Intercessory Prayer in Spiritual Warfare, Part II

The Story of Lazarus

The story begins when Jesus is first told that his friend Lazarus is sick.  Jesus immediately says, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (John 11:5)  

John’s narrative makes clear that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (v. 6), but when Jesus hears that Lzaarus is sick, He stays two days where He was and delays going to see him.  

After the delays, Jesus then tells his disciples that they will go see him and the disciples ask why Jesus wants to go to Judea when the Jews were only recently trying to kill Him.  Jesus responds to them saying, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep” (v. 12).  

The disciples then ask Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover “(v. 13), yet Jesus only spoke figuratively of Lazaarus’ death using a sleep as a metaphor for death.  When the disciples take Jesus literally, however,  Jesus says in plain language, “Lazarus is dead,” adding that He is glad He was not with Lazarus:  “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe” (v. 15).

This part of the story of Lazarus may help us understand why our prayers may not always be answered instantly.  Why did Jesus delay?  Actually, it was to strengthen the faith of His disciples rather than discourage them.

 

Jesus Wept

Nearing Bethany in Judea, the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, Jesus and the disciples hear that Lazarus has been dead for four days, a length of time that seriously withstood any kind of healing, for it was believed that the person’s soul left the body completely after three days.  

In fact, Martha and Mary both individually chastise Jesus for delaying so long that it was too late for healing, yet Jesus asks them to have faith and believe.

What follows in the story of Lazarus’ resurrection is the verse nearly everyone can quote from memory because it is so short,  “Jesus wept” (v. 35).  Seekers may neglect to ask why Jesus wept?

 

Lazarus Come Forth!

Afterwards, seeing that Jesus is so moved, the gathered Jews confer with one another saying, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” (37)

Jesus knows Lazarus will rise from the dead.  He told his disciples even before departing for Judea that this would happen. And after arriving in Bethany, He was affirmed with Martha and Mary that he would live.  

The question must be asked: Why, then, is Jesus so moved that He weeps?  And why does He weep at the tomb of Lazarus?

Jesus knows the end of the story, so why does He weep?

The story continues, however, describing how Jesus is again “deeply moved” (v. 38), before He moves closer to the tomb and engages in a debate with Martha:

So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus *said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, *said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus *said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone.

Then comes a significant moment that de-mystifies all that has occurred to this point in the narrative. Jesus prays aloud, saying, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me”(v. 41).

There is no doubt that Jesus prayed “without ceasing,” just as we are instructed to do by the Apostle Paul (I Thessalonians 5:17).  And we know that Jesus had already been led by the Holy Spirit through the gift of knowledge that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.  

Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:43-44)

We must ask again, therefore, why  was Jesus “deeply moved within”?  And why did He weep?  

I believe that these were indicators that Jesus was praying with “groanings too deep for words.”  In many ways, this incident mirrors what happens on the Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection:

And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.  (Acts 2:3-4)

Some of the devout Jews living in Jerusalem gathered nearby.  They were living there having come from many different countries, or “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5),  Hearing the believers speaking after being filled with the Holy Spirit, these Jews exclaim, “we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God” (2:11).  Yes, some heard their own languages in the prayers of the believers as they spoke in tongues, but these Jews heard the believers speaking the “mighty deeds of God.”

This story reveals two very significant truths.  

First . . .

First, this “speaking in tongues” is a powerful spiritual gift, listed by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 12:10.  

Cessationist teachers, however, those who teach that the gifts of the Holy Spirit passed away when the apostles passed away, have taught against the use of this one gift in particular and even forbidden its use.  Therefore, they have deprived the Church of a powerful tool for prayer and personal edification (see I Corinthians 14:4), especially when we do not know how to pray.  

Yes, Paul preferred the gift of prophecy in church services, but not because he was denouncing the gift of tongues.  He wrote,

I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue. (I Corinthians 14:18-19)

He was merely emphasizing the fact that in church services all present needed to be considered and edified, with none left out.   He states that everything needs to be done decently and in order.

