Gene has recently updated Perilous Times Primer #33 (Run with the Horsemen—Part 1), to exemplify the kind of spiritual battles we are facing today. You can read those updates here.

Perilous Times Primer #34

Like Jeremiah, we need to learn how to tap in to our supernatural resources to accomplish the spiritual tasks of our time. All efforts in the energy of the flesh are doomed to fail, and we will only end up confused and exhausted in this invisible war.

Consciousness of Friendly Forces

In his book The Unseen Realm, Michael Heiser reveals a great difference between the thinking of ancient believers and most of us today. They lived with a very strong consciousness of the spiritual realm. They believed that this world was but a dim and broken reflection of a spiritual world every bit as real as the world around us. Interestingly, this focus was the central anchor of the thinking of Socrates.

“The notion of Socratic duality—men have souls whose integrity they must not endanger by a surrender to the appetites; the world we sense and live in is but a pale imitation of a divine and perfect counterpart …” (Hanson, Ripples of Battle, p. 217).

Even so, Michael Heiser writes: “My goal is simple. When you open your Bible, I want you to be able to see it like ancient Israelites or first-century Jews saw it, to perceive and consider it as they would have. I want their supernatural worldview in your head … Seeing the Bible through the eyes of an ancient reader requires shedding the filters of our traditions and presumptions. They processed life in supernatural terms. Today’s Christian processes it by a mixture of creedal statements and modern rationalism. I want to help you recover the supernatural world-view of the biblical writers—the people who produced the Bible” (Michael Heiser, The Unseen Realm, p. 13).

Troops in the Treetops

An example is David in his battles against the Philistines. We read of one battle in particular that illustrates his awareness and consciousness of a spirit-army that fought with him. The Philistines deployed their forces in the valley of Rephaim, meaning “the place of Giants,” as the Rephaim were a race of giants from before the time of Abraham (Gen. 14:5; 15:20). David inquired of the Lord for guidance and was given this strange battle-plan:

“… You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” 2 Samuel 5:23–24

Because David was aware of angelic forces fighting on his behalf, he obeyed God’s command. As a result, he was victorious in the fight, with lasting effects:

“Then the fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations.” 1 Chronicles 14:17

How we need believers today who can wage spiritual warfare in concert with the forces of God! How greatly America and the world need to see mighty victory over the forces of darkness and evil that are destroying souls, lives, and nations.

Chariots of Fire

The prophet Elisha was also a man who lived with an awareness of the unseen realm. In 2 Kings, chapter 6, we read how the Syrians surrounded the town of Dothan with a great army with horsemen and chariots to take Elisha.

When his servant went out early in the morning and saw this great force, he was terrified. Elisha’s calm answer, and the prayer that followed, opened his eyes to what Elisha knew was there, but did not need to see:

“‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:16–17

Effective spiritual warfare begins with the knowledge that Jesus Christ, risen and seated at the Father’s right hand, controls history. Furthermore, we must know Him not just as Savior, but also as “the Lord of [Hosts] Sabaoth” (Rom. 9:29; James 5:4). He is the “Lord of Armies,” both spiritual and physical. It is when men are confident of this and strive to work together with spiritual forces, that victory is achieved.

Daniel, Kingdom-Shaker: Daniel 9–10

The prophet, Daniel, stands in the Bible as a shining example of the power of effective prayer. He recognized that all of our spiritual weaponry is deployed through prayer:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3–4

In Daniel, prayer is made:

  1. For wisdom, guidance, Dan. 2:17–18
  2. Three times daily, against the decree, Dan. 6:7, 10
  3. Confessing for self and nation, Dan. 9:3–20
  4. With fasting, Dan. 10:2–3

Daniel stands out in the Bible as one of the greatest of men (see Ezek. 14:14, 16, 18, 20). His commitment to a life of prayer is legendary, and the length of his captivity in Babylon and his rise to a position of great power and authority is astounding!

He was placed over the “wise men” of Babylon and sat as a judge in the gate of the king (Dan. 2:48–49). These “wise men” were mostly star-gazers and magicians, until Daniel instructed them in the true wisdom of God’s Word. Six hundred years later, the descendants of these same wise men would come to Jerusalem, seeking the new-born Messiah (Matt. 2:1–16). They knew the timing of His coming based on Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks (Dan. 9:24–27). As far as end times are concerned, this is the most important prophecy in the Bible. The Book of Daniel is critical to the understanding of the Book of Revelation.

