Editors Note: I have been pastor at a pioneer church in Taoyuan City, Taiwan for the last four and a half years. Over that time we have faced a number of obstacles, not least of which is demonic opposition. This post is written from the perspective of this church in Taoyuan City, but I think it's applicable to any pioneer setting in any nation.
One thing that we are seeing happen, is that there is a resistance to the church’s efforts to reach our community with the Gospel. All Hell is breaking loose. People in the church are struggling, spiritually, financially and in other ways. People have been leaving the church for reasons that seem to make no sense. People are living on the edge, one foot in the kingdom of God and one foot in the world. All of these things happen as the devil tries to rob us of victory.
There is an opposition that faces us. How many understand that this is warfare? We are in a battle for souls and we face an enemy that is determined to destroy the works of God. He fights his battles trying to wear down the soldiers of the opposition. Here’s the bad news… We are those soldiers. Today, I want to post on overcoming the opposition and maintaining the victory.
2 Samuel 5:3-10 (NKJV)
5:3 Therefore all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord. And they anointed David king over Israel. 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah. 6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, "You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you," thinking, "David cannot come in here." 7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). 8 Now David said on that day, "Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul), he shall be chief and captain." Therefore they say, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house." 9 Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David. And David built all around from the Millo and inward. 10 So David went on and became great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him.
Strongholds that Oppose
This takes place after the war between Saul and David has ended. Saul is dead and the prophecy that Samuel had spoken to Saul at the Witch of Endor’s place has been fulfilled.
1 Samuel 13:14 (NKJV)
13:14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you."
I want you to see this because our text parallels for us what I call the “Gateway to Abundant Life.” Jesus has promised us a more abundant life in Him. It says in:
John 10:10 (NKJV)
10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
This is what Jesus is speaking to us. The Gateway to abundant life is allowing Jesus to reign as undisputed king in our lives. We must crown Him king in every aspect of our lives in order to enter into that abundant life. I’m not talking about a prosperity doctrine here. I’m not talking about wealth or material riches. I’m talking about the victory that comes from serving God. We can take back our lives and take our community for Jesus. That victory is abundant living.
This is what happened in our text: The elders of Israel made David, who was king over Judah in Hebron, king over Israel as well. This made him the undisputed king of the entire nation. Right at this moment, Israel is poised to step into a new vision for God’s purpose. They’re ready to step into God’s will for their nation. The old capitol, Hebron, would no longer serve, so they chose to move into Jerusalem, and this is the moment that they began to meet strategic opposition.
The place of Jerusalem, at that time was called Jebus. It was chosen by David to be capitol over all of Israel because of its strategic location. So David and his men went out to the stronghold of Mt. Zion, this is what is now called the City of David. At that time it was a fortress city, built within a canyon surrounded on all sides by mountains. It was built to withstand enemies. The walls could not be climbed. They were massive and impregnable. The city possessed the high ground from which it could be defended. Trained soldiers were stationed in each precinct of the city to protect it and its water supply. The city was a stronghold of opposition in the center, the heart of Israel. It had been a thorn in the side of Israel since the beginning.
God had given them the whole land, yet they had never been able to possess it all.
Joshua 15:63 (NKJV)
15:63 As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.
They couldn't be moved, so Israel coexisted with them. It was a relationship filled with tension. Have you ever been in a situation where you were expected to be civil and coexist with someone who harbored great animosity toward you? There’s a tension that you can feel. Even as an outsider to the situation you can feel the tension. You’re on edge. You’re uncomfortable. It’s very stressful, isn’t it? This is the relationship between Israel and Jebus, at the time of our text. They’re not at war, but it’s hanging just below the surface. Because of Jebus’ location this is where David has chosen to rule. It was the most strategic place in the land and yet it was firmly entrenched with the enemy of Israel.
Our church, like Israel is poised to step into all that God has planned, and yet we’re in a place where the enemy is firmly entrenched. Face it, if he wasn't firmly entrenched in the lives of the people of the city we wouldn't need to be here. Like David, we have to face that opposition on the enemy’s turf; in the enemy’s fortress. We’ll have to gain entrance into the stronghold to root him out; to destroy where he lives. In order to step into all that God has for us, we will have to tear down the strongholds of which he has taken possession.
In verse six we see the taunting and mocking of the enemy.
2 Samuel 5:6 (NKJV)
5:6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, "You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you," thinking, "David cannot come in here."
Have you ever watched the warm up to a boxing match? The two fighters are standing nose to nose. They’re talking smack. “You’re weak. I’ll mop the floor with you.” Blah, blah, blah. They’re trying to gain the psychological advantage over their adversary. They’re trying to get their opponent to feel afraid; to doubt his own ability and strength.
