Be Stirred, Not Shaken

"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled…" ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands…" ~ II Tim. 1:6

Author: poodster Page 2 of 5

The Signs of Spiritual Erosion

Be my rock of refuge [strength], a fortress of defense to save me

~ Psalms 31:2

Christ once told His disciples a parable, saying, “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock” (Luke 6:48-49).

Long-time Christians like to latch on to scriptures like this.  We picture Satan attacking in dramatic ways, provoking equally grand gestures of faith—turning down a job for the Sabbath, telling the truth though it will damage us, staying faithful despite being ostracized at school for being different.  Many of us like to imagine that, if put in a “deny God or die” scenario, we would maintain our faith and face the consequences.  And perhaps we’re right.

But the reality is that many of us won’t face such a drastic situation, and even if we do, it will be once or twice in our lifetimes.  So we think we’ve got it made since we built our house on the rock, a solid foundation that will stand the test of time.  And it’s true, the foundation we build upon is critical to our success.

But what if it’s the rock itself that becomes the problem?

Erosion:  The process by which something is diminished or destroyed by degrees. To eat into, or to eat away by slow destruction of substance, to deteriorate

I once read an article about a famous historical lighthouse at Cape Henlopen, Delaware.  The lighthouse was critical to the Philadelphia shipping industry, and they took excellent care of it for many years.  It weathered storms and hurricanes, providing light and safe passage to the ships coming through.  But it took them decades to realize that the cliff it had been built on—its very foundation—was eroding.  One day, before they could work out a solution for saving it, a storm rolled through and the giant lighthouse fell into the sea.

We are told to build our spiritual house on a rock, and most of us take that admonition very seriously.  There is no doubt that the Rock in question is God the Father and His Son.  There are dozens of verses in the Psalms alone that reference Him this way (e.g. Psalms 31:2, 92:15).  It’s obviously critical that what we build upward and visibly is made of quality materials, and that we build on the solid foundation, the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20; I Cor. 3:11).

But we often forget that the foundation itself has to be maintained over time.  And so what happens is that the daily grinding effects of life—of temptations, worries, pressures, envies, discouragements—these are what wear us down little by little, day by day.  Until one day we, too, crumble and fall.

It’s important to understand that when this happens, it’s not God or His power that has eroded.  That simply isn’t possible.  Rather, it’s Him as our foundation—because we allow it and we don’t maintain it.  We may appear to be weathering the storm, but underneath our foundation is being eaten away, and one day we’ll slide off into the ocean or crumble beneath the weight of what we’ve built.

What is spiritual erosion?

Spiritual erosion is slow, silent, and subtle.  Like physical erosion, it starts imperceptibly, and the daily familiarity of routine keeps us from seeing it in ourselves or even those close to us.  A person will usually keep doing the same things they’ve always done, like keeping the Sabbath, asking people how their week was at church, deleavening the house, and attending the Feast.  Many Christians still attend church long after their faith is gone, because we’re creatures of habit.

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What Are Abominations Before the Lord?

Where the study stemmed from

In today’s world of political correctness and permissiveness, the very word “abomination” is something that most people recoil from and completely reject. The industry I work in is very liberal, and I’m often placed in a position of needing to explain and defend my faith as tactfully as possible. Most people can wrap their heads around the fact that I don’t keep Christmas, don’t eat unclean meats, and keep a seventh-day Sabbath. But where their understanding stops is when it comes to homosexuality, because they believe that it’s bigotry or hatred on my part not to accept homosexuality as a completely natural thing.

There is a shaky line I have to walk in explaining that it has nothing to do with hating those people specifically, but that I also don’t get to pick and choose which commandments are valid within the things God says are wrong. I’ve had many people tell me that it was only considered wrong in the Old Testament, but that the New Testament doesn’t mention anything about it and Jesus did away with all that Old Testament hardline nonsense.

But the thing is, we know that Jesus didn’t do away with the Old Testament—only added to it or fulfilled some aspects (such as the need for the Levitical priesthood and physical sacrifices). And so quite some time back, I decided that I needed to do an in-depth study on what God considers abominations, so that I could confidently discuss the topic when asked.

