After 70 years in foreign captivity some of the Jews were allowed to return to their home land and rebuilt Jerusalem. Several small groups made the journey home, but most stayed in Babylon where there was better financial prosperity. Those who returned, like Nehemiah and Ezra, were attacked from without and within. Externally they faced ridicule, criticism, mockery and threats of violence from neighboring nations who didn’t want the Jews returning to their land. Internally they faced discouragement, gossip and criticism from fellow Jews. It was a battle with two fronts.
LESSON FOR TODAY: We, too, face a two-pronged attack from our enemy. He hits us head on with external problems and painful circumstances, criticism and rejection from others and obstacles in our way. Internally we fight against fear, anger, greed, lust, pride, self-centeredness, laziness and many more. It’s hard enough to battle on one front, but to fight both battles well at the same time is truly difficult. In fact, it’s impossible without God’s help. Without learning to depend on Him, remember His promises, and keep our eyes on His person, we won’t be able to have victory.
For five hundred more years the Jews lived in Palestine, their home land. They rebuilt their civilization but never attained their freedom or the prosperity they once had. Greece took over from Babylon and Persia, but their religion was similar to Babylon’s, for they got much of it from the Babylonians. Greece adopted many Babylonian beliefs and practices and included them in their own religious system. They used concoctions, incantations, invocations (spoken or written on paper and hung around the neck), amulets, recipes (mixing oils, burning roots, sprinkling water, etc.) and blowing upon the person to remove demons. Many of these practices eventually became part of the Jews rituals at that time. To most Jews of the period, as indeed to most men of that time, the world was full of supernatural agencies. As there were angels to accomplish every good act, so there were demons or evil spirits to perpetuate every evil deed or to prompt every sinful impulse. These were an important part of their world view. Trying to live at peace with them, or manipulate these forces for their own benefit, was an important part of daily life and religion.
Warfare – no one wants it. But we will experience much of it if we will follow God. The only ones who aren’t in a battle are those who are in Satan’s army or captured by him. Any and all who follow God will have to fight. But God will bring victory. D Martin Lloyd-Jones in “God’s Battle, Not Ours” writes: “All the battles of Israel, if they could have seen it, were not their battles, they were the battles of the Lord. They were involved because they were His people. This is God’s battle, we are given the privilege of being in it and of fighting as individual soldiers, but God’s honor is involved in it all. He cannot allow this to fall because His character, His glory, and His honor are involved at every point. Be strong in the Lord; remember that He is there, and that it is His battle.”
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)