He Who Fights and Runs Away: Choose Your Battles Wisely Part 2
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
April 25, 2012

Last Updated :
April 25, 2012

Jesus Retreated To Tyre And Sidon To Preserve His Own Life, Gethsemane: His Father's Legions Of Angels, Jesus Chose His Battles Wisely, Jesus Fulfilled Law Of Moses Prophets And Psalms, Jesus Would Not Walk In Jewry, Jesus Secretly Goes To Feast Of Tabernacles In Jerusalem, Jesus Exposed The Sins Of His Unbelieving Enemies, Jesus Hides Himself And Escapes From The Temple, Jesus' Guerrilla Warfare Tactics, When Confrontation And Persecution Become Unavoidable, Standing Before Governors And Kings, Apostle Paul Stands Before Felix Agrippa Festus And Nero, God Has Not Given Us Spirit Of Fear, Persecution Comes With The Territory, Article Summary, Our Job Is To Remain Alive To Be Witnesses, The Foolishness Of Doctrinal Debates, Ask The Lord For Wisdom And Discernment

At the same time, there were also occasions when Jesus would purposely choose to retreat from the limelight in order to avoid further confrontation with His enemies. He knew that He had to preserve His life until the time of His departure from this world had arrived. One example, which is found in the Gospel of Matthew, reveals how Jesus apparently went to Tyre and Sidon incognito. Matthew seems to imply that Jesus purposely withdrew to Tyre and Sidon in order to avoid any harassment from His self-righteous enemies -- the Scribes and the Pharisees -- who He had in fact just lambasted, as we see by the following verses:

"Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men . . . Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us."
Matthew 15:1-23, KJV

While in the previous verses the word "departed" is used, the actual Greek word that is used -- "anachoreo" -- means to go back, return or withdraw. This implies that Jesus may have been there before. Furthermore, this same Greek word also refers to those who through fear seek some other place, or who shun sight. Perhaps this is also why the Disciples said to Jesus "Send her away; for she crieth after us." In other words, this woman was drawing too much attention to them, and that is what they were trying to avoid at that particular moment.

Lest anyone get the wrong impression, let me clearly point out here that I do not believe that Jesus was really afraid of His unbelieving Jewish enemies in Judea. As I stated a moment ago, that is not why He went to Tyre and Sidon. It was simply to preserve His life until the appointed time. Let us not forget that, as He told Peter during the brief confrontation that occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane, all of the Angels in Heaven were at His Father's command, as we see by this verse:

"Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"
Matthew 26:53, KJV

Some of my readers may be very surprised to learn that Jesus -- who a lot of Christians often picture as a bold, fearless, fiery preacher of righteousness and truth -- would basically run away from His enemies. Perhaps you may even think that I have misinterpreted what is happening in the previous verses. However, there are a few other examples in the Gospels where we are clearly shown that Jesus was a very astute, guerrilla warrior of the Spirit who knew how to pick His battles. As I said a moment ago, He knew when He should stay and fight, and when it was wiser to run away, so that He could wage battle another day.

Jesus realized that He needed to remain alive long enough, not only so that He could train the Apostles, but also so that He could fulfill all of the Old Testament prophecies which had been written concerning Him. As the Lord informed His followers at the end of the Gospel of Luke:

"And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Luke 24:44-47, KJV

For example, after He gave His "eat-my-flesh-drink-my-blood" sermon in John chapter six, we are informed that many people turned against Him and abandoned Him. As a result, we are informed that Jesus refused to walk in Jewry -- that is, in Judea, from the Greek "Ioudaia" -- because the Jews sought to kill Him. Therefore, He remained in Galilee. Consider the following verses:

"From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him."
John 6:66-7:1, KJV

Let me share with you what happened right after the previous incident. In the Gospel of John, we are told that the Feast of Tabernacles was drawing near. As you may possibly know, this was a major religious event which was held in Jerusalem every year. Now, Jesus' brethren -- either His unbelieving biological brothers, or perhaps the people of the region of Galilee, depending on how you personally wish to understand the word "brethren" -- dared and taunted the Lord. They were basically saying "If you really are who you say you are, then stop hiding yourself. Prove it by going into Judea for the Feast of Tabernacles." Please notice how Jesus responds and reacts in the following verses. Notice also that this occurs while the Lord is still in Galilee, from the previous verses that I shared with you:

"Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him. Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee."
John 7:2-9, KJV

It is evident then that when things got too hot in Judea due to the unbelief of the Jews, Jesus would sometimes flee to either Galilee or to Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia on occasion. In short, Jesus knew that His time had not come yet, so He was trying to stay alive as long as possible so that He could fulfill His mission. As I stated in part one, he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. Being the smart strategist, spiritual warrior and tactician that He was, the Lord obviously believed this as well.

