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Deuteronomy 20:2-4
“And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you …’”

In Book 3 of his historiographical masterwork called ‘Histories,’ Polybius recounts with aplomb the events of The Second Punic War between the fearsome Carthaginian leader, Hannibal, and Rome. I still remember reading the account while sitting near a Roman hill fort in South Wales, surrounded by sheep as far as the eye could see, and being riveted by Hannibal’s death-defying advance across the French Alps with soldiers, horses, and even elephants. The whole script read like a novel. Hannibal whipped through Roman garrisons like wildfire through a prairie, led his army through a frigid swamp, lost an eye and half his men to infections, but rode out from the marsh on the back of his last surviving elephant to defeat the horror-stricken Roman garrisons who stood between him and the gates of Rome. You can imagine the chaos that ensued within the walls when Roman citizens looked out and saw Hannibal’s campfires only 13 miles away. They went stark raving mad, rioted in the streets, rent their garments, awaited what seemed a certain calamity, until a statesman named Gaius Laelius stepped out to quell their nerves with a motivational speech as good as any. The speech was Shakespearian, but it didn’t win Rome the battle. It couldn’t. Battles like these always come down to swords rather than words.

Not our battle, friend! Jesus Christ doesn’t speak to us like Gaius Laelius. When He stands between our faith and those enemy fires, between heaven’s light and hell’s legions, between eternal peace and maddening emotions, He has the wounds of victory to match the words. Hear Him whisper even now over your present din of despair, “Take heart, I have overcome the world!” “My peace I leave with you!” “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it!”, and let the thrill of the truth of your everlasting victory in Him calm your spirit in the presence of your enemies.