1Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. 2The LORD is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. 4Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea; his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. 5The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. 6Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power— your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy.”
16In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force… 16Jesus said, “Repent then. If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth.”
Revelation 1:16, 2:16
Reflection: The LORD is a warrior.
I have to admit that this is my least favorite of the images of God that we have been exploring over the past couple months. I am a pacifist and so warrior imagery is difficult for me. However, one thing that we must do when we explore these different images of God is to challenge our own preconceptions. God is much greater than our own perceptions. Wrestling with an image of God that makes us uncomfortable can teach us to expand our view of God and can lead us into deeper communion with God.
Idolatry is basically the sin of casting God in our own image. God created us in God’s image, and so when we try to cast God in our own image we are confusing the Creator and the creation. We cannot manipulate God to fit who we want God to be. God is. And in this case, God is a warrior who fights battles that we cannot fight. God is our strength when we are faced with, what the United Methodist baptismal vows refer to as, “the spiritual forces of wickedness.”
The difficulty for us comes in remembering that, as Paul says, “our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We do not make war against people. We make war against sin and the slavery of the spirit. Sin is our true enemy, because it takes us away from God (and from those we are called to love) and leads us into the isolation of self.
We cannot triumph over sin on our own. In Christ, however, we are victorious over sin and death. God will not be separated from those God loves. As such, I have learned to appreciate the image of God as warrior. I find freedom because Christ has fought for me. God’s enemy becomes those things which threaten to come between me and God. I have learned to pray: “LORD God, fight for me against sin and self-centeredness.” There’s no one else I’d rather have fighting for me.
Journaling Focus: The LORD is my strength and my might.
In what ways have you experienced God fighting for you? Have you ever faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle around which you needed the strength and might of God to make a way? We must be careful with this imagery, because we can mistakenly start to believe that God takes our side. In reality, we are called upon to take God’s side. And oftentimes, that means that we will face things that will overwhelm us. Only God will be able to fight those battles. Reflect on such a time in your life. How has God continued to fight for you in these ways?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (sometimes in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Explore: If you would like to explore the Scripture more deeply, go to our Exploring Scripture page!
Listen to the song, Lion and the Lamb. As you listen, pay special attention to what s being said about the power of God. If God is fighting the battles for us, the battles against the spiritual forces of wickedness, shouldn’t we lay down our arms against people? After all, how did Jesus exert his power? What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Prayer Focus: Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power— your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy.
Pray for those who are oppressed, either by societal circumstances or by official channels such as governments or other institutional forces. We throw the phrase “social justice” around a lot in our very privileged American culture. So many of us have no idea what true oppression is. Ask for God to intervene for those who have no food or water, for those women who are mistreated and considered second-class citizens, and for those religious minorities who face prejudice and violence regularly. God can shatter the enemies.
NOTE: During these ten weeks, as we explore the images of God, the meditation will be an audio meditation. There are four pictures that will appear with each meditation. These pictures are referenced in the audio meditation and are intended to help bring focus to the audio meditation.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- In what ways have you experienced God’s strength?
- Where have you seen oppression?
- How are you being called to fight against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the world?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Spend some time meditating on the word “justice” this week. What would a truly just world look like? How would society need to change in order to reflect justice? How would you need to change in order to reflect justice? After you have gotten a good idea of what justice is, consider one way that you could act justly and then do so!
Breath Prayer: LORD God, deliver us.