I. OLD TESTAMENT
By Rev. Dr. Jerry Schmoyer firstname.lastname@example.org
Spiritual warfare. It’s always been with us. It didn’t just start when Jesus came to earth. It’s been with us since before the start of time. It started as soon as Satan rebelled and was sent out of heaven. As soon as they were created, Adam and Eve were attacked by Satan. It’s been going on ever since. Therefore it’s something we should know about, something we must understand. If we are in a battle with an enemy sworn to destroy us, we must know how he works and what we can do to defeat him and not be defeated by him. That’s why we have the Bible. Spiritual warfare is one of the main themes in the Bible, the theme we will trace in this book. We’ll start in the very beginning and trace spiritual warfare up to today.
- CREATED BEINGS
- SIN ENTERS
- ADAM TO ABRAHAM
- FORMATION OF ISRAEL
- UNITED KINGDOM
- DIVIDED KINGDOM
GOD’S PLAN TO CREATE (Ephesians 1:4) ⇑
Some time before He created human beings, God created angels. He chose to create angels, and then human beings, with free will. He didn’t want them or us to follow Him because we had no choice, because we were like robots. God wanted His created beings to relate to Him, to enjoy and to follow Him because we choose to. Thus His plan was to create angels and people with the ability to make free will choices.
When I was a young boy I had a wooden dog that I pulled with a string. That dog followed me everywhere when I pulled it along. It did whatever I made it do. It never disobeyed, never rebelled, never caused me any problems. Years later I got a real, live dog. Sometimes this dog would follow me, lick me and want to be with me, but other times it would disobey and cause difficulties and problems. The real dog wasn’t nearly as well behaved as the wooden dog. But guess which dog I loved best? Yes, there’s something special about a dog choosing to want to be with me, not ‘having’ to follow. God wanted those who followed Him to do so because they made that choice, not because there was no alternative. So God chose to make the beings He created have a free will choice to follow or not.
However, God knew that creating us with a free will choice would lead to a problem. Humans would use that choice to sin and rebel. Then, because God is holy and nothing sinful can be near Him, He would not be able to allow us in His presence. So, creating us with a will to choose would mean that He would have to condemn us to hell when we used that free will to sin. That would cause Him to lose our fellowship and presence with Him. But that is what He wanted in the first place.
That’s when the plan was made to remedy the problem caused by our free will. God Himself would come to earth to die on the cross for our sins. He would become a man and be our substitute, thus enabling all who received this free grace gift to be with God forever.
Now man could have a free will choice, and still have fellowship with God. The only way to have both is through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We call this “salvation” because it saves us from the consequences of losing fellowship with God. This great gift is available for any who will receive it by putting their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.
This was a great plan, made before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). But it would lead to an ongoing battle. We would constantly have to struggle against the tendency in us to sin, the impact of others who would tempt us to sin, and the influence of angelic beings who used their free will choice to rebel against God and oppose His kingdom. Warfare was inevitable.
CREATION OF ANGELS (Job 38:6-7) ⇑
Before mankind even entered this battle, however, warfare among created angelic beings began. God created angels before the world was created (Job 38:6-7). He created an “innumerable” number of angels (Hebrews 12:22; Rev 5:11). No angels have been created or destroyed since then. The original number has remained the same. People who die do NOT become angels. In eternity we have a position greater than the angels will have (I Corinthians 6:3). These created beings are like us in that we both were created in God’s image with personality (mind, will, and emotions). Angels have no physical body as we have, however. They are spirit beings.
CREATION OF HUMAN BEINGS (Genesis 1:27 – 2:7) ⇑
Later God also created us human beings as well. In many ways we are similar to angels, but He created us with a different role and purpose in mind. We, too, were created with a free will to decide if we wanted to follow God or not. While human and angelic beings were both created with a free will so they can willingly serve God and His Kingdom, humans were created to have a deeper love relationship with God (John 3:16) while angelic beings main purpose is to worship and serve Him (Hebrews 1:14). In fact, angels were created to minister to humans and assist us in our daily battles (Hebrews 1:14).
ANGELIC BEINGS SIN (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:15-17) ⇑
After creating angels, before human beings were created, God gave them an opportunity to exercise their free will choice. Up to this point all had voluntarily served God, but when Lucifer used his free will to choose not to each angelic About one-third of the angelic beings rebelled against God’s authority (Revelation 12:4). It seems they followed one of God’s top-ranking angels (Ezekiel 28:12-15). Known as Lucifer, he was the highest angelic creation, the closest to the throne of God. However, he didn’t want to serve God but wanted to be worshipped in place of God (II Thessalonians 2:4). His sin was pride, self-centeredness (Isaiah 14:12-15). God threw him out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:15-17; Luke 10:18). He lost all his position and privilege. With that rebellion, sin entered the universe. Lucifer is now called Satan and the fallen angels are called demons. As created beings, they are limited in their knowledge and abilities. They do not have all knowledge or power as God does.
SIN ENTERS THE HUMAN RACE (Genesis 3:1-7) ⇑
Very shortly after Adam and Eve were created, their free will was tested as well. Satan twisted God’s words and put doubt of God’s goodness in Eve (Genesis 3:1). The battle started in their minds and continues so today (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). He implied God was withholding something good from them, a lie he continues to use with good success even today.
While tracing the theme of spiritual warfare throughout the Bible, practical applications will be drawn showing how these truth apply to us today.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Sin has been described as “meeting a legitimate need in an illegitimate way.” When we look for ways to meet our needs for peace, pleasure, comfort, support and satisfaction outside the plan and will of God we sin. Instead of waiting for God to provide for our needs in His way and time, we try to find a way to do that ourselves. Satan’s lie that maybe God won’t do it, or that God is withholding something good from us, still is successful today. He does the same thing today, putting doubts into our mind about why, if He loves us, God would allow pain, suffering, injustice, poverty, rejection, lack of mate or children, lack of job, etc. When we face trials or painful situations then doubts of God’s goodness abound.
But God has proven His goodness by leaving heaven and going to the cross so we can spend eternity with Him. His goodness is no longer in question. We may not understand His plan or His timing, but we must trust that a God so good He would literally die for us certainly has our best interests in mind, wether we understand His workings or not (Matthew 7:10).
Thank God for the free will He gave you to choose to follow Him. Make choices today that would polease Him. Choose to obey Him and love Him. You have a free will, and the only thing you can eve give God is your choice to serve Him. It’s the best gift we can give. It’s the only gift He wants from us!
Adam chose to believe Satan’s lie and act on it, and thus sin entered into the human race (Romans 5:12). Humans, too, used their God-given free will choice to opt for sin. Immediately there were consequences: shame (Genesis 3:7) replaces innocence (Genesis 2:25), guilt and separation from God (Genesis 3:8, 22-24), deception and lies (Genesis 3:10), blaming each other (Genesis 3:12) and continuing consequences of sin in daily life (Genesis 3:16-24).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Angels had a one-time free will choice and that decision is now locked for all eternity. They cannot change their choice. As human beings we have a chance to choose God throughout our lives on earth, but then when we die our choices are locked in, too, and cannot change. While alive God allows grace to give mankind another chance. Demons have no such alternative.
LESSON FOR TODAY: When Satan challenged Eve she responded by getting into a debate. The trap was set (Genesis 3:1-6). Jesus, however, only responded to Satan’s temptations by stating “it is written” (Matthew 4:10). When a demon puts a temptation or thought in your mind, or gives you an opportunity to sin, never discuss your options, think about it, try to talk yourself out of it, etc. Always respond with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
When involved in deliverance with someone who is demonized, never allow the demon to speak out loud through the person. Never get into a debate or argument with them through thoughts they put in the person’s mind. Never have any communication with them. For more details about this see under JESUS’ FIRST DELIVERANCE (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Having gotten her to dialogue with him and having planted doubts about God’s goodness in Eve’s mind, Satan then denies the truth of God’s Word (Genesis 3:4). Eve misquoted God, saying they couldn’t even touch the fruit, when all God said was that they could not eat it (Genesis 3:3). Satan took advantage of her lack of correct understanding of the Word of God. From this we learn that knowing and believing God’s Word is totally essential for our victorious living today. We must know it completely and totally (Ephesians 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Also, we must believe it, especially the part about God’s holiness and hatred of sin. Mistaking patience and grace for approval of sin is very wrong. God will judge sin. Sin does bring death. Satan is a liar and deceiver (John 8:44). Unless a thought lines up with God’s Word it is wrong.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Sin, and demonizing, all start in the mind, in our thoughts. Actions result from mental choices we make. The majority of demonizing consists of demons putting thoughts into a person’s mind or snatching thoughts out of a person’s mind. While they don’t have access to our minds and thoughts to the same extent that God does, the Bible makes it clear that there is some access. Jesus said this in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed: “Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown.” (Mark 4:15). David’s thought to take a census was demonic (I Chronicles 21:1ff; II Samuel 24:1ff). So was Ananias & Sapphira’s greed (Acts 5:3) and Saul’s jealousy/anger (I Samuel 16:14-23). That’s why, when talking about spiritual warfare, Paul says we are to “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Not only can Satan’s forces put wrong thoughts into our minds, they can snatch right thoughts out of our minds (Mark 4:15) so that we forget them.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Eve was deceived by Satan because she acted according to her feelings and emotions, putting them over the truth of what God had clearly said (Titus 2:13-15; 2 Corinthians 11:3). Feelings and emotions are fine, important and necessary. They are icing on the cake of life, adding color and enjoyment, and indeed God created them for this purpose, but He didn’t create them to be the source of our decision-making. Our feelings should depend on our rational thought. When our feelings get ahead of it or away from it then trouble comes. You know in your mind that you are an OK person, yet fear you will be a failure and rejected. When feelings aren’t founded on truth they go wrong. The truth is that you are who you are because God created you that way (Psalm 139), but your emotions reject that truth and try to do the ‘thinking’ themselves. We must let our mind explain reality to our emotions. When we place feelings over fact, we are wrong.
LESSON FOR TODAY: How can God’s people, who have His truth in the Bible, be so deceived by Satan and his demons? Do you remember the children’s story about the emperor’s new clothes? Some thieves convinced him they were making fine garments which only the enlightened could see so he pretended to see them. Everyone else did also. Then in a parade, a little boy spoke the truth and everyone realized they had been believing a lie and deceiving themselves. Satan deceives us into believing a lie. But how can we be deceived if we know the truth? We always have a free will choice and are never forced to believe a lie.
We can be demonized. Like a drunk is influenced by alcohol, so can we be influenced by demons. For more details about, this see under JESUS’ FIRST DELIVERANCE (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37).
We can prefer to be deceived because we don’t want to face the truth or don’t like the truth, so we convince ourselves that a lie is true. We start to really believe it because we want to.
We let ourselves be controlled by our emotions instead of our mind. When we let our feelings explain reality (for example, reacting out of fear), we replace the truth with deception.
Our mind can be deceived, too, when we use it as the final determining factor and think absolute truth comes from within us. Without the anchor of God’s Word to form our mind and correct our errors we can truly believe something based on the facts as we interpret them. But we may not be interpreting them correctly. Only God has all the facts and perfect insight, seeing the future as clearly as the past, so when we reject His truth we are open to any kind of deception.
Satan and demons try to get us to believe their deceptions. Of course they don’t ‘sell’ their product as a black lie, but make it look as appealing and good as possible. We sometimes fall for the bait because the black appeals to us. They show the immediate benefits, not long term consequences of the sin.
Even aside from the enemy, our own natural tendency is to sin (this is called our “sin nature”). Because of this we prefer sin, for since the fall, we humans are often more interested in what is easiest and most enjoyable, instead of what is best in the long run. Our ‘flesh’ desires instant gratification and we can ‘want’ something so much that we leave all reason and balance behind.
Sin entered with Adam and Eve and therefore spiritual warfare entered the human arena. God was quick to assure us who the ultimate winner would be. While the ultimate Victor is clearly know, the battle that started in Eden continues even though today.
THE BATTLE BEGINS (Genesis 3:8-15) ⇑
With the arrival of sin came the start of spiritual warfare. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers” (Genesis 3:15a) God told satan. The battle had begun.
God also fortold that there would ultimately be victory over Satan by Jesus: “He will crush your head and you will strike His heel” (Genesis 3:15b). The battle will continue throughout time. There will be an ongoing conflict between God with His angels and Satan with his demons. Mankind will be caught in the middle of this conflict. Satan will have limited victory (”strike His heel” – a painful but not fatal wound on the cross) but ultimately be defeated (“He will crush your head” –a decisive overthrow of Satan and his kingdom – Luke 10:18; Romans 16:20; Revelation 20:2, 10) by the descendant of the woman – Jesus Christ. In Romans 16:20 the same term, “crush” is used showing the same event is being referred to.
The “seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) is, or course, the Messiah (Hebrews 2:14; Romans 16:20). Jesus would come through a woman, not a man and woman, and the virgin birth fulfills that part of the prophecy (Luke 126-38; Galatians 4:4; Revelation 12:1-6, 13-17).
LESSON FOR TODAY: This battle that has started will continue between God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom until the Messiah crush’s Satan’s work at His Second Coming. Remember that when you follow God you will be in a battle against Satan and his forces. He never promised life will be easy, but that He will be with us (John 17:15-19). Do not be surprised when conflicts come, for they will. Our Christian world view teaches us that we will always be in this battle, for Satan and demons will battle God and His kingdom until the end. Satan cannot attack God directly so he attacks His children instead. God allows it because He honors our free will to choose if we serve Him or Satan. He also allows it to give us an opportunity to grow spiritually and to show His power and provision to us by our faithful trust and continued obedience.
Once begun, the battle continued through Adam’s lifetime and through each of his descendants. It sometimes seemed to change as strategy and focus of the enemy shifted, but the battle was always on in one form or another.
CAIN & ABLE (Genesis 4:1-8)
Soon after leaving Eden the warfare which had been foretold between God and Satan (Genesis 3:15) broke into an all-out conflict. The seed of the ultimately victorious Messiah was prophesied to come through the human family, so Satan tried to do everything possible to stop that line from continuing. Satan used invisible supernatural personalities (demons) as well as human agents to accomplish his mission. Most of the time his demons motivated and directed the actions of the humans they influence. This is the case with Cain who was incited by Satan to kill his brother Abel (Genesis 4:1-8).
This action is the first sin mentioned in the battle since the fall in Eden. The word for ‘sin’ (Genesis 4:7) is revealing. “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you but you must master it” God said to Cain (Genesis 3:7). Sin is personified as a wild beast, perhaps a serpent as in Eden, who is waiting to spring upon Cain. The Hebrew word for sin used here is closely connected to a word used for “demon” (‘rabisum,’ an Akkadian word). In Mesopotamian beliefs the ‘rabisum’ (demon) lurked at the entrance of a building, either to do good and protect the person or to do harm and threaten them. Whatever it was that led to Cain’s sin, we know Satan was involved for I John 3:12 says Cain “belonged to the evil one.” We don’t know if Cain was demonized (or Satanized) before or after the murder of Abel, but we know he was deeply involved in this event. (For more details about the definition of ‘demonized’ see under JESUS’ FIRST DELIVERANCE Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37.)
LESSON FOR TODAY: Outwardly both Cain and Abel were the same in that they brought offerings to God. But in their hearts they were very different. Abel did what he did out of love for God, Cain out of duty. The battle must be won or lost in our mind first of all. Before the murder God warned Cain clearly that sin was trying to slip into his life and destroy him (Genesis 4:6-7) but he did not heed the warning. “Sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7). Sin is pictured as a demon hiding, ever alert, looking for a way to attack and defeat us. We, like Cain, have a free will choice to make if we will follow or not. Think of the demon(s) assigned to bring you down as hiding and watching you, looking for any opportunity to defeat you. Where have their attacks against you been most successful? What can you do to have victory over them?
TIME OF NOAH (Genesis 6:1-8)
After Abel died Satan’s plan was thwarted by the birth of Seth. But the conflict continued. By the time of Noah, seventeen hundred years later, we see the battle between God and Satan has not only continued but greatly expanded. It appears that human females (“daughters of men”) were mating with demons (“sons of God”) (Genesis 6:1-8). Admittedly this is a difficult passage with various interpretations, but no matter what the exact identities of these ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ are, the end result was something so awful that God decided to destroy all mankind because of it.
Many have speculated that demons were mating with human females and a hybrid race was being formed. We can’t be sure of this, but it certainly is a possible interpretation of Genesis 6:1-8. Whatever it was, It does seem certain that what happened between these groups was of a sexual nature and was something clearly forbidden. Today there are some demons who specialize in attacking a person, male or female, in sexual ways. Sometimes they are referred to as incubi (those acting like men sexually) or succubae (those acting like women sexually). All demons, like angels, are males, but seem to be able to manifest as male or female at times. They try to sexually stimulate a human being in order to control and torment the person. There have been many accounts of this throughout history.What happened in Noah’s day created a race who are called ‘Nephilim” (Genesis 6:4). This word means ‘fallen’ in the plural form and perhaps refers to some kind of unusual people, perhaps larger than human beings. We know that after the flood, giants (also called ‘Nephilim’) were born but these were 100% human beings who were physically larger than others (Numbers 13:31-33; Goliath, etc.).
We can’t know for sure what happened, but clearly, there is a major battle going on here. It is multidimensional, waged by the flesh (sin nature – Genesis 6:5) and Satan/demons (Genesis 6:1-2). This is perhaps the most demonized generation ever and won’t be equaled or surpassed until the Tribulation. Only Noah and his wife followed God and raised their sons to do the same. Thus everyone but Noah and his family was destroyed. Clearly, God judges sin, Satan, and evil. That will be clearly seen the next time this type of demonic activity is manifested on earth, during the Tribulation.
LESSON FOR TODAY: In our world where sexuality and sexual sin seems to be rampant, remember unbiblical sex is a tool of Satan to defeat and destroy us. God created sex to be a beautiful picture of our oneness with God (Ephesians 5:23), so Satan attacks it to dishonor that picture and defeat us. The power of sex is strong, and unleashed in an ungodly way as it is today brings defeat to many of God’s people. God’s strict limits on sex are not to restrict our pleasure but to protect and ensure it. Sexual temptation can be very enticing but remember it is an attack of the enemy to capture and enslave a person in bondage. Many of God’s soldiers have been taken out of the battle by defeat in sexual sin, so be very careful!
LESSON FOR TODAY: Demons who have sex with human beings, both male and female, are unfortunately quite common even today. Those who take on the male sex role are called ‘incubi’ and those who take on the female sex role are called ‘succubai’. There have been accounts of this throughout history, and anyone who deals in spiritual warfare today will surely run into it. If you, or someone you are ministering to (male or female), tells you they are beeing sexually attacked in their bed at night, or at other times, make sure you believe them! It does happen.
LESSON FOR TODAY: There is no such thing as ‘casual’ sex. Any time there is sexual involvement demons who have access to one person can claim access to the other (1 Corinthians 6:16)
LESSON FOR TODAY: By the time of Noah mankind was fully involved in a mutidimensional sin war. People battled the world, flesh and pride and also the forces of evil (I John 2:16). “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). Humanity is capable of any kind of sin. Nothing seems too evil for him to persue. The battle with sin had reached its optimal potential, and continues that way today.
NIMROD & BABEL (Genesis 11:1-9)
After the flood Noah and his family were told to repopulate the earth. They were to move to various geographical areas and reproduce until the earth was once again fully inhabited. But they didn’t spread out geographically. Instead they stayed together so that they could depend on each other and wouldn’t need God. The battle between serving God’s Kingdom or Satan’s kingdom continued. So 400 years after the flood God again has to bring judgment on sinful, disobedient mankind (Genesis 11:1-9).
Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-9) appeared to be the instigating force behind the tower that was built. He is a picture of the Antichrist used by Satan to oppose God. Like the Antichrist, he may even have been indwelt by Satan for he was a murderous, evil person who elevated himself as god-man and was worshipped as such (Genesis 10:8-9). Statues have been found showing him being worshipped as a baby in his mother’s arms, then later being killed and coming back to life (for more information see “The Two Babylons” by Hyslop). This was the foundation for the mystery religions which spread to Europe and continue today in various forms. Nimrod was a counterfeit of Jesus, someone used by Satan to take glory and attention from God the son.
The tower he built was probably like one of the many ziggurats discovered in the area of ancient Babylon. It was a symbol of religious humanism, idolatry, polytheism, and defiance of God. It was built with its top “until the heavens” (literal transliteration). They weren’t trying to physically build a structure so high it would touch heaven, but rather to connect with the heavens through the religion that centered around the tower. Some scholars feel the temple on top contained a perverted chart of the stars, the beginning of astrology, and was used as an early means of predicting the future. While many details are unclear, we do know this was definitely part of Satan building his world empire in opposition to God. It was a continuing of the battle against God and His kingdom. Man, in his pride and self-centeredness, used his free will to follow Nimrod and oppose God. The same will happen in the Tribulation when the Antichrist (pictured by Nimrod) leads ‘Babylon’ (Revelation 17 and 18) against God’s Kingdom. Ultimately that kingdom, too, will be destroyed and God’s kingdom victorious, but not until much warfare takes place.
LESSON FOR TODAY: There are many today who proclaim the same message as Nimrod and the Antichrist: “Life without God is better. We don’t need Him. Christianity just holds us back from total fulfillment.” Humanism, New Age thought, ‘tolerance’ and “openmindedness” to any and all belief systems can seem appealing. Many rally around them. But they are all lies of the enemy (John 8:44) and we must be very careful to not get swayed into believing them. These can be very dangerous for they are subtle, camouflaged in seemingly good terms. These hidden attacks by the enemy can be more hazardous than some of the direct frontal attacks we face for we often don’t recognize them for what they are – works of the enemy. Be alert!
JOB (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7) ⇑
Satan not only attacked God’s kingdom on a world-wide scale, but he opposed individuals who were part of that kingdom as well. Job is a prime example of this. He lived around the same time as Abraham, but not much is know about where he fits in historically or geographically. He is a picture of a righteous man, following God, facing his own warfare because he is faithful to God (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7).
One of the ways Satan attacks God’s kingdom and people is by bringing accusations of sin against believers (Zechariah 3:1-4; Revelation 12:10). Because God is holy and must judge sin, Satan tries to point out the sins of believers in order to bring God’s wrath upon them. However, we are safe from condemnation because Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross (Romans 8:1). Still, Satan is forever tattling on us to God.
We don’t know how Satan is allowed in God’s presence, but in some way or form this must happen for he accuses Job to God (Job 1:1-6; 2:1-7). God allows Satan to attack Job, but with certain limits which God imposes (Job 1:12; 2:6).
LESSON FOR TODAY: All satan’s attacks against us are ‘Father filtered,’ allowed by God for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). This painful suffering of Job’s served as an example of faithfulness to all heavenly beings, and to the millions who have read of Job in the Bible.
One other item of interest in this account is the way Satan was able to attack Job and his family. He used evil men (Job1:13-15), nature (lightning, Job 1:16), hostile men (take animals, kill servants, Job 1:17), natural disaster (wind to destroy a house and kill Job’s children, Job 1:18-19), and sickness and pain against Job himself (Job 2:6). While we aren’t to fear Satan or give him credit for more power than he has, still he clearly has more ability to use nature, people and sickness than we often recognize. He has many weapons in his warfare against us.
LESSON FOR TODAY: While not every natural disaster, attack by evil people or physical sickness is from Satan, this probably does happen more often than we imagine. We aren’t to fear him for God is greater (I John 4:4), but we are to recognize the attacks of our enemy so we can properly fight against them (2 Corintihans 2:5-11). If you are facing some of these right now, follow Job’s example of not sinning by accusing God of wrongdoing (Job 1:22; 2:9-10). Stay faithful to God and keep your trust in Him no matter what (Job 1:21). See it as part of your warfare and don’t let Satan defeat you through it.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Why does God allow people to suffer and struggle? How can a God of love allow so much evil to continue? God doesn’t defend Himself or explain what He allows. He gives us a free will choice as to whose kingdom we will pursue. Sin and the resulting evil are the natural consequences of turning from Him.
The fact of pain in the world is not a reason to see God as less than loving. Still, innocent people suffer. We can’t try to evaluate God’s person and character by these things for He has proven His character and love by leaving heaven, becoming a man, living on earth, then going to the cross to take on the punishment for every sin we would ever commit. That proves His love for us beyond a shadow of a doubt. If it weren’t for that we would all spend eternity in hell. So anything less than hell from now on is because of His grace and mercy. Why He seems to show more love and mercy to some than others is not up to us to judge. God isn’t accountable to us. We cannot stand in judgment of Him until we know all the facts as He knows them and see everything as He sees it. Many things seem unfair to little children but they must trust their parents. Getting an injection from a doctor, having a pretty shiny knife taken way, things like these seem to a child that a parent doesn’t love them. But a child doesn’t have the perspective to truly understand all that is involved and we don’t either. We do know that facing things we don’t understand gives us an opportunity to trust. Our faith is stretched and we grow. God is glorified as we see Him deliver and as others watch us continually trust Him no matter what happens. Spiritual warfare itself is often very painful. It is just one of many forms of suffering God uses for our good and for His glory. Often deliverance isn’t a sudden, complete act. God allows the struggle to go on for it teaches us to fight and to trust Him.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Another important lesson from this passage is that Satan can only do what God allows. Satan had to have permission to attack Job, and even then God limited what he could do (Job 1-2; 1 Kings 22:19-23). God actually used his evil plan for good (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20). He used the lies the demons gave the false prophets to bring about the destruction God wanted (1 Kings 22:19-23). He used Satan’s afflictions on Job to be a faithful witness and example to Satan and his forces then, and to untold millions of believers since. He used all that Joseph went through to save the nation of Israel (Genesis 50:20). He uses what you and I go through for our growth and for His glory as well. When you look at nature you see God is a God who never wastes anything, but makes multiple good uses of everything. He does the same with our pain and suffering as well. Not one tear, not the slightest struggle is wasted but is used for His plan in our lives (Romans 8:28).
LESSON FOR TODAY: A related question is why God would allow Satan to attack us at all when He could prevent it. If He is a God of love why not deny Satan and demons any opportunity to attack? Then we wouldn’t have to resist or learn to fight? Life would be much simpler and easier. But that isn’t God’s purpose, nor is it how He works. Why didn’t God just kill all the Canaanites and not have the Jews have to go through warfare against them? The Jews had a free will to follow God or not, and if they followed they needed to learn to obey and to fight as God would have them. Perseverance, faith, teamwork, patience, obedience and many lessons were tied up in this. God used it to stretch their faith, to give them opportunities to grow and see Him work through them and to show others His glory by what He could do through His people. The same is true of us today.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE TRAINING. At the end of each major section of this course, you will find questions to help you remember and apply what you have learned. You can look back through what you have read for the answers if need be. You need a Bible, a notebook and a pen to do these questions.
If you want to send me your answers I would be glad to read them and offer comments or suggestions that might help you. You can write me at email@example.com. If you have any questions or prayer requests please feel free to write to me.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Answer the following questions.
- Explain in your own words why God allowed man to have a free will.
- What difference has it made in the world today that man has a free will?
- What difference has it made in your life that you have a free will? Are you glad you have a free will? Why or why not?
- Why does God allow Satan and demons to attack His people? Why doesn’t He just stop them?
- What lessons can you learn from Job about how and why Satan attacks us today?
- What lessons can you learn from Job about having victory over Stan’s attacks?
When you have completed this you can move on to the next section.
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Record your thoughts, questions, what you have learned, what you want to study in the future, prayer suggestions and whatever else you want to remember.
From the dispersal of man at Babel through the period of the Judges, warfare continued. These approximately 600 years show a change from Satan and his demons attacking mankind to a more direct attack on Israel, God’s people. With the rest of mankind firmly under his control, Satan attacks God’s kingdom by attacking His chosen people.
ABRAHAM (Genesis 11 – 24) ⇑
Because man had continually disobeyed God and did not respond to Him in faith and obedience, God’s plan was to establish one nation as His chosen people. Through them, the world would learn about God, receive His written Word and give the world the much needed Savior. If all mankind would not follow God, one people group could be His representatives and lead the way. God chose Abraham to be the first in that line of people, now called the Jews.
About two thousand years after Adam and Eve sinned God called Abraham to leave Ur, a thriving civilization where the moon was worshipped, and go to a new land where God would bless him and start a new nation through his descendants (Genesis 11:27 – 12:5). This brought attack after attack on Abraham, for Satan knew if he could destroy this nation there would be no written Word and no Savior. Stopping these new people before they could get established was important to ultimate victory for Satan. So he attacked Abraham in many different ways.
That is why when we look at Abraham’s life we see a series of tests. Satan used them to try to defeat and destroy Abraham but God allowed them as opportunities for Abraham’s faith to grow and his obedience to be shown (James 1:13-15). God used these tests to teach Abraham to remain faithful despite his fear, attacks by others, unfavorable circumstances and physical difficulties. Some were through nature, others by enemies and some even from those closest to him, like Sarah his wife. Most of the tests he passed, but several he failed by not trusting in God and obeying Him no matter what. He was retested in some of these, but wasn’t always successful the second time, either. (Satan tried to defeat or discredit Abraham, to dilute the line of the seed by trying to have Sarah have a baby by Pharaoh instead of by Abraham as God has said and by trying to delay or destroy the next in line, Isaac.) But God was faithful even when Abraham was not and His plan prevailed and His kingdom continued.
