From the Preacher’s Pen…
As the Apostle John tells of his vision of the new, eternal, holy city (Revelation 21), he specifies not only those that will be there (verse 7) but also those that will be excluded (verse 8). In that list of exclusions, God places the cowardly at the top of the list.
Heraclitus of Ephesus was a Greek philosopher that was born in 535 BC and died in 475 BC. During his lifetime Ephesus was part of the Persian Empire, but events were building up to the expulsion of the Persians. Five years before his death, 300 Spartans become the symbol of courage against overwhelming odds in the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC). Their sacrifice would contribute greatly to the road to freedom for the Greek nation.
There’s a military quote attributed to Heraclitus that is well appreciated for its accuracy:
- Of every 100 men, 10 shouldn’t even be there, 80 are nothing but targets,
- 9 are real fighters and we are lucky to have them for they make the battle.
- Ah but the one, one of them is a warrior…
- and he will bring the others back.
The observation is true not only in the physical world but also in the spiritual one. So it is fair to ask: Are you a coward or a warrior when it comes to serving Jesus Christ? Consider God’s lesson of…
The Warrior Songs
Over the centuries many cultures were famed for their great warriors, and one of the great tributes to those heroes were songs. Songs of their fame. Songs of their great deeds. Songs of their immense courage. Songs of their sacrifice and death. Heroes are not born, you see, but they are motivated and trained.
It should come as no surprise to us that God calls His people to such a great challenge. The Apostle Paul reminds us,
- Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
- Put on the full armor of God,
- so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
- For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
- but against the rulers, against the powers,
- against the world forces of this darkness,
- against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
- Therefore, take up the full armor of God,
- so that you will be able to resist in the evil day,
- and having done everything, to stand firm.
- (Ephesians 6:10-13)
The fact is, once sin came into the world, this has always been an important part of God’s message to His people. After 40 years of working under the leadership of Moses God challenged him to encourage Joshua to do the job he would soon take over. And when Joshua begins the job the first thing God calls on the elders and all the nation to do is to encourage Joshua to the work he is called to do.
Throughout the years of the Judges, there were many songs to commemorate and praise the strong men and women who faithfully followed God. But perhaps David, the Sweet Singer of Israel, would set the tone for the warrior songs of God’s people for all time.
Psalm 18 begins with this ancient attribution: For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said…
David goes on to sing the song of His Lord and God as the great warrior, the great victor in saving David from all harm. What a beautiful reminder of what his son, Solomon would observe years later that victory belongs to the Lord (Proverbs 21:31).
One of the great Messianic Psalms (Psalm 91) is often referred to as the Warrior Psalm or as the song of comfort to military families. Again the reminder comes that God is the great deliverer and reason for our victory. Satan would apply the promise of God’s angels guarding God’s warriors to Jesus as a challenge to throw Himself from the Temple (see Psalm 91:11-13 and Matthew 4:5-6). Is there any greater comfort for “Soldiers of Christ” than to realize how God controls every single detail to protect and bring victory to His people, His warriors?
Years after David died his son Solomon would sing a warrior’s song of a victorious reminder that
- Unless the Lord builds the house,
- They labor in vain who build it;
- Unless the Lord guards the city,
- The watchman keeps awake in vain
- (Psalm 127:1).
Yet it would be David himself, perhaps the greatest warrior of God’s people, that would sing what is often thought of as the ultimate song of all God’s warriors:
- Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
- Who trains my hands for war,
- And my fingers for battle
- (Psalm 144:1).
He would go on to praise the God of salvation who brings not only deliverance from the dangers of battle but the ultimate joy, peace, safety and blessing for the victor. And David’s ultimate conclusion in verse 15 would be:
How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!
Let’s return to Paul’s application of this lesson for us in Ephesians 6. Preparation, conditioning, training are the vital things a warrior does to get ready. If we lack the time to be in the study of God’s word and in prayer to prepare us for the fight we will never win. And no warrior ever imagines for a single moment that they are perfectly prepared. That training goes on every moment you are not actually in combat. The goal is to develop that keen edge of readiness to instantly do the right thing when the time comes.
How serious is the battle that we face? It is literally deadlier than any flesh and blood battle ever fought! Our enemy is Satan himself with all his spiritual powers. Without God’s own help, without His full armor, we cannot face the murderous attacks of the evil one. But with His help, with God’s own Spirit within us, we can truly accomplish all things.
In the end, that’s exactly what saints really are: the most magnificent, well trained, confident, deadly warriors that fight the good fight of faith and take hold of eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12)! This is our calling! And this is the very purpose of our “good confession” as we put on our Christ.
This is our life in Christ! As we serve, as we live for Him, as we destroy the power of Satan in the lives of those we turn to the Lord we join the chorus of those who sing the warrior songs.
And one day we will complete the good fight. We will finish the course. We will have kept the faith and be ready for the crown (2 Timothy 4:7-8)., the crown that is reserved for us all as victorious Soldiers of Christ. And then we sing, not the warrior’s song of fighting the good fight, but the eternal song of victory in Heaven.
- I have fought the good fight,
- I have finished the race,
- I have kept the faith.
- From now on there is reserved for me
- the crown of righteousness,
- which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day,
- and not only to me but also to
- all who have longed for his appearing.
Without the warrior’s song, there is no victor’s song. So, are you ready to sing the warrior’s song with God’s people that you might also join in the victor’s song one day?
— Lester P. Bagley