When I was 8 years old I heard the “Onward Christian Soldiers” hymn for the first time. It was at a Wednesday night bible study a friend had brought me to, and immediately I hated the song. Unsaved as I was, I thought the war was about physical, earthly war. I thought as many unsaved people do, that “Religions cause wars,” and that Christianity was the worst instigator of all.
I was wrong. On all counts.
What a difference 40 years makes. I am saved now, and today in church I sang Onward Christain Soldiers. I was struck by the battle language, and the language in the other hymn we sang today, “Stand up Stand up for Jesus.”
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
forward into battle see his banners go!
Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
the trumpet call obey;
forth to the mighty conflict,
in this his glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve him
against unnumbered foes;
let courage rise with danger,
and strength to strength oppose.
We are in a war. All of us. Prior to accepting Jesus as Savior, you are God’s enemy. (Rom 5:10; Col 1:21) The moment you accept Jesus as Savior you become God’s friend but satan’s enemy (1 Pet 5:8). Satan perpetrates wiles and snares and strategies and attacks against you. Paul reminded the church at Ephesus that they “fight 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.” (Eph 6:12)
Our Lord is great, and He equips us for the battle. (For he has already won the war!) He gave His Word, He gave us the privilege of prayer. He gave us the Holy Spirit…and He also gave us battle equipment- the armor of God. Christian, are you wearing it?
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints….” (Ephesians 6:10-18)
He is so gracious to save us then equip us. But wait! There’s more! The Lord is our shield AND buckler. “Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid.” (Psalm 35:2) Did you ever wonder what’s the difference between a shield and a buckler, which is essentially another shield? A buckler differs from a regular shield in that the buckler is carried by straps and worn on the arm whereas the shield is held in one hand gripped with your fist. The buckler was a small, maneuverable, hand-held shield for deflecting and punching blows at close range. It’s used in hand-to-hand combat, in close quarters. The shield is larger and is used to protect from arrows, notably, the Romans used shields to create a shield-wall when the enemy combatants were raining down a volley of arrows. However, the shield was often too large and cumbersome in close combat so the buckler was the preferred piece for protection in that case. (Above, fighting with bucklers)
Satan has different methods of assaulting us. The Lord gave us armor to protect us and then if the battle rages too hot, we remember “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4). In His grace, He provides for us in every kind of battle, in all battles! (Left, shield wall to deflect incoming arrows)
I mentioned yesterday that a dangerous tipping point has been reached in this end time battle. Since 2008 the signs have been coming fast and furious and in all quarters. There have been weird clouds and earthquakes and fireballs and hail and economic crashes and wars and rumors of wars…all the signs Jesus said he would send. One reason for the end times is also for the unsaved to notice the signs and to repent. To understand that it is God speaking to them and to turn from wicked ways and accept the Savior.
There’s been a shift in the language people use when describing the times. The signs have come so frequently and powerfully that the unbeliever no longer can explain them away. They recognize that strange is the new normal. They connect the signs happening as harbingers of tragedy. Finally, they simply are traumatized by enduring them. A critical mass has been reached when this combination of factors is evident. Some people are recognizing the signs and events and are attributing them rightly as God speaking to us. They have repented. Most amazingly, this occurred in Haiti as many thousands repented and many more were saved. However the dangerous time for the unsaved is when they recognize the times of the signs but fail to correctly attribute their existence. Is it Mother Nature? Is it Global Warming? It is a tipping point for many, including us, because the battle will only rage more hotly now. Of course satan does not want the unsaved to comprehend the signs as God’s work. He is feverishly tipping them in the wrong direction. Are we going to let him?
We must pray they understand correctly and then repent! Put on your armor, Christian! It does you no good in a heap at the back of the closet. Do you want to be like Barney Fife, fumbling to find the bullet in the heat of battle? Take out the bullet of the Word and be ready- lock and load! The Word is the surest dart! Put on the armor, it is your protection! The Lord is the shield and buckler! Fight for those lost! Fight for those Saints who are weakening!
It’s a critical time, now. All Christians are needed. There can be no more back seat pew dwelling. We are in a war, we are told, and it’s all hands on deck. Even so, “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.” (Psalm 27:3) The war is won, let’s to the battle!