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One of the great difficulties in understanding spiritual warfare is that we live and think in a world that is bound by time and space (distance). To travel from one place to another takes time. Our perspective is time-oriented from birth, making it difficult to think outside the box.
But in the dimension of spirit there are no such limitations. And so, when we interpret spiritual things and translate spiritual events into earthly language that is understandable to our time-oriented senses, there is an inevitable loss in translation.
One of the simplest examples of this is when the Bible speaks of dragons, as in Revelation 12. Are there really dragons? Well, yes and no. How do spiritual dragons relate to earthly entities? How do dragon wars relate to earthly battles or events? Should we expect to fight them as Gandalf in a physical manner in a half-spiritual world?
To give spiritual entities (and events) a purely physical, earthly meaning or application expresses a materialist view. Likewise, to relegate spiritual entities only to the heavens is, in theological terms, an air-head view. Worse yet, failing to recognize that God is sovereign enough to win this battle with a complete and total victory weighs us down with Saul’s armor of fear. Yet trying to discover the precise truth is quite difficult to pin down, largely because we do not fully comprehend the difficulty in translation from spirit to physical, or from heavenly to earthly. It is hard to find language to express that truth, even if we might understand it.
Relating Heaven and Earth
One thing that has become very clear, not only from Scripture but also from experience, is that there is a strong inter-relationship between heaven and earth and between spirit and flesh. Neither one represents the whole truth of creation, because creation involves both heaven and earth (Genesis 1:1). The truth is in recognizing their distinctive realms as two entities in themselves.
In fact, the relationship between heaven and earth can be seen in the principle of marriage, which God instituted at the beginning. God married Adam and Eve, making them “one flesh.” But they were really distinct beings in unity. So it is with heaven and earth—until the pot was stirred by rebellion and sin that caused disunity.
Because all things happen first in the heavens before manifesting on earth, this rebellion and disunity occurred as spiritual events first in the heavens and then on earth. The earth only reflects the spiritual conditions and events in the heavens. Changes, therefore, must be made in the spiritual realm in order to reflect any lasting change here on earth. That is why “prayer changes things,” as the old cliché goes.
The disunity brought about by sin and rebellion made it increasingly difficult for later generations to understand and interpret spiritual events, or to translate them into earthly language with any degree of accuracy. At this point in history, I cannot see how anyone can really understand this topic without some personal experience to guide them. Scripture gives a few guidelines, but interpreting Scripture depends on the person’s relationship and experience with God—who is Spirit.
A spiritual materialist may believe that the devil is simply one’s carnal nature, i.e., the flesh. After all, the works of the devil contain the same basic listing as the works of the flesh. If A=C and B=C, then A=B. The logical principle is that two things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.
That sounds logical, but it is misapplied in this case. Bob’s works of the flesh are XYZ. Tom’s works of the flesh are also XYZ. Therefore, Bob is Tom.
All cats are animals. All dogs are animals. Therefore, all cats are dogs.
The key is in understanding the words equal and is. In fact, years ago at the University of Minnesota, I recall taking a philosophy course on the meaning of the word is. This was, of course, long before Bill Clinton gave the word its final definition. We now all understand that is does not really mean is. But in our example above, the works of the flesh do not equal the one doing them. We cannot say that the works ARE the person. They are not equivalent. That is why the logic fails in the first example above. If two people rob a bank, they may have the same actions, but this does not mean that they are the same person.
In the spiritual realm, there are spiritual causes that have earthly results. Although the spiritual events manifest on earth in similar fashion, they are properly seen, not as the same thing, but in a cause-and-effect relationship. And, in fact, there are dissimilarities between the two events. One is bound by spirit, the other by flesh. For this reason, we see a dragon in Revelation 12, but see only a banking system exercising power here on earth.
Are these equal, or do these exist in a cause-and-effect relationship?
In Daniel 7 we see four “beasts” rising up in succession, but in their earthly manifestation we see only nations: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Each spiritual entity shows us its “spirit,” that is, its motivational characteristic that gives that nation its distinct personality or strength. Prophecy teachers who do not understand this tend to file every beast into the “Antichrist” basket. But these beasts are clearly nations, not individuals, although each nation does have a king who is the personification of the nation. Each king is, therefore, the primary manifestation of the beast spirit that his nation represents. The king acts on earth in accordance with his motivating spirit in the heavens to fulfill the pattern on earth as it is in the heavens.
