Dr. Tremper Longman III
God's Warfare Against Evil
Tremper Longman III [00:00:00] So now, having looked at the nature of battle in the Old Testament, what I want to do now is to talk about God's warfare against evil that begins in the Old Testament, extends into the New Testament. Again, the main reason why we're doing this in this class is to see how Daniel Chapter seven fits into this, into this redemptive historical progression and again, how it will culminate in Christ. So what we're doing now is a kind of second reading of Daniel Chapter seven, reading from the perspective of the whole canon and asking, Well, how does Daniel seven anticipate Christ? So I've over the years talked about how God's battle against evil takes place and what I call five phases. But I just need to say that it's a way of organizing what I see there. And, and, and after we do, I'll talk a little bit about the connections between these five phases. But let me begin by talking about phase one. And even though phase one is sort of a dominant phase in the Old Testament, we've pretty much been talking about it and using examples from phase one, which are those times when God fights the flesh and blood enemies. Of Israel, who are his flesh and blood enemies. Of course, God doesn't appear as a warrior in the first two chapters, or there's no hint of divine warfare in the first two chapters of Genesis. Because, you know, God created a harmonious world where, where, where human beings are in harmony with God, therefore are in harmony with each other and with the creation. Now, from Genesis three one, we know that there's an assumption of rebellion in heaven. All right. We're not going to get into that quite yet. I'll talk a little bit about the spiritual battle behind the physical battles in a moment. But still, Genesis one and two, as God orders creation, he is depicted more like an artist than a warrior. You know, as he takes the Toho y bow who creation the formless and void as one translation of that creation and shapes it as its figure depicted in Genesis chapter one over six days into something functional and organized and in a harmonious place for his human creatures to exist. But at the end of Genesis three, after human rebellion, we get a hint of divine warfare. When God stations two Cherubim with flaming swords at the entrance to the Garden of Eden. And I think earlier I talked about how cherubim are our God's SEAL Team six and His heavenly army. And. And so. Afterwards, we see God coming as a warrior. We saw it in the Exodus. We saw it in the Battle of Jericho. There are many, many, many accounts of God fighting against flesh and blood enemies. Many even think that I forget exactly where it is, to be honest, where David is fighting the Philistines at a place called Dean. He may remember that at that point, God says to David, Wait until you hear the wrestling of the trees and balsam trees as one Translation There's some question of exactly how the Hebrew is to be translated. Wait till you hear the wrestling of the trees, because that signals God's heavenly army going into the battle. Okay, so that's phase one, easily covered phase two. It you know, these aren't sort of sequential. There's overlap here. But what I'm calling phase two are those accounts of God fighting. Israel. God fighting Israel. Israel doesn't get carte blanche. It's like Israel, right or wrong or anything like that. No. And you can see this in the warnings of the covenant curses in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. If Israel violates the covenant, then God will come against them as a warrior. And so I'm going to talk about some examples of this in connection with Daniel Chapter nine in Relationship to Daniel's Penitential Prayer. But for now, I'll simply mention two examples. Number one, the battle that follows the Battle of Jericho. The Battle of Og spelled a I. Some people pronounce it. I. I pronounce it I. But, but, but. However you pronounce it, let me tell you what it means. And Hebrew. It means dump. Trash heap. Oh. Or. Or. Or tell. Tell. You know, like the Arabic tel point is not much of a town. Not much of a town. And. But after defeating the mighty city of Jericho, Joshua says, sends a few thousand troops up to a up to dump city. And what happens? They get defeated. And Joshua is beside himself, and he, um. He's beside himself. And he beseeches the Lord. And the Lord tells him it's because somebody violated Haram. Namely Aiken, it turns out, who took some of the plunder, which was forbidden and buried it under his tent. So. So after Aiken is exposed and executed, then they go up and beat a guy. By the way, while we're on the conquest, I'll simply mention the next big episode in the Conquest, which is the which are the nights, remember? Remember we ran Deuteronomy 20 that Israel was to treat people outside the land differently than inside the land. And somehow the Jimmy Knights got wind of this. So they baked like they had come from a long distance away with a tired horses and, you know, stale food or whatever. And they say, we've come from far away. We want to enter into a treaty with you. And Joshua does. And then it's revealed, hey, they're from ten miles down the road. And it explicitly says because Joshua did not inquire of God. So getting back to that earlier, earlier scheme of what you're supposed to do before a battle. All right. So then. Well, a second example from the earlier chapters of Samuel, where Eli's Wicked sons, Hafnium Phineas, are leading the army against the Philistines. I mentioned this briefly when we were talking about how, you know, tokens of defeated army or nations religion was taken into captivity. This is the time when Hoff, me and Phineas go to battle against the Philistines. They lose and they go back, scratch their heads. Oh, we forgot the Ark of the Covenant, you know. But you could tell it's not a matter of faith. It's more a matter of where's that magical box that'll win the victory for us. And they go get it. And of course, they're defeated. And the Ark of the Covenant is taken to the Temple of Dagon. Where the next day Dagon is boop on his face before the Ark of the Covenant. They hoist him back up next day. Boop. And the head and hands of Dagon are broken off, and there's kind of a gruesome. We have actually depictions of battles and after battles on those Assyrian and Babylonian palace walls. And in some of them, they're these gigantic mounds of hands and heads that they decapitate and take the hands off of enemies and pile them up. And so maybe there's some kind