"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Old Testament Examples of SPIRITUAL WARFARE:

Conduct in the Campaign & Implementing the Victory of Christ in our Lives –

~~ by James J. Fire

Paul the Apostle stated in:

Rom 15:4
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Denotatively speaking this refers to the prophetic scriptures that relate to Christ Jesus; on a more general basis, they can also refer to the various episodes of Old Testament history, and how Israel as a nation obeyed God and were blessed, or contrariwise, disobeyed and were chastened.
We can derive from Old Testament passages the truth of God’s faithfulness, even when Israel herself proved faithless; God would not deny His Word, particularly where the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants were concerned.
So likewise we as Christians have every reason for the hope granted to us by a faithful and Almighty God!

We as the church can look back in hindsight and learn from their examples, both in the positive and negative sense.
Old Testament examples of warfare were primarily physical in nature with sword and shield (i.e. historical wars conducted by the armies of Israel), whereas the church is admonished to fight their campaigns with spiritual, rather than with carnal (physical) weapons (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6: 10-18).
*We do not battle to gain ground from our enemies as Israel did with the Canaanites; we battle for and seek to gain lost souls snared by the great enemy, Satan and his kingdom of darkness, and through the gospel of salvation see them translated from the devil’s domain to the “kingdom of [God’s] dear Son (Col. 1:13)”.

Israel ventured forth by the command of God and brought His judgment (Gen. 15: 13-16) as well as conquest to Canaan land (Gen. 15:18-21), whereas the church has no such national heritage in any plot of land anywhere on this earth; rather we are seeking to bring the glory of God and His influential Presence into our very lives and minds, taking back ‘territories’ lost through the sinful nature which has marred the creation of God in man as our Creator intended us to be.
Also, just as God used Israel as an instrument of judgment upon the various rebellious nations of this world, He will use the church to judge the rebellious angelic realm (1 Cor. 6:3) with whom we contend in warfare. As well as this we look for a city (not of this world) whose Maker and Builder is God Himself, with “like faith” as Abraham (Heb. 11: 8-16).

We see then, a parallel between Israel conquering the land of Canaan, and laying claim to its territories and the church with its individual saintly members conquering (via the cross of Jesus Christ and all the spiritual weapons made available to us by God) the old nature. By allowing the Holy Spirit to delve more deeply into these territories, laying claim to our very persons in greater and deeper ways, thus making us more Christ-like in character and therefore achieving practical spiritual victory and all that this entails in regards to the life of the over comer and also in delivering lost souls from their eternal doom and for the kingdom of God.

Before we get into this ‘tour of duty’ through Old Testament terrain (stopping by a couple places before we even get to the nation of Israel), I wanted to share a poem with you from a dear Sister in Christ. She has written about spiritual warfare and how there is genuine, but worthy struggle in this great endeavor and ensuing battle; a battle that will not end for us until we draw our last breath, and the sight of this world dims from our eyes:

I Still Stand
By Diana King

February 2006

I wage war within myself.
A constant lifting of the Holy Sword
breaks the relentless pounding
of my enemy. Yet, I have many dents
in my armor. I bear scars upon
my soul, jagged healings that
recall the fierceness of
the devil’s dagger.
I know the scent of Hell fire
and have singed my tongue
upon its flames, for it captivates
the unguarded saint with light and wicked beauty.
The eyes of my flesh squint in a sideways glance.
They leer at my spirit with a cannibal’s lust
waiting for the chance to feed upon a failure.
This breastplate still gleams beneath the
charred remains of battle and my throat cools
with the sipping of water, resurrected with
the pulse beat of Heaven.
Drenched in grace,
I still stand.

Though the war at times grows fierce, and I anticipate that this warfare we engage in will get far more intense still (in our nation and around the world!), just as the poem says, we must be drenched in the grace of God, for only by this means shall we be enabled to stand, and still stand until that final Day and not fall from our own steadfastness in Christ!

The BATTLE of LIFE – (Outline inspired by Thompson Chain Reference Bible)

The Beginning of Blasphemy –

As has already been mentioned a couple of times, spiritual warfare commenced when Lucifer essentially stated while in heaven, “My will, not Thy will be done!” This sinister seed-plot created a dichotomy, a point of contention, a variance from the holy will of God that has blossomed into a veritable jungle of blasphemy that we see today, and will grow even thicker and eventually more all encompassing as these last days proceed.

