THE WARRIOR’S PRAYER
(The Eighteenth Psalm)
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
This booklet includes thirty-one daily devotional readings from Psalms 18. Christ’s warrior’s love Him with their whole heart. Christ proves their love for Him by many strong testings until there is no doubt concerning their love. Then He is willing to divide the spoil with them.
God is our Rock, our personal Rock. The world is characterized by constant change and commotion. People run to and fro. The wicked are as the troubled sea, being continually in motion, in a state of change. One moment they appear to be quiet and at peace. The next moment they are in a state of uproar, angry, tumultuous, threatening. There is no true and lasting peace for the wicked or for those who are in contact with the wicked.
God’s warriors are not men and women of constant change. Like their Father and Lord they do not change. The impregnable Lord is their Rock. They are bold in the hour of danger. They do not hold up the Rock, the Rock holds them up. They are as Mount Zion: they cannot be removed. They do the will of God. They abide forever.
“The Lord is my strength.” How readily and lightly we say that when we are young Christians. It is a good thing to line up our testimony with that of the written Word of God. But it is not until we are allowed to come against the enemy that we begin to appreciate what it means to have the Lord as our strength.
I will love thee, O Lord, my strength (verse one).
David loved the Lord with all his heart. Whatever David’s faults may have been, God was first in his thoughts. David’s life demonstrated this fact.
Christ’s warriors love Him with their whole heart. Christ proves their love by many strong testings until no doubt remains concerning their love for Him. Then He is willing to divide the spoil with them.
“The Lord is my strength.” How readily and lightly we say that when we are young Christians. It is a good thing to line up our testimony with that of the written Word of God.
But it is not until we are allowed to come against the enemy that we begin to appreciate what it means to have the Lord as our strength.
Human beings are tough. The instinct for survival is strong in us. It takes a while before we discover our own resources are not sufficient for the battle at hand (some never do realize this). But the waves mount, we are tossed to and fro, and the billows threaten to go over our head.
Then we understand our wisdom, our strength, our determination, our religious zeal, no longer are sufficient. We call on the name of the Lord. We wait on Him. He renews our strength with His own Being, His own Presence. The Lord Himself becomes our strength.
It is one matter to be “saved.” It is another matter to be filled with the Spirit and to begin to learn the ways of the Spirit. The dedicated saint presses forward until his own strength begins to fail and the Lord becomes his strength, his wisdom, his joy, his salvation.
It is not possible now or in the time to come to fight the Lord’s battles in our own strength. The warrior learns how to wait on the Lord, how to trust in the Lord Himself for deliverance and victory.
In order to overcome a saint who is resting in Christ the enemy would have to overcome the power of Christ’s resurrection. He would have to overcome God Himself.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower (verse two).
God is our Rock, our personal Rock. The world is characterized by constant change and commotion. People run here and there. The wicked are as the troubled sea, being continually in motion, in a state of change. One moment they appear to be quiet and at peace. The next moment they are in a state of uproar, angry, tumultuous, threatening. There is no true and lasting peace to the wicked or to those who are in contact with the wicked.
Civilizations rise and fall. Economies are strengthened and then collapse. People become famous, their names are household words, and then they vanish like smoke. There is no rest or quietness of spirit or soul for those who put their trust in the world.
God has founded the world on the seas and established it on the floods (Psalms 24:2). But the men of faith look for a city that has foundations.
God’s warriors are not men and women of constant change. Like their Father and Lord, they change not. The impregnable Lord is their Rock. They are bold in the hour of danger. They do not hold up the Rock, the Rock holds them up. They are as Mount Zion: they cannot be removed. They do the will of God. They abide forever.
The Lord is our fortress. How many Christians are superstitious! They do not fear Christ nearly enough but they do fear the devil and his demons. When we are serving the Lord and are abiding in Christ we have no need whatever to fear Satan. The angel of the Lord is encamped round about those who fear God and delivers them from every spiritual and physical danger.
Whenever there is a confrontation between the Ark of God and the demon powers, it is the demons who fall on their faces in terror. The Lord’s warriors understand this fact.
They are not afraid in the night seasons, in the early hours of the morning when men awake in terror because of the oppression of demons. They do not panic. They do not cower in dread. They call on the Lord. They rest in the unconquerable majesty of the Almighty Christ. The Lord Himself is their fortress.
The Lord delivers us from the strongest enemies. We may be bound with lust or self-will or physical infirmity. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psalms 34:19).
The Lord always will deliver us from the bondages of sin and self-seeking when we call on Him in total sincerity. If we name the sin as sin, rejecting it with all our determination and are willing to live without this “pleasure,” then the Lord will deliver us from the particular bondage. (Sometimes the prayers of the elders are necessary to obtain final victory for us.) God’s warriors do not walk in known sin.
It is not a sin to be sick. On occasion the Lord’s warriors have to keep on marching while they are sick (II Timothy 4:20).
But it is God’s will that His saints be healthy, be perfect and complete in spirit, in soul, and in body. We never are to cease trusting God for total deliverance. God will heal us as we march along provided we are living in righteousness, holiness, and strict obedience to Him.
God is our strength. How many years it takes us to learn this! Finally we come to the place where we understand anything we can do in our own strength is loss for Christ and loss for us. Christ desires to be All in all in our life. He wants us to trust Him for everything. To enter the rest of God is to come to the point of trusting God for every detail of life.
Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Perfect trust is the mark of the mature saint. Through faith we can move mountains. Through trust we learn to abide in Christ, to look to Him at every instant.
When the Father and the Son enter us in the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, we learn to live in total trust in God (Isaiah 12:2). The warrior trusts in the Lord, not in his own ability to fight.
The Lord is our shield. The enemy shoots fiery arrows at us all day long. If we are careless and let down our guard, these flaming arrows enter our spirit and set our personality on fire. Dread, fear, hatred, worry, bitterness burn in us. It is our own fault because we know the soldier of Christ is not to entangle himself with the world, becoming exposed to the enemy.
The diligent warrior is on the alert at all times. His shield is ready and anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit. The fiery arrows strike the shield, are extinguished, and fall off without causing damage. It is not easy to walk in such total diligence, in such readiness for spiritual combat. To be always prepared for an attack requires prayer, experience, and knowledge of the Word.
All this is necessary if we are to be victorious in the fight of faith, particularly in these last days when the climax of the conflict of the ages is upon us.
What Christians may have been able to do at other times and in other places may be different from today. Presently we are being mobilized into a spiritual army. We are to come out of the world and live as warriors of Christ. If we do not we will go down in defeat.
The Lord is the “horn” of our salvation. Many animals use their horns in order to fight. The horn is a formidable weapon.
The horn is both a defensive and an offensive weapon. The Lord is our horn. When the saint understands the will of God and through prayer “pushes” in that direction, the forces of Hell must give way.
Satan does not fear the activities of the Christian churches. Much of what is done by churches and denominations, projects costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars, is little more than an irritation to Satan. These programs can actually become an asset to the forces of Hell in that they take the energies and resources of Christians and direct them towards enterprises that are ambitious and man-centered, not being led by the Spirit of God.
There are three Persons Hell fears: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
When we Christians are busily engaged in church work we may or may not be building the Kingdom of God. But when we spend time calling on the name of the Lord, looking to Him for victory, He becomes our horn. He thrusts and gores His enemies until they flee before Him.
