Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Warfare’

“But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died.” Judges 4: 21

Read today’s Daily Lectionary Old Testament reading is the narrative of Deborah, Barak and Sisera:  Judges 4.

Deborah, a prophetess, and a Gentile woman Jael were decisive in beating a foreign power with “900 chariots of iron”, an overwhelming force.  They helped win the victory for idolatrous and once again, repentant Israel.   The Lord promised the Israelite Barak the victory. It took Deborah to coax him into battle with the promise that a woman would carry out the victory.  Barak was like another general, the union one, George Meade, who after winning the battle of Gettysburg should have pursued the Lee and his army and utterly stopped them, per Lincoln’s desire, but Meade did not.   Barak, whose name means “lightening” was anything but quick and decisive, like Meade.  In fact, Barak wanted Deborah to go with him.  Deborah had faith in the Lord at His Word…Barak’s faith seemed to be weak. A woman’s act of winning the battle meant only one thing in that culture:  shame. God’s Word is the strength and honor of both men and women. The glory of Israel was not the strength of their arms but the arm of their strength was the Word of God. 

 Jael lured the fleeing General Sisera into her tent and then drove a stake through his head into the ground:

“God had His way by incorporating the Gentiles into His plan.  The stake of the cross was firmly planted by Christ into the head of our enemy. Boldness in the faith is now the legacy left to us Gentiles.” (Pr. Scott Murray, A Year with the Church Fathers, 9 July meditation) 

The battle lines are becoming clearer every day as our nation and world dissolves into secularism and sectarianism and idolatry.  The Church must stand firm in the faith and firm in the love of our neighbor.  Deborah mostly sat under the palms with God’s Word from which she rendered the wisdom of God’s Word.   A moving cup can not be filled.  We need to be still, and so stilled,   in prayer and meditation to be filled with the Word through the Holy Spirit, as Deborah.  May these narratives from Judges, also God’s Word, fortify us in the Incarnate Word,  Jesus Christ.   

Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word, curb those who by deceit or sword would wrest the Kingdom from Your Son and bring to nought all he has done. (Hymn by Martin Luther)

Read Full Post »

“In all of us God “still” holds only a part.  D-Day is only a week ago.  The bite so far taken out of Normandy shows small on the map of Europe.  The resistance is strong, the casualties heavy, and the even uncertain.  There is, we have to admit, a line of demarcation between God’s part in us and the enemy’s region.  But it is, we hope, a fighting line;  not a frontier fixed by agreement.” (Letters to Malcolm:  Chiefly on Prayer)

Read Full Post »

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld’s (1794-1872) depiction of the Israelites cross the Jordan River on dry ground as priests hold the Ark of the Covenant in the center of the river. From the Pitt Theological Library, Digital Archives, Emory University. Scripture Reference: Joshua 3

Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Joshua 3: 11

About Joshua:  Today we remember and thank God for His faithful servant, Joshua. Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, is first mentioned in Exodus 17 when he was chosen by Moses to fight the Amalakites, whom he defeated in a brilliant military victory. He was placed in charge of the Tent of Meeting (Ex. 33:11) and was a member of the tribal representatives sent to survey the land of Canaan (Num 13:8). Later, he was appointed by God to succeed Moses as Israel’s commander-in-chief. He eventually led the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land and directed the Israelites’ capture of Jericho. He is remembered especially for his final address to the Israelites, in which he challenged them to serve God faithfully (Josh 24:1–27), concluding with the memorable words, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”(24:15). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  Some may know he was “Israel’s commander-in-chief”. Some may know that the 6th book of the Bible is named after him.  Most people might know that “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho.”  The Battle of Jericho is recorded in chapter 6 and then follow 18 chapters of the Conquest of the Land.   Joshua and the Israelites fought against the seven nations:

the Canaanites, Amorites, Jebusites, Hittites, Hivites, Girgashites and the Perizzites.

Joshua and the Israelites fought many a bloody battle. Modern/post-modern ‘sensibilities’ do not like the Book of Joshua because it is so ‘militaristic’ and violent.  The Promised Land was given by the LORD but the people fought for it.  We think enemies can be won over to be  ‘nice’ like us. Give me a break.  The seven nations had “detestable practices” , such as “child sacrifices, the practice of divination or sorcery, and occult activity.  In addition, Leviticus 18 and 20 detail the rampant sexual depravity among the Canaanites.” (“The Peoples of Canaan, The Lutheran Study Bible, page 345). 