A Student of Jeremiah (Daniel 9)

Daniel began his search for understanding the times and seasons by diligent study of the book of Jeremiah (Dan. 9:1–2). Knowing that the 70 years of captivity were nearing the end, he prayed in humility and confession for the nation (Dan. 9:3–19). As a result of his prayer, God sent Gabriel to instruct him further. The 70 years’ captivity was a prelude to 70 weeks of years, which would finish the plan of God for Israel (Dan. 9:24–27). This prophecy gives a precise starting point (v. 25), the time of the coming of Messiah (v. 26), the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. (v. 26), and the final seven years of the Age of Israel, which we know as the Tribulation Period (v. 27). Many in Israel, familiar with this prophecy, were awaiting the coming of Jesus Christ (Luke 2:25–38).

A Spiritual Warrior (Daniel 10)

Daniel was never content with his knowledge of Scripture, nor his understanding of the plan of God. He never stopped seeking new truth. Though he was granted a vision of Jesus Christ in Heaven (Dan. 7:9–14), he was always seeking for more truth.

Toward the end of his ministry, he was given to understand that all his prayer life had been part of a great spiritual battle, raging in the unseen realms, involving the rise and fall of nations (Dan. 10:10–21). Because of his tireless dedication to study, obedience, and prayer, he was identified by Gabriel as a “man greatly beloved” by God (vv.11, 19).

The chief thing to understand here is that while he was praying on Earth, angels were engaged in a mighty spiritual conflict (vv. 12–13, 20–21). The point is that his prayers were working together with Michael and Gabriel to defeat the forces of Satan. These “world rulers” are demonic forces, which dominate and enslave nations, bringing them under the powers of the kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13).

Note that prayer is the most intense spiritual combat, Dan. 10:8, 17–19. The primary results of prayer are:

  1. A deeper understanding of Scripture, as it relates to us and our time, Dan. 9:23–27
  2. Entrance into the invisible spiritual war that is always raging, Dan. 10:10–21
  3. Spiritual impact on the course of nations, and liberation of our nation from spiritual darkness, Dan. 11:1–4

The Call to Spiritual Combat: Ephesians 6:10–20

The whole Book of Ephesians is a call to believers to engage in spiritual combat, primarily through diligent prayer. Consider a brief outline of the book:

  1. The spiritual position and power of the believer in Christ, Eph. 1:1–3:21 We are raised up and seated with Christ (Eph. 2:4–10), possessors of all spiritual resources (1:3), and adopted as sons (1:5, 11, 14), so as to exert mighty power (1:17–20) over the forces of Satan (1:21–23).
  2. The effective practice of the believer walking by faith, Eph. 4:1–6:9 (see 2 Cor. 5:7) We are called to walk worthy (4:1), to walk in love (5:1–2), to walk in the light (5:8), to walk wisely (5:15), and in the Spirit (5:18–20; see Gal. 5:16).
  3. The whole armor of God utilized through prayer, Eph. 6:10–20 Take note of Paul’s emphasis on prayer throughout the epistle (1:15–20; 3:12–19; 6:18–20).

We tend to miss the force of the verbsin the section on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10–18). In the Greek, the section begins with two imperative commands (vv. 10–11): First “be [made] strong” (endunamoo—present, middle, imperative). This commands joint participation in the ongoing process of being strengthened. God gives the strength (see 1:19–20), but we must appropriate it through faith. Second, “put on the whole armor” (enduo—aorist, middle, imperative). The aorist demands immediate action, again in the middle voice, in fellowship with the working of God (1:19–20; 3:7–13).

Why is putting on the full armor so crucial? It is because we are engaged in a battle of biblical proportions against an unseen, spiritual enemy (6:11–13). In essence, we are called to take a stand against satanic strategy (v. 11), to resist in the day of evil (v. 13), and to be found standing on the field of battle at the end (v. 13b).

How do we don this spiritual armor? By believing in Jesus Christ we have already begun! The next four verbs (vv. 14–16) are aorist participles. When we trusted in Jesus Christ, we: [have] girded [our] waist with truth … have] put on the breastplate of righteousness … [have] shod [our] feet with … the gospel of peace … [have taken up] the shield of faith.” These parts of the armor are in our possession!

When we place our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have laid hold of His truth (the belt), we have been imputed with His righteousness (the breastplate), we have come to know the content of the Gospel message (the sandals), and we have rested our eternal destiny upon faith alone (the shield). The goal, after our initial salvation, is to continue to grow in grace and truth (2 Pet. 3:18). In this way, our lives conform to biblical truth, we begin to live in practical righteousness, we become witnesses to the Gospel of Christ, and we learn to live by faith (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).

