TODAY’S READING: Isaiah 31–34
Isaiah 34 opens with the missionary call for all nations to come near and heed, that all the world would listen to the indignation God has against all nations. Isaiah spoke of the desolation demonic forces wrought when the missionary people of God were long absent. In verse 14 Isaiah mentioned the evil residence of the “night creature” in Edom (southern Jordan). “Night creature” is a translation of Lilith which was the Mesopotamian name for spirit, and the Lilu were a group of malevolent demons that attacked babies, mothers in childbirth, and men who slept alone. Both Mesopotamian and Jewish charms have been found invoking protection from these terrifying demons of the night.
The peoples and places yet to be reached with the gospel are difficult, dangerous, and demonic. They are difficult because false ideologies have been entrenched for centuries or millennia without the prayerful presence of God’s residential people. They are difficult because they are jungles, deserts, remote, or inner city. They are dangerous because they are often places of war, instability, violence, and lawlessness. They are demonic because demons are real and they dwell and congregate in real places and terrify those who have lived for generations under the terror of night.
It is to these places that the missionary people of God are called to go, live, preach, and shine for the glory of God among all peoples. And which of us is sufficient to take on the demonic powers? And what night creatures will give up the thrones they have tyrannically occupied for so long? What can be done by mere men and women in these spiritual wastelands? Frankly, Isaiah warned that not much will be accomplished “until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field” (32:15).
If one side of missionary folly is to ignore the reality of demonic strongholds over peoples and places, the other is to think we have any intrinsic human capacity to deal with and overcome these powers. Our recourse and hope is in the promised pouring out of the Spirit of God. All our plans, strategies, ministries, language capacity, efforts, intelligence, money, strength, and wisdom are to no avail without the poured-out Holy Spirit. Of the many things that missionaries must be, of primary importance is that we are people of the Spirit, that we live and move and breathe in the power of the Spirit. Missionaries can only go to the Edoms of our day and evangelize the Kurds of Iran safe from the terrors of the night if we are under the protection and power of the Spirit of God.
The earth is the Lord’s, yet demonic rebels hold some of His precious peoples captive. We dare not, we must not enter those lands nor lay our heads in sleep without the help of God’s Spirit. Let all missionaries from the moment we wake until the moment we rest ask for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit’s power, we fail, and with His presence and power, every Lilith falls.