What follows after the entrance into the Land, the Crossing of the Jordan, the first circumcisions and Passover therein, and then the Battle of Jericho, in the next 18 chapters is quite a slog.  They,  and only the Israelites, then were engaged in both physical and spiritual warfare, physically killing the enemies.  Spiritually we must kill enemies, 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, againstthe spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6: 12, from the Epistle Reading for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B (9/2/2012)

Yet they are enemies, the cosmic powers, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, even in the Church, giving their consent to sexual immorality   and covetousness.  This blind world does not see it but we can see the breaking of every commandment every day on our favorite television programs.  By God’s grace alone in Jesus Christ, we see the Canaanite, Jebusite etc. occupation of our own souls.  The name “Joshua”, literally means “God Saves”.  Joshua in Hebrew is pronounces, Yeshua and transliterated into Greek it became Iesus, the very Name in the New Testament, then transliterated into Jesus.  Joshua of old led the Israelites through the waters of the Jordan into the promised land for the conquest.  Jesus Christ leads us through the waters of Holy Baptism into the promised land of eternal life and leads, “the pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12: 2) for our struggles, the crucified and risen Lord before us, beside us, within us, around us.  Yes, it is a slog when we see politicians approving abortion and the abortions of their conscience.  It is a slog when we see church bodies emasculate even the mention of  spiritual warfare as “too militaristic” so that a man and a woman does not stand in the battle.  It is a slog when in our lives we see so many fighting and fears within and without.  But Joshua took a stand with his house:  we will serve the Lord.  Jesus Christ took His stand and served the Lord to us all, the LORD God of Sabaoth for our battles and struggles to defeat the Hittites, the Canaanites etc. He made us His own, forgiven and drafted.  He is the true Ark of the New Covenant of the Lord of all the earth.

Lord Jesus Christ, Your servant Joshua led the children of Israel through the waters of the Jordan River into a land flowing with milk and honey. As our Joshua, lead us, we pray, through the waters of our Baptism into the promised land of our eternal home, where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Read Full Post »

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.

Then!  When?  After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, after the Voice  speaking from above had said:  This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well please (Matthew 3: 17)  And since he did everything in order to teach us, and suffered everything for the same reason, so here also He willed to be led by the Spirit into the desert, to meet the devil in combat, and so that no one should be shocked if, after receiving baptism, he suffers even severer temptations: as though something strange had happened; but that he may learn to stand firm and endure with fortitude what happens according to the ordinary rule of our life.

 This is the reason you received arms; not to stand at ease, but to fight. And God will not prevent temptations from rushing against you.

  •      And this first that you may learn how stronger you are now than before.
  •     Then that you learn prudence; so as not to be overbold because of the greatness of the gifts you have received: for temptation will steady you.
  •       Thirdly, so that the evil demon, who is uncertain whether you have renounced him or not, may not be left in doubt, through this test of temptation, that you have abandoned him, and wholly renounced him.
  •    Fourthly, that you may become stronger, and more tempered than steel.
  •     And fifthly, that you may receive a kind of indication of how precious is the treasure you have been given. For the devil would not have attacked you had he not seen you now held in honor. It was because of this he attacked Adam, because he saw he was given great dignity. For this reason he attacked Job, because he saw him raised up and honored by the God of all. It was because of this He Himself says: Pray that ye enter not into temptation (Mt. 24: 14)
  •     For this reason the Evangelist speaks of Jesus as, not going, but as being led; and this was according to the design of our salvation: implying that we are not as it were to leap into temptation, but, if we are led there, to stand firm against it. And consider where it was the Spirit led Jesus. Not into a city, nor into the market place, but into the desert.  For since He wished to attract the evil spirit, He gives him occasion, not alone from his hunger, but also from the place. For then especially will the devil attack us, when hem sees us alone and separated from„ each other. It was in this way he attempted the woman in the beginning: approaching as she was alone, and her husband absent. For when he sees us in the company or others, and united, he does not dare attack us. For this special reason should we ‘come frequently together’: so that it shall be more difficult for the  devil to attack us.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: