March 2014

Introduction : The Spiritual War Of Christians

This was a notes from a sermon I heard recently, which I also shared with my friends

“For though we walk in the flesh, 
  we do not war according to the flesh. 
For the weapons of our warfare are not
  carnal but mighty in God for pulling
  down strongholds, casting down arguments
  and every high thing that exalts itself
  against the knowledge of God, bringing
  every thought into captivity to the
  obedience of Christ,” – Paul (2 Cor 10:3-5)

Here Paul was talking about a spiritual war that all believers of Christ must fight. It is a war against falsehood, between God and the Devil. The weapons used in this war is not of this world.

During the time of the apostles, war is fought on land, soldier against soldier. It was fought using spears , bows and arrows, and in order to protect themselves, soldier put on armor to protect themselves. So as Paul talks about the spiritual war, he exhort everyone to put on the armor of God.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
  but against principalities, against powers,
  against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
  against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the
  heavenly places. Therefore take up the 
  whole armor of God, that you may be
  able to withstand in the evil day, and having
  done all, to stand.” – Paul (Eph 6:12-13)

Here Paul talks about our enemy, as well as how the war would be fought. He reminded the believers to put on the armor of God, for it is a spiritual better. In Eph 6:10, he reminded believers to be strong in the Lord and to rely on his might.

Introduction : The Strategies Used, And The Battle Plan

Indeed, we cannot rely on ourselves and our human strategy to win, for our enemy is not flesh and blood. That is why we need the armor of God, and it could help us withstand the wiles of the devil.

The devil is always cunning, he lured Eve to sin in the beginning, she was unaware of her own temptation and she believed in the words of Satan, she did all that the devils instructed her. It serves as a reminder to us that the Devil can disguise himself as an angel before us, he may even take the form of the person we like, he will speak the words we like to hear, for he knows our weakness. That is how he overcame many carnally minded Christians.

We know of good Christian who were strong in faith initially, they appear as if they are willing to suffer and die for Christ. they believed in the truth of God but were unable to persist to the very end. They fell, becoming covetous and sexually immoral, some became arrogant and were unable to stay in the grace of God.  

This is why it is important for Christians to put on this armor and fight this battle. Eph 6:14-18 describes the individual items in the armor or God.  It also reminds us to pray earnestly in the spirit. Prayer here does not refers simply to praying for ourselves, we must pray for all the saints and the church. For only by having spiritual wisdom and strength can one put on the armor of God.

Only by putting on the armor can we withstand the attacks from the devil, and remain in the grace of God. Let us look at the components of this armor

To Grid The Waist With Truth

The first piece of the armor of God is to gird the waist with truth. The truth here is more than just the words of God. The Truth here also refers to how sincere we are and how truthful we are towards ourselves, and to others.

It also encompass how sincere and truthful we are to God himself. For this would determine if we have the strength to continue fighting this war. In the past, there are many who followed Christ after they witness his miracles, but these people did not remain in the Lord, for they lack sincerity and truthfulness in their faith.

they have not girded their waist with truth, even though they heard the teaching of Jesus, they were unable to fully learn the words of truth. They were more interested in seeing whether Jesus  had spoken against God. As the result Jesus rebuke them saying

“You are of your father the devil,
  and the desires of your father you
  want to do. He was a murderer from
  the beginning, and does not stand in
  the truth, because there is no truth
  in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks
  from his own resources, for he is a liar
  and the father of it.”- Jesus (Jn 8:44)

These Jews are people who followed and believed in Jesus, yet there are some who had the devil as their father. Jesus spoke harshly to them, for they lack the truth girded on their waist. This entire transcript is recorded in Jn 8:37-41

Jesus : “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants,
               but you seek to kill Me, because My word has
               no place in you. I speak what I have seen with
               My Father, and you do what you have seen
              with your father.”
People:“Abraham is our father.”
Jesus :“If you were Abraham’s children, you would 
               do the works of Abraham.  But now you seek to 
               kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth
               which I heard from God. Abraham did not do
               this. You do the deeds of your father.”

From here we see that these people were not sincere in their belief in God, though they appear to be devoted outwardly, they do not have the words of God within them. They did not have the truth girded on their waist 

The Example Of Judas Iscariot

Another example of someone not having truth girded on the waste is Judas the betrayer of Jesus. Have we wondered how did the Devil gain a foothold in his heart? that was because he did not have truth girded on is waist. This is evidently seen in last supper.

During the last supper, (Jn 13:26-27) John records

“Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give
  a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And
  having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas
  Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece
  of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him,
  “What you do, do quickly.””- John (Jn 13:26-27)

Over here Jesus had already indicated Judas intention to betray him, the reason for Jesus actions is so that Judas will repent and turn back. In fact Jesus even washed the feet of Judas. But sadly Judas was being deceitful, and he did not grid his waist with truth. In a parallel record (Matt 26:20-25)

“Then Judas, who was betraying Him,
  answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?”He
  said to him, “You have said it.””- Matthew (Matt 26:25)

Judas heard the words of Jesus, and yet he continues in his hypocrisy and asked Jesus even though he knew the answer clearly.  Since there is no truth and sincerity found within him, it is not surprising that he was the one who betrayed Jesus.

