Scripture says that the Lord left nations in the promised land “to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan); only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war” (Judg. 3:1-2).
To complete our spiritual maturity, the Lord must “test” us with enemies; like Israel, we must be “taught war.”
I realize that most of us prefer peace. Yes, as much as it depends on us, we should live at peace with all men (Rom. 12:18). Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but we are in a worldwide conflict with principalities and powers (see Eph. 6:12). You see, there is a “time for war” (Eccl. 3:8). As Christians, we must accept and adjust to this truth.
To stand victorious, we need to expand our understanding of who Jesus Christ is. The Bible says Christ “will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies” (Isa. 42:13).
Even the rapture must be understood in military terms: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16).
The imagery of the Lord’s coming is explosive: He comes with a “shout” (or “cry of command,” a “war cry”). He’s followed by the stunning “voice of the “archangel,” then a blast of the “trumpet of God,” so loud, so undeniable that the powers of the heavens are confronted and collapse! Finally, the very “dead in Christ” begin to rise! The whole operation is fiercely militant in nature.
One may argue, yes the Lord is coming to war, but His first goal is to rescue us. Well, I am certainly not against being rescued, having been rescued many times by the Lord! But the picture of the church is also one of militancy. Remember, Jesus said, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18). Consider again the imagery: it is the church that is advancing against the gates of hell, and it is hell that is not prevailing!
The Need for War
Truly, I am for peace, but I recognize that I cannot have peace unless I am first trained for war. It is my training for war that secures my ability to have peace. Indeed, it was during the times of warfare – of struggle and battle – when I have grown the most in courage, in faith, in sacrifice, and in love. The battle stretched me beyond the boundaries of my spirituality. Yes, when I was fighting for my family, church or community, it was the fight itself that defined and established my spiritual growth.
Indeed, as I have grown older, I have come to understand that every generation is ordained to confront and defeat the enemies of its era. In the last hundred years, men and women fought in WWI; then came the Great Depression, and poverty and fear were conquered. WWII began, and again a generation rose and saved the world from unspeakable tyranny. Next, America rose to stand against the spread of godless Soviet communism.
You see, every generation, at some point, will face a war that must be won. In that fight we learn lessons of courage. Do we see this generational warfare? Thus, we cannot interpret the fallen conditions of our world and assume the end of the world is upon us. No! What we are seeing in our world is the battleground of our war against the godless enemies of our times.
Remember, I believe in the rapture; I also believe we are in the season of the end. But I cannot excuse myself from facing the giants of today’s wars. As our forefathers had to succeed on the battlefield against great and highly trained enemies, so we too must overcome the radical agenda of those who seek to mainstream perversion into our society. Some of us have fought in physical wars-and we must pray righteous conclusions for these wars as well. Others are fighting to see our nation returned to Christ. I know some are weary, yet it is time that we too “might be taught war.”
Regardless of the battle before us, no matter how dark the spiritual atmosphere becomes, we must fight for the purposes of God in the earth. We cannot relax our intercession nor surrender our vision for our nation’s future. We have not entered the day of irreversible darkness.
You are no doubt familiar with the Lord of the Rings trilogy written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien, an Englishman, denied that his work mirrored the realities of World War II. Yet much of his manuscript was written during the height of that great conflict, when entire kingdoms were at war. He was clearly influenced by his time. His book is a metaphor for all times and conflicts, especially highlighting the role of common men to attain uncommon levels of valor and victory against forces of evil.
In a scene from the third Lord of the Rings movies, The Return of the King, King Aragorn seeks to inspire his outnumbered men to fight in spite of what seems like sure defeat: Hell’s swarming legions have amassed before them and the courage of Aragorn’s fighters is weakening. Riding along the front lines of his gathered, but lowly army, he shouts:
I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. . . . This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, men of the West!
Let us also put aside our fears and especially the burden of a passive, prayerless existence. Let us take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And let us fight for all we hold dear in our times and culture. Yes, a day may come when the world will fully succumb, for a sprinkling of years, to the forces of evil. But it is not this day. This day we fight!