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Evangel Tabernacle | December 16, 2017

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Iron Chariots

Iron Chariots
Paulynne de Jesus

THE IRON CHARIOTS

KEY TEXT

Joshua 17:16, 18 (RSV)- The tribe of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us; yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel…….but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.”

Judges 1:19-And the Lord was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, because they had chariots of iron.

Judges 4:1-3 – And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin King of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Haro’sheth-ha-goiim. Then the people of Israel cried to the Lord for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

FULLNESS is the perfect will of God for every believer in Christ. Yet it is a tragedy that many of us, so-called Spirit-filled Christians, are not enjoying and living in the fullness of God. The inheritance that Christ gave us is half-lived out; the victory that Christ won for us is half-claimed.

Many of us are like the tribe of Judah – able to take possession of the hill country but fail to take possession of the valley.

What is the reason for that failure?

Enemies had chariots of iron in the valley!

This morning, I would like to share on a very interesting topic called: THE IRON CHARIOTS.

(I).       DEFINITION OF IRON CHARIOTS

What is a chariot?

It is an ancient horse-drawn two-wheeled vehicle used in wars, races or procession.

If used in the war, it can become a devastating weapon. With a highly-trained charioteer controlling the horse, the warrior can dash about the battlefield, causing a panic and havoc with a thrusting spear or a shower of armies from a composite bow.

Chariots are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, particularly by the prophets, as an instrument of war or as symbol of power or glory.

IRON CHARIOTS are mentioned in Joshua 17:16,18 and Judges 1:19 and 4:3,13 as weapons of the Canaanites.

The Canaanites are the enemies of the people of God and they represent the devil and anyone or anything that opposes God’s purpose in us.

(II)       THE IRON CHARIOTS IN KEY TEXT

A. IN JOSHUA 17:16,18

Joshua 17:1- Then allotment was made to the tribe of Manesseh, for he was the first-born of Joseph……

V14- And the tribe of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since hitherto, the Lord has blessed me?”

V15- And Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.

V16- The tribe of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us; yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plains have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-she’an and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”

V17- Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a numerous people, and have great power; you shall not have have one lot only,

V18- but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.”

It was land allotment time among the twelve tribes of Israel. When the tribe of Joseph saw what land they were given, they came to Joshua complaining. They felt that they had not been given enough land to take care of their people. Joshua refused to humor them and told them, “Get to work and clear the hills of that brush. You’ll have plenty of land when you are done taking care of the land you’ve been given.”

They responded saying that the hill country was not enough; and the Canaanites lived in the plains and had chariots of iron. So Joshua once again confronted them directly, telling them not to worry about the Canaanites. Once they were done clearing the land, they should organize themselves and go to battle against the Canaanites. Their need for expanded territory would then be met if they would simply discipline themselves for the struggle ahead.

(B) IN JUDGES 4:3

Judges 4:1-3- And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died.

V2- And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin King of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Haro’sheth-ha-goiim.

V3- Then the people of Israel cried to the Lord for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

Israel was once-holy nation, set apart unto God, relying on His power alone, afraid of nothing! Her cities were filled with laughing, playing children. Her leaders and shepherds yearned after God’s own heart. But God sold Israel to slavery because of lust and compromise!

During twenty years of bondage Israel cringed like cowards because 900 iron chariots of the Canaanites raced up and down their highways. The commander of these 900 fierce war machines was Sisera. 900 was a huge number for that day. When Pharaoh went after Moses and the people at the Red Sea, he only had 600 select chariots. The iron chariots of Sisera were more advanced than that of the Canaanites during Joshua’s time. They were all made of iron and were more impressive. Instead of being drawn by two horses, the iron chariot of Sisera was each drawn by as many as ten horses; each chariot carried a driver and four archers. Pockets on the sides of the chariots, loaded extra bows and hundreds of arrows. Iron scales armored the sides of the chariots and sharp knife blades spun on the heavy wheels so the driver could drive right over enemy’s foot soldiers cutting them to pieces.

With 900 iron chariots, Sisera not only have military control over Israel but also the economy.

No Israelite could safely walk the streets. Children lived in fear! There was “war in the gates” because they had turned to new gods. “The highways were unoccupied…..travelers walked through byways” (Judges 5:6).

