Over the past couple of years, the image of God that keeps coming to my mind and my spiritual life is the Warrior. I love the lyrics of Lauren Daigle’s song Rescue: “I will send down an army to find you…I will never stop fighting to reach you.” I also love the imagery and any song that mentions dry bones coming to life, or having new life breathed into them. What a beautiful illustration, that what was once hopeless now has hope again.
This isn’t coincidence; my next writing project will focus on this theme of God the Warrior and dry bones coming alive. I’m excited to continue work on this project, but I’m also excited to see what God will do in my life as I work through this theme.
As part of my research for this project, I decided to study attributes and names of God. I’m not a theologian, but it’s definitely interesting research to investigate the Hebrew names of God, as the language is more specific than English can ever be. One name that is attributed to “God Almighty” is El Shaddai, which is believed to mean “all mighty and all powerful.” A similar title for God is Yaweh-Sabaoth, which names God as the “Lord of hosts, or armies.” We know that God has an army of angels as illustrated in the story of the battle of Jericho, where Joshua encounters the “commander of the Lord’s army” (Joshua 5:13-6:2). In 1 Samuel 17 David tells Goliath that he comes before the Philistine “in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” When the Hebrew people crossed the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army drowned, the following song was composed to the Lord:
“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name…Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy” (Exodus 15:2-3, 6).
One of my favorite verses regarding God the Warrior is 2 Chronicles 20:15: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
Maybe it’s not comforting for you to consider that a loving God is also capable of battle. It can be uneasy to think about because it doesn’t seem fit with the image of Jesus that we see in the New Testament. However, the early church still used warrior imagery to describe the Lord and our role as believers. Paul wrote the following to the Christians in Ephesus:
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against the flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground… Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Though the Old Testament believers fought physical battles to claim and protect the land God had promised them, the New Testament believers, living in a time more established (though not without persecution or war), were faced with different types of battles. The same is true for us in modern society. War still exists and evil still lurks in the darkest parts of our world, but we are missing the greater picture if we believe that our greatest enemies are the people who disagree with us. I would call that a distraction.
I believe in spiritual warfare. I know that’s an uncomfortable topic, but in the grand scheme of the world and its existence, I believe that we have an Enemy who is hard at work to tear us apart. That is why I find comfort in the names and imagery of God the Warrior. I rest in the comfort and peace of knowing that I am not alone in this world. I have a God who is bigger than anything I could ever face. I believe in an Almighty God who is more powerful than anything Evil could ever churn out. I know that God is my defender (2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 3:3; Psalm 68:5). I know that He goes before me and fights for me (Exodus 14:14).
On a more personal note, as someone who struggles with anxiety, it’s encouraging for me to remember than I’m not alone in that inward battle. When I am fighting against my own inner negativity, I know I can surrender the fight to the Lord and He will come to my aide. He is my strength when I am weak, and I don’t know about you, but last year (and some of this year) has me feeling so worn out and weak. I’m grateful to know a God who is a Warrior. I’m willing to fight the right battles but I certainly can’t do it alone.
Praise God I don’t have to.