As a final note, X never marks the spot, and the devil's portrait on tabasco sauce bottles is not accurate.
Revisiting Events Year after Year
In my 30-year experience in spiritual warfare, one of the first major revelations I received was the simple one-year cycle of revisiting events. The first cycle in 1981 saw a downward trend, while a year later on the same dates, I saw the reversal of this in an upward trend. Hence, over a period of one year, I came first into a death experience, followed by resurrection a year later.
As I contemplate this today, it is clear that my own time-based experience took more than one go-around to manifest a complete picture. That is the purpose of a cycle. But in the spiritual, timeless realm, it all happened at once—no cycle necessary. Obviously, in such a timeless realm, everything happens at once, but this is not how it works here on earth. In fact, it has been said that God created time so that not everything would happen at the same time.
This revelation of the purpose of time shows that we must often cycle back to the same event that we partially experienced in the past in order to experience another portion of it that we missed the first time. And again and again, if necessary, each time seeing another side of it or experiencing another part of the battleground that we had not inspected previously.
Each time we revisit the scene, we obtain more information about the same battle which happened at all once in the timeless realm. The new information relates to what we already knew, yet also adds to the data base, giving us a more complete picture each time.
For example, from Nov. 12, 1981 until January 27, 1982 we fought our first spiritual battle. We have revisited various parts of this battle nearly every year since then, and even today we are in the midst of another Cosmic warfare with the red dragon from Nov. 13, 2012 to January 27, 2013.
The current battle reveals the identity of the forces that we were fighting thirty years ago, but at that time we did not know the whole story. We saw the enemy’s regional commanders and knew them by the spiritual nature of the battleground, such as the spirit of strife and division, fear, murder and terror, etc. But our most recent revisit has revealed the higher entity (archprince) that we have been fighting for thirty years. It is the red dragon. That is new information, at least for me. This revelation tells me that we are probing deeper and coming near to the full manifestation of this warfare, which took no time in the spirit, but which has taken thirty years for us to accomplish piecemeal.
The nature of warfare is that the pawns protect their leaders. The power of the leaders is maintained by secrecy, and when they are exposed to the light, their end is near. That is encouraging to me, because I believe we have finally come to see the red dragon at the core of this dispute. Not surprisingly, the root issue has been rulership over this world. The red dragon objects to the Manchild that the woman brings to birth, for He is the One truly called to rule the world.
The Long-Term Picture
This tells me that we are near the time of Babylon’s fall from world power, and this takes us into the prophecies about Cyrus, king of Persia, who was a type of Christ who overthrew Babylon in the days of Daniel. (Isaiah 45:1) This adds a whole new dimension to the picture, because in the timeless realm of spirit, the overthrow of Babylon was the same event/battle that is repeating today. In this case we are not dealing with simple one-year cycles, or even thirty-year cycles. We can see that the single spiritual battle in the heavens has taken thousands of years to manifest on earth, each time giving more details.
It is not that this warfare “began” in Daniel’s time, nor even prior to creation. In a timeless realm, there is no beginning or end, no past or future. We cannot accurately express it that way. The warfare involves time only insofar as it relates to us on earth. We must understand it, not in terms of past and future, but in two dimensions, one time-based, and the other not.
The spiritual event has every aspect of this rebellion and warfare thrown into a single basket. Throughout each generation of mankind, certain ones are able to pick out certain pieces of warfare from that big basket and begin to resolve the problem by the leading of the Spirit and according to their callings. The results are cumulative over many generations, with each playing its part to restore all things in the end and to reinstate the unity of marriage between heaven and earth.
We are therefore co-laborers with the prophets and apostles and all who have been led by the Spirit in past millennia in a single battle broken up into many parts. The final result, however, is the establishment of the Kingdom of God, the reinstatement of Jesus Christ on His throne recognized by all on earth, and the reconciliation of all things whether they be in heaven or things in earth.