One thing the enemy strives constantly to prevent is a Christian entering union with Christ until it is Christ rather than the believer who is fighting the battle.
Throughout history the enemy has employed a multitude of devices to keep the attention of Christians on some thing, some doctrine, some project other than Christ Himself. Often these are worthy programs or works. But they do not threaten Hell.
The day will come, according to the Scriptures, when the saints are one in Christ in God. Then God in Christ will be dwelling in His fullness in the believers. When that hour comes the enemy is finished. It can be so today as we are willing to repent of our dead works and turn our complete attention to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The programs and efforts of men cannot build the Church. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can build His Church. The gates of Hell can never prevail against that which Christ builds but they always will prevail against that which religious men build.
The Lord is our “high tower.” When we are born again our new inner man is raised in the Spirit to the right hand of God. We already have been placed above the enemy. Now we, through the help of the Spirit of God, are to bring our entire personality into obedience to the will of God in Christ.
The army on higher ground has the advantage. Our life is hidden with Christ in God. We have the advantage if we will keep our hearts stayed on things above and not on things on the earth.
Our body and soul still are on the earth. But God has given to us a “high tower” in Christ at the right hand of the Father. God’s will is being done there. Now it is God’s will that He be obeyed in the earth. Through prayer we are to bring the Life of Christ down into our body and soul so God’s will is performed in the earth as it is in Heaven.
If we are faithful in battling through to victory in the earth, then, when the Lord Jesus returns from Heaven, we will return with Him and rule the earth with Him. Because we already are in Heaven at God’s right hand the victory is ours. But we will go down in defeat if we choose to live in the earth in the flesh rather than in Christ in the Spirit.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3,4)
We can never go any higher than we are now. The challenge is to bring our throne-life down into the earth so God’s will is done in the earth as it is being done now in Heaven.
I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so will I be saved from mine enemies (verse three).
During the last few decades Christians have learned many spiritual principles. Talking in tongues and the gifts of the Spirit are widespread. The connections between spiritual bondages and physical bondages are being studied. The authority of the believer and the power of faith are being discussed and exercised. It is true that never before in history have so many Christians become sophisticated in spiritual phenomena.
There is danger in all of this sophistication. We are losing sight of the Lord. Man is ascending the throne. The way of Antichrist is being prepared. Spiritual power apart from union with Christ leads only to the False Prophet and to Antichrist.
We are not calling on the Lord who is worthy to be praised. We are attempting to gain power so we can cast out devils, heal the sick, exercise faith and become wealthy, receive discernment and knowledge and with this guide the lives of others. We have faith in faith rather than faith in the Lord.
The Lord’s warrior knows how to call on the Lord. He looks to the Lord for success in every situation, not to his own spiritual abilities. He remembers that Joshua’s only defeat came when he grew careless, when he was so confident he knew what to do that he did not seek the mind of the Lord.
We need to return to simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The conflict will become increasingly fierce. At some point our knowledge of spiritual principles will break down. If we do not know the Lord in that hour we will be defeated.
How wonderful it is to cast our burden on the Lord. We do not have to know all the spiritual principles that have been discovered in the Charismatic movement. It is enough that we know how to call on the Lord.
When the Lord comes, every need is met. He receives the glory and the praise. We receive neither glory nor praise. We go on our way rejoicing because of the wonderful works of the Lord.
When we faithfully call on the Lord He saves us from every enemy.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented [confronted] me (verses four and five).
When we are young Christians the Lord shields us from the full power of wickedness. As we become more experienced in spiritual warfare He brings us into difficult places. However, His hand is always over us so we are not destroyed.
It comes as a surprise to the saint when the Lord begins to expose him to the depth of wickedness arrayed against the Lord. The spirits of sin, of death, of the grave come against the pilgrim. They terrify him. He did not realize the power and depth of evil that exists in the universe.
He is sickened and tormented by the hideous spirits that are about him. He is frightened and loses his faith and confidence. He turns to older saints but may find that they do not understand what is assaulting him. He may come to believe his cause is lost, that God will allow him to be destroyed. Until we have such experiences the words of David do not hold much meaning for us.
Each of the Lord’s warriors must be tried in battle. We are being prepared for the battle of Armageddon, for the confrontation between Christ and Antichrist, between God and Satan. Those who will ride with Christ in that day are called, chosen, and faithful. They are under the protection of the blood of the Lamb. Their testimony is that of the Word of God. They are faithful unto death.
The Lord allows the powers of the wicked one to test us until He is satisfied that we will not fail in the time of war when much is depending on us. Christ is creating the wall of the new Jerusalem. It is being formed in the hearts of the saints. The wall of the new Jerusalem is destined to stand forever. It must be perfect in every detail.
We have known Christ as the gentle Shepherd. Now we are coming to know Him as the Lord strong and mighty in battle. The only way in which we can come to know Christ as the Lord of Armies is to have him deliver us from the onslaughts of Hell.
It is important each saint understand no matter how powerful the powers arrayed against him may appear, no matter how dark the night may become, no matter how wildly the storm may rage, Christ will not forsake him. Christ possesses all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. No devil is able to prevail against the Word of Jesus. He will bring the embattled saint into the light of victory and joy.
No matter how great may be the fear and dread that attack us, we are to summon what faith and trust we can and stand in Christ. Eventually the darkness will withdraw for it cannot prevail against Christ and those who are abiding in Him. Christ has overcome the world, and through faith we participate in His absolute victory.
In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears (verse six).
We do not have to understand spiritual principles or pray complicated prayers. In the hour of distress we are to call on the Lord. We cry, Jesus! Save me! The Lord’s warriors understand the value of this simple prayer. They have many occasions on which to utter it. They know the reality of the resurrected Christ. They know of His speed and power in coming to the aid of the embattled saint. When the saints are attacked they call out to the Lord immediately. They “blow the trumpet” when danger threatens (Numbers 10:9).
God hears our voice out of His Temple in Heaven. There is confusion today between the internal Christ and the external Christ. Some Christians conclude that because they have Christ in them His power comes from within them. This may seem logical but it is not true. The error of looking for Christ’s power to come from within us can result in our not calling on God in prayer, not diligently seeking Him.
Christ was (and is) filled with all the fullness of the Godhead. Yet when He prayed He lifted up His eyes and prayed to the Father in Heaven.
It is true that Christ is being formed in us. It is true also that the Father and the Son come through the Holy Spirit and make their abode in the new creation being formed in us. Our inner man is being fashioned from the Divine Nature, and in the image of the Divine Nature. God and Christ are dwelling in the re-created inner man.
Yet we must not forget that the Father and the Son are in Heaven above. We never pray to God who is in us but to God who is in Heaven. We do not trust in God who is in us but in God who is in Heaven.
It is a fact that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. The Spirit of Truth prevents us from being deceived by the spirit of religious delusion that proceeds from the False Prophet. The Spirit of Truth is greater than the spirit of error.
Nevertheless we always pray to the Father and Son in Heaven.
