Behold, a rider, upon a white horse,
T’was the man, the man, yes, the one from the cross;
He’s carrying a bow, and he’s wearing a crown,
Going forth to conquer, all forces of evil to put them down.
He’s majestic and mighty, and shining all bright,
The Faithful True witness, with his sceptre of right;
He rules from his kingdom, all glorious above,
To conquer men’s hearts by the power of his love.
His crown is all glorious, declaring he’s Lord,
All power in the heaven’s and on the earth to spend;
To the uttermost parts of the globe he treads,
His gospel of grace awakening the dead.
From China to Russia, Africa, the West,
Nothing can stop him, for he’s both Lord and Christ;
He’s come for his people, he reigns for their good,
No army, no war, no powerful force, Jehovah! He’s God
And I looked, and behold, a white horse!
Galloping, galloping to win those yet lost,
Its invincible Rider, Almighty King Jesus, he ever lives,
And for all those who trust him, eternal life he gives.
“Exposing the Exodus”
The Controlled Exit – (Chapter 13 Verses 1-22)
We come now to the closing verses of this chapter (v17-22). Human nature wants what it wants and wants it now, instantly. However, when God directs us along the slow route you can rest assured it is for a good reason. Such is the case here (v17). If he were to lead the people of Israel along the most direct route the first thing they would be faced with would be an Egyptian border patrol, and then Caananite warriors perhaps. Now remember they have just been delivered from years of slavery, they would be hesitant, petulant, by no means what you would call a cohesive fighting force. No bunch of people are made ready for that overnight. It will take years of training, discipline, they will need to be, under God, developed in the school of hard knocks into a disciplined army. For there will be many battles to fight along the way. They will need the full armour of God (Ephesians :10ff). But having the equipment (v18) and the necessary trust in God for battle are not the same. Think of the realistic condition of Israel as a people at this time, and with the hindsight that we have. There were hot-heads amongst them that would absolutely sure that they were ready for anything. Excitement and emotions are running high due to their having been just released. Isn’t that how it is when we are first converted? But that excitement and emotion as we grow in faith and they are substituted with reason and trust. But that takes time, there is no direct route. And so God takes them the slow route so they will learn to wait upon and learn to trust him. In the very next scene faced with the Red Sea and the Egyptian forces come after them, we see exactly how unready they are. There will be many such lessons to be learned in the wilderness. Think of the Lord’s disciples, so sure that they were ready to face anything for him, to undergo the same baptism as he. But he said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). And the apostle Peter had to learn the very hard way, after thrice denying that he even knew Jesus, that he was not ready either. So if the Lord is taking you what you think is the slow route, trust him, there is a good reason for it.
We see here prophecy fulfilled also as Joseph’s bones are carried with them (v19-20). And yet another reason for the God-controlled exit, taking the slow route. They must worship God on the mount where Moses met God. “So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12). So this had to be fulfilled. Then there is the Canaanites to consider also, the cup of their iniquity is not yet full, “but in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). The judgment of God, the sword of his justice cannot begin amongst the Canaanites until their cup is full. But why towards the sea you might ask (18)? This is to lead them into a trap, which Pharaoh well knows. Because the time for the final act of judgment against Pharaoh and his hoards has come (v20-22). This is God’s deliberate leading of his people into this situation, a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day. There is no mistaking. Because there is also another lesson for Israel in this. They must learn that salvation is of the Lord. That they can indeed overcome their foes and every obstacle in their way, but in God, not in their own strength. This that is about to take place is what God said he would do, “and I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honour over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen” (Exodus 14:17). All the honour, all the glory will go to God himself. And all the nations will hear of it and will fear, “The people will hear and be afraid; Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; The mighty men of Moab, Trembling will take hold of them; All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away” (Exodus 15:14-15). This is the reason for the cul-de-sac, for the slow route, the controlled exit from Egypt. God so leads his people at times so that their faith and obedience may be tried to the uttermost, and discovered, suffers his children to fall into great extremities before he will reach forth his hand to help them, as in the case with Job. In our impossible situations, we give them to the Lord, we cry to him from the depths in what seems to us a total impasse. In the assurance that it is he who has led us this way for our benefit and for his own glory.
