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Those Burning Chariots

Bill Knott
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Bill Knott

Bill Knott is the editor and executive publisher of the Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines. He lives with his wife and two sons near Takoma Park, Md.

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  • August 7, 2010
    8:00 PM
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maybe the book of Judges not a place we often go preaching or teaching these days the book of Judges chapter four beginning at verse one the Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after you die so the Lord sold them into the hand that seems a bit of Canaan reigned in Pixar the commander of his army was Cicero who lived in herself up on than the Israelites cried out to the Lord for help forty had nine hundred chariots of iron in it oppressed Israelites truly twenty years at that time that will profit this wife of Microsoft was judging Israel she is set under the palm of Deborah between Rahm on the goal of the country of Ephraim and the Israelites them up to her prejudgment she says and summon barracks out of a minimum dictatorship have to lie and said to him along the God of Israel commands you go take position at the table are bringing ten thousand from the tribe of afterlife and the tribe of Zebulun I will draw out sister of the General of James Army to meet you by the brook to shop with his chariots and his troops and I will give him into your hand Barrick said to her if you will delicately I will go but he will not go with me I will not go and he said she said rather I will surely go with you nevertheless the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory for the Lord will sell sister and the hand of a woman than Deborah got up and she went with Barrick to finish back summon Zebulun enough to live the cave -ish and ten values the Warriors went up at his heels and Deborah went up with in tonight not to us the Lord and not to us but to urinate give glory may our time in your word is remind us of the call will personal involvement in the victory you intend for your people I pray in Jesus and there's something in the soul of every child that hates the class fully unless of course he has the classical but since there can usually only be one lonely at a time most of you know that any of which I speak we dream about the day when that bigger kids or are that older kids thus would get dragged down to the principal 's office on the rest of us broke out into a stirring rendition of I feel good when I was stand and my older brother was twelve we came to know a thing or two about pulling each afternoon David and I would walk one mile home between the school and our house is a very pleasant walk especially in the winter when new fallen snow would make all kinds of fantastic shapes on bushes in the home it's beside the blacktop but as all journeys through this one had what John Bunyan would've called a scale of difficulty it was a slight knoll that rose half the homes of our two worst torment they were seventh graders class as my brother school and is tormented him mercilessly at school and on the way home from school and since I was sharing the walk-through I came in Vermont your abuse through I remember hating those late warm winter afternoon when the sun would melt the snow just enough to make iPhone because I know you well that Bonnie and Steve would be waiting for us at the top of the no they would spend their grinning as we walked closer armed with there are several of those snowballs and catcalls getting by them and running a gauntlet of ice and the views that struck terror into my ten -year-old heart and everything the closer we got to them all on the way home from school I would wish that there was some other way to get home some alternate route that would let us look and miss that they when Dave and I finally been discovered another way home across the fields believe me we did not wait long to take I remember laughing to myself that we had outwitted the enemy we had outsmarted those awful bullies by taking well if it really was the long way home in reality I suppose they had never succeeded in controlling us so well as when our fear of the coming battle meant that we would do anything to avoid they were the masters of Langdon wrote for all of our shrewdness it was Dave and me trudging along indeed the unplowed snow on those stormy afternoons when no one would be there to pick us up and get with the raw a fear of men that we had to take the long way home my friend I suspect that some of you here know that fear as well someone something in your life is looming large and intimidating and fearsome and remembering it thinking about it saps all your strength and makes all your courage evaporates you gladly go out of your way to avoid that battle on the horizon I take some comfort when I read God 's word to discover that my brother and I weren't the only ones who have ever been afraid of bowling in the opening verse we read from the fourth chapter of judges I find that for twenty years the entire people of Israel struggled with their fear of chilled the biggest bullies of the Canada world and you know Jamison and Cicero were armed with something a little more impressive than I will in a land where metal weapons were exceedingly rare they controlled nine hundred chariots of iron chariots that made the plane that is drilled on tremble as they rolled along and procession and the frightened Hebrews up there in the hills here down from the pride thing and thought that the children must be a mighty king that the German professor I had to be okay because of those nine hundred chariots of iron but up in the wild gorges were God 's people had gone to hide from safety there was so something new in the there