declare that approximately 5,000 men, women, and children, who had previously been held in Boko Haram captivity have been rescued by the Nigerian military.
In an operation they call “Lafiye Dole,” 15 towns and villages were raided by the Nigerian military, killing 10 militants, and one civilian.
In just a couple of days, 5,000 people have been released, from brutal bondage– in a victory that could have only been won by the Hand and Favor of God.
The Nigerian military recognizes this. On July 6th, 2016, while celebrating “Army Day,” Army chief, Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, proclaimed that “God has given Nigeria victory over Boko Haram” (source). During a Christian, inter-denominational church service held for the event, the Army chief claimed that another, muslim service was had– both events purposing to “acknowledge the supremacy of God,” and to celebrate that “Victory comes from God” (source).
While this sentiment is true– in that God, YHWH, does reign supreme, and does give victory to whomever He chooses– it is important to ask which God gives such victory.
With the term “God” being so generic, it can be easy to see, and believe, that all references to “God” speak of the same God, no matter the faith or religion. But this is simply not true. The First of the Ten Commandments says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Deteronomy 5:6-7, NIV). This is because, in all reality, there is no other God but the LORD, YHWH; all other gods are completely dead, and completely worthless.
In the Old Testament, there were many foreign, false “gods” that were completely futile; and while many people don’t worship physical idols, today, the same idea is true: YHWH is the One, True, Triune, Living God– “apart from me [the LORD] there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11).
It is of incredible importance to understand that God is triune– three in one– when asking who gives victory. Being the One, True, Triune God, YHWH is known as three separate, completely equal, co-eternal (existing eternally, together) Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As this article explains, these three Persons are distinct “centers of self-consciousness,” yet are one Being: YHWH (also written Yahweh). As revealed all throughout scripture, God the Son is Jesus Christ, who came as the Maschiach (Hebrew for Messiah), to be the Ultimate Sacrifice for all of mankind’s sin, as emphatically stated in Romans 8:3. Jesus is YHWH, the One and Only True God– there is no other God besides Him (John 14:6; John 10:30).
On the other hand, all other “gods” are not gods at all. Jesus said, in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Honestly, all other belief systems– including the main one that fuels Boko Haram’s fire, islam– are false, workings of the enemy to distract one from Christ. Used to “steal, kill, and destroy,” just as stated in John 10:10, all other gods, such as allah, parade as the Truth, but really rob a person of Freedom, Joy, and most crucially, the eternal Salvation of having a relationship with Jesus.
It is the Salvation, won by what Jesus did on the cross, that truly sets men free. This freedom was not cheap; rather, it cost Christ everything. As Isaiah 53 so famously states,
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). Jesus Christ bore our sin, and our shame, on that cross. Bloodied, bruised, and buried, He was punished, so that we might live free: spiritually, in the truest way possible.
But He did not remain that way. On the third day, Christ rose from the dead, declaring Victory over death itself (1 Corinthians 15:4; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57)!
“…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2). If Christ has set us free, in the clearest and best way, possible, there is absolutely nothing stopping Him from setting us free in every other way. Whether physically, spiritually, or mentally, Jesus can give us Victory over whatever enemy we are facing. Many people are either extremely skeptical about this, or they believe that this freeing, from bondage, only happens in a certain manner. Neither extreme is infallible: While there is power, in the Name of Jesus, to break every chain, Christ can employ whatever means He desires to break those chains.
Whether through miracle, men, or medicine, it is the Name and Sacrifice of Jesus, that gives victory. As Romans 8 celebrates, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.“
Army Chief Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor, you’re right: God has given us the victory, in Jesus Christ, both now, and– for those who place their trust in His Victory– forevermore. May we give Him, and Him alone, the glory.
***This blog post is dedicated to Laura Chord,
a beautiful young woman with a passion for Christ, who was– and is– a testament and role model to countless others, of victorious living, in Jesus.
On May 3rd, 2016, this amazing young woman suddenly left this world, and passed into the Presence of the King of her Heart, finishing her race victoriously.
Please pray for her family, best friend, and loved ones, as they continue to grieve the loss of this “star in the dark world” (Philippians 2:15). Thank you. ***
Do you know Jesus?
Jesus once said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40, NIV).
For one reason or another, many people have rejected Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Here is a personal question, for you, the reader: Have you come to Christ to have the “abundant life” He gives, as John 10:10 states?
If you have not, why? Is it for lack of knowledge about Him, or that you don’t feel you need Him?
Learn more about Jesus– and why He came to die, in the first place– here.
Please pray for…
– The families, and loved ones, of the remaining 218 young women, in Boko Haram captivity. Please pray that they would find their victory, and hope, in Christ.
– The families of the victims of Boko Haram.
– The men, women, and children, who have been newly freed from Boko Haram: for their spiritual freedom in Christ, and for their mental and emotional freedom, from suffering such trauma.
– The protection, and continued favor, of Nigeria’s military, as they continue to rout out Boko Haram.
– That Christ would redeem all things in this terrible insurgency, and Christ would use this horrible tragedy to bring others to Him.
– For the continued Strength, Comfort, and Peace of those who are grieving Laura.
No matter the trial, or darkest day, there is Victory found in no other than Jesus Christ!
I praise Jesus, and thank you for your continued prayers! 🙂