But look what happens next. After Jesus' brethren had left for Jerusalem, Jesus secretly went up also. In other words, He chose His battle, and slipped in unnoticed. However, once He had quietly slipped into Jerusalem, in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles -- it lasts for a period of seven days, and is also known as Sukkoth, or the Feast of Booths -- He began to boldly preach in the Temple. As was to be expected, His actions immediately raised the ire of the unbelieving Jews once again, which resulted in yet another confrontation, as we see by the following verses. For the full story, please read verses ten through thirty in your Bible:

"But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret . . . Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught . . . Why go ye about to kill me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? . . . Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him . . . Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come."
John 7:10, 14, 19b-20, 25-26a, 30, KJV

The final example I would like to share with you regarding Jesus' guerrilla warfare tactics is mentioned in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John. As occurred in the previous confrontation, Jesus accused the unbelieving Jews of trying to kill Him. It is also in this same chapter where He tells them that they are of their father the Devil. By now, Jesus was using both guns, as they say, just as He likewise did in Matthew chapter twenty-three. He was not holding back the truth from them. He was fully exposing their rebellion, lies and sins. As He would later say in this very same Gospel:

"If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin."
John 15:22, KJV

At any rate, for the sake of brevity, and to not overburden you with too much reading, I have only included some of the key verses from John chapter eight which reveal the intense confrontation that occurred between Jesus and His rebellious, unbelieving, self-righteous enemies:

"I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father . . . But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father . . . Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it . . . He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me . . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil . . . Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by."
John 8:37-38, 40-41a, 44, 47-49, 51-52a, 59, KJV

As you can see, when the unbelieving Jews picked up stones in order to stone Jesus to death, we are informed that He "hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." Exactly what this means is a bit ambiguous. In this sentence, the verb "hid" is derive from the Greek word "krupto". In Thayer's Greek English Lexicon we find the following definitions:

----- Begin Quote -----

1) to hide, conceal, to be hid
2) escape notice
3) metaph. to conceal (that it may not become known)

----- End Quote -----

The previous sentence could simply mean that Jesus covered His head and face with His prayer shawl so that He would not be easily recognized, which would thus facilitate His escape from the Temple. If we consider that this incident occurred in the middle of the Feast of Passover, during which time a lot of people -- many thousands in fact -- would be in the city of Jerusalem, it could also mean that when Jesus saw the angry Jews coming for Him, He quickly got lost in the crowd, and so slipped out of the Temple.

But what I find odd about this sentence is that we are told that He went "through the midst of them, and so passed by." You would think that even if Jesus covered His head with His prayer shawl, surely someone would still recognize Him in that huge crowd. After all, it wasn't like He was a stranger in Jerusalem, or to the Jewish religious elders. So it makes me wonder if these verses are describing some more mysterious wonder, such as Jesus actually disappearing before their very eyes. It is just a guess, and I obviously do not know for certain.

At any rate, the point I wish to emphasize is that once again we see the Lord striking His enemies hard, and then making a quick exit. He was -- and is -- a seasoned Warrior of the Spirit who knows how to take advantage of guerrilla warfare tactics in order to catch His enemies off-guard and defeat them. In this last example, He again made His point, and then disappeared before the angry Jews began to throw rocks in His direction. As we learned in part one with the verses from the Book of Proverbs, Jesus saw the evil coming and chose to flee the scene. He was wise enough to avoid further conflict, because His hour had not yet come. He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. Remember that.

