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Evangel Tabernacle | September 21, 2018

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Broken In The Place Of Dragons

Broken In The Place Of Dragons

| On 27, Jun 2018

KEY TEXT
Psalms 44:18 (KJV)- Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
V19- Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.

An unbroken life is an untested life and thus unreliable to be used by God.

A.W Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”

The Bible is replete with stories of those whose struggles and scars formed the foundation for remarkable achievements. In fact, it was because of their hardship they gained what they need to achieve greatness. Certainly, no life evidences this truth more clearly than the life of Joseph. Before God could launch him into a life of greatness, he had to undergo disappointment, mistreatment, rejection, fear and false accusation with slavery and abandonment. These were how God broke Joseph in preparation for his destiny of greatness.

One of the ways which God will hurt us deeply is through BROKENNESS.

Brokenness occurs when we try to live life on our terms and come up empty. Shattered dreams and broken lives empower us to see what is wrong with our lives as we gain new insight into ourselves. It is when our plans fail and our dreams are shattered that we begin to see what is not right with our lives. It is then, we are convicted of our sinful stubborn self-willed lives. It is then, we realize our insensitivity to God.

The theme of Psalm 44 is “Accounted as Sheep to the Slaughter.” It speaks of the nation of Israel in a season of great defeat, calling out to God for rescue. Some have thought it to be a Psalm of the EXILE PERIOD or even afterwards in the days of the Maccabees.

Inferring from Psalm 44, there will come a season in our lives as believers (especially those who are serving God) when God will break us in the place of dragons and cover us with deep darkness. We will then feel as if we are like sheep accounted for the slaughter (Psalm 44:22).

This morning, I would like to share a sermon entitled, ‘BROKEN IN THE PLACE OF DRAGONS’.

There are four things I want to share this morning:
• What is the place of dragons?
• How are we broken in the place of dragons?
• What are the dangers in the place of dragons?
• What are the functions of the place of dragons?

I remember ever sharing in one of my sermons about the journey any genuine Christian leader or believer will undergo:
• Calling
• Blessing
• Exile [BY BEING BROKEN IN THE PLACE OF DRAGON]
• Return

To be broken by God in the place of dragons is among one of the experiences in our journey called EXILE, like what the children of Israel underwent in Psalm 44.

1. WHAT IS THE PLACE OF DRAGONS?
V19- Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.

The words “sore broken” means to be “distressingly crushed” (amplified version).

There will come a season in our lives where God will distressingly crush us in the place of dragons.

“The place of dragons” means:
• Place of the jackals
Verse 19 (RSV) – thou shouldst have broken us in the place of jackals

• Place of demonic attacks
Dragons and jackals are spiritual symbols of Satan and demons. They are unclean animals.
Isaiah 13:21-22-But wild beasts will lie down there, and its houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there satyrs will dance. Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals (KJV: Dragons) in the pleasant palaces….”

Isaiah was talking about the overthrow of Babylon in AD 539 by God, devastating it in the manner of Sodom and Gomorrah that would never be inhabited again and for generations, it would become like a wilderness inhabited not by humans but by all the unclean and dangerous animals. Wild beasts, howling creatures, ostriches, satrys (meaning mythological beasts or to wild or shaggy goats or even devils [goat demons] – Leviticus 17:7), hyenas and jackals or dragons [Satan- Rev 12, 13].

While a leader or a serving Christian undergoes the breaking by God in the place of dragons, demonic forces can mess with the mind and manipulate the emotions of suffering Christians.

• Wilderness of DANGERS
If a place is occupied with dragons and jackals, surely it isn’t a safe but a dangerous place.

All of you have seen shows of dragons and definitely dragons are no furry and lovable creatures but it is a gigantic creature filled with fiery fury and destructions and it is a symbol of Satan.

Jackals on the other hand is a mix of wolf and dog. Jackals are nocturnal opportunistic omnivores and predators. Although they are expert hunters, scavenging jackal often eat leftovers from what larger animals kill. Their howl pierces the air. A jackal is always associated with the SPIRIT OF DEATH.