LESSON FOR TODAY: If we learn to view the events in our lives as tests, opportunities to trust God, we will have a more Biblical view of what is happening and why it is happening. When we blame God, feel sorry for ourselves, try to solve them with our own limited resources, or get discouraged and want to quit, we are losing the battle. We must learn to view every obstacle in life, from the least to the greatest, as an attack against our faith and therefore an opportunity to grow stronger as we stay faithful no matter what. What is testing your faith at this time in life? What is Satan trying to accomplish through this? What do you need to do starting now to pass this faith test?,/blockquote>
ISAAC, JACOB, JOSEPH (Genesis 25 – 50) ⇑
After Abraham’s time, Satan’s attacks continued against his descendants, Isaac and Jacob. They didn’t do very well in their tests of faithfulness and drifted from God’s perfect plan for them. Sin, disobedience and eventually intermarriage among the grandchildren of Jacob caused God to take a hard but necessary step to assure the racial purity of the Jewish race so the Messiah could one day come and defeat Satan and His kingdom. God used Satan’s attacks for His good. Satan attacked Joseph for his faithfulness. But God used a famine to move the small Jewish nation into Egypt where they would not be able to intermarry because the Egyptians looked down on them and rejected intermarriage with them. For the next 400 years, God used Egypt to grow them into a larger, more faithful nation. Outwardly it was their sin and disobedience that brought this about, but God used even that for their own good and His ultimate purpose (Romans 8:28)
MOSES (Exodus – Deuteronomy) ⇑
Deliverance from Egypt
During the time of Moses, we see the greatest series of power encounters between God and Satan recorded in the Old Testament. It is a time of miracles (burning bush, 10 plagues, Red Sea opening) and direct conflict with the forces of darkness in the form of Jannes and Jambrees (2 Timothy 3:8; Exodus 7 & 8). These demonized magicians were able to perform counterfeit miracles in order to blind Pharaoh to God’s superior power. God put a limit on their ability to counter His works (Exodus 8:18), but it was enough for Pharaoh to allow himself to be blinded to the truth (Exodus 8:19).
God used a series of 10 plagues to battle the gods of Egypt and defeat each of them in their areas of strength (Exodus 7 through 11). The idols the Egyptians served were powerless to protect themselves or the people who worshipped them. It was a time of great spiritual warfare. Not only were the plagues physically painful, but God allowed Satan’s demons to attack those who weren’t following Him. He used these demons to inflict fear, pain, and destruction (Psalm 78:49). This is one of many examples in the Bible where God uses the destruction caused by Satan and demons for His ultimate plan and purpose.
LESSON FOR TODAY: God does not prevent the battles we have with Satan, but He does give us victory through them. God protected and provided, but the Jews had to learn to fight their battles in His strength. God delivered them, but after deliverance (salvation) they had to learn to fight, as must we. We are not exempt from warfare and never will be, but we have His promises of ultimate victory when we trust Him and follow Him. Don’t waste energy and prayer time asking for the battle to be milder so you can manage, instead ask for greater strength so you can fight and win. Don’t try avoiding the battle, face it right on. And most of all, don’t compromise or give in. Being taken captive by your enemies will NOT make your life any easier!
While these battles seemed to be between Pharoah and Moses, the Egyptians and the Jews, what was happening on earth was really just a reflection of the battle going on in the heavenlies between God and Satan, angels and demons. Pharoah is a picture of Satan who holds God’s people in bondage and tries to destroy them. This began when he tried to destroy the male babies, thus hoping to end the line of the Messiah who would one day crush his head. It continued through slavery and culminated with his army attacking the unarmed Jews at the Red Sea. Each time God victoriously protected His people and the line of the Messiah. Egypt is a picture of the world and of Satan’s power while the Jews are a picture God’s people in bondage.
Deliverance came through innocent blood being shed to cover the sins of the guilty. Passover was and still is, a picture of salvation in Jesus. The Red Sea deliverance was God’s victory over Satan and the world in freeing His people from bondage. God delivers by blood (Passover lamb, Jesus the Lamb of God on the cross) and power (opening Red Sea showing His power over all, opening the grave Jesus was in showing He was alive). Deliverance is available for God’s people, but death and judgment for those who use their free will to turn from Him (Exodus 12:12).
LESSON FOR TODAY: What we face in this life is a refelction, a reverberation of the battle going on in the heavenlies between God’s forces and Satan’s forces. It is often acted out on earth. By our faithfulness and perseverance we are showing the enemy that God is greater than these attacks and ultimately will bring Him glory through it.
Traveling to Mount Sinai
God’s miraculous provision did not end when the Jews left Egypt. He provided manna, kept them from getting sick, prevented clothing and shoes from wearing out and provided water when needed (Exodus 15-17). He led them by the cloud of fire, by His very Shekinah Presence. God protected and provided, but the Jews had to learn to fight their battles in His strength.
In their travel from Egypt to Mount Sinai the Jews had to travel near the land of the Amalekites. The Amalekites followed them, picking off the weak and sickly who weren’t part of the main body of Israel (Deuteronomy 25:17-18).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan as a roaring lion looks for weak and sick sheep, those who aren’t with the main body, and easily picks them off (1 Peter 5:8). We can’t fight alone; we must be close to the main army. Be part of a sound Bible-believing church. Be involved in its ministry. Surround yourself with good Christian friends. When you notice one of them drifting do all you can to bring them back to the fellowship. When you are being attacked let others know what they can do to help you. Stragglers and the weak are easy targets for the enemy.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Amalek is a picture of the flesh. The flesh is always here to battle us. Demons don’t always attack directly, they use our flesh (sin nature, natural tendency ot self-centerdness and sin) as well. In fact, many times they don’t have to do anything, they just let our sin nature defeat us. We, like the Jews, must learn to have victory over the flesh by prayer and fighting. Sins of the flesh include such things as lust, greed, laziness, self-indulgence, etc. – anything outside of God’s will for us to be more like Jesus.
God allowed Amalek to continually attack so the Jews would stop and fight. They had to learn to fight. They were armed by God after the Egyptian army drowned (Exodus 14:30) but had to learn to use their weapons.
LESSON FOR TODAY: God provides armor for us (Ephesians 6:10-20) but we must learn to use it as well. (See Ephesians 6 about the Armor of God for much more information about the weapons and equipment God provides for us.)
The Jews experienced victory when Moses prayed and the army fought behind Joshua (Exodus 17:8-15). Both were necessary for victory. Victory over Amalek was only temporary, for there were many future encounters to come.
LESSON FOR TODAY: For us to have victory means we must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) for it is part of the weaponry God gives us (Ephesians 6:18). We must also fight using the armor He has provided (Ephesians 6:10-17). Prayer without doing our best in life’s battles isn’t enough; neither is doing our best but neglecting to pray. It takes both faith and works for victory. Our warfare with the flesh will never end. Like the Jews with the Amalekites, battles will continue as long as we are on this earth.
At Mount Sinai
God’s people needed God’s truth to live and serve Him. God revealed His law to them, along with directions for the tabernacle and priesthood. Knowledge of and obedience to God’s revealed truth is the key to victory (Psalm 119:9-11).
LESSON FOR TODAY: We cannot have victory in our own lives, nor can we properly minister to those who are struggling, if there is sin in our lives and we aren’t living in obedience to God’s commands (2 Timothy 2:5; Exodus 23:21; Deuteronomy 27:10; 30:20; Exodus 24:7; Jeremiah 7:23; 1 Samuel 15:22; Hebrews 11:8Joshua 24:24; John 14:15). Sin grieves (Ephesians 4:30) and quenches (1 Thessalonians 5:19) the Holy Spirit. God stands ready to help us and give us victory, but we cannot allow any sin in our lives. We must confess it (I John 1:7-10) and live in total obedience in order to have victory.
A part of the law God gave them directly forbids any involvement with anything occult, anything demonic. “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices, the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-13)
The death penalty was the consequence of being involved in any of these activities (Leviticus 20:2; Deuteronomy 13:10). Child sacrifice to the demon gods heads the list (Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 2:1-17). Worship of the stars, sorcery, and divination were part of the worship of Molech. Divination was foretelling the future by hidden knowledge through supernatural powers (Ezekiel 21:21). Sorcery was used to predict the future based on the movement of the planets (Acts 8:9-24). Use of halucenigetic drugs accompanied this (Galatians 5:20 ‘pharmakeia’). Omens were supposedly discovered by inspecting the entrails of animals, following the flights of birds or the motions of snakes. Witchcraft was a means of calling on demons for information, often through the use of drugs or perfumes. It is strongly forbidden (2 Kings 9:22; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4) and any who were involved in this were put to death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27).
The list of forbidden occult practices continues with casting spells, something done by charms, spells or curses (Acts 16:16-18). A medium is someone through whom a demon speaks (Isaiah 8:19; Leviticus 19:31; 20:27). A spiritist is similar. The term usually referred to a male witch who would contact demons to try to get information from them. Necromancy, consulting the dead, was also done by contact with demons who impersonated the person who had died. This is strongly forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; 2 Kings 23:24; 1 Chronicles 10:13-14) and is what Saul did at the end of his life (1 Samuel 28:7-25).
LESSON FOR TODAY: There are many similar ways of contacting demons today as well, but every way of contacting demons is strictly forbidden. Usually they camouflage who they are so as to make the practice more acceptable. Contact with any power other than God is strictly forbidden. Even if the person isn’t aware it is a demon, when they open themselves up to a power that is not God then the demon(s) can and will use that to claim control over them. These include consulting a spiritist, using a Ouija board, participating in occult or Satanic worship, taking part in a séance or any number of forbidden practices. If someone has been involved in these things their power can be broken by confession and putting the sin under the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9). Also pray to take back any access the sin had given to demons.
The Ten Commandments
Another significant passage about our warfare with demons is in the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:4-5. After the commandment to not make any idols God gives the reason: He is a jealous God “punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me” (Exodus 20:4-5). God does not hold us accountable for the sins of our ancestors (Deuteronomy 24:16) but the consequences of their sins do pass on from generation to generation (Ezekiel 18:2). There is a big difference between ‘sins’ (individual acts of sin) and ‘sin’ (general term for the culmination of all sin together).