The use of “abomination” in the Bible

It makes sense to start by finding out what things or actions God call an abomination. Interestingly, people often think about this as being mainly a hardline law/Pentateuch thing, and certainly there were a number of occurrences there. But it came as a surprise to me that the highest concentration of the word “abomination” appears to be in the book of Proverbs, in verses concerned with the heart and mind.

The words “abomination” and “abominable” are used over 170 times in the KJV and probably a similar number in the NKJV, though they tend to be used a less frequently in certain modern translations. While there’s only one Greek word translated this way, there are around five different Hebrew words. Three are from the same root word (shequets, shaqats, shiqquts) and mean roughly the same thing—filth, figuratively or literally an idolatrous object, detestable thing. These words are used when speaking of unclean animals, for instance, or often refer to pagan or idolatrous things in a more general sense. Two other words (ba ash and piggul piggul) are only translated abomination once or twice, but more often words like stank, loathsome, and abhor are used when translating them.

The most prominent word translated “abomination” is to ebah to ebah, and signifies that which is disgusting morally, an abhorrence.  It is used not only in the passages we expect (such as those on sexual sins or pagan rituals) but also passages in Proverbs and similar that speak to behaviors God finds detestable.

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Touring the Holy Land: Petra & Wadi Rum, Jordan

This post continues our series about our trip to Israel and Jordan, and is more photo diary than the others—meant to really give you a sense of place.  Jordan is one of the most unique and fascinating places I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting.  While it’s obviously its own nation today, much of its land was a part of the Israelite nation in biblical times, and all or almost all of it was part of the Promised Land.

You can also catch up on the other posts here.  If you haven’t already, I’d recommend starting with the Introduction, which gives some helpful context to the geography, history, and politics of the region before we dive in.

Geography, Culture, and Background:  An Introduction

Northern Israel:  the Galilee Area, Tel-Megiddo, and Akko

Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa, Be’er Sheva, and the Negev Desert

Jerusalem, Masada, En Gedi, and the Dead Sea

Our friends dropped us off at the border in Eilat and we walked across, dealing with all the visas and security checkpoints.  Once across (technically in Aqaba now), we waited for our taxi driver to arrive and some of the other taxi drivers shared their coffee with us while we waited.

The Land of Jordan in the Bible

Obviously that’s super broad, because the modern-day country of Jordan has even had significant boundary shifts over the last century or two.  So here are just a few highlights on the ancient nations that help inform today’s Jordan.

When the kingdoms of Israel and Judah controlled the land of Canaan, the kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and Edom ruled east of the Jordan.  The bible tells us quite a lot about the origin of these peoples.

  • The Edomites:  In the Bible, the Edomites are the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin and Isaac’s oldest son (Genesis 36). The Edomites controlled an area east of the Arabah, from the Zered to the Gulf of Aqaba. Their capital was Bozrah  (modern Buseirah), which sat in the northern part of their territory.
  • The Ammonites:  In the Bible, they are described as being descendants of Ben-ammi, who was the son of Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and Lot’s younger daughter (Genesis 19:38).  The capital of the Iron Age (roughly 1200-600 BCE) kingdom of Ammon was Rabbah, which is located at modern-day Amman, Jordan.
  • The Moabites:  In the Bible, the Moabites are said to have descended from Moab, the son of Lot and his oldest daughter (Genesis 19:37). The kingdom of Moab stretched “north and south of the Arnon River” with its capital at Dibon.
    • Ruth was a Moabitess—it’s possible that Moab is given some slack in end-time prophecy because of her faith and her role in Christ’s geneaology

These people factor into end-time prophecies as well.  Daniel tells us that He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon” (Dan 11:41).

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Prophetic Harvest Seasons and Feast of Trumpets Food for Thought

I always find it interesting to see how people approach holy day studies and messages.  There are a couple of ditches that we can fall into when it comes to the holy days.

It’s understandable when something only comes around once a year to want to go over a certain set of scriptures that clearly pertain to that day.  Some people give the same message year after year or cycle through a few, sometimes taken almost straight from church literature, often implying that church leadership of a few decades ago figured out all the major things we need to know and that trying to dive deeper or consider something in a different way is simply a liturgical fidget at best and potentially hubris to think you could find something more.

