The Greatest Mystery of All: Part 10; Gad, the Principle of Warfare
You don’t need to be a Christian very long before you come to the realization that there is a war going on and you’re in it. The war is coming against you on two fronts: within, as your flesh militates against your spirit, and also outside from demonic forces arrayed against you.
Gad represents the principle of warfare. The tribe of Gad was able to help the Israelites cross over and claim their inheritance in the land because they were noted for being great warriors. Even generations later they were noted for their bravery and battle skills as seen in 1 Chronicles 12:8:
Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains:
This description brings to mind the words Moses spoke over Gad:
And of Gad he said: “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad; He dwells as a lion, And tears the arm and the crown of his head. He chose the best land for himself, because a ruler’s portion was reserved for him there. He came with the leaders of the people; he administered the LORD’s justice and His ordinances for Israel.”…
In those days a great warrior was often compared to a fierce lion. When Balak out of fear called for Balaam to come and curse Israel, all Balaam could do was bless them:
Look, a people rises like a lioness, And lifts itself up like a lion; It shall not lie down until it devours the prey, And drinks the blood of the slain.
Great fear fell upon all the inhabitants of the land of Canaan when they heard about the great exploits of the Israelites. Rahab said to the spies she had hidden on her roof:
I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. (Joshua 2:9-11)
There is an old Latin proverb, si vis pacem, para bellum, “if you want peace, prepare for war.” Since war is inevitable it would behoove us to learn some of the principles of warfare so when the enemy strikes, we can be prepared and by faith know that, no matter what we have to face, we win. We win because Jesus Christ fights for us and he has already won.
There are a lot of teachings about warfare in our churches today, but for some strange reason, we seldom see victorious Christian lives being lived out before us. Sadly, our communities are full of little church buildings, and sometimes even big ones, that still exist even though the people who made up the church seemingly just dwindled away. The very multiplicity of these buildings gives the message that Christians can’t get along with each other, and, anyway, Christianity really isn’t very effective for victorious living in the 21st Century. So these buildings get turned into something that “really matters” like government offices or real estate offices or some such enterprise.
However, God has his people hidden away somewhere preparing for the greatest war of all time—the war to save humanity, planet earth and put the Devil out of commission for at least a thousand years. As Gad was likened to a lion, so are these warriors—the lion of the tribe of Judah, that is. It is only God in us who can win this war and win it he will—in fact he already has. The last few chapters of Revelation bear this out.
It is good to know that we won’t be at war forever. It does eventually come to an end when we are fully indwelt by our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. At some point we come to the realization that our greatest enemy has been ourself. We should be like Jesus when he said, “The god of this world is coming and he has nothing in me.” As long as we still love the world and ourself more than God and our neighbor, there is something in us the Devil can use to torment us. This torment, however, backfires on him because it drives us to greater effort to rid ourselves of whatever is still in us that we didn’t even know was there.
Immediately after Jesus said this, he went on to say, “But I do exactly what the Father has commanded Me.” I believe this is how we get the love of the world and self out of ourselves—by doing exactly everything God has commanded us. When we get totally obedient to the things God has specifically asked us to do, it is amazing how circumstances around us can change. This reminds me of a battle my husband and I were facing that we won handily when we became obedient to everything we knew God wanted us to do. The situation was this:
Our older daughter around the age of thirteen had become rebellious. We were at a loss of what to do but we knew that if we failed in raising our own children, we would never be effective in leading the church. Failure to raise her in Christ meant failure in everything else we valued.
Once the seriousness of this situation hit us, we hit our knees in prayer. We needed a word from God to give us direction on what to do. I had learned that if I prayed for a period of time and then asked God to give me the address of a particular verse of Scripture, he would do so. This time as I asked him about direction for our daughter, he gave me 2 Corinthians 10:6. I opened my Bible and read,
We are ready to punish all disobedience whenever your obedience is complete.
There was our answer. If we would obey God in absolutely everything, he would take care of our daughter. The first thing we did was to begin fasting two days a week. I started getting up each morning to pray for an hour before calling the girls for school.
Then the Lord began opening our eyes to things to which we had been blind. The first was that our daughters felt we loved our church more than we loved them. Around the same time we had this realization, friends gave us the book, How to Really Love Your Child by Dr. Ross Campbell. Here is what we learned:
Parents love their children but don’t know how to demonstrate this love in a way their children can understand. We parents believe that providing a home, nutritious food, clothing and material things show our children that we love them, but children don’t perceive it that way. Children want hugs, appropriate touch, eye to eye contact when they talk to us, and our undivided attention at times that are important to them. They also want discipline and structure. Some parents believe letting their children do whatever they want when they want is loving them. They don’t understand that children want consistent loving discipline and structure to help them feel secure. When parents let children be in charge, children feel insecure. We have actually seen a two-year-old control his family. That child was troubled because there were no boundaries or structure to help him with his security issues. The parents were blind to it and just gave in to the child’s demands even more.