It may be that some believers in our day do not spend nearly enough time in prayer because they are trusting in the indwelling of the Godhead to respond in the hour of crisis. This is a misunderstanding of the Kingdom of God. Today the Father and the Son are about to make Their eternal abode in us in fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles. But—at least in the present hour—we pray to our Father who is in Heaven. Our cry comes before Him in His temple in Heaven.
The warrior does not call on Christ who is dwelling in him but on Christ who is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. God in Heaven always hears the cry of those who are performing His will. Jesus pointed out to us that the Father continually is with Him because He always does the Father’s will (John 8:29). The same is true of us (John 9:31).
The Light who is dwelling in us will be revealed from within us in the Day of the Lord. All the nations of the earth will behold the Glory who is in the saints, and beholding will believe in Christ. To what extent God and Christ will remain external to us in the coming ages will be made known at that time.
Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken because he was wroth (verse seven).
When we pray sincerely in Jesus’ name the God of Heaven hears our prayers. But many times we do not see the things taking place for which we prayed. Instead we may witness various perplexities and shakings. We are not always able to perceive the events that follow our praying as being the answer to our supplications.
David cried for deliverance from his enemies, from the sorrows of Hell and the snares of death. The result was, “the earth shook and trembled.” David’s environment became upset, troubled, unstable. The things that appeared to be solid and established began to move and change.
Sometimes “hills” represent powers, in the symbolism of Scripture. Because of David’s prayer, God began to deal with the various powers that were factors in David’s life.
When the saints are oppressed by the enemy and cry out to the Lord for deliverance, the Lord becomes angry. “He was wroth.” God did not stand by and deal with the issues in an unconcerned manner. God became “emotionally involved.” He became angry.
The longer we follow the Lord the more we become aware God is not a set of religious principles and formulas. God is a Person—the greatest of all persons. God loves, and hates, and chooses His friends. When His sons call out to Him He comes down to find out what is happening. When the wicked attack the Lord’s saints they are harming those who are precious to Him. He cares. He responds in anger.
Because men are becoming lovers of themselves they are portraying God as a kindly, loving old gentleman. This is not a true portrayal of the God of Heaven. The God of Heaven is a Spirit. His love and goodness are far greater in magnitude and far purer in quality than we could ever describe. But God’s wrath is as terrible as His love is marvelous.
When we pray in sincerity in Jesus’ name, things begin to happen we do not always understand. Let us believe God hears and is answering, and hold steady until we possess the desires of our heart.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it (verse eight).
Here is a true picture of one side of the Lord’s Personality. If we really would know Christ we must understand his terror as well as His boundless mercy. So many today are in deception! At one time they have “accepted” Christ and now do not feel any conviction of worldliness or sin. They imagine they will receive a royal welcome into the heavenly Jerusalem when they die. But unless they are living in the world as cross-carrying, victorious, sternly obedient saints, they may be facing the anger of Christ.
It appears few Christians of our day actually have forsaken their own life and are carrying their cross behind Jesus. Yet the Lord taught no person can be His disciple unless he forsakes his own life.
We of today are not always obeying the Word of Christ. But because the love of God has been overemphasized to such a great extent we cannot bring ourselves to believe we actually shall be punished. We do not know the terror of the Lord. The demons know the terror of the Lord but the believers of our day do not know of this aspect of the Lord’s Personality.
Our preachers and teachers have deceived us. They have presented a false witness, a false vision. They will be held accountable for their words and we will be held accountable if we follow them.
Because of David’s cry for help, smoke went out from the nostrils of the God of Heaven. God is not a human being, He is a Spirit. God requires the shedding of blood to appease His wrath. Christ was born a human being. But God the Father is a Spirit. His love is total. His wrath is total. His standard of righteousness is absolute.
Smoke does not proceed from the nostrils of any angry human. But neither does a human ruler require that offerings of blood and fat be made to him. Before we dismiss the concept of smoke coming out of God’s nostrils as “Hebrew imagery” or anthropomorphism, let us consider the fact that God is a Spirit and not a human being—and let us tremble in godly fear.
The fire of judgment comes out of God’s mouth and coals are kindled by it. When the saints pray, judgment follows. The fires of judgment and conviction cause the wood, hay, and straw in the lives of men to begin to burn. Fire falls on the heads of those who have persecuted the saints and then have been forgiven by them. The adulterers take fire in their bosom. Fearfulness surprises the hypocrites. Everything that cannot dwell in the Divine fire is consumed.
A godly man or woman is a terror to Hell and a source of conviction and torment to all those who are near him or her. The spirit of burning is contagious. He who is dwelling in the fire of God tests by fire the works of the flesh, revealing the thoughts of every heart.
We have been chosen to dwell in the Consuming Fire of Israel, and because of this election we are tested by fire all day long. Our tests and trials will not be concluded until every one of our imaginations, motives, thoughts, words, and actions has been examined by the fires of God’s judgments. If we endure to the end we will possess our own soul, now purified by the Divine fire.
When the righteous pray, crying out to God for deliverance from their enemies, every creature, thing, and circumstance in their environment is visited by God’s fire. All that is “coal,” that is combustible, will burst into flame.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet (verse nine).
Power belongs to God. When He moves, He bows the entire heavens. God’s people fear the devil too much and God not enough. It is God who has the power, not Satan or Antichrist.
It is this writer’s belief that perilous times soon are to come upon the earth. In that hour many of the believers will lose their faith in God. But the Lord’s warriors, those who are doing His will in the earth, will call on the Lord for deliverance. Then God will bow the heavens and come down to deliver them from the evil one. No power of Satan, no antichrist, is as great as God.
Those who are promoting the “rapture mentality” are instilling in the believers a fear of Antichrist. They are not stressing the Ninety-first Psalm, the Thirty-fourth Psalm, or any of the other passages that reveal the ability of God to deliver us in the time of danger. Rather, they (unscripturally) are advising us that God will lift His saints out of the earth so “almighty Antichrist” cannot get at them.
Yet the Scriptures and the history of Israel and the Christian Church show that the Lord indicates His total disdain of the enemy by bringing His people safely through every difficulty without harm (witness Noah and his family in the flood; Israel in Goshen; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace; Daniel in the lions’ den).
God is not in the habit of fleeing from His enemies nor in having His saints flee from the enemy. The trumpet of the Day of the Lord will not sound retreat. It will herald the attack of Armageddon.
God comes down. He does not sit disinterestedly in the heavens while we are assaulted on every side. He Himself comes to deliver us from the hand of the enemy. As for those who are preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation, the Lord Jesus will be with them to the end of the age.
We are accustomed to associating the Lord Jesus with light, with clarity of vision, with the fullness of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. When Jesus comes, everything is made plain.
But God is God! It often is His way to bring perplexity, to hide His methods and His purposes. One of the greatest trials of our faith occurs when God requires that we continue for a long period of time without understanding what is happening to us. The Lord insists we continue in faithfulness—unto death if necessary. It would be so much easier if we only understood what was taking place in our life and what was to be the outcome!
Ordinarily the Lord does not speak to us in an audible voice, instructing us in His will. Usually we have to struggle forward in the dark. We are forbidden to kindle sparks and walk in the light of our own fire. We must trust the Lord, patiently hoping He is bringing our desires to us. We hope He is guarding that which we have committed to Him.
God seldom tells us what to do; His way is to direct our paths. By so doing He remains God—unjudged by us.