Others try so hard to figure out every single detail, plot out specific timing and order of events, and connect every scripture that could possibly be related.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this at face value, because we’re supposed to be searching the scriptures and God expects us to have studied the events of the end time so we’re prepared for what’s to come.  The danger in this approach can be a myopic approach to individual holy days and how they fit together, and being too invested in our own way of looking at it to consider other ideas.

In giving each holy day its moment in the spotlight, we sometimes fail to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and some of the keys that God has given us to help made sense of His plan.  One of those big thematic keys is the idea of harvest seasons.

God’s holy days and the harvest seasons

The bible is chock-full of harvest symbolism, of sowing and reaping, cycles of growing and coming to maturity.  It’s no accident that God tied His holy day calendar to the agricultural cycles.  Based on what He laid out in His word, I believe that the spring holy days and the fall holy days picture two distinct harvest seasons—each separate and complete.  This isn’t earth-shattering or “new truth”, but sometimes the actual implications of the harvest seasons in prophecy get overlooked.

  • The spring holy days are a smaller harvest, focused on the journey of God’s spiritual firstfruits from calling, repentance and reconciliation (Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread) to resurrection and acceptance into God’s spiritual family (Pentecost). The spring holy days are focused on a very small, specific group of people, and do not apply to the world at large.
  • The fall holy days tell the same story, but for the whole world—and because this physical world is hostile to God, the process of reconciliation requires its complete destruction as a starting point.
    • Traditionally, the Jews believe that Adam was created on Trumpets. In this case, then, we have Trumpets picturing the creation of physical man and this physical world, and then finally Jesus reclaiming dominion of the kingdoms of this world from Satan as the earth nears self-annihilation.
    • In Atonement we see (again, traditionally) the fall of man with the first sin in the Garden of Eden (requiring the death penalty), and ultimately Jesus’s perfect sacrifice being applied to all mankind to wipe away its sins, which makes reconciliation possible.
    • This larger harvest ends with a seven-day journey toward eternal life for those still alive and the establishment of God’s kingdom on this physical earth, followed by the resurrection of all of humanity since the beginning of time.
    • The entire plan is capped off with the cessation of the physical and creation of a new heaven and new earth on the eighth day, as all of mankind is brought into God’s family and this physical world ceases to exist.

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Touring the Holy Land: Old Jaffa, Be’er Sheva, & the Negev Desert

This is the third post in a series about our trip to Israel and Jordan, focusing particularly on the history and biblical relevance to areas we visited.  After our first day, spent up in the north part of Israel tracing Jesus’s footsteps around the Sea of Galilee and wandering the ruins of Megiddo, we got to spend a beautiful sabbath morning in modern Tel Aviv and ancient Jaffa before driving through the Negev Desert to the Red Sea.

If you missed the other posts in the series, here are the links.  I’d definitely recommend starting with the maps and introduction post, which gives some helpful context to the geography, history, and politics of the region.

Geography, Culture, & Background (start here!)

Northern Israel:  the Galilee area, Tel-Megiddo, & Akko

Petra and Wadi Rum, Jordan

Jerusalem, Masada, En Gedi, & the Dead Sea

Tel Aviv & Old Jaffa (Yafo/Joppa/Japho)

We based ourselves in Tel Aviv the first couple days we were there, but didn’t end up getting to spend a lot of time in the city itself.  Tel Aviv is actually quite modern, officially founded in the early 1900s by Jewish settlers as the Zionist movement was gaining traction.  It’s a vibrant and interesting city with gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, and the center of tech and finance in Israel as well as one of the great tech cities in the world.  So what does that have to do with biblical history?

While Tel Aviv is a young city, it was founded on the outskirts of—and eventually consumed—the ancient port of Jaffa (also known as Yafo, Japho, Joppa, etc.).

There many references to Old Jaffa in the bible, by various names (Japho, Joppa, and more)

History of Old Jaffa

Basically everyone has owned Jaffa at some point—it’s one of the oldest functioning harbors in the world.  As we mentioned in the last post on Akko, that means that its history is quite colorful (and lengthy!) as well.

