During World War I, in the winter of 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, one of the most unusual events in history took place. The Germans had been in a fierce battle with the British and French. Both sides were dug in, safe in muddy man-made trenches six to eight feet deep that seemed to stretch forever… but it was Christmas, and what happened next was astonishing, writes Stanley Weintraub, author of the book, Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce.
Joshua son of Nun had been commissioned by Moses to bring Israel into the Promised Land. He was a leader and a general. Having spied out the land and returned with the other 11 spies, he was fully aware of the impending battle and the ferocity of the enemy.There were giants in the land. Having miraculously crossed over the Jordan with all the people and 40,000 armed soldiers, Joshua sensed deeply his responsibility to protect and lead Israel to victory and the inheritance God had promised them.
1 Chron. 20:4-8 And it came to pass after this, that there arose war at Gezer with the Philistines; at which time Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Sippai, that was of the children of the giant: and they were subdued. And there was war again with the Philistines; and Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi […]
Doesn't it seem like just when we get that much needed breakthrough, suddenly the enemy comes to attack? In this passage we read how the Philistines heard that David was anointed King and quickly assembled together to seek and destroy him. And what does David do? Does he become fearful? No. Does he hide? No! David goes out to meet them!
When the twelve spies were sent into Canaan to spy out the land, ten returned with a bad report. Their assessment was that it was impossible to conquer the land that God had promised them. Forgetting how God had led them with a pillar of fire by night, and fed them manna from heaven during the day, brought forth water out of a rock, and parted the Red Sea, they saw the situation with only their natural eyes, failed to walk by faith, and succumbed to fear.
As the threat of war looms on the horizon in Israel, I'm all the more reminded that we in the Body of Messiah are already at war spiritually. Constantly contending in our minds, we battle over thoughts and emotions which flow through them. The enemy often attacks by bringing up issues from our past. Failures, regrets, wounds, and traumas all have the potential to drag us down into doubt, darkness and despair. Our tremendous challenge is not to respond to these memories with old destructive thought patterns. Our victory lies in responding to these thoughts and feelings with the mind of Messiah as new creations in Him.
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev used to tell of a time when there was a wave of petty theft in the Soviet Union. To curtail this, the authorities put guards up around the factories. At a timber-works in Leningrad, one guard knew the workers in the factory very well. The first evening, out came Pyotr Petrovich with a wheelbarrow containing a great bulky sack with a suspicious-looking object inside. "All right, Petrovich," said the guard, "What have you got there?" "Oh, just sawdust and shavings," Petrovich replied. "Come on," the guard said, "I wasn’t born yesterday. Tip it out." ….
This is a powerful passage which believers must claim! The Greek for the word "heaven", "oo-ran-os", implies not only heaven, but also eternity. The enemy was removed from the eternal places, and his power is only temporary in this world. Our power does not come from this temporary world, but from eternity, from the eternal throne of God.
50,000 soldiers from the tribe of Zebulun served in David's army with UNDIVIDED (some translations: "not double-hearted") hearts. Can you imagine a skilled army with this level of loyalty and devotion?
It must have been amazing to watch David amassing men around himself until it was like the army of God — Yeshua (Jesus) is doing exactly the same thing in our days. The difference is the kinds of battles we're fighting. David and his men engaged in physical warfare against bands of raiders; Philistines and local Canaanite tribes. We are in a spiritual war against "…principalities, against powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." [Eph: 6:12]
As David grew in stature those who stood by him increased in number, devoting themselves to fight with him. Though it was a time of adversity for David, and a time of warfare, he found that there were many willing to join their lives to his; "…a brother is born for adversity"; and "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother". Again we note that David's anointing and his character made him a friend to many…and many became his loyal friends.
As we continue our study of the Mighty Men of David, another quality is worth pointing out — they were not procrastinators. Notice that these men decided to cross the Jordan river when it was at flood stage! They didn't wait till the river receded, but rather, boldly crossed when it was the most dangerous!
As we continue our study of the men who followed David, let's look at their boldness — the boldness of lions! We also need this boldness in the face of the enemy who is "like a lion", himself….a roaring lion. While it is true that the devil received a fatal wound at Calvary, he is still roaming, dangerous, and seeking whom he may devour. We need to stand bold as a lion against him, for we have the "lion of Judah" [Revelation 5:5] as our Captain, ready to defend us. And greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
As we continue our study of the men who followed David, another characteristic was their ability to war.They learned how to battle with both the right hand and the left hand for hurling stones. If you have ever thrown a ball, you know that you can aim effectively with your dominant hand — but try it with the opposite hand — it's far more difficult to throw accurately. But the men that followed David learned to throw with both arms effectively! It must have taken months of training to develop such skill.
When David was anointed king over Israel, he didn’t take his place at the throne immediately. He had to wait, and bide his time, until Saul was removed from power, before arriving at his destined place as King. Like His father David, Yeshua (Jesus) was received as Israel's king/messiah at the triumphal entry, (often called "Palm Sunday"), and then, "anointed" King of the Jews, ironically receiving His true title from the Romans, while hanging on a cross. But He is still waiting to reveal His identity as King on earth, during the Millenial reign when His kingdom will replace the kingdoms of this world at His second advent. [Rev. 11:15].
This interesting passage speaks of a time when Israel had no blacksmiths to make weapons and was without any armament to defend themselves. The enemy had succeeded to disarm Israel by removing their weapons, and those who forged them! He's attempting the same tactic today.
The writer of Ecclesiastes was aware of cycles in nature, how they repeat themselves. Some have noticed another interesting historical cycle which awakens our awareness at this time of year. The dates April 19th-20th contain an interesting pattern. This is a time frame which has seen the birth of much havoc in the world.
As most of you know, we've been on a speaking tour throughout the United States during the past month, and have been preaching throughout the country in the midst of flu season. This past weekend the flu finally broke down my immunity and seriously knocked me out. But after a few days of battling, I'm starting to feel better. Influenza is a nasty virus that has the ability to replicate extremely quickly and once it establishes a foothold, rapidly gains a stronghold within the body. You may guess where I'm going with this personal illustration.
Have you ever heard of the Valley of Elah? It's the valley near Bet Shemesh where David defeated Goliath, yet this historic battlefield is virtually untouched in Israel. During the rainy season a brook runs through the midst of the valley, however it dries up during the summer. This brook is very likely the one from which David chose his five smooth stones – one of which was used to kill Goliath. Yet, this historic place has no landmarks, no churches – people drive past it all the time unaware of it's biblical or historic significance.
Toward the end of 1941, as the second world war was raging in Europe, the Japanese ambassador was sent to Washington D.C. apparently seeking peace; however back in Japan, the emperor was planning the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese empire sent their ambassador to D.C. as a distraction, so the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor took the United States completely by surprise.