“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Ephesians 6:10
The Amplified version translates the above verse this way “be strong in the Lord, be empowered through your union with Him, draw your strength from Him, that strength which His boundless might provides…”
The union we have with Christ does more than define who we are, it sets the course for where we are going by conferring His very strength to our weak frames. You see not only are we identified by His person, we are also strengthened by His might. The unification with this boundless might not only enables us, it establishes our direction. Without His strength, we cannot carry the load assigned to us. The battle will be too much for us to withstand. We will retreat and retire without fulfilling our ministry. Many have lost direction because their direction has lost Christ. A Christ-less direction will be void of power and purpose. We discussed the spiritual oppression we all face in our time together, this plot to depress and divert us off course is the age old scheme of the enemy. This battle is fierce, let’s not kid ourselves, it takes a strength that we do not inherently have. We need a kind of strength that has dynamite power. Look up John 1 John 4:4 and again at Ephesians 1:19. We may have a lot coming at us, but we have more brewing within in than any force that may rise against us and all these resources have been shown to us in chapters 1-3 pf Ephesians. What we have been learning that is now ours through our union with Christ is the resources we must draw from in order to be strengthened to be victorious in the battle. What are some things we have learned over the past few weeks that would infuse you with strength against the enemy’s attacks?
Look with me at Exodus 17:9-16. Here in this narrative Joshua makes his very first appearance on the stage of scripture. What characteristics do you think of when you think about Joshua?
Words like warrior, mighty, strong-leader, courageous, valiant, faithful….swirl around this prominent figure. But what if Joshua wasn’t courageous? What if this mighty leader was shaking in his sandals at the thought of battle? God’s command for Joshua to “be strong and courageous” leads us to believe just that; that he lacked strength and courage to face the battle ahead. Yet, even though the task was bigger than he was, he rested in the fact that it was not bigger than his God. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s when fear is brought face to face with God. Courage has little to do with us and everything to do with our God.
The Amalekites were sworn enemies of God, being the descendants of Esau (who represents the nature of the flesh), they were nomads who survived by plundering the outskirts of over populated groups. The attack and plunder of the Israelites represent spiritual warfare; our enemy sneaks in through the backdoor of sedulity and plunders our inheritance as well. As the enemy closes in on them, Joshua is delegated to go out and fight while Moses will ascend to the top of the hill with staff in hand. That’s their strategy? Sending an un-experienced boy into warfare, while sending the leader to the top of a hill with a staff? What exactly happened when Moses held up the staff?
Victory. The staff represents God’s power and provision. This “rod” was used in the Exodus for the deliverance of the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh. The raising of this staff was the symbol of Israel (Moses being their spokesman) yielding personal weakness for divine empowerment. “Self-sufficiency in spiritual battles is spiritual suicide”. As Moses climbed the hill with staff in hand, he was leaving the “plains” of self-sufficiency” and ascending to the “hill” of sovereign encounter. Throughout the scriptures mountains or hills represent the place where the mortal is overcome by the Immortal.
“The Lord is my banner”
A banner in ancient military terms, wasn’t what we would picture today. Instead of cloth, the banner of a country would be a rod that would be held up high above the heads of the soldiers. This rod would have some sort of emblem attached to it, like a charm. There would be one man assigned to hold this banner, this “banner-bearer” would hold the staff up high as a rallying point for the army. If the banner carrier moved forward, so did the troops. It was the marker of identity and unity. The men would regroup and reconnect as the banner was lifted high above them as a call to arms. As Moses lifted the staff on the hilltop, Joshua saw the banner of Israel, that staff was more than a mere shepherds staff- it was the marker of their identity; they were fighting for Jehovah. As Joshua looked up at the banner standing proud over the heads of the enemy, he knew that the Lord would fight for them, the banner said so. Look up the following verses:
Psalm 20:5 Song of Solomon 2:4
The word “strengthened” in Ephesians 6:10 is the Greek word endunamoo, and is the compound word of en=in and dunamis= which is the root word for “dynamis” that we have looked at in Ephesians 1 regarding the resurrection power. This word means to be put into power. As the “staff” of God hangs over our lives we are infused with the power it represents. There is a banner over your life, one that the enemy sees and knows all too well. The banner of love, the name of the Lord your God is engraved over your head. This banner is our strength, the emblem of the cross hangs above our lives as we fight the evil opponent of flesh. As you advance into battle, rally under the solemn emblem of victory, the cross is no longer the symbol of scorn and shame but of victory and honor-rally under it, follow the advancements of the divine “Banner- Barrier”.
The most beautiful part of this entire story is verse 16 “ a hand upon the throne of the Lord.”. The Lord is our Banner, Jehovah NIssi, meaning that as we ascend to the heights of submission by confessing our spiritual lack, lifting our hands up, relinquishing all power and authority to the Lord, as the staff is lifted high-it is as if our hands are now touching the throne of God. Yielding to His power, by realizing our lack, connects our hands to the throne of God. All that the throne represents: power, authority, might, and victory are now transferred through the conduit of our empty hands to the battle, infusing the weak with strength and ability. Don’t let go, don’t withdraw your hand from the throne-keep it lifted high in submission.
Submission can grow weary, that’s why we need each other-to hold our arms up to the throne when we grow tired of the fight. Let this be our vow to each other: I’ll hold yours and you hold mine. We do not fight alone; the Lord will fight for us-but we also do not have to submit alone-we are here to prop the weary arms of our sisters up as they reach out to the throne of grace.
The union of carnal with holy, simple with deep, labored and freed, restricted with timeless, weakness and might….the union of man with God; the embarkment of this journey for direction and definition started there, with our union in Christ and it will end there, for this reality encases what we are looking for. In Him is both direction and definition; the yoking of man to God empowers us for the battle our direction will call for and gives us the assurance that is needed of our definition. Blessed assurance Jesus is ours…..
He is our strength.
He is our song.
He is our story, it starts with Him and it will end with Him. He is the identifying mark and the compass throughout our journey. He has proven to be enough for us….and will prove that He will always be. Our personal purpose is lodged into the scars in His side; close by His heart. So that if we listen close, we can hear the cadence of His love for us keeping time with our walk, shouting above the noise “this is the walk in it…”.
But to receive this strength, the strength that comes from the thud of a holy heart, we must be in tune to it…listening for it…expecting it. The rush from the throne only comes to those who have their hands lifted high in surrender, hands open, representing the open door to our hearts that create a hallway to our lives.
Strength comes from living in this union, abiding in Him and His word abiding in us, (John 15) that all the resources that are His as resurrected Lord are now ours. At the beginning of our study we confirmed the radical truth that as believers our resources and our identities come from a higher plane, to embrace those means our arms must reach upward by acting upon what is now known. Nothing reaches higher than a life that acts like what is believed.
Blessed assurance Jesus is ours…..and all that He has has been transferred to our open hands. A foretaste of glory divine, we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, now its up to us….will we eat from His banquet of divine inheritance or settle for the wafers of complacency? Will this taste of the heavenlies be enough to catapult us to soar or will we keep stumbling drunk on indifference?