was talk of reviving and when there was talk of Reformation in the win hearts were beginning to change minds were beginning to be reshaped by the spirit of the living God there was talk of sincere repentance before a God whom they had offended whether idolatry and late-night tales beside smoky campfires old man told stories of a time when Israel was free a time when Israel was righteous a time when Israel was truly the Godhead have you ever noticed my friends that whenever God 's people seek him he sends a leader to fan the flames of revival under the shadow of Mount Ephraim God raised up a leader to keep the revival going we don't know a lot about her background that you don't know much about the special gifts with which the Spirit of God have equipped her for the role she was to play but beneath the palm tree that came to be known as Deborah 's on the text tells us that she sat and judge people every day every day she listened to their stories of pain details of grief and in the record of their oppression by the enemy the conviction grew in her mind that she had to help her people overcome their fear of fear her people had to be led to overcome their incapacitating fear of those nine hundred chariots of iron so Deborah went about breaking that docs spell of discouragement and despair of the poem over people she taught them how to believe it again in a God who could do a mighty miracles she taught them how to pray again and you know lines began to change men and women began to change at standards and little kids began to search the heart than the sign of a holy God and make a commitment in the battle against evil but they knew was coming on the near horizon interestingly my friends me we don't read in the word of God any discontent with Deborah 's leadership we don't have any muttering in the corners that when women were supposed to be at home that women were supposed to be meek and submissive creatures not one voice was raised the question Deborah 's role as a judge in Israel you see those ancient Hebrews had the good sense to realize that when God gave gifts of skill and nerve to human beings gender didn't matter one bit they accepted the leadership of a woman because they saw the fire of God and arrived and we call ourselves modern sometimes my friends we excuse ourselves from allowing gifted people to the rules for which God has equipped them and we say that the times aren't ready for it yet you're right it's only been thirty four hundred years God chooses whom he wills to fill positions of leadership among his people and I want to tell you I would much rather follow one to have brought into battle than any number of weak and fearful men Deborah found herself at the heart of a genuine religious revolution she understood that the time had come for action so she sent a message to the strongest man she could find a tribal chief with the interesting name of Barrett eleven hundred miles to the north of paragraph that even though she made it abundantly clear that the message didn't come from hard and came from the Lord even though she specified in advance the place of the battle and the certainty of success but God had promised barracks at no I won't go unless you go with so terrible had the fear of Jaden and Cicero 's chariots become among the Hebrews that even the strongest of all other tribal chiefs the man whose very name men like name refused to go unless Deborah was in the side even though he could count on support ten thousand of the best soldiers of the afterlife Zebulun Barrick wouldn't budge an inch until he had God 's prophet by his side not a bad thought that the abnormal periods of the average captain but he knew that the battle ahead required more than normal for the need of God 's prophet points that were quickly agreed to go there wasn't any hesitation counterpart she didn't try to hide behind ruffles and lace she didn't try to shyly insist that you know war is only for the madness she noted she was intimately bound up with the movement of destiny and that she couldn't shirk your duty then Richard says Deborah arose went to bear with barricade Barrick summoned Zebulon enough like they did in ten thousand men went up at his heels and Deborah went up with down on the playing events crafty sister must've smiled let them come let them come with their bows and arrows let them come when their rusty swords inside like a comments rolldown Roxanne Ron you see when I'm nine hundred chariots of iron the long for something to do with Cicero was already mentally counting the corpses of all of the Hebrew presidency is trained soldiers would cut that but Cicero Cicero had made all of his calculations as if there were no God has says Iran had made all of his calculations as though God was watching out for his chosen people says Iraq foolishly thought along with all of God 's enemies but it was only dealing with a week and pathetically helpless the group of people it also tired senior citizens some flaming young teenagers who thought he could cross this authorizing the way across a fly on the wall records and the Lord routed Cicero and all his chariots and all his army before Derek at the edge of the sword and since Iraq alighted from his chariot and let away on foot and not pursue the chariots and the Army National Guard and in all the army of Cicero fell by the sword not a man was before the day was over man who had thought to crush God 's people and his own temple crushed by a template driven by the hand of a woman I hope my friends I hope I hope that every violent person who ever even thinks about raising his hands against the people of God will member house is a redeye you will so occupy the mind of the wanted possesses many can't even lie down to sleep in peace because he always fear that had bloodier than his own Scripture tells us that in the aftermath of