~~By James Fire
The long anticipated film of THOR was released some weeks back, and having seen it once already, I decided to go see it with some other friends a second time, and I was sure to take lots of mental notes as well.
I grew up reading Thor comics (graphic novels as they are called today) from Marvel publications. I always thought it would make a great movie what with the appeal of the super hero, but also with the fantastical element of Norse mythology (particularly since the huge success of The Lord of the Rings). I was quite eager to view the film and hoped it would succeed and do the comic justice.
Kenneth Branagh directed the film and brought all of his Shakespearean knowledge and experience directing (and acting) in such productions to bear with this film of the god of thunder. There is much in the film in the relationships between the Asgardians (Odin, Thor & Co.) among themselves, and their interactions with humanity that parallels various Shakespearean plays and themes; not to mention the Greek and Roman tales of myth and legend as they relate to the pantheon of the gods (which I will address in the latter half of this article).
In the film, Thor and his comrades are not portrayed as gods at all, nor did they consider themselves as such. This was however, the perspective of primitive man, who for his lack of sophistication in the sciences saw the abilities and deeds of these higher beings as gods worthy of worship.
While the film doesn’t go into the history of the origins of these beings (were they aliens from another world? Extra-dimensional beings from a parallel universe? etc, etc.
All we know is that there are Nine Realms and that the Asgardians were one people among the others who saw themselves as leaders of the Realms as well as guardians over the planet Earth (one of those nine realms) and mankind.
I found the film to be charming, funny, action filled and true to the graphic novel conception of Marvel and its artists and story tellers. Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman and all the others did an excellent job in their respective roles.
The story begins when astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her colleagues are tracking a highly unusual atmospheric disturbance which Dr. Portman believes to be a Rosenberg Bridge (a black hole).
From yon atmospheric storm comes forth he who was known in ages long ago as Thor, the god of thunder, recently dispatched, no – cast out from the realm of Asgard by his father, the All-Father, Odin the King because of Thor’s pride and arrogance. The heir apparent to the throne of Asgard presumed to take matters into his own hands and commit to a skirmish against the Frost Giants who had just secretly infiltrated the realm of Asgard (with the help of some unknown Asgardian in an act of conspiratorial treachery) in order to retrieve a device of tremendous power that was taken from them by Odin in a previous war between the two respective Realms.
The contention between father and son regarding the Frost Giants and their infringement and violation of the tenuous peace between them and Asgard becomes heated until they exchange words that lead to Thor’s banishment:
Odin: Thor, Odinson, through your arrogance and stupidity, you have opened these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and devastation of war...
Odin: You are a vain, greedy, cruel boy.
Thor: And you are an old man, and a fool!
Odin: Yes... I was a fool to think you were ready (to assume the throne and rule Asgard).
Odin: You are unworthy of your title, and I'll take from you your power! In the name of my father, and his father before him, I cast you out!
(For a more detailed review of the film, please visit this site (as I will only touch on aspects that deal specifically with issues I want to address):
The IMDb Film Review of Thor)
Along with Thor, his mighty hammer Mjolnir was likewise cast down to Earth, but not before Odin pronounces an edict into the hammer itself “Whoever wields this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
In an Arthurian parallel of the Sword in the Stone, people travel from far and wide in order to try and lift this mysterious hammer that rests in the middle of the New Mexican desert, even tying a chain to it and attempt to move it with a powerful truck, but to no avail. Loki, Thor’s mischievous, complicated and deceptive brother can’t lift it. When Thor learns that his hammer is also on Earth, he goes to retrieve it, but to his horror and frustration learns that he also is powerless to lift it!
The reason of course was that Odin placed the proscription on the device already, and Thor was not worthy (yet) to wield its power. His banishment to Earth, being stripped of his power, though while in mortal form he still exerts considerable strength and fighting prowess sufficient to make the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D “look like a bunch of minimum wage mall cops” (I LOVE that line!), yet the once confident, aggressive youth admits to a drinking partner (colleague of Dr. Foster) in a moment of introspection with a certain degree of humility: “For the first time in my life, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do...”
He learns in humble service to bring breakfast to his earthly friends, to help others in time of need; Thor begins to learn compassion and consider others rather than to gratify his own need of glory.
In a moment of truth, once his celestial friends from Asgard come to Earth to bring Thor back with them but then confront the Destroyer (an artificial intelligence in man-like but giant form that issues concussive gouts of fire who was sent by Loki to destroy Thor and friends) and fail to repel it, Thor commits a final act of selfless sacrifice and gives his life to protect all his friends, both human and Asgardian.
