The Bride At War

brideatwar

Friends,

You will find this post lengthier than the usual Bread for the Bride post.  It is the result of several months of waiting before the Lord and I believe is a timely word for the Bride of Christ.  I would request you not to just skim this one, but to take time to read thoroughly and consider it carefully and with an open heart.  This is not something I normally do, but I am also requesting  you pass this along to any leaders, prayer groups, intercessors and anyone involved in spiritual warfare you may have contact with,  for their prayerful consideration.  The season we are now entering is both sobering and unprecedented.  The best of times, the worst of times as they say.  “Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9) As always, your comments and discussion are welcome.

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Step back in time for a moment and imagine being tasked with conquering a new land, a land promised as your inheritance, in which the enemy lurks menacingly behind fortified strongholds surrounded by towering walls several feet thick.  Having just emerged from forty years of wilderness living you are familiar with desert warfare and its weapons such as spears, bows and arrows, and swords.  Battering rams and moveable towers for scaling walls and breaking gates are not your style. 

Your previous battles have been fought on the plains as kings came out from their fortified cities to halt your advance through their territory.  Those former battles were fought from a ‘passing through’ mentality as you advanced towards your final goal.  Now things have shifted dramatically and it is you and your people who are on the offensive with ultimate victory in sight.  A new and final stage of warfare lies before you.  This is no longer a time of passage, it is now a time of possessing, demanding a totally new mindset.

Your new leader, Joshua, is one of only two Israelites remaining from the original generation who began this long and arduous journey.  All the old warriors who might have trained you have died.  You and every other member of your company have been ‘born in the wilderness’ (Josh. 5:5).   The wilderness-dwelling years have now come to an end and you find yourself on the plains of Jericho facing a massive walled stronghold that is ‘securely shut” against you (Josh. 6:1).

Now, fast forward to the twenty first century: 

So much has been taught, written, conferenced, sung and preached about spiritual warfare over recent years it’s hard to imagine there could be anything new to add.

But I am convinced in my spirit we have yet to arrive at God’s best for us in our understanding of effective spiritual warfare.  I believe the methods many believers have been utilising in spiritual warfare, (some of which have been highly questionable), are quickly becoming obsolete and will not be adequate for the level of warfare now upon us. 

The Bride of Christ is emerging from her wilderness experience appearing ‘fearsome as an army with banners’ to every spiritual enemy who opposes her.    Her eyes do not wander, her heart is undivided.  Her life is hid in her Beloved and she is barely recognizable as the one who was led down into the wilderness to meet her God (SOS 8:5).   And that’s just the point.  During her wilderness journey the old ways of carnal religion, and of compromise with the world, have been stripped from her and are becoming nothing more than a memory.  This emerging Bride has been ‘born (spiritually birthed and prepared) in the wilderness’

Most of us have read the book and know that Israel had an amazing victory at Jericho.  Under God’s specific direction and Joshua’s leadership Israel marched around the city for seven days, on the final day releasing a great shout, at which the great walls collapsed and the city was taken. 

The story of Israel’s victory at Jericho provides a prophetic parallel for the Bride of Christ that, if understood and received, will help us wage effective spiritual warfare in the season now before us.  Consider the following:

A New Kind of Warrior, Born in the Wilderness

It was a new generation of warriors who took Jericho, a generation of those who knew nothing of Egypt except the shared memories they had heard from the older ones while growing up in the wilderness.  Unlike the previous generation, Egypt was simply not in them. 

It has often been said that when the Israelites left Egypt, they went out of Egypt but Egypt did not go out of them.  This generation, born in the wilderness, didn’t wrestle with the desire for Egypt’s worldly goods as the previous generation had done.  Neither did they carry with them any slave mentality.  Their experience of God was of One who was able to provide their most basic needs through daily manna and water from the rock.  To them He was continually manifest as a cloud to follow in the day and a fire in the sky to reassure them in the night.  Consequently they lived under the constant Presence of God.  The supernatural was not supernatural to them.  It was a lifestyle and an expectation.  In the wilderness they had been taught by God Himself that He was their total sufficiency.  They had been trained to know nothing but Him. 