God allows us to thirst, to hunger. He gives us water from the Rock. He sends down manna from above—just enough for the day. He humbles us in the wilderness and makes us know man does not live by bread alone but by every Word of God.
God chooses to work in the dark. The older saints know this. The younger Christians are appalled when they first encounter the Divine darkness. They think their world has come to an end. They are afraid. They are accustomed to light things, happy situations. But when it comes time for them to grow, God begins to accustom them to the darkness. They learn to walk with God without knowing where they are going. They come into strange experiences. God uses the darkness to confound His enemies and to teach His people to trust Him implicitly.
The new believer may serve God if he understands everything that is taking place. The warrior serves God when he has little knowledge of where he is being taken or why he is being taken there.
Blessed are those who have seen and have believed. More blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
The righteous run to the light of God when they can see it. But they are willing also to sit quietly and patiently in the darkness until the true light of the Lord shines before them.
And he rode on a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly on the wings of the wind. (verse ten).
God is able to move with a speed beyond human comprehension. Yet the answers to our prayers often are delayed. Sometimes they are delayed until we are tempted to give up, to withdraw in retreat. At other times the answer is handed to us immediately.
Patience is one of the foundation stones of the Kingdom of God. Every true saint knows what it is to wait patiently for God—having done all, to stand.
The Scriptures teach that some delays are caused by the resistance of the enemy:
Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:12,13)
Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. (I Thessalonians 2:18)
How wonderful to know our prayers are heard from the first day. But there may be spiritual warfare and so the coming of the messenger may be delayed.
Notice that the timing of the answer to this prayer was not crucial. It was not an emergency. When Daniel was in the lions’ den the answer was immediate. No power can withstand God when one of His saints is in an emergency.
Other delays are occasioned by the fact that the time for the answer is not ripe. God may reveal to us what He has in mind for us but the fulfillment of the vision may be twenty or thirty years away. This is distressing to us but it is the way God works. We always must allow the Lord to interpret and fulfill in His own time and in His own manner the visions He gives.
Every word that God has spoken will be fulfilled in its proper time.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (Habakkuk 2:3)
He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies (verse eleven).
God loves to hide Himself, to conceal His purposes and doings. Our task is to seek the Lord. We cannot find Him until we look for Him with all our heart.
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2)
Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. (Isaiah 45:15)
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Ordinarily God does not show Himself or His purposes openly. He hides His glory. Only those who give up everything else in order to concentrate on finding the Lord are able to discover the treasures the Lord has in store for those who love Him.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matthew 7:7)
We are to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Many believers of today are lovers of themselves. They are boastful, arrogant, proud, haughty. They demand that God respect all their rights, ensure their comfort and pleasure in every circumstance—now! Are these people seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness or are they seeking their own happiness and importance?
God knows the heart of man, that it is proud. Therefore God has hidden His glory so only the meek and sincere can enter the Kingdom.
Sometimes it is said Jesus taught in parables so people would be able to understand and remember what He was declaring concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not why Jesus taught in parables. Jesus taught in parables in order that the Kingdom of Heaven may be hidden from all except those whom God finds worthy to inherit it.
And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. (Luke 8:10)
We are so anxious to make proselytes and get the world converted that it is difficult for us to accept the concept of God deliberately hindering people in their understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. But this is what the Word of God states.
The reason we have trouble with this concept is that we are man-centered rather than God-centered. We judge matters from man’s point of view rather than God’s point of view.
God is the Possessor of infinite glory and limitless treasure. He is careful whom He permits to enter His glory and obtain His treasure.
Only those individuals who choose to humble themselves as a little child will be able to see the Kingdom and enter the Kingdom. Those who are proud, who think God owes them something, will never be allowed to enter the Kingdom.
God makes darkness His secret place and hides Himself from all creatures except those whom He finds worthy to know Him and to receive His gifts.
How we plod on, year after year, seeking to know the Lord, striving to please Him and to keep His commandments! The times when we are able to catch a glimpse of Him are few and far between but they are well worth the trial of our faith.
Much of the time we are confronted by “dark waters and thick clouds of the skies,” and so there is a temptation to live in the world as comfortably as we can and not press into the things of God.
Dark waters and thick clouds today. Tomorrow a joyful welcome into the land of endless day, if we endure to the end. We know God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Our physical eyes behold the darkness. Our spirit groans because of the sin and oppression that abound. But our eyes of faith behold the land that is very far off and the Lord Jesus at the right hand of God.
Even now the gate opens before us and we are ravished by the sight of the garden of God. Endless glory and joy await those who are faithful to death in seeking the God of Israel, the God who hides Himself.
At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire (verse twelve).
God is surrounded by the brightness of His own glory. But His brightness is concealed behind thick clouds. As God begins to respond to the warrior’s prayer, hailstones and coals of fire come from the Divine brightness and pour through the clouds.
It helps us fight onward to total victory when we realize God is punishing and afflicting our enemies. The prayers of the saints bring suffering upon the forces of darkness that would deceive us and rob us of the Presence of the Lord.
Our enemies do not remain unscathed when we call upon the Lord. They face an angry Lord of Armies who fights against them on behalf of the righteous.
Hailstones are a weapon which the Lord uses in the day of battle. They reveal His indignation.
And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. (Joshua 10:11)
Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? (Job 38:22,23)
Sometimes the enemy is within our own personality.
Our God is a consuming Fire. His Nature is that of fire. The flesh and the works of men are wood, hay, and straw. They are not of eternal quality. They cannot pass through the fire without being consumed.
Throughout the centuries of civilization men have been attempting to deal with God, to evade God, to please God. Except for the times and places where “learning” has hindered our ability to perceive the Presence of God in the creation, people have recognized that the Person of God is the most significant issue of our existence. A human being apart from God is incomplete, being void of resources and of the purpose for his or her existence.
We are clay. God and Christ and the Holy Spirit are Divine, eternal, holy Fire. They are God. We are the dust of the ground. We are dust and we shall return to the dust.
If we should be brought into the fiery Presence of Almighty God we would be consumed. We are dust and yet we are proud, arrogant, ready to match wits and righteousness with our Maker. It is no wonder God laughs (Psalms 2:4).
But when God ceases laughing He sends forth coals of fire from His Presence. These coals of fire consume all that has not been wrought in Himself. They bring Divine judgment on all wickedness.
The eyes of the Lord Jesus are “as a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14). As Christ walks among the churches on the earth He tests every one of our works. All that is not pleasing to Him is exposed and brought under judgment. We then must repent and forsake our wicked ways or else be chastened severely by the Lord.
When one of God’s warriors is attacked and cries out for deliverance, hailstones and coals of fire proceed from the Presence of the Lord. The enemies are beaten down by the hailstones. The coals of fire fall on that which is not pleasing to the Lord and sets it on fire. Every chain is broken. Every work of unrighteousness is destroyed.
He who would deal with God must recognize that God is the consuming Fire and that the imaginations and works of human beings will be burned up.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire (verse thirteen).
When God is dealing with His enemies He does not employ the soft, gentle voice of reason and entreaty. God “roars” against his enemies.
