What was Sha’ul referencing when he wrote those words?
“I have fought a good fight; I have finished my race; I have kept my Emunah.” [2 Tim 4:7]
So many people today think that living a life in Messiah means nothing but ‘peace and harmony’ and all manner of blessing of riches, and that nothing in life should ever go wrong. They think this, and then when something does go wrong, they wonder about their faith. Many in faith then allow those circumstances to take them away from an intimate life with Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua clearly taught that there would be many who WOULD ‘hear’ AND ‘receive’ the word of G-d, but they would GIVE UP when the cares of this world challenged THEIR Emunah. Sha’ul warned a young Timoteus “FIGHT A GOOD FIGHT! in absolute trust and good consience; those who have REJECTED this charge have LOST THEIR Emunah [absolute trust/faith].” 1 Tim 1:18-19] Sha’ul’s Emunah had indeed been challenged, over and over, to which he testified: “scourged five times, each time forty stripes less one”; “beaten with rods;” “once I was stoned”; “three times I was in a shipwreck”; “adrift at sea in a shipwreck”; “perils from rivers”; “perils in the wilderness”; “perils in the sea”; “perils from false brethren”; “in toil and weariness, in sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, through much fasting, in cold and nakedness;” “If I must need to boast, I will boast of my sufferings.”
This notion that we are not to have any trouble in life is preposterous, and it is harming, and in ways bringing ill repute to the Congregation of G-d. It is foolish thinking. And that thought process aids and abets the enemy in driving people away from their faith.
Do NOT get me wrong, and certainly do not misquote or misrepresent me. Trusting in and FOLLOWING Yeshua is THE BLESSING. There is NOTHING more rewarding than KNOWING the King of the Ages, and in having one’s Emunah put through the fire of tribulation. This is how we come to KNOW that we ourselves DO believe in the unseen Creator and in His Divine, REVEALED Son, Yeshua the Messiah. It is BY our suffering that our Emunah is ‘proven’, and through which we produce the works of Tzedaka.
There are people who think and teach that if another is ‘suffering’ in any way, then they MUST be disobedient and have grievous sin in their life. I myself have been accused of this on many occasions. At times, the ‘suffering’ that I have endured, which is primarily from the bottom of Sha’ul’s list: “perils from false brethren“; “in toil and weariness, in sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, through much fasting, ” has caused others to leave me, to falsely accuse me of sin, to spread ugly rumors founded only on speculation, and worst of all to do the same and worse to my loved ones. My CHILDREN. THEIR behaviors have caused me and mine to have our faith challenged, sometimes beyond relief. But, I YET REJOICE! And the reason for that rejoicing is that I know this means quite the contrary: That my Abba indeed DOES love me, and ACCEPTS my confession of His Son before His throne: “My brethren, take it as a JOY to you when you enter into many and varied tests; for you know that the TRIAL of Emunah will increase your ENDURANCE.” [Ya’akov/James 1:2]
Sometimes, when we are in the throws of trial, however, it is difficult to remember that. I have been contemplating our ‘warfare’ of late, because it does seem at times like my family never gets a reprieve. I was motivated some days ago to begin to write about this idea of spirits fighting against us, and of our warfare against them. I wonder, and think often, whether very many people who SAY they trust in Yeshua [by whatever Name they call Him] actually understand how very serious our WARFARE is. And how many of them have succombed already to the TRIALS of life, and have thus NOT gaurded thier Emunah?
Spirits, OTHER THAN HIS RU’AKH HaKODESH, plague humanity ALL THE TIME. But, like Paul Harvey once mused, that enemy has managed to pursuade our society that there is no war, that there is no spiritual enemy, that an adversary and accuser does NOT exist, and that any notion to the contrary means that one is ‘ignorant,’ ‘backwards’, ‘living in the past’, etc. Yet, Yeshua taught on satan and hell perhaps more than He mused on Heaven and it’s peace. Why? Maybe because He knew that for His followers there was a LONG, DIFFICULT ROAD ahead of them. Just before He left the earth, He pulled Kefa [Peter] aside and warned him of his difficult end to life. History shows that all of His Talmidim were persecuted and suffered greatly, for the sake of His Good News, starting with Stephen. Yeshua warned over and over that we would and MUST SUFFER for His Kingdom, and stated that this was one of the marks of a true believer.
That is not comforting, but it is sobering. There is a bitter-sweetness to it. But, we have to prepare our hearts and minds to walk in it. “Gird up the loins of your MIND, and be WIDE AWAKE, and HOPE for the JOY that is COMING to you [in the FUTURE], AT THE REVELATION of Adoneinu Yeshua HaMashi’akh!” When Yeshua FINALLY returns and is REVEALED to the WHOLE WORLD, BODILY, THEN we may ‘rest’. But now, we must WORK. We must SUFFER. We must ENDURE. “BUCK UP!”, is what Kefa was writing, and it is written to us.