In fact, Paul writes that he speaks in tongues more than anyone else, while adding that “one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” while one who prophesies edifies the church.  He concludes, “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy” so that all may learn and all may be edified (I Corinthians 14:3-5).

Second. . .

Second, this “speaking in tongues” is not ecstatic gibberish, but prayer to God.  Nor is it a “message” from God to His people.  Rather, it is similar in essence to the “groanings too deep for words” description in Paul’s letter, the groanings of intercessory prayer.  

 

 

Intercessory Prayer in Spiritual Warfare, Part I

In the Same Way. . .

In the last article in this Blog titled “Spiritual Weapons, Part IX,” the importance of intercessory prayer and its connections with spiritual warfare was discussed and illustrated.  In this article, we will continue to see how this aspect of Spiritual Warfare worked powerfully in both the life of Daniel and in the ministry of Jesus.

You will recall, I hope, the following passage:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  . . .Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.  (Romans 8:26-27, 34)

We saw that the “groanings” of the Holy Spirit in us are one form that prayers of intercession may take, particularly when we don’t know how to pray.  Remarkably, two accounts from both the Old and the New Testaments provide insights into how this type of prayer works.

The Story of Daniel

We read in the 10th Chapter in Daniel that the prophet is deep in prayer for three weeks, fasting and praying prayers of repentance on behalf of Israel, when he sees a vision:

I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult. (vs. 5-6)

Daniel is so overwhelmed by this vision that he falls to the ground:

So I was left alone and saw this great vision; yet no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength. But I heard the sound of his words; and as soon as I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. (10: 8-9)

The angelic messenger raises Daniel up and speaks to him:

 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.  But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.” (10:12-14)

This passage  provides a remarkable perspective on the spiritual realm, particularly concerning the spiritual warfare we have been learning about.  It’s clear that Daniel’s prayers of intercession for Israel have an instant effect, even though he doesn’t see the immediate result.  So often we seek instant results because of our physical limitations in the realm of the flesh.  

However, Gabriel, the angel, had immediately set out to come to Daniel, but he was prevented by one of the “rulers of darkness” in charge of Persia.  It wasn’t until Michael the Archangel came to help in the battle that the evil spirit was overcome and Gabriel was able to come in response to Daniel’s prayers.

One wonders what might have happened had Daniel given up and quit praying after only a few days!  Plus, the next battle the angel says he must fight is with the “prince of Greece,” an indication of the next earthly dynasty to come.  See the angel’s prediction in this passage:

Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, “May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” Then he said, “Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince. (vs. 20-21)

This narrative from the Book of Daniel is especially enlightening in connection with the engagements we may experience in spiritual warfare.  It’s comforting to know that not only are we given the spiritual weapons we need,  and we can pray even when we do not know how to pray, but also that the angelic powers of God are fighting on our behalf as well.

Of course, this story took place before the victory of Jesus Christ over the principalities and powers of darkness and the rulers of wickedness in high places.  Jesus said, “I watched Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.”  And he gave us the command to enforce His victory by using the authority given to us by Christ Himself, who told us to spread His Gospel to the whole earth in His name.

In our next article, we will consider similar evidences of intercessory prayer, particularly prayer that is similar to Paul’s “groanings in the spirit,” in the ministry of Jesus.

Spiritual Weapons, Part IX: The Arena of Prayer

Spiritual_Warfare

Spiritual Warfare

The title of these articles is “Spiritual Weapons,” and they are all described in terms of  the weapons used by gladiators in an arena or by soldiers in a battle for a city.  However, it’s important to emphasize that these weapons are not “carnal weapons.” Instead, they  are used in prayer, not to fight God, but to engage with the enemy to win back the prisoners of war that Satan has captured or provisions of God that have been stolen from us.

Many Christians are unaware of the nature of this battle, some not even knowing whom they are fighting, much less how to overcome the forces of darkness through prayer.  

