During the unexpected crisis and lockdown that the world is currently experiencing, our Heavenly Father encouraged me to wait on Him and be still. Much like a sports team that comes in for a huddle during half time to discuss strategy and give encouragement for the second half of the match, it feels that Father, Son and Holy Spirit called me closer – to come and huddle with them and receive counsel for the way forward.
Amidst all the voices and speculation and prophetic words going out, I needed to be still and hear from God. I’m not saying that what others are saying is wrong, but His Word is the everlasting rock I can trust and build my life on, it is the sure foundation.
And so I have been very selective about what I hear or read in the media, and I have not sent out any messages or shared what I believe. No, these past weeks have been just about huddling, and listening closely for the voice of our magnificent King.
I love the half-time sports huddle, don’t you? Only those on the same team huddle together, those with the same interests and passion to win. Standing in a circle of unity, with arms locked around each other and heads close together, whispers being passed around so that the opposing team cannot hear how their fate is being sealed. And then when every player is clear about what their job is, we stack our hands one on top of the other and shout something in unison. Something like “Victory!” or our team’s name. One voice. One team. What a rush! We step out into battle, determined to win. Of course.. the opposing team had a huddle too, so we have to be alert to their strategies so that we don’t get caught off guard and lose the match!
I would like to share just some of what has been whispered to my heart for this uncertain time that we are in, trusting that it will help you too. We are, after all, on the same team. And the Father, Son and Holy Spirit wants us to win…
I’ll highlight 3 events in the Bible where God’s people have to pass through challenging, uncharted territory. Events that have no precedent, so there is absolutely no experience to fall back on. Times of great uncertainty. Two of these events have already taken place, and the third is still to come. But true to God’s nature, each time He has provided His people with instruction for the way forward, because none of it is uncertain to Him.
These events are:
• The Israelites and the Passover before leaving Egypt
• The disciples facing Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion
• Those living in the last days before Jesus’ return
As we have a quick look at each of these, you will find that God’s counsel is quite simple and much the same every time:
Be Ready And Prepared.
Passover in Egypt
We have just celebrated Passover – the death of our Saviour. In preparation for that day, I read Exodus 12 which tells us about God’s instructions to the Israelites for the very first Passover. While I understood and was meditating on the spiritual significance for us of the lamb, the blood, and the unleavened bread in Passover – I did not yet understand what was being portrayed to us by God’s instruction to the Israelites to be fully clothed, staff in hand. Sure, I know they had to be ready to leave Egypt quickly, but what about us? I was confident that no Egyptians were going to show up at my front door in the middle of the night and chase me out of town. I asked God for His revelation, and He dropped it into my spirit the following day, on Passover.
Exodus 12:11 (AMPC)
11 And you shall eat it thus: [as fully prepared for a journey] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
We need to be fully clothed in the spiritual armour that God provides – at all times!
Loins girded is the belt of truth. We shoe our feet, ready to move at any moment, with the sure-footed confidence of the gospel of peace. In our hands is a rod: the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, as well as the shield of faith. This armour is available to us because of the death and victory of Jesus at the cross. He is now seated far above all the principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness that we fight against – and we are seated with Him there. We are one with Him – that’s the gospel.
The soldier that is fully clothed is ready for battle at a moment’s notice. If your enemy is ruthless (and he is), there will not be time to first go looking for your armour when he arrives at your doorstep. In fact, his strategy will be to capitalize on your lack of readiness and try to destroy you or steal from you while you are vulnerable.
Armour is given by God in order to protect us. The armour is all about being saturated in truth and faith and prayer. I don’t believe we suit ourselves up by simply declaring that we are wearing our breastplate of righteousness or helmet of salvation. Rather, as we lock eyes with our Saviour, He is the one who helps us to dress for battle. Sounds like the huddle again, doesn’t it?