This is the same thing, going on in our text. “We’re going to tear you up. Even the weakest among us could whip you any time. We’re too tough for you.” Yet we read in verse seven:
2 Samuel 5:7 (NKJV)
5:7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).
Nevertheless…nevertheless, David took the city. It doesn't matter how much power the enemy has. It doesn't matter how strong he is; how long he’s been there; what he has done to fortify his position. None of that matters because we’re not fighting him strength for strength. It’s not the power that we can muster on our own that tears down strongholds. It’s the power of the one we serve that matters.
We have engaged the enemy; we are a people at war. We fight one who seems to be much more powerful than we are. Even in the face of all that’s against us, there is still that one word…NEVERTHELESS.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NKJV)
10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
The weapons of our warfare are for the bringing down of strongholds, despite the power that we think we face. In other words… NEVERTHELESS!
There will always be opposition to Christ’s sovereignty in our city and even in our lives. This is what we’re fighting against. As we make Jesus king and take possession of this city we must displace someone else. The devil has made a stronghold in this city. We MUST enter into his dominion and root him out, and I want you to know that doesn't happen without a fight. It’s the same in our hearts where he has made a stronghold. He’s not coming out without a fight.
The Conquerors Heart
As we look at the stronghold before us; the walls of Jebus. The weak and fearful will see certain defeat. They utter words of despair and seek a compromise. “The enemy’s too strong, we’ll never be able to defeat him.” But a conqueror sees God’s moment and says nevertheless. This is the pivotal word in our text: NEVERTHELESS.
David didn't go into denial. He didn't say, “Walls? What walls?” He wasn't mindless of reality. Faith isn't found in denial of reality. Faith is found in the word nevertheless. It’s at this moment that you hear the words of the enemy loud and clear, “Excuse me, can I tell you something? It’s hopeless. You can’t get in here. You can’t defeat me, so you might as well give it up.”
When David was crowned king over all of Israel, Jebus fell: That which stood all this time from Joshua’s day to David’s. When David was made king, Jebus fell. When you make Jesus king over all of your heart the strongholds of sin will fall in your life: Those strongholds that had resisted you for all those years. When you put Jesus on the throne, you break down the walls. When we declare Him to be king in this city, we’ll see the strongholds here begin to break down. What we’re facing right now are the taunts:
“The blind and the lame will repel you. If you were doing the right thing, the church would grow. You’ll never be able to reach people.”
The first time a church was launched out of Prescott, Harold Warner had an accident and broke his back. The church was almost split over whether sending out churches was the right thing to do. People thought it wasn't God.
It was just the opposition. The devil doesn't fight fair. It was just the taunts. “What can one little church in Arizona do to win the world? That’s not vision; it’s insanity. Pastor Mitchell and Pastor Warner both, pressed in and our fellowship has reached multiplied thousands of people around the world…NEVERTHELESS!
Fighting the Battle
How do we begin to do that? I believe that we have to change the way we think. We need to look at how we do things and be creative. God will make a way. Look at how David took this city. He sent men up the water shaft. This was the gutter that let water out of the city. In other words they climbed up through the sewer. The Jebusites protected all the water that they used but no one thought to protect the gutters from the intruders. David thought outside the box. He did things that were unexpected. We can do that in three simple ways.
- We must stoke the engine of creativity. Creativity is Biblical. It’s the fifth word in the whole Bible. “In the beginning God CREATED…” It’s our challenge to keep God’s unchanging truth the same, and yet find creative ways to communicate it.
- We need to cultivate a faith that sees a way. How many know that fear blinds you? When you’re fearful you’re only seeing the possibility of defeat, but faith opens the eyes.
2 Kings 6:17 (NKJV)
6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
This is a prayer of faith. He saw the fear and panic in his servant and prayed for faith for him. This should be our prayer, too. Samson, in faith, found the jawbone of a donkey and saw a way to use it to slay a thousand Philistines. Faith is a way of seeing the possibility of what God can do.
- Exercise due diligence. In other words don’t be lazy. Faith isn't an excuse for laziness. God isn't going to say “poof” and destroy all that which stands before us. God didn't just blow down the walls of Jebus, they had to find a way. They had to step out and allow God to use what THEY did to bring about the defeat of Jebus.
We have to step out in faith, here and perform the best we can, allowing God to bring about the victory. The devil tries to discourage. He accuses us of all kinds of things. He tries to undermine our faith and resolve. He ridicules and belittles trying to make us back off. Nevertheless, we have the power to overcome because we have the overcomer firmly placed on the thrones of our hearts. With Him as our king this stronghold will fall, just as Jebus did before the King of Israel, and He will reign in this Jerusalem, or Taoyuan City depending on your perspective.