The port is strategically located near the north-south Via Maris (“Way of the Sea”), the ancient coastal road that connected the regions north of Israel (Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria) to the south (Egypt).

  • Established as Canaanite port, conquered by Egyptians in 1500s BC (first recorded), Hittites tried to take around 1300
  • Came under Philistine control in 12th century BC, apparently back and forth between Philistine & Judah for a long time
    • Philistines (“Sea Peoples”) from the Aegean Sea landed in Canaan and Egypt in 12th century BC. They battled the Egyptians for control, and eventually the Philistines were confined to a small area in the southern coastal cities, from Gaza to Ashkelon, eventually moved up and conquered Jaffa as well.  Ruled until King Solomon’s time.
  • Was a border city for tribe of Dan during the period of the judges
  • King Solomon used for importing timber during construction of the temple (~1000 BC)
  • Where Jonah tried to flee to Tarshish (8th century BC)
  • Hezekiah re-took the port trying to prepare for Assyrian invasion (701 BC)
    • In 701 BCE the Assyrians, headed by Sennacherib, invaded Israel in order to bring it into their vast empire (2 Chronicles 32 1).  In preparation for the war, King Hezekiah enlarged the borders of the kingdom and fortified the cities in Judea, including the conquest and fortification of of Jaffa (which may have still been a Canaanite seaport at that time).  Spoiler alert: the Assyrians won.
  • Became major Greek city, renamed Joppa (4th-1st century BC)
  • Continued to play a role throughout history—Romans, Jewish revolts, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusades, Mamalukes and Ottomans, and even Napoleon conquered it (before the Ottomans re-took it), then the British took over in 1917

Jaffa in the Bible

Because of its strategic position and importance as a shipping port, Jaffa pops up in the bible several times, both Old and New Testament.

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Touring the Holy Land: Northern Israel

As I mentioned in the previous article, we’re doing a series of posts on our trip to Israel and Jordan, based on a presentation we did speaking to the historical and biblical relevance to various sites.  This one is pretty lengthy because the sites are all so close together up in that area, so we were able to visit a lot in one day.

I’d recommend starting with this introductory post to get familiar with the geography of the area and all the places we went.  We gave some background on the history and politics of the region as well, particularly as it relates to the modern state of Israel.

After you read the introductory post, make sure you catch these other posts:

Touring the Holy Land: Old Jaffa, Beersheba, & the Negev Desert

Touring the Holy Land: Petra & Wadi Rum, Jordan

Jerusalem, Masada, En Gedi, & the Dead Sea

Dad and I flew into Tel Aviv in the evening and our friends picked us up, got some food into us (yummy fresh falafel and pita), and then we crashed into bed.  But we were up early the next morning to get on the road, since we had a ton of ground to cover in the north of Israel.  Below is the route we took, then back to Tel Aviv.

Our friend Steven picked us up and we headed north, stopping in Netanya quickly for coffee and French pastries (Netanya is a community of French Jewish emigrants), then arriving in Caesarea Maritima for our first stop.

Caesarea Maritima

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Touring the Holy Land: Introduction & Maps

This post is a little different from what we typically share on this site.  Rather than an in-depth study, it’s adapted from a presentation we gave recently at my parents’ congregation.  My dad and I spent a week in Israel and Jordan this spring, and we wanted to share some of our travels in the Holy Land, focusing on where they show up in the bible and some of the history or prophecy tied to them.

Similar to how we started the live presentation, we’re starting here by talking through a few maps, just to ground the overall discussion.  That way once we dive into individual sites you can refer back here if necessary.  It’s also helpful to have some context on the modern state of Israel and some of the dynamics and politics of that area, so we’ll provide a (super topline) bit on that at the end of this post.  Once you’ve read through this post, here are the next ones:

Modern-day Israel...this post provides some maps of the Holy Land and background on the region's history, politics, & geography to serve as the basis for the next few posts

What do we mean by the Holy Land?