As he lies dying he assures a weeping Dr. Foster and the others that they are safe now, that they have nothing to fear. At that very moment, in the realm of Asgard, Odin’s (who had fallen into a kind of coma from a weakening condition that progressed throughout the film) still, prostrate form in bed, sheds a single, knowing tear for his son that has finally learned what it means to be a good and wise leader, led not by haughtiness but humility.
Suddenly, Mjolnir, still within the confines of a laboratory encampment erected around the mysterious device by SHIELD, rockets skyward and with a tremendous arc races with super-sonic speed to land in the reflexive hand of Thor that rises up to meet it. From that point on, as another Marvel super hero is fond of saying, “Its clobberin’ time!”
Thor takes on the Destroyer! He then confronts Loki who led him to believe that their father Odin died due to his grief over Thor’s rebellion and the two gods strive in supreme struggle against one another.
The story ends well, as a wiser, gentler, yet stronger Thor approaches his father Odin and says that he hopes one day to make him proud of him; to which Odin responds with kind affection, “You already have.”
The themes of the film in some respects have two grains of biblical truth in them. First, we know that scripture states that:
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
This is ably demonstrated in the film, and it parallels the event that transpired in heaven, when Lucifer himself was (unwillingly) cast out for his own will of self-exaltation (as was Thor, but interestingly enough, in this film, it’s the good guy that gets cast out of ‘heaven’. Might such an idea influence the people in the last days re: the Beast and his ‘father’ Lucifer; suggesting that this fallen cherub is simply a misunderstood ‘underdog’ and ‘hero’ in his own right?). This is diametrically opposed to God the Son, the Word – Who willingly took on flesh, and humbled Himself to be made in the fashion of man to bear the sins of the world (See Isaiah 14: 12-14; John 1: 1-3, 14; Phil. 2: 5-8; 2 Cor. 5:21).
One might suspect that when Odin cast Thor out of Asgard, he had the purpose of bringing Thor down with the intent that he might learn humility, and thereby arise to a newly appointed state of honor, which is the second biblical concept demonstrated:
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
(See also: Prov. 29:23; Isaiah 57:15; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6)
WHAT CAN BE SAID FROM THE BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE?
These two points aside, the movie plays into a common theme that has long been entertained by humanity which disparages the idea of Intelligent Design and a Creator God – that being the idea of ‘directed panspermia’, that is, alien or higher beings once visited Earth and seeded it, and thus they, not the God of the Bible, are the ‘authors of life’ and of whom ancient man worshipped as gods. Many believe the idea that YHWH was actually nothing more than one of these Higher Intelligences about Whom the Genesis record relates. The following is a quote from a Wikipedia article on directed panspermia:
“A second prominent proponent of panspermia was the late Nobel prize winner Professor Francis Crick, who along with Leslie Orgel proposed the hypothesis of 'directed panspermia'. This proposes that the seeds of life may have been purposely spread by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization. Later, after biologists had proposed that an "RNA world" might be involved in the origin of life, Crick noted that he had been overly pessimistic about the chances of life originating on Earth.
“The application of directed panspermia has been proposed as a way to spread life from Earth to other solar systems. For example, microbial payloads launched by solar sails at speeds up to 0.0001 c (30,000 m/s) would reach targets at 10 to 100 light-years in 0.1 million to 1 million years. Fleets of microbial capsules can be aimed at clusters of new stars in star-forming clouds where they may land on planets, or captured by asteroids and comets and later delivered to planets. Payloads may contain extremophiles for diverse environments and cyanobacteria similar to early microorganisms. Hardy multicellular organisms (rotifer cysts) may be included to induce higher evolution.”
The above quote taken from: Wikipedia’s Definition of panspermia
There is much talk among modern day mystics and proponents of New Age/Spirituality beliefs that these ‘Higher Beings’ will one day return (if they haven’t already) to monitor and adjust the progress of their ‘experiment that is man’. It would seem that this is where science and magic (or mystical knowledge for example) will (and are) become one. Thor even says as much in the film to Dr. Foster –
Jane Foster: Describe exactly what happened to you last night.
Thor: Your ancestors called it magic...
[Thor skims through a book on Norse mythology]
Thor: ...but you call it science. I come from a land where they are one and the same.
