What Branch of the Church’s Military Are You In?
Believers need to know this One Key for Victory over the Enemy
Seaborn Hall, 1/03/21
In Sun Tsu’s Art of War, an ancient classic on military strategy studied in US Military programs today, he says, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Sun Tsu continues “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will [lose] every battle.” The church still fails to keep this one key admonition. Many in the church still do not know where they belong or the nature or intention of the enemy they are fighting.
For much of the prophetic, since 1989, many of us have been trying to be prophets, largely I believe, because that is the main model that has been before us. But, not everyone is called or destined to be a prophet. Even in Ephesians 4:11, the major ‘gifts’ (or offices) outlined are five – just one of them is prophet.
The prophetic ‘stream’ has emphasized the ‘five-fold gifting’ and there is validity in that but one downside is that many have ended up feeling bad about themselves when they try and don’t ‘fit’ in. Or, or they feel too good about themselves and think they are God’s ‘gift’ to the nations and that they too are ‘supposed’ to have an international platform. If you don’t start with one call or ‘gift’ or ‘office’, and the right one – how can you be five? A lot of this wrong thinking results in people slipping to the edge of the church in frustration or discouragement, or burning out all together.
Many today are ‘prophetic’ (Acts 2/Joel 2-3) – I would argue at different levels, and in different senses of the word – but not everyone is called to be a prophet. We need to know ourselves and our place in the fight better to win the war that the church is about to fight.
The Branches of the Lord’s Service
If we were to present an analogy of the military for the church, what branch of service is the ‘prophet?’ In general, it is the Air Force.
The prophets, like Eagles, have experiences and visitations that take them ‘up’ in the heavenlies looking down on events on the earth. As such, they see the big picture and they see, many times, years ahead. They can see the mountains and valleys, the individual battles, the boundaries, and the obstacles. They spy out the enemy and they bomb the strongholds. They alert and inform the ground forces.
But the Air Force can never occupy enemy territory. They can aid ground forces, but they almost never direct them within individual battles or even major campaigns – if they did, it would mean catastrophe. It is the ground forces that call on the Air Force when needed.
It was not a ‘prophet’, per se, to whom Jesus said, ‘The Gates of Hell will not stand against you.’ It was Peter, right? Not a prophet, primarily, but an Apostle, a General in charge of ‘the ground-forces.’
Who makes up the ‘Ground-forces?’ There are various branches: Those that are ‘first-in’ – The Seals and all the ‘Special Forces.’ The Paratroopers and the Rangers. The Marines. Then, the Army.
And, the Navy wars on the Oceans among nations and ferries the ground forces to where they need to be. They bombard the strongholds on the shores before an invasion.
Not everyone is meant to be in the Air Force. Though, like me, you may be prophetic – like me, not everyone is meant to be a prophet. The most important question those in the church need to ask and answer for the coming fight is, ‘What branch of service do I belong to?’
Which Branch of Service Do You Belong To?
A prophet sees things from up high, the big picture.
The ground-forces see the next 100 yards, the next obstacle, the next fortress that must be conquered if the whole Army is to move forward. Both perspectives are essential for the army to move forward in victory.
The lieutenants, captains, and officers and generals of the ground-forces liaison with the Air Force and see the Big Picture relative to their office, level, gifting and connection with the Top General (in the church’s case, the Captain of the Host, Jesus).
In Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hank’s The Band of Brothers, a true mini-series about the 101st Airborne’s exploits parachuting behind enemy lines right before D-Day until the end of World War II, Easy Company is about to enter the Ardenne Forest, the beginning of a big battle and a large German counter-offensive. The General turns to Major Winter, the commander of Easy, before he leaves and says: “You’ll have to hold the line, commander, even though you’re a small force surrounded by a much larger force of Germans.”
Those who are ‘first-in’, the Special Forces, the Paratroopers, the Rangers and the Marines, are the ‘tip of the spear’ in various scenarios in the military and take the brunt of the enemy’s resistance and opposition. They dangerously operate behind the enemy lines and set the stage for the military’s main assault.
As his soldier’s listened, Major Winter’s response to his General was instructive. He nonchalantly said, “We’re paratroopers, sir. We’re supposed to be surrounded.”
Seals, Rangers, and Marines are led by Master-Chiefs, Captains, and Lieutenants. If you feel alone and surrounded, maybe you’re supposed to be in the situation you’re in. If you find yourself feeling lonely, different, a little out of sync, like you’re ahead of or behind everybody else – maybe it’s because you’re supposed to feel that way. Maybe you’re a paratrooper, or a Marine, or part of God’s Special Forces. But you need to be part of a team of other like-minded and purposed individuals.
The main Ground Forces are always preceded by those who get there first. Some of those are taken prisoner, some are killed. Maybe you are meant to get there first and carve out a place for others. If so, you have a tough and dangerous job.
The main ‘Ground-force’
The Special Forces and Rangers, and sometimes, Marines, are followed by the main ground force of the military, usually made up of both the Marine Corps and larger Corps, Divisions, Brigades, Battalions, and Companies of the Army. Companies are made up of 3-4 Platoons, and Platoon are made up of 3-4 Squads of 4-10 soldiers each.
These Squads or ‘Teams’ are the basic unit of the church and of the church’s military and Assault Force. Together with all of the ground-forces, this is the main body of assault and the force that will occupy enemy territory upon victory.
Who is The Navy?
The Navy is the watchman/intercessors who, metaphorically speaking, carry the ground-forces between locations and nations, destroying strongholds and preparing the way for the attack on the enemy.
The spiritual ‘navy’ lays the foundation of prayer that goes before the ground-forces of the church military. It metaphorically ‘carries’ the church to its goals on the water of the Spirit and the ‘ships’ of prayer. It bombards the enemy’s coast and ‘softens’ the strongholds so that when the church ‘lands’ it moves forward with successive victories.
True, the church is meant to be a ‘House of Prayer’ (Isaiah 56:7 “My church will be called a House of Prayer for all the nations”) and we all intercede, but there are special ones called to the spiritual navy as a ‘profession’ and full-time duty to war against spiritual forces unseen and to soften the fortresses of the enemy before the church moves in and takes new ground. Intercession in this manner is essential for missionaries, church plants, new pastors, and any church exercise that seeks to advance the cause of Christ.
Evangelists, pastors, teachers, and Apostles are all part of the ‘Ground-forces’ of the church. But, that doesn’t mean that they are not prophetic and that God is not speaking to them.
God speaks to the ground-forces with direction, revelation, and encouragement as they move forward to assault the enemy and take new ground. The supernatural becomes more effective and common-place when you know your place and you are moving forward in it – with others.
Gideon, the least of his family and nation, was sifting wheat in a hiding place from the enemy, when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him with instructions for an assault (Judges 6). Joshua was scared of moving forward into the Promised Land when the Captain of the Host encouraged and exhorted him (Joshua 1-2).
Moses was instructed on a step-by-step basis when God consistently put him in impossible situations (Exodus 3f) in which only God could provide the victory and deliverance. In this way, Moses learned that this is the signature characteristic of ‘God’s ways’ (Psalm 103: 1-8): He raises up leaders who form teams, small and large, who assault the enemy and defeat the enemy’s strategies and plans in a given time and season.
This will be the focus of our next installment.