Roughly speaking, the Holy Land encompasses the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (and including the eastern bank of the Jordan).  The ruins of the world’s oldest civilizations lie within this region, and most (though not quite all) of the bible takes place within its borders.

For this particular trip, we spent time in the country of Israel as well as southern Jordan.  The map below shows the modern state of Israel and some of the key cities and sites.  While not marked on the map, we also visited Wadi Rum and the lost city of Petra in Jordan, which are both in the south—to the east of Eilat (Wadi Rum; Eilat is at the very tip of Israel, if the map is fuzzy) and southeast of Mitzpe Ramon (Petra); both are about halfway over in Jordan on the part pictured by this map.

Modern-day Israel...this post provides some maps of the Holy Land and background on the region's history, politics, & geography to serve as the basis for the next few posts

Putting the modern state of Israel into perspective

Something that many people don’t really realize is how small today’s Israel is.  The whole country is about the size of New Jersey.  Unless you’re from the Northeast, that probably doesn’t mean much, so I overlaid it on my home state of Kansas for comparison—this fun website allows you to set a point of comparison and it will overlay Israel on it.  By our U.S. standards that is so tiny!

Holy Land maps & background on the region's history, politics, and geography as an introduction into our biblical Israel and Jordan travels

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From Wave Sheaf to Wave Loaves—The Acceptance of the Elect

Ancient Israel was an agricultural society revolving around two harvest periods, one in the spring and one in the fall.  The harvest timing was governed by God’s holy days, and vice versa.  We understand from the scriptures that the holy days provide a picture of His plan for mankind, but the fact that there are two distinct harvest periods often gets overlooked in favor of a purely linear interpretation.

Most of what I’ve heard talked about where the Feast of Firstfruits (also called Pentecost) is concerned is that it pictures the giving of God’s holy spirit, a historical event.  But I believe that the bible very clearly outlines a much greater future fulfillment that brings the spring harvest season to an end—when the saints are resurrected, changed to spirit, and brought before God’s throne for the marriage supper of the Lamb and His Bride.

Historically, both the giving of the law at Mount Sinai and the giving of the holy spirit shortly after Christ’s resurrection occurred on Pentecost.  Neither of these is accidental, but instead are two sides of the same coin.  Law and grace, old covenant and new covenant.  The future and final fulfillment of this day will be when God’s elect—obedient to His laws, redeemed from sin through grace, and having His holy spirit—are brought before His throne as newly-resurrected eternal children of God.

There are so many other aspects of this holy day, it’s impossible to cover them all in one study (and this one is long enough as it is)—the seven weeks, the Year of Jubilee and receiving our inheritance, the kinsman redeemer, the book of Ruth.  But in this study we’ll cover some of the reasons why I believe that the feast of Pentecost pictures the resurrection of the saints and the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The Firstfruit Harvest

In order to get a deeper understanding of Pentecost’s ultimate meaning for God’s elect, we have to first start a little bit earlier with an often-overlooked ceremony that happened during the Days of Unleavened Bread.  After commanding that they keep the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, God continued His instructions:

“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave [elevate] the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath [during the Days of Unleavened Bread] the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma, and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin.  You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Lev 23:10-14)

Until the wave sheaf was cut and brought to the priest for offering, harvesting could not begin.  Once the first of the firstfruits harvest was offered, only then did it become ceremonially legal for the Israelites to begin bringing in the rest of the grain.  To my knowledge, this is the only time this ceremony is spoken of in the bible but it’s the only way that we can get to Pentecost, because God’s instruction continues:

“And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord…The priest shall wave [elevate] them [the meat and drink offerings] with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering, before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest.” (Lev. 23:15-20)

Pentecost is unique among God’s holy days because it does not fall on a fixed date—it’s the only floating holy day and must be counted based on another of God’s commands.  We have no way of getting to Pentecost without the wave sheaf.  Similarly, understanding the wave sheaf offering is key to understanding the future events signified by the Feast of Firstfruits.

The Wave Sheaf

What does Leviticus 23 tell us about the wave sheaf offering?

  1. The offering was given on the day after the Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread
  2. It was the very first of the firstfruits harvested
  3. It was offered by the High Priest to God to be accepted on behalf of God’s people

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What Does It Mean to Be ‘Ambassadors for Christ’?