Application for the Bride:  Please understand this is not about physical, natural generations, defined by either age or youth.  Age becomes irrelevant because the Bride is comprised of a spiritual generation defined by heart attitude.  The multi-generational, overcoming Bride now emerging from the wilderness has abandoned the world (Egypt) behind her.   The world system has no claim on her heart.  She has proven God’s ability to keep her and His supernatural activities are not strange and unfamiliar to her but essential to her knowledge of Him.  Above all, she seeks to live constantly in His Presence. Those of the old unbelieving slave mentality who continue their compromise with the world will end their days in the wilderness and not possess the Promised Land.

Unconventional Warfare and A New Kind of Leader

God’s battle plan against Jericho was entirely unconventional.  Israel had never known anything like it; nor had Jericho. Even Joshua, an experienced general, had never experienced this type of warfare.  It was new, it was radical.  When Joshua fought and defeated the Amalekites Moses had interceded and Joshua had used his considerable military skills (Ex. 17:8-13).  At Jericho, however, Joshua’s former battle experience became redundant.  Prior to the battle he had experienced a dramatic personal encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s army¹ that had left him profoundly changed (Joshua 5:13-15). 

Joshua’s leadership, however, remained critical for Israel.  His path to leadership had been very different to that of his great predecessor, Moses.  Moses was revered by the people as one who had been sent by God, but was not really like them.  He had spent his youth separated from Israel among the royalty of Egypt.  Joshua on the other hand had been born and raised up from among the common people.  He knew what it was like to be enslaved by a foreign power and, as one of only two left who had been born in Egypt, he knew what it was like to wander in the wilderness for forty years and still remain faithful to God.  He had learned much from Moses, but his style was not Moses’ style.

Application for the Bride: The warfare methods many believers have become used to in the season passing away have an element of religious work in them.  They mix faith with something we must do: shout, march, fast, challenge, tear down, intercede, travail, praise etc.  The new warfare will reveal not what we can do, but who we are. The old warfare has been largely self-focused. The new is entirely Christ focused.

God is raising up leaders in this warfare, but they will not be elevated charismatic personalities drawing their own band of followers.  Instead they will be true apostolic/servant leaders, who have been trained in relative obscurity and humbled as Joshua was humbled (Joshua 5:14).  These are mostly unknown leaders who have had their own encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s Army¹ and who have willingly laid down their leadership callings on the alter that He may increase and they might decrease.  They have walked with God through their own costly wilderness time and allowed Him to crucify their flesh.  They will lead by the Spirit, from a place of deep humility and love for the Lord and His Bride.

New Priorities: Rest and Kingdom

The battle for Jericho was waged from a place of rest in God.  There was nothing of man’s prideful flesh in it.  As they circled the city on foot, the Israelite warriors did not speak or make any sound.  Only the marching of their feet could be heard.  Imagine, no boasting, no shouts of bravado, no blood curdling threats, nothing!  This could only be undertaken by a disciplined people who had learned to live waiting on God.  They believed God’s promise that He Himself would go before and ‘drive out’ their enemies (Josh 3:10).

Notice Israel also fought as one nation, not as twelve tribes.  They marched as one, they remained silent as one, and finally they shouted as one.  They carried out their instructions not as Israelites, but as Israel.  And when the inhabitants of Jericho finally heard that formidable shout they didn’t say “there are all those noisy tribes of Israel”; they said “Run for cover, it’s Israel!” 

Application for the Bride:  The emerging Bride comes up from the wilderness having entered the rest of God (Heb. 4:10).  She has found rest from the law-focused, flesh-centred religion that so often goes under the guise of Christianity.  She comes up from the wilderness different to when she went down, leaning entirely on her Beloved and His ability to sustain her.  There is no compulsion within her to act of her own volition.  She has no desire to prove herself.  She does only what she sees her Lord doing and until she sees it she waits in restfulness beside Him.  She has learned it is the Commander of the Lord’s army, Christ Himself, who chooses the time and manner of battle.  She does not react to the enemy, rather she responds to the Commander.

