Blessed be the Lord, my rock,

who trains my hands for war,

and my fingers for battle.

Psalm 144:1

Two thousand years ago, “the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel [17:45]) sent his Son to earth on a new kind of mission among his enemies (Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:3,16). He would defeat them not by killing, but by dying, and he would gather those who surrender into the very family of his Father. The world had entered a new era.

Until his crucified, risen, and reigning Son returns to earth in glory, God will no longer go out among the armies of his people with the weapons of this world. That Old Testament period of holy war is over. Now there are no nations, no peoples, no tribes to be defeated, because the crucified Lamb has “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). The enemy is not nations, not peoples. The enemy is sin, and Satan, and hearts that hold fast to the insurrection.

Day of Salvation

For now, until he comes again, there is no trumpet summoning God’s people to sword and shield and chariots and horses. Instead, the God of armies has dispatched his ambassadors among every enemy outpost with the message of amnesty, the offer of reconciliation with no recriminations for past disloyalty. “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians [5:20]).

For now, in this “favorable time” — in this “day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2) — “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).

For now, until “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:7–8) — until then, the followers of the Lamb are called to imitate their Master, “because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter [2:21]). “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure, when slandered, we entreat” (1 Corinthians [4:12]–13).

“The Lord Jesus is no less a warrior today than in the days of old.”

For now, until the Lord Jesus, with his eyes “a flame of fire,” and with “a robe dipped in blood,” and with “a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations” — until he comes to “tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God” (Revelation [19:12]–15), “we are not waging war according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 10:3). “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians [6:12]).

For now, until Christ appears “a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews [9:28]) — until then, the Lord declares, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting” (John [18:36]).

Once he led his armies in holy war at the head of Israel. At the end of the age, he will take up arms again. But for now, this is the day of salvation. The day of amnesty. The day of reconciliation. The day of triumph through suffering.

Call to War

But we who follow the Lamb are in no less a war than David or Joshua. The Lord Jesus would not even let us follow him until we considered the cost of this war: “What king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke [14:31]).

But it is a “good warfare” (1 Timothy [1:18]). A “good fight” (1 Timothy [6:12]; 2 Timothy 4:7). Our enemies in this war are “the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter [2:11]), the law of sin “waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin” (Romans [7:23]), and the devil who was “a murderer from the beginning . . . and the father of lies” (John [8:44]).

Written by John Piper  

Full article at Desiring God  

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