It doesn’t make it easy to do. So, while contemplating these things, I have contemplated the practical aspect of it, the “T-to-P”, as we said in the Navy. I have begun to implement what I have learned about ‘war’ in scripture, more and more. In the very recent past, I ‘fasted and prayed’, NOT for the first time, but with more fervor and intent, and with more clarity of purpose than ever before. And just very recently was compelled from within to do so again. I looked back on that fast, and ‘saw’ how much personal calamity came as a result of it. It was distressing. But, then I realized that I needed to EXPECT such. And to resolve to fight MORE. So, very recently, in daily prayers, I got to the daily Tehillah, 94, and was ‘assured’ that I need to ‘fast and pray’ again. Many pray, and many fast, but so FEW ‘fast AND PRAY.’ THIS is making the difference. As I was praying that Tehillah/Prayer/Praise, these words pierced my soul: “WHO will rise up for ME against the evil-doers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” The obvious answer to the question was that YAH will be my help. But, there are verses about brethren coming along side to fight. The imagery of the book of Yehoshua and in some of the other Nevi’im is that we unify TOGETHER in the fight. So, in the particular ‘trials’ about which I was intent to fast that morning, I thought, ‘will anyone ever fight WITH me?’ I have had SO many fight AGAINST me, with their hatred and their tongues, who will STAND with me? The wicked and the workers of iniquity of this world are NOT doing so because they are so clever: it is that they are led by their ‘father’, the adversary and accuser. There are indeed ‘spirits’ against whom we fight, that cause some of what we experience, especially in regard to what drives us away from truth. PEOPLE take part in that, but there is a demonic force behind it. THAT is why we FAST AND PRAY. Yeshua said, “THIS one comes ‘out’ ONLY by fasting AND prayer!” So, in my prayer time that morning, I wondered, since I learned already how very tumultuous life could get when I ‘go to war’ with intent and purpose, ‘who’ would stand with me: “How should ONE chase a THOUSAND, and TWO put TEN THOUSAND to flight?” “A cord of three strands is not easily broken”. There is strength in numbers in the natural world, and there is certainly strength in numbers in the realm of spirits. So, I contemplated that on that morning. Then, I received a text, and that brother asked about the very trials I had set my mind to fast and pray about. And the very words I’d pondered came from his fingers back to me. And that brother JOINED in the fight. Willingly. Almost gleefully. This is a first, and the timing of it did not go unnoticed. The WORDING of it, the CONCEPT of it, did not go unnoticed.
We fight many ‘spirits’: sex/sexuality, greed, rebellion [against truth], avarice, anger/bitterness, idolatry, dependence [lust/coventousness] on substances/things/foods, religious pride, arrogance, selfishness, feminism [perverting men], and on and on. ONE THIRD of the Kadosh Messengers in heaven, a huge, untold number, TURNED and became UNCLEAN, and are among us. Yeshua dealt with them head on, but we have allowed ‘scientists’ to tell us they do not exist, and to treat symptoms of their afflictions so that we never get at the problem. The problem is evil; it is the perversion of His Word, by a lion going about devouring anyone he can. Instead of being sheep to our SHEPHERD, people are sheep to the false shepherds of this world who teach them they are never to be uncomfortable nor challenged in life; they tell them they are okay to stay in the pasture of sin and graze in it. They tell them, succesfully, that there are no wolves, no ‘boogeyman”, because they are themselves the wolves. They have nurtured a lukewarm congregation that wants nothing to do with the suffering of Messiah Yeshua, that wants NOT to struggle so that OTHERS might KNOW Him and SERVE Him.
Get in the fight! WHAT IF we ALL began to fast and pray, specifically against the spirits that we SEE plaguing people. And KEEP doing so EVEN and proabably ESPECIALLY when it SEEMS nothing is happening, or that the contrary SEEMS to be happening? What if we ALL resign ourselves to SUFFER with MESSIAH, for OTHERS? And begin to THROW OFF our comforts? What might His Congregation look like? “I would that you were either HOT OR cold, but because you are LUKEWARM, I will SPEW YOU [the congregation member!] out of my mouth!” There is a phrase we used on the submarine: “GET HOT! GET QUALIFIED”. It meant, go to work and learn this vessel so you are not a liability in time of trouble. Get in the fight for LIFE people. No amount of politicians and their blathering is going to save anyone. The fields were ‘white for the harvest’ 2,000 years ago when Yeshua uttered those words. How close do you think WE are now?