In 1836, Ralph Waldo Emerson was asked to write a poem to dedicate a monument in Concord, Massachusetts to commemorate the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War. The first stanza of that poem, which would eventually be known as “Concord Hymn” says…
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.
That “shot” would indeed change the world, but what is most interesting about the first shot of the American Revolution is that no one is completely sure who fired it. Some eyewitnesses stated that a British commander fired his pistol into the air. Others said that a minuteman’s musket misfired, causing the powder to ignite without firing a musket ball. Still others said that the first shot was fired from an unknown shooter, hiding off to the flank. Never to diminish the courage of the poorly outfitted colonial troops, we will actually never know who fired the “shot heard round the world.”
Though Emerson’s phrase has been used many times over the years. Some use it to refer to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 that began World War I. Others have used the term to refer to various sporting accomplishments in everything from professional golf to Major League Baseball. In American history, it will always refer to the mysterious gunshot that began the 8-year war for American independence.
The Bible records many battles, but there is only one battle that began the systematic conquest of the Promised Land – Jericho. Truthfully, the battle for Jericho was the opening salvo for a fight that in many ways continues to this day. Each time you hear of violence between Israel and Palestine, you are hearing of two peoples fighting for one piece of real estate. No doubt, there are religious differences that continue to escalate the violence, but there were certainly religious differences between Israel and the Canaanites as well.
No soldier will ever be praised for firing the first shot of the American Revolution, because his identity remains a secret. But that day, at the city of Jericho, it was clear who would be praised for the victory. The city was destroyed, not with a show of force, but with a God-empowered shout. We might even call it the “shout heard round the world.”
As God’s people, I wonder if we have lost our shouting voice? It seems that we spend a lot of time talking about our defeats, the sin that entangles us and wears us down, but let us not forget that we serve a victorious God. The New Testament writers were not stranger to claiming God’s promise of victory. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 John 2:13 says, “I am writing to you, young men, because you have had victory over the evil one.” John would say again in Revelation 15:2, “I also saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had won the victory over the beast, his image, and the number of his name, were standing on the sea of glass with harps from God.”
Always remember that we are victors. And as victors, we have much to shout about. Let us continue to shout the praises of our Redeemer with a “shout heard round the world!”
With a Shout,