Thought for the Week - 12th NovemberPastor Gareth Watkins
Blessed be the Lord my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle –
My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the One in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues my people under me.
Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?
Man is like a breath;
His days are like a passing shadow.
On Sunday, we held a Remembrance service at Church. The question I asked from the pulpit was “would we have fought in WWI and WWII?”
The life expectancy of a Lancaster Bomber crew member in World War II was a mere two weeks. People during the wars gave a lot – both the people who went to war and the families who sent them. In World War II, Germany bombed the UK every night for 8 months. The official figure of deaths was 40,000, but there are indications that Churchill kept the real figure hidden so as not to affect morale. The educated guess is that the actual figure is closer to four times as much. The Blitzkrieg was designed to destroy the heart of the nation before sending in the Nazi troops to take over and conquer the nation.
Would we have fought against that evil attacker?
In the verses above, we read how David says that God trains his hands for war and fingers for battle. God subdues the people under David. Man is like a breath, his days being like passing shadows.
We also read Paul talking about another sort of war:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
David speaks of God training us for war, a physical war. Paul, on the other hand, speaks of a different type of war – one that is against the spiritual powers and forces.
Could it be that while the earth exists and God’s creation exists, that there cannot be any peace? Could it be that it’s impossible for this creation to have peace? That the battle will continue to rage against creation because satan will continue to rage against creation using his various spiritual forces. Could there be another war coming, driven by these powers and principalities?
Men like Rees Howells talk about this kind of thing. The devil and his agents are in constant attack, in this world, in various forms. David says the Lord trains his hands for battle. David would have been in control of God’s people. If we’d lost David and God’s people, we would have potentially lost the lineage of Christ. The people could have been dispersed, and the truth of God could have been lost along the way. David not only fought for his people, but he also fought for the truths that God had put out there, and he fought to save the lineage through which the Christ would come. There was a lot at stake if he had lost. It wasn’t just David’s pride, family, and what he obtained by being king. David represented far more than just the man he was. Israel would have gone. God’s word would have gone. The Jews could have been wiped out forever. Who would the Christ have been born to? Who would have fulfilled the scriptures?
Later, Paul talks to the people of Ephesus – and now the wider world – about their fight. There is a fight on against principalities, powers and rulers of spiritual hosts of wickedness. These things are still at work. You only have to step outside your door at Halloween to see all manner of evil. The rulers of the age are perpetuating that evil into our lives – through the television, influencers and magazines – into our homes and our schools etc. The gentile Christians at this time had to come together against an invisible force and the works of hell.
While David was speaking in a physical sense, Paul was talking in a spiritual and supernatural sense. Two men of God – one involved in a physical battle, one involved in a spiritual battle. Both against the same enemy.
Is there a place where neither exist? As Christians, are we able to live somewhere where there’s no physical or spiritual battle going on? I would say it’s impossible to live in a place where these battles are not going on today. Should there be a place where a Christian is not in a physical or spiritual war – for example, where they’ve chosen a position of peace? I would say the Christian is shutting his eyes and his ears. We read in Ephesians that the battle rages! We read in Psalms that the physical battle rages. As much as we don’t want to see war and don’t want to see a struggle, it is there. May God forgive us if we ever get to a place where we shut our ears and shut our eyes to what is going on. May God forgive us if we want a place of peace because it suits and satisfies our being, when really God wants us actively involved, supporting and being part of the physical and spiritual war that is going on all around us.
Everywhere you look, battles are going on.
In these two men, David and Paul, you have two different types of battles. An interesting thing to note about both men, is that they had wonderful leadership but never took credit for who they were. David, for example, says that it’s God who trains his hands for battle, God who gives him victory in war and God who supports and upholds him. David gives God the credit for every single part. Paul describes himself as the least of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9) and the chief of all sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He doesn’t take credit for his journeys, letters and ministry – it all comes back to God.
In 2017 is it something than that we can say? That we’re subject to our leader – Christ Himself?
We are like a breath and our days are like shadows, and yet we think so much of ourselves and our circumstances. Would you have been a loyal soldier to David? Would you have been under David’s command? Loyalty in that sense would have been loyalty to God Himself. God brought something of righteousness to those soldiers because otherwise they would have been outside the blessing of God. They had to be under David and under the blessing of God while they were going into battle. They had to do what they were told. They had to be subject to David. And David was subject to God.
Again with Paul, would we have been subject to Paul? Paul’s letters live for us today. Would we be subject to Christ Himself as described in that passage? Because loyalty is a big thing according to the Christian faith, and according to God. Obedience rather than rebellion. We need to be subject to the Lord Jesus Christ. May God forgive us for the times we are not subject to the authority of Jesus Christ but are rebellious.
Can we see our part in these things? Physical or spiritual, there’s a part for us to play against the onslaught that satan brings on the things that belong to God.
Where would we stand? Don’t be like Chamberlain and search for peace with the devil. If we make peace with the wrong party, where will we end up? The world is feeling the effects of what Satan does today. We can either say “peace in our time” or we can say that God has called me to fight, He has called me to pray, He has called me to stand up, God has called me to do something. He has not called me to do nothing.
Consider your part. None of us are without part in this creation story.