Friday, March 16, 2012

Vision of Soldier

On 9 March 2003, almost exactly 9 years ago, I saw a vision of a Roman soldier.  I believe it is as relevant today as when I saw it.

After listening to, what I considered to be a poor sermon on the need for spiritual warfare, Kobus Oosthuizen, an elder of that particular assembly in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, drove me home, where we continued fellowshipping.

As was usually the case, we randomly discussed a variety of kingdom issues, this time way into the night. We primarily spoke about our callings in Yeshua (Jesus) and the wonderful revelations and encounters we both have had, along with that of brothers and sisters in the Lord all over the world. We also briefly deliberated on what we believed He was doing in our midst or what may be unfolding in future.

Time sped by and at around 1h30 we decided to pray before parting company.  Whilst in prayer my brother-in-the-Lord suddenly addressed me saying, “You are going to see a vision.”  As he uttered those words I was already seeing it.

Standing upright, in full “battle gear,” I was observing (in an “inner” vision) a single stocky, sturdy “Roman” soldier facing me. I could see him from the top of his helmet to just below his knees. I couldn’t make out his face or see any idiosyncratic features of his person (and I do not, on reflection, believe this to be important.) The only distinctive aspect of this man was the fact that he was a soldier “dressed” in battle array.

His head gear was somehow bulkier than I had imagined it to be.  He was clothed in a thick brown, almost impenetrable leather covering, stretching all the way from his shoulders to his thighs, where it turned into leather strips (presumably, I thought, to provide legroom or freedom of movement, without which, I instantly realized, he would be unable to walk).

When I saw this covering I somehow thought of it as a “breastplate,” or upper body protection, but soon realized that it must have been something worn by all soldiers underneath a breastplate. It was of one peace, made of solid leather and slid over the persons’ head. (In view of what I am going to share next, I was of the opinion that the absence of the breastplate, and the feet and other equipment, could be as significant.)

His arms hung straight down his sides and in his hand he held a sword. This noticeably, above all else, captivated my attention—because the blade was missing. The handle of the sword and his hand was obscured from view, being covered by a rounded shield or hand guard, presumably for protection in battle. In appearance the hand shield of the sword looked like that used by shipping outlaws, as seen in drawings or movies of pirates of old. Where the blade should have extended from the sword handle, a round piece of steel of no more than a few centimeters in diameter protruded.  It appeared to be no more than 7 inches or so in length.[1] In observing this, I noticed that this odd extension didn’t line up with the center of the handle, as one would have expected. It seems to have been affixed above the center. I wondered why this was the case.

From my perspective, it seemed obvious to me that the soldier was not capable of using such an instrument resourcefully. A proper sword is a far more effective and lethal weapon.

That was all I saw.

Since it was early in the morning, way past the normal bedtime of most, I didn’t think much of it, but I briefly related what I saw both (immediately) to Kobus and his pastor the following morning, as I considered it to be relevant to his sermon of the previous evening.

What I saw, or more accurately—didn’t see!¾terribly reflects on the Scriptures, as set out in Ephesians 6.10-20:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord [given the nature of the vision I do not think this man was “strong in the Lord”] and in the power of His might [this man had been fighting his own loosing battles].  11 Put on the whole armor [some parts were missing and/or dysfunctional] of God, that you may be able to stand [he was standing, but how successfully is debatable] against the wiles of the devil.  12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  [I seriously doubt if he could defeat any of them] 13Therefore take up [apart from the helmet and broken sword, he had not taken up anything] the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all [again this was debatable], to stand.  14 Stand therefore, having girded [I saw no girding] your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate [I saw no breastplate] of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet [I saw no feet or footwear] with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16above all, taking the shield of faith [I saw no shield] with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one17And take the helmet of salvation [I saw a helmet at least!], and the sword of the Spirit [I saw a broken sword], which is the word of God; 18praying always [he was not praying or being watchful, he just stood there] with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints19and for me [in this case, the author of the vision], that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”  (Annotation and emphasis mine)[2]

On initial reflection I believed it to be significant that the breastplate had been absent and that I could not see his footwear, but reading through the aforementioned text again, I began to realize that mush more was missing (other than the helmet of salvation or, in this case, basic salvation knowledge, the condition, unfortunately, of most contemporary believers).

The whole armor was not worn.  Nothing was being done as the aforementioned text so clearly exhorts.  There was no truth or true righteousness.  The gospel of peace was not brought to people (i.e. the absence of feet, presumably because shoes or sandals were missing, and there was every indication that he was not going to engage in such activity).  Faith was non-existent, perhaps indicating that God wasn’t truly being believed and/or trusted.  It seems as if (spiritually) this person had experienced salvation but was grossly ignorant of what it meant, let alone the offensive and defensive power of particularly God’s word¾the sword—which only the Holy Spirit can truly effectively wield in our lives or in the situations we find ourselves, into which we are deliberately being led by God as a soldier enlisted in His army.  In fact, there was nothing He could use at all!

Given the aforesaid, and the fact that the man was a mature individual, the vision resembled a frightening picture.  Generally, unless clearly revealed by the Lord, one needs to diligently seek His face as to the interpretation and application of a vision in order to respond appropriately.   Through the vision I believe God was testifying to the appropriateness of the sermon subject matter—but, more importantly, that He had something far more meaningful to say—revealing the general situation not only among the flock of this particular pastor, but also the deplorable state of the body of Christ worldwide.

On the positive side, although woefully inadequately prepared, the soldier seemed to have been in battles before and more than willing to engage in future conflicts. I did not get the impression that the man was about to engage in a battle or that he had returned from one, but rather that he simply wore all he had to wear.

Could this mean that his leadership had failed him, not having supplied him with the equipment needed for battle? Or was he merely negligent and ignorant of the provision (God had already made) and of his preparedness for battle. Thinking back to what I had seen, I think both are equally applicable. Although I didn’t get this impression, it may also indicate that as a solitary individual he had discounted the effective impact of fellow soldiers in combat.

I had not been asked by the Lord to share the vision to anyone in particular at the time, but in doing so here, having been prompted to do so now, may He give insight and understanding to us all concerning this revelation.  I am positive He has spoken to others concerning warfare since and/or what needs to be accomplished now or in the days ahead.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than others, at some future date, reporting that they had seen a vision of a mighty soldier properly attired, yielding a mighty sword in great victories.

I profoundly grateful for the vision and still view it in serious light.

May the Lord richly bless you in the battles He wants fought, with great and awesome victories, as you encounter the living God, as a fully prepared and enlisted soldier in His great army.

[1] 17.78 centimetres
[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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