God is looking for CEOs – CEO’s of the CONQUERING business.
Conquering Evil Officers.
He doesn’t want the half-hearted, half committed. He wants CEOs.
In the Chronicles of the kings of Israel, a few incidents stand out to give us some powerful lessons about conquest. Israel had enemies, however their worst enemies weren’t on the battle field but in the hearts of the people who really preferred to be conquered than to be conquerORS. They could have conquered, but they lacked the WILL to conquer. They actually LIKED submitting to sin. Occasionally they changed, but in general, it was a downhill slide from sin into deeper sin.
Simplest fact: They WANTED to follow the nations around them. They didn’t WANT God’s way. Or God’s laws. Or His restrictions that would have made them a FAR BETTER life! They didn’t want to be His CEOs.
Except when they were in trouble. Then they sought help from God.
2 Kings 10:30 30And the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”
This had been prophesied by God’s prophet as punishment to Ahab and Jezebel for the sin of coveting Naboth’s vineyard. Jehu would be the instrument: This was the message to Jehu:
2 Kings 9:7–9 7You shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. 8For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free. 9So I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah.
This prophecy was now fulfilled.
But Jehu himself was not a godly man. The record tells us,
2 Kings 10:31 31But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.
Now some 70+ years later God had had enough. It was time for change.
2 Kings 10:35 35So Jehu rested with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. Then Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place.
God let the Syrians war and defeat the Israelites repeatedly. The Syrians were a fierce people, and well able to overcome the Israelites, unless God was with the Israelites.
Of course the Israelites were dismayed.
Israel had a succession of four kings, called the dynasty of Jehu.
1- Jehu (killed all sons of Ahab and Baal worship, as prophesied)
3- Jehoash (aka Joash)
4- Jeroboam II
At this particular time, Jehoash (#2 above) had succeeded his father, Jehoahaz as king of Israel, and he reigned 16 years, from about 798 to 782, We read:
2 Kings 13:10 10In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash (3) the son of Jehoahaz (2) became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years.
Jehoash was the third of four kings within the Jehu dynasty. Jehu, his grandfather, had secured his long dynasty by eradicating Ahab’s household and the practice of Baal worship in Israel.
Although Jehoash is included in the long succession of northern kings who “did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, Jehoash accomplished several noteworthy feats during his reign, including a number of noteworthy military feats.
2 Kings 13:3–7 3Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Ben-Hadad the son of Hazael, all their days. 4So Jehoahaz pleaded with the Lord, and the Lord listened to him; for He saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them. 5Then the Lord gave Israel a deliverer, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Syrians; and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents as before. 6Nevertheless they did not depart from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin, but walked in them; and the wooden image also remained in Samaria. 7For He left of the army of Jehoahaz only fifty horsemen, ten chariots, and ten thousand foot soldiers; for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing.
However, Jehoash secured 3 successive victories during the reigns of Hazael of Syria and Jehoahaz of Israel (2 Kings 13:3-7).
Apparently Jehoash had a little heart for God. Hearing that Elisha was sick and going to die, Jehoash went to visit Elisha..
2 Kings 13:14 14Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, “O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!”
The words of Jehoash are the same Elisha had spoken when Elijah was carried into heaven.
Now comes the lesson. Elisha on his dying bed instructed King Jehoash to strike the ground with arrows—he had a message from God to deliver.
2 Kings 13:15 15And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows.
What did the king do?
2 Kings 13:16 16Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.
The king should have known from Elisha putting his hands on the king’s hand that this was no ordinary action. It was an action directed by God. But the king was apparently unperceiving. Then Elisha said:
2 Kings 13:17–20 17And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” 18Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped.
It was one of the last great deeds of Elisha the prophet. As a sign that the Lord would deliver Israel from the oppressing Syrians, Elisha told the king to smite the ground with his arrows.
To the great distress of the dying prophet Elisha, the king put so little effort into it, smiting only three times, which foreshadowed that the battle would be merely sufficient to subdue the enemy three times, but not to conquer them.