Knowing that our children believed we loved our church more than we loved them, we were able to take action to rectify this. First we told them the truth—that we loved them more than our church. Then we demonstrated this consistently. Both girls had afternoon paper routes. Quite often I would walk around the route with one girl while my husband did the same with the other on hers. We told them that we just wanted more time with them and we wanted to hear about their day as we walked along together.
When I was working in the kitchen, washing dishes for example, and one daughter wanted to talk to me, I momentarily stopped what I was doing, and turned to look her in the eyes as she talked to me. Whenever appropriate, like walking past a daughter who was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework or getting a snack, we would just touch her shoulder or give her a little pat on the head.
We played games together as a family. Each girl got to have a special time out with dad to a store or just to get a soft drink and fries at a local fast-food restaurant.
My husband reassured the girls that they were free to interrupt him when he was in his office no matter what he was doing.
Our rebellious daughter was no longer rebellious after about two weeks of our having made these changes. We continued to parent our children in this way until they were grown and ready to leave home. Their teen years were an absolute delight. We are still a close family today.
A Vital Principle of Warfare
This was a war. The enemy was attacking our daughter in an effort to destroy her life, our family and ultimately get us out of ministry. He had a legal right to do this because we were not fulfilling our obligation to God or our role as Christian parents. The typical response to this kind of problem is to blame the child and crack down with more discipline by withholding privileges, threatening them, berating them and even yelling at them, when all along God is just trying to get our attention that if we will just obey him, he will take care of the problem.
This principle of obedience to Christ applies to many situations in life not just parenting. What goes on outside of us that affects our life is a sort of mirror to show us something inside of us that needs to be changed or adjusted. We have seen over our many years in ministry, that very few people are willing to believe this or just don’t want to make the effort that will bring about the changes in their life they are seeking. It is so much easier to blame our circumstances on other people or something outside of ourselves rather than to accept the truth that God is wanting to do a work in us that will ultimately work out for our good in all situations in the future.
In these end times we are facing the greatest evil of all time. This is because we are living in the time of the harvest of all the ages where evil is coming into the fullness of all evil, and conversely, God’s people are coming into the fullness of Jesus Christ. This is happening on a global scale. The egregious evil we see or hear about is so great it seems that a large portion of humanity is going insane and trying to take us and our children with them. Only by Jesus Christ, who has already overcome, will we also overcome by the power of his life within us. Christ is formed in us when we recognize and remove all idols from our lives, take up our cross daily to follow him and walk in total obedience to all the Lord requires of us. Then the Lord himself will fight our battles for us for he alone can withstand and defeat the evil forces of these end times.
Jehoshaphat was one of the greatest kings of Judah. He fully obeyed the Lord in all things and especially by destroying Baal worship and by teaching the law of God to all the people. Then the Scripture tells us that the fear of the Lord fell on all the nations and none of them declared war on Jehoshaphat. They even sent him gifts of silver, gold, and thousands of animals as tribute. So he grew even more powerful.
Then Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, sinned a great sin. He made an alliance with Ahab, the evil king of Israel, by arranging for his son to marry Ahab’s daughter. He knew the people of Judah were not to intermarry with the nations around them because these nations were evil. Ahab was just as evil. We don’t know for sure why Jehoshaphat decided to align himself and his nation with Ahab by forming this alliance. Perhaps he wanted to create unity between Israel and Judah and thereby stop the wars between them. But whatever his reason, God had not led him in this decision and the results were devastating for his own family and the whole nation of Judah. By taking Ahab’s daughter in marriage to his own son, he brought the evil of Ahab and Jezebel’s wicked family right into his own palace where it remained throughout the reign of many succeeding monarchs.
After Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahab, he shared in his evil deeds by going to war with him even after a prophet of God warned them not to go into the battle. The prophet had even said that if they did go to war, Ahab would be killed. It is hard to understand why Jehoshaphat would do this especially after Ahab told him to wear his royal robes to battle while he, Ahab, would disguise himself. That sounds like a setup to me. In Ahab’s mind the enemy would kill Jehoshaphat believing they got Ahab and all would be well so far as Ahab was concerned. And Jehoshaphat fell for it, perhaps because it would be an honor to be seen as a great king leading two powerful armies.