Judas led a life of deceit and guile, and he lack truthfulness in all that he said, recall an incident where Mary anointed Jesus with the ointment, he instigated the disciples saying

“Why was this fragrant oil not sold
   for three hundred denarii and given 
   to the poor?” – Judas (Jn 12:5)

John explained that Judas did not care for the poor, but he is in fact a thief who stole from the money box.

Very much latter he betrayed Jesus with a kiss in Matt 26:48-49. A kiss was suppose to be a beautiful display of love yet Judas decide to use it as a sign to arrest Jesus. The Lord tried very hard to call him back but he refuses to repent.

When Jesus gave him the bread, he is giving him up to Satan, he could do whatever he wants with him, for Judas had left a foothold for the devil to work, he does not have truth girded to his waist

The Importance Of Truthfulness

The above examples tells us the importance of having sincerity in our faith, for it determines how much we believe in the Lord. Our sincerity to our faith also determines the amount of effort we take to build up our faith. We need to have truthfulness girded around our waist.

Sometimes when we read of disciples who could sacrifice for the Lord to the end, some of them are even willing to be crucified as a martyr for their belief, and we wonder what is the secret of their strength? Their secret lies in the fact that they are true to their faith, that is why they could endure to the end.

Today as Christian, the difficulty we encounter are much lesser compared to the saints in the past, yet many of us find it hard to remain in the grace of God. If we want to remain faithful in our heavenly journey, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit

Let us continue to have the truth girded on our waist.

I would be sharing about the other items in the next entry.

I remember I heard this song when I was watching Season 8 Ep 12 of the sitcom, How I met your mother. Personally I have not idea what Indie is until I heard it. But again, I guess its definition is still hard to define.

On that episode, Barney made the “Final Play” in his life and proposed to Robin. That song was meant as the finale of that long episode. I watched it one day after its airing, which is on 18 Dec 2012.

Apparently he had been doing the play “The Robin “ from Ep7 – Ep 12. And finally he was successfully in his proposal

What I did not realized is, about 3 months later from it, I have to do my version of “The Robin” .. though I think it is not as complicated as his version. But the process of the play is just as difficult, and it is also like a roller coaster.

Today is a special day for me, it is a special because one year ago I made a commitment to someone and next month it would be happening. Therefore I would like to use this entry to dedicate the song to her.

Title :Let Your Heart Hold Fast
Artiste: Fort Atlantic

All my days are spent.
All my cards are dealt.
Oh, the desolation grows.

Every inch revealed,
As my heart is pierced.
Oh, my soul is now exposed.

In the oceans deep;
In the canyons steep,
Walls of granite here I stand.

All my desperate calls
Echo off the walls
Back and forth; then back again.

To believe I walk alone
Is a lie that I’ve been told?

So let your heart hold fast
For this soon shall pass,
Like the high tide takes the sand.

Oh, oh, oh, oh!
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!

Oh, oh, oh, oh!
Oh, oh, oh, oh!
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!

At the bitter end,
Salt and liquid blend
From the corner of my eyes.

All the miles wrecked,
Every broken step,
Always searching, always blind.

Never fear! No! Never fear!
Never fear! No! Never fear!

So let your heart hold fast
For this soon shall pass.
There’s another hill ahead.

This is a diagram that I was hoping to do for a long time, but never got a chance to finish it. But recently because of a request from a friend. So I was moved to finished it.

This is the timeline of the kings of Israel and Judah, and as well as the prophets of God that are present during that time.  This is important for us to understand this as the prophetic books of the old testament is not arranged in chronological order.

The dates in BCE are approximate date base on the Wikipedia entries of the kings of Israel and Judah. As I was drawing out the information, I was drawn to the following teachings

The Number of Kings

There are 20 kings of Judah from Rehoboam and there are 19 different kings in Israel. One would have think that both kingdom runs around t he same time. But the truth is. The Kingdom of Israel is destroyed around 720 BCE while Judah continued to survive for about 200 years

The Kingdom Of Israel And Its 9 Dynasties

One thing we can see is that the Kingdom of Israel had many changes of dynasties (Ruling family).. While Judah is completely under the house of David. Athailah was from the house of Ahab, perhaps the only princess from the Kingdom of Israel that was ever married into the house of David.

