Chariots of Fire: An Olympic Spotlight on Spiritual Warfare
A friend of mine recently gave me a book to read, “Josephus: The Complete Works.”
Josephus was possibly the greatest historian of all time. Not only did he chronicle history that happened before his time, he documented historical events at which he was actually present, such as 70 A.D. Roman siege of Jerusalem. Josephus’ account of one particular event during that siege leaped off the page at me because it reminded me of a similar event in the Bible. Here is Josephus’ account:
Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. ~ Page 890
As a result of the Roman siege of Jerusalem, the Jewish Temple was burned and destroyed, the Jewish nation was annihilated, and the surviving Jewish people were scattered worldwide. Because the destruction of the Temple, and the scattering of the Jewish people worldwide are the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, their profound nature cannot be overstated. This is why Josephus mentions that these events are “of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals.” Now let’s look at the “signals” themselves.
The “signals” were the appearance of spiritual forces in the form of chariots and troops. Because of the profound nature of what was occurring, God explicitly showed the spiritual warfare behind the events unfolding in Jerusalem. This warfare is always taking place in world events, and in the events of our lives, but God does not always make it visible. Another time when he did make it visible is recorded in the Bible book of 2 Kings. This is the account I was reminded of as I read Josephus’ account of the chariots and troops over Jerusalem:
Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel…Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. ~ 2 Kings 6:8-17
God had blessed Elisha with the spiritual eyesight to see the Godly forces on his side. However, the servant could not see them. Elisha prayed to the Lord for spiritual eyesight for the servant, and God granted his request. The horses and chariots of fire were not fleshly and material. They were spiritual. They were as real as anything in our physical world, but they were not from our physical world, nor were they bound by it. We are bound by three spatial dimensions (that we know of) and one time dimension. Spiritual forces are not. There are spiritual forces of God, and spiritual forces of Satan. These spiritual forces are the true power and influence in our world.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 6:12-13
The Bible’s accuracy in telling historical events is unparalleled (not to mention its 100% accuracy rate in FOREtelling history through prophecy– no other religious book on earth even attempts this, much less gets it right 100% of the time). All history supports the Bible 100%. But in Josephus’ writings, the Bible’s accounts of spiritual events are supported as well. The Bible is always proven true.
Incidentally, the movie “Chariots of Fire” gets its name from the Bible verse I mentioned above, 2 Kings 6:17.
The two main characters in the film, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, were actual runners for Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics. Liddell was a devout Christian, and Abrahams was Jewish. Liddell ended up being a missionary in China after the Olympics.
As I watched the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics last night, I noticed that they chose to mock the “Chariots of Fire” movie and its real-life story, rather than honor it. As the orchestra played the theme song from “Chariots of Fire,” the comedic character “Mr. Bean” was shown playing the keyboard in the orchestra and making a mockery of the song with his antics. Then, Mr. Bean is shown running on the beach in the famous scene from the movie. Had Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams been followers of a certain other religion that does not react kindly to being mocked, I believe the organizers of the show would have paid profound respect to the story, and would not have dared to mock it.