of allusion to that. So the Philistines get the message. One, that God was unable to defeat us. It was he was unwilling to unwilling to let the Israelites win. So they let the Ark of the Covenant go home. But but, of course, the most dramatic example of this one that I made develop further later is the Babylonian defeat of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.. And I'll read just a few verses from the Book of Lamentations. The Book of Lamentations is a is a. Is is written during the exotic period. And some people think by Jeremiah, though there is no claim that Jeremiah wrote it and there are reasons to think that he might not have. But that's not important to my point. It's five different chapters. It's a pretty interestingly constructed poetic collection, and that's what it is in five separate poems. Some people even think they were written by five different people, but I don't think so. But what's particularly fascinating is that it's built on what's called an acrostic structure. Cross decks are poems that are written where the first letter of each unit begins with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The English equivalent would be begin the first with a second would be third with C. But of course we're dealing with Hebrew here. So all of Beit Gamal, all the way to top 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. So. So you have 22 verses in chapter one, chapter two, then you have 66 and chapter three, which draws attention to chapter three, but it's divisible by 20 by 22. So if you read it in Hebrew, the first three versus all start with all of the second three, all with Beit, etc. it may be drawing our attention to the middle of chapter three, where you have the only glimmer of hope in the book. The book ends quite sadly, and as an appeal to God, it's trying to appeal to God to relent. You know, enough is enough. Yeah, we deserved it. But now time, Lord, change your attitude toward us. But chapter two and I should point out, even though Chapter five has 22 verses, it's not an acrostic. It's interestingly and intentionally not an acrostic, probably to help communicate the idea that we're not at resolution because in a cross that kind of communicates completion, closure and all that kind of thing. But chapter five maybe saying, Yeah, we're not there yet, we're not there yet, but Chapter two. It perfectly expresses the fact that it's God ultimately who destroyed Jerusalem, not the Babylonians, who are never mentioned, because how the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of His anger, He's hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth. He is not remembered as footstool in the day of his anger without pity. The largest swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob in his wrath. He has torn down the strongholds of daughter Judah. He's brought our kingdom and its princes down to the ground and dishonor. In fierce anger. He has cut off every horn of Israel. He has drawn his right hand at the approach of the enemy he has burned. And Jacob Blake, a flaming fire that consumes everything around it. Like an enemy he as strong as Bowe, his right hand is ready like a bow. He has slain all who are pleasing to the eye. He has poured out his wrath like fire on the tent of Daughter Zion. The Lord is like an enemy. Notice how often it's talking about the Lord is like an enemy toward his people. And again, because of their sin. So phase two are those accounts where God is fighting Israel. Now we come to phase three. That's not how the Old Testament ends. Phase three refers to prophets like our Daniel and Zachariah and Malachi, who have a message for the SLA and particularly the posing. They like people of God and that is you're oppressed now, but God is coming in the future. God is coming to save us. So God will come as a warrior. To rescue us. The one like the son of man will go out on a cloud and beat our enemies. Or take Zachariah 14 Zachariah being early postings Select Prophet. Sent, you know, in probably the early or returned likely during the early phases right after the decree of Cyrus that allowed people to go back and to rebuild the temple map back to one of its main messages is, hey, guys, get to work on the temple. Why are you so slow? Why are you delaying rebuilding the temple? So God used both Haggai and Zakaria to bring that message. But the ending of the book. Zacharias speaks of a day of the Lord that is coming. Now, the phrase Day of the Lord is kind of an idiom within the prophets that refer to the day of God's future intervention as a warrior. A day is coming Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls and will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it. The city will be captured, the houses ransacked and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against the nations as he fights on a day, a battle. On that day, his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley for it will extend to Aizawl. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of desire. King of Judah. Then the Lord, my God will come. And all the holy ones with him, referring to his angelic army. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day, a day known only to the Lord with no distinction between day and night. When the evening comes, there will be light. On that day, living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea. In summer and winter, the Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and in his name, the only name the whole land from Gilbert to Richmond, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Araba, but Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the first gate to the corner gate and from the town of Hannah. Now to the royal wine presses and will remain in its place. It will be inhabited. Never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure. This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fight against Jerusalem. Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet. Their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day, people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. Judah, too, will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected. Great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys and all the animals in those camps. Skip down to verse 20 on that day, wholly to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses and the cooking pots in the Lord's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will be no Canaanite in the House of Lord Almighty. All right. So bottom line is, like Daniel Zachariah is looking to the future when there will be a divine intervention against those who are enemies of God and of his people. And then just quickly, the final chapter of Malachi has a similar message. And it says, Surely the day is coming, it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evil doer will be stumble in the day that is coming, will set them on fire, says the Lord Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name. The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays and you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked. They will be ashes under the soles of your feet. On the day when I acts as the Lord Almighty, remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. See, I will send the Prophet Elijah to you before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the hearts of the children to their parents. Or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction. Okay. So again, day of the Lord is coming. A day of divine intervention against the wicked. That's the message that ends the Old Testament and reverberates throughout the entire Testament time period. It's picked up by Inner testament, all writings. Now we turn to the New Testament. Let's start in Matthew chapter three. Where? John the Baptist. So I've adjusted my chart here a little bit. Phase one God fights Israel's flesh and blood enemies. Phase two, God fights Israel. Phase three, which we just considered God, will come as a warrior. Now, leaving room for my diagram to move to phase four. Which I'll be fine in a moment. But let's start with John the Baptist in Matthew chapter three. John the Baptist, of course, understanding from Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah will come in from the wilderness. The second Exodus theme is out at the Jordan River, baptizing people who come and repent. But I want to you pay close attention to John's words as I pick it up in verse seven of Matthew three. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them, You brood of vipers who warned you to flee from the coming wrath and do not think you can say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. I tell you, out of these stones, God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear his threshing floor gathering as we enter the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Okay, so Jesus comes. John recognizes him as the one and baptize him after this time. John is sent to jail. Jesus begins his ministry. John in jail is hearing reports about Jesus's activities. And what is he hearing? He's saying, Oh, he's healing the sick. He's exorcizing demons. He's preaching the good news. And John is sitting in prison hearing these reports and thinking to himself, I think I might have baptized the wrong guy here. And I say that based on the fact that in Matthew Chapter 11, he sends a couple of disciples out to Jesus. And in verse three, they say to Jesus, Are you the one who is to come? Or should we expect someone else? And behind that question, I think what John is asking is. Where is the chaff burning? You know, where is the ax Chopping? What are you doing? John the Baptist says is is picking up the message of Daniel Malachi Zachariah and expecting a messiah who will come and save them from their enemies. Jesus, in his actions, is showing, though, that he has heightened and intensified the warfare so that it's now directed toward the spiritual powers and the authorities. And these spiritual powers in authority cannot be defeated with swords and spears and so forth. And matter of fact, they can't be defeated by killing. They're defeated by dying. They're not defeated by killing. They're defeated by dying. And matter of fact, this battle takes Jesus to the cross. You get a perfect picture of this transition, I think. And the garden examinee, when they come to arrest Jesus and Peter whips out his sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest servant. Jesus puts the air back on a very cool move. And then he says, Put away your sword. If I wanted to, I could have myriad of my father's heavenly army here, but my way is to the cross. Basically, says Paul as he's looking back on Christ's crucifixion, resurrection and ascension will use military language to describe it. So take a look at Colossians chapter one, and particularly verse 15, but I'll read verses 13 to 14 to give it a little context where it says When you were dead in your sins and in the young circumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins. Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us. He's taken it away, nailing it to the cross. Now, as I read verse 15, notice all the military language, and having disarmed the powers in authority, he made a public spectacle of them, which I think is a reference to a post battle victory parade. Triumphing over them by the cross. The ascension is described in terms of a post battle military victory parade with the prisoners in tow behind in a Ephesians Chapter four, verse eight, where Paul sites Psalm 68, which is one of those Old Testament Divine Warrior hymns. Four seven But to each of us, Grace has been given as Christ a portion dead. This is why it says when he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people. So. So how should we describe Phase four? Jesus fights spiritual powers and authority. Okay, So now the question to ask is, well, does that mean John the Baptist is wrong? Does that mean John the Baptist is wrong? And no, John the Baptist was not wrong, but he did not understand the full import of his words. He did not understand that Christ was. Not just coming one time, but twice. And. And. And by the way, this is a place where I often point people when I say, you know, the prophets don't completely understand what they're saying. They don't have conscious and knowledge of how their words are going to play out. And I often think that's the case with the way Old Testament prophets are cited in the New Testament. I think if Isaiah came and, for instance, saw how Isaiah seven Isaiah 714, the talk about a young woman giving birth was used. And in Matthew, I think his first reaction was what, you know, that child was supposed to get maturity by the time, you know, those two kings up north, we're going to be okay. And then after thinking about her a while, I think he'd go, Oh, yeah, that does make sense. I see how it might be that have that further meaning. But anyways, that's a whole different issue that's debated among scholars and others. So. So this moves us then to phase five.