The Seen and the Unseen War

Scripture: Matthew 11:12, Revelation 5:5, Isaiah 27:1
Date: 04/30/2016 
Lesson: 5
"What things, even in secular life, remain mysteries to us? Do we stop believing, for instance, in the existence of the sun simply because of the many mysteries about it that we don't understand? How much more so, then, with questions of faith and the Word of God?"
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Welcome again to Sabbath School Study Hour. A very warm welcome to the members of the Granite Bay church, also those who are visiting from across the country and even some international guests this morning. We're glad that you're with us. And also to our friends who are joining us in our extended Sabbath school class across the country and around the world - a very warm welcome to you as well as to our online church members that are part of this worship study time together. We've been studying through our lesson quarterly dealing with the book of Matthew and today we find ourselves on lesson #5 entitled the seen and the unseen war - that's lesson #5.

If you don't have a lesson quarterly but you'd like to study along with us, just visit the Amazing Facts website - You can download today's lesson and study along. We have a free offer that goes along with our study today. It's an Amazing Facts study guide called rescue from above. And to our friends who are joining us in North America, if you'd like to receive this for free, just give us a call on our resource number.

The phone number is 866-788-3966. Again, that's 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #109 and we'll be happy to send you this study guide - rescue from above. Well, before we get to our study this morning, we'd like to invite our choristers to come and lead us as we sing a song of praise, warming up our hearts for our study. Thank you, Pastor Ross. It's so nice to see all of your smiling faces.

And those of you who are joining us, we can't see your faces but we know that you are happy to be singing some songs and worshiping together like we do every week. So we're going to start with one of your favorites - one of our favorites too - blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! - It's found on #462 in your hymnal. Join with us. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his spirit, washed in his blood. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight, visions of rapture now burst on my sight. Angels descending bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.

One of the nice things about our Sabbath school program is we have visitors that come from time to time and we like to have them share their special pieces with you. So today we have a visiting choir. If you guys would like to stand up and start coming up here - this is the slavic choir - they're from the slavic church in carMichael, California, which is probably 20 minutes from here in Granite Bay. And the members of the choir are from russia, ukraine, moldova - and today they're singing Lord, you are my shelter. (Singing in foreign language) amen.

Amen. What a blessing. I'd like to invite you to bow your heads as we have a word of prayer. Dear Father, once again we are grateful that we are able to gather together to study the Bible - study this wonderful book about Jesus, the life of Christ, and the lessons taught. We ask that you be with us once again as we study Matthew.

Guide our hearts and our minds, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson this morning will be brought to us by Pastor Doug. Morning friends. Morning. I'd like to wish everybody a Happy Sabbath and thank you to the slavic group - that was very beautiful.

(Russian words) (laughter) and for our friends that are out there, welcome. I want to welcome our extended class that is studying the lesson with us from all different points around the globe. And some of you are actually members of this church because you have no local church you can attend. I want to welcome the extended Granite Bay church family that is out there. We're continuing our study today dealing with the book of Matthew.

And today's study, in particular, is going to be talking about Matthew chapters 11 and 12. And we'll always - you compare Scripture with Scripture, you end up bouncing around a little bit. The lesson is called the seen and the unseen war. Matthew talks about this Great Controversy - this battle. And we have a memory verse and the memory verse is from Matthew , verse 12 and I - it comes in the new king James version - I invite you to say this out loud with me, but I want to let you get ready.

You ready? You can read it right out of your quarterly or your Bible - Matthew 11:12 - here we go, "and from the days of John the baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." Now it's appropriate that they picked this as the memory verse because we have a whole section where we're trying to talk about this verse. It is a difficult verse. Matthew - there's a number of verses in Matthew that scholars have been perplexed by. You know, that verse there in Matthew chapter 16 where he says to Peter, 'you are the rock' and 'the gates of hades will not prevail against my church' and 'whoever's sins you forgive, they are forgiven.' And people go, 'what? What does that mean?' And this is another one of those verses that you find here in Matthew. Now go ahead and take your Bible and turn there, please, to Matthew chapter 11, verses 11 and 12.

