Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Blogtext: Spiritual Battle? Never heard of it...

"David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.” When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
“Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him." (1 Samuel 17:26-31)

Which battle? What's that?
From the way large sections of the christian church behave and appear today we might as well say it clearly: When it comes to spiritual warfare the church has become pacifistic, even to the point of being a conscientous objector to all aspects of war. What you do not know about, what is never spoken of in the teaching of the church, such as it is, cannot be part of it's mission. The question is if it is another one of those things of which we must say that this also is ignored, as is the major part of the reason for the church's existence. "Going into all the world and make disciples" has been relegated to the hated concept of colonialism, and the issue of "teaching them to know and do all that I have told you" is blatantly ignored. In its place is a heineous concoction of myth and fallacy designed to ignore "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God" in favor of a love for everything God calls obnoxious: Pride of life, Lust of the Flesh and Image in good standing with the world. "Know this: loving the way of the World is absolute enmity with God." The churches disagree with the apostle John too. As with every one of the prophets and the apostles. And therefore by defintion they also disagree with God and Him whom God has sent.
For soldiers only!
A follow up of this posting will deal with the Christian Armor, an equipment for soldiers only. This posting is intended to wake up the sleeping and unarmed and sorely wounded and badly ignorant of the matter in hand. The passage from the former covenant forms the illustration for the teaching of the later, always mindful of the fact that "everything written in the past, was written for our instruction". Sadly that in itself is practically denied even where lipservice is done to the idea. And having lightly dismissed the major part of the Bible we cannot but agree that this leaves us with a minor part of our spiritual equipment, and indeed our inheritance.

"Equipping the members for their task"

That is the reason for why Christ gives to his church various kinds of leaders. He gives it Pastors, Teachers, Evangelists, Prophets and Apostles. The church instead appears to have opted for  and often employed evangelical business leaders, administrators, orators and appliers of plasters to serious ills. Instead of being able to raise up a standing and ever-ready army this alternative leadership is busy changing the diapers of spiritual babies. That is mostly what they have the time for. Here is the odd thing: many are damaged in a what amounts to a spiritual war, but the ministry of the church is not geared to make them able soldiers but merely to patch them up, to go naked and unarmed back into battles to fend for themselves. Whereas the battle is real, the church knows it not except on the wounds of it's members.
The reason is clear: whereas the enemy has never laid down weapons and has never accepted cease-fire, but continues to walk about as a roaring lion, swallowing up whom he may, the church prefers not to see that the battle is real but continues to be a field hospital in an unrecognized war. It continues to be amazed at the wounds and feels strained to it's limits by the demands made on the care needed, but will not consider the age old wisdom: "an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure". And that is an understatement for sure. So the church is standing on her heels battling for the healing of the already defeated instead of being on it's toes, wielding the sword of the Spirit and effectively warding off the enemy. And therefore she is not giving attention to the equipping of the army, but allows the soldiers to fight with bare hands, sitting tight on the armor and hiding the key to the armory. It is no wonder that the Lord himself wonders if "there will be any faith left on earth at His coming."

Leads to a solution?

There are clues to the solution of the calamity in the story of the first battle of David against the Palestinians.  Yes you read me right, for the Philistines are the reason for why some modern day arabs call themselves "Palestinians". It is an adaption of that word which was the generic term for a tribe in the southwest of the land of Israel which has given us the name of that people. Initially the Philistines were not a semitic people at all. They are decendants of Ham via Mizraim, which bis modern day Egypt. (Genesis 10:6,13-15) The same goes for the original Canaanites. Palestine is an usurpation of the name by arabic tribes. The modern day Palestinians have all the intentions and attitudes of the old Philistines against Israel. But this blogtext is not about politics or demographics in the Middle east.

The enemy.
The relationships between Israel and the Philistines cover many portions of the Old testament story. The Philistines were always there on the border of the Abrahamitic tribe, ever ready to take advantage of every trace of weakness. Again and again they fell in on Israel and gave them all sorts of trouble, from filling in the wells that Abraham had dug to challenging the whole nation to the point of death. They had their own Fish God called Dagon, their major city Ashdod was in what today is the Gaza strip. (Read the precedents in 1 Samuel ch 5-6. ) We re-enter the story as Saul, the man chosen to be king instead of the living God, has made a mess of his leadership and is now in a stalemate with the Philistines. The armies are drawn up opposite each other and daily the champion of the Philistines, a giant of a man from Gath, with six toes and six fingers per foot and hand, named Goliath, taunts the israelian army and the God of Israel. The only man remotely "tall enough" to stand against him is  Saul. But for reasons of his own as the bible tells, he lacks the werewithall. His spirit is no longer filled with the Power of God.
The battle may be fought on the earth but the real war is in the heavenlies.Then as now.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
To say that David understood this  difference between his situation and the one now prevalent is plainly untrue. But what David did know was that there was a living God that would stand up for his people if the people wanted God's way of doing things. And he soon proved his understanding to be true. His faith in  God was practical in the sense that what did not have visible results could not be 'spiritually' true either. Spiritual battles are always in the end in evidence in changes here and now, but are neither fought by flesh and blood nor limited to such means.
Samuel tells us the truth: "Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you.  If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.
“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes! Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”
 Then Samuel called on the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel.
The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”
 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.  Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.  For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right."
So I will ask again and now: Whom have the churches selected to be king over them except the Living God?

