In Matt. 28:16-20 Jesus gave us the great commission to go into all the world. This includes preaching and teaching the Word and making disciples of all believers. In Genesis the Word tells us that the earth has been given to mankind, and that as believers we are to subdue it for the glory of God. In Joshua 1:2 God told the Israelites to go in and possess the land He had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Now, in order to possess the Promised Land, the Israelites first had to 'dis-possess' - or drive out - and destroy the Canaanites who had usurped their territory. Matt 12:29 tells us to bind the strong man before laying claim to his possessions. And a literal reading of Matt.16:19 tells us to bind on earth that which has been bound in heaven (see Amplified Bible). As such, we are to come against the spirits of darkness which have in the past, and continue today to bind those who have not yet totally yielded their life to Christ.
As was true in the past, this still involves warfare. Eph.6: 10-16 tells us that our enemies are not natural but spiritual, and that the weapons we fight with are likewise not natural, but spiritual. Matt.11:12 tells us that kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and that forceful men lay hold of it. Like the marines, God is looking for a few good men. Our assignment is simple! According to Jude 23 we are to snatch from the flames those who are perishing. In short, we are to attack the very gates of hell. Since Matt.16:18 tells us that the gates of hell cannot prevail against a blood bought, spirit filled, obedient church, we are assured the victory.
Since the Bible is our ultimate source for information, a quick glance at it reveals the basics of the type of spiritual warfare needed in order to drive out the enemy we are facing. There is not enough time here to examine the weapons of prayer and fasting. Rather, I am going to limit my remarks to the use of praise as a weapon. Now, while there can be no doubt that God is worthy of praise (I Chron. 16:25) and that He called us for the very purpose of praising His name (Is.43:21 & I Pe.2:9), when it comes to spiritual warfare, praise is a powerful weapon. While this concept may at first glance appear unorthodox, or unusual to many believers, nevertheless it is both Biblically based and ordained by God.
Here then is a very brief overview of the warfare aspect of praise.
To begin with, Gen.29:35 tells us that the very word Judah means 'praise.' By itself, this fact does not indicate any relationship between praise and spiritual warfare. But when we recall that Israel's greatest warrior king was King David, who is also the author of most of the book of Psalms, a tentative link can be drawn between these two concepts. This link is strengthened for us in Judges 1:1-2, Judges 20:18 & II Chron.20:17-22 which tell us that singers proceeded the army into battle. That's right, the choir and musicians were walking point! But there is a reason for that. Your see, Ps.22:3 & Ps.114:2 each tell us that God inhabits His praises. Therefore, the quickest way to get God on the scene is to praise Him. Now, what are the results when we do this? Ps.9:2-3 tells us that God's enemies turn back, stumble and actually perish when His Name is praised. Not only that, but Ps.149:8 goes on to tell us that the enemies' kings and nobles are bound with shackles of iron when we praise the Lord.
Given these facts, what type of praise - or what methods of praise - does the Bible indicate we should use in order to come into God's presence? Ps.100:4 tells us to enter His gates with 'thanksgiving' and his courts with praise. The Hebrew word for 'thanksgiving' used in that verse, and many others throughout the Old Testament, is derived from the Hebrew root word yah dah, which literally means to praise God with our 'hands thrust upward' (see Needful Things - Chapter 17). This direction to us to raise our hands when seeking Him in praise and prayer can also be found in Ps.63:4, Ps.88:9, Ps.134:2 and I Tim.2:8.
In Ps.47:1-2, Isa.55:12, Ps.98:8 we are told to clap our hands during our times of praise. I believe that in the context of spiritual warfare these Scriptures are inviting us to clap our hands in defiance to the enemy which we are coming against. This is why Ps.144:1 tells us that the Lord 'trains our hands for war' and our 'fingers for battle.' Do not misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that we approach spiritual battle flippantly, or in a casual egotistical manner, but as we will soon see, neither are we to do so hesitantly.
In Joshua 6:20 we find that the walls of Jericho fell only after the Israelites marched around the city, blew the trumpets, and shouted. While this was in direct response to God's command to Joshua, Ps.89:15, Ps.27:6, Ps.33:3, Rev.19:1 and John 12:13 all tell us to praise God with a shout. Remember, Heb.5:7 tells us that Jesus often times prayed to God using loud cries and supplica- tions. I believe that the Lord is showing us in these verses that like the Israelites marching around Jericho, the walls which protect our spiritual enemies will likewise fall, thereby leaving them defense- less before us if we also will shout the praises of our Lord.
