Thursday, December 4, 2008

THE SPOILS OF SPIRITUAL WARFARE

“Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 26:27). This verse opens to us a profound, life-changing truth. It speaks of spoils that can only be won in battle. And once these spoils are won, they are dedicated to the building up of God’s house.

I believe if we grasp the powerful truth behind this verse, we’ll understand why the Lord allows intense spiritual warfare throughout our lives. Many Christians think once they’re saved, their struggles are over, that life will be smooth sailing. Nothing could be further from the truth. God not only allows our battles, but he has a glorious purpose for them in our lives.

What are “spoils of warfare”? Spoils are plunder, loot, goods taken in battle by the victors. The Bible first mentions spoils in Genesis 14, when a confederation of kings invaded Sodom and Gomorrah. These invaders captured the inhabitants and plundered their possessions: “They took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah…. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son” (Genesis 14:11–12).

When Abram learned that his nephew Lot was taken captive, he gathered his 318-man army of servants and pursued the enemy kings. Scripture says he overtook the invaders and “smote them…. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people” (14:15–16).

Picture victorious Abram here. He was leading a long procession of joyful people, and wagons piled high with goods of all kinds. And along the way, he met Melchizedek, king of Salem. Scripture tells us Abram was moved to tithe to this king of all his plunder (see 14:20). “Consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils” (Hebrews 7:4).
Here is the principle God wants us to lay hold of: Our Lord is interested in much more than making us victors. He wants to give us spoils, goods, spiritual riches from our warfare. We’re to emerge from battle with wagonloads of resources. This is what Paul refers to when he says, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37, italics mine).

David had a reverent attitude toward spoils taken in warfare. We see it in a decree he set forth toward the end of his life. David had just appointed his son Solomon to follow him on Israel’s throne. And now he gathered the nation’s leaders together to set up a divine order for sustaining God’s house. What resources would they use for this holy work? “Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 26:27).

Let me set the scene. After every military victory, David took back spoils and stockpiled them in abundance: gold, silver, brass, timber, money too vast to count. And he had one purpose in mind: to use these spoils as resources for building the temple.

When Scripture speaks of maintaining the temple, the original Hebrew means “to repair the house, to strengthen and consolidate what was built.” These resources were meant to maintain the temple’s original splendor.

Where is God’s temple today? It’s made up of his people—you, me, his church worldwide. According to Paul, our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost. And, like ancient Israel, our Lord still maintains his temple through spoils gained in battle. That’s why our trials are meant for more than just our survival. Through every battle, God is laying aside riches, resources, wealth for us. He’s stockpiling a whole treasury of goods from our warfare. And those spoils are dedicated to building up and maintaining his body, the church of Jesus Christ.

Think about it: For years after Solomon built the temple, it was maintained in good order by the spoils taken in past wars. God’s house remained vibrant and alive, because his people had emerged from every conflict not just victorious, but rich in resources. We find this principle of “supply through battle” throughout God’s Word.