We learned last time the bulls are coming and God said they should remain to accomplish a particular work. Since God is on our side we are not helpless, defenseless or in our case offense-less. I have found myself too many times surprised by our enemy Satan and his schemes. How about you? Wouldn’t you like to be prepared by knowing what’s coming and also what to do? This post is about how we go on the offense in spiritual warfare.
The Scripture verses I’m going to use are very familiar. Almost too familiar because you might think a post on prayer is going to be blasé. I get that, I really do but try and look at them with new, sharpened eyes keeping in mind all we have covered so far in this series. Let’s look at Matthew 26:40-41 (AMP):
And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep actively watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
This depiction of sleeping disciples is not usually one we’d like to associate closely with. Nonetheless we are more like them than not. We being like them are made of flesh and are weak because of it.
Jesus gave the three men with him the opportunity to keep watch and pray with him before his great trial would begin. He gave them the prospect to go on the offensive- just like he was about to do- so they too would be able to overcome the temptation of their faith by Satan.
What is the offensive secret Jesus gave and modeled for us? It is to actively watch and pray.
Jesus brought his three closest disciples with him to pray. These three men were more than disciples because Jesus recently told them they were his friends. He revealed everything he could to them including his being turned over to be crucified. Peter was especially vocal and said he would be willing to fight and die for Jesus if need be. Jesus told Peter he would not do this; instead Peter would deny knowing Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.
He also told Peter Satan desired to “sift him as wheat”. Satan desired to destroy Peter through sifting. Sifting indicates separating, isolating or even scrutinizing something for the purpose of sorting out the useful from the rest. Lots of clues here about an enemy tactic in just this one word!
Satan wanted to isolate Peter from Jesus and the rest of the disciples to shake him up – to shake up his faith. Why? Satan believed Peter would curse God if the shield of protection around him were removed. And the same is true for us today. Satan desires to get us isolated like the few sheep from the flock so he can come with an attack so great we will deny our faith. He believes we will crumble. He believes our faith is small and is completely confident in his strength – just like the bulls in my dream. They were completely assured in their strength to chase the few sheep knowing they were isolated from the rest of the flock.
Jesus told the disciples to watch, watch out and to be watchful on many occasions. We’re told to be sober by the apostle Peter and to watch out for our enemy who is roaming about looking for someone to devour. Peter knows what he’s talking about. He’s telling us to be sober not necessarily in relation to being drunk but to be quiet, somber, and vigilant in our watching.
Think about hunters in season for a minute. They aren’t noisy while hunting. They are quiet and still. They wait silently in one spot for long periods of time listening for something moving. They are waiting for their prey to be noisy. Why? Because noisy prey aren’t aware of danger. Their guard is down because they feel secure. And the feeling of security can be a costly even deadly mistake.
According to Peter- we are Satan’s prey! He is like a lion waiting and watching. He is listening to our conversations. He is waiting for us to get busy. Especially being busy with good things like ministry until we have a feeling of security and forget to actively watch and pray. Then Satan roars! Lions don’t roar when they are stalking prey. They roar at the point of capture to instill fear in their catch and to mark or defend a territory.
If you want to go on the offensive in spiritual warfare you must become more like the hunter instead of the prey!
The few sheep from my dream were isolated from the flock and each other. Even if they could have been warned by the flock- they were not listening. Not because of sin or backsliding but simply they lost the interest in keeping watch. They have become easy prey engulfed in the grace and love of God but forgot their position as mighty warriors. They have assumed the position of being prey (heads down unaware of surroundings) when they were created to be hunters(heads up aware of surroundings).
Now here comes the rub. Does being watchful keep the attack from coming? Can a deer watching and listening for sounds of a hunter still find himself running? Yes, of course. Hunters are crafty and know there are more ways than one to kill. Satan is crafty too. The Bible said the snake was craftier than all other beasts and this gave him victory over Adam and Eve.
So what does watching do? It keeps us from willfully entering into danger and/or temptation. When we are still, watching and looking for signs of an enemy our guard is up. We’re on the lookout. If something doesn’t sound quite right- we can detect it. We are aware of subtle nuances in conversations and in situations. We don’t place ourselves on purpose in dangerous situations. We pair up and walk together.
Someone will surely say, “Well, I can do this or that and God will protect me”. But Jesus said we shouldn’t tempt God by doing things we know are wrong or defy the laws of nature. Satan wanted Jesus to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple so God’s angels would catch him. Even if angels would have caught Jesus, He gave us the command not to tempt God with such things. Since Jesus didn’t put God’s protection to the test neither should we.