We're going to read it and we're going to sort of break this down piece by piece and, I think, in the process we'll learn a lot of other things that are just kind of interconnected. Now at the beginning of Matthew 11 - I should probably give you a little background. Part of your study today is Matthew 11, you know, 1 through 19, talking about John the baptist, but it starts by going to this section setting the stage about John being a great chapter. Later in our study today it'll go back to the first verses in chapter 11. Jesus says, "assuredly I say to you, among those born of women, there has not risen one greater than John the baptist; but he who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

And from the days of John the baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." Alright, first let's - let's examine the first part of this. He makes a bold proclamation. There's lots of prophets in the Bible and Jesus said, 'I tell you that among those who are born of women' - anyone here not born of a woman? Just checking. So he's talking about all humans, right? 'Among those born of women there is not risen one greater than John the baptist.' Now how is John the baptist greater? Is it because of the book that he wrote? You all enjoy reading the book of John the baptist? There is no book. There's no letter that John wrote.

Is it because of the miracles that John did? What was John the baptist's greatest miracle? He baptized Jesus. Was that a miracle? I've baptized people - it's not really a miracle. It was important. So why is John the baptist called 'greater'? Now if you have an idea, you've got to summarize it into a sentence. You raise your hand - I'll repeat it so that people hear.

Any of you? What are some of the ways that John the - okay, vicky. He was the one who baptized God. He baptized Jesus, God The Son. Okay. No one else had done that before.

Heralded the coming of Jesus. He announced the coming of Jesus. He was the one to introduce and announce the Messiah has come. And that's, I believe, one of them. Any others? In the back? He was born with the holy ghost as Jesus.

Now that's true. How many people have the holy spirit from their birth? But the Bible says regarding - you know, that's not in my notes - that's a good point, though. The Bible does say, regarding John the baptist, that he was filled with the Spirit from the very beginning. Let me give you some of the priorities of why I think he was bigger. First of all, he was prophesied of the other prophets - Isaiah , Malachi 1 - so you've got - when prophets foretell another prophet's - that's going to come.

You know, Moses foretold, 'the Lord your God will raise up a prophet unto you' - in Deuteronomy 18 - speaking of Jesus - but here other prophets foretold the coming of this prophet, and that was John the baptist. Another reason? Because he had the privilege - and someone touched on this - of showing the fulfillment of their predictions when they came to John and said, 'who are you?' He said, 'I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.' He quotes Isaiah and says 'Isaiah foretold what I'm doing. Prepare the way of the Lord.' So he was preparing the way to introduce the Messiah. Secondly - oh, that was second - thirdly, because he saw and enjoyed that salvation which they could only foretell, look at all the other prophets that looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. John was greater in that he got to lay hands on him.

Remember what John the apostle - not John the baptist - John the apostle says, 'our hands have handled the word of life.' Well, John the baptist held him in his hands and baptized him. And he saw the Holy Spirit coming upon him. And one I haven't heard anyone say yet - is it, biblically, an honor or an insult to suffer for Christ's sake? Doesn't the Bible say, 'rejoice and be exceeding glad if you're persecuted for righteousness. Was John persecuted for his proclamation? And when you get to heaven, that'll be an honor through eternity - that he died a martyr's death. So - now the time that Christ was speaking that hadn't quite happened yet.

So John the baptist was the greatest of the prophets for those reasons. It doesn't mean he did the greatest miracle. Who do you think - what prophet do you think did the greatest miracle? I think Elijah's praying and fire coming down, praying and rain coming down - Moses would pray and then God would send plagues, but Elijah seemed to have just a - he's thought of as one of the great prophets, but the honor that John the baptist had really, kind of, exceeded them all. And, before we leave this, there's another way John the baptist is greater in that he brought - and our lesson'll get to this in a moment - he brought revival to the people. The work of Elijah was to bring revival.

And Jesus said, 'if you can receive it, this is Elijah who was to come. So - and how was Jesus - matter of fact, I'm jumping ahead here - somebody's going to read for me in Luke 13:24. You'll have that in just a moment, okay? We'll get ready for that. It goes on, in Matthew 11, and it says, "and from the days of John the baptist" - not to be confused with John the apostle or the others - "until now the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence," - now, when you think of violence, is that a good thing or a bad thing? How did the Kingdom of heaven suffer violence from the days of John the baptist? Then he goes on and he says, "and the violent take it by force." This is a difficult verse but I think we can find some answers to it. Go ahead, read for us, please, Luke 24, verse - I'm sorry, Luke 13, verse 24.