One of the main ways sin passes from generation to generation is through demonic control. When a person opens themselves to demonizing, that demon claims them and all they have. When they have children the demon then claims the child as well (Exodus 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 5:8-9). There are many examples of this in Scripture (Nehemiah 1:4-9; Jeremiah 14:20; Daniel 1:1-19). This goes on from generation to generation until broken by prayer in Jesus’ name. As believers, we have authority to break this in Jesus’ name (1 Corinthians 7:14).
LESSON FOR TODAY: When one person opens themselves up to demonic influence, that person’s descendants are also at risk of demonizing. When a demon has access to a person, he also claims right to all that person has, including their children. The Bible says these sins pass on down to the third or fourth generation (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 5:8-9; Exodus 34:6-7). Ancestral, or generational access is one of the most common openings for demonized.
This is especially true of first-born males, but certainly not limited to them. Satan seeks to claim them because God says they belong to Him (Exodus 34:20). This is by no means limited to firstborn males, or even to males. Any child is open to this. If you notice some of the same problems in your life as in your siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, or grandparents it could very well be ancestral demonizing. The same demons have access to those in the family and do the same work in various members (not all members, that would be too obvious). They claim the bloodline or family name and use that as access. If you see some patterns in the symptoms or characteristics of demonizing that were covered previously in others in your family that could show ancestral access. That is why so often a boy who hates his father for beating his mother grows up to beat his own wife, or a child of an alcoholic becomes an alcoholic themself. It is not uncommon to observe generations of abuse, addiction, hatred, superstition and fear, pride, control and manipulation, rejection, sexual sins and perversions, aberrant religious beliefs, witchcraft, and rebellion etc.
Generational bondage can be broken by personally repenting of and confessing the sins of past generations. Claim the blood of Christ as stronger than your bloodline and put that access under the blood of Jesus (Romans 5:15). Claim that you are a “new creation, old things have passed away, all things have become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). State that you are “born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:13). Then ask God to turn that curse into a blessing (Deuteronomy 23:5).
LESSON FOR TODAY: When counseling someone who you feel may be demonized be sure to start by asking questions about similar sins and problems in other members of the family. This is especially true if the person struggled with the issue since they were quite young. Generational bondage can be broken by putting the sins of past generations under the blood of Jesus and forbid any of Satan’s forces to make any claim against you through them. Claim the blood of Christ as stronger than your blood line and put any demonic access under the blood of Jesus (Romans 5:15). Claim that you are a “new creation, old things have passed away, all things have become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). The person must not allow himself to participate in that sin any more or the access will again be open. “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
Failure to enter the land
Despite all God’s show of power and clear provision, the Jews failed to enter the land because of their fear of the giants who were already living there. Quite naturally, they had chosen the best land for themselves. But God promised this to His people. Instead of trusting Him they let their fear control them. Therefore God set the generation who left Egypt aside, causing them to wander for 40 years until all those over 20 had died.
LESSON FOR TODAY: The Jews in Moses’ day never went into the land God had promised them. They never attained spiritual victory or maturity because their fear and lack of faith defeated them. Today fear is still one of Satan’s greatest weapons, something that keeps many believers from growing to maturity and attaining spiritual victory. If you struggle with fear this is where your battle must be won. Maybe you don’t call it ‘fear’ but rather refer to it as worry, concern, anxiety, nervousness, fretfulness, apprehension or some similar term. Believe God’s promises and move forward in faith, not fear (Proverbs 3:25; Isaiah 14:3; Psalm 34:4; Joshua 1:9; 10:8;23:9-11; Leviticus 26:8; Exodus 14:13; I Samuel 17:45-47; II Samuel 22:33-35,40-41; Philippians 4:6-7; 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:7 Exodus 14:13). Write some of these down, memorize them, and quote them whenever your faith struggles.
Possessing our inheritance
While the generation of Jews who left Egypt did not enter the land, the next generation did. Numbers 32:18-22 describes their key to victory. “We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance. 19 We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan.” 20 Then Moses said to them, “If you will do this — if you will arm yourselves before the Lord for battle, 21 and if all of you will go armed over the Jordan before the Lord until he has driven his enemies out before him — 22 then when the land is subdued before the Lord, you may return and be free from your obligation to the Lord and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the Lord.” (Numbers 32:18-22) They determined to possess it (Numbers 32:18) and armed themselves for battle (Numbers 32:20). They then moved ahead in faith in God, trusting and following Him (Numbers 32:21) and God gave them victory (Numbers 32:22).
LESSON FOR US: The physical warfare of the Jews over their enemies in the Old Testament pictures our spiritual warfare against our enemies (the flesh and Satan) in the New Testament. We can learn many spiritual lessons from their physical battles. Numbers 32:18-22 gives the key for our victory in spiritual warfare. First of all, we must be totally committed to having victory (Numbers 32:18) and willing to pay whatever price is necessary (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). How badly do you want to experience all God has for you? How willing are you to fight for it no matter the cost?
LESSON FOR US: Arm yourself. Make sure you understand and use the armor that is ours (Ephesians 6:10-20). Put on your armor daily and keep it on (see Ephesians 6 for more information). Then move out in faith. Attack the enemy, whatever is challenging you (Numbers 32:21), but do it in God’s power (Luke 10:17-20). Don’t sit back, don’t avoid confrontation, seek out your weaknesses and areas of temptation and defeat them. Then God promises ultimate victory (Numbers 32:22). The Jews challenge was to conquer the Promised Land. ‘Self’’ is our land to be subdued, to be tamed and brought under control. It is ours for the taking, although it requires lifelong warfare to gain and keep victory.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE TRAINING:
Answer the following questions. Send the answers to me if you want and I’ll offer comments and suggestions.
1. Abraham’s life was a series of tests, opportunities to trust God in faith or to fail to do so. Write a list of some of the main tests you’ve faced in life and behind each one write if you passed or failed and why.
2. What test(s) are you going through right now? What opportunities is God giving you to trust Him? Are you passing or failing right now?
3. Amalek, the flesh, attacks all of us. Where are you most attacked by your sin nature? What are your weaknesses?
4. What must you do to have victory over these sins of the flesh?
5. Are you aware of any ‘generational’ sin’s that seem to reoccur in your family? Is there anything you struggle with which others in your family also struggle with, especially parents or grandparents? If so, what are these things?
6. If you sense any of these things in your life use the following prayer:
“Gracious Father over all, I acknowledge before you the sins of my parents and ancestors. I know that they have sinned because all men and women are sinners. And so, I openly confess the sins of my parents and ancestors. I am sorry for their sins against you and I ask that you cover their sins with the blood of Jesus and not hold their consequences against me or my descendants. I claim the finished work of Jesus Christ, Who bore all my sin upon Himself. In faith I accept that work on the basis of your holy Word. I reclaim any consent given to Satan’s forces by my parents’ sin. Dear Jesus, please set me free from all evil influences coming from my parents and ancestors in the name of Jesus. I know I am a new creation in Christ. Old things have gone and all things have become new. I here and now reject and disown all the sins of my ancestors. As one who has been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, I cancel out all demonic working that has been passed on to me from my ancestors. As one who has been crucified and raised with Christ and who sits with him in heavenly places, I reject any and every way in which Satan may claim ownership of me. I declare myself to be eternally and completely signed over and committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. I now command every familiar spirit and every enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ that is in or around me to flee my presence and never to return. I now ask You, heavenly Father, to fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I submit my body as an instrument of righteousness, a living sacrifice, that I may glorify You in my body. All this I do in the name & authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
When you have completed this you can move on to the next section.
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Record your thoughts, questions, what you have learned, what you want to study in the future, prayer suggestions and whatever else you want to remember.
JOSHUA (Joshua) ⇑
The book of Joshua is one of the most detailed books on spiritual warfare in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 tells us that the things that happened to the Jews who left Egypt and eventually settled the Promised Land happened as examples for us. Physical events in the Old Testament teach spiritual truths in the New Testament. That is true of the book of Joshua.
In Genesis we see the need of salvation – man is sinful. The book starts in Eden in God’s presence and ends with the Jews in captivity in Egypt. Exodus brings deliverance by innocent blood being shed (Passover) and by power (Red Sea open, close). Then in Leviticus instruction is given as to how to live for God now that they are delivered. In Numbers they start learning to apply what God has taught them about winning battles they face in life. Deuteronomy reviews lessons from the past about obeying God. God’s people must learn from the past so they can move ahead in the future. Then comes Joshua, entering the Promised Land (God’s perfect will for them) and conquering through warfare. That’s where we are in our Christian life: God has redeemed us and taught us in His Word and from past experiences. Now we pursue His perfect will for our lives but find we must fight to achieve what He has for us.
LESSON FOR TODAY: The same happens today – God freely gives us salvation and has peace, rest and victory available as we live in His perfect will, but there is a battle involved for us to experience and enjoy those blessings. We fight our sinful nature and we fight Satan’s demons who try to do all they can to keep us from experiencing all God has for us. It’s available, it’s ours, but we must battle to reach it. Some Christians believe that if they trust God enough then He will remove all obstacles and bless them with a simple, easy life. Others think that God owes them health, wealth and whatever they want. The truth is that we are in a lifelong battle if we want to remain faithful to God’s kingdom. If we give in or compromise, then the battle stops until we start living in faithfulness and obedience again. We are living in enemy-occupied territory seeking to overthrow the prince of this world and release as many of his prisoners as possible. Of course he will oppose all we do!
The generation of Jews who left Egypt died in unbelief, not attaining all the blessings God had for them in this life. They lacked faith and obedience. Their children took over – each generation must pick up where the last generation stopped or failed. They needed faith to face the giants their parents feared. They couldn’t do this in their own strength, only in God’s.
