Israel’s Prophets Speak Out to Your Modern Faith
The Old Testament isn’t exactly the most joyous chunk of books to camp in. It’s judgement heavy and light on mercy. The OT standard for living is set at practically perfect while the list of “Don’ts” is insurmountably long. And let’s not forget those downright creepy moments that we all just want to gloss over. Of course we have to admit that we are comforted that the misfit Moses turned out to be a leader chosen by God and that pipsqueak David turns out to be mightier than the entire Israeli army. Still, there’s no denying that the OT is a little rougher on our faith than the love-drenched New Testament.
Perhaps the roughest moments of the books before Christ are the ones we call the Prophets. These men spoke to Israel (and Judah) over the course of several hundred years. Nearly every speck of these words is judgement packed wallops from a God who has just about had enough. They’re filled with warnings that inspire a healthy dose of fear for the wayward Israelites, but tucked in those moments of dread and doom are tiny sparks of spiritual boldness. Little bits of text that have flown through the ages to us – modern God-seekers – and they’re calling out to us to live a radical faith.
Does God want modern Christians to be warriors?
Take a look at Joel 3:10. “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.” Plowshares? Pruning hooks? Sounds like some kind of farming equipment, right? Yup. Farming tools. God is speaking to every day Joe’s and He says “trade in that tool and pick up a sword, I’m sending you to battle the wicked.” Wow. Are you sure God? Did you mean, “let the weak say, ‘I’m a coward.’ or ‘I better run.'” God knew exactly who He was choosing. Weak, sin-riddled cowardly humans. That’s who He was stocking His army with. He wasn’t content to simply rescue them – He wanted to transform them. From their every day hiding to larger-than-life victors. You see. God knows that Satan is after us – after our souls, our lives, our faith – and God simply won’t turn His back on that battle. He won’t ignore the battle that rages in the heavenlies, and He doesn’t want us to either. He picks us up, gives us a gentle nudge awake and says “You are one of My warriors – get ready!”
Make it practical: Start praying for an increase of faith. Ask God to help you say with confidence “I am a warrior.” Not “I could be a warrior.” or “I’ll try to be a warrior”
What does being one of God’s warriors look like?
A warrior is a fierce thing right? A bold and powerful person skilled with weapons and trained to destroy an enemy. Doesn’t exactly sound like your average church-goer. How can we be godly and a warrior at the same time. Well it requires a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The proof is in our second OT prophet, Isaiah. He says, “look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.” Isaiah 51:1b We would all do well to repeat Isaiah’s words to ourselves every day. He’s saying look to God. You were made in His image so act like it. Don’t cower. Don’t sin. Don’t stray. You’re a child of God. Stand strong. Live righteously. Think of it this way. God is your commanding officer and you are to follow Him into battle. We are supposed to follow the Leader, do what He does. This is where the New Testament comes in handy. Jesus battled temptation with scripture – so should you! Jesus battled sorrow and fear with prayer – so should you! Jesus battled physical suffering with huge doses of faith – so should you! To be a warrior in God’s army you’ve got to train like Him.
Make it practical: Try memorizing Isaiah 51:1. Say it five times a day and write it twice a day until you’ve got it down. Then read through the gospels and watch Jesus’ every move. Look for opportunities to follow His example instead of your own flesh.
What does a modern Christ following warrior use for weapons?
In the Old Testament God sent the Israelites into real life battles dozens of times. Not the spiritual ones we are talking about, but real blood and gore battles. It’s hard to understand what God wants from modern warriors when you realize that He actually sent the Israelites off with metal swords and shields and told them to take lives. (Like I said, the OT is a harsh place to visit sometimes.) First remember that God sent them to abolish the extreme wickedness of the cultures of their day. Then check out prophet number three, Hosea’s words, to get a grasp of our weapons. Hosea 1:7 “But I will have compassion on the house of Judah, and I will deliver them by the Lord their God. I will not deliver them by bow, sword, or war, or by horses and cavalry.” Okay God, You want me to be a warrior, but I’m not going to use a bow and arrows or sword, nor any other typical method of warfare. What weapon does He equip us with? Himself. That’s right. God said, “I will deliver them by the Lord their God.” To be His warrior you have to develop an ever-increasing faith in the all-powerful God of Heaven. You have to be willing and ready to let Him work through you and then you have to trust that He knows what He is doing. Later in Hosea God reminds the Israelites that the powers of their day (Assyria) aren’t even strong enough to save them. Only God has the power and might to be the victor.
Make it practical: In prayer, tell God you are ready to be the tool in His hand. Ask Him to wield His victorious power in and through you. Begin to jot down every victory you experience and witness as a victorious warrior of God!
What if going to battle changes me?
I’m a huge supporter of military folks. If I can shake enough courage into my shy self I will often thank military personnel any chance I get. I’m the first one to defend the military when political conversations come up and I’ve worked to teach my son that “soldiers” (and police officers!) are good guys and deserve our respect. That said, I’ve seen men and women join the military and come back totally changed. It’s a reasonable fear. If we train as Christian warriors for battles against the wickedness that attacks our lives – what if we wander astray? What if we get hung up on the battle and forget the Victor? Calm down warrior! One more prophet has the preventative prescription. Look at Amos 5:14 “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said.” Thanks Amos for keeping the drama in check! It’s pretty simple friends. You’ve got to pursue goodness. You’ve got to battle evil and make sure you don’t take even a peck of it back to camp with you. The key is the second half of this verse – “God… will be with you.” – you want God on your side! So seek good!
Make it practical: Start by asking God what areas of your life that you’ve allowed sin to creep into. Prayerfully root these sin snares out of your life and then be ready to battle when a Goliath comes your way!
It turns out that being a warrior for Christ is biblical and God laid out a battle plan in scripture to get you to the victory line. Are you ready to be in His army?
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