Magic and religion, science and technology, all seem to be merging together in an amalgam of apostasy that denies the biblical truth in the scriptures:
Interview with a Psychic
The idea of space visitors landing on Earth and being regarded as gods is nothing new; it’s been the theme of many a film today, among them, Alien vs. Predator or even the old ‘60’s TV show Star Trek in an episode entitled Who Mourns for Adonis?
“Overview: The crew of Enterprise is held captive by an alien claiming to be the Greek god Apollo.
“Kirk and McCoy conclude that he is indeed the real Apollo, who was part of a group of powerful space aliens that once visited Earth 50 centuries ago, and thrived on the love, worship, loyalty and attention of the ancient Greeks. Eventually all of them but Apollo realized that humanity had outgrown them. They spread themselves "upon the wings of the wind" and faded away into nothing.”
However, far from humanity having had “outgrown” the gods, and such fading into nothing, these gods or ascended masters are very much present in the affairs and dealings on planet Earth, inspiring such writers as Alice Bailey and her predecessor Helena Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society to scribe their ‘game plan’ which is being faithfully followed by global organizations such as the UN, the Bilderbergs, Club of Rome, C.F.R. among others.
Gary DeMar (whose political/conservative views as they relate to biblical Christianity are not endorsed by TTUF, smacking of the Dominionist and Kingdom Now ideology) but whose article that addresses this notion of:Aliens As Cosmic Saviors is a good one.
“People looking for a way to fill the spiritual vacuum left by atheistic materialism want to do it on their own terms, even if what they advocate is more science fiction than true science. There are a number of theories to explain what many people believe are extraterrestrials. Are they visitors from other solar systems who travel among the galaxies via highly sophisticated spacecraft, beings from a parallel universe, spiritual creatures from a different dimension who live among us unseen by our three-dimensional eyes, or are they demons posing as benevolent space aliens?
"These aliens were thought to be gods by ancient civilizations. In our scientific age, we now know better.
“Americans are experiencing a crisis in faith where many no longer believe that science can explain everything. A sizeable number consider traditional religions to be narrow minded, quick to dismiss anything that does not fit into their rigidly constructed worldview. They want more, and they are willing to reach toward the heavens to get it.
“Many flying saucer buffs are believers precisely because aliens may offer hope, much like a deity. . . . Americans are desperately searching for hope in an increasingly cynical age.” Carl Sagan makes a similar point:
“The interest in UFOs and ancient astronauts seems at least partly the result of unfulfilled religious needs. The extraterrestrials are often described as wise, powerful, benign, human in appearance, and sometimes they are attired in long white robes. They are very much like gods and angels, coming from other planets rather than from heaven, using spaceships rather than wings. There is a little pseudoscientific overlay, but the theological antecedents are clear.”
It’s an interesting fact that the various cultures around the globe and throughout history have paid homage to a pantheon of the gods; the Greek and Roman religions are the best known of this polytheistic system, but there was also the Babylonian, Oriental, Native American, and South American pantheons as well.
From Encyclopedia Mythica – The Roman and Greek Pantheon (note that every god and their jurisdiction has an equal counterpart in the others culture; essentially only the names have been changed – but not to protect the innocent):
The Greek/Roman Pantheon
Also the Babylonian pantheon
And the Oriental pantheon
It would seem that all these versions of a polytheistic religion have as their basis, a time on Earth when the sons of God (angels “benai ha eloheim”, in this case, the fallen kind) who no doubt were perceived as gods by mere mortals, came down and took women (presumably by force) as their wives, and their offspring were giants or some other notable form of “renown” that made them seemingly superior to human beings; these were the nephilim:
“. . . mighty (Strongs Concordance: gibbor – “powerful, warrior, tyrant, valiant, chief, excel, giant, mightiest, strongest”) men of renown (Strongs: shem – “position, conspicuous position, appellation, honor, authority, famous, infamous, )”
“There were giants in those days; (Strongs: n’phiyl – “a feller, a bully or tyrant, giant”; based on the root word, naphal, meaning : “to fall, cast down, fall away, divide, overthrow, fugitive, be judged” among other words) . . . and also after that . . .”
That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
This event chronicled in the Bible has survived in various cultures, and albeit modified and made perhaps more sophisticated, and adapted by said cultures, survives today as myths and legends of gods and demi- (half god/half human) gods.
It’s fascinating to note that scripture states that there were giants “also after that” which is why we see giants in the Old Testament, such as King Og, Goliath, and whole tribes of such giants that the children of Israel faced when they waged war in conquest of Canaan.