Crossing the Jordan River
First they would have to cross the Jordan River which was at flood stage (Joshua 3:15). Humanly speaking it was the worst time to try to cross. Human wisdom said to not try, but God chose this time to show His power. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). By following God the Jews found there was no opposition because the residents of Canaan were not expecting them to cross at that time. It was also a time when much food was available in the land and the morale of the Canaanites had been undermined by word of God’s work through the Jews (Joshua 5:1). God miraculously opened the Jordan, as He had the Red Sea for the previous generation (Exodus 4:3). Only now He expected them to step into the water first (Joshua 3:14-17), not stand on dry ground and watch. As our faith grows God expects more and more of us. So they entered, but it was a commitment for there was no way to return!
The conquest of the land and settling on the ground God gave them required battle after battle. Joshua prepared to enter by meditating on God’s Word (Joshua 1:8) and by following Jesus (Joshua 5:13-14). We, too, are to meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-3) and follow Jesus as well (Mark 1:17; 2:14).
The Battle of Jericho
The first battle was at Jericho (Joshua 5:13 – 6:27). It is important to note that no two battles, then or now, are exactly alike. At the Red Sea the Jews were to stand still and see God deliver (Exodus 14:3), but against Amalek the men were to take up weapons and fight (Exodus 17:9). Now at Jericho they were told to march around the walls in faith and God would take care of the walls (Joshua 6:1-3). The Jews followed the Ark of the Covenant which symbolized the seat of God’s presence.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Each battle we fight will be different than the battles others fight, and even different than past battles we were involved in. We must follow God’s lead each time. There is no one way or ‘best’ way – be sensitive and follow God. Don’t look for a magic formula – obedience to God brings victory, disobedience brings defeat.
Despite victory over great Jericho, the Jews were soundly defeated in their next battle against a small outpost called Ai because there was sin in the camp (Joshua 6:18-19; 7:13). Achan tried to keep that which belonged to God. This sin was confessed and removed from the camp, and then there was victory at Ai. We, too, must make sure there is no sin in our lives or we won’t have victory but will live in defeat.
LESSON FOR TODAY: An entirely new strategy was used for victory at Ai – an ambush from behind the town. There is no magic formula, no one human leader, and no ritual that guarantees victory. Sensitivity to God’s leading and following His Spirit is the only sure way to win. Don’t be judging the way God leads others, and don’t limit Him in what He wants to do to bring victory in your situation.
After these victories the Jews paused to regroup and refocus. By this time the tribes in the north and south had started unifying to better stand against the Jews.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan’s opposition grows stronger in time. The enemy does not give up and surrender. He often gathers more demons and even motivates unbelieving human beings in opposition against God’s people. Big victories on our part often bring bigger opposition from Satan and his demons.
Defeating The Southern Tribes
First the Jews faced the southern tribes (Joshua 9:1-2; 10:5). Their biggest danger wasn’t their enemy without, but the enemy within – fear. That is one of the demon’s best tools to defeat us, but God clearly commands us to have faith, not fear (Joshua 10:8). When the Jews fought as directed by God He brought victory (Joshua 10:11). He even miraculously caused the sun to stand still so there was extended daylight to complete the victory (Joshua 10:12-14).
One of the tribes in the south, the Gibeonites, tried an entirely different but vastly more successful strategy – deception. They sent representatives who pretended to come from far away so as to not seem to be a threat to the Jews, even going so far as to encourage the Jews to make a treaty with them (Joshua 9:3-14).
LESSON FOR TODAY: When the enemy can’t win by direct conflict he often resorts to something more subtle and often more effective – deceitfulness. As in Eden, Satan is most dangerous when using deception and lies. We must make sure we know and apply the truth, for while deception brings bondage, truth brings freedom (John 8:32).
Defeating the Northern Tribes
During this time the northern tribes had time to unify and prepare (Joshua 11:1-5). Victory in the north did not come in one quick, short battle as we would often like to see happen, but was a slow and gradual process. The enemy just doesn’t quit. Again the greatest problem the Jews faced is fear. The same is true today. God encouraged them in their faith (Joshua 11:6) and brought the victory as they fought (Joshua 11:8). We must fight but it is God who brings victory.
The last great battle to claim and settle the Promised Land, the place of God’s blessing, was against the giants (Anakim, Numbers 13:28; Joshua 11:21). It was fear of them that kept the Jews out of the land in Moses’ day.
LESSON FOR TODAY: This was a retest. When we are defeated God allows us to face the same enemy time and time again until we learn to have victory. This final series of battles were the hardest, for it was Satan’s last great stand and he did all he could to hold on to his territory. Joshua and Caleb were old by this time, but they still battled and God gave victory. As long as we are alive we will face battles, we never grow too old to keep growing and serving.
LESSON FOR TODAY: There are numerous lessons we can learn from Joshua, and an extended personal study of the book will reap rich benefits, so become very familiar with this book. One of the most clear lessons is that fear is a main tool of the enemy and something we need to recognize and defeat by faith (1 John 5:4-5). Also knowing that each battle is different and God has no one way for victory is important. As always, the importance of perseverance is clear throughout. Depend on God alone for victory (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 8:28).
LESSON FOR TODAY: God equips us with the weapon we will need to win our battles. The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is our offensive weapon (Matthew 4:4; Ephesians 6:17). Read, study, memorize and use God’s Word. The more proficient you are in God’s Word the more powerful you will be in battle.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Another very important lesson to learn about warfare from the book of Joshua is that warfare never ends. God’s principle was for the Jews to gradually win over the land, bit by bit (Exodus 22:27-30; Deuteronomy 7:21-22). While the last great battle was with the giants, there were always mop-up operations, pockets of resistance, and rebellion which would break out in various places. Were the Jews to conquer the whole land in Joshua’s time they wouldn’t have been able to settle and cultivate all of it, so some would return to a wild state. Instead, God let them conquer some land and settle, then move ahead to conquer a little more. God’s wanted them to conquer and settle the land before moving ahead. We, too, are to learn and grow from each conflict we face. This also was how God taught them to fight: by continual practice. They were to teach their children who would continue the battles, and pass it on to their children.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Fortunately, though, the warfare isn’t continual. It comes in cycles. The Jews had times of intense warfare, then times of consolidating and applying their gains. There wasn’t constant battle every minute of every day. God interspersed times of rest, times to grow and mature and times to solidify what was won in the previous battle before they had to move ahead again. God does that today as well. We have times of great stretching and challenging, then times of peace and rest during which we gather our strength and apply what we have learned. Then another battle comes. Don’t expect the battles to ever end, but don’t become discouraged thinking the current battle will last forever. Battles come and go in cycles. We grow spiritually in spurts just as plants, animals and even a child’s body grows in spurts.
Joshua concludes his book with a heartfelt plea to the Jews, asking them to turn from their foreign gods and serve the Lord only (Joshua 24:14-15). The worship of the Canaanite gods was very demonic. Baal, for example, was the number one god. His name means lord, master or owner. He was the god of weather and fertility and his worship was grossly immoral and extremely bloody. The highest ranking goddess was his mate, Ashtoreth (Judges 2:13; 3:7)’ She is also involved with fertility. Her name has been corrupted to ‘Easter’ and her fertility worship included rabbits, eggs and focus on the spring solstice. God decreed the death penalty on those who served these gods because of their evil, immoral, demon-inspired worship.
LESSON FOR TODAY: The battle for Palestine was not just between the Jews and Canaanites. It was really between God and Satan, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. The gods of the Canaanites were very evil and demonic and involved in many sexually immoral activities. There were literally thousands of them. Elaborate rites of exorcism were developed by the priests to protect the people from the hordes of demonic spirits which attacked the people with distress and disease. There was much fear involved in these animistic beliefs. These fleshly, sensual forms of worship appealed to the Jews so God was very strict about forbidding His people to have anything to do with them, to destroy them and their possessions, and to stay separated from them (Joshua 24:14-15).
For the next thousand years this battle will continue. Satan will use these false religions to tempt and mislead God’s people, turning them from the One true God and putting them under His judgment. When they worshiped these false idols they were really worshiping and giving power to the demons behind them (1 Corinthians 10:20). Eventually the Jews will be removed from their land because of this sin, so this plan of Satan’s will ultimately succeed. Thus we see that the conflicts between God’s people and those who represent the enemy are more than just human clashes; they mirror the warfare going on in the heavenlies between God and Satan.
JUDGES (Judges) ⇑
After Joshua dies the nation of Israel was ruled by Judges. The time period when the Judges ruled covered roughly 300 years between the time of Joshua and the first king, Saul. It, too, was a time of warfare. However, while the Jews followed God to victory in Joshua’s time, during the time of the judges they lived in defeat and bondage because of their disobedience and sin. The book contains seven downward spirals of sin and repentance. Their refusal to serve God kept them from having any sustained victory over their enemies.
The book of Judges is proof that God left some of the Canaanites living in the land so following generations of Jews could sharpen their fighting skills and learn how to win their battles with God’s help. However, they didn’t follow God but lived in their own strength. Without God’s help they were unable to achieve victory, it was only when the obeyed and followed Him that they has success. Samson is a perfect example of that. So is the defeat of the Jews by the Philistines and other Canaanite tribes when they fought in the energy of the flesh (Judges 4:1-2). Once they put the Ark of the Covenant in front as they went into battle to use God as a good luck charm (Judged 4:3). They were defeated and lost possession of the Ark for 40 years.
LESSON FOR TODAY: We must take our spiritual combat seriously. We have a formidable enemy, one we can’t beat on our own. God is no lucky charm to pull out when things get too bad and use as a magic genie to cure our problems and make life nice for us again. We must be focused in our commitment to be obedient to God in all actions and keep Him foremost in all thoughts and decision. Faith in Him, not in rituals, persons or procedures brings victory.
As the nation of Israel developed, and as life under the judges continued to bring defeat after defeat, the people turned to the world for an answer to their problems. Rejecting God as their King and defender, they insisted on a human king like the other nations around them. They thought this human solution would bring peace and happiness, but they were wrong. For the next 120 years they were ruled by 3 kings: Saul, David and Solomon.
SAUL (1 Samuel 1-15) ⇑
Saul was the first king over Israel. He was the choice of the people for he was tall and good looking (1 Samuel 10:23-24) – external traits being all the Jews cared about. He didn’t follow God nor did he lead the people to victory in their battles. Pride and insecurity turned him from a shy, humble man to a self-centered tyrant. His insecurity and fear opened him up to demonic oppression.
