Psalms 78:9 tell us of this amazing occurrence: “The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle.” They were part of the army of Israel, part of the army of the Lord. But they turned back, they rebelled and abandoned the battle field on the day of the battle. Imagine the shame of walking off before the arrayed masses of your own family tribes. Imagine the inner torment which must have lead to this action.
What caused this dramatic action by the Ephraimites? Psalms 78:10-11 tells us that “they did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law. They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.” In other words, they stood and looked at their situation and said, “this is just not worth us risking our lives for. They can manage just fine without us.”
The Lord then goes on to list the signs and wonders He had performed. He lists all He had done to look after them. He lists all the times they tested Him, tried his patience. In the end, nothing He could do would satisfy them. They were no longer outward looking. They were now inward looking; looking to self and selfish self satisfaction. That was more important than God, or their honour in the tribal structure.
I wonder how many spiritual children of the Ephraimites have built themselves Churches. I wonder how many Christians are Ephraimites at heart.
The first time I read the Bible from cover to cover, I broke down many times in tears and cried out for the Lord. If I could cry reading His accounts in the Bible, imagine how much He must have felt to see this constant apostasy of his beloved children. My tears change my attitude towards God. He became personal and ever so caring. He was a God who could be and was, very hurt by the rejection of His children. He so much wanted a relationship with them and went out of His way to reach out to them.
Since God is constant and does not change, for Christians today the question is, are we, or will we, be like the Ephraimites? When the end time persecution starts in earnest, when the battle comes to us, will we stand with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, or will we be Ephraimites and turn back. In the battle with Satan, to turn back is to lose. It is to go under his bondage and authority. The battles which are coming our way are not with “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” They are the enemy and not to fight – is to lose.
Many Christians say “well the battle is over and Jesus won on the cross – the enemy is beaten.” In a sense that is true. Jesus has recaptured the Authority of rulership of the earth from Satan and now holds that position. That will and cannot be taken from Him. However, Satan still holds much the same power over God’s children as before Calvary. Those who are not Christian have not received their rulership authority from Jesus cannot fight back. Many in the Church deny the present realities of the world and the Bible and refuse to accept their authority from Jesus and live it out in Faith, they can, but will not, fight back. The powers of darkness are still warring against the heavenlies and us in order to delay the plans of God for us and for them. The enemy know what awaits them – for they know the Bible better than most Christians. They know that an “everlasting fire [is] prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matthew 5:41).
Martin Niemoeller encapsulates the Ephraimite’s position well when describing the story in Germany before and during World War II.
|First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–|
|because I was not a communist;|
|Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–|
|because I was not a socialist;|
|Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–|
|because I was not a trade unionist;|
|Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–|
|because I was not a Jew;|
|Then they came for me–|
|and there was no one left to speak out for me.|
Those who read the Bible will recognise that the time has now arrived for the elect, the believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and God or our lives, to stand up against the tyranny of the enemy; to put on the armour of God and join His army.
Amen and Amen.