Yet in the book of Daniel, there is a rather enigmatic passage in the second chapter. . .
And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
As this passage deals with the four world empires in relation to Israel as well as the Gentile world at large, and that this image’s toes refer to the final aspect of the last empire, which the beast will assume leadership of, we know that this must occur in the last days. In other words, this is something yet future.
So when this verse speaks of “they” it must refer to something other than human (“seed of men”), or an extraterrestrial species perhaps of the spiritual kind? Fallen angels maybe? Could we then actually expect giants (or in some sense, super-humans) to once again populate planet Earth, who will once again be hailed as warriors, or heroes. . . maybe even super-heroes?
It occurred to me that while these ancient cultures had their pantheon, we too in modern society, and America in particular, have our own ‘pantheon’ of sorts, that is, the realm of fictitious super heroes such as Superman (an alien from another world), the Hulk (a transformed human via mutated cells due to gamma radiation, the Flash (a supersonic persona not unlike Mercury), and of course, such as Thor (god of thunder).
I enjoy super hero stories just as much as any; I was a comic book fan since I was knee high and collected many of the most popular issues and characters. Could Satan use such a media in order to condition and prepare us for a time ahead when such creatures would populate our planet? The possibility exists!
However don’t expect me to get excited over such potentially presiding so-called ‘heroes’; the One and only Hero that I will laud and pay homage to is the One Who reigns supreme over all of creation and heaven itself – the same One that died for my sins and rose from the dead and is coming back one day (SOON!) to bring me to my eternal home: the LORD Jesus Christ!
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Old Testament Examples of SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Conduct in the Campaign & Implementing the Victory of Christ in our Lives – Part 2
~~ By James J. Fire
The Battle of Life Continues –
Joshua, General of Victorious Israel – A Type of Jesus Leading the Church into Victory
Let’s proceed from the Pentateuch (the first five books as written by Moses) onto the book of Joshua and learn about their campaigns, victories . . . and failures and how we can apply such lessons to us today as the church of Jesus Christ.
When Moses was confronted by Pharaoh about departing, he couldn’t convince this Deliverer of Israel to leave the elderly and young in Egypt while the others went into the wilderness to sacrifice unto the LORD; he then attempted to persuade him to leave his livestock behind. Moses’ response is pregnant with meaning:
Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.
Such absolute commitment to abandon Egypt completely, and not overlook even the slightest property in delivering it (even if its just a hoof!) from there, and to the land of promise which God would lead them to, should be rightly mirrored in the attitudes and actions of those who belong to the church or ekklesia; that is to say “the called out assembly”! – See: John 15:16-19. We, the saints of God should disparage even the slightest worldly influence or affection over our souls that rightly belong to our LORD and SAVIOR! Our whole hearted devotion and commitment to the LORD Jesus is rightfully HIS and the world should hold no claim over us whatsoever!
Everything that we are, everything that we possess by way of faculty as well as finance, all our strength, mind, soul and heart as disciples of Jesus Christ belongs to the One Who gave us all of them in the first place and it’s to Him that we commit them for the intent of worship, of service, of honor and glory and of course, love. Anything less is robbery; anything less reveals a devotion and love that is less than acceptable and right.
With the same commitment and resolve, Joshua and the children of Israel left the wilderness wanderings, and were proceeding to cross over the Jordan River and into Canaan land at the command of the LORD Whom they followed:
Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
God has made His declaration, and in the glory of His sovereignty He would bestow that which He promised; note the number of times that the LORD proclaims that He has given (past tense) Israel the land they were coming to and how this proclamation is repeated by others:
In the above mentioned verses where God says that He has “given every place that the sole of their feet shall (future tense) tread upon”. Also in verse 6, 11, 13-15 and in 2:9 even Rahab, citizen of Jericho understands that God is the granter of the land to Israel (and previously God declared to Joshua the same message in Deut. 31:23).
In the same chapter God warns Moses that though He Himself would be faithful to Israel and fulfill all that He had promised her, the people of Israel themselves would prove faithless, and in the midst of blessing and prosperity from the hand of God, they would become fat and turn to other gods (Deut. 31: 16-21; Moses declares likewise of what God revealed to him regarding his countrymen in vs. 26-30). In Deuteronomy chapter 28 God reveals how He would bless Israel for her obedience, and reward her for her rebellion (blessings recorded in vs. 1-14; rebellion rewarded in vs. 15-68). Note: the blessings are certainly more than enough; the rewards are ‘over the top’, quite superfluous in a sense I believe, because God wants to thoroughly discourage Israel from rebelling against Him so that He in His holy justice wouldn’t have to chasten them!
