Deut 20:1-4 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’”
Mat 28:20 “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Ever think about the spiritual battle? I’m sure you do. You know the sins you have in your life that tend to get the better of you. You know that you spend a lot of time trying to be patient, non-judgmental, loving, peaceful, yada, yada, yada. Notice how most of our time thinking about the spiritual battle is all about “me”? When was the last time you thought about the battle going on for your family, your church, your community, your country? Yeah, the big one where Satan is out there doing his level best to keep the Kingdom of Heaven from encroaching on his kingdom here on earth. How seriously do you take the battle for the country Paul says you’re a citizen of (Phil 3:20)?
I’ve become obsessed with the Kingdom of God (Heaven) over the last few years because that’s my real country. If I’m going to claim God as my King, then I need to care more about his country than anything else here on earth. The dichotomy in this is that the more I care about Heaven, the more I care about where I am on earth. But I digress. This isn’t what this post is really about. This post is about fighting the war we are always fighting until Jesus comes to restore Earth.
Most Christians are not very familiar with the Old Testament and that’s sad. That’s where all the action takes place. That’s where we learn about a huge portion of Who our God really is. So much of the Old Testament is recounts of battles that God won for His people. We get to know the Warrior God, the One Who fights for His people, the One Who is a jealous God and wants complete devotion to Him and Him alone. This is the God Who doesn’t take no guff, kicks butt, and takes names!
Think about that for a minute. Does the historical God of the Old Testament reflect what you believe about the God of the New Testament? Probably not because we’ve seriously “wussified” God. He’s a loving Father, His Son is a Lamb, and His Spirit is a gentle breeze. Okay, but what about that sword Jesus said he came to bring (Mat 10:34), and the vision John had of Jesus as a bad-ass, sword-wielding, demon-chaser who is going to bring about vengeance for the people of God? What about that revelation of God? Can you identify with Him? If you can’t, then you don’t know God because He is all of that!
Have you ever known an earthly father who wouldn’t fight for his children? I know they’re out there, but thankfully I’ve never actually known one. Trust me, the fathers I’ve known will decide that violence is completely acceptable if violence is being perpetrated on his offspring. They are loving, kind dads who become vicious when necessary. That’s the dad I want, too. I want a Dad who loves me beyond reason, dotes on me, comforts me, provides for me and wants nothing more than to give me the desires of my heart, and will turn into the world’s greatest fighter when I’m in trouble. He may love my enemies, but He’ll hurt them in order to defend me because I’m His child. Isn’t that the Dad you want?
Back to the battle theme. We miss so much of what the writers of the New Testament wanted us to know when we ignore the Old and here’s why I say that. The New Testament has numerous references to the battle going on in the spirit realm, but not a lot of examples of what it looks like for God to fight for His people. All we have is the Revelation of John concerning the end time. We have taken the immediacy of Paul’s and Peter’s words out of our understanding because the God we teach is gentle, merciful, kind, full of compassion, long suffering…the list could go on, but when was the last time you accepted for yourself the other side of God, the protective God, the “I-will-defeat-your-enemies” God? Oh yeah, that’s my Heavenly Father! He is gentle, merciful and all that, and He will defeat my enemies, spilling blood when necessary!
There is a battle going on for Earth, and we are not just God’s children, we are also the soldiers sent to fight the battle, every day and everywhere. Those aren’t just melodramatic words, the battle really does rage around us. It’s time to realize that God is the same today as He was yesterday (Old Testament) and tomorrow (Revelation). God fought then, He’ll fight in the future, and He’s fighting now! And just like the Israelites, He fights with us and through us, but only if we pick up our swords.
Not only are we children and soldiers of God, we’re His royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9). Let’s recognize that we are about to enter the battle (if we’re awake, we’re entering it), and do what God told His priests to do. Repeat this to yourself and to those in your life because this is what the priests of God are supposed to say when the people are going into battle: “Hear, O [Church, your name, your family’s names, etc.], today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory!” Then pick up your sword and go to battle! The Israelites still had to pick up some type of weapon and move forward. Do the same, learn from the first group of God’s chosen people, of whom we have been grafted into (Rom 11:17-24). Do battle for God, fight for His country, push back the enemy of our souls, all the while knowing that it is really God Who fights for you, your family, your church, your community, your country.