Furthermore this warfaring corporate Bride functions in Kingdom mode.  Self-focus has been crucified.   Her primary sense of identity lies no longer with the clans and tribes of denominationalism but has transferred to Christ and His Kingdom. 

Covenant Awareness

Prior to the battle some important events took place. Firstly, at God’s command Joshua had all the males born in the wilderness circumcised (Joshua 5:2).  These had never undergone circumcision as their fathers had, but now God required them to be circumcised before allowing them into battle.  Circumcision was both a sign of God’s covenant with Israel and an outward manifestation of their separation to God.  In the wilderness years Israel had been physically separated from the heathen nations who had their own gods and unholy practices.  Now Israel would be invading and conquering idolatrous strongholds, their circumcision would serve as a reminder to themselves and their natural enemies of who they belonged to.  

Secondly, God directed that they should celebrate Passover for only the third time in their history.  After leaving Egypt, Israel had marked Passover only once during the wilderness years (Num. 9:5).  Before the battle for Jericho, however, the Blood of an unblemished lamb must be shed as a sign to both Israel and their spiritual enemies that they, unlike the other nations, were God’s own called out, covenant people.

Application for the Bride: No human military leader would incapacitate His armed forces immediately prior to a battle, but once again God proves His ways are not ours.   If those warriors had gone into battle without the legal sign of their covenant with Yahweh upon their bodies I believe they would have failed.  Covenant is higher in God’s priority than warfare is.  Holiness, being set apart to Him, is more important than winning battles.  The warrior Bride has submitted her heart willingly for circumcision, and bears the seal of Christ (Col. 2:11, 2 Cor. 1:22). 

The Bride is Blood bought.  Interestingly, Islam recognises Muslims, Jews and Christians as ‘people of the Book” but we who belong to Christ are more than that, we are “people of the Blood”.  The emerging Bride drinks from the same cup as the Bridegroom.  She is no stranger to the Cross and the fellowship of His sufferings.  She deeply values her Blood-bought communion with Him above life itself.  Her priority is always her relationship with Christ her Bridegroom and warfare, like other ministry, rightfully takes a secondary place.

A New Revelation of Warfare

When Jericho’s walls came down each one ‘went up into the city, every man straight  before him” (Josh. 6:20).  Each knew what to do and how to do it.  There was no jockeying for position.  Each one had their portion of the victory and advanced to take the enemy ground right before him. 

Application for the Bride: Hierarchy has no place in the new spiritual warfare.  The battle is the responsibility of each one, not just a few. In the same way the victory also belongs to each one, not just a few.

The Bride’s authority and influence will be defined atmospherically, not geographically.  In recent years the intercessory and spiritual warfare movements have largely focused on groups of believers gathering at specific geographical locations to engage and pull down local and regional demonic principalities.  A shift is coming towards a more mature understanding of spiritual warfare wherein Bridal warfare will be initiated, led and maintained entirely in and by the Spirit of God. Any man-directed requirement for assembling at a geographically specified battlefield to deal with territorial entities will become irrelevant.  The battle is now Kingdom to kingdom, it is global, and it is coming to us.

Summary

God is leading the Bride into a new style of warfare.  The warfare that the previous generation has waged has had limited success at best.  It has been a learning curve, but now comes the real thing.  This warfare can only be waged successfully by a Bride who has entered into the rest of God.  The Bride wars from this spiritual base, and does not leave it. 

Be still.  The Lord is about to do something new and utterly beyond our experience.

 

¹ I believe the Commander of the Lord’s army who met Joshua outside the walls of Jericho was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.   Others believe this may have been a high ranking angel.  However, the fact that Joshua’s worship was accepted suggests strongly this was the Lord Himself.  This article is therefore written from that viewpoint.

Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2013



Categories: Life in Christ, The Bride of Christ, The Kingdom, Words of Grace and Truth

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. Hi I have posted this on my new blog. I am greatly encourage. God abudantly bless you!

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  2. Wow. Wow. Wow. I was just working my way through a backlog of emails (having been in a period of rest) when I found this. Yes! Cheryl, it is happening now! This is what we saw in the spiritual battle we were part of in March to May. Repentance, reconciliation, a coming together of tribes, warring from a place of rest and thanksgiving, responding to Abba’s voice and not reacting to fear of the enemy, a leadership based on humility and love and not self-aggrandizement, a bride willing to lay down all talents and natural abilities counter-intuitively in submission to Him. Yes, yes, and yes! God is so good!!!

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      • There is only one place for the Bride of Christ and that is living deep in His heart every day not only in unity but as One, and both, Christ and His Bride as One in Their Fathers Heart. Every day hearing the Fathers heart and doing ONLY what the Father says out of consumed love for the Father, sharing with her Bridegroom the Fathers love. The place of absolute victory. When living there every day in reality, then Father sends the warrior angels to do His bidding. The Bride needs to stop eating the bread of works and come into her Bridegrooms heart and into Fathers heart. That is where the victory lies. Ria Aucamp

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      • Thanks for your comments Ria!

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  3. I am not sure what you mean by a ‘new’ kind of spiritual warfare. Do you mean ‘new’ as in not of the old religious system instituted by Constantine? Or do you mean entirely new, as in different to anything anyone has seen before. I believe your post is very uplifting and encouraging. I have always believed that when we put on the armour of God to defend ourselves, we are putting on Christ. Every part of the armour is Christ, salvation, righteousness, faith, truth, the gospel, the word of God, all of which are Christ. If we have the mind of Christ, and we are abiding in the vine, walking in the Spirit, then we will be protected from the fiery darts of the evil one. How then is there going to be a new kind of warfare since Paul talked about wrestling not against flesh and blood but principalities and powers thousands of years ago. Surelly the true believer will be able to live as previous generations of true believers by the same spirit who is eternal and not ageless, and therefore his ways are unchanging.

    I do appreciate everything you have written here and enjoyed your ability to speak with clarity. However, I wonder if you might elaborate on this for me?

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    • Hi Annie, Thankyou for responding to The Bride at War. Your comments are well thought out. You wrote: “I am not sure what you mean by a ‘new’ kind of spiritual warfare. Do you mean ‘new’ as in not of the old religious system instituted by Constantine? Or do you mean entirely new, as in different to anything anyone has seen before?” Well, I mean both of those. God is not changing, His word is not changing, the Holy Spirit is not changing, but we His people are being changed from one revelation of glory to another. By using the term ‘new kind of spiritual warfare” I mean the Bride of Christ is growing in her understanding that spiritual warfare comes from her deep rest in God. In the past many Christians have interpreted the New Testament passages on spiritual warfare through the eyes of their flesh. Strategies have emerged over recent times that emphasised proving one’s authority, but not from a place of rest in Christ. I am saying the Holy Spirit is leading the Bride, who was led into the spiritual wilderness and is now beginning to emerge, into a warfare engaged in from a new and deeper place in Christ. This brings forth a new kind of warfare because of a deep work of the Spirit in our hearts. Not ‘new’ in the sense that God’s word is added to, or that our position in Christ is changed, but ‘new’ in the sense that it is free of carnal religion and fought from a new perspective. It is new because we have not known it before. As Joshua said to Israel: “you have not passed this way before.” It is not about any of the foundational truths changing….it is about God’s people changing through deeper revelation of Christ.

      Thankyou for taking part in the conversation,
      CM

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      • Thankyou for responding. I appreciate your answer, and I feel much more at peace now. My loved ones and I are also coming into something which we have not had before, and yet I feel that there must have been those who came before us, down the ages, who also knew this place. I wonder if the fact that modern times are changing so fast, that the days of Noah and Lot are upon us, is causing the Spirit of God to bring his people into a greater understanding of Him. We certainly need it.

        Thankyou again.

