He was with David at Pas Dammim … at a place where there was a field full of barley … they took their stand in the middle of the field … defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory. 1 Chronicles 11:12-14 (NIV).
It was no minor skirmish. It was two men taking on the might of the Philistine army. After the Israelite troops had fled in fright, David and Eleazar stood their ground. It was all out combat – raw courage and gritty determination against a superior opponent. A fight in which Eleazar “stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword” 2 Samuel 23:10.
Eleazar’s stand in the barley field reveals how victory comes when there’s a combination of human and divine efforts. God doesn’t usually act alone. He didn’t pelt the Philistines to death with hailstones and He didn’t confuse them so they turned on one another. Nor did He cause the ground to open up and swallow them or barbeque them with a lightning strike from heaven. For, although God could have done any one of these things, it’s obvious that God was looking down to see who would face the Philistines and receive His supernatural aid.
It’s the same today. God’s looking to see who’s going to stand firm – who’s going to be an Eleazar in your neighbourhood, in your country, and to the outermost parts of the world? Will you? God’s looking to see who will struggle against overwhelming odds with a single-mindedness that won’t allow him or her to stop until the victory is won.
Which brings to mind another little known hero from the front lines. Daniel Nash was a pastor from upstate New York with a lackluster record who finally decided, at forty-eight years of age, to become a prayer partner to the great evangelist Charles Finney during the Second Great Awakening. Nash would quietly slip into a town three to four weeks before Finney’s arrival, rent a room, find two or three other believers who would join him, and start pleading with God. Finney relates one of these incidents in his diary: “When I got to town … a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house. She said, ‘Brother Finney, do you know a father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?’ ‘No, it isn’t necessary,’ I replied. ‘They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.'”
No wonder a mob in a certain town burnt effigies of both Finney and Nash. For they recognized that one man was as big a threat to their wickedness as the other. They were probably right. Within four months of Nash’s death, in the winter of 1831, Finney stopped traveling around America and become the pastor of a church in New York City. It would seem that with his mighty prayer warrior gone, Finney’s work as an itinerant evangelist had come to an end.
We could go on. The list of David’s mighty men is extensive. We could hear about Joab, Abashai, and Benaiah. And in each instance we’d discover that it wasn’t a Ph.D. degree that brought them honour. It wasn’t success at the camel business, and it wasn’t their ability to play for a professional hockey or basketball team. God didn’t honour them because of their money, political connections, or media coverage. He honoured them because they did great exploits for the king. They were honoured because they were brave for God. And they were honoured because they were courageous enough to go on the offensive in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Which makes me wonder. Who’s doing exploits for God today? Where are the mighty men and women anointed by God? Where is the enemy being driven back? Where is spiritual territory being won in the name of Christ? And who are the Eleazar’s in the towns and cities of our land? For the great calling to every ordinary believer and local church is to “Go and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19. To step out with “the full armour of God” and “stand firm … with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” Ephesians 6:14-15.
For when we go to war in the power of the Spirit, there’s no limit to what God can accomplish through us. The darkness will become light, the lost will be saved, the sick will be made well, abortion clinics will wonder where their customers went, crack houses will close, incidents of alcoholism will plummet, Hollywood will acknowledge the shift in audience preferences, casinos will become churches, school curriculums will be informed by a Christian world view, and local churches will become centers of divine activity.
Yes, as idealistic as it sounds, it’s absolutely possible. For God isn’t limited. He’s still stronger than anything the enemy can throw at us. He’s still superior to any bastions of sin. He’s still the One with the resources of heaven, and He still makes ordinary believers into spiritual heroes.