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“Terrible as an Army” and The Bread of Maturation

I have something on my heart today and I don’t know how it will all come out. The last several days so many pieces have been coming together to form a chunk of something, and I need to try and put it on paper. I can’t take credit for any of the pieces – and hopefully lots more come (hint hint, that’s what the below comments section is for, too!).  I mean, have you ever experienced a living, breathing ‘sermon’ being constructed, made up of different things that various people have shared, and then firmly woven into the very fabric of life?  For those who taste or are in body life instead of the mere pastor-sermon-centered structure of “doing church”, you probably know what I mean. :-)

“read by all…being made manifest that you are an epistle of Christ,” 2 Cor 3:3

The burden for the Bride today is this – that you are in a spiritual battle, and it’s a battle of life and death. And the first step to being victorious is to recognize the essence of this battle in the very moment life has you right now.  It’s not about you personally and your need for control, security, happiness, or acceptance. These things are completely secondary to the battle for the mature, fruitful manifestation of Jesus Christ in you and the world. It’s about maturity of the Bride of Christ and the advancement of the Kingdom. It’s larger than any one person, and the unified victors will share in eternal spoils.¹

army-with-banners-words

A  great definition of ‘spiritual maturity’ that I heard (one of the pieces), is when we begin to care more about other people’s needs, growth, and maturity, then meeting our own.

Another piece to the puzzle… Israel standing at the border of the wilderness and the “exceedingly good” Promised Land¹.  The original generation wasn’t in the desert as an offensive army. They were largely wandering, not marching, and as children, they were being taken care of and handed their manna bread every morning.  But at the border, the next generation “born in the wilderness,” Josh 5:5, was being encouraged to now, by faith, “take fortified cities- overcome giants – possess land – eat of the spoils.”

“Fear not…they (the strongholds you conquer in faith) will become bread to you“, Num 14:9

Big change here now, to move forward as an army (an “Intimate Kingdom” if you will), and advance something larger than one’s own life! Personally I know what it is like to stand at this border struggling with fear and holding back, both needing and wanting some earthly security and pampering.

There is a time and a place for this, but there is also a critical time for going on with the Lord.

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?” Song 8:5

For me the crossover has come (and still comes) in knowing who I am and who I belong to, and then venturing out in the confidence of leaning on Him. “The life I now live in the flesh”²  translates into, “You can’t kill a dead man.” Unlike carnal methods, spiritual warfare is successfully waged in faith, which is rest in God.³ Another way of putting it, fruitfulness comes in being past dead. The ‘bed of intimacy’ is as much a place of death as it is a place of new life.

What I am speaking of here is intimacy with Christ in the raw passion of His death, burial, and resurrection.  It is not a confidence in ourselves, nor in other people, but a complete surrender to who we are IN Him.  It is taking Him at His word and plunging fearlessly into the battle with others who we are relationally joined to, for Kingdom advancement in each other, and in others the Lord is wooing.

And this is what I see in this woman of the Song!  She is not a woman wandering in doubts of who she is to the Beloved, and what she wants.  She is not striving to measure up.  There is a place she has reached sexually and reproductively that speaks of spiritual maturity, and a desperation right from the opening verse that makes her ‘terrible as an army.’ Personally I’m really struck with this.  The Bride is called this 3 times in the Song.

Another piece to the puzzle I’d like to recommend is an article about the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31 by Lynette Woods.  Talk about a power word!  The word virtuous does not mean what we have been largely led to believe it means.  Not even close.  In fact, it’s pretty fearsome what it means.  :-)  The location of this article is here: http://www.unveiling.org/Articles/women.html

In Love!
Pamela

¹ Num 14:7 /  ² Gal.2:20 /  ³ 2 Cor 10:3-6, Heb. 3:17-19

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15 comments

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  1. Lisa

    Pam wrote: “A great definition of ‘spiritual maturity’ that I heard (one of the pieces), is when we begin to care more about other people’s needs, growth, and maturity, then meeting our own.”

    Lisa: I think this is a definition I hear a lot of believers say. And then I heard Jay tell a story about a conversation he had with a spiritual daughter where it became apparent that in the end, it’s all about US: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and Us (His Church – which includes each one of us). Being dead to ourselves, to me, is more about being dead to our flesh and fleshly agendas. Then we can fully participate in what is important to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – their Kingdom – and participate in it with Them.

    Maturity seems, to me, to be more about caring more about what’s important to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and being willing to continually align with Them. Tuning in on an ongoing basis and being willing to be used by Them, as They call you. This will change us from the inside out and make us into US, compatible with and more of Their nature.