The church generally speaking in the realm of Christendom has grown “fat” and increasingly ambivalent towards biblical truth and conduct in this Laodicean age; if any would seek to engage in spiritual warfare, such a deplorable condition as this is as unsuitable as a fat, lazy, insubordinate soldier who sleeps when the alarm sounds for the call to arms!
Ultimately however God’s promises will be fulfilled for Israel in that He will establish “the everlasting covenant” – which cannot be ended – and plant her in the land to stay:
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: (see also Isaiah 11:11)
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.
And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.
Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.
We as Christians can observe the faithfulness of God in the face of Israel’s own disobedience and take heart, understanding that for those in whom He has begun that good work, though we may stumble and fall, though we may commit sin, as we confess our sins and wash in the blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:7-9), He will faithfully forgive us of our sins and complete His work in us (Phil. 1:6). Just as Israel will one day, by the grace of God become the paramount principality under the Prince of Peace, the Messiah Y’Shua, we too as believers will overcome all the power of the enemy, through faith in the Risen LORD (1 John 5:4)! Spiritual victory in Christ Jesus is assured for the true believer!
Just as the nation of Israel will be completed in all that God intends for her, by the return of the Messiah, we as the church will likewise “be like Him” and completed when we “meet Him in the air” and see Him as He is (1 Thess. 4:16-17; 1 John 3:2-3).
Yet why was it necessary for Israel to engage in all the exercise and battle and trials and testings? God being God, He could have merely spoken a Word and all the enemies of Israel would have simply vanished like so much smoke in the wind!
God is all about teaching, and training and developing His saints in their relationship with Him, and this is no less true in spiritual warfare than in any other aspect of the Christian walk. Let us as the saints of the church of Jesus Christ therefore take notes in these battle strategies dictated by God Himself, to His servant, the general of the armies of Israel, Joshua.
On a side note, it’s interesting to observe that Moses the Lawgiver was able to bring the children of Israel within sight of the Promised Land, but it was Joshua whom the LORD chose to actually deliver them into that domain.
Likewise, the Law of God is able to lead us to the truth, but it can’t instill its truth of holiness and righteousness into our hearts: it’s by Jesus Christ; our ‘Joshua’ that alone can lead us into this victorious life by His Spirit of grace!
As the apostle Paul admonished the church at Ephesus by the Spirit of God to be “strong in the LORD and in the power of His might” likewise God told Joshua three times in this first chapter to “be strong” and “good courage” and coupled this command with the following instruction:
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Why did God tell Joshua to not be afraid or dismayed? Because in the natural realm, he had every reason to be: he was venturing into strange, new territory with aliens and pagans of fierce power and huge walled cities; also of giants such as King Og and whole tribes of such (See Num. 13:33; Deut. 1: 28; 2:11, 20; 3: 1-2; Josh. 12:4; 13:12; 18:16). No doubt he was also a witness to the stubbornness of these people he was called to lead, and was familiar with their tendency in being “prone to sin”.
Yet God called him to be diligent in the Word, to obey its precepts, to hold fast to the truth in the face of great adversity and opposition – even when such came from and as a result of those who should have been allies with him! Then he would have good success, and so will we if we heed this Divine counsel!
We can afford nothing less than to be wholly given over to the Word of God, in its reading, understanding and application in our lives, and all the days, hours and moments contained therein!
The first chapter of Joshua ends with an admonition from the people of Israel themselves, uttered in order to encourage Joshua even further in his God-ordained leadership:
According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage.
The JERICHO DIRECTIVE –
Joshua had sent two spies into the tremendous city of Jericho which in the Hebrew, is Yariho and is also thought to derive from that root, though an alternative theory holds that it is derived from the word meaning "moon" (Yareah) in Canaanite, since the city was an early center of worship for lunar deities. How interesting that one of Israel’s first encounters in warfare in Canaan were with a people that worshipped the ‘moon god’ which was also worshipped in pagan Arabia prior to Mohammad’s conversion to a monotheistic belief.