The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)
God has enemies and He deals harshly with them. God speaks quietly and lovingly to His own children, to those whom He is guiding and teaching. But when the Lord goes forth to war He does so in burning anger. The demons are afraid of God, of the Spirit of God, of the Lord Jesus Christ. We Christians do not as yet understand the terror of the Lord; but God will begin to reveal this aspect of His Personality as the Day of the Lord approaches.
Contrast the roaring and thundering of God with the traditional quiet church atmosphere, the organ playing softly in the background. In the not too distant future there will come a Day in which the sinners in Zion will be terrified. Fearfulness will surprise the hypocrites. The Lord of the Christian Church will appear as He Is. Most of the professors of faith in Christ will be stunned at what they behold in that dreadful hour.
Because of our ignorance concerning God’s Person we Christians have been bearing a false witness of God to the world. In our attempt to “win people to Christ” we have not taught the whole counsel of God. We are trying to make the Scriptures palatable to people so they will join our churches.
Because the world has not been taught by the Christian churches the fear of the Lord, God, in His great love, has prepared a tremendous revival for the last days. This is the latter-rain revival and it is portrayed in symbolic form by the “two witnesses” of Revelation, Chapter Eleven. In addition to testifying of the soon coming to the earth of God’s Kingdom of righteousness, the two witnesses (the anointed saints) will bring down calamities on the nations (as did Moses and Elijah). By their prayers and testimony the saints will torment the peoples of the earth.
It is through such calamities and torments that the nations will begin to understand the true nature of God and of His Kingdom that soon is to fall with violence upon the earth.
The voice of God is hailstones and coals of fire.
There is much talk today about justice and peace. An endless amount of words pours forth into the air over radio and television and in printed materials.
But people are not moved. Every individual attempts to turn each situation to his own advantage, meanwhile explaining by his words that what he is doing is in the best interests of everyone. Men are liars, connivers. All seek their own, not the things that belong to Christ.
God knows that exhortations to truth and righteousness are often a waste of time. When God desires that something take place He speaks in hailstones and coals of fire. When hailstones beat on the head of an individual and he begins to burn with fire, then he may consider changing his behavior (some will not change even under these conditions). Then he may give serious consideration to the words of the Lord.
God understands well the deceitfulness of the hearts of humans. He knows that people will not change until they are being beaten, are in pain, and are frightened. The Lord does have some obedient sons who will obey the Lord promptly and diligently. But it may be true that they have learned such promptness and diligence through the language of hailstones and coals of fire.
God pours out hailstones and coals of fire on His enemies. Then they scatter before His Presence.
Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them (verse fourteen).
We know the devil shoots fiery arrows at the saints. But the Lord has some arrows of His own.
We cannot see the enemy’s pain. We gain some insight into his suffering from the terror of the demons when Jesus drew near. They were afraid Christ would torment them.
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? (Matthew 8:29)
If we could see what our prayers against the enemy actually are accomplishing we probably would spend more time on our knees. We are aware of our own anguish. What we do not realize is that when a righteous person calls out to God for deliverance, God afflicts the demons! God attacks His (and our) enemies with His lightnings. He causes them to suffer pain until they withdraw from the field of battle.
Satan is not afraid of the activities of the Christian churches. Our hymn-singing, our building programs, even our teachings in many instances, are little more than an annoyance to him. In fact, Antichrist will subsidize the Christian churches of Laodicea. When the churches are being aided by the government the members will slumber on, trusting in their material wealth.
However, there are Persons whom Satan fears with mortal terror. He fears the Father. He fears the Son. He fears the Holy Spirit.
Our church activities cause little concern to the forces of Hell. But when one Christian warrior begins to call on the Lord, Hell is terrified.
In the day that the Church of Christ understands it can do nothing of itself but must trust in the wisdom and power of Christ for everything—in that same day Satan has been overthrown.
But given the prevailing sin and self-seeking of the believers in Christ, it appears the hour of dependence on Christ will not come until tribulation, persecution, and lawlessness attain such frightful levels that well-intentioned religious man no longer is able to use the things of Christ to his own advantage.
That hour of pressure is coming upon us even now, along with an outpouring of God’s Glory of unprecedented proportions. Both the north and the south winds are beginning to blow on the Lord’s garden. The result will be a bride, beautiful in holiness, who trusts completely in her Lord and is sternly obedient to Him.
Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils (verse fifteen).
The human heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). It is perverse. It is corrupt. It is as many channels of water, continually shifting, well able to subtly hide the actual intentions that are producing our words and actions. It is not possible for any person to understand his own deepest motives or those of other people.
But God searches the mind and tests the heart. God understands us thoroughly—inside and out.
When the Lord comes with His hailstones, coals of fire, arrows, thunderings, and lightnings, these covering waters are parted and we begin to understand what is causing the conflict. The true nature of every person and every thing is revealed. The foundations of the world are exposed. All that has been hidden is revealed. This happens when the Lord draws near to us.
Sometimes we pursue our religious way for many years. We assume God is accepting our offerings and is pleased with our person. We do not understand our own personality.
Then the time comes for God to draw us closer to Himself. In order to do so He must purge from us the traits that displease Him. It is important for each saint to understand Christ never compromises His desires. He knows how He wants each person to be. He never shall compromise. He will not settle for less than that which He envisions, and the individual who resists Christ will lose his appointed rank in the Kingdom of God.
We must be willing to change. If Christ has set His heart on us, and there are things in our personality that do not suit Him, He will chasten us severely to help us make the necessary changes. But if we insist on having our own way we will not be accepted.
The warrior cries out for deliverance from his enemies, and the Lord lays bare the beds of the sea and the foundations of the world. He does this by issuing a strong rebuke. We are not to faint when the Lord rebukes us, for the Lord rebukes those whom He loves. He scourges every son whom He receives. When we are rebuked we are to confess our sins and self-seeking and forsake them.
As soon as we confess our own sins to the Lord, repenting of our pride and self-will, the Lord deals in anger with those who are afflicting us. We see, therefore, that the warrior’s prayer results not only in his deliverance from trouble but also in his own purification before God. It is a fact that when a man’s ways please the Lord, the Lord brings him into peace and rest (Proverbs 16:7).
He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters (verse sixteen).
God answers our prayers “from above.” We do not have to answer our own prayers. How wonderful it is to realize our personal weariness and perplexity do not affect the outcome. God is neither tired nor perplexed. All strength and wisdom reside in the Lord Jesus. He sends down strength from the sanctuary in Heaven.
He lifts us—personally. God knows every detail of our life. Deliverance, transformation, resurrection—all are accomplished on a personal, individual basis. The overcomers, God’s warriors, always are addressed one at a time. It is never to them who overcome but “to him that overcometh” (Revelation 2:7).
There will be no “sea” of people on the new earth. In the new world that is coming there will be no undifferentiated mass of mankind, no mob of people, no multitude that can be driven by spiritual winds. Each individual will be known to the Lord and to the Lord’s ruling saints.
When we pray for deliverance God draws us out of many waters. There are times during our pilgrimage when a number of problems come upon us. The future appears to be grim and joyless.
Then we cry to the Lord. We do not give up or yield to voices that counsel us to various actions. We cry to the Lord. We pray until He comes. When Jesus appears He draws us out of many waters. He delivers us from all our fears. He delivers us from all our varied afflictions (although there may be one or two that He leaves for a while for our perfecting).
