One can put a thousand to flight…?

This article is just one within a body of articles categorized as

“Right & Wrong Thinking”…

In this “episode” of Right & Wrong Thinking I will address the phrase…

Flight“If one can put a thousand to flight then two can put ten thousand to flight”

This is often misquoted in charismatic, Full Gospel or Word of Faith circles as a colloquialism to “stand in agreement” with another person against the devil. Sometimes it is also used in conjunction with another misunderstanding in scripture of attempting to “bind” the devil from a person or event.

I know many who have used this first misquote yet, I am unaware of any of them who actually knew what the reference is nor the context from which it was taken before being misapplied.

The verse is found in Deut. 32:30 and reads like this,

“How could one man pursue a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?” 

In chapter 32, God is pronouncing judgment on Israel for their pursuit and worship of other gods. Israel at this time was greater in number than their enemies and yet, God placed Israel into the hands of their enemies and one was able to pursue a thousand and two ten thousand.

In this series of verses, God was lamenting that His people were so silly that they did not realize that the only reason their enemies were winning against such insurmountable odds, was because God…their Rock…had sold them into the hands of their enemies.

Now how exactly this is turned around into a positive declaration of victory due to agreement between two or more believers is a bit of a mystery.

There IS a reference which would be better suited for this proclamation, and it is found in Lev. 26:2-8,

“If you follow My statutes and faithfully observe My commands, I will give you rain at the right time, and the land will yield its produce… You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword.

Five of you will pursue 100, and 100 of you will pursue 10,000; your enemies will fall before you by the sword.”

Notice though, the difference in the numbers!

  • When Israel was obedient the numbers were 5 to 100 and 100 to 10,000.
  • When God joined with Israel’s enemies, it was 1 to 1,000 and 2 to 10,000.

Part of this is likely because their culpability for their sin was great since they knew better. The consequences for dishonoring God was more about the value of the One they dishonored than the manifestation of the way they dishonored Him. That is likely why, the numbers were so much higher when they affronted God and misrepresented him before other nations, than they were when they were simply obedient.

A secondary issue here is that in Leviticus, we are dealing with a promise in another covenant which has no direct application to a believer. Under the Old Covenant, God’s promises were aimed at two things:

  1. Establishing Israel as a nation under God, and…
  2. Establishing a bloodline through which the Messiah would come.

As such, a great majority of the promises under the Old Covenant were national promises. I want to be careful here, because while all of the promises given under the Old Covenant were aimed at Israel as a nation and were therefore situational in one way or another, some of those promises were also based upon God’s character which does not change! In such cases, the promise might have been given while the Old Covenant was in place, but it was not predicated based upon the covenant, but upon God’s character. As such, those promises would hold true for any person under any covenant.

That having been said, this one in Leviticus was strictly to Israel and was aimed at establishing them as a nation in the Promised Land and therefore has no connection with promises made to New Covenant believers.

Many times when promises get ‘misapplied’ like this, it is because people simply do not know the difference between the covenants. So I guess if you are not aware of which covenant you are drawing your promises from, then it isn’t that much more of a “leap” to switch the negative promises out for the positive ones as well. I do not say this as a judgment call, for I too used to believe this promise was for all believers and was positive in nature. It is simply a reality, that if one does not study enough to know the source or context, ANY other misinterpretation or misapplication is almost to be expected.

I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time but have just never gotten around to it. There are SO many verses which have been taken out of context and misused over the years that it is down right embarrassing. The worse part is that I have been one of those who commonly misused them!

This set me on a bit of a journey in scripture to discover which of my favorite “quotes” and “principles” were actually clearly represented in scripture IN THE WAY that I had been using them.

What I found embarrassed me, upset me, angered me and finally won my heart.

I’ll address the previously mentioned topics of “standing in agreement” and “binding the devil” and “binding and loosening” in other posts.

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!