Yesterday, with a backdrop of vibrant trees, I posted myself on my porch swing, where I spend my mornings. Good Book sprawled across the lap, I peered into the Source of wisdom and courage.
I have felt compelled to read Ephesians over and over again. I know that whenever I have sense God asking me to marinate the mind in a portion of His Word, it is always, ALWAYS good for my soul. Especially when I am to read it many times over. The book of Galatians once saved my life, that way.
This morning I noticed something I haven’t ever given much thought to, in all my decades of reading the Bible. Ephesians 6 gives us a full description of what spiritual armor is given to God’s people, for the invisible war we are all involved in (and some are aware of). We are clothed with, Truth, Righteousness, the Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, and the Word of God, as well as the prayers we breathe for and from the Church.
What burst off the page, like never before, was this: Before He describes our armor, He gives us our battle posture… twice, to make certain we get it. “Stand firm” it says redundantly, as verse 13 ends and 14 begins.
Our posture is not to race into battle, to rush away from it, nor to cower behind our shield, helmet and breastplate. It is to STAND FIRM. Simple as that.
In Exodus, where Pharaoh and his cruel army were pursuing God’s people, Moses tells Israel, “Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14). In Psalm 46, we are told to “Cease striving (be still, relax) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” In 2 Chronicles, Jehosphaphat is told “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”
Most of us are pretty aware that we are standing on a battlefield. You can honestly see it, these days. Maybe many of us are not aware that this war is spiritual in nature, however. All of life is.
We, who hope in God Almighty, have a hope that the Lord fights for us! We have a hope that supersedes anything that could happen to our bodies (and can give us immense joy in the midst of suffering), but we also have a hope (if we are saturated with Scripture and believe what it says) that He is more than able to deliver us from any bodily harm, should He so choose. Don’t believe me? Read Daniel, Kings, Chronicles, Judges, Samuel, Exodus, Acts, etc., etc., etc. A God-fearing man gets thrown into a den of hungry lions, and instead of being eaten, gets to pet them (I’m assuming, because I would), then rest peacefully among them. A few righteous young men resist the cultural pressure to comply against their conscience by worshipping an idol, get thrown into a blazing furnace so hot it kills everyone else approaching, and instead of being singed, they get to walk among the flames with God Himself! Peter, on the cusp of execution, is woken up by an angel and led straight out of prison, as though the doors were all unlocked. Paul and Silas sing in a prison cell, and the doors fling wide. I could spend pages telling you story upon story of deliverance against all logic, but I won’t bother. If you want to read that, you should go straight to the Bible. It’s loaded with wild tales of deliverance!
In the middle of the night last night, I woke abruptly from a nightmare. I don’t know about you, but my dream life has been pretty… well, I don’t even know what adjective to use… anxiety-invoking, and prayer-provoking. Last night was no exception.
I knew I wouldn’t sleep again unless I flung back the covers and hit my knees on the rug. As soon as I was kneeling, these life-sustaining words surged through my soul, “Stand Firm!” I was flooded with peace, and was back asleep nearly as soon as my head touched the pillow.
Church, this war is raging. This battle is fierce. But the Lord, the God of Grace and Glory, has told us how to posture ourselves in battle. Stand firm!