We must remember not to measure God’s ability to deliver us by our own standard of what is possible and what is not possible. God created the universe and He does as He will in Heaven and on the earth. All things are possible with God. If all the oceans of the world were to cover us it would be as nothing to God to dry them up. We do not have to summon the strength and wisdom to answer our own prayers. Let us trust in God Almighty.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me (verse seventeen).
It appears many if not most Christians have little concept of the ability of their enemy or of the intensity of his hatred toward each of them. Satan knows each Christian, each follower of Christ, and is dedicated to his or her destruction. The hatred is personal, and vicious beyond our understanding.
The battle is not one of power but of deception. Christ destroyed the authority of Satan when he died on the cross of Calvary. Satan does not have the authority to touch any believer in Christ. We are free to choose to serve righteousness if we so desire.
But Satan is a master deceiver. He is far too cunning for us. By his wisdom he turns us away from the truth that is in Christ and in this manner causes us to lose our inheritance.
He is too crafty for us. This is why the Lord Jesus counseled us to pray always that God would deliver us from the evil one.
Our age is an excellent example. The Christians in the wealthy, educated nations of our day are being taught to beware of Antichrist. But the spirit of Antichrist already has overcome them. The testimony of God’s righteous Person and will has been nearly eliminated in Europe, in America, in Scandinavia. Countries that at one time had been centers of righteousness, of missionary activity, are now hosts to Christian churches that are without righteousness, without holiness, without power, without the fear of God. Antichrist, by Satan’s wisdom, has overcome them—and they do not realize it.
Antichrist has done this by appealing to man’s love for himself. The Christian doctrine has been corrupted by an overemphasis on grace; by the doctrine of the pre-tribulation evacuation of the believers (which has been accepted because people reason that God loves them too much to allow them to suffer); by an overemphasis on God’s love; by using music in the churches as a substitute for the working of the Holy Spirit; by the stress on ornate buildings; by teaching the believers that God desires above all they be wealthy and happy; by the substitution of “positive thinking” for true faith; by the teaching that since Christ is in us there no longer is a need for continuing, consistent prayer; by the corruption of the ministry so the leaders are given to covetousness, to immorality, to self-aggrandizement. Antichrist already has overcome the saints, and he has accomplished his victory through ease, entertainment, and material prosperity.
In the meantime the nations of the world lurch forward in the darkness, waiting for the time when God and Christ enter the Church and bring truth, justice, and peace to mankind (Isaiah 42:4).
We have underestimated the enemy. We have not realized that he is too cunning for us. We have not called continually and desperately on the Lord of Armies.
The Holy Spirit in us is greater than Antichrist and always enables us to overcome the lies of Antichrist. But we have walked in the flesh and not in the Spirit until Antichrist has been able to overcome the testimony.
Jesus warned us carefully that if we belong to Him the world will hate us. We are not of the world, therefore the world hates us. Satan is the god of the present age and his hatred toward us is prevalent in the world.
Throughout past centuries the hatred of Satan has been expressed in the torture and slaying of the saints. But these persecutions have succeeded only in purifying the Body of Christ.
In the last days Satan will continue to persecute the Jews, a race he hates with savage fury because it has been chosen by the Lord.
But Satan’s strategy for the destruction of the Christians is of a different kind. He will attempt to destroy the Church through prosperity. This is a master stroke. It is succeeding quite well. People who would pray and seek God in a time of persecution are willing, when they are not being threatened, to neglect Christ in order to acquire material wealth.
Satan’s intention is to “love” the Church into the Lake of Fire. Antichrist will subsidize the Christian churches. The believers do not understand the utter importance of total separation from the world. If the world “accepts Christ,” this is as it should be (they think). Why shouldn’t the governments be friendly toward the churches of Christ?
After all, isn’t Israel supposed to be the “head” and not the “tail”?
Israel indeed is destined to be the head and not the tail. But not in material wealth in the present age. Our kingdom is not of this world. When the Lord appears, Israel will be exalted as the center of government of all nations.
Christ is the only rightful Lord and King of all the peoples on the earth. He is not asking the nations of the earth to support His churches. Rather, he is demanding that all the nations of the earth repent and be baptized, acknowledging Him as the only true King. Jesus is not content that the nations leave the churches alone; He demands that the people of the nations become His disciples (Matthew 28:19).
There is no large nation on the earth today that is willing to repent and accept the Lordship of Christ. A nation might be willing to go so far as to grant religious freedom if it felt it was in its best interests to do so. Christ is not seeking “religious freedom” for His churches, He is demanding unquestioning obedience to Himself on the part of the citizens of every nation on the earth.
As long as our “gospel” appears to be serving the welfare of people, the Antichrist government will not be unkind to us. The world leaders will endorse and support our attempts to feed and clothe mankind.
But the moment we announce that Christ demands that all the peoples of the earth bow the knee to Him—in that moment we will behold the fury of Hell.
God has given to Christ the nations of the earth for His (and our) inheritance. Satan desires that the nations of the earth serve him. It is in the realm of rulership, of government, that the battle will rage.
As long as the churches talk about fleeing to Heaven, Hell will not be too concerned. But when we show our determination that God’s will be performed in the earth as it is in Heaven, then we are defying Satan’s purposes concerning the earth and mankind. Satan would enjoy having God evacuate the hated saints to Heaven and keep them there for eternity—anything to get Christ out of the earth!
The Kingdom, the rule, of Heaven is at hand. Now we have come to the conflict of the ages, the battle for the control of earth’s multitudes. Christ will be Victor according to the will of Almighty God. But in these days of climax we shall behold the fury of Satan and the anger of God. No human being will stand alone in the coming hour. If we are not part of Christ we will be swept up in the maelstrom as so much debris. Where will all the proud boasting of man be then?
They prevented [confronted] me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay (verse eighteen).
The warrior learns this truth sooner or later. Our enemy waits until the day of our calamity and then he jumps on us.
We go along for a while in our Christian life. Little by little our consecration is eroded. We grow careless in prayer, in reading the Scriptures, in assembling with the saints. Little sins and deceptions begin to grow in our personality but we do not notice them. We “feel” as though God is with us and pleased with our personality and behavior. There seems to be no evidence that He is displeased with us. Yet, we are not presenting our body a living sacrifice. We are forgetting that God expects us to obey the Word whether or not we are being given Divine signs and directions that we should do so.
The enemy notices that our spiritual life is weakening and he bides his time. He carefully and with stealth and cunning prepares the snare.
Suddenly he springs it. The day of our calamity is here.
This is Satan’s hour. He leaps on us. Now we have to fight for our very life. We attempt to shake ourselves as did Samson. But our strength is gone. The many hours of receiving the world into our personality through television and other sources, the neglect of prayer, the neglect of studying God’s Word, the neglect of meeting with fervent believers, have left us weak and helpless. The waters of the world are in us and we are sinking.
If in this critical time we call on the Lord, He will help us. But we may suffer much at the hands of the enemy. We had been lulled into believing our environment was secure. If our spiritual eyes had been opened we would have seen that terrific forces had been raging all around us and it was only the hand of God that kept us from being swept away.