Betrayal & Crucifixion
When speaking of being ready for the enemy, I am reminded of sleepy Simon Peter. He was one of three disciples that Jesus asked to be on their guard while He went a little further into the garden of Gethsemane to pray by Himself. It was the night He was to be betrayed. A spiritual storm was brewing, it was a big deal.
Jesus said to Peter and the other two: Keep awake and watch and pray [constantly], that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38 AMPC). Jesus was offering them what they needed to be prepared for what was to happen next. So that they would not be drawn away from trusting in Him. But Peter, James and John fell asleep repeatedly and as a result, were caught completely off guard when the enemy made his move.
I’m not pointing fingers at Peter, but I do want to learn from his mistakes: Because he was not watching and praying, he was unprepared and reacted out of his weak flesh when the enemy suddenly arrived on the scene. He was a slave to his emotions – fear was calling the shots.
He also had a lack of understanding or revelation of the season he found himself in. The Bible reveals to us that it was only when he saw the empty tomb and the grave clothes, that he finally understood.
The season had indeed suddenly changed, without his noticing it. Just days before it was sunshine and clear weather when his Lord had been received and welcomed as a king in the streets of Jerusalem. But suddenly and most unexpectedly, in the twinkling of an eye, the spiritual storm clouds had gathered while he was fast asleep, and upon waking from his slumber, he was caught in the downpour.
With great emotion, Peter rushed to defend Jesus with his sword and cut off a soldier’s ear in the process. He used a weapon that was inadequate for the battle he was in. The sword of the Spirit – which was Jesus’ words concerning His death and resurrection – would have been much more effective in guiding, protecting and comforting him through this time.
Peter impulsively followed Jesus as He was led away by His captors, but when confronted, he feared for his own life and denied he knew Jesus – three times. Peter was devastated by his own behavior and his Lord’s cruel suffering and death. This wasn’t the first storm that had caught him unaware and found him reacting in fear, but it was certainly the worst. By the way, can you remember what Jesus said to His disciples when they were crying out in fear for their lives during the storm at sea? He asked them, “Where is your faith?”
The Last Days & the Second Coming of Christ
Right up until the day the ark was shut, people were living their lives as if nothing else mattered. They had no understanding of the season they were in until the floods reached their noses. Jesus cautioned us to not be the same in the last days:
Luke 21:34-36 (AMPC)
34 But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose;
35 For it will come upon all who live upon the face of the entire earth.
36 Keep awake then and watch at all times [be discreet, attentive, and ready], praying that you may have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things [taken together] that will take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.
Do you hear that? “Be on your guard, keep awake, watch at all times.”
The Passion Translation says, 34 “Be careful that you never allow your hearts to grow cold. Remain passionate and free from anxiety and the worries of this life. Then you will not be caught off guard by what happens. Don’t let me come and find you drunk or careless in living like everyone else. 35 For that day will come as a shocking surprise to all, like a downpour that drenches everyone, catching many unaware and un-prepared.
The Way Forward
Back to our present day, many in the church were also caught unprepared and inadequately dressed for this crisis. There are those who are fully dressed in the armour of God, those who are partially dressed, and then those who have no armour on at all. They were slumbering, just focused on the pleasure or cares of their lives, and instead of rising up in response to the threat – spiritual shields and swords in hand – they first had to scramble to the Word to look for their armour. Can you perhaps hear Jesus asking us again, “Where is your faith?” Where was your shield? Under that pile of laundry in the corner of the wash room? Where was your sword? Gathering dust behind the tv cabinet? The armour does us no good if we are not wearing it.
What is the counsel for God’s people in this season then? Simply this: to be ready and prepared in the spirit. Keep awake. It’s so important to keep our hearts and affection focused on Jesus, growing constantly in our revelation of who He is, and who He is in us. You need this accurate understanding of the Word in order to have faith.
Ephesians 6:10 (Passion Translation NT)
Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you.
Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
Let us learn more and more what it is to truly live in Him and be fully clothed in His armour – at ALL times.
The Full Armour of God
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.