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." There's a striving to enter a gate. If you're going to conquer a city, you try to get through the gates, right? You remember that verse that says in John 16 - I'm sorry, Luke 16:16, "the law and the prophets were until John." - John the baptist - "since that time the Kingdom of God has been preached and everyone is pressing into it." So he's talking about people striving to get in a gate - pressing into the Kingdom - and so when he says the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, he's not talking about people with torches and pitchforks attacking the Kingdom of God, he's talking about the power in which all of the people were responding and they were coming and listening to the preaching of John. You look, for instance, in Matthew chapter 3, verse 5 - compare Scripture with Scripture - speaking of the ministry of John the baptist, "then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins." What happened as the result of the preaching of John the baptist? All of Judea and all of Jerusalem and all of the regions and all the people went and were baptized. About the only ones that were not baptized were some of the religious leaders, but - and they even came to John and John called them a brood of vipers. And that's why Jesus said, 'what did you go out in the wilderness to see?' He didn't say 'some of you' - he talked about, like, all of you.

He said, 'why'd you go out there?' People came in droves to hear this one man who was preaching with such an unction of the Spirit that even though he was dressed in bizarre attire - you know, he's got a leather belt and camel fur - kind of camel burlap is more like what it was - and he's eating locust - it doesn't say locust bean - I hope it was locust bean. It could have been locust bean, it could have been locust locust - and wild honey. If you saw somebody preaching on a soap box in Sacramento dressed like that, would you stop and listen? But there was something about John. You wonder who was the first one that noticed he was preaching. Have you ever pictured that? He - someone walking through the desert, all of a sudden this guy's standing up on a rock and he starts to preach to him.

And he's passing from Jerusalem to Jericho and he gets to Jericho and said, 'do you see that guy out there preaching? Boy, he really' - and then some others go out and some more come out and pretty soon the reports spread and droves go out and he says they need to repent, the kingdom of heaven is coming, the Messiah's coming. John, though he was dressed rough, his speech was not that way because what did John's father do for a living? A priest. Could the priests read? Were they articulate? And he came from elizabeth. It says she was of the daughters of aaron. And so father and mother were educated.

You remember when John lost - zachariah lost his ability to speak and they said, what do you want to call him? And he took a tablet and he wrote. He knew how to write. They knew how to read. And so, he had educated parents but yet he's out in the wilderness and there was just something about him and all these people came in droves. And so they were pressing into the Kingdom.

And then it goes on and says, "the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force." What does that mean? Look in Matthew 21:26, "but if we say, 'from men,'" - this is when Jesus stumped the scribes and the pharisees - he said, 'was the baptism of John from God or from men?' And they said, 'well, if we say men we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.' Everybody went out to him. Look at John 12:19, "the pharisees therefore said among themselves, 'you see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!'" And here they're speaking about Jesus. So what Jesus is saying is, from the time that John came - the prophets prophesied until John - but from the time of John the kingdom of heaven suffered violence meaning, people were pouring into it. They were pressing into it like - like an army storming the gates of the city.

And, matter of fact, I think that's actually the way - yeah, yeah, John wesley worded it this way, in explaining this verse, "that is, from the time that John had fulfilled his ministry, men rush into my kingdom with violence, like those who are taking a city by storm." And so, when it says that the violent take it by force, which people were the ones that accepted the teaching of Jesus and John the baptist? Was it the religious elite? Or was it the rough? You know, Paul says, 'not many wise, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world.' And when Jesus began to preach, it wasn't those who were considered delicate and sophisticated and refined, but it was the violent. Now the word 'violent' - when you think of violence, you usually think about somebody who is, you know, doing something violent - somebody who is like, you know, attacking you or hitting you or there's some kind of bloodshed or gore. The word 'violent' didn't always mean that. It could mean those who were rough, who were forceful - and when they saw these fishermen and these shepherds and these herders and tax collectors - let me give you some more evidence for that. Go, for instance, to Matthew 21 - Matthew 21:31 - "Jesus saith unto them, 'verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you.

For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.'" And so, here, Jesus is saying - who was it that ended up believing John the baptist? It was the rough - the violent - the violent take it by force. And that goes along with that verse that says - Matthew 16:18 - "and I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." Now what does that verse mean? Talking about difficult verses here. There's a quote in the lesson from steps to Christ, I want to read that to you right now, "God has given us, in the Scriptures, sufficient evidence for their divine character and we are not to doubt His Word because we cannot understand all the mysteries of his providence, especially at first reading." What's neat about the Bible is the longer you read it, the more you understand. It continues to unfold. So what does Jesus mean when he says, 'the gates of hades will not prevail against it'? Well, you've got a picture in your mind of gates of a city - they're guarding the city - and you've got an army that is attacking the gates, trying to conquer the city.

