What Overcomers Must Know
VI. Examples of overcomers - Special forces
of the Kingdom of Heaven
‘Special Forces of the Kingdom of Heaven’ seems to be a brand new term but its history is as old as the age of mankind. Ever since the existence of mankind, God has His Special Forces in every generation. They existed in Abraham's time and also in the time of Judges. Even during the evil reign of King Ahab of Israel, God has ‘left seven thousand’. The Special Forces in Bible terminology is ‘overcomers’.
In a careful reading of the letters to the seven churches in Rev. 2 & 3, we will discover that God's order of calling ‘overcomers’. The order is different in the beginning and at the end. When He called the first three churches (representing churches from 30 AD to 600 AD), He placed the ‘churches’ ahead of the ‘overcomers’. The reason is that He hoped that all the churches can all become overcomes. But from the fourth church onward to the church at Laodicea (representing churches after 600 AD to the present churches), since He saw the church cannot fulfill His hope, He called the ‘overcomers’ in the churches first. Then He said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches!” (Rev. 2:26-29; 3:5, 6...) This fulfilled His word, “Many are called but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14)
When God made man, He hoped originally that mankind can fulfill His desire. When this desire did not come to pass, He called Abraham and hoped that his descendants, the nation of Israel can fulfill it. Who knows that the Jews would turn on Him. No only they cannot become His Special Forces, they even insulted His name and caused Him grief! Eventually, God could only let them be destroyed! (Is. 63: 10)
In the New Testament period, when the Lord was on earth, He also had His Special Forces of twelve and seventy. It is a pity that in the end, one of them had to be eliminated! After His ascension, He established the church and hoped that the church would fulfill His heart’s desire. It is unfortunate that the church as a whole, also could not complete this trust! So, our Lord could only turn His attention from the church to the overcomers. They are to be His Special Forces during the preparation time of the Kingdom so that in His Kingdom of realization, they can reign with Him. From a historical change and development standpoint, such personnel are rarer than rare. It is exactly as the Lord said: “few are those who enter by the small gate and walk the narrow way.” But even "few are those who find it." (Matt. 7:14)
When God created man, His goal was for man to rule over all that His hand has made. (Gen. 1:26-28) This is exactly as Hebrews said, “For He did not subject to angels the world to come, ... crowned him (people) with glory and honor and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands.” (2:5-7) In other words, He wants us to reign with Him and rule over the entire universe. As to our ruling, there must first be training. Just as the Lord said, “... He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, also God highly exalted Him...” (Phil. 2:8-9) This is why the Lord gave eternal life – God’s life to us. At the same time, He gives us a new spirit. In addition, He exchanged our heart of stone into one of flesh. He also gave us His spirit so that we can be obedient to Him. (Refer to Eze. 36:26-27) He gave us all these so that we can be qualified to receive his equipping and training in this world. O that in His future Kingdom, we can rule well over ‘many things.’ (Matt. 25:2 1) Overcomers, God has a hope upon us and it is to grant us to sit with Him on His throne to reign with Him. (Refer to Rev. 3:2 1) For those with this desire, they themselves must be well equipped in the following areas through God's grace.
A. Identity and personal desire (Genesis 14:14-16).
The preeminent requirement of an overcomer is his identity - he must be born of God. Today, there are many churchgoers who are born of blood, the will of the flesh and the will of man. They are not born of God. (Refer to John 1: 13) They have no life relationship to the Father. Their identity is still sons of prediction! So, what does born of God refer to? The Scriptures records: “But as many as received Him, that is to those who believe in His name, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1: 12) Here it tells us as clear as day that to become God’s children, it is none other but to receive Jesus (confesses sins to Jesus, clean up the heart and invite Jesus to come into the heart). This is the only procedure required to become the children of God. All other methods are counterfeit and false. They deceive and harm people! (The author was deceived before. So I know.) All in all, only through this path can a person have the authority to call ‘Abba Father’. Only then can a person have the possibility to be an overcomer. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time!
Not only the identity of an overcomer has to be legal, his commitment must be firm. In this passage of Scripture, God allows us to see that how precious is the commitment of the well-trained overcomers!