What pity! How shameful! There was a day these people of God would have wiped out any enemy! No weapon formed against them could prosper. Now, look at these cowards- God’s people-sneaking around, walking in fear. The sound of the rumbling of the enemy’s iron chariots striking fear in their hearts. It was the same kind of scene in Czechoslovakia when Russian tanks rumbled through the streets enforcing Communism. All opposition was squelched! Israel fled the villages, hiding out in the hills. Sin had turned the nation into a cowardly, groveling, powerless people.

(III) MEANING OF IRON CHARIOTS

1. UNCHALLENGED SINS OF OUR LIVES

2. DEMONIC STRONGHOLDS OF OUR LIVES

3. CHRONIC OPPRESSIVE SITUATION LIKE DISEASES OR POVERTY

4. OPRRESSIVE PERSON THAT STRIKES FEAR IN US

5. INTELLECTUAL SPIRIT

Jabin’s name, the king of Canaan, means “intellect.” Part of what we fight is an intellectual spirit that starts to take out the fire of Holy Spirit.

There is a battle in the house of the Lord these days for the radical fire and presence of God. When you look at the church, you see Holy Spirit being oppressed.

Usually when you see Holy Spirit being put in the back room, women are not put in any real place of leadership. They aren’t put into place as pastors, elders or deacons. They are barely allowed to even pray at the altar, if that is even allowed.

We need to be able to move with clarity and a counsel and not let fear, legalism and intimidation shut us down.

E.g. A pastor was visiting Denmark when he heard about this Nigerian healing evangelist. It was ten o’clock at night and he was a guest at the dinner table. Only 1% of Denmark residents are born again Christians but the host told him that this Evangelist was pulling crowds of two thousand people. They said he is a phenomenon. Everybody rushes to see him and there are radical healings and salvations. And so this pastor went with the host to attend the meeting. As they eagerly entered the church, they saw about fifteen hundred people in the meeting that late night. Signs, wonders and healings were happening and the room was alive with excitement and curiosity. The pastor couldn’t believe all the New Age people who were there. He couldn’t believe the witches and the warlocks, the prostitutes, businessmen and women that were obviously not saved, but they were there! As the pastor looked at this group of unsaved people, his heart cheered. He asked, “Oh how did they get these people here? This is a church. Why would these people come to church? Why would the lost come to church? What do we have for them? If we don’t have the power of God, why do they come?”

This is what the pastor of the healing service said to him: “Look at it this way. The people who have been hurt in the charismatic and Pentecostal churches often end up going to seeker-friendly churches. They have their music for a certain amount of time, then a forty-five minute sermon and they go home. There’s no mess. It’s nice, neat, sterile and barren. You see, there’s no fire at the altar. There are no sounds of birthing and travail. And, oh, my goodness, we wouldn’t want a demoniac, someone who needed radical deliverance to manifest because, after all, we might offend people. So we ration out and decide that we are going to pastor the Holy Spirit. He is only God, you know! What happens is that we wind up with names on churches that Holy Spirit doesn’t even go to! It is a form of religion but it doesn’t have the radical presence of God.

Most of these guys are Spirit-filled and were very hot and radical in other decades but they have learned, through a lot of pain, to build a church with programs and models. They have applied different methods because, after all, they don’t want people to continue to go out the back door.”

When the visiting pastor asked this pastor of the healing service how he got all of these unsaved people there. He said, “The unchurched, the heathen are just hurting people. They are broken, demonized and they need to get saved. Their bodies are hurting and so we just advertise in all the New Age papers. We just said if you need to get physically healed, just come. We have the lost coming because they haven’t been taught by the church to hate the Holy Spirit yet. They haven’t been taught to be offended because someone happens to tremble or someone happens to go through deliverance or someone happens to shake and get radically and physically healed. They haven’t been churched that way so they just come and ask if the God of the Bible is real? Is Jesus really who He says He is in the Bible? If so, I want Him! They were unsaved people who didn’t know God at all.”

That very night they were saved and about 800 people signed up for the discipleship class. You see, we as the church, have decided that the unsaved will be offended but the reality is – WE ARE SO RELIGIOUS THAT WE ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE GOTTEN OFFENDED!

(IV) EFFECTS OF THE IRON CHARIOTS

1. LIMITATION OF OUR INHERITANCE

Joshua 17:14- And the tribe of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since hitherto the Lord has blessed me?”

We are meant for more. We are meant to live fully in the rich blessings and liberty of Christ. But because we compromise by allowing the iron chariots of the enemy to coexist with us in the plains of our lives, we cannot maximize our potential in God.

Notice the iron chariots of our enemy love to dwell in the plain or the valley of our lives.