The writers of the New Testament focused on many major themes—becoming like Christ, how to treat each other, how to interact and live in the world, what we shall become. In reading their letters and epistles, we can see that we are to be easily distinguishable from the world around us, yet not withdraw from society and live as hermits. We are to interact and live in the world and yet remain unspotted from it. These instructions can seem contradictory at times, and it can be difficult finding the right line to walk (the ‘narrow’ path, as it may be).

In telling the Philippians not to walk as the world, Paul tells them, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). In other words, we do not claim citizenship of this world, and though we are currently living here, it is only a temporary home.

He then uses an analogy that all his readers would have easily understood, and from which we today can learn a lot. “Now then,” he says, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (II Cor. 5:20). The Greek word here translated “ambassador” is presbueo, which means “to act as a representative”. The Latin equivalent used by the Romans (who were in power at the time) was legatus or “legate” in English, which had several meanings including that of a diplomatic emissary sent on a mission abroad. In most respects, the role of an ambassador or legate in ancient Rome was not all that different from our modern-day ambassadors, and being chosen as one was a great honor.

For us today, being told we are ambassadors for Christ may not fully resonate and provide specific guidelines for living our lives. So it’s worthwhile to examine what the characteristics, responsibilities, and lifestyle of an ambassador should be, and see how we can apply them to our lives today. Obviously, though many ambassadors in today’s world (as with all politicians) use lies and manipulation in their jobs, the principles of a good ambassador remain the same.

What is an ambassador?

Ambassadors are the highest-ranking representatives of their governments abroad, and their primary responsibility is to represent and work towards the best interests of their government or head of state. They are not elected—instead they are chosen by the government or head of state, and it is a huge honor to be chosen as one. We, too, were bestowed with an enormous honor when God called and chose us to follow Him (I Cor. 1:26).

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Spiritual strongholds:  laying siege to the “walled city” inside us

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (II Cor. 10:3-6)

As I mentioned in the first post on this topic, this is a verse that I’ve always struggled to make super meaningful in the past.  High things that exalt themselves against God, sure, that makes perfect sense to me.  Even casting down arguments, assuming those are arguments against God’s way and truth, I can wrap my head around.  But strongholds aren’t a concept that is immediately tangible to me.

A while back, though, I did have a little bit of a breakthrough where strongholds are concerned, and what they can represent in our lives as followers of Christ.  These strongholds or “walled cities” can be external—the obstacle in front of us that we see as bigger than God (covered in the previous post)—or they can be internal.  The internal strongholds are where we have built fortresses protecting pieces of our carnal nature from being conquered.  Both types need pulled down.  This part of the study deals with the hostile spiritual strongholds quietly occupying our hearts and minds.

Enemy strongholds in the heart and mind

While the strongholds in front of us are generally easier to see (if still difficult to overcome), spiritual strongholds’ power lies in their ability to fly under the radar.  If you consider yourself a disciple of Christ or a Christian, at some point in your life you decided to turn from your previous life and asked God to put His spirit in you.  You repented and were baptized, and ostensibly gave Him unlimited access to every part of your heart and mind—asking Him to transform your carnal mind into one led by Him.

Every one of us that has gone through this process did so with the complete intention of letting God conquer everything in His path, burn it down, and start from scratch.  But every one of us also—mostly unknowingly—built walls around a few particular areas to fortify them against this process.  We don’t like to admit it, but it’s generally true of every person.  We’re pretty good at identifying and rooting out certain kinds of sins and correcting wrong behaviors.  We can refrain from lying, avoid adultery, keep the Sabbath and holy days, and maybe we even had to quit smoking or stop eating certain meats when we came into the knowledge of God.  But despite all of this, we still have trouble recognizing or acknowledging the spiritual strongholds located within the deepest regions of ourselves.

When an army conquers a land, they must breach and take every single one of the strongholds, because if an enemy-occupied stronghold remains in the land then the native people there can continually attack whenever they sense weakness.  The battle will rage on and peace can never come—the land will never be fully conquered.

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