• Wild and desolate place where fierce, furious and cruel men abound

Matthew Henry comments: “We have been sorely broken in the place of dragons, AMONG MEN as fierce and furious and cruel as DRAGONS. We have been covered “with the shadow of death” that is, we have been under deep melancholy and apprehensive of nothing short of death.

In summary, the place of dragons is a place of demonic attacks. It is a wild and desolate place of DANGERS with attacks from dangerous people and circumstances.

2. HOW ARE WE BROKEN IN THE PLACE OF DRAGONS?
In places of dragons, you will find people of dragonish character to break our lives.

As I defined to you earlier, people with dragonish character are fierce, furious and cruel.

Amos 1-2 list down how God used dragonish nations to break Israel in order to get His nation back to Him.

Dragonish people will break the people of God by:

• Threshing the people of God
Amos 1:3 – Thus says the LORD; “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have THRESHED Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.

To thresh is “to trample down.”

The people of Damascus threshed or trampled down Gilead with sharp iron implements which is like a threshing sledge with iron teeth. A threshing sledge was made of wooden boards embedded with sharp stones or iron teeth. As the sledge was pulled over the threshing floor the stones of iron teeth would separate the grain from the stalks.

Here the threshing metaphor is used to emphasize HOW VIOLENTLY AND INHUMANELY the people of Damascus had treated the people of Gilead (located east of the Jordan River).

Application: Are you broken today because you have been threshed, trampled down violently and inhumanly by people and by life?

• Exiling the people of God
Amos 1:6- Thus says the LORD; “For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they carried into EXILE a whole people to deliver them up to Edom.”

Application: To be exiled is to be sent away; to be dragged away; to be chased away; to be cast off. Are you broken today because you have been sent away, given away, abandoned, dragged to a place you don’t want to be in; dismissed?

• Betraying the people of God
Amos 1:9- Thus says the LORD; “For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they DELIVERED up a whole people to Edom and DID NOT REMEMBER THE COVENANT OF BROTHERHOOD.

Application: Are you broken today because someone does not remember the covenant of brotherhood, friendship, loyalty or marriage with you? Today, you are very broken because you are feeling very betrayed.

• Pursuing the people of God with swords
Amos 1:11- Thus says the LORD; “For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because he PURSUED HIS BROTHER WITH THE SWORD, and cast off pity, and his anger tore perpetually and he kept his wrath for ever.

Application: Are you broken today because someone is pursuing you with the swords of false accusation, lies, slanders and insults?

• Ripping up the women with children in Gilead
Amos 1:13- Thus says the LORD; “For three transgressions of the Ammonites, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have RIPPED UP WOMEN WITH CHILD IN GILEAD, that they might enlarge their border.

A pregnant woman here is a spiritual symbol of a believer or a church pregnant with the promises and vision of God. Yet before they can be actualized, dragonish people rip it apart causing death to the promises and vision.

E.g. The ripping up of pregnant woman here in Gilead by dragonish people resonates with the experience of Etab. Etab was pregnant with the promise of God to own and move into our own land and to build our own sanctuary. In 2012, Etab was broken by dragonish people who ripped us up in “Gilead.” Gilead means “Perpetual fountain.” Meaning to say, during the period of time in 2011 when Etab was conducting series of G12 encounter with God, fountain of the Holy Spirit was gushing forth to many of our people. And just at that moment of our “Gilead” experience, the dragonish people came in 2012 and almost ripped open our vision and promises, thereby nearly aborting the plan of God for Etab.

Application: Are you broken today because your life that was pregnant with dreams and visions, is now being ripped apart by people and life. You cannot birth to your “child” because people and circumstances have ripped it apart cruelly.

• Desecrating the people of God
Amos 2:1 – Thus says the LORD; “For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.

Amp- Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom [Esau’s descendants] into lime [and used it to plaster a Moabite house].

The Moabites apparently desecrated the tomb of an Edomite king and burned his bones into a calcined substance which they then used as plaster for their houses. Receiving a proper burial was very important in this culture. Desecrating a tomb or a deceased individual’s bones was considered an especially heinous act.

Application: Are you broken today because your life has been desecrated by people? Maybe you are raped or molested or somehow or another, you have given in to temptations and allow people and life to rob you of your self-dignity and respect.

• Selling and trampling upon the poor people of God by the people of God
Amos 2: 6-Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they SELL THE RIGHTEOUS for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes…..they that TRAMPLE the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted.

The dragonish people mentioned here are referring to the Christians from the church who break their own fellow Christians through betrayal and trampling.

Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, one of his 12 twelve disciples. It was the Jews, Jesus’ own people who trampled him on the ground.

Application: There will come a day when we will also be betrayed by the very people we disciple. Do not think that betrayal comes only from the world outside. More often than not, the place of the dragon in your road map is from the very church of God, where you will be betrayed, oppressed and trampled by so-called “servants of God”; spiritual parents; church elders, your right-hand man or even your own disciple. To me, this is the highest level of brokenness a believer can experience.

These are the 7 ways on how we as people of God are broken in the places of dragons by dragonish people – threshing, exiling, betraying, pursuing, ripping up, desecrating and selling off and trampling of the righteous.

3. WHAT ARE THE DANGERS IN THE PLACE OF DRAGONS?
As a result of being broken in the place of the dragons by dragonish people, which are allowed by God, there are 7 dangers, we as the believers might fall into while undergoing such pain and suffering:

• ANGER AND BITTERNESS
In the wilderness, the people of Israel repeatedly worked up their anger against God until He burned and bred it out of them.

Application: In your brokenness today, are you angry and bitter against God like the children of Israel? Are you always murmuring and complaining against your Moses {spiritual leader} and God?

• EROSION OF FAITH
Is it not ironic that the brokenness in the place of dragon designed by God to eliminate fleshly impediments to faith could actually result in the loss of faith?

Many of us are unable to transition out of the wilderness into believing God for the blessing. We remain mired in the wilderness mentality believing that God has withdrawn His favor from us. Worse is we develop this bitter root expectancy that we would always have to fight our battles alone – that orphan spirit of abandonment. May we not allow our expectation to harden and our bitterness to become permanent, as did that first generation of Israelites in the wilderness. If so, you will lock out many promised lands.

Hebrews 3:12- See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

• APOSTASY
When we are being broken in the place of dragons, apostasy poses a real danger. In your heart, you rage, “I’ve had enough! I’m bailing out. I didn’t have these problems before I was a believer! Jesus doesn’t work. I’ll quit or I’ll opt for a lesser level of Christianity.”

Jesus said many are called but few are chosen. This kind of wrong attitude is one reason why few are chosen.

E.g. There was this associate pastor of a church, who served as a full-time staff there. He went through some breaking by God in the place of the dragon – in the ministry as well as in the church office. He resigned in bitterness and left the ministry. Later it was found that he had abandoned Christianity altogether. His early years in the Lord’s service had been anointed and fruitful but when brokenness came from the place of dragon for him, he abandoned both his calling and the Lord. Called but not chosen.

• REBELLION
“I’ll fix You! See if I pray to You! I’ll just go rent a few porno DVD and see how You like that! Where’s the nearest liquor store? I just won’t talk to You for a while, so there!” You may have said or felt these things.

• DISOBEDIENCE
In the wilderness, disobedience exerts a strong pull. You may be tempted not to call upon God anymore; quit the ministry or quit the call of God; not get right with people anymore. Had you disobeyed, you would have done more damage to yourself and the destiny God has for you.

• TURNING TO OTHER POWERS
Many Church leaders find themselves strongly tempted to turn to forms of illegal force or prohibited sources of power in an attempt to escape the brokenness in the place of the dragons. Those other sources might be fleshly strength and talent; personal charm or force of will to persuade others. They might be compromised with new-age techniques. Some even resort to intimidation, domination, condemnation and control of their people to try to hold it all together. Dishonest fund-raising tactics and hype often become part of the repertoire.

• SEEKING RELIEF
We can seek relief in counselor after counselor, conference after conference, new plan after new plan, but the only way out of this place of brokenness is THROUGH IT. Attempts at escape can end only as exercises in futility. Relief will be temporary at best and will delay the ultimate resolution.

4. WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE PLACE OF DRAGONS
In order to fulfill the mysterious divine purpose behind our brokenness by God in the place of dragons, we need to UNDERSTAND what the functions of this place of dragons.

The place of dragons could be a place of suffering for purification as well as a place to be gloriously alone with God. God leads us into this place of the dragons and break us there with specific purposes in mind. What are the functions and the purposes of the place of dragons?

• A PLACE OF TESTING
Deuteronomy 8:2- You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Will you stand firm with the Lord in the midst of the humbling and testing of your heart? No matter what might befall you, will you love Him? Serve Him? Praise Him? Will you do it no matter how your situation looks? Or how broken you are now? No matter how dry or distant He seems? Whether things go right or wrong? The truth is that if you cannot stand for and with Him when everything seems wrong, then how shallow and cheap will your service be in the midst of blessing and prosperity?

After the brokenness in the place of the dragon, you no longer argue with God. A key part of the test is whether, under the worst of circumstances, you will keep His commandments. You no longer ask, “Does obedience work?” Whether you can perceive that it works or not, you obey simply for the sake of being with Him. This testing establishes your faith on a base of PURE HUNGER for the Lord and His will, without dispute or compromise. Make a place in your theology for long periods of failure and humiliation designed to break down interior walls that hinder intimacy with Him.

God will break and humiliate you in the areas He plans to bless you, to prepare you for the blessing. Humiliation comes before exaltation.

E.g. You may be a GIFTED MUSICIAN but your music remains shut off and hidden. You may be a person of INTEGRITY but your honor is trashed and your integrity questioned and slanderous lies are spreading concerning you. You may have PROPHETIC GIFTING. Yet no one wants to hear your words. You are not even accurate at first. You see yourself as a TEACHER. No one attends your class. God has destined YOUR FAMILY FOR BLESSING. Then why does everything seem so wrong all the time? You are a BUSINESSMAN gifted for prosperity. Right now, you are broke and nothing you do succeeds as it should.

We must be broken to a state in which we receive honor and humiliation with equal gratitude because we have been broken to a singular and purified hunger for the presence and love of Jesus.

• A PLACE WHERE YOU LEARN WHO YOU ARE
In the place of the dragon where you are broken you will learn who you are and become established in it.

In the wilderness where Jesus was tempted, Satan challenged Jesus in Matthew 4:3 and 4:6- “If you are the Son of God…..” The key word is IF. Satan sought an exploitable window of insecurity or doubt in Jesus concerning His identity. Jesus’ answers firmly established that He would do and say nothing but what He saw and heard His Father doing but His answers also established His identity: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (verse 4) and “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (verse 7) and again, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (verse 10).

Jesus emerged from the wilderness more fully confirmed in His identity as the SON.

After 40 years of wilderness in which God weeded out unbelief and disobedience, the people of Israel were confirmed in their identity as God’s people and in their understanding of Him. With that faith and that secure identity established, they conquered and held their promised land.

• A PLACE OF REST

Jesus said to his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a SECULDED PLACE and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). We must learn to rest in pain and loneliness and to plumb the depths of hunger and thirst. Yield to it and let it do its work as the hand of a loving God doing good for us. He desires more than our service. He longs for US. In fact, if He must choose between you and your service, He will choose you every time. He can create a ministry with a mere word, but a man or woman is a precious, eternal and beloved child.

In your brokenness in the place of dragons, you will come to realize that no matter how good you might be, it amounts to nothing. If God chooses not to bless, you can be the best preacher, the best teacher or the best skilled administrator, but if God Himself withholds the anointing, there can be no fruit.

