Love Your Enemies
Matthew 5:43–48 (ESV)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
o Notice the words ‘pray for’ in verse 44.
o Mostly, when we read this set of verses, we make a personal application and rightly so. That is, we, as Americans, understand this verse to mean ‘pray for those that do mean or cross things to us in our everyday life on planet earth’. We come to that understanding of the verse this way because we do not experience persecution to the point of imprisonment or death because of our Christian faith as some believers experience in other parts of the world.
o However, if people are persecuting you in any fashion because you are a Christian, they do so not because they are your enemies per se but because they are enemies of Jesus.
o We are joined together with Jesus into one body. Therefore, any enemy of Jesus is an enemy of mine.
o Jesus certainly looks at you in that way.
Acts 26:14 (ESV)
14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
o Jesus considered the persecution of believers by the hand of Saul a direct persecution of Himself.
o There are many enemies of Jesus existing on 21st century planet earth. The same spirit that drove to exterminate the Son of God in the 1st century is still alive and well on planet earth today! If Jesus would have come today in the 21st century as opposed to the 1st century, the end result would be the same – they would crucify Him again if they had the chance!
o I used to wonder about the total evangelization of the world. We have so much more technology today to hear about Jesus that was absent in the 1st century. What about all those people that did not hear of Jesus in the 1st century? I was meditating about the fairness of all this, when the Spirit of God said these words in my Spirit.
“Those that have hated me would have hated me no matter what generation they lived in. And those that have loved me would have loved me no matter when they lived.”
o Since Jesus is the head of the body called the church, then any persecution of the body is persecution of the Head of the body.
o Vice versa. Any enemy of Jesus is an enemy of the body.
o Yet, the Bible directive is the same in this case as in the case of your personal enemies – ‘pray for’ them!
o Here is another example of ‘pray for’.
Genesis 20:1–7 (ESV)
1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
o Abimelech was a Canaanite king.
o The term Abimelech is like ‘Pharaoh’, a title not the name of king. The name Abilmelech means ‘father of a king’.
o Abimelech, in this case of mistaken identity, receives instructions from God, the last of which include Abraham ‘praying for’ him.
o Isn’t this interesting? Abimelech is having a conversation with God yet God instructs Abimelech to have Abraham pray for him! Why? Abimelech was already talking to God, why didn’t he just pray for himself?
o 1Timothy 2:1 gives us a clue.
1 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV)
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
o Again, the Bible speaks of praying for ‘kings’ and those in authority.
o The authority to pray for kings rests with the church. It rests with those called and anointed of God.
o Here is the point! The Bible speaks of ‘praying for’ people never ‘praying against’ them.
o No Biblical support exists for “praying against” people.
o Look at Jesus response to His disciples when the disciples wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans because they would not receive Jesus.
Luke 9:55 (NKJV)
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.
o We ‘sort of’ know this as common sense ‘love of God Christianity’ except when we get over into the area of praying for political leaders. There we seem to get a little confused.
o In the political world there are…
o some godly leaders
o some ungodly leaders
o some ‘wickedly’ ungodly leaders (or enemies of Jesus)
o The directive is the same for the godly leader as the ‘wickedly ungodly’ leader. Pray for them.
o What about rouge leaders then?
o What about those who are just determined to come against the plan of God?
o There is no distinction; the Bible speaks of praying ‘for’ people never ‘against’ people.
o Rouge leaders like Pharaoh end up at the bottom of the Red Sea after God finishes with them!
Our Sense of Order
o Sometimes, we stumble here because our own sense of order gets in the way.
o We have incorrectly thought that if we pray ‘for a wicked ruler’ that we are condoning their behavior.
o We have also thought that surely, the only plan for a wicked man is to be saved and then maybe God could use him or make something of his life.
o Salvation is certainly the will of God for everyone but there is much God does through the ‘seats of authority’ on planet earth in the meantime.
o What the scriptures teach is that God, at certain times and key moments, will jump over our sense of order and anoint an ungodly leader and use them to work His plan!