Stage 1 demonizing
The first stage of his demonic oppression was mild. When he was tormented David’s music brought relief (1 Samuel 16:14-23). He opened himself to the influence of demons by his sin. When he allowed his fear to manifest itself in anger and rage, demons fed on his hate and injected more fear and anger into him (1 Samuel 18:10-22; 19:9-10; 20:30-33). He only found relief when David played and sang to him.
LESSON FOR TODAY: God assigns angels to protect us, and He does it in an organized way, not haphazardly. So, too, Satan is methodical in assigning demons to attack us as well. Certain ones are assigned to focus on defeating us, perhaps also to other family members as well. They get to know us and our weaknesses so that they are better able to find chinks in our armor and attack us either head on or in new subtle ways, which often are more successful. They have had thousands of years of experience doing this so we are no match for them. God alone knows us better than they do and only He can help us have victory.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Sin opens the door to demons. Sinful desire is like a prayer, a request which demons are more than willing to fill. It brings our thoughts to life. Anger especially leads to demonizing (Ephesians 4:26-27; Matthew 18:34; II Corinthians 2:10-11). We voluntarily lose self-control and the anger becomes like a prayer, a seeking for something ungodly to empower us. Confess any anger as sin and take back any access you have given to Satan through it.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Christian music is a good way to have victory over demonic oppression today as well (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Not only does it reset our mind and thoughts with God’s truth, but demons hate hearing Jesus praised and avoid places where that is happening. Playing music that lifts up Jesus when you are attacked is a good way to help win the battle. It is also a profitable practice at night for those who have thoughts and dreams that aren’t from God. Letting Christian music play quietly in your room can help with that. If a certain part of your home or property seems to be especially under attack leave some music playing there all day and night. Leaving a light on can have the same affect for demons love darkness and hate the light.
Stage 2 Demonizing
The second stage then followed. Saul became more violent, even trying to kill David while he played music (1 Samuel 18:10-11; 19:7-17; 20:30-33). This shows how demons hate music that praises God and will do anything to silence it if possible. As the demons gather more control over Saul by his continual sin they are able to incite him to seek to kill David. Those in this stage start acting out in their sin area – in violence, greed, lust or whatever area they have opened in their life.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Violence and rage are common effects of demonic presence. That is not to say that Saul, or anyone who has rages, is not responsible for their actions – they are. But at this point it takes more than just “trying harder” to have victory; it takes confessing the sin and rebuking the work of the demons in your life. Then ask God to fill that void. The battle will then begin for they will seek to retake the property in your life they have gained. Using God’s word by quoting His promises is the only way to have sustained victory.
Third Stage Demonizing
The third and final stage of demonizing is then evident in Saul’s life. Deeply destructive and totally ungodly behavior begins as Saul goes to a witch at Endor for advice (1 Samuel 28:8-15). Despite the fact that he knows God forbids this (Deuteronomy 18:9-13) he wants the witch to call up the spirit of Samuel so he can find out information about the future. Assuming a demonic manifestation would appear counterfeiting Samuel, they were both shocked when God allowed Samuel himself to manifest to them. Samuel foretold his future as he wanted, but it was one of death for disobedience.
LESSON FOR TODAY: While God has a plan for our lives that includes life, joy and peace, Satan also has a plan but it includes misery, destruction and death. He can only do what God allows. If he had his own way all Christians would be cruelly killed. He can only do what God allows (Job). Demons seem to bring that which is good for us, but like Satan’s deception in Eden it is really for our destruction (John 8:44). Therefore there can be no compromise in our warfare with Satan and his forces. We cannot give one inch of ground but must tirelessly battle for total freedom.
DAVID (1 Samuel 16 – 1 Kings 2) ⇑
David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:13-14) who killed a bear and lion by God’s power. He defeated Goliath the same way (1 Samuel 17:45-47). His downfall was his sin with Bathsheba and the subsequent attempted cover-up. That was the result of a pattern of deception and lies that started earlier in his life. Another thread of sin woven throughout the years was lust – unfortunately David had married several wives. Satan had been patiently setting up this snare for years. The trap was set and David was caught. He was victorious over open frontal attacks, but Satan had been developing this noose patiently for quite awhile. That‘s why we must always be alert to the smallest sin and get rid of it immediately.
There is another time when Satan deceived and defeated David as well. Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1) David, in pride which was encouraged by Satan, took a census of his soldiers against Joab’s advice and God’s warning (1 Chronicles 21: 2-7). God severely punished Israel with a plague because of it (1 Chronicles 21: 8-29). God allowed an “angel” to bring death to many (1 Chronicles 21:14-27). Was this “angel” who caused death in the plague a demon or an angel of God? Either way, we see Satan putting thoughts of pride into David’s mind which led to death for many.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Demons will work for years setting a Christian up for a fall. We think we can get away with a certain sin, or it isn’t a big deal, but gradually it grows until we are captured and defeated by it. Demons are smart and they are patient. Without God’s wisdom and help we are sure to fall. Don’t give in one inch. Don’t allow one sin, however small, to remain and grow. Demons are working on a way to trap you at this very moment so be very alert or you will be defeated. We may be ready for the large battles and faithfully fight them, then fall into a cleverly laid trap of the enemy (1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26).
SOLOMON (1 Kings 2 – 11) ⇑
Solomon, too, is an example of someone who was brought down by deception and trickery. Despite all his wisdom and riches, he followed his father’s example and married many women (1 Kings 11:3). He went way beyond David in this, though, and these women led him into idolatry and paganism (1 Kings 11:4). He had everything but lost it.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Those closest to us can be used to mislead us and tempt us into sin, as Eve did with Adam (Genesis 3:6) and perhaps Job’s wife when she told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9). Don’t mistrust those closest to you, but if they tempt you to stray from the truth even the littlest bit avoid that trap of Satan’s and do what you know God wants.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE TRAINING: Answer the following questions. Send the answers to me if you want and I’ll offer comments and suggestions.
- In your own words summarize several of the most important lessons learned about spiritual warfare from the physical warfare recorded in the book of Joshua.
- What are some of the greatest spiritual battles which you are facing now? What can you learn from Joshua to help you fight them?
- Why were the Jews able to have victory during the time of Joshua but were defeated during the rule of the Judges? What were the differences in these two times?
- Demons had a plan to attack Saul and a different plan to attack David. Summarize each plan and explain why it worked.
- What kind of a plan does Satan use to try to defeat you?
When you have completed this you can move on to the next section.
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Record your thoughts, questions, what you have learned, what you want to study in the future, prayer suggestions and whatever else you want to remember.
That which is done outside of God’s will always ultimately fail. Having a king didn’t solve Israel’s woes, it just added more to them – as God had told them it would. They failed to put
God first and replaced Him with greed and self-centeredness. Before long the nation divided into two – Israel (northern 10 tribes) and Judah (southern 2 tribes). Two hundred years later the north went into captivity and a hundred and fifty years later the south followed. This didn’t happen without many warnings from God, though. Elijah was just one of many, many men God sent to try to turn the Jews back to faithfully serving Him alone.
ISRAEL & JUDAH (1 Kings 12 – 2 Kings 24) ⇑
Elijah and the priests of Baal
Satan and his demons love blood, pain, suffering and death. This is the opposite of God who loves life, light, peace and joy. Destruction and misery characterize the work of Satan and his demons. The demonically empowered pagan religions in Israel were full of blood, suffering and death. The priests of Baal cut themselves to call on their gods to start their altar on fire when Elijah challenged them to a power encounter to see whose god was the greatest (1 Kings 18:28). They shed the blood of innocent victims to their gods as well. Sacrificing children to their detestable, blood-thirsty gods was common (Jeremiah 32:35; 2 Kings 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; Ezekiel 20:31). Demons demand sacrifice; they thrive on pain and love to cause suffering and misery, even death.
Victory over Moab
A clear example of this is when Israel defeated the Moabites and drove them back into their own walled cities. The Jew’s power from their God was greater than that of Satan and those who called on him. But then their king sacrificed his own firstborn son before everyone on the city wall (2 Kings 3:25-27) and the tide of the battle turned. They now had power to drive back the Jews and defeat them. What made the difference? Where did that power come from? By appealing to demons in this way they received their help in battle. If the Jews had understood the spiritual warfare that was behind the physical battle they could have called on their God and He would have given them the power they needed to have victory (I John 4:4). But they fought in their own strength and lost the battle.
LESSON FOR TODAY: We, too, need to know and practice spiritual warfare so we have victory. Many of God’s people live in defeat because they do not understand the way the enemy works or the principles of spiritual warfare and how to have victory (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan and his demons still love blood, darkness, misery and suffering. They feed off of the music, movies, dress and lifestyles that focus on darkness. They go wild for human blood and are behind the recent rise in incidents of teens cutting themselves today (Mark 5:5). They love to cause pain of any sort, including physical pain (Matthew 17:15). Perhaps that is one of the reasons for the rise of interest in tattoos today despite the pain of getting them. By the way, the Bible clearly forbids tattoos (Leviticus 19:28).
While we see Satan and his forces at work throughout the pages of the Old Testament, we also see God’s greater power through those who are obedient to Him. Elijah’s victory over the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth in the time of Ahab and Jezebel is one example (1 Kings 18:16-46). God takes on the gods behind the false religions, the ones empowering the pagan idols and clearly defeats each and every one of them.
The False Prophets
God allowed demons to mislead the false prophets. As with all things, He brought good out of it for His people (Romans 8;28). He allowed it because they couldn’t do it without His permission (1 Kings 22:19-23) in order to use the results for His purpose. When the king followed the Satan-inspired laws of his prophets he was destroyed, which is what God wanted (1 Kings 22:1-28).