Who is attacking whom? When it says 'the gates of hades will not prevail against it' people have sometimes pictured that the church is the Kingdom and we've got these gates and the devil's trying to break his way in but they will not prevail. It's actually the opposite of that. We are being told, as believers, that there's a war and we are to go forth with Christ conquering with the sword and the word of God and the armor of God and the gates of the devil, who is holding all of his captives, will not prevail against us. You get that? And so, we are storming the gates of the enemy. The violent take it by force and we're trying to liberate the devil's captives.

This is the picture that Jesus had. Through the preaching of John, all these converts were seizing the Kingdom and, through the ministry of the apostles - I mean, Jesus, even before he died, sent out the apostles and he sent out the 70 preaching - they said, 'even the devils are subject unto us.' The gates of hades did not prevail against the church preaching. The devil's gates cannot - you remember when Samson, with all of his flaws, one time he was shut up in - what was it, ekron? One of the philistine cities - and they said, 'we've got him now. We - he's entered into a city with gates and bars' - that's exactly what the philistine's said - 'he's entered into a city with gates and bars. He can't get out.

Now we'll get him. Well, what did Samson do in the middle of the night? He woke up and he came to the gate and he tried the door and it was locked so he took a deep breath and he tore the gates - bars, hinges, lintel - right out of the walls, put it on his shoulders - he couldn't just knock it down and walk out, he had to make a spectacle of it - put it on his shoulders and carried it ten miles up on top of a hill by hebron and threw it off. So he tore off the gates of the enemy city. So you see what the picture of Jesus is referring to here, about what gates are keeping who in. Again, if you - yeah, let me jump over here - there's another verse I'm missing I want to read to you.

Oh, yeah, go here to - go to Matthew chapter 11 - go to Matthew chapter 11 in your lesson here - and I want you to know - I want you to read verse 13, "for all the prophets and the law are prophesied until John." Now what does he mean by that? The - what's the central theme of all the law and the prophets? Jesus is coming. It's Jesus, isn't it? At least Jesus' first coming - but it's about Jesus. Christ, when he told the disciples on the road to emmaus, 'beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.' Jesus said, 'you search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life. These are they that testify of me.' And so, when he says there in Matthew 11 'all the prophets and the law prophesied until John and if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.' Now what is Christ referring to there? Is John the baptist the reincarnation of Elijah? No. That's - that's important to understand because when the religious leaders came to John and they said, 'are you the one we've been waiting for? Are you Elijah? Are you that prophet that Moses spoke about?' And when they said, 'are you Elijah?' He said, 'no.

' Why did Elijah say 'no' when they asked him are you - why did John the baptist say 'no' when they asked him 'are you Elijah?'? Because they were asking the wrong question. They were wondering, 'are you Elijah reincarnated?' Where do they get that? What's the last prophecy in the old testament? Malachi chapter 4, remember the law of Moses, 'behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the grateful - the dreadful day of the Lord and he will turn the hearts of The Fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to The Fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.' Period - end of old testament. So the last thing that Malachi says is 'I will send you Elijah.' Well, Elijah went up to heaven and so they thought, well, he was going to come down - that he'd be reincarnated. How was John the baptist like Elijah? Let's keep reading Matthew 11, "and if you are willing to receive it," - now why does Jesus say, 'if you're willing to receive it?' Not everybody - not only willing - could they understand it? He's saying, 'can you - if you can comprehend this' - it's not just that I'm - I don't want to know the truth, some people just didn't get it. And Jesus said, 'if you're willing to receive it, this is Elijah who is to come.

He that has ears, let him hear' - those with spiritual discernment. So to understand how you come like Elijah, go back to the first person who came like Elijah. The angel gabriel told The Father of John the baptist, 'your son will go forth in the Spirit and the power of Elijah. Who was the first one who came in the Spirit and the power of Elijah? Elisha. Elisha.