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  4. What a witness the Lord gives to this word. Deep calling unto deep.
    Thanks Cheryl

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  5. We’re still in preparation stage… one very important step has to be accomplished yet, before the “Bride” can act as ONE in spiritual authority. I see the Lord preparing the ground for this step… but it isn’t finished yet.
    For years the Lord has shown me the “Bride” won’t be a bunch of loners… but a “corporate entity” connected and directed by the head (Christ) alone as you wrote beautifully. A people lost in God acting on His word alone.
    Yes, we have to learn this first for ourselves in the wilderness with our Beloved alone… but then after having passed through fundamental changes He installs us into His body (no human organisation!!!) and we will work hand in hand after His direction alone.
    The still missing part is, the Lord has to destroy and remold the position the sisters have in the body!
    The today practice is against His plan of creation. God made Hava to complete Adam in ONENESS… and so the Bride needs to have the sisters being brought into their full calling to achieve FULLNESS IN ONENESS… yes, dear bros: WE WON’T MAKE IT WITHOUT THEM!
    Though carrying this burden around for some years… I had a blessed exchange with a dear brother recently making me glad by seeing him agreeing with me :-D!
    (He had to suffer dearly being inundated by my mails coming at him like a breaking dam ;-)… but don’t worry: We got both blessed!)
    Yes, dear Desertflower, you’re desperately awaited by some rare Desertmen. They need you as you need them… and laying ourselves on the altar of love in ONENESS… we will be able to become His radiant beauty He so longs to run away with!

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    • Thankyou Markus for your comment. The Bride emerging from the wilderness indeed is one people regardless of race, class or gender. These are three areas which have greatly divided the church in the past and in many parts of the church these three areas of division and prejudice are still very active, so I do not see the gender issue as the only problem still to be overcome in that sense. However, the Bride referred to in the article is a company of people who have had their flesh crucified. The issue of subjugation of women that has been present in the church for many hundreds of years and which was brought in by human bias, not the will of God, is very much on the Lord’s heart and great changes are taking place in that area in much of the church. In other parts of the church the issue of male control has only become even more entrenched. These issues may seem still to need much work to us, but I believe the Lord has a different perspective. When the flesh is being dealt with as it has been with the emerging Bride bias and prejudice must die. The Bride is ‘in Christ’ and as we know, ‘in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I believe the Bride consists of both male and female believers who have had the three (flesh) areas of race, class and gender bias dealt with through the dying of the flesh life. So personally I would not say the Lord has to wait for men to be willing to accept women as their equals in oneness with Christ. It is a matter of the flesh being crucified and the Bridal company are people who have and continue to submit to that. The Lord works to His own timing, not man’s.

      I appreciate your sharing with us your viewpoint.
      CM

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      • You wrote:
        It is a matter of the flesh being crucified and the Bridal company are people who have and continue to submit to that.

        Right, so it is! We have to know each other after the spirit… and no longer after the flesh!
        Thanks for your words!

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  6. Totally totally agree Cheryl, this is beautifully said (much better then me!) and my philosophy of warfare too! I saw the Lion King in KL in 1994 and God showed me this through the scene where Simba tries to frighten off the hyenas and they fall about laughing at his little roar. Then the place shakes and a shadow and a large roar encompasses Simbas’ shadow and roar, and Mustafa appears. The hyenas cower and panic and flee. I ‘saw’ it immediately – this is how we fight in His Strength and Spirit. Later Mustafa appears in the cloud and reminds Simba to ‘remember WHO you are’. It’s a great illustration – on lots of levels – but especially in the face of warfare. Bless you my friend x

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  7. WOW WOW WOW–this is phenomenally Good. “Not what we can do, but who we are” (and Whose we are, if I may add). Having just come from a recent battle, I benefited from this–thank you so much, God bless you abundantly. Jael-Caddo

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  8. Oh, Cheryl, thanks so much, again, for the reminder that our Rest, Jesus Christ, is where we are to dwell, as the Bride of Christ. Your exhortations regarding waiting and resting in our Rest, Father God, are very timely and an encouraging message to the Bride. And now, looking unto our Commander, we continue to march in silence…waiting and watching in great anticipation, preparedness and expectancy for what is yet to come.

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  9. Reblogged this on TheLeMMons3.

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