The parable was recorded in Luke 14:31-33:
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
Everybody is in a spiritual war. (See Chapter 30) If life is easy for you, it means you are just floating the same way down the stream as Satan himself. I heard Andrew Wommack say “Even a dead fish can float downstream!” I thought it was funny!
The Christian life is meant to be a swim upstream! A salmon, when it is going to give birth to her eggs, begins to swims upstream. Every female salmon finds the river in which they were born. They might be thousands of miles away but the GPS God put into them, tracks them back to the river mouth that they came out of as a baby. They traverse the water falls on the way up to the top of that stream and lay eggs and then the mother dies. A new salmon would not be born unless a mother did that. The babies need a place to mature in safety where there are no predators. That is their natural way of growing and living. So too, the Christian life is a swim upstream. Many church goers live like the people of the world and never think it necessary to swim against the tide.
A survey was done in the United States by Barna Research. They found that the only discernable difference between the Christians and the non-Christians in terms of television viewing or buying habits, was that Christians do less on Sundays because they go to church. In other words, during the week, most Christians spend their money and view the same television programs as the non-Christian does.
When we are at war, we can’t afford to think like the world does, The Bible has the winning battle plan to use against our enemy, Satan. It’s important to know that “people or situations” are never the enemy. It is the spirit working “behind” the person; it is the spirit working “in” the situation, who is the real enemy! The battle is a spiritual one and the weapons we must use are not physical, but spiritual ones. These are: 1) Calling on the name of Jesus, 2) Claiming the blood of Jesus and 3) Speaking the Word of God out loud directly to the devil. (Praise and worship long BEFORE the confrontation is essential.)
In the Old Testament, God told His people that in times of war, to place all their bold and committed worshippers, singers and musicians way, ahead of the contingent of soldiers. This had a dual affect; it made the Israelites aware of God’s power and it demoralized the opposition. A mind full of fear is never fruitful in war. Moses was the leader of the Israelites and he knew God’s battle principles. He boldly stood on a mountain top overlooking the battle in the valley and raised his hands while claiming victory for the Israelites. When his arms dropped from tiredness, his soldiers began to lose; when his hands were up, the enemy was overcome. Therefore, his two prayer warriors held up the hands of Moses. Ultimately, that conflict was not won by the actions of the soldiers in the valley, but by their leader by faith, lifting his hands to God on the mountaintop. Therefore, fight a spiritual battle with spiritual weapons!
A weak Christian poses no threat to Satan, but a committed one knows the devil’s strategies and also God’s battle plan. These people are always swimming upstream because they are motivated by their mission just as the mother salmon is. The bears may be waiting at the waterfalls for the salmon to journey past, and Satan is always reared up against a strong Christian: this is the nature of war. Some believers back off when trouble comes because they are ignorant or afraid to use the authority Jesus has given them. The book of James assures us that if we go through trials, our faith will be strengthened. The tribulation does not come from God but Satan. Through overcoming trials His strength, we learn endurance. The more tribulations we go through, the stronger our faith becomes and the greater things we can do. (James 1:2-4).
To further illustrate this parable, I will use the example of North Korea. This country has missile guidance systems that are capable of delivering nuclear devices to many American cities. The Unites States Government has a defense system but if North Korea sent numerous missiles at once, an incomprehensible area would be totally devastated for untold years! Millions of lives would suffer terribly or be annihilated. The question that bothers some people is this: the United States waged war against Iraq and Afghanistan because America suspected that they had weapons of mass destruction, but American troops could never prove it! Why then, didn’t America wage war against North Korea, where these weapons do exist? Instead, America sent a peace delegation to this country.
If America had taken on North Korea with full force, they themselves would ultimately be the losers. Instead, they went with a peace delegation: they wisely used “diplomatic discussion” to settle the issue, instead of force.
To put this in context, Jesus said that anyone who starts to build a tower before estimating the final cost is foolish. If the builder just laid the foundation and stopped because of lack of finance, outsiders would mock him and lose respect for him as a builder. No one building even a house should be foolish enough not to first establish the completed price.
Jesus continued “or what king would make war against another king but does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand men” (Luke 14:31).