LESSON FOR TODAY: When we are able to see behind the scenes we learn that God is using Satan’s evil for His good (Romans 8:28). He allowed a demon of lying and deception to cause false prophets to give a wrong message to Ahab, thus luring him to God’s judgment of death on him (1 Kings 22:19-23). God uses all things for His plan and purpose (Romans 8:28). (See notes with Job for more about this.) Sometimes it is hard to understand why God doesn’t answer or deliver, why He allows the enemy to work as he does. Always remember God is totally in control. He allows man a free will choice but ultimately uses all that happens for His final purpose.
God blessed faithfulness
Hezekiah tried to buy off King Sennacherib of Assyria when he attacked them to defeat them (2 Kings 18:14-16). Sennacherib took the money but attacked the Jews anyway (2 Kings 18:17).
Jehosophat, in a similar situation, turned to God instead of trying make a deal with his enemy. God delivered him (2 Chronicles 20:17) and the nation responded in praise and thanksgiving to God (2 Chronicles 20:12). When God didn’t deliver, though, the prophets stayed faithful to God even though they were greatly persecuted and often killed (Hebrews 11:32-38).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Often we are tempted to compromise with sin, to back off when the battle gets intense, to fade a bit in our commitment to God – and when we do the pressure from the enemy seems to let up. So we back off a bit more from our obedience to God and enjoy the rest from battle. What is happening, though, is that we are trying to buy off the enemy. He’ll take what we give him, but he’ll soon be back stronger than ever and then we will be in worse shape than before. Surrender to the enemy is certainly one way to find relief from conflict, but then there is no spiritual growth, no fruit of the spirit, no reward in eternity and no peace in this life. The only way for victory is to trust God and continue to stand against the enemy (Ephesians 6:11-14).
Angels protect believers
Throughout all the Jews’ battles, God was with His people and helping those who turned to Him. He often used angels to protect His people and bring judgment on His enemies (2 Kings 6:15-17; 19:35; 2:11; Psalm 34:7; 68:17; 91:11; Zechariah 1:8; 6:1-7; Revelation 19:11).
LESSON FOR TODAY: God’s angels today fight for us as they did for God’s people in times past. They protect us at times and in ways we aren’t aware of (Hebrews 1:14; Matthew 26:53). We don’t see them or if we do they appear as human beings (Hebrews 13:2). We aren’t to pray to them, for we are fellow warriors in the fight to advance God’s kingdom against the kingdom of darkness. It’s good to know we aren’t ever alone in our battles, though.
Prophets foretell Satan’s defeat
Even though it seemed like Satan’s kingdom was advancing and defeating God’s kingdom, God foretold their ultimate defeat several times. First, God decreed through Isaiah that Satan would be brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit (Isaiah 14:12-20). Next, God says Satan and his forces will be bound in a dungeon, shut up in prison for many days (consigned to hades for the Millennium, Isaiah 24:21-23). Third, God promises (Isaiah 27:1) that the serpent or dragon (Satan, Revelation 12:7-12) will be defeated by the sword of God’s Word (Revelation 19:15). Through Ezekiel God says Satan will be cast from heaven to earth by God’s power (Ezekiel 28:11-19).
LESSON FOR US: While Satan is aware of the fate that awaits him, it just causes him to act with more fury as the end comes closer. He even has deceived many of his demons into thinking their cause will one day be victorious. A good way of defeating them when attacked is to read these passages and others in Revelation (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10; etc.) about their coming defeat, about God’s power over them (I John 4:4). Use God’s Word to make sure they know they are defeated by God’s power and must submit to His authority. It is good for us to remember that God is the most powerful One and ultimate victor in our daily battles as well.
CAPTIVITY (2 Kings 25, Jeremiah, Daniel) ⇑
Israel and Judah are taken into captivity
Because of their sin, the north and then the southern nations of Israel and Judah went into captivity. They gave in to the forces of Satan and, instead of battling him, joined his army. They worshipped the demonic gods of the Canaanites as well as the stars in the sky, sacrificed their children to these idols and became involved in occult practices (2 Kings 17:16-18). A holy God cannot allow sin, even in His own people – especially in His own people (1 Peter 4:17).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Child sacrifice was common in all the Canaanite religions. It shows the horrible dark hold Satan had on these people. Satan and demons love pain, suffering and death, and would reward people who did these things for them (1 Kings 18:28, Mark 5:5, Matthew 17:15). We see this hideous practice resurfacing today in Satanism, satanic cults and in many witchcraft cults around the world. Do not be surprised by it – there is no sin or evil Satan is not capable of. Do not be scared by it – God is much, much greater and promises to protect us. Stay close to Him, ask for His power and trust in His wisdom.
For 70 years the Jews were in captivity to other nations who took them from their homeland. Daniel was one of those taken to Babylon as a young boy. He spent his life there in service to God and his new country. Throughout all of his life he was involved in spiritual warfare. We gain valuable insight into the battle in the heavenlies from an event in his life (Daniel 10:2-14). Towards the end of his life he was fasting and praying for wisdom from God. After 24 days without an answer an angel appeared to him and told him that the first day he started praying God sent a messenger to answer Daniel’s prayer. However, for 3 weeks the demon who was the territorial ruler of Persia fought against this messenger angel to keep him from getting to Daniel. Michael came to join in the battle so the heavenly courier from God was able to defeat the demonic oppression. He was then able to come to Daniel and complete his mission. While this sounds like a strange event, it sheds much light on the spiritual battles we fight. These kinds of things probably happen around us all the time but we aren’t aware of them.
LESSON FOR TODAY: There are several lessons for us in this account. First, we gain insight into the organization of Satan’s forces. Satan arranges his demons in the same manner God has angels organized – in a military-like structure. These are similar to soldiers in an army: generals, colonels, majors, lieutenants, sergeants, corporals, privates, etc. (Ephesians 6:12). Usually, a “strong man” (or ruler) is assigned to a task, and he has lesser demons under his command to help in the work (Matthew 12:25-29; Daniel 10:2-6, 12-14). The names of these demons usually refer to what they do: “Fear,” “Anger,” “Lust,” “Pride,” “Deception,” etc.. Satan assigns powerful demons as leaders to oversee the work against various people groups and geographical areas as well. Persia was controlled by demons who were organized under the command of a very powerful demon who took the role as the “prince of Persia”. We can be assured that all countries, people groups and major movements among mankind have a structure of demons assigned to defeat and control them. So do churches, Christian ministries, families and of course individuals as well. No one gets overlooked, and those doing the Lord’s work receive special attention! Understanding these things is important for us to know what we are fighting against and how to pray for God’s power and protection.
LESSON FOR TODAY: We also see the importance of prayer, and that God answers it. Even if it seems to take a while, persevere and await God’s answer. It has been correctly said that prayer is not preliminary to the battle, prayer is the battle. So persevere in your prayer and warfare. The warfare we go through here is just a small reflection of what is taking place in the heavenlies. You are not alone in your battles. All God’s people are attacked, and angels and demons are constantly in conflict in the unseen world around us. If it seems you are alone, or something must be wrong because you face these things more than others remember that all who seek to serve and advance God’s kingdom will be attacked.
The influence of Babylon on the Jews
Babylonian beliefs influenced the Jews in their beliefs as well. While in captivity in Babylon they picked up many of the beliefs of the Babylonians. The Babylonians were very superstitious and their religion was based on fear. They believed the gods sent demons to cause illness and difficulties when these gods were offended by something someone did, so their goal was to find which god was upset and appease him by ritualistic formulas, incantations, rites, amulets, charms or sacrifices.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Fear is still one of Satan’s very best tools and often the name of the ruling demon of many who are demonized. “Fear” and “Death” are common, powerful, and often work together to bring the destruction of their host. Demons commonly instill fear in those they attack and use it to control the person (Romans 8;15). Demons put the fear of David into Saul (I Samuel 18:10-15) and put fear and terror into Eliaphaz by gliding by his face (Job 4:15). Anything not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). God does not give us fear (II Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15), so if you experience fear realize it is not from God but from Satan. This doesn’t mean it is always through demonizing, for you can be attacked with fear without being demonized.
Fear takes root when we choose to focus on circumstances instead of God. Peter walking on water is a good example. When his eyes were on Jesus his faith was strong, but when he looked at the waves they grew in his mind to be greater than Jesus’ power and he started sinking. He did the right thing, though, and put his eyes back on Jesus.
Trust is the antidote to fear. How can we understand trust, what it means and how it works? I think understanding how a family should work is the best answer. God established a family relationship to answer all those questions. He is the Father, we are the children. Do your children trust you? What do they have to do? What do you expect of them? It’s exactly the same. Jesus says we are to be like little children in order to learn faith and trust. Let your children teach you. Put yourself in their position – with a Perfect Father.
When you notice fear attacking you defeat it by quoting scripture. When Jesus was tempted He quoted Scripture to have victory over Satan’s temptations. Paul says our only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Psalm 119:9,11 tell us that it’s through God’s Word that we have victory. When you have these thoughts and attacks use Scripture to have victory. Ask God to give you some verses that will help against these things, write them down and memorize them. Say them over and over when these thoughts attack you. That is the only way to victory, and God guarantees it will work! Here are some verses you may want to use: Proverbs 3:25; Isaiah 14:3; Psalm 34:4; Joshua 1:9; 10:8;23:9-11; Leviticus 26:8; Exodus 14:13; I Samuel 17:45-47; II Samuel 22:33-35,40-41; Philippians 4:6-7; 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:7 and Exodus 14:13.
Watch for fear in your own life and look for it when you minister, in spiritual warfare or in other areas as well. Fear is something we all must learn to have victory over. Every person who ever lived faced a battle with fear.
RESTORATION (Ezra, Nehemiah) ⇑
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.
CONCLUDING THE OLD TESTAMENT
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.”
SPIRITUAL WARFARE TRAINING: Answer the following questions. Send the answers to me if you want and I’ll offer comments and suggestions.
- The time of the captivity and return was a sad time in Jewish history. If God was greater then why did the Jews so often live in defeat?
- Why do God’s people today often live in defeat?
- What are some of the most important lessons you have learned about spiritual warfare from the Old Testament?
- How do these apply to your life?
QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS