They Fought From Heaven

Not too long ago we shared a post about the recurring phrase in the heavenlies in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  Paul taught that:

1) those in Christ have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ,

2) those in Christ are partakers of the same exceeding great power that God wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies far above all principality and authority,

3) those in Christ have been quickened (made alive) together with Him, and have been raised up together with Him, and are enthroned together with Him in the heavenlies far above all principality and authority,

4) it is by these (the church) that now the manifold wisdom of God is to be displayed to principalities and authorities in the heavenlies,

5) those in Christ, armed with spiritual armour, wrestle in the heavenlies against the wicked principalities and authorities that are the rulers of the darkness of this present age.

This realm of the heavenlies is the spiritual heritage of those in Christ. How did they get into this heavenly heritage?  We answered this question in the post just previous  to the one we mentioned above.  They were baptized into it.

It is by baptism into Christ (not by water baptism but by Spirit baptism), that we are enthroned together in the heavenly realm with Him who is the Captain of the hosts of the Lord.

The crossing of the river Jordan by Israel under the leadership of Joshua was prophetic of this baptism. Back then they were baptized into their earthly heritage and found themselves engaged in warfare against the inhabitants of that land.  Now, both Jews and Gentiles who are baptized into Christ by the Spirit baptism are called to a warfare against spiritual forces in a heavenly heritage.

The Bible called the inheritance of the Israelites the Rest (Dt. 12.9).  It was a land for which they did not have to labour.  There were cities built which they did not build, houses filled with good things which they did not fill, wells dug which they did not dig, olive yards and vineyards which they did not plant, and they ate the fruit of them.  (See Dt. 6.10,11, Josh. 24.13.)  It was a prepared place; they did not have to labour for this land.

But they did have to fight for it.

They had to fight for it—but not by their own strategy and strength. They were to diligently obey God, and mind His strategy.  All through the book of Joshua and on into the Judges we find that God always had a strategy by which His people triumphed over their adversaries.  It was often a very foolish strategy, and apparently very weak.  But when His people obeyed His strategy they inevitably triumphed.

Gideon and his little band of three hundred routed a host like a plague of locusts, like the sand of the sea for multitude.

Deborah and Barak with a small contingent from the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali put to flight a great army at Megiddo, where we are told that:

They fought from Heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera (Judges 5.20).

Who fought from Heaven? Barak’s forces, or the stars—the angelic host?  Or both?

Again, who fights the war in Heaven prophesied in The Revelation? Yes I know, Michael and his angels (Rev. 12.7).  But a few verses later we read—and this is certainly not speaking of angels, but of men who are in the pitch of battle in the heavenlies:

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death (Rev. 12.11).

And so these overcomers, while yet on earth, are fighting in the heavenly realm along with Michael and his angels. And… is not this verse an echo from that prophetic song of Deborah and Barak?

Zebulun and Naphtali were a people who jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field… They fought from heaven… (Judges 5.18, 20).

Both of these passages, the one in Judges and the one in The Revelation, are prophetic of our day, a day when, like those of old, we are up against overwhelming things, forces that—Lord, open our eyes to see where the problem actually is—it’s in the heavenlies! Forces of darkness hold the heights!  In the heavenly realm!  And from that heavenly vantage point they rule with the power of darkness over the  hearts and minds of men.  And they are stronger than we; we are up against formidable spiritual forces.  And it is futile—I trust we have learned this—it is futile, it is the counsel of certain defeat, it is a foregone disaster, to try to fight these heavenly forces with earthly weapons and carnal strategies.   Surely we know this by now…

…And are assured of this also. War in heaven, fighting from the heavens, will defeat these forces, the rulers of the darkness of this age; it will completely rout them from their heavenly stronghold.   And the sons of light shall rule in their place; where once darkness ruled, light shall reign.  And we will hear that loud voice proclaiming in heaven:

Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ… (Rev. 12:10)

Wondrous hope for this world in great darkness.  Let us take up our spiritual armour, then, and take up our positions in the heavenlies, and be ready to hear and obey the strategies of Christ our Captain, weak and foolish though they seem to be.

Doing this we are certain to be the ones left standing on the heavenly field, the ones left in possession of our heavenly heritage, when the battle is over.

19 responses »

  1. Wow, wow, wow.
    SO timely!

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    • Thank you, sister. I take it that you find it timely because of the present battle in your own corner of the field– but also because we have entered “the evil day” of which Paul spoke when he called the saints to put on the panoply of God. This makes that passage in Ephesians very timely. Certainly God’s people in all ages have known something of that evil day, but now in a consummate way we have entered that day. The final showdown in the heavenlies is on!

      (Remembering that the first showdown took place some two thousand years ago at a place called Golgotha. The panoply of God, the “whole armour” of God, is the armour of that victory, meaning that the outcome of this showdown is as certain as the first.)

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  2. I appreciate this very much.

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  3. Alan – Great post! The enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15) is palpable these days. I find myself becoming anxious about all that is going on politically, economically and morally in our world today. I resonate with what you say about the heavenly warfare, but what really caught my attention is what you wrote about REST in Deuteronomy; rest even as they fought for the land. I almost was going to say we need to be focused on the rest – but that would be wrong. Our eyes, minds, hearts should be riveted to the Lord Jesus. To put our attention on ‘rest’ would cause us to become occupied with our own ‘labors’. I really love the Deut. picture of the prepared place! I’m in a Bible class where the concept of rest comes up frequently as a key principle of Scripture and people struggle to explain it in a memorable way (and there it is right in front of us!). Deuteronomy has not been on my radar so I have not seen this. Resting in all that He is to us – putting full confidence in Him to triumph in the battles! This is such a good reminder (with a memorable picture) to help me keep my focus where it belongs. I think I’ll stay away from news programs and read Deuteronomy instead. Thanks for this.

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    • Lori, abiding in Christ Himself is the rest. Just as the Father was His rest (even when He was working) so He is our rest. He calls us to come unto Him and take His yoke upon us, “and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” But I thought a yoke was for working. He says that in His yoke we find rest.

      And this applies, as you said, to our spiritual warfare as well. I was thinking of David with regard to this, and with regard to our fighting from Heaven. David learned to inquire of the Lord as to His battle strategies. In one battle with the Philistines the Lord counselled him to go out against them and he overwhelmed them like a dam of water breaking over them. Then came another battle, but David did not seek to repeat the earlier strategy; he inquired of the Lord again. This time the Lord told him to wait till he heard the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees. Only then did he go forth– in harmony with the heavenly host. I believe this is our key. We will not experience earthly victories unless we are hearing from God as to His strategy, and are moving in harmony with the host of Heaven.

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      • I was always puzzled by that yoke thing and did some research on it several years ago. I don’t remember the details now, but can find if you’re interested. I do recall that it was explained and made sense. It was not as helpful to me as this Deut. picture is — I will not forget this one. Our Bible is full of stories like the ones you mention about David. (And many about what happens when a person used his OWN great ideas instead of seeking the Lord — including David!). When the Lord says we are not of this world — He means it to the nth degree. We are His and He loves to show Himself to us! I think our biggest battle is with the old sin nature — it is against God (at enmity with Him). But it is (we are) crucified with Christ and this gives us a choice: abide in Him or be sucked in by the world. I’m forever grateful for Andrew Murray’s book on Abiding — that book made it really clear to me and I revisit it often.

        I read another book called “Abide Above” where I read this: “He is the very source of our Christian life. To abide is to remain where one has already been enlifted and positioned. It is in Him that we rest, fellowship and grow — far above all.” Col. 2:9; Eph. 2:20,21. He is seated in heaven and we are positioned in Him. He is our source of everything pertaining to life and Godliness! I LOVE IT!

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        • Lori, if the “yoke thing” puzzled you at one time (perhaps not now), here’s another puzzlement for you. Jesus told His disciples, “My meat (food) is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (Jn. 4:34). For those in Adam, work is something that makes them tired and hungry and in need of being replenished. They need food in order to work. But for the Son of God, it was the opposite. Doing the will of His Father was the bread that sustained Him, it fed Him, strengthened Him, satisfied Him, left Him feeling refreshed. The same with those who are no longer in Adam, but are in Christ (that is, they no longer abide in Adam, they abide in Christ).

          As to abiding in Christ, I have been thinking of something that came to me a while ago. It’s kind of cryptic, but it speaks to me. “I abide in Him because I abide in Him.” This is according to Scripture. “Hereby know we that we dwell (abide) in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit” (1 Jn. 4:13). Also, Jesus said that in the day of the sending of the Spirit, we who receive the Spirit would know that “I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you” (Jn. 14:20). So by His Spirit we abide in Him, and He in us. Therefore, let us abide in Him. It is not our own work to abide in Him, but something He has accomplished by His Spirit in those who are baptized into Him.

          …I too love the Old Testament stories– but I have learned I must always read them through my New Testament eye glasses. The Old Testament is a picture book that can only be clearly seen in the light of the New Covenant.

          PS. Who wrote that book you mentioned– Abide Above? Very intriguing title.

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          • Allan, for some reason I didn’t have much of a problem figuring out the meaning of the John 4 passage. I guess it’s easier to understand food than yokes (since we need to know something about the culture of the day to know about yokes). However, as with all things Scriptural, I get more and more understanding as time goes on.

            I say YES to your ‘cryptic’ abiding observations. John 14-17 — the Scriptures that keep on giving!!

            And we are on the same page about understanding the OT through the lens of the NT — especially the writings of Paul. This I learned from two mentors; one was Miles Stanford who wrote “Abide Above.” Originally published as the 5th in a series of small books; it can be found on Amazon in the book “The Complete Green Letters.” Book One in the series was a life-changer for me. After 10 years of being a Christian and thinking of tossing it all aside because I could not do all the things I thought were required of me as a believer, I came across “The Green Letters” and it turned me around. So for the past 35 years Miles’ writings (I have many other things he wrote as well) have been a mainstay for me. He also introduced me to the authors I study today (one being JB Stoney).

            I want to say something about the Old Testament. I became a Christian because I was told that I could *know* Him (scratch the first 10 years — I never found “knowing Him” in any church or from any believer). I studied Paul almost exclusively for about 20 years with my mentors (most of the time while away from church) and made some progress in my spiritual growth and understanding. But probably about 10 years ago I suddenly woke up (drum roll here) to the power of the Old Testament to reveal the HEART OF GOD. THEN I began to soar with NT understanding!! I am constantly amazed and blessed to see how the OT helps me understand NT doctrine. I always have my Pauline glasses on — and my oh my! What I see is a Father with a huge heart who wants us to know Him. He loves, loves, loves His Son and has placed us in Him so we can know (share in) that love, intimately. And the Spirit is ours to seal the deal — so that our hope is sure and we can live in Christ! The depth of Pauline doctrine was almost lost on me until I internalized the reality of God’s grace and love — not as a feeling — but because I SAW it in the OT. I see the Bible as a whole — rarely see it in pieces any more. What an amazing expression of who God is and what He wants!

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          • Thanks, Lori, I will check that out. And thanks again for your comments; I always appreciate them.

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          • As to what you said, Lori, that you are “constantly amazed and blessed to see how the OT helps me understand NT doctrine.” I have been finding that myself. My Bible continues to open up to me. I should say, the Holy Spirit continues to open up my Bible to me; my understanding is continually enriched. I love Paul’s words in Colossians about the “riches of the full assurance of understanding.” I heard a quote recently that the Old Testament is “a richly furnished room poorly lit.” How true that is. And with new-covenant light we begin to see some of the riches in that room. Then, in turn, it sheds greater light on our New Testament! Where does it all end? David said he had discovered the limits of all things– except for the word of God. He could not find the end of that (Ps. 119:96).

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          • Allan, I like this “A richly furnished room poorly lit.” Seems to be getting brighter every day though!
            I’m with you and David — love Ps. 119:96)!
            Thanks for the wonderful discussion (as always!).

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          • You’re welcome! And thank you as well.

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      • Alan – here’s something from an article on the yoke (which is a *burden* in Scripture). Interesting the way Jesus turns things around and uses them to make His point! Don’t know who wrote this:

        “When the Lord Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), He was addressing those who were laboring to find divine blessing on the ground of law, and who felt the oppression with which the law burdened them. In natural things a man expects to find rest after his labors are ended, but there was no rest for those under law, for there was no end to the requirements of the law, “for the law hath dominion over a man as long as he lives” (Rom. 7:1). The law burdened the spirit with its demands, and sin, which the law could not take away, burdened the conscience.

        “Freed from the yoke of the law, the Lord invited the godly to take *His* yoke upon them, and to learn of Him. He was not a hard Master, and had Himself come under the yoke of service to God, and in His service was “meek and lowly in heart.” As the servants of the Lord they would find His yoke easy, and His burden light, and have rest for their souls. The Lord only asks us to do what the divine nature finds pleasure in, and what we see perfectly expressed in Himself.

        “The Lord not only gives rest to His people, He also gives peace, for He said to His disciples before leaving them, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). In a life of unwearied service to His God and Father there was everything around to disturb and distress, but amidst all, His heart had an undisturbed peace, and this is the peace He gives to His own.

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        • Yes, I am sure that’s what Jesus had in mind– the yoke of the Law. Peter referred to the Law as a yoke: “Now why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10). But not only the Law of Moses (which the Gentiles were never under), any principle of Law is a yoke that will leave those who bear it “labouring and heavy laden.” Those in Christ know a different yoke, one that is easy, gentle, comfortable; it is a burden that is light.

          Thanks for this excerpt. It’s very good.

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      • Allan, It seems that the New Covenant is the opposite of the Old covenant in so many ways (thinking of what Jesus said in Matt. 5:21 to 48). Then we have this description of how we who belong to Christ win in the New Covenant…

        And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11 RSVA)

        Funny thing, isn’t that the same way Jesus overcame Satan, by laying down His life? So much for Christian survivalism!

        “and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
        (Matthew 10:38-39 RSVA)

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        • Yes, Michael, so much for Christian survivalism. And oh, that we might lay to heart the verses you quoted. The way Jesus overcame Satan is the same “weak and foolish” strategy of the Cross by which we are to overcome him as well. This, I believe, is what the “panoply of God” is all about. Paul calls it the “hidden wisdom of God,” which, if the princes of this world had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. And it seems that these “princes” (I take it Paul has those principalities and authorities in the heavenlies in mind) have never been able to figure this out. But it leaves them in quite the quandary, doesn’t it. Do they dare leave the followers of Jesus alone? If so they are in trouble. But if they seek to do them ill, it is their own undoing!

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          • Well said, Allan! Satan has had man’s number from the beginning — his desire to save his life and avoid pain at all cost. In Job we read,

            Then Satan answered the LORD, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.” (Job 2:4-5 RSVA)

            Oh, how Christians with the “bless me” mindset have been captured by the spirit of this age! “Cross? Jesus paid the price so we don’t have to. God wants us to prosper and be happy!” Tell that to the thousands of saints that have been murdered in Darfur and Nigeria! Tell it to the millions of martyrs that the world was not worthy of since the church was born on Pentecost.

            “Oh, Father, give us that heart of love for your Son that we would count it all joy to be able to suffer for His gospel and truly embrace the fellowship of HIS suffering and be conformed to His death. Amen.”

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          • Amen, Michael. We are called to suffer evil along with the Gospel (Gk. lit. of 2 Tim. 1:8)– and when we do this, the result is that life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). Wonderful mystery!

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