Good. In the old testament in 2 Kings chapter 2 - you remember when Elijah says to Elisha, 'what can I do for you before I go to heaven?' He said, 'let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.' Now that didn't mean that Elijah had some special trademark spirit that was just his that God took some of it out of him. Elisha, in his request to Elijah, is quoting something that happened in the Bible before where God took the Spirit of Moses and put it on the 70 elders. It's the Holy Spirit. It wasn't like - I mean, how do you take the Spirit of one man and put it on all these people? Didn't Jesus give of his spirit to us? Isn't that what it's teaching us? When Christ breathed on the disciples he said, 'receive ye the Spirit.

' So these were all illustrations of giving the holy spirit to others. So, the first one who had the spirit and power of Elijah was Elisha. It doesn't mean Elisha was a reincarnation of Elijah because they were both alive at the same time. It means that he would do a similar work and have the same Holy Spirit and the same power, okay? So when it says that John the baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah and he was the fulfillment - he was part of the fulfillment. Let me explain that.

Go with me to Matthew 17 real quick and look in verse 11 - we're still in Matthew - I'm diverging a little bit, but I'm staying in Matthew and that's our assignment. "And his disciples asked him, saying, 'why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?'" - Before the Messiah - and listen to what Jesus says - verse 11 - Matthew 17:11, "Jesus answered and said to them, 'indeed, Elijah is coming'" - now when they asked that John the baptist was already there. He'd already done his ministry. He's already in prison. And Jesus said, 'Elijah is coming' - that's future - "but I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished.

Likewise The Son of man is also about to suffer at their hands." And so John the baptist has already been killed at this point in the story. But Jesus said Elijah is coming and then he says Elijah did come. Why did Jesus say that? Because there are two comings of the Lord that John the baptist prepares for. There are two comings of the Lord that Elijah prepares for. John the baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the world for the first coming.

In the last days there is going to be another John the baptist or group of people that will have the Spirit and power of Elijah that will do a similar work. I think it will be many not one. Why? Because for Jesus' first coming he had twelve apostles that he filled with the Spirit. For his second coming he's got times 12,000 - they're called the 144,000. So, since there are so many more apostles, I think there's going to be many more John the baptists - or at least they'll have that spirit and power of Elijah.

What was it about Elijah and John the baptist that is a message for today? And I see the clock. I'm going to try and get to the lesson, but I hate to rush past this because it's so important to us today. What made John different? Did John preach about the coming of the Lord? Yes. 'Prepare for the coming of the Lord. the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.

' Is that to be a message that we're to be giving today - for the last group of Elijahs? Did John believe in country living? I'm not going to go off that road too far, but he did - he did get out in the wilderness. Did John believe in humble dress? Yes. Couldn't have gotten much more humble. You could never say that he was a clotheshorse. And when you opened his closet you didn't see 50 pairs of shoes like imelda marcos.

John the baptist had humility in his dress. Did he have a simple diet? Yes. He did. And did he live a holy life? These are just a few things, but you look at the life of John the baptist and you look at the life of Elijah and they're spirit-filled, they're simple lives, they're preoccupied with holiness and so we need that same message in the last days. We need the message of modesty.

We need the health message. We need the message of that closeness to God and that wilderness experience. Alright, I better move right along here. Frontiers of darkness is the next section. And in a moment someone's going to read Genesis 32:24.

Okay, kelly, you'll have that? Light and darkness. Let's talk about that for a minute. Colossians 1:12-14 - this is in your lesson - "giving thanks to The Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness" - you know, I understand when they discovered the dead sea scrolls, you know, that they found virtually every book in the old testament in part or whole. The only book that was completely absent was the book of Esther.

But every other book they found - many of them in entirety, some in part - but they also found other books that are not part of the Bible. And the writers who wrote the dead sea scrolls, who transcribed the Bible, and also wrote other books, they were probably known to John the baptist because the dead sea scrolls were not found very far from aenon where it's a pool in the Jordan river where John baptized and the part of the wilderness where John haunted - when I say that I don't mean it like a spirit, I mean where he worked - was very close to the essenes, these Jewish scribes - this very - and they practiced baptism too. They had baptisteries. Any of you ever been to masada? I see some of you've been - you know what I'm talking about, yeah. They've actually uncovered - right by masada - by the Jordan river near the dead sea, where the Jordan runs into the dead sea - this essene community - John almost certainly knew them.

