Summer Growth: G – R – O – W

GROW 1Worship and Warfare

City of God

Most people can agree that life is a battle and that we need, in the words attributed to Paul, to “fight the good fight” (1 Tim. 6:12). The late Derek Prince, a well respected Christian Bible teacher and author, made a very reassuring observation with reference to the modern State of Israel, one that we can well apply to ourselves as His children: “God has a different attitude toward the property that is His!” [1] The comment highlights the fact that, although all the earth is His in a broader sense, God particularly accepts maintenance of and responsibility for the Land of Israel. It is the only piece of real estate that He chose as a location to build His House and where He “placed His Name, forever” (Ezra 6:12; Nehemiah 1:9). His name plaque is on the door! Any other claims of ownership are unjustified and false. The Land is His and the capital city – Jerusalem, the city of the Great King – bears His Name. They belong to Him alone. As do we, when we bear His Name.

The ongoing, vicious and relentless attacks of the enemy, both in word and deed, against the restored State of Israel can be seen as an earthly outworking of the spiritual battle taking place in the heavens. As the spiritual battle will continue until Messiah arrives in Jerusalem to reign as the King of kings, we can expect the onslaught of the enemy of the God of Israel to continue on the earth until then.

It also is a reflection of the battle we must face as a child of God throughout our earthly lifetime. It is ongoing for we cannot make peace with a lying foe who is bent on our destruction and who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). As we see exemplified in Israel today, when our trust is in Avinu sh’b’Shamayim, our Father in Heaven, the Owner of the House, we are able to enjoy peace in the midst of strife and He prepares a banquet table before us in the presence of our enemies. He anoints our heads with the oil of gladness, and our cups overflow with His abundant life (Psalm 23:5).

Another well-known teacher and “father” of the bridging between the Church and Israel is Lance Lambert, who is also a Jerusalemite. In a teaching he gave in Jerusalem, Lance made the intriguing comparison of a man’s wife and a capital city. He referred to Revelation 21:9-10 where the Bride of Messiah is called “the New Jerusalem” and said, in his characteristically humorous way, that he had never heard a man introduce his wife by saying, “This is my capital city!” He did not elaborate, and I was left wondering about the implications of this interesting idea.

Every city has its own atmosphere. Think of New York, New Orleans, Miami Beach, London, Paris, Venice, etc., etc. The city will reflect its inhabitants and its central focus and purpose. As a “city” of the King of the Universe what sights, sounds, industry and such are exhibited to those who visit or live with us? What is the focus and purpose of our “city”? Is it clear that this is an exclusive property of the One true God; one that is ‘set apart’ from the world and treasured as His dwelling place?

Recently, while reading Rebecca Petrie’s book, Falling into His Grace, I learned something about the city of Rome. She records a visit from a friend who had studied in Rome and who shared how the city was full of fountains, “…many dating back to the time of Christ and before. In that era there were, of course, no motors or pumps. To provide pressure, they built aqueducts high above the city. The water plunged down from above, forcing it into plumes in the fountains.” [2] This beautifully illustrates how, when our lives are yielded to the Lord and laid out according to His plan and we keep the “plumes” clear, His life can flow through us like living water from above and pour forth as something of pleasing and refreshing beauty. The “city” of our life is beautified. As Yeshua said, “He who believes in me …out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The consideration that we, the people of God, are His living, breathing “capital city” in the earth, adds extra weight to Paul’s exhortation to the believers in Rome:

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
(Romans 12:1-2)

Observant Jews pray a special prayer three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening, that includes the words, Uv’nei Yerushalayim Ir haKodesh, bimherah, b’yameinu. “And build Jerusalem, the Holy City, soon and in our days.” When I pray this prayer (I admit not three times a day!) I always add, “U’b’chaiyeinu – And in our lives.” As the present earthly capital of Jerusalem is being rebuilt and made holy in preparation, we are part of that process as ‘living stones’ – representatives of the City of the Great King.

 Picture, New Jerusalem, John Ligtenberg, Blue and White Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel.

Place of Worship and Warfare

The Scriptures record the strong God-forged link between worship and warfare. The study and proclamation of His Word is a form of worship, as is prayer. God calls His dwelling place “a house of prayer.” I am reminded of a meaningful, anonymous quote:

“Something happens when we pray, powers of evil lose their sway, we gain strength and fear gives way; therefore, let us pray.”

Prayer and praise are both ‘weapons of our warfare’. The Temple in Jerusalem was not a hushed, silent sanctuary; it was continually filled with vocalized prayer together with the anointed song and music of the Levitical priesthood. King David is the archetype. He was a skilled warrior, who with his band of mighty men fought valiant battles and “struck down the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great victory” (1 Chronicles 11:14). At the same time, he was “the sweet singer of Israel” who directed the Levites who “were trained in singing to the Lord…all were skillful” and employed “cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the House of God” (1 Chron. 25:6-7).