First, no swords, then no plowshares.
Their inability to stand against the Philistines had another serious consequence. They not only lacked weapons of war, they could neither sharpen their farm implements, and so not only were they literally hamstrung as far as their armor was concerned but it also affected their every day practical lives year in and  year out.
 "Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!  So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened. The price was two-thirds of a shekel for sharpening plow points and mattocks, and a third of a shekel  for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.

So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them." 1 Sam 13:19-23
A people, spiritually empoverished, morally despondent and materially dependent on their enemies has to ask them leave and permission for everything, down to the use of their own garden tools. The similarity to the modern church is apparent. It is even in need of asking the world around it for permission to stand up for anything in the way of what the church may believe. And is consquently totally unarmed before any conflict and dependant on the world for the very chance of survival.

The unsuitable armor.
Unless he Lord God sends a David, or a son of David. And David  does not depend on the enemy for his weapon! If you know the story then you noticeed that David handed over the responsibility for his flock in the fields to another keeper before obeying his fathers demand that he, the youngest of the sons of Jesse, bring victuals to his brothers at the front of the battle. Not that there was much battle to be seen. But daily the insults hurled at Israel and their God were heard, without any adequate response. David looks for his brothers and finding them is in for a nasty shock. Rather than being grateful for the supplies the oldest brother blurts out his disdain for the runt of the litter, as he  probably saw it. How much was caused by jealousy we do not know. "But Samuel anointed David to be king in the midst of his brothers." Does not take a genius to understand that the oldest brother might have been fairly miffed. But still his response to David is of great interest: "Why have you come here? With whom have you left those few sheep in the desert? I know you, you are merely curious and are eager to see the battle!"

Eliab questions Davids motives without first finding out what they are; he was sent by the father of them all. He assumes that David must be acting on his own agenda and that he must therefore have run away from his previous job. And he has the preconceived idea that only someone of his own training could be of any use in the battle. Eliab will not have David 'give him lip'. "Am I not even allowed to speak?" Those who do not want to be unsettled in their own ideas wont listen.

Desperate leadership
The matter comes before Saul. He calls the young man to himself and interviews him. smiling at the thought that David considers him self able to take on Goliath he makes the most of his position. First by belittling him. "You are but a sprat". "Maybe so says David but Bear and Lion came up croppers against me for stealing a lamb, and I can't see that big oaf of a Philistine having any better odds." "He has defied the the armies of the living God!"  Trouble is that the army is badly trained, badly equipped and heartbroken, despondent and full of fear of man, and no fear of God. David! Dont think you can stand out!

Saul tries to equip David with his own armor. David soon finds it impossible to do anything with it on. It is the armory of someone else. Not his own, and as it is untried and unused it is also useless. No christian warrior can assume the equipment of another. Especially one who was chosen to be king because he was head higher than all others. Size is no evidence for status.
David reverts to that which has been tried and proven useful. Call it: he went back to what he knew best. The rest is five stones collected from a brook. Smothed by running water, chosen for right weight and right flight ability.

Predictably Goliath also taunts him.
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him.  He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!
 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands."
The rest is spiritual history. David wins the battle with tools of war approved by God and never because they were lent from the enemy or used by the enemy's permission. The people of God do not ask the Philistines for permission to slay them. They have a task  given by God. The armies of Israel had an easy match after the champion of the Philistines was knocked down. And they could pursue them all the way down to the sea.
Saul cannot believe what he has seen, and cannot imagine that this stripling had what he himself lacked. A God great enough to equip, and a man small enough to be obey.
His madness grew gradually. The beginning of it was blatant disobedience. Is the church any less mad? And for any other reason?

When will the church again see that it was called to stand firm against the evil one in a full scale war? When will church life again be battle rally? When will the closed ranks again stand in unison? When will the church obey the voice of the apostles? When will they forget about Jesus mild and meek and realize that they are dealing with the Captain of the armies of the Lord? And when will they again be willing to obey orders?

Humanly speaking? Not before the coming of the Lord. But divinely speaking? Whenever she repents from her sinful occupation with the fake news of the enemy.


---

Teddy Donobauer  Doncaster 28th of May 2018



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