July 12, 2015
Intro: There are ongoing battles and conflicts that are happening today in the Middle East, in the world and here in the US there is an intense political battle. There is also another battle brewing up which is racism. From the book of Acts racism was not new at that time between Jews and Gentiles and God eliminated that when He sent Peter to share the gospel with the Gentile centurion. In the Old Testament the Jews were identified as Israelites as the chosen nation by God tracing their roots to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while all other nations did not belong to God. So there were two races, and here’s what God said of the Jews. “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” Deut. 7:6
These are the people God redeemed from Egypt and delivered from the hands of Pharaoh for which they were enslaved for 400 years. As they were about to enter the land promised to Abraham for his descendants, God specifically warned them aside from the Covenant He made with them to keep this command once they entered the promise land and have killed and driven out the people living there. “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” Deut. 7:3-4
Did they keep the command of God? No they didn’t and rebelled against God. And because of their rebellion and disobedience the Israelites were always fighting battles. Down through their history there would be peace when they were obedient and wars when they became disobedient. In spite of their disobedience God still showed compassion on His people. And He would come to their rescue when they would call on the Lord and cry out to the Lord to help them fight their battles. Let me pick one of the amazing battles God came to their rescue and fought for them using only a few soldiers and one leader who was just an ordinary man, Gideon. Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites…when the Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian…” Judges 6:1, 7
God answered their cry and sent “The angel of the Lord.” When you read “the angel of the Lord” that is referring to Jesus in His incarnate form. And when it is written as “an angel of the Lord” that is one of the angels of God. The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress to keep it from the Midianites…The Lord turned to him and said “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you? Judges 6:11, 14
When he was told to go in his strength how do you think he would respond? In the same way, suppose God sends you on a mission to reach out to people who are powerful, rich, highly educated even religious with the gospel, how would you also respond? Here’s how Gideon responded. “But Lord”, Gideon asked, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in the family? The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” Judges 6: 15-16
Isn’t this what Jesus said to His disciples before leaving them with a promise. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20
Notice God’s promise to Gideon and to those who belong to Christ today? “I will be with you” and “I am with you always” is there a difference? I believe the first promise was on a case to case basis when one is called and sent to do a certain task but to us today it is always because we are obedient to His command. So what happened after Gideon obeyed and trusted God even after he asked for two signs. So Gideon summoned the Israelites for the battle and 32 thousand responded. But God reduced that to 10 thousand then to a mere 300 men. How in the world can 300 fight an army of thousands? Here’s the reason why? The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that his own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.” Judges 7:2-3
So here’s where we will focus on the message today. I have titled it from…
“The Battle is the Lord’s”
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with a sword and a spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beast of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Sam. 17:45-47
Of course we all know the battle between David and Goliath. I will not go into the details of that but David fought Goliath with the confidence that God was with him. He was already called into the ministry and anointed as the next king after Saul by the prophet Samuel. How did David fight Goliath? With one stone using a sling while the giant with all his arms for battle. What about today? Who are the giants we face today? These are different serious circumstances that are happening in our lives, like serious health issues, financial debts, family issues like disobedient children, issues in the workplace and persecutions for being a Christian and challenges to share the gospel. How then should we face these giants? Just as David did by responding and engaging the battle in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd who will fight the battle for us.
Here’s where we need to build up our faith and confidence. When I just received Jesus as my Lord I was encouraged to read the gospels starting with John, then the rest of his letters and the letters of Paul. I thank God for those who gave me this wise advise because the focus for a young believer is to know Christ and that is found in the gospels, how He lived and what He did. But then later I saw the importance of reading the Old Testament as well. We might not see the importance especially when reading the Chronicles, the genealogies and the many names even the details of the commands of God how to build the tabernacle.
Here’s the importance of reading the Old Testament, this is where we will know God as to who He is as to His character, attributes as Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent and how He revealed all these to His people by what He did among them. He also showed He is not to be taken for granted but to be fully obeyed and trusted.
How did God show His Sovereignty and power to Gideon with his 300 men to fight thousands after he followed His command to the letter. When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn to each other with their swords. Judges 7:22
A hundred and twenty thousand had killed each other. This also happened during the reign of Hezekiah when Sennacherib king of Assyria came to attack Jerusalem. That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning – there were all the dead bodies. 2 Kings 19:35
Notice again “the angel of the Lord” put to death 185,000 of the Assyrian army. Who killed them and whose battle was this? God killed them. Now think of what is happening today in Iraq and Syria and the surrounding countries. Muslims are killing each other, the Shiites against the Sunnis and yet they are all Muslims followers of Allah and Mohammed. Isn’t this a repetition of what God did in the past? And their next threat is to wipe out Israel? But before they can do that God is already killing many of the ISIS and other Muslims including civilians.
But where is the Christian’s battle? It is when we are persecuted by unbelievers. If you remember, the first martyr of Christ was Stephen who was stoned to death by his countrymen, Jews who strictly followed a religion of Judaism. And is this happening also today? Aren’t we facing the same conflicts and battles and will be persecuted? But Stephen was one of the deacons, mature and full of the Spirit. Will this be true if one is not that mature and filled with the Spirit? Here’s where their battle will be. “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” Gal. 5:17
Paul wrote this problem to the Romans he experienced as a young Christian. “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” Rom. 7:21-23
Here’s where we encounter our first battle. The battle is within us, in our inner being. Our sinful nature always wants to disobey the law and loves to sin. You tell a child don’t do this how will his response be? His sinful nature will want to disobey and that is the same with the law. That’s where the first war and battle the Christian faces. And when he sins he loses the battle. But the Holy Spirit will bring about the conviction making this person see and feel his guilt. If he does not get the rebuke from his reading, he could get it form the message on Sundays. So how does he respond to the sin that he is made aware of? He then struggles? Then we have the Scripture that shows us the truth. “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as sons.” Heb. 12:4-6
Genuine born again children of God will not get away with sin. Even if they are already saved, sin will be dealt with by God so that His purpose in saving us will be accomplished. Sin will always have consequences but not hell for the believer. Here’s what the Psalmist learned when he sinned and went astray. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word…I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” Ps. 119:67, 75
When Paul went through this struggle with sin, he saw himself and said to God. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 7:24-25
Where is Jesus in this battle within me? He is the only One who can rescue me because “the battle is the Lord’s.” But first He won the battle over sin at the cross. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Heb. 2:18 INVITATION