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"Prepare for Battle"
By Pastor Bruce Sikes
In the year 1522, the Greek island of Rhodes came under a massive attack by the armies of Islam. The fortified town of Rhodes was surrounded by land and sea. The Christian people living in the city fought bravely, but there were simply too many enemy troops to overcome. It was not uncommon practice at that time for a city’s entire inhabitants to be killed, both men, women and children with few taken away as slaves. As the outer walls of the city were falling and the invaders were killing, burning, and raping their way to the city center, there is a story of a Christian woman named Anastasia. Her husband and the father of her children was killed in the fighting. This mother, rather than give up, took her husband’s armor and put it on. She grabbed his sword and joined the fight.
When it appeared that the inevitable was about to happen, that the city would be overrun and its' occupants killed and captured, she quickly retreated to her home where she had hidden her children. Not being able to bear the thought of her children being brutally murdered and cut to pieces by the approaching merciless Muslim enemies, with tears in her eyes, she hugged and kissed her children goodbye, and with her own hands she took their lives. Then, this mother of Rhodes ran back and continued fighting until she too was killed.
Recently, the Lord granted my wife and I the privilege of visiting Rhodes and walking the very streets where this all took place. Today, mothers, fathers and children can travel to Rhodes, lie on its' sandy beaches sipping cold drinks and be completely unaware anything that took place on the island. Anastasia’s story is a bittersweet tale of a mother’s love, courage and tough choices for the tough times in which she lived. I wonder how we would measure up today?
Many Christians in America and the Western world are for the most part nice people, polite, well educated with comparatively good incomes and vast resources. We are products of our peaceful, prosperous and comfortable lives, particularly in the U.S.. Yet with all that, would we be able to face an onslaught like that brought upon Anastasia and the other Christians living on the medieval island of Rhodes? Do we even know enough to prepare?
The evil that was approaching her island was well known in advance to those Christians. There had been many signs and indicators of coming destruction. For years they had prepared themselves for the inevitable battle. Still, they continued to plant gardens, go to work, go to school, eat, sleep live their daily lives and go to church. Now, however, these things were not taken for granted. They lived their lives each day to the fullest, as Jesus tells us. Every moment was precious because they knew that their time was short. Church took on new meaning, a new importance. They just didn’t go to church when they felt like it or when it was convenient. Amidst their many battle preparations, above all they recognized that faith in Christ and obedience to His word were fundamental. Church was not a once weekly obligation, but a daily necessity, a state of being. No one played church, there were no casual Christians. The words of God they sought and heard from their Ministers were actually words of life and death importance to them.
The Bible is God’s living word to us. It doesn’t change, but it doesn’t stand still either. Just as God moves, His Word moves also and we must move with it.
So what we preach and teach today from the Bible and the way we live our daily lives, need to match the times in which we live. For example, if this were the 1930's instead of 2009, I would not preach a sermon against materialism to the poor people living in the Great Depression. They would look at me and ask "What in the world are you talking about preacher, we ain't got no money to buy stuff!" As good as the message would have been, it would not have been what the people needed at that time in history. What do we need to preach and teach in our churches today- at this time in our history?
We have the lessons of history before us. The luxury of time is over. We cannot merely sit safely and content in our houses on the island, ignoring the signs of coming judgment, making no spiritual preparations nor helping others do so, and just say, "Well, I’ll just live a nice quiet little life and not bother anybody." When Christ comes there will be Judgment for both the Godly and Ungodly, the difference is in the preparations, while we have still have time.
There is a great Mel Gibson movie called "The Patriot". It is loosely based on a real life Revolutionary war hero Francis Marion. In the movie, Mel Gibson’s character, who should have known better, refused to make preparations for the coming war with the British, and in fact, spoke against it. He was a "good" man, however, the war started without him and his son was killed. There is a scene in the movie where Mel’s character was reflecting on what all was happening. In an effort to comfort him, his sister-in law tells him "You have done nothing to be ashamed of..."
Mel’s character responds, …"I have done nothing…. That is why I am ashamed."
I pray that we Christians today will not have to stand before God on Judgment Day lamenting our shame for having done nothing. Keep moving forward. We must not stand still in our Christian walk, and going back is not an option.
God has given us a Remnant at this moment in history, and has called us for His purposes. So let's toughen up, exercising tough love, speak up, speaking the truth in love, and let's fight the good fight of faith, turning everything over to God in holy prayer.
"Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight."
(2 Samuel 10:12)
For Christ And For His Remnant,
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