Yet at our beginnings, when Adam and his wife, Eve walked in the garden in the cool of the day, and God Himself came to fellowship with them, our master adversary observed, plotted and planned his battle strategy – as he anticipated God’s judgment upon his self-exaltation (believing that he could assume a place with God Himself as a co-regent or worse, take God’s place! See Isaiah 14: 12-17; Ezek. 28: 12-19) –
At the crucial moment when literally all of future humanity hung in the balance with the single decision of our mother Eve, she succumbed to temptation and ate of the forbidden fruit. Apparently however, it wasn’t until Adam likewise ate that both their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked (Gen. 3: 6-7). They then sewed fig leaves together and made aprons of them. This is the first instance of man-made religion.

The Contest of Two Religions –

God’s solution was to clothe them in animal skins; of course to procure these, an animal had to be slain, its blood shed. This was a work of God, apart from any work or effort on man’s own part, and comprises an act of Divine grace in providing covering for those worthy of death (“the wages of sin is death” according to Romans 6:23a; contrast this with the fig leaf aprons that our parents fashioned for themselves).
Think of the horror of Adam and his wife when they witnessed this bloody sight of suffering and death, unknown to them since the day of their making. Think about the detrimental effects of sin when just as God foretold Adam, he rebelled against his Maker and began “dying, [he] shall die” and this mortifying legacy was passed on to all their children of humanity!

Yet in pronouncing judgment upon Adam and Eve, God also spoke to the serpent regarding judgment and let him know that it would be the “seed of the woman” that would crush his head, thereby destroying him. This was God’s declaration of war upon Satan on Earth, just as God pronounced judgment upon Lucifer in Heaven (Gen. 3:14-15; also previously mentioned passages in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28).
It’s interesting to note that in this passage from Genesis, it speaks of the enmity between the “seed of the serpent” and the “seed of the woman” (a Messianic title). Here in this verse is the summation of spiritual warfare, for connotatively speaking, the seed of the serpent would be all those who are “children of disobedience” that is to say, children of the devil and darkness (Eph. 2:2; 5:6; Col. 3:6; John 8:44) in opposition to the seed of the woman (Psalm 2). Yet these children of the world, who would not hear the words of their Creator, would heed the words of His adversary in the person of the Beast, the specific “seed of the serpent” who will lead the world in a false religion with Satan as the object of worship! (See John 5: 43; Rev. 13:13-14; 2 Thess. 2: 4)

Understanding that the seed of the woman was prophesied to destroy him, Satan then created a contention between Abel and Cain, provoking behind the scenes and causing jealousy and hatred to well up in Cain because Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by God and his own (according to this second instance of a ‘man-made religious view and preference’) was rejected; so that he eventually murdered his brother which brought a curse upon himself (Gen. 4: 3-11). Yet Satan’s attempt to thwart God’s prophetically pronounced judgment failed as Eve gave birth to Seth, and progeny that led to Noah, Shem, Abram and so on.

When it comes right down to it, one of the primary contentions of spiritual warfare is the war of religion, that is, the true religion of God, established by covenant or testament and the death of the Testator (Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God; see Heb 9: 14-26) and the false religion that began with fig leaves (I think of religion as ‘artificial [man-made] righteousness’) and has grown to incorporate sophisticated, elaborate, often esoteric formulations, rituals and “dead works” but such in the eyes of God are quite indeed, “filthy rags” according to Isaiah 64:6.

Watch this brief video clip from John MacArthur and learn about these Two Religions
(It’s intriguing to learn of the origins and inspirations of these false religions and the angelic connection in them all).

There are many examples of this contest of two religions in scripture:

The temptation that Adam and Eve faced was the challenge of the serpent in denying God and the true religion of worshipping Him and Him alone, and to exalt self, worship self, magnify self as one’s own ‘god’ much as Lucifer did himself.

Noah was considered a righteous man and believed God’s Word; while there are no verses describing such, no doubt he and his descendants were confronted with the precepts and religious falsehoods promoted by the citizens of Babylon.

Moses faced the Egyptian magicians and their religious craft in Pharaoh’s court; the children of Israel were warned of God about the false religions of Canaan and told her that if she would participate in them, they would know His judgment and wrath. Elijah had his contest with the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel, and on and on it had gone until the day when the Messiah came and He likewise confronted the religious establishment of His day, the wayward Sanhedrin that exalted their own Law-based religion of traditions and corruption over the pure Word of the LORD.