The first powerful sign of a worshipful act influencing a physical battle occurred when Moses looked down from a hilltop and raised his arms while the Israelites were doing battle in the valley against the attacking Amalekites (Exodus 17:10-15). While his hands were raised, the people of God prevailed; when he lowered them they weakened. We understand that as long as he raised his hands to the Lord, with the help of Aaron and Hur, God fought for Israel. After their victory Moses built an altar of remembrance and called it YHWH Nissi – God is my Banner. Joe Garlington, a modern-day worshipper and prayer-warrior, declares that, likewise, “Battles are won wherever holy hands are lifted up to God.” [3]

Another powerful example of the connection between worship and warfare is found in the book of Second Chronicles, when Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem are facing invasion by a large enemy army. The king, Jehoshaphat, declares a fast and he and the people gather in the Temple court and pray and cry out to the Lord. A prophet, Jahaziel son of Zechariah, says to them: “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (20:15). He presents them with a practical strategy and then proclaims, “You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of YHWH on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem!” (20:17). How do they respond to this awesome news? King Jehoshaphat humbly bows down with his face to the ground, “…and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before YHWH, worshiping YHWH. And the Levites … stood up to praise YHWH, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice” (20:18-19).

Early the next morning they went out to face the enemy. The king addressed them and “he appointed those who were to sing to YHWH and praise him in holy array, as they went before the army, proclaiming:

Hodu la’Adonai ki tov, ki le’olam chasdo!
Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures for ever.

“And when they began to sing and praise, YHWH set an ambush against the [enemy] who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (20:21-22). As prophesied, the army of Judah did not need to fight and the Lord gave the victory. With joy and praise, “they came to Jerusalem, with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of YHWH. And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that YHWH had fought against the enemies of Israel” (20:28-29).

GROW 3Weapons of our Warfare

The people say it’s just a simple song. God says our song is a symphony of praise unto Him and a dirge of destruction to the enemy. The people say it’s just the clapping of hands, but God says in the heavenly realm …it’s a thunderclap bringing fear to the enemy. …The people say the waving of flags [or the lifting of banners] is just a silly thing, but God says it is a signal to the enemy of his imminent defeat and is a wave offering unto God. [4]

The apostle Paul clarifies in his letter to the Ephesians, that “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (6:12). Therefore, as he also explains, the protective armor God provides, which enables us to stand against the wily attacks of the enemy of our souls, is spiritual – the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the shoes of the gospel of peace. Also, when we are on the offensive, “…the weapons of our warfare are not worldly [carnal] but have Divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). They are the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph.6:12), fervent, watchful prayer, and our praise and worship of God.

Although the actual battle may be taking place supernaturally, in “heavenly places”, it is clear that our earthly, physical actions have a direct impact on that battle. In addition, our spiritual ‘warfare’ has a supernatural effect on our physical circumstances. A great illustration of this is found in the account of Paul and Silas in the book of Acts. They were unjustly arrested as Jews who were disturbing the peace in the city of Philippi in Macedonia. “The crowd joined in attacking them; and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison” (16:22-23). The jailor was charged to watch them carefully and he incarcerated them in a high security cell and fastened their feet in stocks. It was the middle of the night, they were beaten and in pain, isolated and uncomfortable. What were they to do? Paul and Silas started praising God and singing with all their hearts, so loudly that all the prisoners heard them. The whole atmosphere of the place changed, for right there in the dark, dank prison they were building a throne for the Presence of the King! (Psalm 22:3). Sure enough, the Lord intervened and the situation changed dramatically. “Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s fetters were unfastened” (16:26). Did they run off and escape into the night? No! The Lord had greater plans, which included the salvation of the jailor and his household as well as the opportunity to stand up to the unjust magistrates. We must never underestimate the power of God as we offer up our heartfelt songs in His praise!

The origin of the English word ‘worship’ is the Anglo Saxon compound word weorthscype. The first part weorth, means “worth, value, respect” and scype means “to shape or to build something.” Together they carry the meaning of “to shape or build worth, value or respect.” [5] Comparable to the veneration of an earthly ‘lord’ by his ‘vassal’ (underling, servant), so too, when we offer worship to God, we literally become vessels immersed in His infinite worth and value. The Lord is worthy to be honored and praised!

Let us lift our hearts, and hands, and voices to join with the four living creatures in the Throne Room of God, who day and night give glory and honor and praise to Him saying:

“Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh! Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord, God,
the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!” [6]

 

Footnotes:

1. Derek Prince, Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, Chosen Books, USA, 2009, 124
2. Rebecca Petrie, Falling into His Grace, The Power of a Life Laid Down, Belgium, 2009, 130.
3. Joseph L. Garlington, Worship, The Pattern of Things in Heaven, Destiny Image Publishers, USA, 1997, 45.
4. Ibid., 72
5. Ibid., 18
6. Revelation 4:8

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