What does that mean?

Judges 1:19-And the Lord was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, because they had chariots of iron.

The plain or the valley of our lives could mean two things:

  1. 1.         It could mean the daily routine and habits of our lives.

Judah took possession of the hill country. Just like us, we settled for only mountaintop victories. We set up our altars on the high places, began to settle down to worship and praise God. Our spiritual life is right with God but we give up the rest of our routine life to the devil. We are touched in our spiritual life but we have yet to overcome the iron chariots of the devil in our practical and daily living.

How many of you are so touched at the Encounter only to come down from the mountaintop experience to go back to your valley where the iron chariots of work demands and child responsibility tyrannize your time and commitment to the point you could do nothing for the kingdom of God?

  1. 2.         It could mean the decaying world outside the church.

We come to church and enjoy the presence and anointing of the Holy Spirit. We are so high in God that we refuse to look down to the devil’s crowd. We look down on 900 iron chariots and said, “The valley belongs to the god of this world. Let the enemy have it. Let’s avoid it. We’ll stay up here in the 3rd floor and enjoy the blessings of the mountaintop. What can we do against such wicked power?”

 

By not going after those iron chariots, Israel presented a false picture of God to the heathen. They made God appear weak and helpless! The chariot drivers mocked, “Theirs is a god of the hills! He’s only as god of songs –someone to sing about! They praise so loudly but act so cowardly! Theirs is only a god of the cowardly, the helpless.”

E.g. In 1986 David Wilkerson wanted to buy a building at Timesquare for his church and so he brought over 500 Christians into New York City to help launch Times Square Church. Most were bold and fearless and got a burden for New York. But some could not wait to get back to their safe areas. They left saying, “What a slime pit! Demons are in control every where! How awful!”

These people prefer to stay out of those wicked areas. They don’t want to go near them. They want to escape to their safe homes and apartments, staying away from addicts, staying away from Times Square, staying away from the poor, staying a safe distance –afraid of these satanic iron chariots. That was the same reaction an ex-member gave me when she heard we were looking into buying a church lot at Jalandoni near Sandpiper. She told me, “Pastor, don’t buy the lot there. Sandpiper is like a strip club and to get the church near this kind of vicinity doesn’t reflect well on the reputation of Evangel.”

What image does the world have of the church? Do they think that the only demons we fight are inside the church and not the real devil out there?

There can be not true revival until God’s people go out in faith to challenge the devil’s iron chariots- right on his own ground. When the revival God wants is here, no demon is safe! There will be no co-existence with evil.

If we keep focusing on the touch and not using that power of the touch to confront the iron chariots in the valley of our own lives and that of the world, we will be like the tribe of Joseph- stuck with only one miserable lot in life. We are a powerful and numerous people, meant for more. Literally, like the tribe of Joseph, we are the first-born in the JECPP organization. We are the biggest church among the 4 city churches and we are powerful but if we still refuse to confront the iron chariots of our valley and that of the world, the birthright will be given to another tribe-Judah. Joseph lost it and Judah got to inherit the firstborn privilege.

2. CRUEL OPRRESSION

Judges 4:3- Then the people of Israel cried to the Lord for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

What is the cruel oppression that has been running over your life for twenty years to the point you are crying to the Lord for help? That is your iron chariot! It oppresses you. It is strong (it is made of iron); its rider is brutal and sadistic; its goal is to steal, kill and destroy. That is a picture of Satanic oppression!

(V)       REMEDY

1. SIZE UP YOUR COURAGE AND CONFRONT

The tribe of Ephraim didn’t want to work or fight for their land. They wanted to depend on their connection to Joshua (Joshua also came from the tribe of Joseph) to entitle them a bigger lot. But Joshua rejected their request and commanded to size up their courage to use whatever is given to them, be contented, maximize it and then they would have the resources to confront the Canaanites with iron chariots in the valley. In other words, rise up and FIGHT. Don’t compromise and continue to coexist with the enemy. Confront them. “You shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong” (Joshua 17:18).  The command of God is still to drive out and not accept.

E.g. Coming back to the Timesquare Church. David Wilkerson ignored the opposition from certain group of his congregation and went ahead to start his church at Timesquare. He came down to the valley to confront the iron chariots of that district. Today, the Times Magazine features a total change of climate of the Timesquare District. All the activities of sin were wiped out and cleaned up. And all the sinful stores are replaced by Disney stores. The Timesquare Church does not just possess the high places. They also dare to come down to the valley of sinful activities and people with intercession and evangelism and win over the devil’s iron chariots.