As it turned out, Jehoshaphat was spared when he cried out to God, and a random arrow hit Ahab and killed him. This was because it was God’s will and was even prophesied in the hearing of both kings.
Lest we be too hard in our judgment of Jehoshaphat we need to see that we have all been guilty of the same thing. We have formed close friendships with unbelievers or lukewarm Christians who believe all manner of false things that contradict what Scripture plainly tells us about Jesus. Or perhaps we have a relative that we want to continue in fellowship with who professes to be a Christian but lives an ungodly life. These people will not have the same standards as we and we can so easily be sucked into activities with them that we would not ordinarily do, but in order to not offend, we do. The Scripture warns us in 1 Cor. 15:33:
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”(NASB) or as another translation puts it: “Stop being deceived: Wicked friends lead to evil ends.”(ISV)
In spite of being a good king who ruled in Judah in such a way that the nation prospered and God was able to bless them, Jehoshaphat made this one foolish decision to have this alliance with wicked king Ahab and thereby brought great evil into his own family, the families of future kings and his nation. When Jehoshaphat returned home from his visit with Ahab, he was met by Jehu the son of Hanani the seer who said:
Why should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? What you have done has brought the Lord’s anger against you. There is some good in you, however, for you have removed the Asherah poles throughout the land, and you have committed yourself to seeking God.
Jehoshaphat continued being a good king and encouraging his people to love the Lord and obey his laws, but something was different. The fear of God that had been on the nations around him was no longer there as a deterrent to war, and the Moabites, Ammonites and some of the Meunites—a vast multitude—came against Jehoshaphat and Judah.
Jehoshaphat’s response to this threat is admirable and a good example in spiritual warfare that would benefit our knowing and implementing should the need arise. (See 2 Chronicles 20.)
- First he sought the Lord for guidance.
- He gave orders for everyone to fast.
- He called the people together to Jerusalem to seek the Lord.
- He prayed before all the people.
- In prayer, he proclaimed the Lord’s greatness.
- He recounted the great things God had done for them in the past.
- He repeated promises God had made that if they would gather at the temple and cry out for his help, he would hear them and rescue them.
- He explained before God the dire situation they were facing.
- He admitted their own powerlessness to win against these enemies.
- He admitted they didn’t know what to do and they needed God’s help.
- Then the Spirit of the Lord fell on one of the prophets and God spoke with his instructions saying:
“Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!”
- Then in humility king Jehoshaphat and all the people bowed before the Lord with their faces toward the ground and worshiped.
The next day as they went out to war, the king first encouraged all the people and then, after consulting with their leaders, he put the singers out in front of the army to worship and sing praises to the Lord.
At the moment they began singing, the Lord caused their enemies to begin fighting with each other. When the people of Judah reached the lookout point in the wilderness, they saw nothing but dead bodies lying on the ground for as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy escaped.
Jehoshaphat and his men then went forward to gather the plunder. There was so much it took three days to gather it all. They returned to Jerusalem with great joy singing praises to God.
When the surrounding nations learned how the Lord had fought their battle for them, the fear of God again came over them and Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for God had given him rest on every side.
People, this is a picture of what God wants to do for us. When Satan sends his demonic hoards against us, it may be because we have made some sort of alliance with sin in our own lives. Perhaps it is an idol we have been clinging to, some unforgiveness we have failed to deal with, or an identity crutch we are afraid to give over to God—whatever it is, adversity is a warning to deal with something inside of ourselves, something we cannot carry with us into God’s kingdom. God wants to bring us into rest where we will no longer need adversity to alert us to some inner sin. Then God can fight all our battles for us and we will no longer face the difficulties we do now.
This is what it means to enter the Sabbath Day. God will fight all our battles for us as we rest in him and enjoy his presence. He wants our love and our worship continually. As we do this, he will go before us and slay the demonic hoards that would want to destroy us. As hard as it may be to believe, there is coming a day, if we follow on with the Lord, where we will be able to say as Jesus said, “The god of this world is coming and he has nothing in me.”
Gad, in our spiritual type, is the principle of warfare that helps us enter our Promised Land of the kingdom of God. After we are there resting in God and loving him continually, Gad will no longer be needed, and thus, he does not settle in the Promised Land but remains on the other side of the Jordan River.
May we all be encouraged in this word from God and know that no matter how evil our world looks, no matter what happens, it is only because God has allowed it, and in the midst of the greatest battles of all time, we can rest securely in God knowing he is fighting for us and we are safe.