“There is no fight He cannot win, no far place from which He cannot bring His children home.”–Amanda Bible Williams, The Lord Is Our God
It’s pretty easy to recognize that we are currently living in a very hostile, public battle for power. But how often do we recognize the equally hostile, but much more subversive battle for spiritual power. Early in the summer, I recalled the graphic images from Tolkien’s Return of the King where Sauron’s armies are released from their underground caverns to reek havoc on Middle Earth and thought “Yep that’s what’s happening here”–with one major difference–here on planet earth people seemed to be taking up arms to battle one another instead of the marauding armies.
If you grew up in a less charismatic tradition as I did, discussions of spiritual powers were not particularly common and often revolved around stories of demonic possession. The trouble with discussing spiritual warfare (especially with teenagers) is that it can drift in a couple of directions. It can become an esoteric enterprise, disconnected from practical living. Or it can become subtly fixated on the darkness, evoking more fear than courage.
I recently began a study on the prophecies of Zechariah and Malachi where the prophets repeatedly call on God as Yahweh Tzevaot. This name has been most commonly translated Lord of Hosts, but more recent translations use the phrase Lord of Armies or even Lord of Angel Armies. The prophets of the exile call on the Lord of Armies more than any other Old Testament writers.1 As Israel hoped to return from their life in exile, they were reminded that they served the God who champions mighty armies for battle.
We, the church, live in a certain kind of exile, awaiting the return of our King. We have an Enemy who is fanning violence and vitriol in our communities. He is fueling strife and despair to quietly devour our families and faith. As believers, we cannot be caught up in this culture of fear because we have not only opened our lives to the healing of his Holy Spirit, but also to His power. We pray with boldness against the dark powers of this world because we serve the God of Angel Armies.
- John 14:16-20
- Romans 8:35-39
- Ephesians 6:10-20
- 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11
- 1 Peter 5:6-11
For a fuller, down-to-earth discussion of spiritual warfare, see Pete Greig, How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People