After one such experience we learn to walk diligently before the Lord at all times. We handle the world very lightly and keep our soul strong by continual prayer, meditating in God’s Word and fellowshiping with fervent believers. It is not enough to attend a large church, even though it is Christian, where no demands are made on us. We must continually fellowship with fervent disciples of the Lord (if it is possible). We must exhort one another each day if we would avoid being caught in one of Satan’s snares.
He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me because he delighted in me (verse nineteen).
Sometimes the pressures accumulate on the warrior until it seems as though he is shut up in a small prison. He is boxed in by circumstances. He cannot move in any direction. He is afflicted, weary, made to rely entirely on the Lord. At such times it is difficult to hold steady in the Lord.
We must continue to wait patiently on the Lord, meanwhile watching carefully in prayer. If we do this there will come a day of release. The Lord will bring us out into a large place. How we will rejoice and praise the Lord in that hour, because the blessing of the Lord makes us rich and He adds no sorrow with it! No good thing will God withhold from him who walks uprightly.
God delivered David from his enemies because He delighted in David. Although David sinned on occasion, God found him to be a man after His own heart. Given David’s behavior, it may be true that some of us might not find him to be a man after our own heart. But God’s standards are not always our standards.
God requires of His warriors that they walk perfectly before Him.
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Genesis 17:1)
The commandment to “be perfect” is a cause of stumbling to many believers. The reason is, they have their own standards of perfection that are not God’s standards. They know they never will be able to attain their own standards, and so they despair. But God has not called us to attain our own standard of perfection but His standard of perfection.
Many of the heroes of faith did not have personalities we would regard as perfect. In fact, we probably would not enjoy associating with some of these people. But God delights in His colorful warriors because they meet His standards.
God has a unique standard for each of us. If we, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, will do precisely what God sets before us to do, He then will regard us as perfect. He will delight in us. Because He delights in us He will deliver us out of all our afflictions and troubles.
If we bear the fruit God has designed us to bear and is enabling us to bear, then God will give us whatever we ask of Him in Jesus’ name (John 15:16). In this instance, God is not hearing us because of our importunity, our persistence in prayer, but because He delights in us. The warrior performs God’s will in the earth. Therefore God takes pleasure in him and delivers him.
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me (verse twenty).
One of the greatest of the errors of current Christian theology is the teaching that we Christians do not reap what we sow. It always has been true and it always will be true that God rewards us according to our righteousness, according to the cleanness of our hands in His sight.
Speaking to the golden lampstand, the Christian church, of Thyatira, Jesus warns: And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give to every one of you according to your works (Revelation 2:23).
It is difficult to understand how the gross perversion of Paul’s doctrine of grace has occurred, given the competence and devoutness of Christian scholarship. But it has occurred and the result has been havoc as far as the Christian testimony is concerned.
Where did we ever get the concept that being saved by grace means God overlooks our behavior? Was it from Paul’s arguments against the Judaizers, in which Paul explained that men cannot save themselves by observing the Law of Moses but must receive God’s redemption through Christ? Is it this reaction against the Judaizers that has been pulled and pushed until Paul has been made to say that Gentile Christians, unlike the saints of all other ages, can walk in sin without paying the penalty?—without dying spiritually?
The hastiest review of Paul’s writings will reveal beyond doubt Paul taught that the believer who continues to sin after having received Christ brings himself under the judgment of God and cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
The Christian warrior who has unclean hands will bring defeat to the entire army and judgment upon himself, as in the case of Achan. Our enemy lives in unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience to God. When we behave in an unrighteous or unclean or disobedient and rebellious manner we already have joined the enemy’s side. We have surrendered. We have been defeated.
The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints performing God’s will. The purpose of the Christian warfare is to bring about the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. When the saint disobeys the laws of the Kingdom of God he comes under the judgment of God. The only prayer that God will hear in that case is the prayer of repentance.
The Lord heard David’s prayer and delivered him because David had clean hands in God’s sight.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God (verse twenty-one).
David was a righteous man. Abraham was a righteous man. Noah was a righteous man. Daniel was a righteous man.
The Scripture has this to say about the mother and father of John the Baptist:
And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Luke 1:6)
The Christian formula for salvation is based in part on the concept that no human being is righteous and all attempts at righteousness are hopeless endeavors. This concept is founded on such passages as the following:
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalms 14:3)
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
This is the problem with constructing a doctrine from verses taken here and there. If we would read Isaiah 64:5, the preceding verse, we would find that the Spirit of God, as He does in so many passages, is contrasting the righteous and the wicked:
Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
If we take verses five and six together we find the prophet is speaking here of the wretched state of Israel at this particular time. The text is not stating there never has been a righteous person but rather that God meets those who joyfully practice righteousness. The idea is that God has turned away from us because we have sinned, not that there are no righteous people in the world.
As for Psalms 14:3, the intent here is not that we should believe there is no such thing as a righteous individual. Numerous passages from the Book of Psalms contrast the righteous and the wicked:
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalms 1:6)
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. (Psalms 34:19)
But did not Paul state that all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God? Indeed he did emphasize this fact.
What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; (Romans 3:9)
Every person born on the earth is brought forth in a sinful state because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve. No individual can successfully fight against his sin nature and overcome it. God has forgiven our sins through the blood atonement made by Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Then God has imparted His Divine Nature to us so we may be born again and by the Divine Nature overcome sin.
The Law of Moses cannot forgive us to this extent or give us authority and power to become a new, righteous creation.
But it also is true that numerous people on the earth have lived a righteous life in terms of their ability and the prevailing circumstances. God honors these attempts to do what is right. This fact does not invalidate Paul’s argument against the Judaizers.
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:35)
In our zeal and haste to create an Christian theology that will “get people saved,” we have forced a few verses of Scriptures into a simple mold. We learn where these are and then show them to the non-Christian.
At least one substantial problem has been created from this simplistic approach. In our effort to prove man’s works are useless and only Christ is worthy we have overstated our case. We have left people with the impression it is useless to attempt to lead a godly life and we cannot become worthy of the Kingdom of God. Neither of these ideas can pass the test of Scripture. As Christians we are required to lead a godly life and we must be found worthy of the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21; II Thessalonians 1:5; I Peter 4:18).
In the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans Paul bemoans the fact that the good we desire to do we do not do, and that which we choose not to do we keep on doing. This does not mean it is hopeless to attempt to overcome sin. In signifies, rather, that man has a basically rebellious nature that refuses to conform to the Law of Moses.
Paul goes on to state in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans that the Christian is not to continue to sin. It is by putting to death through the Holy Spirit the deeds of our flesh that we enter eternal life and prepare ourselves for the first resurrection. If we do not choose to overcome through the Holy Spirit the lusts of our animal body we slay our own resurrection unto eternal life.
We Christians have not cut a straight course in the Word of truth. We have not preached the whole counsel of God. The result is, the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ have lost their testimony of godliness and power.
One cannot depart from the Scriptures and then prosper!
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Person who lives in the pure righteousness of God. In comparison with Him, all of us are undone in our sins and self-seeking.
Nevertheless, God expects us to do what we can. The Spirit of Christ in David, referring to David’s conduct, said: “For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God” (Psalms 18:21). David walked in the knowledge of the Lord that he had, and prospered. God described him as a man after God’s own heart. Any one of us would rejoice if God would say that about us.
