We are all very conscious of our being in a time of intensified
spiritual pressure. No doubt it has a great deal to do with the
world situation. [Note: although we don't know the dates for this series of messages, it seems they were given during World War II.] I mean that with such a tidal wave of hatred,
malice, evil intent, with murderous thoughts unto wholesale
destruction, there is bound to be a saturation of the very
atmosphere with evil and antagonism and death which will itself be
registered very much upon the sensitive spirit of every truly
spiritual man and woman, and we are bound, if we are such, to feel
the impact of such conditions. But behind all that there is
Undoubtedly there is an increase of spiritual antagonism by the
forces of evil which is really only recognised and sensed as to
its true nature by spiritual people. I mean that everybody will
feel the effects of a long-drawn-out war sooner or later - feel it
in body and in soul. But not everybody will register that evil
thing in spirit as being what it is, or have any perception as to
what it means. But I think I can take it that most of us are
something more than war-weary in this sense, that we are aware of
an intensification of spiritual antagonism, a determination to
destroy what is of God.
We want to discriminate between the two things. In this
consciousness of things, I was just making this analysis, asking,
"Now, how much of this of which we are so conscious is just war
weariness, and is the result and effect of the world conditions in
general? How much of it would go were the war to cease, were what
men call 'peace' to be declared? Should we be out of it then?" Is
there not something more in this, and for us we should find the
war goes on whatever happens outside, for this is not something
which came with the war. This is something that has been going on
all our spiritual life and long before that. The conditions of the
world may give a good foundation for our feeling the spiritual
war, and may give a very good background for the evil powers, but
this spiritual conflict is something in itself.
So may I run back over the history of God's people, taking in a
great deal more than I can even mention at the moment; but I can
indicate by one or two very simple instances what I mean.
When the Lord was about to deliver a people out of the bondage of
the kingdom of this world, to emancipate them and bring them out
to be His own people, Moses was born. And at the time of the birth
of Moses there had just come into existence, seeming to anticipate
his birth, a state of terrible hatred unto murder. We know the
story - Pharaoh's command for the destruction of all
the male children. It was a going forth of malice, evil, hatred,
prompted by fear, and an awful determination to destroy, engulf,
swallow up and wipe out that which was of God. That was what lay
behind Pharaoh's command; though Pharaoh may not have gone all
that way in his understanding of it, he was moved by other forces.
I think that is clear from all the subsequent instances of the
same kind. He was moved by other forces to anticipate this
movement of God and to engulf that instrument and vessel for God's
new thing. And that world in which the sons of Jacob were, into
which Moses was born, was a dark world, saturated with evil, evil
intent, malice, hatred and murder.
We move on a little and you see conditions in the days of Eli.
Evil again is in the very atmosphere. It is a bad state of
spiritual darkness and spiritual death. There was no peace to him
that came in and to him that went out. And Samuel was born.
We pass on to that time in the life of Judah when things again
are very dark. Through Jezebel into the house of Ahab had come
Athaliah, and Athaliah, prompted by these same forces of evil,
determined to wipe out all the seed royal, that which was of God,
and to engulf it. So she commanded the destruction of all. One
babe was rescued by the priest and hidden in the house of God for
six years - Joash.
So you go right on to the Lord Jesus and this other move through
Herod: hatred, evil, murder, to engulf this movement of God.
The point is this - whenever the end of a specific
period in the goings of God was being reached and God was about to
take a fresh step in His purposes, you have a situation like that
arising every time right on to the end, right on to Revelation 12.
From beginning to end it is like this: a crisis in the goings of
God, the end of one period and a new step going to be taken in
line with the full end, and at that time spiritual iniquity
intensifies, there is a terrific determination to destroy that
which is of God that can secure that fresh movement of God; that
with which the further purposes of God are bound up.
My question, and I think the answer to it, is just there - this intensification of spiritual evil which is being
sensed so much by truly spiritual people, does it not mean and
imply that we are coming to the end of a phase in the ways of God
and coming to the beginning of a new phase? We are all aware that
the phase that has been cannot meet the new situation. Many
people, not only spiritual people, are aware of that. What has
been is not good enough for what now is. I do not mean God's
provision in the foundation is not good enough for the future, but
I mean the methods of God, the means that He has blessed, have got
to give way to something new to meet the new situation. He must do
a new thing. Well, He has passed on like that many times in the
history of His goings on this earth. He has moved from one phase
to another, from one instrumentality to another, from one kind of
means to another, and with the passing from the one to the other
there has usually been this terrific uprising of spiritual
antagonism in which and out of which He has brought His new
instrument or vessel.
You will have noticed that in the cases I have cited, that which
was brought in by God in such a time was a very small thing. Moses
is a babe, Samuel is a child, Joash is an infant, the Lord Jesus a
babe. It is something quite small, but with tremendous,
unspeakably great potentialities and intentions bound up with it.
