Submission and Obedience
Spirit Warfare

October 23, 2004

Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare, Part 4

Many Are Called

Just as King Ahasuerus sent out a call across his realm to gather beautiful virgins to be candidates for his new queen, God also issues a call across His realm. Before proceeding with the story of Esther, we must look at the call of God, what it is and how it works.

Jesus said, "...many are called, but few are chosen" Matthew 22:14. Look further at the following verse:

"These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful." Rev. 17:14

"The called and chosen and faithful" are found worthy to accompany King Jesus in the final chapters of Revelation. Who are they? There is an obvious progression from called to chosen to faithful, so let's start at the beginning. Jesus taught much about being called, and the parable of the Sower is one example:

A farmer (Jesus) went out to plant his field, scattering the seed (the Gospel) generously.The entire field had an equal chance to become fruitful and produce a good crop.

While Jesus taught this to the crowd, He kept calling out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Evidently, the way people listen has something to do with the crop they produce.

The first seed fell along the road. Though their ears heard Jesus' words, the hearers' feet walked on it! Satan, the god of this world, snatched the seed away before it could grow in their hearts.

Some seed fell on the rocky part of the field. Though it began to sprout in the hearers' hearts, it grew only until temptations drew them back to their former life, and the sprouts died.

Other seed took root until thorns grew up and choked it out. The fruit that had begun to develop was stunted.

The last seed fell on the good soil of those who listened to the Word of God with an honest and good heart. They held on to it and bore good fruit---with perseverance.

That summarizes the parable as Jesus told it. Now, let's consider Jesus' explanation of the parable to His disciples and what "hearing the Word of God" is about.

When we hear the Word of God, the Gospel, we are hearing the will of God for us made possible by Jesus through His death and resurrection and activated in us by the Holy Spirit. So it is the Holy Spirit whom we must hear and whom we must obey.

Remember the prophet Elijah in the cave? He needed to hear from God. First came a storm, and then an earthquake followed by a fire, but God was not in any of them. Then Elijah heard a delicate, whispering Voice. The Holy Spirit spoke to Elijah when he expected and listened for God! We, too, must pay close attention to the still, small Voice of the Holy Spirit or we shall miss God's will.

Recall that Jesus said "many are called." He withholds His call from no one. But receiving the benefits of His call depends on the listener!

In the parable of the Sower, the first hearers were so involved in doing their own thing they didn't pay attention to the call of the Holy Spirit. The devil came and took away the seed before they could believe. They lost their call.

However, others who were called also listened. The Holy Spirit sent down a root of eternal life into their hearts. They delighted in the Word and received it joyfully. Yet, after awhile these new believers were tempted to go back to their old life of sin or were persecuted because of their faith in Jesus.

God tests those who are called and believe the Word to see how willing they are to submit to and obey His Spirit. Instead of obeying God's Spirit, stony ground hearers weakened and gave up. The good seed growing in their hearts died.

Other hearers who listened to the Gospel resisted temptations by obeying the Voice of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is the only way to receive new help and light from God. These hearers moved into the next stage Jesus described as the "thorny way."

Life in general brings many responsibilities, worries and opportunities. Things like a family, job, money and health can slowly choke out hearers' energy, time and attention. The thorny-hearted hearers grew too busy, overwhelmed or tired to continue listening to and obeying the Spirit of God and they failed to produce fruit that matured.

The cares and trials of life are not easy nor does this testing pass quickly. Hearers who refuse to let the cares of life interfere with their faith keep correct priorities by obeying the Holy Spirit, no matter what it costs them or how long it takes. The apostle Peter wrote: "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."

It is these few who continue to submit to and obey the Holy Spirit who progress to being chosen. As chosen ones, they bear fruit or produce a harvest with endurance. They are constant and consistent in their faith. They continue to obey the Holy Spirit in spite of opposition or adverse circumstances. They last. They are faithful. They are the ones Revelation says are "the called and the chosen and the faithful."

They are so thoroughly in love with God Himself that the hidden treasures of life in the Holy Spirit are worth more to them than anything the world can offer. They are ready to die, if they must, to protect His honor and glory.

With this parable in mind, we shall continue to look at the life of Esther in Part 5 of this series.