this great victory over their president Israel gathered for a great celebration of a praise and Thanksgiving and the woman it would inspire it all to prove that she was a superlative poet as well Deborah were told raise your voice and I saw that she will also augment them really has left the high water mark on the record of the world literature wherever you go in the textbooks you will discover that the song of Deborah is treated by both believers and ethics alike as one of the great pieces of poetry of the ancient world it's full of all the fire and the energy of the holy cause that inspired it the reveals and depth of thought and emotion that many people didn't believe that existed that long ago the song of Deborah arises to a height of exaltation in proclaiming the alliance between God and his people according to Deborah even though the stars in their classes Flanagan Cicero but director John the onrushing torrent torrent Kishan March on my soul with my March online soul with my in the midst of all of this exultation in the middle of all the thanksgiving and celebration there is a note of great anger in Britain in the twenty third verse of judges for I have refine these lines that seem so strangely out of place curse now wrong says the angel of the Lord Chris Adderley if you have because they came not to the help of the Lord to the help of the Lord against the might in the flush of trial while the victory party was in full swing we might have expected Deborah to be charitable to those who somehow didn't manage to show up on the battle was on we find ourselves inventing all sorts of excuses for why the people of narrow laws might have failed to come to the help of the Lord against the might well maybe the grain harvest needed every available laborer just maybe the local economy would benefit if all the merchants picked up their fathers swords and spears and an went off to our maybe there were pressing political issues and outlaws just than that required every citizen to stay home and get involved the doctor doesn't know of any such excuse and with righteous fire in her eyes she denounces those who chose the safety of hearth and home while the legions enough by Zebulun were risking their next out there on the play it's an accident of history we know nothing more about the city of Merrill 's today in the memory of her curves and entire city is passed into the abyss history is left only if name Merrill is a symbol for Shane this on matter authors come to stand for useless authors come to stand for neutrality went when no good person can be neutral to positive understand forth after they went no honest person can stand idly by Mayor Oz has become the label of the shirker in the way that the word quisling in World War II became a synonym for someone who would sell his native country in that case Norway to the enemy but didn't do anything so so actively evil as playing traitorous spy no marrow was simply did nothing in the face of the monumental crisis confronting the people of God draws continued acting as though nothing unusual was happening so she became marked in the pages of history is accursed city in a time of desperate conflict and an active friend is counted as an enemy Junior what I said in a time of desperate conflict and an active friend is Canada's men but God conquer those iron chariots of James and insists Iraq without the help of Mayor Oz certainly within the human army at all but good men are almost survived without committing herself wholeheartedly to the battle of God nominal nominal so we know nothing today of Merrill is other than the memory of her curse but I'm here this evening to tell you my friends that the curse of narrow laws has not entirely left the people of God as much as we may flinch as much as we may stop argue as much as we may want to pretend we have not heard those words those divine words of criticism are directed today against the members of God 's church who refused to answer the call to the battle that's on the near horizon the cinema was always simply the sin of trying to save our own back at the expense of somebody else's wreck the attempt to save our own souls without a thought for the souls of others people of Merrill was in the church today are those who want to come out of the essay finding places all cool and unwounded after the victory has been won and I hope I hope with all my heart that you're not one of most of us here this evening are Americans I suspect it's harder for us than for almost any other people in the world to understand the necessity of personal involvement when there's a Babylon it has been hundred and forty five years since there was any pitched combat in the lower forty eight states we used to the idea that you know somebody else somebody else's son somebody else's daughter has been across saltwater and you are fighting for us but I'm here this evening to point out that there is a battle going on on American soil tonight at and on Canadian soil and Bermudian soil it thought Alabama soil limits on Florida soil finance on Georgia sodomy Johnson of the soil and it's not some Civil War re- direction would be more accurate to say this evening that there are fifteen hundred or three thousand four or five thousand separate battles going on in front of each of us this evening there is some issue there is some contest there is some topic that the Lord Jesus has been placing in front of us you know what that is I don't in your life but you've already been living with it for quite some time you don't have to go scanning the horizon to figure out what it is you don't have to go staring into a crystal ball or examining your horoscope the Spirit of God has been talking to you over many months about what the issue is in your community and your life in your charts in this movement my friends this is in the battle that