Elisha was a man with a purpose. He knew well that the great victories are only won at the price of intense struggle and effort. He had been trained by Elijah, who was very zealous for the Lord his God. During the great episodes of the grand old prophet’s life he had not been satisfied with merely defeating the prophets of Baal and extras, but he exterminated them, that only the true God might be worshiped in Israel.
This bit of history contains a dynamic lesson for us as Christians. To be valiant for the Lord, to not rest with merely subduing the evil in our lives but to exterminate it. Completely removing the evil requires effort to resist, but more than this it requires unrelenting persistence to conquer and remove it.
As we travel the narrow way to the kingdom, we encounter one temptation after another which must be dealt with. Some of these take years to conquer, but the thing that counts most is whether we actually are fighting to win, or merely subdue.
If we are only suppressing our temptations, we are still struggling with the opposing forces, not conquering, and they will not be exterminated.
It is a delightful experience to feel that the evils of our nature and all their tenacity are losing their hold on us, that we have hope of a complete victory!
General MacArthur once said, “there is no substitute for victory.” Why should we try to fool ourselves with just some doing it. May ours be the determination to fight to the finish, until every moral fiber of our being has been transformed into the likeness of Christ. This means launching a major attack on our thought-factory. Isn’t that what Paul said?
2 Corinthians 10:3–5 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
Not until we have taken the enemy captive and made him work for us dare we think of ourselves as conquerors. We must fight until the victory is complete.
1 Timothy 6:12 12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Complete because we “lay hold on eternal life.”
Even a little slackening of our effort—getting tired strikes all of us at times—can put us behind, and time is an important factor.
That is why Paul warned, and notice he starts with “Let US,” himself included,
Galatians 6:9 9And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Our Christian struggle is more important than any other project in our life. Paul again was concerned:
1 Timothy 4:15 15Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.
Frequently we have deadlines to meet everyday, which are important in their class, but not nearly so important as our work for God. Our whole lifetime is limited. And we never know when the uncertainties of life may suddenly result in even less time than we had anticipated.
But our time is in God’s hands, as David said.
Psalm 31:15 15My times are in Your hand; …
He measures the time we need, and He knows whether we are casually working or working with the energy of faith to subdue and conquer. This is why we need to remember:
Ephesians 5:15–16 15See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Are we worthy of the time He is extending? Paul wrote also about God’s promise:
1 Timothy 4:8 8For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
If an evil persists in tempting us, then we must persist the more in fighting against it, as God directs, using all our God given abilities.
We never want to be satisfied with letting a temptation pass as of little importance, but as we realize if there is one, there are more.
We want to be continually adding strength to strength, and designing new methods of attack.
There is no mysterious magic about being an overcomer. It is a matter of consistent effort and diligence. Remember what the apostle Peter said,
2 Peter 1:5 5But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
Giving “ALL” Giving “ALL” diligence…And after all those additions he concluded with,
2 Peter 1:10 10Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
Peter sees our success depending on the extra effort we are willing to put into it, the “extra” that separates complete victory from defeat.
The complete conquest of evil must be the driving force of our life, until our hearts throb with divine energy. Every morning our waking thought should be to meet the challenges of the day in the fear of the Lord and inject that spirit into all the petty or profound trials of the day.
If our ambition is to only subdue the evil, we may get by in a half-hearted way, but that is not our business here. We are here to conquer. God has given each of us charge of the Conquering business. The evils of our nature must of necessity be suppressed and subdued first, but we must keep fighting until the enemy, the old man, lies dead at our feet.
It’s the spirit of “I’m going to conquer this impulse to pride, whatever it takes!” Or, “I’m going to conquer this spirit of rebuttal, no matter the cost! My old nature will NOT have its way!”
When we are so determined to succeed, we will do everything possible to remove any obstacle that might distract our effort, or make our purpose half-hearted. Our resolution lies in going straight ahead, looking to the future, for there lies our reward.
Fighting sin is like fighting against termites, it keeps gnawing away while you halfheartedly fight back. What do you do? With termites, you call in the exterminator, of course! They spray and leave. No more termites until…a second invasion. You know that you cannot defeat this enemy with only two or three battles, like Jehoash