A Bible Example of God Anointing an Ungodly King
Cyrus (Actually Cyrus II) is such an example
o Founder of the Persian Empire
o Cyrus left a genealogy record of himself (called the Cyrus Cylinder) – this was the text that was on that cyclinder. “I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, legitimate king, king of Babylon, king of Sumner and Akkad, king of the four rims of the earth, son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anshan, of a family that always exercised kingship.”
o King of the world?! – a little forward of him, don’t you think? King of the four rims? A little bit of pride in this statement of himself.
o Let us look at God’s statement of him.
Isaiah 44:28 (ESV)
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’ ”
Isaiah 45:1–7 (ESV)
1 Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: 2 “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. 4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.
o This prophecy, given by Isaiah, concerning Cyrus was 200 years before Cyrus was born.
o You would think, by reading these two statements…
o “He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose;”
o “Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus”,
§ …that Cyrus would be a man that would have a heart for the God of Israel, but he did not. Cyrus was an ungodly leader.
o Persians were today’s modern day Iranians.
o What Cyrus had was a ‘religious tolerance policy’ unlike the brutal Babylonians whom the Persians conquered.
o The Babylonians way of treating those whom they took into captivity involved deportation, ripping people from their homes and making their captives worship the Babylonian way as the case with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
o Cyrus considered the religion of Israel a cult and showed the same favor to the Temples of Babylon and their ‘gods’ as he did to the ‘religious craze’ of the Jews and the God of Israel.
o It was this ‘live and let live so our captors would be happy and not rebel against us’ policy that the Lord used to get Israel back to Jerusalem and get the worship of God reestablished through the rebuilding of the Temple.
o God knew that, planned for this ahead of time and anointed him to bring about His purpose for Israel.
The Importance of Praying for All Kings, No Matter Their Disposition
Proverbs 21:1 (ESV)
1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.
o The importance of ‘praying for’ kings lies in the understanding of Biblical authority.
o When Jesus left planet earth to go back to heaven, He delegated His authority to the church.
Matthew 28:18–19 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
o God moves in the earth through the authority given to the church in prayer.
o As we pray, God moves and turns the hearts of kings into His plan.
o God does nothing unless we pray because authority is in the earth not in heaven.
o Do you remember this verse?
Colossians 1:18 (ESV)
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
o Jesus is the head, the church is the body
o Now look at this verse in Isaiah.
Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
o Notice that the ‘government’ rests on the ‘shoulders’ of the anointed Messiah.
o Now ask yourself, this question, ‘Where are the shoulders located? Are the shoulders located in the head or in the body?
o The shoulders are located in the body and so the government rests on the shoulders of the church!
o It is our responsibility to pray for kings and all in ruling position, no matter their disposition.
o Love your enemies. Pray for your enemies!
Acts 4:23–28 (ESV)
23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
o God lined all of these government leaders, Herod and Pontius Pilate, up to full His plan predestined before the foundation of the world!!!
o I am here to tell you boldly in Jesus name that the Second Coming of Jesus draws nigh and that God’s lining everything and everyone up. The church is part of the plan but they are not all of the plan. God is going to line up the appropriate rulers and leaders of the world, just like He did with the first coming. And we are going to have a part in that because we are going to pray for these leaders!
How Do You Pray for Your Enemies?
o Start out by praying that they will operate according to the will of God.
o Start out by praying that they will tap into the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of the world.
o Remember that are only two kinds of wisdom available on planet earth – God and man’s.
o Understand that unsaved people can accidentally tap the wisdom of God. It happens all the time on planet earth because ‘laws of God’ are just that, they are ‘laws’.
o The laws of the universe work for saved and unsaved alike.
o Rain falls on the just and the unjust.
o Financial laws are being tapped all the time. ‘Give and it will be given to you’ works for both saved and unsaved people. It is a law, it works when the conditions are fulfilled irrespective of person.
o If the church does not pray for kings to operate in Godly wisdom, then the only wisdom available to kings is the wisdom of the world.
o After you start out in the natural praying, you then must depend on the Spirit of God in prayer.
Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
o You pray for them the same way you pray for ‘all saints’ – in the Spirit!
o You have to pray ‘in the Spirit’ when you pray for one main reason, ‘You do not know all saints.’ You do not know all kings.
o Since you do not know, you must be led. You must have the Holy Spirits input.
Romans 8:26 (ESV)
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
What the scriptures teach is that God, at certain times and key moments, will jump over our sense of order and anoint an ungodly leader and use them to work His plan!