I was preparing to speak at a prayer retreat of prison evangelists this evening when the words came to me during the worship: “Untitled Generals.” I instantly had a glimpse of what was meant, and quickly took down the first notes.  I share here with you the rest of the message as it subsequently and more fully dawned on me.  

1.     Beyond Labels 

Not all titles are true; some are decorations, like found toys.  Not all plainness is emptiness; some is like the calmness of a surface that does not always tell the deepness of the sea.  

In the Bible account of the epic battle between Israel and the Canaanites, Lady Jael was not enlisted among the warriors, let alone be ranked mighty, yet she was the verdict in that crucial battle.  She fought, not like the men outdoor with their eloquent swords and swift spears; she fought from the frontlines of her home, firing a killing tent peg with her ballistic hammer.  Slamming her mallet like a judge on the head of Sisera, she closed forever the case against her people.  Thus, in her tent, she won the battle from which decorated generals in the field had fled.  She had no title like them, but she was a general that her world never knew until then (Judges 4:17-24).   

Not all generals bear the title, so we sometimes are fooled.  Some may never even know who they are, until strange troubles arm them with tools so unconventional that the enemy would never have guessed he could die so cheaply at their tender hands, in the boomless battlefield of a simple ‘dining table’ with alluring milk served “in a lordly dish” (Judges 5:25).  Jael never bore their tall titles, having never been trained in their combat camps.  With a cosy blanket for the dozy general she closed the chapter of Sisera’s horrors and silenced forever the frightening sirens of his feared chariots of iron (Judges 4:13).  “At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead” (Judges 5:27). 

2.     God’s Battle Strategy: Matching the Unmatched 

This pattern of the strong and pompous versus the unsuspected and untitled was to replay about a thousand years later, half a thousand miles away, in another decisive clash between darkness and light; it was Super Heavyweight Haman versus Light Flyweight Esther (Esther 4:16; 7:6-10).  The boxing ring was two rounds of a banquet of wines soaked in three days of desperate fasting and prayers.  There, too, sedated into stupefaction by wines ‘spiked’ with ceaseless intercession, the mighty man fell at the feet of the weak woman; the decorated general at the feet of the untitled and hitherto unknown (Esther 7:8).   

When the time comes to shame the mighty, God often calls the weak.  When the time comes to floor the wise, God usually enlists the foolish, “that NO FLESH should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29).  That season seems to have come around again – that Sisera be silenced for good; that the head of the serpent be smashed again by the seed and deed of the woman (Genesis 3:15; Acts 12:5-6, 12; Revelation 12:1-7). 

3.     The Reserved Commandos 

Like Jael the wife of Heber, not all generals bear the title.  Like Jezebel the seductress who “calleth herself a prophetess,” not all titles are true (Revelation 2:20).   They are not all generals that are called so.  Hence, if we should recruit for the battle merely by titles, we will miss strategic Jaels and amass flamboyant Jezebels with their succour-seeking Siseras soon to crash under coy blankets offering a fooling rest in the midst of a raging war; disgraceful generals that soon will sleep the sleep of death from sedating milks of ‘kindness’ indiscreetly sought in the midst of an unkind war. 

Thanks to God for dangerous but untitled generals that the enemy never suspects, as they bear no attractive titles.  Thanks to God for “polished” arrows hidden in His quiver, like a deadly striker reserved on the bench for the critical change (Isaiah 49:2).  Thanks to God for dangerous intercontinental ballistic “smooth stones out of the brook” hidden from the proud eyes of rejected firstborns like Eliab and expiring kings like Saul (1 Samuel 16:6-7; 17:28-29, 40); strategic stones awaiting the discerning eyes and anointed fingers of despised Davids who should silence forever the proud rage of a loud enemy (1 Samuel 17:26).   

Atomic bombs are not sold in the common market of assault rifles; they are not made to fire as many times as the flippant gun, but as nothing else remains after they have spoken but once, their handlers have learnt to pamper them in concealment from common eyes and those conflicts where lesser guns stutter.  

Every soldier is not trained for every combat; every weapon is not meant for any battle; every prophet is not sent to any people, otherwise it will be an indiscreet waste of men and materials.  Titles could be distractions in the season of war.  Domestic Jaels and little Davids cannot be ignored without costly consequences.  The enemy that undermines them is doomed; the army that despises them is doomed, too. 

4.     Flamboyant Impostors 

Some, the Master has called without announcement to their world, lest the enemy puts a fresh price on their precious head and soon we mourn again that they have been “taken in their pit … with chains unto the land of Egypt” in the grand conspiracy of the silencing agenda, “that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel” (Ezekiel 19:4, 9).  Some, the Master calls; of others, He says, she “calleth herself.”  The ‘call’ is not the contention; Who called whom, is the critical question. 

And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest (Jeremiah 45:5). 

5.     The Season of the Unknown Generals 

Until General Jael, “the places of drawing water” were unsafe because of “the noise of archers” and shooters who had turned those domestic haunts into killing fields, those refreshing places of critical survival into sombre burying grounds (Judges 5:11).  Until General Jael, “The main roads were deserted. Travelers used the narrow, crooked side paths” (Judges 5:6, The Living Bible) because of a wicked general with his nine hundred iron chariotswho for twenty years mightily oppressed the children of Israel” (Judges 4:3).   

Sisera and his cohorts were called the “mighty ones” (Judges 5:22, 23), but when God chose to confront their wicked ‘mightiness,’ He did not recruit a counter mightiness; He deployed the most unlikely, in a place unlikely, with weapons very unlikely, “that NO FLESH should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:29).  Then did the people sing again with joy; then was heard the iconic voice of untitled generals, thankfully declaring that the Lord had granted “dominion over the mighty” (Judges 5:13).  Can that be?  That season seems to have come around again, that proud dragon heads be smashed again by the ballistic seed of simple people; generals of God undecorated by men. Amen. 

From The Preacher’s diary, 

September 24, 2021. 

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