by Jon Reeverts
“He never knew he had it! That changed everything.” Today, that sentence would send a flurry of response teams into action. How many trails could run from that one person and that one statement? But what if that thought was, “He never knew, until that moment, that he had what it took.”
I’ve been watching the series Seal Team. It challenges me to look into a world that is beyond my comprehension - mostly because the battles the team fights go beyond a momentary firefight or enemy conflict, but into their personal battles with every kind of struggle imaginable, all in the service of their country. And beyond the show, our Navy SEALs actually do this.
Does the team face an enemy conflict, a medical issue, a political situation, a family issue? Could there be underlying psychological questions? Malicious intent, negligence, end of life questions, AND yes, this always has spiritual ramifications - because our spirit has to deal with every situation on this earth.
All this is echoed in this current crisis as well. The disturbing thing for me is: This STINKS of the darkness; there is a rancid odor here - I liken it to scenes from the movie “Constantine” more than from “I Am Legend”.
So when Paul in Ephesians reports that, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
How do we process that?
PAUSE for a moment! - Do you know that unusual sense you have that you are being watched, or the sense that you have been in a certain place before, or the one that signals to you that there is a darkness about a … town, street, house, room, person, situation, etc?
Or, have you ever felt as King David did:
”Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”
In an earlier blog I noted that Paul (a total biblical badass)* had a lot to say about standing against the powers of darkness. Forgive me if that expression offends you, but if you dare - read further. I will have to publish this in pieces, I know, for some to track with my thinking. We all have different tolerances for digging into the truth.
If we get a clear picture, however; we can begin to deal with our current battles.
Who was this Paul, and why would he be an expert on facing evil? Let’s look at his life, culture, experiences and transformation - he’s not some old man dressed up in a robe and flip flops parading around like a cartoon bible character.
Remember first, Paul was a Turk - he was from Tarsus a port city on the border of Turkey and Syria. While Israelites are generally depicted as smaller in stature, except for maybe Samson, King Saul or Jesus - Turks have a different presence. Have you ever seen a Turkish wrestler? Hmmm-maybe not the picture of Saul of Tarsus you were thinking of?
Magnify that - he was known for going into homes and ripping people from their families and dragging them out to be served justice or be thrown in prison or executed. No little man does that against a family force.
Tangent parallel: Turks were just one of the cultures used by Alexander the Great in his armies that conquered most of the known world 330 years before Christ.
Getting a clear picture of scripture - visualizing the times, people, temperature of the society can be really difficult to do, and those that attempt it are often highly criticized for trying to effectively complete the picture. Maybe this short 10 minute video about an HBO series puts a little of this in perspective. We’ll come back to this in tomorrow’s blog as well. ROME: Slavery in Rome
Back to the U.S. Navy SEALs - they have my utmost respect - I have listened to former SEALs talk about their experiences, express those in movies, books, articles and podcasts. But if you compare their training to Paul’s - I think he more than fits the mold of leading a team; he didn’t just kick down doors, dodge bullets and walk through a few tours. Let’s face it; we have been given a pretty pathetic, watered-down version of the fight we’re in and who fought it. But Easter week awakens this fight just a little if we watch “The Passion of the Christ.” Then, we’re appalled by the darkness.
Here's just a short list of his credentials for dealing with dark warfare.
Also... remember that the Romans made a science out of torture and Jewish society had no reservations about carrying out the Law.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28 – “. . . in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. (Some simple calculations would indicate that Paul was assigned atotal of 200 stripes with 195 actually being inflicted.For this type of punishment, the victim was stripped to the waist and tied in a bent position to a low pillar, and the stripes with a whip of three thongs were inflicted on the back between the shoulders so the skin could be shredded and ripped from his body. - See Passion of the Christ
25 Three times I was beaten with rods; (This was a Roman method of scourging. It sometimes resulted in death.One of these three occasions is recorded in Acts, and that in Acts 16:22-24.)
once I was stoned; (The ancients had an unlimited source of ammunition (rocks) and a history of mob unrest (study middle eastern history) and that stoning a person to death was an easy expression of public/social justice.)
three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness --
Galatians 6:7 – “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
This all is why the picture below makes me think of Paul more like this - his wounds would have been more than visible they would have recorded every conflict. It makes me read scripture differently. Look at this link for a better picture. The Sufferings of Paul
Right now, Jenny and I have SO MANY friends that are going through unbelievable personal attacks on their lives, health, marriages, careers and family! I feel it’s urgent to confront the darkness and call it out. If the current crisis hasn't magnified this, I don't know what else to say. Can we really stand back and think this is just a "situation" that will eventually pass or be brought under control by science?
Knowing that we are equipped for the fight, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, demonstrated through Paul, and then revealed to us through his teaching, empowers us to rest in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."
We call it stepping into the fight.
We are walking toward Easter and in it Jesus Christ went to the cross first - he freed us from our sin, redeemed us and gave us life. Paul speaks of this new life through Galatians 2:20. We too are crucified to receive a new life. But this he calls us to stand against the forces that come against us and stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, lifting each other up through the fight and not leaving anyone behind, praying that God's might will be demonstrated - all to His glory.
Join us to celebrate the truth that Jesus brings to us. He gave His life for us, to give His life to us, to live His life through us.
[For in-depth understanding see The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson]