[The following is a reflection by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, though I forget where I originally found it. I saved it for future reference (and edification), and it seems to have its application in the present time—and probably at all times!]
It happened one day in Möttlingen, where my father stood in a fierce struggle with spiritual darkness, that he was walking in the countryside with several others from his congregation. He was so weighed down and agitated by the spiritual battle that his heart was ready to burst. Their path lay through a wood and across a large clearing. There they paused and my father said, “Let us sing a song I have written. It will encourage us.” He then recited to them the verse, “Jesus is the victorious King.”
Jesus is the victorious King
Who o’er all his foes has conquered;
Jesus, soon the world will fall
At his feet, by love o’erpowered;
Jesus leads us with his might
From the darkness to radiant light.
The voices of the people rang out heartily. But as they were singing they could barely believe their ears—they noticed that they were not singing alone but that an invisible chorus grew louder and louder around them. It was as though an unseen host of angels was surrounding them and singing together with them. Amazed and elated, they hurried home, where yet another wonderful thing happened. As my father entered the house of Gottlieben Dittus, who had been under demonic oppression and who had been so much a part of my father’s fight against darkness, she sang him the same song. It was as if the invisible singers had gone ahead of them to bring the verse to her.
This verse has become my battle cry and song of victory. True, the battles of that time have quieted down, but they have never ceased. Each year there are new battles, but Jesus continues to be felt daily, not only in our hearts, but also outwardly.
We can easily lose sight of this, the way things are going in the world. What we see today is not God’s salvation but mass corruption. Things have become so twisted that it is hard to even mention the gospel. The more time goes by, the more the powers of sin and unbelief, of death and hell, ensnare the world. All the more must we be convinced that God really has the world’s salvation in mind. And all the more must we gather courage to oppose the devils of this age and deny them their prey. For it is not God’s intention that anyone or any part of his creation should perish (2 Peter 3:9). The final generation will not be one of doom, but will consist of a people who shall be a blessing to the earth—a people who possess the Promise in joy and hope and are a light to the nations.
Even if our age has become riddled with evil, even if death runs rampant on the earth, we will not accept these as final facts. We must not sleepily say, “It is the Lord’s will. What will be, will be.” No, we must resist and, like Moses, throw ourselves into the breach. Just as Moses strove with compassion, patience, and faithfulness for the people of Israel, rebellious as they were, so we, with the same courage, and certainly also with the same repentance, must proclaim that light has broken into the darkness. Salvation and healing are the will of God. To the devil and to all the powers of hell, which accusingly proclaim the hopelessness of our situation, we will cry out, “You will not win! We know this because we know Jesus, who is victorious over every devil.”
The fact that Jesus became one of us, in flesh and blood, means that he identifies himself with all that belongs to us as human beings, even our darkest night (Hebrews 2:18). May this enter our consciousness with full impact. Let us not be led astray, especially in times of corruption when sin appears to have the upper hand and worldly seductions are so great… Although darkness reigns everywhere, it does so most especially within us. Therefore, let us each be on our guard. For before we realize it, we can become enslaved to corruption; even our most noble works can become tainted. If we are not careful we can become like the mute who could no longer speak the things of God (Luke 11:14). Perhaps this is why we so seldom see people joyfully, vigorously, happily looking up to God. We’ve become mute.
Though people talk plenty about various kinds of weaponry and other instruments of power, who speaks of God’s will? Instead we hear lies and words of ill will. “We want it this way,” says one, and “We will do it that way,” say another. But who cries out, “We want God’s will!”? Do any of us truly want Christ to conquer—to come and make his kingdom great among us? Is he not the Lord? Or do we think we can save ourselves?
Jesus alone shows us the way out of darkness. He is God’s power that leads to salvation (Romans 1:16). He reconciles all that is broken and not right. So we need never lose courage, even when the world is so terribly torn apart, or when we do not foresee a quick redemption from our own sins. We must not lose heart because of God’s delay. God has sealed the world with the name of Jesus. If this were not the case we would have all perished in our need long ago.
Our battle cry is: “Jesus is the victor.” This cry must be heard again and again, especially in our day. For Jesus was given authority over dark forces while on earth and he continues to exercise that authority in the here and now (Colossians 2:9). Our attitude should be: “Just wait until you have been wrested from the clutches of darkness and your eyes are opened—then you will believe!” When we have this attitude we will be the first fruits, light and salt, pioneers for the others.
We cannot see into the darkness—not like Jesus can—but we can perceive its influence everywhere and how it imposes itself through human corruption and perversion. Whenever war breaks out, for instance, the power of darkness dominates. Who is to blame? It is the working of dark powers that get personalized in human history. We are captives, Paul says, and stand under the dominion of darkness. And yet it is out of this dominion we are to be liberated. When Jesus said, “If I cast out the devil through the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Luke 11:20), this remains valid for today, not only when he lived bodily on this earth, but for us as well. Through the finger of God he wants to remove the darkness of our stubborn wills. When Jesus healed on earth he conquered the darkness. But when the hearts of the healed were open and believed, then a light from God broke in.
Perhaps it is good that darkness shows its ugly face from time to time, as it did at Jesus’ death. Yet Jesus remained steadfast. And herein lies our confidence. Right in the midst of the most terrible trials and fear and distress, Christ carries on his work and helps us so that we need not be mutes any longer. Light is possible for every pit of despair… This is the light of the gospel and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5).