They wrote books about the children of light and the children of darkness. They had a whole different separate group of writings where they talked about The Sons of light and The Sons of darkness. And the Bible talks about this too. You know, one of the great statements of Jesus is in the book of - when you think about statements of Jesus you think Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, right? But Jesus says some things in acts, too. And deep in acts - acts chapter 26 - you'll find red-letter edition.

Jesus speaks and he says - he's talking to Paul - 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the gentiles to whom I now send you, to open their eyes in order to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of satan' - who is the darkness? - 'From the power of satan that they might receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.' Boy, that's the whole Gospel right there - to turn them from the power of the devil. God wants to save us from the power of the devil - from the darkness to the light - that they might be sanctified - made holy - by faith in me. And he also says, 'I'll preserve you while you give this message. I'll deliver you from the people that want to stop you from giving this message. He has these wonderful, wonderful promises.

So you've got that light and darkness tensions. The Christian life involves a battle. That's what this lesson is talking about. It's a struggle between good and evil. For instance, read Genesis 32:24.

"Then Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of day." Alright, there was wrestling. Who was Jacob wrestling with? I don't recommend this but I think if any of you own a television and you're honest, you have surfed by some of this ten-year-old wrestling - I mean, it's made for 10-year-olds - that they have on tv. It's just ridiculous hyper-drama where there's grandstanding and people are jumping and throwing chairs and it's - it's all kind of - it's a joke. I hope you don't watch that, but you've probably seen it before because it's - they even have it on in airports sometimes. That's not wrestling.

College wrestling is a little more like what it is - where you've got two people pitting all of their strength - I wrestled in military school. I was on a wrestling team - you get so exhausted in just a few moments because you use every ounce of strength that you've got and you're using all the muscles in your body to try and overcome someone - usually the same weight and size as you - and - to pin them and you - after three minutes, you just - you can fall over you're so exhausted. The Bible tells us that Jacob was praying by the brook jabbok there. His brother was coming with an army, intent on getting vengeance for his stealing his birthright. And here Jacob's got all his family, his children, all his stuff and he's just praying with God for forgiveness for his sin and he's - all of a sudden this man touches him - it's actually the Lord.

And he doesn't know, he thinks it's some bandit or somebody from esau's company and he tries to defend himself and he's grabbing his wrist and then his ankle and then they're tussling and it says he wrestled him until the break of day. Wrestle three minutes, let alone three hours, and that symbolizes praying. Finally, when this angel of the Lord - we believe he was wrestling with the Lord because he says, 'I've seen God.' He touches his hip and it's taken out of joint and - but he won't let go. He realizes it's the Lord and he grabs him by the ankle. He says, 'I'll not let you go' - the angel says, 'let go.

It's breaking of day. I need to go.' He says, 'I won't let you.' You know, I don't know if he was going to - why Michael the archangel would say that to Jacob - it's not like he was going to turn into a pumpkin or something, but he said, 'let me go. The day is breaking.' I think it's because he had to go talk to esau and calm him down. And he said, 'I'll not let you go until you bless me.' And that has become a symbol of wrestling with God in prayer. It's a battle between the forces of doubt and faith and we all go through that.

Sometimes we wrestle with God in prayer when there's temptation and there's a striving going on and it can be exhausting. There's a battle between good and evil. So the Bible says that Christians are to be meek - blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth - but does meek mean weak? It's actually the opposite. It takes strength to be meek. The Bible says that Moses was the meekest man in all the world but he was strong enough to chase off seven shepherds that were bothering the girls - one man against seven.

So Jesus, he said, 'I am meek and lowly' but he had incredible internal strength where he was not afraid. I mean, there in the garden praying, he was wrestling with God, sweating drops of blood, kind of like a symbol of Jacob's time of trouble and wrestling. And we will all have our garden of Gethsemane experience. You know what that is? The biggest battle - I think this is in the book steps to Christ also, but I forget the reference - the biggest battle that anyone is going to face is the war against self. When you struggle with the selfish nature and you pray to come to the point where you really pray and say, 'not my will, thy will be done' - that battle against self.

I don't know about you, but I have trouble going ten minutes without thinking about myself. Less than that. But I didn't want you to know how bad it really was. And I expect you'd find the same thing, but that battle of saying, 'not I but Christ', that's the biggest battle. It's a wrestling match.