America is aware that it could never win a nuclear war with North Korea. It simply does not have sufficient power or weapon store. Therefore skillful and experienced negotiators are their only option: new strategies must be applied when the old will no longer work.
Why does one king go to war against another King? This is mainly because one wants what the other has. He wants the resources of that other king’s country. What if you only have ten thousand men and the king coming against you has twenty thousand? Rather than declaring war against that king and lose all your men in battle, you need to make a sacrifice and come to a reasonable agreement. You may consider approaching that king and saying, “Okay, we will stop undercutting you on the wheat prices and also we will stop selling our cattle so cheap in the Asian markets. Do not fight against us. Okay? We lose - you win! We will take a thirty percent cut in our foreign exports. Our country will suffer and our people will become poor, but please let us not fight over this.”
Jesus also said, “So likewise, whoever of you who does not forsake all that he has; cannot be My disciple” (v.33). What does Jesus mean by this? Perhaps He is saying to you, that to follow Him is going to be a sacrifice, because you will be in a very serious war with Satan.
Satan doesn’t worry unbelievers very much because they just believe every thought that he drops into their mind: they are easily controlled. But when God’s Holy Spirit is in a person, the lies that the devil drops into their mind are easily recognized and cast aside. However, the devil plays dirty: he may not attack you outright but the people you love and the things you hold close to your heart may be his target. That is why believers are continually claiming the blood of Jesus over all their loved ones and asking God to place a hedge of protection around them.
Some people decide it’s a whole lot easier to float downstream with the rest of society: that it’s way too hard to swim upstream. But if you have read Chapter 16 about “The Hidden Treasure” you will see that the benefits of knowing Jesus far outweigh any sacrifice on our part. Also if you look up Chapter 30 about the Pearl of Great Price, you will be further encouraged to keep making the effort.
Satan has done a good job in causing people to resist the Gospel. Some church goers have contributed to this lie because they have not represented Jesus in the right light. The end part of 1 Peter 3:9 says: God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Also, 1 Timothy 2:4 says “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Did you notice the words “any” and “all” in these verses? This means you, the reader! God never discriminates. He loves ALL people equally and His death was sufficient for ALL people to be saved and forgiven. His “pleasure” towards us may vary but His love is constant. Every person on earth is in various degrees of sin! God has never had anyone “personally” qualified to work with Him yet!
I have shared this parable as I have, to make the reader aware of the seen and unseen costs involved in being a victorious follower of Jesus. But there is a much higher cost to someone who rejects God’s only salvation strategy. The cost of surrendering yourself to Jesus cannot be compared to the cost of continued unbelief! This life is temporal, but the next life is eternal and our destiny is determined by the decisions we make today about Jesus Christ. No one can be certain they will have a tomorrow! 1 Corinthians 6:2 says: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.”
Warnings are always a good thing. I remember a time when I was helping a friend of mine speak in prophecy. I said to him “Ask Jesus if He has a message for me.” I was then told that I was going to go through a refiner’s fire. This meant that I was heading for hard times in order for my character to be refined. I thought: “Well, I guess even a rose bush, hates being pruned, but it sure benefits from the process.” Within a year the refining began and it was painful. I was glad that I had been pre-warned! After this, I took positive steps to be more watchful and not be so apathetic to spiritual opposition.
Mostly we get angry at people or situations when things go wrong when really it is the devil who is organizing disharmony and trouble. He works through the pride in all of us and it works: we react! We go into automatic defense mode because we have allowed the “offense bait” Satan throws at us, by way of another person’s lips, or by their actions, to control and rule our emotions. The secret is not to do anything: let the bait just fall to the ground and don’t pick it up.
Christian, Jesus is warning you with this parable. If you want to do great things for God and make a lasting difference in the world, it is going to come at a very real cost. If you are happy just to coast along, there will not be much victory or war in your life.
In this parable, an earthly king sends a delegation to make peace. In real life, our Heavenly Father sent His own Son, the King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords to us, so that we could be reconciled to God. Satan is a relentless enemy, but we are on the winning side: we have all the resources of Heaven to help us.
A brief word with the unbeliever: We have each been given a free-will to make either foolish or wise decisions. God will never interfere with our free-will. I pray that you will make the right choices! The Bible says “Choose this day who you will serve.”