you can get someone else to fight for you can't wait for someone else to get drafted you can hire someone else to go in your place this is in every sense a private war it's a personal war it's a struggle against wrong spirit of God is late on your heart and there is only one person who can do something about don't think my friends don't think that this is the battle and skip don't suppose that you are to be able to climb out from under your rock after the battle is over and still claim a share in the victory if you're going to dance at the victory party you better have been there when the battle was on those who hide in fear during the battle pictures as there counted the enemies of God Scripture bombs actually with numerous examples of the sin of their odds from the lips of Jesus himself we hear the Annunciation of that unfaithful servant who took his talent and did nothing we hear Jesus cursing back showing big tree that produces many leaves but in the way of fruit to produce nothing we hear Jesus rebuking that lukewarm church of Laodicea which thought it was rich and increased in goods and backfilling of the things I found it possessed nothing in his awful word to them is because you are lukewarm neither hot nor cold I will spew you out of my mouth friends there really is such a thing as the sin of omission it's in the Jesus talks about and if God forbid any of us could be lost in the I don't think it will primarily be because of all of the bad things we did but because of the good things we failed the sin of Merrill on it it's not a sin of impetuous mints it's not just a mistaken opinion like choosing vanilla when every sane person knows you should choose chocolate now the sin of marrow as is the sin of a person or a family or church or a campus or a con France is gotten used to only low risk investments a person or a family or a church or a campus or conference that is decided it wants all of risk portfolio as it goes in the future it's the sin of fear for those who have lost the fire of their first love out there thinking about becoming that you may be thinking that these are pretty strong words this is pretty tough line with the Lord himself is leaving his people and about the person who hides in fear if I hide in fear I am calling God a liar because he has said I will give says Iraq and the front too long my friend Seventh-day Adventists have allowed our fear of conflict to incapacitate us and cripple you forget the words of the Lord when he said I have not come to bring peace but a sword we ignore the plain language of the Lord when he said he that is not with me is against the struggle in which God 's church is always engaged is a struggle between the truth and a world that is determined to stamp it out well you say that such right I agree with you Bill that's the kind of thing that others really need to hear that about forty percent of never come church but are still honorable that fifty percent to never return a faithful time to support the church with our offerings they realize well I agree with you may need to realize that unless they join in the struggle there up and end up on the winning side but my friends I am speaking tonight to sixty percent incumbent church I'm talking tonight to the fifty percent return of faith I'm talking to men and women who are ministry leaders who are local church leaders who are leaders of movements and ministries across the face of this denomination men and women who make plans and then look for support and try to think strategically and thirty one years of ministry and taught me that these words from the song of Deborah apply to God 's people today with the same force as they were once directed remember that the city of Merrill is undoubtedly had its leaders as well there was probably some tribal chieftain there was probably some local elder there was probably some Marrazzo young conference presidency would stand up in front of his people and say nothing of substance this really is enough I got no quarrel with this originator they've always treated us fairly well eleven days besides there's a whole work it won't get done around here we all go running off to war that crunching sound you're hearing now is all that comes unstuck my wife will tell you that I have never been particularly light on my feet great many of my friends the great pity is that we have so long thought of conflict of any kind as something to be avoided and were hardly able to recognize a moral battle and we see one now the great rallying cry of my generation was nothing more profound then show ten years ago I followed bumper stickers all around Washington DC the gently said whatever my sons are part of a generation that puts a premium on looking cool and slack and cleaned and I but those who don't want to get involved Mozilla chorus show those who are willing to follow what Virgil wherever those who want to stay cool and funny unclean in a world of pain and sin entered I hear the truth and the truth is matter of will disappear minerals will vanish without a trace mineral will be destroyed by its own apathy as surely as if an enemy attack therefore modern Christians we sometimes justify those fears by saying to each other well but will of God will be worked out in the end God really doesn't need our tiny help is after all why why stress yourself about things that are wrong in the world I mean if we just wait long enough the Lord will come in like fearful children like Dave and me in grade school we take the Long Way home we avoid the very conflict with sin would give us laughed encouraging confidence were afraid of offending the forces of evil as though righteousness was just a matter of good breeding my friends go ahead at the devil was flat on your long for a poster on your door that says it has for me and my house is for me and my family ever get