God has told us the bulls are coming. You may have no sense of that at the moment because they are quietly hunting. Just like Satan hunted Peter who was unaware, this particular trial is coming to those who are isolated or separated to be bullied. For those reading this- you can be watchful for warning signs of being bullied by creating quiet time and becoming a hunter.
While watching don’t willfully put yourself in situations where a bully could rise up against you. If you are at work and the project of your dreams comes up but your boss wants you to co-chair it with a bully type person- decline it! It’s better for you to wait, being watchful for the right time to take on a project than take it on and have it go badly. Parents be aware of situations which lead your children to bully you into making bad decisions or becoming angry. Spouses, guard your mouth! Whatever it takes be watchful keeping in mind it’s not your kids, boss, co-worker, or spouse who are the real hunters. They are not hunting you but it’s your spiritual adversary who is behind it.
***We are not fighting people always keep this in mind.***
I’m not laying out a plan for you to lay in wait and stealthily watch those around you. I’m instructing you to be still so you can see the spiritual which is behind something happening in the natural.
Do you feel afraid because of being hunted as prey by a spiritual enemy? I’ve experienced fear so intense from a spiritual threat the hair on the back of my neck was on end. I’ve written about this experience in my book, “Light from a Dark Night” and know fear from our unseen enemy is real and can be physically felt. But we can’t ignore or run from our fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. He has given us the upper hand – the spirit of a hunter. We just need to know it and turn the tables. And to turn the tables we need to watch and pray!
When looking again at our Scripture verse it may seem like Jesus was hard on the three disciples. It had been a long day and they were sleepy. Jesus knew they wanted to fight for him, be with him, and defend him. Yet he knew they couldn’t do it alone.
The spirits of the disciples were strong and out of it they spoke words of faith. With Jesus presence they could be bold. He was their leader, their strength- The Messiah. When we are in a position of spiritual strength we too make bold statements. In a powerful church service or after an effective message on faith we are built up so much that our faith rises and we feel as if we could do anything.
Then Satan comes. To sift us as wheat. He roars and we fall; unaware we were being watched. Unaware we were prey. Lost, feeling alone we wonder what happened. Jesus told his disciples what happened. Their spirits were strong but their flesh was weak. It’s our flesh, the dust we are made of which weakens our resolve. We want to do well. We want to do what’s right but our flesh is weak. However, our flesh being weak is no excuse.
Wicked men still came for Jesus. The sifting as wheat still came for Peter and the rest of the disciples. The bulls will come in May. In fact they or others like them will come at various times in our lives. Jesus watched. He prayed. He lay his weaker flesh down before a loving Father. God knows our flesh is weak. For this reason, He hasn’t placed all the burden of fighting our unseen enemy upon us. He gave us a part to do- watch so you don’t willfully put yourself in the way of temptation. Then pray knowing it’s not completely in your power without God’s assistance to stand and fight. Let’s look at one more famous Bible verse on prayer:
‘And do not lead us into temptation (a), but deliver us from evil (b).’ Matthew 6:13 (AMP)
I read much commentary about this verse because it seemed to be saying something strange: God might lead us into temptation and then save us from it. However, the footnote to this verse reads like this:
Footnote: (a) I.e. lead us away from situations where we are vulnerable and have the opportunity to sin. God does not tempt man (see James 1:13) but does allow man to be tested. B. evil one
Prayer would not have kept Peter from having his faith tested because the testing of our faith is useful. Faith tested in the fire becomes pure as gold. So it is a worthy and necessary thing for faith to be tested. However, Peter may not have followed Jesus by himself that night and may not have willfully put himself in a position to publicly deny his closeness to Jesus.
The bulls from my dream have a purpose and a job to do. They reveal our weaknesses which is good especially if a more difficult trial is to come. Maybe you’ve been chased by the same thing time and time again and never seen it in light of being spiritually bullied. Time and again when I have something “big” to do for the Lord, the same situations arise to keep me feeling less than, guilty or incompetent to complete my assignment.
This series is about preparation. Preparation for our trials. Being trained as a hunter – watching instead of being watched. Waiting for the right time to strike instead of being sorrowful over repeated failure. It’s time to see our failures and weaknesses and understand what’s at stake. I believe you have been called to kill something (in the spiritual realm) this month. Something that’s waited until you are ready to be who God created you to be and then roared so loud you backed down and left your calling.
If you’ve entered into The Dance with God, He is revealing secrets and handing out keys to the Kingdom like watching, praying and becoming like the hunter.
Next post will be the end of this series. I will write about the confrontation between the sheep and the bulls and the epic battle of your life.
In Christ, Anne