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In our first study we considered the great basic condition for having our prayers answered. And I outlined, and I will briefly recapitulate to you now, what I consider to be seven basic conditions for receiving the answer to our prayers. First of all, that we pray in the name of Jesus. Secondly, that we come to God with praise and with thanksgiving, the means of access into his presence. Thirdly, that we come without condemnation, boldly. Fourthly, that our motives are right and the great primary motive for prayer is God’s glory. Fifthly, that our relationships are right and that if we have any bitterness or resentment in our heart we lay it aside and forgive. Sixthly, that we accept the help of the Holy Spirit in prayer. For our prayers are effective according to the power that worketh in us, and that’s the power of the Holy Spirit. And the seventh condition is that we pray in line with the revealed will of God which is given to us by the Holy Spirit through the word of God.
Thus we come into what I call the prayer symphony where believers are gathered together in the name of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is the conductor, the word of God is the score. The conductor brings us together with his baton of authority on the revelation of God’s will in his word. And thus we pray in harmony, in unison. If two of you shall harmonize, symphonize, be of one accord, touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them. The harmony, the symphony comes when the Holy Spirit as the conductor unites us together on the score which is the word of God.
And then we considered one particular score, one particular revelation of the word of God: a responsibility that all believers have which is to pray for the government of our nation. Once again I want to direct your attention for a moment to this bumper sticker here which is provided as a ministry of Video Ministries, the group that is sponsoring these messages on video tape. We have felt impelled of God to make available to all who attend our meetings whether they be the meetings where we’re present in person or the video tape meetings, this bumper sticker which is based on the scripture you can see on the top right-hand corner, 1 Timothy 2:1–4 which tells us that we must pray first of all for all that are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. That is, good government, for this is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. And in 1 John 5:14–15 we are told that if we ask anything according to God’s will we know that he heareth us. And if we know that he heareth whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him. So we want you to remember that this is our little contribution to stirring up the Christians of America to pray as the scripture enjoins for our government. And if you have not already taken one of these bumper stickers, you’re very, very welcome to do so. They’re free. But if you take it, display it. And if you display it, obey it. Do it. It’s a commitment. You don’t have to spend thirty minutes in prayer. The minimum is say, “God bless the president, God bless the government of America.” And every time I walk to my car and see that bumper sticker I say at least that much in prayer though I will also testify that my wife and I pray regularly, systematically for the government of our nation.
Then in our last study we dealt with the place of fasting. And fasting is the great instrument of restoration. Now I’m not going to go over that material again.
Now we’re going to move on into the theme of the present study which I could call Spiritual Conflict. We are now opening up to what I trust you will find a revelatory diagram. Before we spend too much time looking at the diagram let’s look at the scripture. We could turn to 2 Corinthians 12:2 for a moment. Paul says there:
“I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago whether in the body I cannot tell or whether out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth, such an one caught up into the third heaven.”
And then in verse 4 he says how that he was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter. So Paul says he knew a man—and I never have believed this man was Paul but that’s by the way—he knew a brother in the Lord who had a marvelous experience of being caught up into the third heaven. The reason why I begin with that scripture is because I’m sufficiently logical to believe that if there is a third heaven there must be a first and a second heaven. You cannot have a third heaven without a first and a second. This is logic. So we are brought face to face with the revelation that there is more than one heaven.
Now as a matter of fact, the opening verses of Genesis in the Hebrew are extremely revealing for a number of reasons. Because certain words that we normally use in English in the singular are in the plural. The first of these words is God. You know the first verse of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heaven [or the heavens] and the earth.” The Hebrew word for God is Elohim. And “im” is the Hebrew plural ending just like “s” is in the English language. The word for heaven is ?shamaim?. Again, the “im” is plural. So right in the first verse of the first book of the Bible we get the revelation that there’s plurality in the Godhead, Elohim, and there’s plurality in heaven.
Now there are two other words that occur early in the book of Genesis which are also in the plural—I just mention this by way of interest—the word for life in Hebrew is l’chaim. And again the “im” is plural. So we’re told there’s more than one kind of life. And then another word that’s plural is ?maim? which is the word for water. There’s also more than one kind of water. You see, you can preach fifteen sermons on just those four words. At least I could if you couldn’t! In fact, it’s going to be difficult for me to stop doing it right now!
