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War Study (Part 1)

The Battle

Studying war isn’t exactly an “obvious” ladies’ Bible study topic.  I know that. Yet, we fight spiritual battles every day of our lives; often we do so without even consciously recognizing what is actually happening.  A few months ago as my physical pain increased & began wearing on my mind, I found myself encountering significant struggles at work as well.  Mounting on top of that was a period of financial struggle, and I slowly sank into depression, which was something I’d never really encountered previously.  Old battles I’d fought & won somehow reappeared, and I just didn’t have it in me to fight anymore.  The pit of depression grew a little deeper, and without even realizing it, I was becoming a prisoner of war confined in a pit.  A dear friend through her fervent prayers for me and her unrelenting effort to help me out of that pit finally got me to look up; to see the sky & life up on the outside of the pit rather than the dark walls all around me.  She wasn’t afraid to cross enemy lines to help me out.  It was then I realized that I’d gone several weeks without getting into the scriptures at all.  I hadn’t studied, and I had barely prayed.

Prior to all of that, I was studying war in the Bible. Strategies.  Key players. Victories & Defeats recorded throughout I & II Samuel and I & II Kings.  I determined that if I did nothing else, I would dig into that again.  Picking up in 2 Samuel 23, where it gives an account of the mighty men who served King David, I read about Eleazar in verses 9 & 10, and it struck a chord within me.  This man fought so hard & long that his hand was unable to release his sword.  Have you ever held on to something so tightly?  I have.  In the third grade, my friend, Mandy (who had the leg muscles of a body builder at 9 years old!), would pump our tire swing up so high and then snap the chains in a way that would make us spin so fast that my feet usually swung out independently of the tire swing.  When it stopped, my dark pink fingers had bright white knuckles, and we’d go again.  I laughed my head off while spinning out of control on that swing; however, when recess ended, I dreaded letting go of those chains.  It physically hurt to let go.  When you’ve held tightly to something for an extended period of time, your hand just sort of “freezes” in that position. While there’s no doubt that my grip on the tire swings could never truly compare to what scripture is saying about this warrior, it still helped me picture it.

Eleazar fought the Philistines until, “…his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword….” The fact that his grip was frozen on his sword resonated through the halls of my depressed little mind.  You see, I’d dropped my sword.  Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.  My copy was lying on the floor next to my bed, untouched, unopened.  The Holy Spirit laid it all out so plainly for me to see.

Unwittingly, I’d ventured out on the battlefield unarmed time and time again, but I couldn’t figure out why I was getting so beat down.  It escaped my notice that the reason I felt banged up, bruised, weary in my spirit was directly linked to the fact that I’d lost my grip on my Sword. I had nothing with which to fight back.  Oh to be like Eleazar! Holding so tightly that it’s physically painful to be separated!  The scripture says the Lord wrought a great victory that day, and clearly, the man with non-slip-grip on his sword was a key player.  I long to come to the place where it’s no longer a separate entity, but an extension of who I am; as though my arm doesn’t end at my fingers, but rather at the tip of my Sword!  This is the passion fueling the desire to study this more thoroughly.

It seems logical that the first step in studying war would be to identify the enemy.  Who are we fighting & why?  From there, it’s important to look at how the enemy fights; what strategies has he used in the past?  You know, when football teams prepare to face each other on the field, they watch game tapes of their opponents. They observe the different plays that the other team uses, and take note of each players strengths & weaknesses.  They intentionally look for weaknesses they can use to their advantage.  Our enemy is no different; he knows our weaknesses. It’s time we take a good, long look at him and figure out how to fight back.  Should you decide to come along on this journey, that’s where we’ll begin: by studying the opposition.

The Enemy

First things first…

  • In studying scripture, theologians often refer to the “Rule of First Mention or First Occurrence.” Basically, this rule says that the first time something is seen in scripture is significant, and should be taken into consideration when studying that subject matter. Given that, we’ll begin at the beginning.
  • Read Genesis 3.
    You’ve read this passage before and no doubt have heard sermons preached and lessons taught on it many times. It’s familiar. The “fall of man” is a fundamental doctrine.  This time pay special attention to all of the things it specifically says about the serpent.

    • For example, in verse 1: “Now the serpent was more subtil (crafty) than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.”  Just FYI: that word “subtil” is from the Hebrew word Aruwm (aw-room’) which means, “cunning (usually in a bad sense): – crafty, prudent, subtil. What are the implications of that?
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    • Who initiated the conversation?  What tactic did the serpent use?
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  • In verse 6, the woman gives in to temptation. In verse 8, God comes on the scene.  Where is the serpent? What is he doing? Look at verse 14 & 15. What is the serpent’s portion of the punishment/curse?  What is the serpent’s response to the curse?