It does not do to despise such days of small things. They mean
something very great and Satan has a different standard of
weighing and measuring values from us. We think a thing is great
by its bulk. Satan can recognise the tremendous stature of a babe
Moses; of a child, Samuel; of an infant, Joash; the babe, Jesus
Christ. Out of the intensified conflict and antagonism and hatred
and murder of the powers of evil, God brings something which,
looked at from any natural, earthly standpoint, is small, but with
that is bound up all the meaning and value of His next phase in
His goings from eternity.
I will not say anything about the test of faith that that
produces, because it does demand such an amount of spirituality to
recognise the values of what men would despise and set at nought
and count as nothing, for the whole of this soul life of the
natural man is looking for the thing which is manifestly,
obviously to be taken account of: big, successful. And if you see
none of the signs of success and prosperity and greatness, as
judged from man's side, then there is nothing in it. But faith
sees otherwise. However, that is something in itself, my point at
the moment is this: that the passing from one phase to another in
the goings of God, the change-over from a phase which is no longer
His way to another phase which is His new way, that transition is
a time of intense spiritual conflict in which the new vessel is
born, but which is the occasion of all the conflict. It may be
that the spiritual pressure that the true and wholehearted
children of God are sensing today, from which they are suffering
so much, indicates that we are passing from one phase of things to
another in the economy of God, in the methods of God, in the means
of God, and that the truly spiritual people in that crisis who are
the sufferers are the key to the new situation.
I just pass that on to you for what it may be of help to you, as
I am seeking always to get the Divine interpretation and
explanation of the times and conditions in which we find
Overcomers in the Conflict
There is another thing I might say. As I was passing my eye over
this whole course of things, I noticed how many of those who
served God in relation to the recovery of what was precious to
Him, and whose lives were at a time marked by something very
outstanding as of value to Him, passed out under a terrible shadow
and cloud of failure.
Take some of those later kings who did serve the Lord in a
peculiarly valuable way in their lifetime. Asa, Jehoshaphat, this
Joash of whom we have spoken, Uzziah; there is no doubt about it
that those men stood for something and what they stood for is
recognised. But every one of them went out under a cloud. They
failed at the end for some reason. In different ways they
compromised at the end. They did great things, but they did not
remove the high places. They made an alliance with something that
was out of the Lord's favour. The point is that the enemy got them
in the end - that is the point. They stood for
something and counted for something at a time when everything was
in decline. They stood against the force of evil and broke it, and
there was that which was glorious about their lives, but the enemy
got them in the end and they went out under a cloud.
What a glorious contradiction to them is such a man as Paul! He
not only stood for something in his lifetime, but how he ended his
life: "The time of my departure is come, I have fought the good
fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2
Tim. 4:6-7). That is a glorious finish. What about Peter? Well,
Peter has stood for something and Peter was going to finish
gloriously, "...knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle
cometh swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ signified unto me"
(2 Pet. 1:14). He is acting deliberately in relation to the end.
He is not overcome, not being forced out; he is co-operating with
the Lord, he is in it to the last.
This is the point - these others were raised up to
serve the Lord in a day of great spiritual need. The force of the
enemy was withstood by them. They broke it in general, but the
enemy got them in the end, and he got them not by a frontal
attack, but by coming round somewhere to secure a compromise. What
a warning that is.
Now the Lord has called us to be here on this earth to meet the
full power of that antagonism. When I say 'us', I mean His true
children, His spiritual ones; to be here to stand for Him against
the full force of spiritual antagonism, to be His link with the
next phase of His goings. Well, we must take that position, we
must rise up and recognise the meaning of the spiritual evil we
encounter. But we must remember that if the enemy cannot get us by
frontal attack, if we are too much awake to be caught by open
onslaught, he will always be seeking a back-door way of catching
us by some compromise, something unjudged in our lives, some high
place not destroyed, some alliance with what is out of the Lord's
favour. It is all a great urge, exhortation, and warning about
failing in the tremendous thing that the Lord has called us, His
people, into in a time like this.
May the Lord find us strong. You know that the word of which we
are very fond was said by a prophet to Asa: "The eyes of the
Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself
strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him"
(2 Chron. 16:9). Asa made one of these alliances with Syria. The
prophet went to him and reminded him, "Were not the Ethiopians
and the Lubim a huge host, with chariots and horsemen exceeding
many? Yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, He delivered
them into thine hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro
throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf
of them whose heart is perfect towards Him". When Asa's
heart was perfect towards the Lord, then Asa could say, "What
is a huge host of Ethiopians to the Lord?"
We may be in a very small minority. What is that to the Lord?
Then it is that the Lord shows Himself mighty, when the heart is
undivided; but when Asa's heart was divided and he made that
alliance, a thing not according to the Lord's mind, his enemies
were in power and he was afraid. "The eyes of the Lord run to
and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in
the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him." And
the heart that is perfect towards Him can say, "What does it
matter?" - "There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many
or by few" (1 Sam. 14:6).
Let us extract whatever values there are for us in this word.