Jericho - The Walls Came Down
Answers in Genesis - The Walls of Jericho
The citizens of Jericho had heard already the stories of Israel and how the Red Sea dried up before them as they crossed over (the same thing happening at the river Jordan), and how they defeated the Amorites and such powerful kings as Sihon and Og; see Joshua 2:9-11. Rahab made a pact with these two spies from Israel, that by granting them asylum and not telling her own people that they were there, that she and her family would be spared when they conquered the city, to which the spies agreed. She was told to bind a scarlet thread in her window, and that this would be a sign for the warriors of Israel to spare that dwelling.
This is an amazing type for salvation, for as the armies of Israel came in and decimated the people of Jericho, Rahab and her family were spared by a scarlet thread – representative by type, of the blood of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God (Himself foreshadowed in the Pentateuch by the sacrificial lamb whose blood spared souls in Egypt from the angel of death that would pass over houses so anointed).
Just as Israel was instructed to take the land and receive victory in warfare, so we as the church are instructed to be sanctified (Joshua 3:5; Lev. 20:7, 26; 1 Peter 1:16; Phil. 2:5, 13) – and take back all that is in rebellion against the LORD which resides still in our sinful nature, via confession of sin, surrendering our will, and sanctification by the Spirit.
As Israel was instrumental in the salvation of Rahab (who was the mother of Boaz [husband of Ruth] and is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ) and her family, so too the church is instrumental in heralding the Gospel for the salvation of lost souls. Spiritual warfare, as has been stated many times before is about “outreach and uprightness” – both the Gospel of Jesus Christ and being sanctified in practical ways of every day living, walking uprightly before the LORD.
In chapter Three of Joshua, God demonstrates the leadership of this General and His blessing upon it by the crossing of the river Jordan. Israel was preceded by the Ark of the Covenant containing the Law of God, and instructed to step into this swollen river (which at that time of year far exceeded its usual banks) which would then part, much as the Red Sea did previously under the leadership of Moses. The authentication of Joshua as the legitimate leader of Israel was performed by our miracle-working God (see 2:7, 14) when the priests bore the Ark into that magnificent river and then stood still as Israel passed by.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
The Jordan, a natural barrier, was no barrier to those whom God commanded, and who bore His very Law upon their shoulders in bearing the Ark of the Covenant. No barrier, no weapon shall prosper against the LORD’s peoples, be they of Israel or of the church (Isaiah 54:17)! Crossing Jordan was entering into a new life, just as those of us who venture into victory through a new life in Jesus Christ.
We who are Christians have put away the things of the flesh, and are led of the Spirit, thus in a figurative, but spiritual sense as well, follow the example of Israel whom God commanded through Joshua. Once they did cross the Jordan they were circumcised anew (as a nation; see 5: 2-8); such consecration was, and is necessary prior to any expectation for victory. Prior to their consecration of circumcision, they established their testimony by the twelve stones (one for each tribe) which they laid in the Jordan River (4:20-24).
From Gilgal the nation of Israel with testimony and consecration, with the Word and Spirit of God, with faithful leaders who would not compromise the command of the living God, nor be slack in keeping it diligently, would proceed onto the city of Jericho.
Joshua arose early that next morning and visited Jericho by himself (or perhaps with a small entourage) to inspect the city. From 5:13 it seems to suggest that he was alone as no one else is mentioned save for Israel who was still in encampment at Gilgal. It was here that Joshua had an encounter with the LORD as did Moses in the burning bush:
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
Note that when Joshua asks this impressive warrior whether he was for them or for their enemies, this towering Person replies with “No . . .” He is the Captain of the host of the LORD and as such, the question more properly asked would be, “Who is on the LORD’s side”?
It’s vital to understand that we not seek to gain God’s approval by ratifying our plans and getting on board with our own agendas, but rather to seek Him out and learn His will, and follow Him! In reality, Joshua didn’t lead the army of Israel to victory; it was the Greater Joshua (Y’shua), Jesus the Messiah of Israel!
Joshua then recognizes who this was who stood before him, and calls Him Lord and petitions His will to be known by him. The response was forthcoming, but first another matter was brought up – “take off your shoes, Joshua; you’re on holy ground!” This command confirmed what this General of Israel already perceived, for he had heard of the encounter Moses had with the LORD God on Sinai, and the similar command that was given to the Law giver.
With the matter of removing his shoes settled, the LORD instructs Joshua what he was to do in engaging Jericho, and these instructions are revealed by the LORD and in the actions performed by the General of Israel and its army in chapter six.