The apostles had their war with the Gnostics and Judaizers; in today’s world the Christian church is confronting the ecumenism of all world religions as well as the Emergence Movement that is, I believe, the predecessor to the revelation of the Mother of Harlots (Rev. 17 and 18; see the TTUF article –
The Mother of Harlots Emerges”).

In presenting people with the Gospel, the spiritual warfare we are engaged in revolves around the issue of the “religion of self” as established in the Garden of Eden, and the true religion of God via the LORD Jesus Christ and His blood atonement for our sins.

The religion of self says that there is no sin, that we are not sinners, but gods in spiritual evolution and are pure, good, righteous beings (such are the expressions found in the New Age Movement, a religion that is far from dead, but submerged and re-emerging to the forefront of society; see the recent three articles on TTUF “False Teachings, False Peace and False Christ”). Pride and the religion of self and self-righteousness stand opposed to humility and repentance toward God with the admitted need of a Savior for our sins, one LORD Jesus Christ!

An acronym for “PRIDE” is “Personal Rebellion I Desire Evil” or “Personal Rebellion I Desire Emancipation [from God]”

Touring the Old Testament Trail to Triumph –

Before we look specifically at Israel and her forefathers, we need to consider briefly the man Noah and the satanic interferences that ensued in those days in the vain attempt to thwart the coming judgment of God upon this fallen cherub, Lucifer:

In the days of Noah in the pre-Flood world, the population was estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of about two billion people. Which of these would be the seed that would crush Satan’s head, he had no idea. The only viable solution would be to infest the entire human race to such a degree that none of them would be appropriate as the means by which God would keep His promise of judgment. Thus the bizarre events of Genesis chapter Six where the “sons of God” (bene ha eloheim – a term used of angelic beings, holy or evil, or any that are directly created by God, such as Adam (not Abel, Cain or Seth however) or saints that are born again; in the spiritual sense we are direct creations of God as ‘the new man’) co-habited with the fair daughters of mankind (Gen. 6:2). Yet Satan’s attempt to thwart God’s plan failed again with the ark of Noah and the preservation of his family which were “perfect in [their] generations” referring to their being untainted by the angelic interbreeding that created the abomination of the nephilim, or the giants (6:4).

After the Flood, God commanded that the people of the Earth would “go forth and multiply and replenish the earth”, yet the consensus of fallen man, still under the sway of Satanic seduction, was “. . . let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (See Gen. 9: 1; 11: 4). This same attitude is evidenced in Psalm 2 – something that will ultimately be fulfilled during the reign of the Beast of Revelation:

Psalm 2:2
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Psalm 2:3
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

Yet God dispersed this devilish design to create a visible new world order with a one world government and religion by the confusion of languages, and once again Satan’s devices were thwarted.

Now let us begin this tour in which we will observe Israel and her warfare, and what lessons we can glean from them in our own warfare in these last days against Satan and his kingdom of darkness.

We’ll start with a brief overview of Abraham:

Noah had three sons, one of which, Shem, was the father of the Semitic races, including Abram of Ur, who came to be the father of the Hebrew people.

God promised Abram in Gen. 15 that He would grant this man from the land of Ur a lineage and a land, Isaac and the territory of Canaan respectively.
This covenant was binding in a very serious ritual that God Himself initiated (vs. 9-10) but unlike the customary procedure where both parties of this transaction would walk in the midst of the sacrificial animals, reciting the conditions of contract, God alone in the form of that “fiery furnace” walked in the midst, proclaiming that this covenant was predicated on His own Word and faithfulness, apart from that of Abram the man.

Note that the land encompassed all territory from the river Nile to the river Euphrates (In Iraq); this is far more land than what Israel possesses today or ever possessed any time in her history, including the reign of King David (where their borders were expanded beyond any other time before or since)! These borders will be realized and fulfilled during the Millennial Reign of the Son of David, the Son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1), the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ, who is Himself the promised seed of Abraham, through his own son Isaac (see Gal. 3:14-18; Gen. 21:12; Heb. 11:17-18).

During the proceedings when God was conducting this covenant with Abram, fowls of the air (a term later recognized as satanic opposition as in Luke 8:5 and Matt. 13:19) “came down upon the carcasses” and Abram had to drive them away, demonstrating Satan’s interference in this ongoing spiritual warfare.
Satan will always oppose the plan of God, whether it pertains to Israel and her prophetic role in the coming kingdom of heaven, or the church and her mission of the Gospel and seeing the kingdom of God increase in population from Satan’s own kingdom.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac was the father of Jacob (both had contentious twin brothers, Ishmael and Esau respectively that were potential puppets of Satan to thwart God’s plan), who himself was the father of the twelve patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel, of which the tribe of Judah was prophesied to bring forth the Messiah, the seed of the woman, called “Shiloh” in Gen. 49: 10.