1. At all cost.
Abram led his overcomers and pursued day and night to exterminate the enemy. After a whole day of battle and hot pursuit to the north, they should rest at night. No! The enemy is not destroyed and it is not time to rest. This is their commitment! Even though they have leg cramps and weak hands; fatigued bodies and spent strength, they followed the wisdom of striking the iron while it is hot. They continued to give chase to kill the enemy until they are completely eliminated. This is the overcomer’s commitment. It is also the overcomer’s attitude in servicing the Lord. They do not question how long it takes but only if their entrusted mission has been completed. They rise early and sleep late to seize the opportunity. Whether it is through fire or boiling oil, they regard the rise and fall of God's Kingdom as their personal responsibility. For the sake of God's holy mission, they take no regard for their personal well being! It is truly admirable!
2. All the way.
In the last days, mediocre work is seen everywhere in society. In the last days, such unconscious imitation of the world is also seen in the church. While every word spoken is on the need to be faithful to what the Lord has entrusted, but every hour is spent on figuring out my personal benefit. There is no concern for the life and death of God's children nor the rise and fall of Gods Kingdom! As for overcomers, they are as different as can be from the ordinary! They not only discharge their responsibilities by night and by day, nor do they care the distance involved and the peaks and valleys in the way. Their only concern is to pursue and kill the remaining enemies until they reached the other side of Damascus, Hobah. (Hobah means ‘hidden place’.) Here, we are shown that the overcomers not only executed their responsibilities with their best in what they saw, even in what is hidden, they also did not miss a beat and resolved them completely! This is the spirit of the overcomers. It is also the overcomers that God recruits. These overcomers have no concern for their personal glory or shame. All they care is to do their best diligence and thoroughly complete the mission. They constantly have the attitude that until they enemy is completed defeated, they will not return home. Oh, great are these overcomers!
B. Selection and training (Jud. 7:2-8).
Before Gideon was appointed a judge, the situation with the Israelites was bad. “The highways were deserted!” (Jug. 5:6) When Gideon served as a judge, things went from bad to worse. The sons of Israel made for themselves the dens that were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds to live in! But when they called upon the Lord, He chose Gideon and his 300 special men for them to effect delivery. These ‘three hundred’ outstanding ones are overcomers. It is as recorded in the Scriptures: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4)
God’s revelation in the Scriptures is progressive. It is so not only with the revelation of the lamb but also with the revelation of the kingdom. It is also in the case of the revelation of the overcomers. We have already seen in the above regarding the overcomers in the days of Abram, now we shall see what role the Special Forces played in the days of Judges in Gods progressive revelation!
Every country in the world has Special Forces. For example, Persia had ‘Immortals’, Sparta had their ‘Three Hundred’. Now, we have the Green Berets and Rangers. There were also the Japanese forces that attacked Pearl Harbor and the Israel Special Forces that rescued the passengers from Entebbe. They all created earth shaking headlines in history. All people knew was that they were gutsy and careful, brave above all other services and are able to endure and bear hardship to accomplish their mission. What people did not know is behind such success, how much tears were swallowed, how much grief was endured in order to achieve the success that followed! In other words, they are Special Forces because they received special training.
Certainly, God specially chooses the overcomers of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is just as the Scriptures said, “You did not choose me but I chose you...” (John 10: 15) In Gideon's time, God used the process of elimination to eliminate those who afraid to die. It allowed them to voluntarily discharge and get out of the way. Such ‘scardy cats’ basically cannot be of much use. So, there were two thirds (weaklings) that went home to watch television! But God still said, “The people are too many.” He wanted Gideon to eliminate them one more time. In this process of elimination, we see what commitment to mission and patience that overcomers should have.
God asked Gideon to lead this ten thousand to the water so that He can ‘test them’. The original meaning of the word ‘test’ here is to ‘refine’. It is the same word ‘refine’ used in Psalm 66:10 in the phrase “as silver is refined”. God uses their attitude in drinking water to refine them, to test their commitment to the mission. When the ten thousand reached the water, most of them kneeled down immediately to drink their fill. They did not care if they had neither a mission nor the danger of the surrounding enemy. They were interested only in their own pleasure and their interest! As to those who are worthy to be overcomers, it was just the opposite. Since they have been entrusted with a mission from God, they dared not carelessly kneel down to drink in order not to give the enemy an opportunity! They would rather have less enjoyment, benefits, comfort and et cetera in order to be ready at any moment to face the enemy. No matter where they are, they are able to use wisdom, ability and overcoming endurance to accomplish the holy mission that God has entrusted to them with. Is this what the Scriptures said, “good and faithful”? (Matt. 25:21, 23)
What is the difference between those who knelt down to drink and those who cupped their hand to bring water up to lap? The former can drink his fill in the shortest time. The latter have to bring the water to their mouths with their hand. Since the hand has a very small capacity and every time a lot of the water brought up leaks out, unless there is a lot of patience, they would eventually give up and follow the crowd!