    Perhaps the outcome would be the same, but without knowing that we are individually an intricate part of what They are after, we miss out on so much of what They intend for us. And if we aren’t changed from the inside out knowing we are an intricate part of it all, it seems to me to be more of a religious saying… a doing to appear more spiritual, rather than living from a place of Being.

    Just some thoughts… Thanks, Pam, for putting your thoughts out there! Good to see you.

    1. Pamela

      Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  2. Wayne O'Conner

    Great post Pam. Some of it reminds me of my recent paper that I read at Virtual Church a few weeks ago called Love and Maturation in the Kingdom of Christ Jesus. Your writing for the Kingdom is getting to be so good that you should have your own book.

    1. Pamela

      Haven’t read it, but perhaps someday :) No book is being planned, But thank you for your kindness, Wayne.

  3. Joe Simmons

    1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

    When I was a small boy we often played “war”. I had four brothers and lots of cousins and our war games were grand dramas fashioned after the many WWII type movies and television shows we watched. They were fun games with lots of “shoot em up stuff” and glorious death and destruction. Our weapons were stick rifles, green apple grenades and hay bale forts. The battlefields were woods and boulders and the various buildings on our farm, especially the hay mow. And at the end of the day we all came out alive, able to fight another day.

    However, all too soon there was a real war in Southeast Asia, and many of us were looking at the prospective of the selective service draft. The prospect of going to war was difficult; some people fled to Canada, others became “professional” college students in order to maintain their student deferment, others were successful in applying for hardship deferments, and others, some of our friends and neighbors, the unlucky ones, went to that place. Some didn’t come home. My neighbor friend, Harley Roberts, bronze star recipient, posthumous was one of them. Unlike the childish games in the backyard there was no “another” day to fight again. Our friends and neighbors were maimed or died; some of the most profound wounds were emotional. I know of one returning solder who would spend his nights asleep with eyes wide open squatting in the corner of his bedroom swatting at the imaginary insects that were tormenting him. You see for him war was not a childish game. It wasn’t make believe. It was the real deal.

    We too, are in a real battle; it’s a battle of pushing back the forces of darkness. This battle of pushing back, is not for the faint of heart. It’s for the mature ones. It’s not the backyard game of children. It’s the real deal. Our commander in chief never said it would be easy: he did however, tell us to engage the enemy (Matt. 28).
    Isa_52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…. The mountains (obstacles) are where the battles are fought. They are the mountains of: religion, education, government, child and spousal abuse, bigotry, prejudice, fear, lust, anger, and so.
    The weapon of our warfare is Good News!! These mountains will not come down by intellectualism, good intentions, fault finding, passivity, isolation, bible reading, and so on. They especially will not come down by childish games. The enemy is real and he wants to do us harm. He wants to harm you and me as well as our dear Christian brothers and sisters.
    It’s safe in the Kingdom but when we get into the enemies territory (Gal. 5:19-21) the battle rages. You see in his kingdom he has power. Fear is his kingdom. Whenever fear comes in faith goes out. God has not given us a spirit of fear….. Where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:6
    How do we engage the enemy? What is the power of the Good News? Gal. 5:6 ……faith works by Love.

    1. Pamela

      Hi Joe. Your last comment especially jumps out to me.. about faith working by LOVE. What has been amazing me in studying the Song of Songs is seeing that this Bride three times is said to be ‘terrible as an army with banners”. In context of this book of course, which is about intimate relationship, it’s enough to sit up and take notice, and wonder what connection there is then to spiritual warfare. :) It’s giving me so much food for thought! As is your comment. Thank you!

  4. twotrees928

    no comment as yet except commending a closer look and meditation, for all of us that desire a deeper Revelation, in the Spirit at: Heb.4:12

  5. Paul Rodgers

    This is very good, Pam. There are many ‘churches’ today, “wandering, not marching, and as children, they (are) being taken care of and handed their manna bread…”. The article you shared did bring to light other means of oppression that the traditional church uses to keep themselves in control and thus, Spiritually immature.
    In keeping with your silver thread, a deeper intimacy in the body of Christ will begin to flourish as God continues to expose man’s religion for what it is and reveals the Bridegroom more thoroughly through the participation of “foolish things”. According to today’s church, this foolishness would be women, and because church leaders remain adamant about restraining the their participation in the assembly, they will not experience this blessing. (Half the virgins suddenly realized they had no oil.) Those who are actively aware that there is no separation of men and women in the Spirit will be available to the Counselor within for the preparation of Jesus’ bride. It will happen through the “strong, mighty, and powerful” Proverbs 31 women of God: strong, mighty, and powerful because they have broken free from the chains of oppression, having first been deceived by tradition, and will embrace the full measure of their identity in Christ Jesus.
    Right alongside them are the “bold and courageous” men of God: bold and courageous because they have humbled themselves before the Lord and released their own understanding about how church is supposed to function, having first been deceived by tradition. Men and women will finally become united in the Spirit, intimate beyond the mere physical function of Sex (the religious church) and become wholly consummated with the Bridegroom of their faith.
    My wife and I have been straining forward on this path for several years now and our perseverance promises to yield nothing less than the fruit of intimacy!

