Thursday, December 8, 2016

Identifying Our Enemies?

Num 13:27  And they told him, "We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Num 13:28  However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there…
Num 13:30  But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it." Num 13:31  Then the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are."…
Num 13:32  So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, "The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. Num 13:33  And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."

Someone well pointed out that Israel’s problem in refusing to enter into the Promised Land was that they didn’t realize who their real enemy was.  They didn’t need to fear giants they should have been more worried about being seduced by their gods and assimilated into the world.  Perhaps another way to say this is that they didn’t know who they should fear the most.  They feared what man could do to their bodies more than the God that redeemed them and would judge them.  If Israel had been worried about idolatry rather than physical danger their history would have been much different than it turned out to be. 

Misdirected fear and a misunderstanding of who our enemies really are have always plagued our sanctification.  For many Christians this same irrational fear of physical trials is seen in how they tend to identify their greatest enemies as communism or liberalism.  At least they seem to get much more excited over politics than doctrine and church, etc.  But we never read in the Bible where the early church identified Roman laws as the enemy.  This is the same mistake that Israel made because they are more worried about personal freedoms and the removal of persecution than they are in being godly in the “midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world”.

I mean if we are commanded to be good slaves if we find ourselves in that situation and to serve our masters as unto the Lord, then our enemy is not slavery or social injustice, it is allowing situations to defeat our ability to be godly no matter what, to demonstrate to all that Jesus is our love and life before all else.  If we can be an influence for good and justice in this world that is great, but man’s greatest need is not social justice it is getting right with God so that he will escape the just wrath of God.  Justice will be served for all someday and if we aren’t in Christ it will mean eternal condemnation.  Being more concerned with people’s comforts and freedoms than we are about their eternal souls just makes no sense.

Others identify their greatest enemy as sickness or poverty.  But it should be obvious that this makes the same mistake as earlier.  It sees temporal things that will soon be taken away from us anyway as something to be avoided at all costs.  And so they try to twist Christianity into the idea that God saves us to remove such suffering in this life.  This causes us to spend more energy to remove these problems rather than to serve well in them which completely misses the point of sanctification and Christianity altogether.  James tells us that afflictions in life are part and parcel of living in the kingdom of God.

Jas 1:2  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, Jas 1:3  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. Jas 1:4  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  Being faithful in affliction is how we are perfected and complete in serving the Lord.  So if we tell people that God wants you to have health and wealth and personal and political freedom so you can do whatever you want with no one telling you otherwise then we are systematically removing the ways to grow strong in the Lord and to glorify his name among the nations. 

Our real enemy is first of all God if we are not justified in the cross of Christ.  After that a Christian must realize that his only real enemy is whatever would lure his heart away from putting Christ first in our affections.  As far as I can see, being sick or poor or a slave or oppressed should draw me closer to Christ.  On the other hand, being healthy and rich and free to do whatever I want can easily cause me to take Jesus for granted and work to make me less dependent on him.  Our enemies are spiritual, not physical, Eph 6:12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points. I would add these 2 refs that show Joshua’s part in the spying out:
    Num. 14:
    6 And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land.

    30 not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.