Ephesians 6:12, "for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities," - now you notice they've got two different wrestlings here - you wrestle with the Lord in prayer sometimes and say, 'don't let me go. I won't let you go till you bless me.' But we also wrestle against the enemy - "for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." So there's a battle that goes on. This is why Jesus said, and this is in your lesson as well, in Matthew 10:34 - now we're going back before Matthew 11 - "do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a" - what? Sword. Wait a second, a sword? I thought that you accept Jesus and you have peace.

And if everybody was a Christian, wouldn't we have peace on earth? Goodwill and peace on earth? Problem is there's someone that doesn't accept Jesus - the devil. He claims this world as his own. Even Jesus recognized the devil has a foothold here. He calls him the prince of the world. So there's this battle.

Christ said, 'I am saving you. You're in the world but you're not of the world.' There's this battle between these opposing forces and Matthew brings this out quite a bit in his book. One more verse here - 2 Corinthians 12:10 - you know, I've got some verses you won't find in your lesson. For those who frequent the Amazing Facts or Granite Bay website, we do post most of the notes. So if you want these - if you're a teacher - for whatever they're worth.

He says here in 2 Corinthians 12:10, "therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake." - Notice this - "for when I am weak, then I am strong." What does Paul mean by that? 'When I come to the point where I know I can't depend on myself, then I'm strong.' Have you had those experiences where God has to bring you down to realize your dependence on him? And you're strong in the Lord because you know your own weakness? Yep, the Lord sometimes does great things by those who recognize their own weakness. He kills giants with little Davids. Ephesians 10 - I'm sorry, Ephesians 6:10, "finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might." - So how are we strong? We can be meek and very strong in the power of the Lord. So Matthew teaches this whole warfare world view, which is our next section, and someone's going to read 1 John 5:19 - just a moment. I'm going to read Matthew 12:25, "but Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: 'every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.

If satan casts out satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?'" Alright, I want to pause right here and kind of talk about this verse quickly. Jesus was casting out devils. His enemies were saying, 'you're casting out devils through the power of the devil.' And Jesus said, 'just know what you're saying.' He says, 'if you say that satan is casting out satan, he's got internal division, his kingdom will not stand.' Was Jesus saying that satan will never appear to cast out satan for the purpose of deceiving? No, because sometimes satan will make you think that he's casting out satan - to deceive. What Jesus was saying, is when he does that, his kingdom won't stand.

Have you ever seen a church service where you've got this guy up there that's carrying on - he's acting like he's casting out devils and you know that he's bamboozling people - that he's begging for their money and he's a - later it's discovered that he's a fraud and he's got a girlfriend and all these other problems - but he said he was casting out devils. Or can the devil make a person sick and then give one of his representatives the power to appear that they've been healed? So can satan create the illusion that he's casting out satan? It's like a double spy. Sure he can. All Jesus is saying is his kingdom's not going to stand. Did that make sense? So Christ was not saying just because some minister out there is casting out devils he can't be a counterfeit.

There are - there's counterfeits out there that the devil is using. Alright, let me read the rest of that verse - "and if I cast out devils by beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?" There were a number of the priests' sons that were going out casting out devils. You can read about one of them in the book of acts. It says these seven sons of sceva tried to cast out the devil in the name of Jesus and the devil said, 'I know Paul and I know Jesus, but I don't know you.' The demon-possessed man jumped on these seven boys, beat them up, and they ran out wounded and naked. And so, that's an example of these priests had sons that had these itinerant 'we cast out devils' ministries.

And he said, 'why are you giving me a hard time for casting out the devil when your sons are claiming to do it? By whom do they cast out devils? And therefore, they'll be your Judges. "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house." So here we've got again a picture of the devil and his powers being bound - the gates of the devil will not resist the power of God. If you've got a person - your body's a temple of the Holy Spirit - but the devil invades that house and he takes possession of your house, if you want to overcome - if you want to deliver the person, you need to overpower the devil who has taken that person. And Jesus is saying basically, when we invite his light into our lives, that he will bind the power of the devil.

You'll sometimes hear charismatic preachers shaking their fists and screaming, 'I bind you, satan.' And it looks like maybe they're being a little bit - a little audacious to say, 'I've got the power to bind satan.' But it is true. It is biblical that Christ can bind satan. What happens in Revelation 20? 'I saw an angel come down from heaven with a great chain and he lays hold on that serpent and he' - does what? Binds them. How many of you would like to have the Lord bind the devil's power in your life. So in principle, it's true - that when the Lord comes in - have you seen people being set free from their sin? You know, they're bound by the cords of their sins.