To be patient is not easy but overcomers must be equipped with it! Whether it is to cross a river on a single rope bridge; to overcome obstacles presented by mountain peaks or deep canyons with simple tools; or to conduct camouflage, response, demolition, counter insurgence, guerrilla warfare, parachute jumping and various special training, there must be patience. Should the overcomers of the Kingdom of Heaven pay extra attention? For this virtue, Christ “left an example for us to follow in His steps.” (I Peter 2:2 1) ‘Patience’ has a very important place in God’s revelation. It is the beginning and end of ‘love’. (Refer to I Cor. 13:4-7) It is the number one requirement for Paul to be a servant of God. (Refer to II Cor. 6:4) It is the secret to fruit bearing in the seed that is sown. (Luke 8:15) the special requirement for reigning with Christ when Christ returns. (Refer to H Tim 2:12) May God help us to never neglect the training of patience!
C. Goal and Ambition (I Chron. 11:10-19).
Let us all remember that God’s revelation in the Scriptures is progressive. The Holy Spirit recorded David's overcomers in the Scriptures neither to boast the might of David’s military power nor to publicize their loyalty and bravery. Rather, it is for us to see the difference between this generation of overcomers and the last group. What is the difference? Are they head and shoulders above the last group? The two former groups can be characterized only as the savior of the society and nation. This present generation is not only the chosen among the thousand but also they are the builders of a nation! We see their special characteristics in the two points as follows:
1. With him.
The Scriptures recorded: “(They) gave him (David) strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel” (I Chron. 11: 10) The bravery of these overcomers is not for personal gain or fame but to help David to establish the kingdom. They go through fire and boiling oil not to realize their own ideal but to accomplish God's will and fulfill God's hope on David. They endured danger and hardship not because times are hard but in order to accomplish the people's desire to set David up as king. Their king is what they lived for and also the love of their life. The Israelites are the object of their service. To accomplish God’s will is their preamble. These are the overcomers of king David. This is the overcomer our Lord wants today! Who is willing to tell the Lord, "Lord! I desire to be such an overcomer in Your Kingdom. I want to live for You and die for You! Truly, Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth!" (Psalm 73:25)
2. Without me.
Abraham had ‘318’, Gideon had ‘300’ and David had ‘30’. They all start with a ‘3’ but their number decreased. Is it a hint to us that the number of overcomers would become fewer and fewer? On the contrary, their quality became higher and higher! The Special Forces not only ‘have Him’ but they also ‘do not have themselves’. What they think of day and night is for David to have his ‘kingdom’ and for Israel to ‘establish their king’. What they planned is no other than to have Gods promise to the king fulfilled as early as possible. They regard the king's desire as their own and are willing to set their own glory and shame aside. One day, David had a craving for the water in Bethlehem. He merely said it and three out of the ‘thirty’ without concern for their own lives broke through the camp of the Philistines. They drew water from the well of Bethlehem, took it and gave it to David. David would not drink it and he said, “This is not water, this is the blood of you three.” Today, the Lord's Kingdom also needs such quality people! He does not want those who are afraid of death and have self-interest as first priority. They have the title but do no work. Doctors of philosophy and bachelors who have no principle in their work! He is recruiting those who are willing to forsake themselves, their homes and even willing to sacrifice their own personal enjoyment for the Lord's Kingdom. For the sake of souls, they would forgo food and sleep. For Christ, they would be willing to give up their own lives for righteousness sake and would become martyrs and heroes. “It requires a strong wind to show up the strong stems. It takes unsettling time to identify the loyal servant!” In these days when overcomers are in such short supply, who is willing to tell the Lord, “Here am I. Send me ... me ... me?”