So we have four Hebrew words right at the beginning of the Bible that are in the plural. Elohim, the word for God; ?shamaim?, the word for heaven; ?l’chiam?, the word for life; and ?maim?, the word for water. It tells us that though God is one there is plurality within the Godhead. It tells us that there’s more than one heaven. It tells us there’s more than one kind of life. And it tells us there’s more than one kind of water. You see, Jesus spoke about the water of life.
We have therefore revealed to us in the word of God that there is a third heaven. Then there must be a second and there must be a first. Now in this outline I’ve sought to present it—obviously this is not a literal accurate diagram of heaven. I hope you realize that. But it is a kind of diagrammatic representation of certain truths. And so we have at the top the third heaven. Then we have this dotted line that runs across and we have what is called here the mid-heaven.
Now in the book of Revelation this word is used several times. I think it’s the 14th chapter of Revelation, John says, “I saw an angel fly in the midst of heaven.” But that actually is one single compound noun which could well be translated the mid-heaven. Then we have what I call the visible heaven, the heaven that we see when we go out and look up at night into the stars. Now the third heaven is God’s dwelling. And in 2 Corinthians 12:4 Paul says paradise, the home of the departed spirits of the righteous, is located in the third heaven. It wasn’t always located in the third heaven. There was a time when it was down in Sheol, a special compartment of the lower part of the earth. But after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, paradise was translated. You remember under the Old Covenant that Abraham and all the saints went down into a special place that was separated by a great gulf from the spirits of the departed wicked. But from the death and resurrection of Christ onwards, paradise has been up in the third heaven in the presence of Almighty God. So the third heaven is God’s dwelling. The visible heaven is as you might say the roof of man’s dwelling. And in between is the mid-heaven which is Satan’s headquarters. Now this is very, very startling and hard to accept for some Christians. But the revelation of God’s word is very clear and very emphatic.
I’d like you to turn with me now to Ephesians 6:12. We’ll read just that one verse. I’ll read it in the King James Version and then I’ll give you a more literal translation.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Now that is not a very literal translation. And I’m going to try to do it a little more literally. Just to make an explanation, I am a scholar of the Greek language. That doesn’t mean I know everything, nobody knows everything. But I know a good deal about Greek. I’m going to give you now the Prince Version.
“Our wresting match is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers...”
Now you’ll find in Ephesians and other passages the words principalities and powers are often joined very close together. The word principality is directly derived from the Greek word for a ruler. The word power is the word for authority. Exousia not ?dunamis?, if you understand what I mean, and if you don’t, we’ll just move on. So I prefer to say against rulerships and the realms of their authority. That’s why these two are always joined together. It’s the ruler and the realm of his authority.
In Ephesians 2 Satan is called the prince of the power of the air. The ruler of the realm of authority which is defined by the air. So, our wrestling match is not against flesh and blood, not against human personalities, human beings, but against rulerships, and the realms of their authority.
Now, against the world rulers of the present darkness. The darkness of this present age has got a world headquarters. And it is ruled from that headquarters. The ruler is Satan and the headquarters is the mid-heaven. You must understand this. Don’t picture Satan living down in the bowels of the earth. He isn’t there. He’s in the heavenlies. It’s very, very clear. Obviously he’s not in the heaven which is God’s dwelling. He was cast down from that. But he isn’t on earth. Revelation 12:11 tells us there’s a time coming when he will be cast down out of the heavenlies onto earth. Then it says look out earth, because he’s going to make all the trouble he can in the short time that’s left to him. But in the meanwhile, up to that passage in Revelation 12, his headquarters are in the mid-heaven. And our wrestling match is against rulerships and the realm of their authority, against the world rulers of the darkness of this present age.