2. CRY TO GOD DESPERATELY

Judges 4:3- Then the people of Israel cried to the Lord for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

“And the people of Israel cried to the Lord…” It is even stronger in the original Hebrew. “They shrieked unto the Lord together!” Corporately, desperately they called on God!

3. SHUT IN WITH GOD TO GET THAT PROPHETIC WORD

In the midst of all the wickedness, God had a witness of His holiness in the land – a prophetess named Deborah. While everyone else was cowardly, drying up, barren, Deborah was in Mount Ephraim, shut up with God, getting to know His heart, bearing His burden, learning to trust God for victory over all the iron chariots of Sisera. Deborah began to bring forth a pure word to the church of the Lord which was under the palm tree at the hill of Ephraim. There was a message of holiness and repentance and victory being preached in the hidden church! The people came- slowly at first! Rich and poor! The upper class [ye that ride white horses….’ Judges 5:10]; then the middle class came [ ‘…those who walk] – not riding on white horses- today these represent those who ride the buses, the jeeps, the blue-collar workers; then the poor came [‘those who area delivered from the noise of the archer in the places of drawing water…’ Judges 5:11]-these had to fight to survive, they were always at risk, living from one draw to the next and lastly the scribes came [“Out of Zebulan they that handle the pen of the writer” Judges 5:14].

It was men and women –working together. The victory was really won against the iron chariots on Mount Ephraim under the palm tree. It was an underground move of God. The message in this palm tree church was, “Not one inch to the enemy! No more iron chariots! War is here!”

Everyone who came to this hidden place left with their hearts on fire. Barak, the warrior, [‘man of lightning’] had been there. What did he hear from Deborah? “When will you rise up and be men? When will you believe God has the power to wipe out these iron chariots?” And the princes, the leaders and the scribes received the word coming froth that God was about to wage war: Better get in the fight! God is going to vindicate His name! He will be glorified before the eyes of the wicked!”

Out of intercession came very clear direction: “Go to Mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulan” (Judges 4:5). The enemy will come against you with iron chariots at the Kishon River – God will deliver the iron chariots and all the army into your hands!

Deborah knew when to move and how to move. On that precise day she had heard from God. To her, those 900 iron chariots were already junk. “And Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron and all the people that were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles unto the river of Kishon. And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand; is not the Lord gone out before thee? So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him” (Judges 4:13,14).

Why is it that so much of what we do in the name of God is without results, confused, unsatisfying and no challenge to the devil’s iron chariots? Why are our directions not so precise, so clear, as that received by Deborah who lived in a time of lesser light? It is because we have not been shut in with God! We pray only to be self-gratified! We refuse the discipline of private and corporate prayer! Only through prayer and fasting can we challenge these strongholds.

They prayed down a rainstorm and it was the rain that brought down the iron chariots! “From heaven fought the stars, from their courses they fought against Sisera. The torrent Kishon swept them away, the onrushing torrent, the torrent Kishon. March on, my soul, with might! Then loud beat the horses’ hoofs with the galloping, galloping of his steeds” (Judges 5:20-22). The Kishon river overflowed its bands. A huge marsh was created. The enemy got up, mounted their chariots and the wheels spun deeper and deeper into the mud. The chariots were not liabilities! Worthless chunks of iron. Then Barak’s army excitedly climbed over those immobilized chariots, smashed the wheels and tore apart the harnesses. “And the Lord routed Sisera, and all his chariots and all his army before Barak at the edge of the sword…”(Judges 4:15).

The word “rout” in Hebrew means confusion, panic. Panic broke out in Sisera’s army.

When the rain of the Holy Ghost comes in answer to our prayer, God mires the enemy down on his own territory. Overnight, Satan’s power is exposed as useless. God’s enemy will be crushed. The falling rain renders the enemy powerless.

Many of us are living half-full of the God’s inheritance and victory. We only possess the high places but leave the valley to our enemies with iron chariots.

It is high time, we size up our courage to confront our enemy who limits our inheritance and oppresses us. Rise up to fight. Cry to God. Shut ourselves up with the Lord to get that prophetic word on how to win over the iron chariots of our lives. Then the rain of the Holy Ghost will come in response to our desperate cry and He will drown our iron chariots and render them powerless.

PREACHED AT EFC IC

  1ST SV ON 9 OCT 2011

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