While the tornado in the Oklahoma City metro was the news of the week in the United States, the more spiritually alarming story was out of London.
Witnesses saw two men strike with a car a British soldier on his way back to the barracks. The two men were seen then hacking at the soldier with knives and a cleaver. After killing the soldier, one of the attackers made a statement of motive to a filming bystander. In the video, the attacker’s hands are vividly red with blood, holding the murder weapons. He says:
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” (Full transcript and Koranic references.)
A Syrian-born Muslim cleric who discipled one of the attackers praised them for their courage.
Ephesians 6 has been on my mind for weeks. The first recent public reference was in London, actually. It was during Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. Amanda Thatcher, Margaret’s 19-year-old granddaughter, read the spiritual warfare passage. (Check out GetReligion’s critique of the Bible-illiterate media’s coverage here and here.)
Then the passage was the foundation for the sermon at a church I’ve started attending. Then a friend in another city recommended I listen to her pastor’s most recent sermon on Ephesians 6.
For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. (Ephesians 6:12 CJB)
Brothers and sisters, so many of us forget that we live in a spiritual war zone.
In Genesis, God gives humanity rule over the earth. All too quickly, Satan — fallen angel, kingdom traitor — uses lies to get the humans to forfeit their authority. God declares war on Satan and his forces. That’s what’s happening Genesis 3.
The Bible is clear — whether you read just the Hebrew scriptures or also the New Testament, that God (YHVH) wins at the end of it all. However, the battle for individual humans continues.
Mark Driscoll put it well in his recent Ephesians 6 teaching. We are all born into the Kingdom of Darkness. Those who accept the redemption won by Jesus Messiah at the cross change over into the Kingdom of Light. The war rages.
Paul tells us how to battle in Ephesians 6. He also reminds us that the battle is not against flesh and blood.
These men who killed this soldier are not the enemy. They are captives of Satan, doing his bidding whether by persuasion or deception. These men are made in the image of God just like all humans. God wants to see them reconciled back into the Kingdom of Light through Messiah Jesus.
Satan’s pride and desire to be worshiped as God cost him his place in the Kingdom of Light. His goal is to be worshiped as God both on the throne of heaven and the throne of earth. See Isaiah 14. (By the way, God’s throne on earth will sit where Israel’s temple once stood — the Temple Mount — where the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine now sit. The battle in the Middle East is a spiritual one. Always has been. Who will be worshiped on that hill?)
Our job is to battle for the captive souls (Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:16-20), battle Satan, not the people. The people are only prisoners as followers of Messiah all once were.
Paper.li works a little like a newspaper. It categorizes the news into topics and is interactive. Click a topic on the right-hand column to “flip the page” and see another set of headlines. #Church includes headlines about persecution of the brothers. #Israel as all stories about “the apple of God’s eye.” #Matthew24 highlight end-time birth pangs detailed by Jesus.