And then it says, to explain that, at the end of Ephesians 6:12: “The spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies.” Now where the King James says high places that is just completely misleading. The same Greek word is used five times in Ephesians. I’ll show you each of the other places quickly. And in each other place the word is translated heavenly. There is no reason to change the translation. In Ephesians 1:3. If you want to turn quickly through Ephesians.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
The same Greek word is used and is translated in Ephesians 1:3 heavenly places. Then Ephesians 1:20:
“Which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”
The same Greek word. Christ is now in the heavenly places. It’s plural, it covers the heaven of God’s dwelling and it covers the heaven which is Satan’s headquarters. The scripture says very clearly about Christ if you look at the next verse, Ephesians 1:21:
“That he is far above all principality and power, [all rulership and realm of authority].”
So Jesus is here and Satan is here. It’s well worthwhile remembering that Jesus has been exalted far above this realm which is Satan’s headquarters. Then in Ephesians 2:6 we have this:
“That God hath raised us up together and made us sit together with Christ in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
So as we accept it by faith, in the Spirit you and I are seated with Christ in this realm far above Satan and his realm. Physically we’re down here. But spiritually in Christ, because of our relationship with Christ, we are up here. I think this chart really is a good way of grasping certain basic truths.
Now Ephesians 3:10.
“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.”
What a marvelous statement. The church, and that means you and I who believe in Jesus Christ, we are God’s demonstration of his many sided wisdom to the whole theater of the universe. You see, earth is not the center of the universe but it is the stage. And the writer of Hebrews says we’re compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses. We are being watched from here with the people that are cheering for us and we’re being watched from here with the people that are booing against us. But we are a spectacle, Paul says, unto men, unto angels, unto the whole world, the whole universe. And God is showing in us the weak, the unworthy, the base, the rejected, all the riches of his grace, his glory and his wisdom to the entire universe. Doesn’t that make you feel humble? It certainly makes me feel humble. You know why God chose us? Because there wasn’t anything in us that could ever take the credit. So all the glory has to go to God. God has chosen the base thing, the things that are despised, yea, and the things that are not to bring to naught the things that are.
That’s the picture of the heavenlies. In each case it’s used about this area here. And it’s equally true when you go back to Ephesians 6:12, “our wrestling match [and I’m going to give you the whole verse again now] our wrestling match is not against flesh and blood, but against rulerships and the realms of their authority, against the world rulers of the present darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies.” This is our spiritual conflict.
Now, the decisive factor in this conflict on the side of God are the praying believers. We are the ones that tip the scale for victory on God’s side. This is an astonishing fact but the scripture makes it extremely clear. Our prayers are not unimportant, they’re not secondary, they are the decisive issue in the entire spiritual conflict. The way we pray will decide the way the universe goes. I don’t believe that’s an exaggeration, I believe it is the literal truth about the prayers of believers. Nothing grieves me more than to hear Christian believers talk as if they were unimportant. “It doesn’t much matter what I say or what I do. I’m so insignificant.” True, you’re insignificant. Just because you’re insignificant God has chosen you for the demonstration of his wisdom, his grace and his power to the whole universe. So that means you’re no longer insignificant. You’re extremely significant. The whole universe revolves around you. Now I believe this is correct. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3, “all things are for your sakes.” And a little later on he says, “all things are yours.” Everything is for our sake. Because of our relationship to Jesus Christ and because of what God is determined to do through us for the whole universe.
Now I want to turn to Daniel 10. I cannot deal with this chapter in detail, I’m going to introduce you to it and I trust that some of you will be prompted to examine it more closely for yourselves. Daniel 10:2–3 and then I’m going to give a little explanation and read verses 12 and 13.
“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. [Three full weeks is 21 days.] I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth. Neither did I anoint myself at all till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”
In dealing with the theme of fasting, we pointed out that fasting is a kind of spiritual mourning. And God has said rightly understood that he will give the oil of joy to those who mourn in Zion. Not the natural mourning of the flesh but the spiritual mourning of those that are concerned about the desolation of God’s house and God’s people. And Jesus said in the sermon on the mount, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” And there’s a time to mourn but I’m telling you, there’s a time to be comforted.
You see, we’ve got to be very sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Don’t try to mourn when the Holy Spirit is comforting you. But don’t try to work up excitement and a thrill when the Holy Spirit is calling to mourning. This is where we have to be very sensitive to the Spirit.
Now Daniel took three weeks of mourning, of humbling himself. He did not fast completely but he abstained from all except the most basic forms of food and drink. At the end of three weeks the angel Gabriel was sent to Daniel with a revelation of God’s purpose for Israel in the last days. And remember, the whole of the rest of the book of Daniel is the revelation that was brought by the archangel Gabriel to Daniel after these three weeks of mourning and prayer and waiting upon God. Now the advent of the angel and his appearance and so on are described in detail. We will not go into that. We will turn on to what the angel said which is found in verses 12–13.
“Then said he unto me, fear not Daniel, for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard and I am come for thy word.”
Notice Daniel’s prayer was heard the first day that he started to pray. But the angel didn’t arrive till three weeks later. What happened in the meanwhile? Well, the next verse tells us.
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days. But lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me. And I remained there with the kings of Persia.”
Now when the archangel Gabriel speaks about the prince of the kingdom of Persia, he is not talking about a human being. He’s talking about one of these dark angels in the mid-heaven. The archangel started on his journey the first day that Daniel started to pray. He arrived 21 days later. What happened in the meanwhile? Angelic warfare in the heavenlies. The good holy angels, opposed and resisted by Satan’s angels, the angels of darkness. And notice, I hope you’ll get this, it was Daniel’s prayer that got the archangel through. Now can you see what I mean by saying how important our, prayers are. The archangel depended on Daniel and his prayer to get through.
Notice the importance of Daniel. Daniel, on earth, started the whole thing moving. And I venture to say in certain respects, the initiative today is not with heaven, it’s with earth. We are not waiting for God. God is waiting for us. When we move, heaven will move. Then will come the conflict and it’s our prayers on earth that will settle the conflict. That’s how much our prayers matter.
Now you can understand why you can pray for something in the will of God and not immediately receive the answer. See why? Because this wicked old prince here in the mid-heavens stands in the way of your answer. That’s why Jesus said in Luke 18:1, “Men ought always to pray and not to give up.” Because we have to pray through. Not through a reluctant God but through Satanic opposition in a kingdom in the mid-heavens set in direct opposition to all the good that God wants to do for us. That’s why the phrase pray through has got an application. I’ve tried to illustrate it here. Praying through this realm, there is the angels coming down, there’s the prayer of the believer coming up. And when these two triangles meet at their apexes, then you’ve prayed through. That’s the breakthrough. See, it’s got to come down from heaven, it’s got to come up from earth. The meeting point is the breakthrough. And if you are sensitive in the Spirit, you’ll know when a breakthrough has taken place. There have been times in spiritual experience when I’ve known it’s settled. Now we’ve got the victory. Now we can dance. Now we can sing. The battle is finished. All we’ve got to do now is gather the spoils. This I’m going to illustrate in a moment from the story of Jehoshaphat.
Now I think you see the basic picture of spiritual conflict as it is unfolded in the scripture. If you just want to look quickly at the end of Daniel 10 you’ll find what the angel said when he left Daniel. He said in verse 20:
“Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia. And when I’m gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.”
The prince of Persia was a satanic angel that dominated the kingdom of Persia. And it was of particular importance because Persia was ruling over God’s people, Israel. But when the Persian Empire was defeated it was followed by the empire of Greece. And behind the empire of Greece was another Satanic angel called the prince of the kingdom of Grecia. This shows us that earth’s empires have their counterpart in Satan’s empire. In other words, Satan seeks to control the empires of earth through their rulers, through their leaders, through their governments to make the instruments of his will. And why we have to pray for the government is to frustrate Satan and to bring our government under heaven’s control, not under the control of Satan’s kingdom. And it’s our responsibility to do that. That’s why Paul says pray first of all, before anything else, before you pray for the sick, the missionaries, the evangelist—for the government. You see, it’s 100 percent logical. To do anything else once you see the truth is illogical. And as I said last time, when you criticize the government what you’re telling the world is you failed in your prayers. You haven’t done your job. You’ve allowed these dark angels to crowd in over the Capitol, over the White House and over all the areas where vital decisions that affect you and the whole kingdom of God are made. You have tolerated the invasion of Satan. You are gravely to blame if that is so. Don’t criticize the president. Get down on your knees, humble yourself. Empty yourself of your religion and pride and do business with God like Daniel did. We need some more Daniels.
Now then, let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 10:2–5. The theme of these verses is spiritual weapons. If we have a spiritual warfare it is obvious that we must have spiritual weapons. Carnal weapons are of no use whatever for spiritual warfare. You can’t blast demons and rebellious angels out of the way with a tank or an airplane or even a hydrogen bomb. They just don’t reach the enemy. Spiritual warfare demands spiritual weapons. This is what Paul says:
“For though we walk in the flesh though we live in the body, we do not war after the flesh. [Our warfare is not in the fleshly, carnal, material realm.] For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [not material], but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”
Whose strongholds? Satan’s. Where does he have his strongholds? Maybe in the very head offices of your government at this time. Maybe there are men and situations in those vital administrative offices which are Satan’s strongholds. Whose business is it to pull them down? Ours. And we’ve been given the weapons. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, Satan’s strongholds. Verse 5:
“Casting down imaginations [or more literally, reasoning] and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.”
We have been given weapons that will cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. You know the great high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God? It’s this—it’s Satan’s kingdom in the heavenlies. Do you realize that we have been given the weapons to cast Satan’s kingdom down? And do you realize that we are the ones that are going to do it? I’m going to show you this later on if not in this message, in our next one. That it’s the saints on earth that will finally cast Satan’s kingdom down from the heavenlies. And this is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, casting down reasonings and every high thing, that includes Satan’s kingdom, that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Spiritual warfare must be fought with spiritual weapons. The weapons have been placed in our hands rather than in the hands of the angels though the angels doubtless have their weapons.
Now let us look quickly at the main spiritual weapon that God has given to us. Now you can represent this in different ways and I sometimes preach about this on a different line, but let’s call these the weapons; the word of God, the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus. And these are the means by which we launch the weapons; prayer, praise, preaching and testimony. Now that’s just one possible way of looking at it. But let’s look at it that way this morning. Turn to Ephesians 6:17. Paul has a list of the armor of the Christian soldier, the spiritual armor needed for the spiritual conflict. And I want to point out to you that the first five items of armor are all defensive. They are to protect the believer but there is no weapon of offense, or attack, until we come to the sixth item which is the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Here is the great weapon of attack. If you do not use the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, you may be able to protect yourself but you have nothing to attack Satan with. If you want to put Satan to flight, if you want to get him out of your way, out of your home, out of your family, out of your business rather than just tolerating him and holding off, the weapon you must use is the weapon of attack—the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
And then the next great weapon, and I’m not trying to put these forward in order of power but just as they came, is the name of Jesus. Now turn to Psalm 8:1–2 for a moment. I had quite a fresh revelation or understanding of these verses just recently. I’ve never placed them together in this way before.
“O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth. Who has set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies [notice that, because of thine enemies] that thou mightest still [and that means silence] the enemy and the avenger.”
Who is the enemy and the avenger? Satan. And God has given us the means to shut Satan up. Is that good news? Did you realize that? We have been provided the weapons that will silence the enemy. Now what is the weapon? Well, it’s the name of the Lord. Verse 1, “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth.” And then the psalmist says, “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings...” What is the channel that launches the name of the Lord? The answer is the human mouth. You see, all spiritual weapons have one launching pad. You know what that is? The mouth because it’s the Spirit that expresses itself out of the mouth. You find in Revelations 16:13–14 that John saw three unclean spirits like frogs come. You know where from? Out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. Both the spiritual weapons of good and the spiritual weapons of evil are launched out of mouths. The launching pad of spiritual weapons is mouths. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings. We don’t have to be spiritual giants. God has chosen the weak, the foolish, the things that are despised to bring to naught all Satan’s kingdom in the heavenlies.
Now I want you to keep your finger in Psalm 8:2 if you can and turn to Matthew 21:16. Why? Because Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2 in Matthew 21:16. And he gives us the interpretation. The Pharisees and the temple rulers had come to Jesus complaining that there was too much noise in the temple because the temple was something like the scene we had here last night, people were dancing, clapping their hands, singing hosannas and it upset the religious leaders. And they said to Jesus, “Don’t you hear the noise? Is this the right thing to be doing in the temple? Can’t you call these people to order?
“Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus said unto them, ‘Yea, have ye never read [now he’s quoting Psalm 8:2] out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.’”
David said ordained strength. Jesus said perfected praise. What does that tell us? The ordained strength of God’s people is perfect praise. What happens when you praise the name of the Lord perfectly? You shut the devil up. Can’t you see, my good friend, why he’s so busy to keep you from praising the Lord? Why he’ll do everything he can through religious pressure, social pressure, fear of men, to keep you from turning loose and praising his name, the name of Jesus. Because when you effectively, perfectly, with your whole heart, with unison with one accord praise the name of Jesus, it shuts the devil’s mouth. And if ever there was a thing he didn’t like it was to have his mouth shut. You know that? You realize that in our hands is the weapon that can shut the devil’s mouth. Let me tell you this: God has given me a kind of revelation like an inner TV screen in which from time to time—and when I speak about it it comes back to me—I see all over the earth groups of believers, several hundreds, gathered in buildings such as this all standing with one accord with their arms in the air praising and exalting the name of the Lord. And I see that when this happens the spiritual powers of darkness over that city or over that nation are broken. This is the way to cure air pollution. Now there’s two kinds of air pollution, you know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the infiltration of Satan’s angels and demons. They can be driven out. The air above our cities, our churches and our homes can be purified by perfect praise. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings God has ordained strength. The praising of the name of Jesus.
And then, the blood of Jesus. Now I intend to speak about this in my next message so I’m not going to dwell on it at length but turn quickly to Revelation 12:11.
“They overcame him...” Who is him? Satan. Who’s they? The believers on earth. It’s not the angels, this is what I want to emphasize. It isn’t the angels. There was war in heaven. Michael and his angels were fighting, Satan and his angels were fighting. But the final victory came not to God’s angels but to the believers.
“They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.”
So we have the three great weapons. The word of God, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. And here are the great means by which we launch these weapons out so that they bombard Satan’s kingdom and bring it down. Prayer, praise, preaching and testimony. Notice in Revelation 12:11 it’s the word of their testimony. By continually testifying about the blood of Jesus they dislodged Satan from the heavenlies. Isn’t that a tremendous revelation? Can you see, my good friend, why the devil will do everything he can to shut your mouth? Except when you gossip about your neighbors! But when you want to praise Jesus or utter the word of God or testify to what the Lord has done for you, Satan will put a barrier in front of your lips. Why? Because if you do it you are casting down his stronghold. Of course he’s going to stop you from doing it. He’ll use every means he can.
Now in closing this message and in the little time that’s left I want to deal with one particular incident from the Old Testament in 2 Chronicles 20. We will not read the whole chapter but I will seek to give you an outline. And I want to point out to you that here in the Old Testament we have the record of a real literal battle that was won. Total victory was gained by God’s people and I mean, this was a literal victory. The enemy was totally defeated, they were killed, their weapons fell from their hands. All that God’s people had to do was spoil the dead bodies. This was a literal military battle and yet it was won without the use of a single military weapon. This is a great pattern from the Old Testament applicable to us in the New Testament where the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are spiritual. See, in the Old Testament, normally they used primarily carnal weapons. Bows, arrows, spears, swords and so on. Even in the Old Testament when a people moved out into the spiritual realm and used the spiritual weapons they won the literal military victory.
Now in our warfare as Christians our weapons are not carnal. We do not use guns or rifles or tanks or airplanes. Not to win spiritual victory I mean. Our weapons are spiritual. If they could win total, literal victory in the Old Covenant with spiritual weapons, how much more can we win spiritual victory with spiritual weapons in the New Covenant?
Now let’s study the situation. Jehoshaphat was king of Judah, he had just brought the people back to God and reestablished the Mosaic system of the temple and the law and the priesthood and the judges and he’d done a wonderful job in calling God’s people back. And then he was threatened by an invasion of a large host made up of Moabites, Amonites and Edomites and others approaching his kingdom from the east. By the way, the direction of the Dead Sea. And Jehoshaphat realized that he and his people were so outnumbered and that the enemy had such superiority of numbers and military power that they could not meet them merely on the natural plane. So Jehoshaphat and the children of Judah moved out into the spiritual realm and with spiritual weapons and spiritual strategy they gained total military victory.