The kingdom of Israel had a history of treachery and killing, within its history there are many generals who rebelled and took over the country.  The house of Omri and the house of Jehu are the longest ruling families in Israel

Joel and Obadiah

The book of the prophets are usually dated using a few ways.
1. If any kings that are mentioned
2. If there are any historical events recorded
3. If the character was mentioned in the book of kings and chronicles

However, there was not much evidence found in the book of Joel and Obadiah hence I have added the commonly identified era and I place a question mark beside their name.

Jehoshaphat and Ahab

We know that the house of Israel and Judah sometimes go to war with each other. But during the time of Jehoshaphat, they were friends. Sometimes when I consider their friendship, it is really ironic.

1. Kings 22 when Micaiah predicted that Ahab will be killed in battle, this man dressed up his Ally as the king and that almost got King Jehoshaphat killed. Fortunately God saved him (1 Kings 22:32-34)

2. I would guess most likely Athaliah was introduced to the house of David at that time, and interestingly, you will notice that King Jehoram, Ahaziah all became bad kings. Ahaziah was even murdered by Athaliah (typical Israel politics) and she seized power. She killed all the heirs to the throne of Judah (2 kings 11:1) King Joash was only saved with the help of Jehosheba his aunt and Jehoiada the priest.

From this incident I can learn two things

1. God is faithful to his covenant that he swore to David. Hence he preserved his descendant. If Athaliah was successful in killing the house of David, the messiah would have not come the seed of David

2. “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Cor 15:33 . Jehoshaphat choice of friend led to the degradation of his house. It almost cost him his life at the battle.

The Kingdom Of Israel And Its 9 Dynasties

One thing we can see is that the Kingdom of Israel had many changes  of Ruling family.. While Judah is completely under the house of David.

The kingdom of Israel had a history of treachery  and killing, within its history there are many generals who rebelled and took over the country.  The house of Omri and the house of Jehu are the longest ruling families in Israel

When God chose Jeroboam I and gave him the 10 tribes, God commanded him to lead the people like David and he would create for him a dynasty just like David (1 Kings 11:37-38)

Sadly, he did not do it, and he created golden calves for people to worship. That is why the sin of Israel is often given a brand name “The Sin Of Jeroboam the son of Nebat” His choice also let to violent history of Israel where there is degradation of faith.

God did not give up on Israel, he raised Jehu to judge the house of Ahab and anointed him king of Israel (2 Kings 9:8-19) which he did a good job , he killed all of Ahab’s house and he also killed Ahaziah the king of Judah as well as Queen Jezebel.

But sadly, Jehu did not follow God and he followed the sin of Jeroboam,  hence Israel was not restored (2 Kings 10:29-31)

God  also sent Elijah and Elisha to the house of Israel to call the people back, bad sadly not everyone repented. These people became disperse. And there are many traces of them all over the world

The Era Of Prophetic books

God has always sent prophets to his people, some of the historical characters you see are prophets. They are Samuel, Nathan,Ahijah, Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah. But interestingly they do not write prophetic books.

Perhaps there are some writing attributed to them but they are not canonized in the scripture.

When God gave Israel rest from the enemies, and blessed them during the reign of Jeroboam II, God sent Amos to warn Israel of her impending judgment. God sent Jonah to the city of Nineveh (Assyria will eventually destroyed Israel as we know in History) .

Interestingly, before the Kingdom of Israel is destroyed, there are Micah, Isaiah and Hosea. But since Israel did not repent, finally God executed the judgment.

If we were to observe the number of Prophets that exist just before the Kingdom of Judah is destroyed, God sent even more messenger to Judah. Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel lived had to suffer together with the people. Nahum and Habakkuk are there as well.

The bulk of the Prophetic books are written here, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi were written last after the Exiles returned.

From here we can see this

Before God execute his judgment, he will send a lot of messengers to warn you. Most people accused the God of the old testament as a blood thirsty God who is out to kill whoever who disobey. Yet they fail to realize how many time God pleaded with his people.

One of the plea that touched my heart is the one spoken by Prophet Ezekiel

“Do I have any pleasure at all that the
wicked should die? and not that he
should turn from his ways and live?

Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’
Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way
which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel,
every one according to his ways, Repent, and
turn from all your transgressions, so that
iniquity will not be your ruin.  Cast away
from you all the transgressions which you
have committed, and get yourselves a new
heart and a new spirit. For why should
you die, O house of Israel?
For I have no pleasure in the death of one
who dies,therefore
turn and live!” – YHWH (Eze 18:19-31)

While we often complain about the way of God is not fair, but have we been fair to God when we sin against him? Are we angry with him for judging us for our mistakes? God in fact sent countless of prophets to tell the world to stop sinning for he would have to judge it, yet man disregard the words od God, and accused him of being blood thirsty when he carried out his judgment.

Therefore God is indeed asking us “Is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?”

Let us heed the voice of the prophets, let us turn back. For God never wanted anyone to die for their sins.

I have attached the timeline here for everyone to see

Timeline Chart Of Kings And Prophets

Timeline Chart Of Kings And Prophets