Jesus comes in, saves them, and they're delivered. So the devil's power is bound when your sins are forgiven. When shadrach, meshach, and abednego were tied up and thrown in the fiery furnace, what did the fire do? It burned the ropes that bound them. When Jesus brought Lazarus out of the grave, you know what he said? He was all wrapped up with grave clothes - he said, 'unbind him.' And so one of the things the Lord does is when he enters a person's life, he breaks the chains. So there's a battle between these two forces.

You're either a servant of the Lord or a slave of the devil. How much of the world is under the sway of the wicked one? Are believers in the world the majority or the minority? So when you've got two forces going to battle, don't you want to have more soldiers than the other guy, typically? When you're fighting with God, does the majority matter? How many times did David go with a much smaller force against the philistines and win? Sometimes David had an army that numbered in hundreds and he fought an army that numbered in thousands and he won. Just like when he won against Goliath. So even though believers are a smaller group in this world, you and God are always a majority. Is that right? Amen.

So - I mean, that's why Moses said 'don't follow a multitude to do evil.' Don't wait for the truth to be popular. It is never going to be popular. I mean, you know, there's waves, like during the time of John the baptist and Jesus - a great revival. Many were forcing their way into the church but, by and large, the majority of the world does not believe in the Lord. And so, there's this power, but we need to trust that God's more powerful.

Romans 16:20 - I like this verse - Paul closes out the book of Romans with this, "and the God of peace will crush satan" - now wait a second. Does a peaceful person crush? What does he use? He uses the sword - "the God of peace will crush satan under your feet shortly." What is Paul referring to when he says that? You know the first prophecy in the Bible? In Genesis 3:14 the Lord said to the serpent, "because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall east dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman," - there'll be constant animosity - agitation - opposition between the church and the devil - "and between your seed and her seed; he" - Jesus, the Messiah, the seed of the woman - "shall bruise your head, and you" - the serpent - "shall bruise his heel." This is a picture of the conflict that would go on - the war between good and evil throughout history. You've got the work of God - Christ - the seed of the woman - walking with the Gospel and the devil's constantly biting at his heels, impeding his progress. If your heel is bitten and your foot is swollen with venom, you walk more slowly.

But, ultimately, what would you rather have? A wounded heel or a crushed head? So who loses the battle? Satan, but does the church sometimes lose battles? Yeah, we don't like to think of - did the disciples get welcomed in every place they preached, or did they sometimes get stoned? How many of the apostles were killed for their faith? Most of them. No, John the revelator died of old age, but they tried to kill him. But all the others - history - tradition tells us that they were martyred. And then, you know, I've run out of time here, but it talks about when the battle gets nasty. John's faith was challenged when he was in prison - Matthew 11.

He heard about the miracles of Jesus. He kept waiting for Jesus to do what he thought the Messiah was going to do - that he would get on a white horse and bring armies and fight against the Romans and Israel would become a nation again. Even John the baptist didn't fully understand the prophecies and he was wondering, 'why is Jesus just going around teaching and healing and preaching and - isn't the Messiah going to do something more internationally dramatic? Isn't there going to be something happening militarily, politically?' And so he waited and waited and John was left in prison. His faith was tried. The devil was trying to discourage John.

And he sent a message to Jesus. He said, 'are you the one we're waiting for or do we look for another?' Jesus didn't answer the messengers right away. He said, 'just stand right there.' And they watched him teach, heal, you know, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, preach the Gospel - and he said, 'now go tell John what you saw.' And they went back and reported that and then John remembered Isaiah 61 where it talked about the ministry of the Messiah would be one of opening the eyes of the blind and setting the captives free. And he saw that there was the Spiritual side to it. And then, of course, they wanted to get rid of John the baptist and stop his preaching - he was beheaded.

The reason we pray, in the Lord's prayer, 'thy will be done' is because God's will is not always done. Does that make sense? Not everything that happens in the world is God's will. God is not - pardon me - God - the Bible says God is not willing that any should perish and the fact that people are perishing is evidence that not everything is God's will. Well, we have run out of time for the lesson. Thank you so much, friends, for watching.

I pray that you will take advantage of the free offer that we have rescue from above - talking about salvation. Call the number there on your screen. Ask for offer #109. Please read it and share it with someone else. And God willing, we'll be back to study His Word together again next week.

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