Now what I want to do with you briefly is to study the strategy of Jehoshaphat, the weapons that he used and how he gained this victory. The reason being that I believe every one of these principles and every one of these weapons applies exactly to us as believers in this dispensation. Where it really was a little strange was the Old Covenant. But in the New Covenant it is absolutely applicable.
Now if you have the book of 2 Chronicles open at chapter 20 I’m going to pick out what I consider to be the salient features of Jehoshaphat’s strategy and just outline them to you. Verse 3:
“Jehoshaphat feared and set himself to seek the Lord.”
At this point God’s people stopped playing church because they were confronted with an issue that was life or death. They set themselves to seek the Lord. You remember 2 Chronicles 7:14? It says:
“If my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
That’s a promise for the healing of our land. If we as God’s people will do what God requires, God will heal our land. Now I chose that scripture because Jehoshaphat feared and set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. This was not a private individual fast, it was a collective fast of all of God’s people confronted with immediate danger of total defeat and even extermination. They did as Esther did and the Jews in the Persian empire, they knew the last great resort of God’s people is collective fasting. Proclaimed a fast. Verse 4:
“Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord. Even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.”
The next thing that happened is God’s people came together out of every city. You see, if God’s people in this dispensation remain split up into little sects and churches and denominations one thing is sure. The devil will defeat us. Piecemeal. In every major crisis in the history of Israel God’s people forgot their little divisive differences and came together. As I said, if you’re going to be imprisoned for being a Christian, and that could happen next year, in this nation, it’s not going to seem too important to you whether you’re in prison for being a Presbyterian or a Baptist. But you better get together. If you’re a Baptist you better get together with a Presbyterian and if you’re a Presbyterian you better get together with a Baptist and both of you better get together with the Assemblies of God. And the Assemblies of God better get together with the Catholics. Not to discuss doctrines but to seek the Lord. And there will be no way into the spiritual victory that I am speaking about as long as the Episcopalians are not prepared to fellowship with the Pentecostals. And vice versa. God’s people gathered themselves together.
How many of you believe there are Christians in the Episcopal church? I do too. Now I have to tell you honestly I found it hard to believe it because I grew up in the Anglican church for 25 years and never met a person who told me he was born again. Never once in 25 years. I tell you, it was a real revelation to me when I discovered there were dedicated, sincere born again Christians in the Anglican church. I have to say it to my shame, I just didn’t believe there were any because I never met them. And I had plenty of opportunity. I have friends today from my boyhood who are bishops and hold high positions in the Anglican church. But I came to realize that there are sweet, dedicated, beautiful Christians in every area of Christendom. Some of the most precious fellowship I’ve had in recent years has been with Roman Catholics. I’ll tell you, if we Protestants don’t run, we’ll never catch up with the Catholics in this Charismatic movement. I mean that. I’m not exaggerating. In many respects they are far ahead of us. With regard to the community of the believers and the concept of the body, they have seen in a few months what Protestants haven’t seen in 60 or 70 years. Now I’m not saying this to rebuke anybody or to promote any particular section. I’m just telling you if we want to save our skins—let’s put it as low as that—we had better gather together. And thank God all over this nation spontaneously this is exactly what’s happening. I would be pretty well convinced that even in this comparatively small gathering we have at least ten or twelve different denominations represented here. And what is happening here is happening all over this nation and around the world God’s people are gathering together in face of tremendous spiritual danger and opposition. Either we gather together or we will be defeated. There is no third possibility.
The next thing that follows was prayer. Verse 6:
“Jehoshaphat prayed and he said, O Lord, God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? Rulest not thou over the kingdoms of the heathen?”
And then he says in verse 7:
“Art thou not our God who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein and have built thee a sanctuary therein for they name saying, If when evil cometh upon us as the sword, judgment or pestilence or famine, we stand before this house and in they presence, for thy name is in this house and cry unto thee in our affliction. Then thou wilt hear and help.”