Before we get into this next chapter I’d like to present this music video that narrates this monumental event with this performance by Carmen (note: We at TTUF do not necessarily subscribe to the beliefs and statements made by Carmen. We merely use this video as a demonstration of the dramatic fashion in which God intervened on behalf of Israel in her conquest of Jericho.):
Carman Live – JERICHO
Now Jericho was straightly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.
And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
Jericho and its leadership recognized the authority of Israel by the feats that the LORD accomplished for them; likewise Satan and his own forces recognize the authority of the church by our spiritual rebirth and the indwelling of God’s Spirit in each of His saints. It’s imperative that the enemy dissuade us in believing that we have any such power bequeathed to us by the LORD Jesus Christ – (see Matt. 16:18).
This is why it’s vital that each believer called of God to engage in this warfare be absolutely familiar with and established by faith in the truths of our spiritual authority and subsequent victory.
Again, note that the LORD God speaks to Joshua regarding Jericho that He has “given into [his] hand Jericho”. In God’s eyes, it’s a done deal; a ‘been there, done that’ sort of thing! Not just the city but all of its political authorities and military powers!
By the same token, the church is promised victory in advance! Taking territories in our lives that were lost and ruined by sin, reaching out with the Gospel and infiltrating enemy territory by means of ministering to the degenerate hearts of Satan’s slaves (potentially, all those in the world not yet redeemed by the blood of the Lamb) and defeating Satan and his principalities in their purpose of quenching or perverting the Gospel message, the salvation of souls and the equipping and maturing of the saints to do great exploits for God and His increasing Kingdom is what we should be about!
God commands that the children of Israel should march around the city of Jericho six days; interesting because the number ‘six’ is the number of man, and here we see a fortress and power established by the will of man (the city-state itself) about to get toppled by the LORD God! God confounded the Tower of Babel as well; and He shall do so again in these last days when the global government under anti-Christ is broken by the glorious Light of His Coming!
And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
The number of priests indicated by God is seven (speaks of perfection in the sense of completion). Priests are intercessors on behalf of others, and here is the important lesson that if any victory can be forthcoming, prayer must assume a vital role and we must not cease to pray until such ministry is completed, in any given circumstance or venture, according to the will of God.
These priests bear seven trumpets of ram’s horns (called a shofar), which are always (but not exclusively) used in military campaigns, rather than the silver trumpets used in the Temple. Note that it states that the priests were to make a “long blast” with the trumpets which is significant as this symbolizes “hope and the strength of God”. The shofar’s shape being curved or bent represented the act of being bent or submitted to God.
Follow the Rabbi - Shofar
Are we as God’s children and warriors likewise submitted to the holy will of God for our lives, in all matters of the heart? Is there yet one item, one area, one un-confessed sin that is yet festering in us? Some example of rebellion that refuses to surrender? We must be submitted and surrendered if we ever hope to obtain the victory in our practical lives. As the acronym goes: A.V.R.A.S. “Absolute Victory Requires Absolute Surrender”!
Marching around the city on the seventh day would seem to be in violation of the Sabbath in which no travel of significant distances was allowed; yet here they didn’t merely compass the city once more (a seventh time in as many days) but they marched seven times more than on any of the previous six days!
And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD.
And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.
And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
Apparently the Ark of the Covenant was present for this military engagement; however the ark and the priests themselves (of Levi) were exempt from military duty, and yet here they are bearing the ark! What is the significance of all of this?
For some answers, we’ll turn to some exposition made by Chuck Missler:
The Military Book of the Old Testament
And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the [rearguard] came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the [rearguard] came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
By now all Israel was consecrated by circumcision; the priests of the Levitical order were likewise consecrated by the proscriptions of the sinful flesh and ordination of all holy things contained in their office as well as their lives. The testimony of twelve stones and sounding trumpets was in evidence. Interceding priests, prepared warriors and the leading of God’s authority as represented by the Ark of the Covenant were in this grand procession, marching in silence, utter silence!
Imagine the puzzlement of the Canaanites as they watched for six days, Israel compassing the city once, and then leaving. At first they may have assumed that they were on a reconnaissance mission (but then why lead the entire army rather than a small contingency force?). By day seven, when they saw them marching again, they no doubt were thinking ‘To what purpose is all this marching? How do they hope to assail us with such exercise?’ Then I can well imagine the slight shiver of dread crawled up their spines when once they completed their cycle, rather than returning to camp, they began another, and another. No doubt every eye was riveted on that procession, wondering what would happen next; six times in one day they marched about Jericho, and then they began a seventh circuit. . .
