Spiritual Warfare and the Kingdom of God
The kingdom of God is opposed. We are called to stand in the gap, which means between the coming of God’s kingdom into our world and the forces that oppose it. This is part of what it means to serve God and his purposes for the world. The kingdom of God doesn’t come naturally, or just by our planned initiatives and work. It means overcoming spiritual opposition.
When Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God there was all kinds of opposition. Much of it was violent, but Jesus took no violence up against this opposition. The opposition came with slander, with twisting of words, all designed to ruin the witness and work of Christ. So Christ has to be as wise as a serpent, but also as harmless as a dove. His ministry was powerful, yet meek, never breaking a smouldering wick, meaning never harming any person.
Satan came after Jesus in the wilderness in the temptation, and many times after that. The service of God requires vigilance in so many areas. Enlisting into God’s service is enlisting in an army, and so it can’t be taken as an easy walk. Good work will be opposed. Any work that challenges darkness will have the powers of darkness come against it. When we don’t challenge darkness, it leaves us alone and leaves us to die.
Daniel is one Old Testament book that focuses on this warfare. God was bringing a new chapter to pass in his will for the earth and Daniel had some insight into this. As he began to pray the angel was delayed in bringing his reply. Some people count this as obstruction. God has provisions for your assignment, whether wisdom, or other assistance, and these seem delayed or obstructed. This is an area where people often focus on when they speak of spiritual warfare. God’s work seems on hold because of obstruction. In Joshua, it’s like Jericho being shut up tight. That is, everything that should be available to help seems closed.
These things make testing times for us. God uses this to refine us, as well as to prove himself in our lives through the trial, like we see in the book of Job. Back to Daniel, we don’t know the explicit nature of this opposition. It involves spiritual powers, but also earthly, human powers that work in tandem. The prince of Grecia could have referred to Alexander the Great, and other imperial powers were mentioned, which were trying to rule in the earth. Whatever the case, Daniel was safe and secure, but also had to wait for God’s timing in everything. Spiritual warfare wasn’t a way in which Daniel could manipulate events to his own timetable. Spiritual warfare isn’t a technology that we use to get our way. The issue here is God’s will being done and he is the one who brings this to pass in his way and time.
Moses also lifted up his hands when Israel was fighting the enemy, calling upon the Lord for support. Spiritual warfare needs support from the divine ruler, the one who makes the final decision. There have been many fanciful stories about spiritual warfare in our times and this has put many people off the topic. Many people prophesy all kinds of visions they claim to have seen and say if people follow their recipe in “spiritual warfare” they will get fast results. False prophets use such to make money. They manipulate congregations and take advantage of superstitions. Others are sincere but we can be misguided by teaching in this area. There is a true side to things and also a way in which truth can be manipulated or expressed by emotionalism that is presumptive, or an enthusiasm that wants a quick “breakthrough” that may not be in our true interests.
But the basic issue about calling on the Lord to help, like Moses did, is sound. The phrase “We are all in this together comes to mind.” We hear this all through the “Covid pandemic,” in which the elite promise their draconian lockdowns are “for the good of the poor,” while they jet-set off and holiday in exotic locations. But with God, the phrase is true. We can’t do this alone. We are never called to be self-dependant. We are in this together. When we lift our hands and call upon the Lord for help from our heart, he hears. He comes to our aid, breaks open the walls of Jericho, blows away the opposition, and ushers in his strength and support for the assignment. He does not fail. God is genuine.
When he says we are in this together, he is faithful. God’s strength is coming. Wait on him. The issue for us is to be in God’s will while we wait. Occupy yourself with having your heart and activities firmly in the will of God, with his kingdom ruling your motivations, and not your own plans. The only way to defeat the enemy is to have God’s Spirit rule your heart and character. Don’t fight the enemy yourself. He will only distract you, lie to you and lead you astray. Look to God alone. Spiritual warfare is calling on God and waiting in him, in genuine service, as God leads you to oppose darkness on earth. The battle is the Lord’s. He will come to you like he came to Daniel, and like he did when Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jeruslem in the day of opposition. Today, we are building the walls of a spiritual Jeruslem, which is righteousness in all the earth. This vision is certain.