What I want to point out in reading that passage was that Jehoshaphat didn’t pray at random, he prayed on the basis of the written word of God as he knew it. He quoted God’s word back to him. That’s what I was saying. The effective prayer is to come to God and say, “God, you said, now do it. Do as thou has said.” Jehoshaphat prayed exactly that kind of prayer. He took God back to the history of his people, the Old Testament records, the law of Moses, the judges, the prophets. He said, “God, you said it, now do it.” That’s holy boldness. It’s not presumption because it’s based on what God has committed himself to do. As soon as he had finished praying there came forth prophecy. Verse 14:
“Then upon Jahaziel, the son of Zecharaiah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation. And he said, Hearken all Judah...”
He came forth with a prophetic message and I will tell you this, that where God’s people fast, come together in praise, there always will be prophetic revelation. And that’s the kind I believe in. I don’t believe in the individual floating around and coming and laying hands on three and a half sisters saying, sister, you’ve got a ministry of suffering and you’ve got a ministry of giving and here’s my address and good-bye. I just do not believe in that kind of prophetic ministry. I believe in a prophetic ministry that comes out of the fellowship of God’s people earnestly seeking God. No religious games, no parlor tricks, no spiritual cocktail parties, but desperate, earnest seeking of God. Then I believe in the kind of prophecy that comes forth. This man came out of the prophecy and a word of wisdom. He said the battle isn’t yours, it’s God’s. You won’t need to fight. All you have to do is go down tomorrow to a certain place called the cliff of Ziz and you’ll find that God has dealt with your enemies.
Only one more weapon. Now, verse 19:
“When they heard this utterance of God the Levites of the children of the Kohathites, and the children of the Korhites stood up to praise the Lord God Israel with a loud voice.”
They must have been Pentecostal! Or else Episcopalians that had the baptism, one or the other! They stood up to praise the Lord God with a loud voice on high. And then it says the next day, verse 21:
“When Jehoshaphat had consulted with the people he appointed singers unto the Lord that should praise the beauty of holiness as they went out before the army and to say, Praise the Lord for his mercy endureth for ever.”
The forefront of this army was a group of priest praising and singing and I would believe they were doing a little dancing too. But I must say that isn’t in the scripture so I’m not putting it on you. If I know anything about the Jews, they couldn’t go on just praising and singing without starting to dance because the Jews are the dancing people, even more than the Mormons. Verse 22:
“When they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against their enemies.”
When they began to praise the Lord dealt with the enemy. Oh, what a revelation! You minister to the Lord, he’ll minister to your problems. Oh, if people could see this. We are not wasting time when we praise the Lord. We’re solving the nation’s problems through God. Our weapons are mighty through God. We reach up to God, we split that mid-heaven of darkness that’s between us, God reaches down and touches the government, the leaders, the military situation, the situation in Viet Nam. These are at our disposal. When we will use the spiritual weapons that God has given us, God will be just as faithful to us today as he was to Jehoshaphat and the children of Judah.
Let’s look once again in closing at the strategy of Jehoshaphat. He proclaimed a fast. God’s people gathered together. Jehoshaphat offered prayer that was based on God’s word. There came forth prophecy which was a revelation of the will and way of God. And they sealed it with praise. And when they praised the Lord the Lord set ambushments for their enemies. You can read the end, it was total victory. They didn’t have to use a single carnal weapon. Every enemy was destroyed. All they had to do was gather the spoil. And it took three days to gather the spoil. They came back to Jerusalem with Jehoshaphat in advance praising the Lord and the fear of God fell on all the kingdoms round about. They had no more problems with military invasions from then on.
Do you believe that can happen today? Do you believe that we could do that here in the United States? Believers can do it around the world? I believe it’s in our power. And I believe we should do it. Don’t you? Shall we pray? Almighty God, we praise you. We bless you, we worship you. We give you the honor, we feel that you are so great. We see you there upon a throne, high and lifted up. Your train fills the temple. Hallelujah. Lord, give us just a little spiritual glimpse of your greatness and your glory today and we’ll praise you and bless you and worship you till all the hosts of heaven are bound, restrained and ultimately cast down. Lord, let this truth come to your people all over the world that they’ll seek you and exercise the spiritual weapons you’ve given us. The victory belongs to God and to his people. Lord, we thank you for this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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