  6. Pamela

    I appreciate your thoughts, Paul, including the insights into the gender issue. Not understanding this would contribute to missing the point of this book. Bless you and thank you!

  7. jimpuntney

    The Bride has been given keys for the Bridegrooms Kingdom, as we better ‘see’ our role, we better ‘see’ how we are indeed like an advancing army. Our warfare is not with flesh and blood, but evil spirits influencing, and deterring the advancement of this Intimate Kingdom. The forces of evil will strive to thwart this advancement, but we rest in our Lover/Lord and He provides our strength. We must come together as His Body to better advance the beauty of His Kingdom.

    Great post Pamela, very thought provoking.

  8. Vinny

    WOW ! I ,just like the NIV totally missed this one. :-(
    Great and powerful article Pam.
    It is amazing how maturity( which can’t be rushed) Gives us much better perspective.
    From my vantage point now and knowing His Eternal purpose and who I am in that purpose I see that it was much easier to pick up my sword and rush headlong into battle for the Lord as an individual ( Male machismo and bravado) and swing away at all the windmills I could find, beating the air.
    But now seeing things with slightly more mature eyes and seeing this battle as Spiritual I see I must die …….and be vulnerable and stretch my arms out as He did and take the sword and be cleaved opened to an intimacy that is scary for an ego driven man.This battle isn’t an” I ” proposition either. He and His pursuit of us and The WE that we are encourages me to fiercely pursue the Lover of our souls in a way that will risk ALL.
    Raise the banners …Lets go !

    Another word like virtuous that pours wrong meaning into it is MEEK being a humble, teachable empty handed warrior takes much more courage than fighting a physical battle in a realm that isn’t even real.

    :-O Lord help us !

    1. Pamela

      Thank you so much for sharing this encouraging comment, Vinny. I love your heart and all of the insights expressed here.

  9. Shelby Shock Marsh

    So glad to finally be getting back to The Song study of yours, ive missed it! Some really great stuff here…first thing that struck me was: “Fear not…they (the strongholds you conquer in faith) will become bread to you“, Num 14:9. A few years ago i heard God say “The fog that you are in is about to become the water that you need.” Until just now, i guess i wasnt familiar w/ Num. 14:9, but see it clearly now (along w/ the revelation of the fog & water) that every hard thing we go thru will in some way serve us. Being beyond dead (kind of reminds me of being more than an overcomer) allows us to keep our spiritual eyes on Jesus & not be concerned w/what we will eat or what we will wear. Being truly present in the moment, focusing on the people that are placed in our path; being truly relational in all that we do, i believe, will strengthen us to be a terribly fierce army for His kingdom. It will cause us to grow in depth, in length, in width & height as His Body. And bc of our love for one another, we will be a banner, a beacon in a dark & needy world. So grateful to be on this journey…this assignment with you, Pamela!!

    1. Pamela

      And I’ve missed you! This comment of yours today is so timely. That the Bride would be called an “army with banners” in the Song is increasingly getting more definition. This was beautifully displayed in the movie Braveheart which I just recently watched. There was no war without love. Love for the “bride” was the impetus for the fight for freedom. Freedom for me has become more than just leaving the religious system. That was Egypt, and it is just part of our freedom. But we will die in the wilderness unless we reach for a place to live it out. A place to call home, raise children, and bear fruit. The part that takes revelation, is to see this “place” not as something to reach for by carnal means, but it a place that is in one another, and it expands the more we are relationally unified in Christ.

      You hit the nail on the head too, I feel, about love making us a banner. Banners signify a public display – a symbol of unification – that gives evidence that the Bride is more than just a messy, disorganized force. She is a force to be reckoned with, because “His banner over me (US) is love” :-)

      And I see that banner flying boldly over you!:)

  10. jimpuntney

    “Being truly present in the moment, focusing on the people that are placed in our path; being truly relational in all that we do, i believe, will strengthen us to be a terribly fierce army for His kingdom. It will cause us to grow in depth, in length, in width & height as His Body. And bc of our love for one another, we will be a banner, a beacon in a dark & needy world. So grateful to be on this journey…this assignment with you, Pamela!!”

    This expresses our Fathers heart, and as we together live this out, our Love will become a fire, a fire that will provide light and warmth, a fire that will draw others in, into His Love.

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