Throughout these Old Testament times, Satan had time and time again attempted to thwart the coming one, the “seed of the woman” who would crush him, but to no avail. Eventually, just as God told Abram, his descendents found their way into Egypt where they dwelled during the time of a severe drought and famine in that entire Middle East region (Genesis 41; 42:1-3).

The narrative focuses on Joseph and his trials, and how God used him as the instrument to bring His people into Egypt, where eventually another Pharaoh arose and persecuted the Hebrew people. It was at that time God raised up Moses to be the Deliverer of His people Israel and the plan of action to bring them into the land promised to Abram by covenant to pass.

No doubt Satan found a golden opportunity in this Egyptian (who many say was actually an Assyrian) Pharaoh who pronounced the edict that all male Hebrew babies were to be killed, thus the means of genocide would be realized, and no “seed” would be able to destroy him. Yet God preserved the infant Moses and later used him to bring deliverance to His people, Israel with the LORD’s presence and power, displaying His almighty hand in the ten plagues of Egypt (which the religionists of Egypt could imitate up to a point, but even they finally conceded that this power was indeed of God (Ex. 8: 19). It’s interesting to note that each of the plagues that God pronounced upon Egypt was upon each of their primary ‘gods’ of their religion, such as the Nile river itself, the scarab beetle, etc.

The very last plague to fall upon Egypt (a type of the world) and upon Pharaoh (a type of Satan) and his own household (the explicit kingdom of darkness) was the angel of death, but this plague was not limited to Egypt alone. Anyone, Hebrew or Egyptian, who ignored the command of God to take a sacrificial lamb and with its blood, cover the doorways of their homes, would become victims of the angel of death.

God’s deliverance by the blood of the lamb brought salvation to the nation of Israel from the death angel and of bondage to Egypt. In like fashion, the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ has redeemed us from eternal death and bondage to this world of sin.

And just as Israel was led out of Egypt by the hand of God, and brought to the land promised to Abraham and his descendents, we are led out of the world and brought to our own new life in Christ. Israel by virtue of their birth and lineage from Abraham, and by faith in the living God successfully entered into “Canaan rest” that is, receiving the promises of God by faith.

In the same fashion, we the church by virtue of our spiritual lineage and rebirth by the Spirit of God may enter into this rest, Who is Jesus Christ Himself, our Sabbath and appropriate the promises of God by faith all that entails a life of victory.

There are too many Christians who are caught up in “wilderness wanderings” as was Israel for a span of forty years (the journey from Egypt to Canaan needn’t been any longer than two weeks!), but because of unbelief, not only did they not enter into Canaan land, but they perished in that wilderness (all of Israel with the exception of two men from that first (as opposed to the second) generation died!); Christians today are not entering into this promised life of victory in Christ for the same reason.

Those that did enter into Canaan land did not have a life of ease and comfort to the exclusion of any trials, struggles or hardships (that would be considered heaven-like, which some Christians believe Canaan land is a representation of; not so!); there were many pagan tribes to confront, and with God’s ordination to slay them: men, women and children (yes, even their children!), as God had waited four hundred years for them to repent of their wicked idolatry and sin, but to no avail. There were also giants in those days as well, such as King Og of Bashan (Deut. 3:11; who was nearly fourteen feet tall! – And you thought Goliath was big!). Such powerful giants proved to be a deterrent by Satan to strike fear into the hearts of the Hebrew spies who were sent in before the nation actually entered into the land (Num. 13: 31-33; 14:1-10). Only two men had faith in God that what He had promised, He was able to perform – Joshua and Caleb, true sons of Abraham (Rom. 4:21): the only ones of that original generation to actually enter into Canaan!

May we be accounted among those few who likewise hold fast the form of sound words, express like faith as Abraham and not stagger at the promises contained in God’s Holy Word, and like Joshua and Caleb war valiantly in claiming the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus our LORD!

In the next segment we will examine the conditions and campaigns of Joshua’s battles, and glean from then how we ourselves may conduct victorious spiritual warfare! Until then, remember our battle cry: NIKAEO AIONIOS (ETERNAL VICTORY)!

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