Remembering Tet – January 13, 2019
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
In January of 1968, more than a quarter million North Vietnamese soldiers and 100,000 Viet Cong irregulars launched a massive attack on South Vietnam.
It was a sneak attack that came under the deception of a truce of peace during the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year. Hanoi expected it would trigger a popular uprising leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. It did not.
After the initial shock, and the capture of a number of cities, the attack was beaten back. It became a major military defeat for North Vietnam.
But that’s not what many Americans believed. In the minds of some, including influential newscaster Walter Cronkite, this was proof that America was losing the war.
In the aftermath, many a person has asked, “Why was the report of an American victory not believed?
Perhaps it is because the typical human is inclined to believe what he wants to believe—regardless of the facts.
The significance of the Tet Offensive and America’s role in that war continues to be debated. But the refusal to accept an accurate report because of a bias goes back far before that attack.
The prophet Isaiah addressed that same question in 700 B.C. Saint John repeated it when he wrote about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (John 12:38). And Saint Paul repeated it again when he wrote to the Christians in Rome (Romans 10:16).
The Christian Church of today raises the same question: “Who has believed our message?”
Isaiah had told the people of Israel that the coming Messiah would be accepted as King by Gentile nations:
“The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:10).
“Just as there were many who were appalled at him…so he will sprinkle many nations and kings will shut their mouths because of him (Isaiah 52:14,15).
There are the facts! History has confirmed them. We are living proof. Most of the people who accept the Messiah as their Lord, Savior, and King are Gentiles—not the physical descendants of Abraham or the people to whom God first revealed this message.
Sadly, a bias still appears in our day when the glory of the Messiah and his victory over sin, death and the devil is announced.
Once again, “Who believes our message?”
We do. To Isaiah’s question, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” we answer, “To us!” “To me!”
By the work of the Holy Spirit we have seen the glory of Jesus, the Messiah. We have witnessed his power through his Word. With our own eyes we have seen people of all races come to love him as their Savior.
To that question of Isaiah, “Who believes our message?” we joyfully and gratefully answer: “By the grace of God—I do!”
Prayer: Jesus, King of glory, and only Savior of mankind, it is purely by your power and mercy that we are not among the crowds that do not believe the report of the victory over sin and death that you won for us. Keep us safely within your grasp so that the sinful world, our sinful flesh, and princes of hell do not mislead us into unbelief. Help us point you out to the rest of the world with the words of the prophet: “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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