Of course, as occurred with the Apostles and Disciples in the New Testament, there may be times when you will not be able to avoid confrontation and persecution. As a result, you may find yourself standing before a judge, or possibly even spending a night or more behind bars. As Jesus said, the children of this world are wiser -- and I would add, more crafty -- than the children of light -- Luke 16:8. If they are out to get you, they will find a way to legally do so when you least expect it. If that is the case, and they haul you off to be judged by some secular authority, just remember that the Lord must have a reason for allowing it to happen to you. Remember too that He promised to be with you, and that He said that He would put His words in your mouth, as we see by the following verses:

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."
Matthew 10:16-20, KJV

"But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost."
Mark 13:9-11, KJV

"But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."
Luke 21:12-15, KJV

"And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. And he wrote a letter after this manner: Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell. Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall."
Acts 23:23-35, KJV

"And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar. Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth."
Acts 25:13-23, KJV

"But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."
Acts 27:21-25, KJV

"The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. [The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.]"
2 Timothy 4:22, KJV

Just remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear. If anyone should be fearful and afraid, it should be the people who unjustly persecute us because of our faith in Christ. In God's chosen time, they will be given their "reward", unless they repent. Whether in bonds or free, wherever you are, and in whatever situation you may find yourself, just continue to be a spiritual light and a burning ember for the Lord. If the day arrives that persecution comes your way, just remember verses such as the following:

"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me."
John 15:18-21, KJV

"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12, KJV

Allow me to again encourage you to read my article entitled "Civil Disobedience and Christian Persecution".

It is clear that as modern-day witnesses for Christ, we can all learn some valuable witnessing and survival lessons from reading about the actions of Jesus and the Apostles. Let me emphasize again that running away, or taking cover, is not being a coward. It is not denying your faith or abandoning Jesus Christ. It is not being ashamed of your faith. In the truest sense of the word, being ashamed of your faith would entail actually denying your belief in Jesus Christ when you are questioned about it. Running away simply means that you will live to preach the Gospel another day. It can be a very smart strategic move. Hit and run spiritual guerrilla warfare can be a very effective mode of operation, as it keeps your enemies off-balance. They never know from which direction you are going to strike next. Just remember; we are to preach the Gospel in Love, and for no other reason.

In conclusion, the Lord needs us alive so that we can finish the job that He has given us to do. We can't very well do it if we are dead or locked away in some prison cell. So please be as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Don't provoke legal authorities, shopping mall proprietors, store owners, or anyone else unnecessarily due to foolishness and pride. If the heat is on, try to flee if it is at all possible. Fight your battle, be a powerful witness, but then run away so that you too will be able to live to fight another day. It is the wise thing to do, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. If persecution is unavoidable and you find yourself in bonds, then strive to be a bold but loving witness as much as lies within you by His Power and Spirit.

While the counsel which I have offered in this article is primarily directed at people who are involved in real world witnessing -- such as on the streets of big cities, from house-to-house, etc. -- it can be equally applied to online witnessing as well. It has been my observation that there is a lot of online debate occurring, even between our very own Christian brethren. For reasons which I explain in my article "Should Christians Engage in Doctrinal Debate?" I find this behavior between fellow Christians shameful, divisive and unnecessary. Furthermore, insofar as our outreach to the unbelieving world is concerned, such behavior only serves to hinder our witness, so please don't to it. As the Apostle Paul wrote:

". . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Romans 14:5b, KJV

I pray that you have found this article informative, and I hope that it has been a blessing in your life. I also pray that God grants you both Wisdom and Spiritual Discernment, so that you will know when it is wise to remain and fight, and when it is wiser to run away so that you can live to fight another day. As the Apostle James wrote:

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
James 1:5, KJV

If you have been blessed by this article, I encourage you to please consider sharing its URL link with all of your online friends. Likewise, if you have a user account with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, etc, I would also appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thanks so much, and may God bless you abundantly!

For additional information, you may want to refer to the list of resources below which were mentioned in this article, and which are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics website:

Civil Disobedience and Christian Persecution
Should Christians Engage in Doctrinal Debate?
Are You a Burning Ember for the Lord?
Are You Crucified With Christ?
Peter : Faith Tried in the Fire
Palestinian Suicide Bombers and Middle East Peace

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