There are many different forms of prayer, as the Apostle Paul tells Timothy:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, or kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.  (I Timothy 2:1-3:  2)

Those prayers offered “on behalf of all men” are prayers of intercession, or “intercessory” prayer, and they are the ones most especially associated with spiritual warfare.  Note that even the Lord is described as a warrior fighting on behalf of salvation and righteousness in the following passage:

Now the Lord saw,
And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.
16 And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him.
17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing
And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.  (Isaiah 59:15-17)

Intercession and Intercessory Prayer

What does it mean to intercede?  An intercessor places himself between a condemned person, standing between that person and the punishment justice demands.  Or an intercessor attempts to reconcile or mediate the differences between two parties in a legal or personal dispute.

Thus, in the passage from Isaiah, when the Lord looked and found no one to intercede, He was not pleased.  He was astonished that there was no intercessor to bring justice to humankind.  As a result, He took up a breastplate and a helmet to exact justice, in zeal and vengeance He sought to defeat the foes of His will.

As stated a few verses following in Isaiah, not only did the Lord fight the battle Himself, but also He recruited an army of soldiers to fight with Him: 

“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from now and forever.” (Isaiah 59:21)

Finally, in the penultimate act of intercession, the Lord Jesus came to earth as a man and died on a cross, the final sacrifice for sin, making intercession for us.  

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.  (Isaiah 53:12)

Jesus Christ took the sins of the entire world upon Himself, and He continues forever as a priest on high, a Mediator who is able to save all who come to God in repentance and faith: 

The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.  (Hebrews 7:23-25)

Christians Are Also Called As Intercessors

Has there ever been a time when you have not known how to pray?  Sometimes, we don’t even know whom to pray for, who needs our prayers of intercession.  We neither know who is under attack, nor the causes of their distress.  Thus, the following promise found in John’s letter is often neglected in churches today, or at best we hear the “Father, if it be your will…” prayer.

Note, however, what the Apostle John writes:

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.  (I John 5:13-15)

The Apostle Paul also provides insights into the remedy for this predicament that God has given us through the Holy Spirit.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

From this passage we see clearly that the “groanings” Paul writes about have to do with prayers of intercession.  When we do not know how to pray or what to ask for, the Holy Spirit Himself provides the prayer, not in terms of words but in the language of the Spirit through us.  This is one reason why the Holy Spirit is so important in the lives of believers:  He is not only our Teacher, given to us by Christ Himself, but also our Intercessoer, praying for us when we don’t know how to pray.  

In an earlier verse in Romans, these groanings are compared to the pains of childbirth, the kind of struggle that brings forth new life. Not only the whole creation groans, Paul writes, but  also we groan within ourselves.  Such “groans” produce the fruit of redemption and hope, the ability to look forward to the future with joy and expectation, patiently waiting to see the will of God revealed and performed in our lives:

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:22-25)

Finally, we see in the next few verses in Romans that Jesus Christ Himself has continued to intercede for us after His resurrection and ascension to the throne of God.  Will not God the Father answer the perfect prayers of His Son who is presently interceding for us?    

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8:31-32)

Few Mighty Works?

These promises seem too good to be true, especially when we are surrounded by disease, death, decay, and the sinful conditions in this world.  Why do we not see these promises fulfilled in our lives more fully?  Is it God’s fault?  Did He give us false promises, false hope?

Or are we ourselves together the reason why the Lord God is prevented from fulfilling His promises in our lives?  

I’m reminded of the story of what happened when Jesus came to His own hometown and began teaching in the synagogue. Although the people were astonished at His teaching, they began to question both His wisdom and His miraculous powers, having seen Him grow from childhood in their own midst:

And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them,“A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.  (Matthew 13:57-58)

Jesus Himself could do few miracles because of the unbelief of the people in His hometown.  Likewise, answers to our prayers of intercession, though given through us by the Holy Spirit Himself are even more unlikely  to be fulfilled today unless we begin believing in true faith with hope, the expectation that His promises will truly be fulfilled.

 

 

Spiritual Weapons, Part VIII: The Weapon of Forgiveness

A Ministry of Reconciliation

Speaking to His disciples after His resurrection, Jesus said, 

“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (John 20:21-23)

There are a number of mysteries in this statement, but for our purposes now,  a significant statement about forgiveness is here in this passage that is often overlooked.  