my discharge from AMI conference we will serve the Lord Rodman again through this thing without a fight my friend the evil in this world is very strong and we will surely be wrestling against it until that very moment when Jesus breaks through the eastern stop story is told of a man walking one day came across two boys fighting as he watched he saw one of them pounding the other whom he had already tackled on the ground is always stop the apparent attack her and said you know you really shouldn't hit a man who was already down and wiping the sweat in the blood from his four head the boys stood up and set off but you don't know what trouble I had to get into my friends don't let some misguided notion sympathy or tolerance keep you from acting in the name of goodness when God gives you the chance goodness is a fragile thing in this world it's also easily crushed out by that iron chariot of evil the real measure of your commitment to anything is your willingness to defend that against the attacks made on it that's true of your home that's true of your family that's true of your local church that's true of this worldwide movement of God by defending something we come to know how much we value sometimes I worry I worry that is Seventh-day Adventist Christians we haven't sufficiently involved ourselves in the struggle for goodness in this war perhaps because we've had one eye fixed on the soon coming of the Lord we haven't noticed we are not as the ground that he was gaining all around us the friends I believe in the soon coming of Jesus I believe in the soon coming of Jesus will never be a justification for ignoring the battle against evil that goes on in your living room in your community and your church throughout the world wide range of this movement tell me my friends felt when the big developers best laid plans will displace twenty Hispanic families who literally have no other place to live is there a moral issue involved when ravaging problems with alcohol and drugs are destroying the lives of teenagers and adults in your community on your streets is there a moral issue involved when hundreds of Adventist young adults are being led down the garden path the theistic evolution sums a lose their faith in Jesus is there a moral issue involved in growing percentages of the material resources that God has blessed his people within North America are spent on getting deeper at sanctuary instead of deeper compassion for the lost is there a moral issue involved when the apparatus of so many of our structures is better to set up turning out receipts and giving reimbursements than focusing on revival and reformation is not a moral issue involved under the new something today that most evidence ministers won't do I do take exception to the Scripture here in my hand I take exception to what the word of God says I'm not yet educated and says Iraq are not bad they are not dead but remind you that Cicero he raises his head with every new television the gets us to laugh at things that the holy word of God calls honorable things like marriage and religion and honor and loyalty Cicero loves sensor comes to life with whatever he and some that flaunts godlessness in immorality and pokes fun at people who hold to the values of the word of God says or comes to life again every time anywhere the government restricts the right of its citizens to worship the God of their conscience whether those are Iraqi Baptists or Pakistani Adventists Bible believing Sabbath keepers who risk their jobs on Friday afternoon when they go home to keep the commandment of Cicero thrives on the front pages of the tabloids that screams sex and scandal and three inch type Sisera comes back from the dead wherever God 's little one hundred because we just can't figure we just can read the twenty fifth chapter of Matthew my friends see what it is that Jesus says he really cares about Indiana at all Jesus wants the answer to some fairly simple questions did you feed my hungry people to get a cup of cold water in my name did you left up your hand to defend themselves vigilant of their hands to defend the weak are those who were weak in faith to just stand up when it was you were called for can you recognize a moral battle witnessing call to you tonight Bruce beavering the straw in your corner of the being this is a way on God 's side in this running warfare against the hostesses make a choice today that the God of Deborah and be your God make a choice today that the God of the courageous men and women who raised up this movement will be the Lord of your life commit yourself today to being a man or a woman in whom the Spirit of God still burns with that only five Ellen White said it would require she said it with courage she said with conviction there is indeed a great controversy between Christ and Satan that rages in the score of my friends it must yet become a great controversy between you and say a great anger against evil in your heart a great desire to see God 's goodness triumphed in the are you sometimes cannot be afraid absolute are you sometimes wonder if it's all worth it under but when next when next you shiver in the fear of the witnesses the ground around you trembles as those nine hundred chariots of iron rolling by remember the words of Psalm forty six will the works of the Lord how he has wrought destinations in the yard he makes wars cease to the end of the art the bridge the Balinese shatters the spear not at this line he burns the chariots with five be still and know that I am gone I will be exalted among the even I will be exalted and they are both Lord of hosts on move on Peru room is medium with my autograph only and not having the maintenance you like to learn more a number of Anaheim is the word the online survey of reason is www. maneuvers

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