One of the things that our spiritual ancestors, the Israelites, had to do was fight. Life was war for them as they were constantly being attacked by neighboring countries that absolutely hated them and wanted to see them obliterated from the face of the earth. As you read through the Psalms and through the Old Testament, you realize that so much of the history of Israel pertains to the wars that they fought. Even though it was the LORD Yahweh who ultimately gave the victory to the people of Israel, they were still required to engage in bloody battles against thousands of enemy soldiers bent on destruction. Imagine living in an age when you had to engage in hand-to-hand combat with a sword in your hand in life-or-death fights!
One of the most highly prized warriors in ancient Israel were those who were able to fight with either their right or left hand. These were “mighty men” who helped David tremendously in war. These might men “were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand.” (1 Chronicles 12:3) Why was it so important to be able to fight with your off-hand as well as your strong hand? Often times in battle, your strong hand or arm would be injured from the slash of a sword or an enemy arrow. Most soldiers would become worthless to the cause at that point. They would have to retreat to the back of the battle to find shelter. Those who were able to fight “left-handed,” however, could stay in the battle and continue to fight for the Lord and for their countrymen.
What does being able to fight with your left hand have to do with us today? You might be surprised to know that this seemingly obscure historical fact has everything to do with our daily lives.
First off, like our spiritual ancestors, we too are engaged in a war. Although our war is not against flesh and blood but against the dark forces of Satan and the demons, we are in a fight nevertheless. As the church, we are called to break down the gates of hell. We are to fight for the salvation of those who will one day be delivered from the spiritual imprisonment that has captured them. The Apostle Paul speaks of the kind of war that we are engaged in in 1 Corinthians 6:2-7. Listen as he describes the life of a warrior engaged in spiritual warfare:
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left.
Notice how he says that we fight with weapons of righteousness for the right and for the left.
As servants and warriors fighting a grueling battle, we must be prepared to fight even when our traditional ministries have been taken out by the enemy. We must find other, creative and innovative ways to do church and to defeat evil. Even though almost every one of our ongoing ministries have come to a grinding halt, we have been seeking the Lord’s wisdom and guidance in carrying out the mission of the church with our “left hand.” Carrying out Journey Groups and prayer meetings over Zoom and having worship services over the internet or outside are just a couple of ways that we have been fighting with our left hand. Even though we are not permitted to carry out activities indoors, this may be the perfect opportunity to think creatively about how we can still carry out the ministry of the church safely outdoors.
Can you think if some creative ways that we can continue the fight and carry out the mission of the church with your left hand?