Under the new covenant we have been given grace that was not available to King David. How much more should we walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience before God! Is God such an impossible taskmaster that no matter how hard we try we cannot please Him? Not at all. His commandments are not grievous.
Did Christ come to point out our wretched condition? No! This is the task of the Law of Moses and the Holy Spirit. Christ came to deliver us from the works of Satan.
The Christian formula is causing people to call Jesus “Lord” and not keep His commandments. It is reasoned, He alone is worthy. He alone is righteous. All of us are doomed to be sinful and unworthy. So why try?
No fighter climbs into the ring if he knows his defeat is certain. No runner strains every nerve in the contest if he knows it is impossible for him to win.
Such a theology will produce a defeated church, a church that hopes to live in victory in Heaven for it is doomed to defeat on the earth, although there is no scriptural support for this.
Christ’s warriors understand the whole counsel of God. They realize only through the Lord Jesus can we receive forgiveness of sins and the ability to serve God. They know that apart from the Lord Jesus we can do nothing at all but through the Lord Jesus Christ we can achieve victory over sin here and now. Through Christ we can perform the will of God in the earth as it is in Heaven. Through Christ we can behave righteously, we can be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. We can keep the ways of the Lord and not depart wickedly from our God.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.
For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me (verse twenty-two).
Notice the statement of David concerning his righteous behavior. There is no boasting here. David is declaring his intention to please the Lord. He is putting himself on the Lord’s side. Every time a saint takes this stand, makes this determination, he inspires others to do the same. We ought to have more such testimonies in the Christian churches.
In many instances, the believers of today are waiting for the Lord to sanctify them, to do the whole work Himself. Because of the deliverance ministries the Lord has given in our time, some of the believers are attempting to gain holiness without any effort on their part. They want to come forward and have the minister cast out their evil nature.
Deliverance ministries occupy an important place in the Body of Christ. But one of the essential factors of the victorious Christian life is the will of the believer. We must choose to serve the Lord. We must set ourselves to do the Lord’s will. We must use every bit of strength that God gives us to resist the devil and to serve God patiently.
We are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to make no provision for our flesh to fulfill its lusts. We are to make up our own mind to do what is right in the Kingdom of God. The deliverance minister cannot accomplish this part of sanctification for us.
The key to sanctification, to obeying the judgments and statues of the Lord, is presented in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans. We are to refuse to allow sin to reign in our body. We are to yield the members of our body only as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:12,13)
The unsaved cannot choose to serve righteousness because they are bound in sin. We Christians can resist sin and obey righteousness because we have been born again; because the Holy Spirit of God is dwelling in us and gives the power and wisdom that we need in order to achieve victory over sin.
It is in the struggle against sin that the ruling personality is created in us.
I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity (verse twenty-three).
If David, under the old covenant, was able to keep himself from his iniquity, how much more are we obligated to do the same!
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (Romans 8:12)
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34)
To state that the members of the Body of Christ can be compelled to sin is to greatly diminish the spiritual prestige of the Lord Jesus. Is Satan so great He can overcome God’s Christ?
The reason Christians sin is that they choose to sin. But the believer who follows the Spirit of God will achieve victory over sin. Christ came to break the yoke of Satan. He will do that for every person who follows Him in faith and obedience. We do not achieve victory over all sin in a moment, but little by little we do gain total victory. Christ is leading us to total victory. The fullness of the inheritance goes to the conquerors.
The Lord’s warriors achieve victory over the accuser. They do so by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the death. They do achieve victory!
The concept of worthiness needs to be preached much more than it is. The Scriptures are a record of men and women finding favor in God’s sight, and of God delivering them and blessing them because of His love for them. God rewards us according to our righteousness and holiness in His sight. This is what the Scripture teaches but it has been ignored because of overemphasis on the role of “grace” in redemption.
We know God will meet man only at the cross. We cannot substitute our own program of salvation in place of the Lamb whom God has provided.
But to conclude from this that it is impossible for a believer to show himself worthy of his calling is not scriptural. Several times Paul exhorted and warned us to behave in a manner worthy of our vocation as saints. To not do so is to incur the displeasure of the Lord who has called us to righteousness, holiness, and obedience.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (Ephesians 4:1)
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:5)
The events surrounding Lot’s deliverance from Sodom reveal the love of God for the righteous Abraham and the lengths that God went to on behalf of His friend and servant. God never changes and His way with His children never changes. Under the new covenant we have received more grace through which we are enabled to please God, to show ourselves deserving of His protection and blessing.
God answers the prayers of those who do His will.
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (I John 3:22)
When speaking of the dreadful dangers and terrors that will stalk the earth in the days immediately preceding His appearing, the Lord Jesus warned the elect to “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
David spoke of being rewarded according to his righteousness, of being delivered from his enemies because his hands were clean in God’s sight.
This is precisely what Jesus is saying, in Luke 21:36. Be alert and pray always so you may be worthy in God’s sight to escape the evil of the last days and to stand in triumph before the Lord Jesus, hearing His “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
God alone has the power to keep us from being deceived. God alone can keep us from being defeated spiritually when the sword of war hovers over us; when the flames of persecution approach us; when we are led into captivity for the Gospel’s sake; when our possessions are taken from us.
Whether or not we are imprisoned, tortured, or martyred for the Gospel’s sake, the important issue is how we survive spiritually. Our only fear is that of not remaining faithful to the Lord. The worst the enemy can do is to put us to death, thus sending us into the Paradise of God.
We must continue to serve the Lord and trust in Him whether we are living in the land of ease or being persecuted for Christ’s sake. Then we shall stand in triumph before the Lord along with all of His heroes of faith. God has promised to be with us and help us in the day of trouble if we set our love upon Him.
God alone can shield us so we are not touched by calamity, as in the Ninety-first Psalm.
But God will offer such protection and strength only to those whom He deems to be deserving of such intervention—those who are worthy in His sight.
The entire Scriptures point to the fact that God hears the prayers of the godly and delivers them because they are pleasing to Him. The doctrine of salvation “by faith alone” has been overemphasized to the point that the important scriptural concept of deliverance through pleasing God has been neglected grossly. One would think from today’s sermons that it does not matter whether or not we make any attempt to please God.
If we please our Father by our conduct He will make a point of watching over us when danger threatens. He will answer our prayers because we are doing what is good in His sight. It is important that each Christian understand this, and watch and pray so God will count him and his household worthy of deliverance when the plagues of the last days fall on the world.
God will love and dwell in those who keep Christ’s commandments.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, a unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
If God’s plan for the believer is best served by his being imprisoned or put to death, then the Lord will be with His saint and give him peace and victory.
The warrior understands that if he does the will of God he will be fed with the hidden manna. He will be sustained by the Lord. He will be protected from the enemy. He will endure forever, like Mount Zion. It is not so with those who, although professing to be believers in Christ, lead spiritually careless lives and are indifferent toward the things of the Kingdom of God.
The warrior of Christ does not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead. When the enemy threatens, he calls determinedly and unceasingly on God in Jesus’ name. Then the God of Heaven and earth bows the heavens and comes down to the aid of His servant who trusts in Him, who keeps all His commandments. God delivers him from all his troubles.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. (Psalms 91:14-16)
(“The Warrior’s Prayer”, 3453-1)