Then, the command in Eph. 6:17 picks up from the command to “put on the whole armor” back in v. 11. Now Paul says, “take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God”. The command “take” is dechomai in the aorist, middle, imperative. Vine’s Dictionary defines this word, “to receive with deliberate and ready reception of what is offered … to receive by way of becoming a partaker … a welcoming or an appropriating reception.” This is the main verb, to which the earlier actions point.

The idea here is that since we have received Jesus Christ and have been equipped for the battle, we need to welcome and stand on the assurance of our security (the helmet of salvation), eagerly receive the offensive weapon of His Word (the sword of the Spirit), and go to war! Believers who are in doubt about their eternal destiny—either due to Calvin’s teaching on perseverance or the teaching of Arminius that we can lose our salvation (both end up in the same place of doubt)—do not make staunch spiritual warriors. The moment we think our works secure our salvation, all spiritual labors are done in the energy of the flesh (fear), rather than in the power of the Spirit (faith).

The “sword of the Spirit” refers to a well-grounded knowledge of God’s Word, which can be used offensively on the battlefield (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). The skillful use of God’s Word results from diligent study and memory recall, plus the willingness to live by its truth. This confidence in the power of God’s truth will cause us to stand, even when others around us flee or fall. Consider again the skill of Socrates at Delium.

“The greatest advantage [of being trained in using weapons] arises when the ranks of the phalanx become broken, and the need arises for one-on-one fighting, either in pursuit attacking someone who is fighting back, or in flight defending against the attacker. Whoever possessed such skill, would not suffer anything in single engagements, nor even if attacked by a host of enemies; he could prevail in any situation. Well over four decades after the battle, Plato here explicitly uses Socrates’ skill in escaping the Boeotians as proof that young men of his own age must learn how to use their weapons through set moves” (Hanson, Ripples of Battle, p. 210).

And let us not forget to whom Socrates gave credit for his escape. It was to his “divine voice”! In other words, he was in effect saying, “God guided me in the way of deliverance.”

How we engage in this war is then made clear, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18).This is the essence of spiritual warfare! The verb for “praying” is proseuchomai, which means “to enter into God’s presence with our requests.” Hebrews 4:14–16 captures the idea perfectly. The verb is in the present, middle, participle form, meaning persistent, personal engagement in a habitual action of seeking God in prayer with specific requests (Matt. 7:7).

The first need is that we pray from a position of strength, due to our position in Christ. Next, we should pray, not for petty and selfish things, but for our nation and the world to come to Christ in faith, and the forces of darkness to be defeated. Finally, no matter how dark the days, we need to pray tirelessly, knowing that our prayers will be heard (see Matt. 7:7; 21:22; John 14:13–14; 15:7; 1 John 5:14–15).

Prayer sustains obedience, which exposes sons of darkness, Eph. 5:1, 8–18. Those devoted to darkness (committed to Satan’s dominion) fear this more than all else!

This section is not an add-on to the epistle, it is rather the point of the epistle (see Eph. 1:9–10, 15–23). The purpose of the revelation of the mystery (1:9–10) is that knowing our position in Christ (1:17–18), we might wage war in power (1:19–20) against principalities and powers (1:21–23). See Eph. 3:8–12, then consider Rom. 8:38.

Prayer depends on understanding our position in Christ (Ephesians 1–2), the power of His Word (chapter 3), and the practice of faith (chapters 4–5), all of which result in prevailing prayer (6:10–20).

Knowing the spiritual weapons which are in our possession, and how to use them effectively, is the key to effective combat in the unseen realm. Going back again to the battle of Delium, listen to Plato, the most famous student of Socrates:

“During the ordeal [at Delium], Alcibiades was caught isolated and wounded. He survived only due to his companionship with Socrates, who stayed by his side, preserving both his life and armor. In Plato’s Symposium, Alcibiades in a mood of drunken candor blurts out that although he was later given a citation for valor at Potidaea, it was really Socrates who deserved the award.” There will be no confusion about who deserves reward at the Bema Seat of Jesus Christ!

We who believe in Christ have been provided with spiritual armaments and divine instructions, so that we may be able to enter into the spiritual arena and be victorious (Rom. 8:37). If we are willing to advance boldly, with the assurance of our eternal security in Christ, wielding the sword of the Spirit skillfully, we cannot fail.

We should each now be prepared to answer the question: “Am I ready to run with the horses/horsemen?” Not only ought we to be ready, we should know that we were born for this battle!

Gene

October 21, 2019



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