“Fighting the Good Fight”
The Battle for the Mind – (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)
The great battle of every generation but particularly this one is for the minds of men and women. The enemy with his hosts operates in the intellectual, philosophical, theological and ideological arenas. Through the houses of learning, universities, colleges, the entire education system, seeking to poison the minds of our children and youth. They operate through the media, all of its outlets, advertising, soap operas, industry. There are no no-go areas for the enemy, we are fighting them on every level. And now the internet also, where anyone can freely almost unhindered can propagate their favourite cause. The devil knows how to use a computer too. He puts relentless pressure on the minds of our young people especially. The same evil genius was seen in the Nazi propaganda machine. It worked on the premise that if you said it often enough it would be believed. Thus we are bombarded with the lie of evolution, with immoral, anti-God and Anti-biblical propaganda. The advertising machinery is a process of conditioning that’s aimed at peoples feelings rather than rational thought. This way people become ‘feelings’ generated. People are moved by impulse, inclination rather than thought, fact. The advertising industry is an evil business. It affects Christians as with the world, for many life has become experienced centred. It is for this reason holy Scripture tells us we need to be renewed in our minds, not once, but constantly, daily, “and be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). Our minds need to be saturated with Scripture, we need to learn to think biblically at every turn in our lives. But sadly these are days in the Western church when such is seriously missing. Christians are not reading as they should and therefore they are not thinking as they should.
So there is a lack of sound salvation doctrine abroad. No biblical patterns of behaviour, there cannot be such where there is no theology or standard of biblical ethics. Far too many who haven’t and neither are they willing to think through their faith. Enter many a church in our land today and you’ll find ‘professing’ Christians who cannot state clearly what they believe, nor the grounds for it. Ask the person next to you, “what is the gospel of which you speak”? The answers will vary, most wrong, if you get an answer at all. So what is the gospel then? “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Corinthians 15:3-4). That’s the gospel. Tragically not the answer you will get by and large, just their own limited experience or church tradition. The Bible well speaks of end-time delusions and lies. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies” (1Timothy 4:1-2). And, “and for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2Thessalonians 2:11). It’s very easy to see how people can be led into all sorts of delusions and lies when people have surrendered in the battle for the mind. If we are losing this battle in the church how can we possibly expect to win it out there in the world? Because unless we get the minds of the masses of unbelievers we will have very little effect upon them. So the headgear, the helmet of salvation’s an indispensable piece of God’s armour, to be put on each day.
“Fighting the Good Fight”
The Devil’s Designs – (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verses 10-20)
The helmet of salvation (v17). The salvation is a present one, it saves, and it keeps us safe, protecting us from a fatal blow to the head which would be the end of us. The parts of Gods armour you will notice are all defensive bar one. They are designed to protect us, not from suffering, but from sin, that which would be the end of us. It becomes clear that a large part of this warfare is to do with our minds, there is a lot of hard and clear thinking to be done. We have to keep our heads in other words. God’s salvation is our sure hope, the same that keeps our minds, “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1Thessalonians 5:8). And we are persuaded that we are, in this salvation, eternally secure, that, “neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his (Jesus’) own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). This is our irreversible, guaranteed hope. In our dawning the helmet of salvation (v17) we are attuning to a biblical mindset. Our faith, belief is that salvation has dealt with our past, present and future sins. Therefore we are able to rejoice in the midst of trials and tribulations (James 1:2; Romans 5:1-5). We are able to think clearly, calmly, rationally and expectantly in regard to the whole of life and its experiences. We engage in right thinking in other words. This is a repeated emphasis in the New Testament teaching, to use our minds to think biblically and not in terms of the world’s mindset (Romans 12:1f; Colossians 3:1f; Philippians 4:7f; 1Peter 1:13). Think of all the Bibles references to the mind and to thought-life? Isn’t this how the devil attacks us? In times of mental tiredness, seeking to lead us into confused thinking and thus discourage and even depress us.
The enemies objective is to take our minds off of God, or to lead to wrong thoughts about God. He seeks to deceive and lead us astray by any means at his disposal. Thus either hindering us or restricting our service to God. One of his schemes is to lead us into an obsession about some aspect of our faith. It is right and proper that we have a concern for people, for the church but when it becomes excessive it is obsessive (2Corinthians 2:12f; 7:5). Or maybe some aspect of the truth, about church government, or eschatology or any other Christian doctrine, we can very easily be obsessive about such to the point of it being destructive to ourselves and others. The late Dr Martyn Loydd-Jones used to say frequently that the Christian life was always a matter of balance, healthy balance. Is there some aspect of the Christian life that is an obsession with you, is leading you into conflict with others, spoiling your joy and your witness? Nobody, not even the spiritually strong and mature are immune to the subtle, disturbing assaults on the mind, initiated by the devil, the enemy of our souls. The helmet of salvation is a necessity (v17). He can make the most innocents comments register as clear criticism, accusation or rejection of yourself that was never intended. That such thoughts come to us in a total and sweeping way and begin to cause destruction, dissension and division ought to tell you something of the origin.