I have been living with a little terrorist. “Rattus Muridae” invaded my house late last October. At first I was merely annoyed. Having just returned from an overseas trip, I discovered my “little cuties” (small tangerines I had left in a basket on my kitchen counter) with their tops chewed off and most of the fruit demolished. I put the remains in the garbage disposal only to find it was broken. The wires beneath the sink had been severed. Then I saw the pile of sawdust next to my food pantry. The wooden door had been gnawed. Finally, the black droppings were conclusive proof of the little terrorist’s awful presence.
It was late, but I went to bed somewhat reluctantly. Sure enough, I awoke in the dark to the sound of something moving. I grabbed for my cellphone and the backlit screen illuminated a large rodent. He seemed as surprised to see me as I him and he scampered away. I gave chase but to no avail. I had a fitful night. The next morning when I saw him I went after him with a broom but again he escaped.
I bought two kinds of rat traps at my local hardware store. One type has a spring and is designed to kill. The other has a slab of sticky glue and is supposed to hold the rat until you discover and dispose of it. Neither worked. The rat managed to spring one trap without getting caught, then avoided all the others. It got stuck on one of the other traps but was able to gnaw and fight its way off, leaving part of its gruesome tail behind.
A week later my daughter came home from college. I’d put flowers on the nightstand in her bedroom the day before she arrived. Instead of the welcoming sight I had planned, she found the vase lying on the floor and bits of chewed flowers strewn across the room. Piles of sawdust pointed to places where the rat had chewed molding and door jams. He’d left less sanitary evidence of his presence on my daughter’s pillow. Who could blame her for going to stay with friends instead of in her own room? It was time to call in a professional.
The man came with an excellent reputation and a high price. He assured me that while it might take up to four weeks, he would solve my problem. Five weeks later the rat was still at large. I decided to name him Lucifer, the demon rat. It seemed fitting.
When the chairman of our Jews for Jesus board of directors, Dr. Jim Congdon, started a new sermon series on spiritual warfare called “Invaders,” I found the parallels to my situation striking. Perhaps you will also find them illuminating.
First, this rat entered my house unseen and unwelcomed. I didn’t know it was there until the telltale signs became quite obvious. Similarly, we don’t usually invite Satan into our lives and we can be quite ignorant of his presence for awhile. But what are some of the signs that he is “in the house?” Feelings of discouragement or depression often result from difficult circumstances, but have you ever fallen prey to these emotions without necessarily finding any direct cause? I know I have, and it is usually evidence of “the rat.” I’ve found myself doubting God, doubting His grace, even doubting my own salvation at times like this.
The Bible tells us that this “rat” is the father of lies, the accuser of brothers and sisters in Christ, and that we should not be “ignorant of his devices.” When we see piles of dust where our confidence in God has been gnawed away, what can we do? “Turn on the light” of His Word, confess and believe what God has promised. When we do, that old rat will scamper away and hide. He cannot abide the presence of the light.
Second, “the rat” is intelligent and not easily fooled. My pest control guy began by placing the bait on his traps without setting them. He wanted the rat to become accustomed to eating off the traps and, sure enough, it ate every bit of the special bait. After a week of this, the expert re-baited the traps and set them. The rat knew. He left the bait alone.
One day the pest control guy came to check the traps and walked in on the rat. It was the middle of the day and he called me at the office and admitted, “It is hard to think that this rat may be smarter than me.” I thought, “It better not be. I’m not paying the rat.” It’s almost enough to make me want to paraphrase Genesis 3:1: “Now the rat was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made…”
The devil is indeed crafty. He knows our weaknesses better than we do. He can’t harm us without permission from the Lord (see Job), but he can make a mess of our thought life and tempt us in ways we may not see until damage is done. We dare not dismiss him as a harmless pest. Like a rat, he is a carrier of plagues, a poisoner of peace, eating away and spoiling whatever he can to unnerve and distract us.
We can’t outwit Satan, but God has promised that if we resist the devil he will flee from us. As much as he wants to terrorize us, we need not fear him because “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world” (see 1John 4:4). As long as we remember that, this “terrorist” has more reason to fear us than vice versa.
Yet I can’t deny that having a rat in my home has been a trial. Until he’s history, I never know what might befall next. One evening he ate through a hose and flooded my kitchen while my daughter was entertaining friends. So yes, at times that “little terrorist” has made me unhappy and discombobulated. But he’s also given me opportunity to reflect.
If that rat had stayed outside, I wouldn’t care about him one way or the other—but since he invaded my house he has made me his enemy.
Satan, that great rat, is “in the world” and while we might see him as the invader, he knows that his dominion has been invaded. We became his deadly enemy as soon as we began following Christ. He has been the god of this world, but we are not his followers nor subject to his rule. While the rat continues to spread his dirty lies, we are spreading truth, the gospel of grace, which is far more powerful.
Not only does Satan hate Christians, but also he doesn’t like Jews, whether they know Jesus or not. He has been trying to get rid of the Jewish people for 3,000 years. Why? Because God staked His reputation on our continued existence and has made promises to the Jewish people that remind Satan of his doom. So Jews and Christians are special objects of that great rat’s attention.
I don’t think my rat saw the Jews for Jesus van in my driveway and thought, “Aha, I can get a Jew and a Christian all under one roof.” Whether in six weeks or six months I am going to be rid of my rat. (Please pray for me.) But that great rat Satan does strategize as he prowls around hoping to cause as much damage as possible before he is finally cast into the lake of fire, as the Bible assures us that he certainly will be. And that certainty, my friends, is a very comforting thought. Meanwhile,
“And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him” (Martin Luther).
Read a timeless follow-up to this article titled “Focused Prayer, Our Secret Weapon” by Ceil Rosen.