In this place of brokenness, God blesses by not blessing so that you learn what you cannot do and come to rest in Him.

• A PLACE OF RESTORATION
Hosea 2:14-15- Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

The wilderness both digs and lays the foundation for all that must come after. The foundation must go deeper for the building to go higher. Therefore, in preparation for a great work, God digs a deep hole. He is more concerned with forming your CHARACTER than with building a great ministry, more concerned with the fruit adversity produces in you than with delivering you from it.

In your brokenness in the place of dragons, the Lord will grant you the character changes. He will restore you to Himself and to Him when you had become lost in fear, striving, ambition and control.

• A PLACE OF PREPARATION
Isaiah 40:3-5- A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Ancient Near Eastern roads underwent repairs only when the King was about to visit. A runner would be sent ahead to call the people of the region to make the road smooth. In Matthew 3, John the Baptist identified himself as one sent to call God’s people to prepare for the coming of King Jesus by removing the bumps from His highways. He prescribed REPENTANCE – character adjustment – as the means of such preparation.

Similar today, we must prepare for His visitation by taking the OBSTRUCTIONS, LUMPS AND BUMPS out of the Lord’s highway. As we embrace our brokenness in the place of dragons, it removes impediments to the Lord’s coming in our lives by reducing us to a state in which God alone will satisfy and in which we have given up seeking satisfaction anywhere else. In this state, being with Him is more important than success, and neither personal need nor fear pollute our labors. WITHOUT A PREPARATORY BROKENNESS IN THE PLACE OF DRAGONS, THERE CAN BE NO PROMISED LAND, NO DESTINY.

Psalm 44:18 tells us that though the children of Israel were broken by God in the place of the dragons, though they suffered hard things there, yet they kept close to God.
Psalms 44:18 (KJV)- Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way….

They were saying to God, “All this brokenness has come upon us, yet we have not forgotten thee nor deserted the worship of thee; though God seemed to forsake us and withdraw from us, yet we have not forsaken God.”

Application: Can we declare with the same confidence as the children of Israel when we are being broken by God in the place of the dragons?

God has a destiny of greatness for us. Before all of us could experience the RETURN to fulfill that great destiny of God, God has to exile us to this place of the dragons to break us- so that our motives are purified, character changed and intimacy developed with God. Embrace this brokenness and by so doing you will turn this brokenness into a redemptive one. If not, misery will follow you for long. The more we complain about this pain and suffering in this place of the dragons, the longer God lets you live there. Only be certain of the outcome: “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10).

E.g. Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)
Amy Carmichael served in India for 55 years without furlough, operating an orphanage. A young lady who was considering life as a missionary, asked Amy, “What is missionary life like?” Amy wrote back saying, simply, “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.” At the age of 63, Amy was badly injured in a fall which left her bedridden for 20 years. It was here most of her 35 books were written. Her life inspired missionaries like Jim and Elisabeth Elliot who later answered the call to be missionaries to the Auca Indians in Latin America. Jim was killed by the Auca Indians at the age of 29. He was the one who wrote this brainy quote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep; to gain that which he cannot lose. Elisabeth married Adison Leitch in 1969 but he died of cancer 4 years later. In 1988, Elisabeth broadcasted this program called “Gateway to Joy” and it ran on for 13 years.

John Piper said, ‘God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him in the midst of loss not prosperity.

Charles Swindoll wrestled with the concept that a Christian must be broken by going through many sufferings before being used by God. To him, it seemed to be a cruel philosophy. Why should anyone need to suffer? Why should anyone need to be broken, much more in a place of the dragons, in the place of dangers? But that is the paradox of Christian suffering. We must die first before we live. We must lose first before we gain. We must decrease first before we can increase. We must be broken first before we can multiply. We must be humiliated first before we are glorified. We must be broken first before we can return to fulfill the destiny of greatness. The dry and DANGEROUS wilderness experience precedes our land of Promise and Blessing.

HISTORY PROVES THAT STRUGGLES AND SCARS PAVE THE WAY FOR REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENTS.

End

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