I never applied this statement as applying to me personally, for it seems to concern only the disciples of Jesus who were with Him at the time.  Surely, Jesus wasn’t saying that I today can forgive people’s sins!  Why would He give that kind of authority to me?  I used to believe that only God could forgive the sins of others.

Reading more carefully, I discovered that Jesus was indeed speaking to all in the Body of Christ, the Church, for He is not telling us to forgive people’s sins but to extend the good news of God’s forgiveness to others, speaking to them in His name.   God has already done everything necessary for  people’s sins to be forgiven, for He sent His Son into the world to reconcile the world to Himself, as the Apostle Paul wrote:  

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  (II Corinthians 5:18-19)

In other words, we have been commissioned to take the good news of God’s forgiveness to the world.  He is no longer holding people’s sins against them.  If they will only turn to Him, they will see the hand of forgiveness extended to them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who took their penalty for sin upon Himself while on the cross.   We have been given the “ministry of reconciliation,” the task of showing others how to turn to Jesus.  

This is indeed good news!  God does not look upon people as sinners but as lost sheep in need of a shepherd.

Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15)

Our task as “ambassadors for Christ” is to extend this forgiveness to all through the Word of God, telling them the good news of reconciliation. And as we approach others with this attitude of forgiveness, the power of God’s Holy Spirit is given full authority to speak to their hearts in conviction and love.  As we speak, they shall not hear a voice filled with condemnation, but a voice filled with the Love of God.

Jesus did not come into the world to condemn.  He came so the world might be saved.  Nor should we, therefore, go into the world to condemn. Our message should not be “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” but instead “Sinners in the hands of a forgiving God.

God has shown me many times that forgiveness is a weapon we can use to defeat the enemy.  Primarily, forgiveness releases us from the bondage of resentment and bitterness that can cause all kinds of destruction in our lives and in the lives of others.  If I hold unforgiveness and bitterness, my prayers are hindered, and the enemy keeps me from even praying in the first place.  

Most of all, we use spiritual weapons in intercessory prayer, a time when we willingly volunteer to be a barrier between the enemy and those we are praying for.  We can quench all the fiery darts of the enemy, not only those directed at ourselves but also at others.  

Tempered in Love

For any weapon to be strong, it must first be tempered.  Likewise, unless our Spiritual Weapons have been hardened, they will break with the first engagement with the enemy.  The tempering agent for our weapons is the fire of love.  The weapons of our warfare are weapons of love since they come from the true God of love.

When people in the world would argue and debate, the Lord would have us use the Sword of the Spirit.  When people might use a bulldozer to move a mountain, God would have us believe and have faith in Him and His promises.  When others may use force or exact revenge or retribution, the Lord would have us be righteously humble before others.  When people may self-righteously condemn, Christ Jesus would have us extend His forgiveness in love.

The sum of this is love for all people and hate for the enemy, Satan and his emissaries of evil.  Our ministries must be devoted toward building up of the Body of Christ in love, increasing God’s Kingdom, and casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

Spiritual Weapons, Part VII: The Weapon of Praise

The Story of Rahab

Having heard about the amazing victories of the Israelites, their miraculous conquests over the Egyptians and the Amorites, the citizens of  Jericho lived in dread and fear of the approaching Israeli nation, but they still felt safe behind the great walls of Jericho, which were legendary for their impregnable size and strength, capable of keeping out any invading force.  

In spite of the security and wealth Rahab enjoys as a seller of flax and linen, as well as serving as a Temple prostitute, when Joshua’s two spies sent out to learn about the city’s defenses come to seek lodging in her home, Rahab resolves to protect them from the King of Jericho, hiding them on her roof among the drying stalks of flax.  When the king’s men come seeking the spies, having heard that they had come to Rahab’s house, Rahab tells them that she didn’t know where the two men had come from, but they had left before the city gates were shut.  “I do not know where the men went,” she says. “Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 

After the king’s men leave, Rahab hurries to talk to the two spies, telling them that she understands their mission:

I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. (Joshua 2:8-11)

She tells the spies that in exchange for protection for herself and her family, she has decided to shelter them for she knows that the Israelites will emerge victorious over the walls and citizens of Jericho.

Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.  (Joshua 2:12-13)

Rahab makes an agreement with the spies to help them escape from the city, helping them to climb down with a rope through her window.  The spies agree that when the Israelite armies come to the city, they will allow Rahab’s family to escape destruction, but only if she hangs a cord of scarlet thread through the same window.  

When the spies climb down from the window, Rahab immediately ties the cord made with scarlet thread to the window, letting it hang down so it can be seen by the approaching people of Israel.  What happens next is a story almost impossible to believe unless we know the God of miracles who can cast down even the strongest of strongholds.

Casting Down Imaginations and Every High Thing 

Read the following psalm carefully to see if you can find the Spiritual Weapon described:

Psalm 149 

Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.

Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
To execute vengeance on the nations
And punishment on the peoples,
To bind their kings with chains
And their nobles with fetters of iron,
To execute on them the judgment written;
This is an honor for all His godly ones.
Praise the Lord!

Verse six is the significant verse for our purposes now, for it reveals the powerful Weapon of Praise.  How can praise be a spiritual weapon used against the forces of darkness and evil?  Its focus is directed to the only God worthy of true praise?

In another Psalm we are shown not only how to praise God, but also what to praise Him for:

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!

Here we are told that since God is everywhere, we need to praise Him both in the sanctuary and in “His mighty expanse.”  We are also told that we should praise Him for His “mighty deeds” and to praise Him because of His greatness.  And clearly, music and dancing and shouting may be a part of how we praise the Lord.

Praise in Action

In the story of Joshua and the Children of Israel, after their wanderings in the desert and their crossing of the Jordan River to the Promised Land, we find that the Weapon of Praise is supernaturally powerful.  

Marching around the great walls of the City of Jericho, all of the men of war along with seven priests carrying seven trumpets and the Ark of the Covenant circle the city.  On the seventh day, they march a final seven times when the Israelite priests were told to blow their trumpets.  The people, hearing the trumpets, were told to shout: 

Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.”…So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:16, 20) 

Rahab and her family, however, were spared destruction, for the scarlet cord was seen hanging out of her window and those sheltered in side were  saved:

“Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:25)  

The scarlet cord may be a type, or representation, of the blood of Christ, which offers us salvation, a way of escape in spite of our sins.

This is not the end of Rahab’s story, however, for she ultimately married Salmon, the son of the leader of the Tribe of Judah.  Boaz was their son, a man who would marry Ruth, a story told in the book with her name.  

The son of Boaz and Ruth was Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David, the man who would be King of Israel and from whose line would come Jesus, the Savior of all mankind, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:3-5).  

Thus, a former harlot of Jericho of Canaan would become one of the few woman listed in the line of the Messiah, a woman who decided to align herself and her family with the true God of Israel rather than with the many gods of the Canaanites.  She decided to prostitute herself no longer to those gods, an astounding change which immediately put her in conflict with those in her city, yet opened her to the love, acceptance, and forgiveness of Yahweh.

Why Praise Works in Spiritual Warfare

Satan prefers to be invisible, to tell his lies without being seen.  Yet when he is exposed, he wants to be the center of everyone’s attention.  Either way, at all times we Christians need to be focused on the Lord and His promised blessings rather than the deceits and lies of the enemy.  Praise puts our attention on the redemption and salvation of God provided through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, who took all of the sin and the assaults of the enemy upon Himself.  He even went to Hell to take our place for three days and nights until He ultimately “led captivity captive” and brought about Lucifer’s ultimate defeat.  

Thus, the Weapon of Praise is used not to win a battle, but to acknowledge a victory that has already been won.  It is faith in action, for it is a demonstration of our belief in spite of what we may see or experience in the natural realm, preferring to be guided by the Word of God according to His true reality.

7trumpetsofjericho-jacquesjamestissot-750

 

WordPress Themes