And it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
The time of victory was not of Joshua’s choosing, nor of his leading captains; the battle did not belong to any of Israel, but “the battle is the LORD’s” (1 Sam. 17:47); the victory granted to us by the LORD is assured, but we cannot hasten it, nor would we want to delay it. It comes in the LORD’s appointed time – on the ‘seventh circuit’ as it were, or the time of completion.
Victory comes in the manner prescribed by the LORD, even if the means may appear foolish, such as causing a raucous and a blasting of trumpets as seen here at Jericho, or by a single smooth stone in a sling, as seen with the young lad David as he stood before Goliath; or Samson with the jaw bone of a donkey before an insurmountable number of Philistine warriors, or by the procession of praising priests who went before the armies of Israel, leading Jehoshaphat and his men to victory.
We as the church of God wield a Name as our weapon, and His Word which He exalts even above His Name! Something recorded in a book that on the outward appears as any other book, but is inspired by the very Spirit of Truth which is God Himself. By the Name of our God, and His Word and Spirit, though such things may look foolish to the world, and seem weak and ineffective, it is the weapon of choice which alone avails against the kingdom of darkness; the only means possible by which the Christian warrior can ever hope for victory. Let it not be said that victory is obtained by the warrior wielding the Word as much as the Word wielding the warrior – that is, that the Word holds such absolute sway and governing power over and through our lives, that the Spirit is able to operate fully to implement a full victory unblemished by the slightest mar of defeat.
Joshua shouts the proclamation that he himself heard of the LORD, that He indeed “has given you the city”! Thus our victory is already granted, the battle has already achieved its outcome, the saintly warrior has already been granted the glorious vanquishing of victory over all the power of the enemy!
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
2 Cor 2:14
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
1 John 5:4
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
In the earlier segments of this Spiritual Warfare series, we did a rather comprehensive study on the armor of God, and there we examined how spiritual victory is obtained, and it most certainly is not through self effort and works, nor in fleshly means of ridding our lives of sin (thereby creating a kind of vacuum from virulent sins and corruption); rather it is by attainment of new life in Christ in the new man, as the old man is mortified – both by faith in the efficacy of the atonement of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross of Calvary.
An expression that ably summarizes this is, “Victory in life is not acquired in a vacuum but in the vitality (life) of Jesus Christ.”
AND THE WALLS CAME CRASHING DOWN –
What walls exist in our lives today? What impediments lie in the way of our spiritual advancement? How is the enemy hindering our holy progress in the LORD? Walls are like giants (such as Goliath); God brings us to them so that we may know victory and witness the power and the glory of God, and yet how often we allow those walls (or giants) to remain standing, feeling resigned to forever have them block our way in this life.
Consider the walls that likewise entrap the lost behind bars of their prison house of perdition; being blind, bound and beleaguered from the power and deceitfulness of sin, they know nothing but slavery and darkness. . .
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
In our lives, there are many means we encounter at the hand of our enemy that would keep us from God’s will; many ‘walls’ and influences that seek to corrupt us and prevent the LORD from working in us that which He purposes.
In such manner, Joshua admonished the people of Israel . . .
And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
So as Joshua encouraged Israel to remain pure and unspotted (James 1:27) by not partaking of any war ‘booty’ and taking possession of any materials found in Jericho; only the silver, gold, bronze and iron was to be set apart in “the LORD’s treasuries” and these in type represent those reserved by the LORD, for the LORD as vessels unto honor, as opposed to those things in Jericho which were “fit for destruction”(Romans 9:22). Paul likewise encouraged the church to remain pure from any defilements of the world (2 Cor. 6:17).
If any taint of sin is found in Israel or the church, and it is un-confessed and hidden, it can only spell ruin and defeat for the believer. Spiritual victory is won not only by Spiritual armor, but by Spiritual hearts, sanctified and acceptable for the Master’s use!
2 Tim 2:20
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
2 Tim 2:21
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
2 Tim 2:22
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
In addition to this segment, we have included a very timely article from The Berean Call, hot off the press from their June issue; here is the link to read TBC article entitled –
This is a War Briefing
Finally, when we acquire the victory which is promised to us we are in a very real sense in greater danger than if we suffered a defeat! ‘Why is that?’ you may ask; that will be the next article when the armies of Israel led by Joshua come to the tiny city of Ai and learn a hard lesson about spiritual warfare! Until then, remember Nikaeo Aionios!
Posted by James J. Fire at 11:11 AM