Acts 3:8, Lk.6:23, Ps. 150:4 and II Sam. 6:14 all tell us to praise God by dancing and leaping. Since Ro. 16:20 tells us that the Lord is soon going to crush satan under our feet, it only makes sense that our feet must be taking part in this action somehow. Look carefully at II Sam.6:14 which tells us that King David danced with all his might as he brought the Ark of the Covenant - the very presence of God - into Jerusalem.
As we saw earlier, David is a perfect example of the warrior/ praiser. David was also the young man who took on Goliath - and I emphasize the word 'young.' (see I Sam.16:11). I Sam.17:28 tells us that at first David had to endure the ridicule of his older brothers for even being at the scene of the battle. They couldn't imagine what this kid was doing there. Likewise, vs 33 tells us that King Saul assumed that because of David's young age he could not successfully come against Goliath. But as we all know, David was victorious!
Let's examine that battle in more detail.
I Sam.17:38-39 tells us that David did NOT use Saul's weapons. After all, they weren't much use to Saul, so why should David now use them?
I Sam.17:40 tells us that he used the weapons the Lord had trained him to use.
I Sam.17:48 tells us that David was not timid in approaching Goliath, but ran towards him.
I Sam.17:40 tells us that he was ready to take on Goliath's 5 brothers, (He picked up five stones. Remember, he only needed one for Goliath.)
I Sam.17:51-53 tells us that all of Israel benefited from the actions of this young warrior.
In short, David was the exact opposite of the Israelites described in Nu. 13:31-33. They had been directed to possess the land the Lord had given to their forefathers, but they hesitated because of the 'giants in the land.' David did not hesitate, he was bold in the Lord. He had been trained in the weapons of war, and the Lord used him mightily.
Let's look at the account of another young Godly warrior as found in Judges 6:25-35. Those verses tell us that after his initial hesitation, Gideon, the youngest and weakest member of his tribe, tore down the altars of Baal and cut down the Asherah poles which the Israelites who had turned to idolatry, had erected throughout the high places of Israel. (See also I Ki.13:1-5 & 32-34; II Chron.17:6; II Chron.23:17; II Chron.31:1 and II Chron.34:3-5). He became fearless in his pursuit of God's enemies. And like young David, God used Gideon as the instrument of deliverance from the enemy which had bound Israel.
What I am about to say may seem harsh, but I ask you to prayerfully consider what follows. Many of today's young people are turned off by the anemic praise and worship which takes place in many of today's congregations. They look around them (assuming they even come in in the first place) and do not see any victory over depression, disease, divorce and drugs. They listen to one or two hymns and songs which may well have been vibrant when written, but in so many cases have become nothing more than a weekly ritual. In short, Saul's weapons are not doing these fellowships any good. Why then should we be surprised that these future David's and Gideons are turned off by them?
During the summer of 1999 I had the pleasure of accompanying a group of forceful, Davids and Gideons on a mission trip to the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. Using these very same weapons of spiritual warfare which we have just discussed, they spent several hours each day coming against the forces of darkness which have overwhelmed the inhabitants of this region for centuries. In short, as directed in Matt.12:29 and Matt.16:19 we bound the strong man, stormed the gates of hell and joined with those full time spiritual warriors who have been called to this area in their quest to take back that which the enemy has stolen.
During our fellowship's own times of Spirit led praise and worship - which includes raised hands, clapping, shouting, dancing & leaping as well as laying prostrate before the Most High, I have seen people come to the Lord, rededicate their lives to the Lord, receive both physical and emotional healing, experience the tangible presence of the Lord and gain victory over the forces of the enemy which had come against them.
My prayer is that those members of the body of Christ who up to this point have not, for whatever reason, praised the Most High as described above, will begin to do so. Some would argue that we must approach the Lord with silent reverence. And while I would most certainly agree that there is a time for silence before the Lord, the American church's' continual silence has not only robbed God of the type of praise He Himself has ordained, but it has seriously hindered its members from enforcing the victory over satan which Jesus won on the cross. We have been called to enforce that victory through out the earth. Let us begin to do so with our arms raised, our hands clapping, a shout of victory and our feet dancing before the Lord.
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