“And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind (John 9:39).'”
An angry gunman methodically mass-murders Christians on a college campus. A fourteen year-old son strangles and stabs his mother to death. A drive-by shooting wounds an eleven year-old boy and kills his brother who was only six. Just a sign of our societal sickness from the evening news? To the Christian, these incidents are received more like a daily casualty report from the front lines of the spiritual war that has been going on since the Garden of Eden. Those who serve the ruler of this world wickedly perform his will (2 Corinthians 4:4) and leave the dead and wounded in their wake.
The Bible explicitly teaches that we are engaged in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12-18) and that there are unseen spiritual forces that can impact the course of events in the world we see with our physical eyes. Job was unaware of this as he experienced the very real pain of death and illness. But behind the scenes the Bible gives us a peek behind the curtain to see the dialogue between Satan, who wished to destroy Job, and God. Those first two chapters of Job chronicle events that demonstrate intersections in these two worlds as the devil was allowed (Job 1:12, 2:6) to employ the forces of nature (lightning 1:16?, tornado 1:19?, disease 2:7) and wicked men (1:15,17) to attack Job. Satan’s physical assaults on Job were intended to break him spiritually (1:11, 2:5) to renounce his faith.
We are privileged to peer further behind the curtain to learn that what is planned in the spiritual war may play out literally in physical war upon this earth. God had purposed to finally judge Israel’s wicked king Ahab for his sins. In a glimpse at a heavenly board room meeting, Jehovah even determined where and how Ahab was to die and inquired among the heavenly hosts how they would execute his design (1 Kings 22:20-23). Ahab dismissed the report and was indeed killed in battle where, when, and how the spiritual conference determined it would transpire. We should note that even in this, Ahab’s free will was not violated and the guilt for his death is his own.
Unaided human eyes cannot see the spiritual forces at the intersection of our two realms. The Syrian army was in pursuit of Elisha to eliminate the supernatural assistance he was providing to Israel (2 Kings 6:8-13). One morning Elisha’s servant awoke to find their city surrounded by enemy forces. His servant was panic stricken but Elisha sought to allay his fears and prayed that his servant’s spiritual eyes be opened and added, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them (vv.15-17).” Then his servant could see numerous spiritual forces surrounding the Syrian army – a greater force encompassed them. But it is what the servant didn’t see that is equally fascinating. Elisha said that “those who are WITH US are more than those who are WITH THEM.” There weren’t more angelic powers than the Syrian forces. One Spirit alone can destroy an army of 185,000 (2 Kings 19:35). Elisha implicitly said that the unseen forces supporting Israel were greater than the dark unseen forces accompanying the Syrians.1 There are indeed dark spirits who trod unseen upon this earth (Job 1:7, Ephesians 6:12).
How differently might we live each day if our spiritual eyes were open to the unseen forces that surround us? Over the next few weeks we will examine what the Bible teaches on the subject of Spiritual Warfare and how we can have our eyes open to this very real truth. Some will trust the intelligence reports from men of God (1 Kings 22:14, 2 Kings 6:10, 2 Corinthians 2:11) and be victorious and others will disregard them and themselves become casualties of the great Spiritual War (2 Timothy 2:26). It is God alone who can give us spiritual vision (Genesis 3:7, Numbers 22:31, Psalm 119:18, Matthew 9:30). The war of the worlds is continuing and there is no neutral ground.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).”
Joe Beam, Seeing the Unseen, p.132, Howard Books, New York, NY, 2000