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For four hundred years, the children of Israel heard not the voice of God through His prophets. After Malachi, came John the Baptist to herald the coming of the promised One. He preached with power and zeal, fearing none. It was prophesied of him:

“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” (Isaiah 40:3, 4)

Just before his birth, the angel Gabriel told Zacharias his father:

“And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16, 17)

When we look at the Gospel record, we indeed see the Baptist fearlessly denouncing the sins of the people, bringing in a great reformation. The publicans and the common men who were “violent” in the sight of the “pious” Pharisees accepted the message, while the religious men rejected it. The Bible record declares:

“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” (Luke 7:29, 30)

There was a great stir and holy zeal everywhere to grasp the light of Heaven that was shining their way. Satan was astir too. Through the seemingly pious religious leaders, he was trying to keep the people away from the light. But the Scripture declares:

“Every man presseth into it.” (Luke 16:16)

That is what Christ meant when He said:

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)

There is a war that rages behind the scenes. It is a spiritual war. Only the ones who “press” forward can be victorious. Every kind of war is violent, and there is no exception to this War of wars. Unless we are “violent” – having holy zeal and determination – we will never win it. We have got to strive and press forward every inch in this spiritual battle. If we are hoping to be victorious doing nothing about it, we will be devoured by the roaring lion. We have to strive. The Master Himself said:

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:24)

We strive and wrestle it out not physically with our fellow humans, but spiritually with the powers of darkness. The apostle wrote:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Are we into the battle? Are we fighting it out? Are we moving forward? Are we resisting every advance of the enemy? Are we prepared to die for the Master if needs be? Christ and His apostles and the prophets and the godly of all ages have set us an example of being willing to die than give up. The apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrews:

“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12:4)

As Jacob wrestled with God and was determined not to let Him go until He blessed him, so too every child of God needs to be determined. As the widow was persistent and determined till the judge attended her case, so are we to press on till we be victorious. (Genesis 32:24-30; Luke 18:1-8).

We need to be determined, pushing forward, persistent in all spiritual matters if we are to enter the kingdom of God. This is what Christ meant when He said:

“The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)