Ambush in the Valley
Ambush in the Valley
Words of Faith 7-16-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him.  A man in the crowd called out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.  A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him.  I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not."
 "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."
 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.  And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.
While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples,  "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men."  But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.
There are very few moments in Scripture as high as the transfiguration. It was a defining moment. There was clarity, victory, vision and destiny. It really doesn't get much better than that. It was so good, in fact, that Peter wanted to build some shelters and just stay there.
Mountaintop experiences are like that. We want to stay and just soak in the presence and the reality of God. But after every transfiguration, there is a journey down. Ministry happens down in the valley. After every mountain top there is a valley. The journey down after the transfiguration was not easy. Luke tells us that there were a series of attacks that come from the enemy before the next high point in ministry.
The glow of the transfiguration was still on the faces of Peter, James, and John as they headed down the hill and into the "valley" with Jesus. The four of them were no sooner down the hill before they were confronted with an attack. A crowd confronted them with a situation that was different from any other we have seen.
While Jesus and the three were on top of the mountain the other nine disciples had been bushwhacked by the Enemy. The details are sketchy but a father had come to them in desperation to find help. The nine had tried to take care of it. After all, they had already had huge victories on the mission field. They were confident warrior missionaries. But when this father came with this need, suddenly, for some reason, they were powerless. They were now defeated.
Suddenly, we realize that this attack was not just to hurt the boy, it was also aimed to undermine the faith and the confidence of the disciples. How do we know this? Where are the disciples? It appears that they were not even there. It is a "crowd" that greeted Jesus and the three. Rather than ushering this man into the presence of Jesus, the nine were defeated. Perhaps they were scattered or hiding back in the crowd.
So why couldn't they heal in this situation? We don't really know for sure. Perhaps it was so that they would know that apart from Christ they could do nothing. Perhaps there was pride in the mix. It may be that there was something deeper here that Jesus needed to deal with like forgiving sins. Maybe it was a matter of sovereign timing. Sometimes only God knows the timing of these things. We don't know, but it appears that the Enemy got the better of them for a time and we see that in their absence on the hill. It must have had them reeling.
This is a favorite attack that the Enemy brings against us in the valleys. It is the attack of a failure or apparent failure that undermines our faith and confidence. If we don't see it coming, it can cut our legs right out from under us.
We have to realize that the mountaintop experience is always followed by an attack in the valley. It is a basic military strategy. Victory on the mountaintop makes us strong, but it also makes us vulnerable. A victory on the mountaintop like the transfiguration experience makes everything clear and we are charged up and ready to go. But these times also attract the attention of the enemy. We often come trooping down into the valley singing praise songs but we are oblivious to the fact the enemy is laying in wait. It is an ambush in the valley.
A failure or apparent failure, no matter how small, is a powerful enemy weapon. The reality is that no matter how much glory we have seen nothing takes the wind out of our sails like a failure or an apparent failure. Can you imagine how disappointing it was to the other nine disciples to have this man bring his son and beg for help, and yet be unable to help?
This is one of the ways that the enemy attacks us all the time. The enemy wants us to keep our eyes on our failures instead of on His victories. The enemy wants us to look at the one time when, for some reason, prayer did not seem to work, instead of looking at a thousand times when prayer was lovingly answered. The first attack of the enemy is to get us looking at our own defeats rather than God's victories.
We can see a hundred people healed but if there is that one "failure" then we are not sure the next time we pray. You can have a transfiguration of your life and see clearly Who Jesus is, who you are in Jesus, and the needs of people around you, but then there is that situation where things are unclear and it is difficult to trust to God.
The time right after a victory is the time we are most vulnerable. It is the time when we must be most vigilant. It is the time when we most need to be near Jesus.
Father God, lead me in paths close to my Shepherd. Lead me carefully on the mountaintop. Lead me lovingly in the valley that I may keep my eye on You and my confidence in Jesus. Amen.