The Battle at Kruger
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
August 06, 2017
In September 2004 a guy named David Budzinski, on his first trip to Africa, was driving a rented jeep across the Kruger National Park in South Africa when he spotted a few lions stalking a herd of buffalo at a watering hole.
The video he filmed of the drama that unfolded there would later become one of the most watched youtube videos in history with 79 million views. It went so viral, National Geographic even made a documentary about it.
Frank Watts, a safari guide at Kruger, later compared Budzinki's experience to a meteorite striking Earth. 'They probably hit Earth quite regularly, but nobody sees them, and no one photographs them. And I don't know of anybody who's ever seen anything like this before.’
Here’s the video that came to be called The Battle at Kruger, you’ll see why…
*** SHOW VIDEO through 4 minutes, 30 seconds.
The first time I saw it blew me away. Not only because at face value it was unbelievable, but also because I realized it was a true-to-life illustration of a Bible verse. I mean it pegs it. Spot on.
1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) — 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Let that sink in. Connects, doesn’t it?
You may see the connection but think, the devil, really, pastor? You honestly believe he’s a real being? Tim Keller, a pastor preaching to the intellectuals of NYC at the time, said…
[The modern world likes to deny the reality of a being called the devil but] Paul talks about it, Peter talks about it, [and] the person who talks about it maybe more than anybody is Jesus. Jesus acts like and teaches that there is a personal supernatural force, an evil, super-natural personality called the Devil.
If you say, “Well, I love what Jesus says about this and that, but at that point he’s just being a man of his times; we can’t believe that sort of thing anymore,” how can you, with any consistency, say you like to believe what Jesus says about good supernatural forces and good personal supernatural forces, like himself and God … You can believe in good personal supernatural forces, but you won’t believe what he says about evil personal supernatural forces.
Why would you be so arbitrary? Don’t you see? To pick and choose, to say, “I believe this but not this,” would be just bias, wishful thinking. It’s completely arbitrary. Why should you say, “Well, I believe what he said about that but not like that”? How can you pick and choose like that? You either accept the authority of what he says because of who he is or else admit your bias. If you go on through and say, “I like to believe in the good personal supernatural forces, but I don’t like to believe in the bad personal supernatural forces,” that’s nothing but bias.
It’s nothing but prejudice that would lead you to make such a distinction. The Bible says there’s a Devil. You have no reasonable basis to make distinctions like that. … I wish there wasn’t such a thing, but here it is. This is what is taught. In the matrix of everything that’s taught, it’s part of the warp and woof of what’s taught. You can’t rip it out without doing complete violence to the teaching authority of Jesus.
If anything, this verse, and the video that illustrates it, admonishes us to…
Be aware that we have an enemy
Folks, we have an enemy. He’s the devil, and he prowls about like a lion, looking for people to devour. That word devour in the Greek carries the idea of swallowing whole. He doesn't want to maim or munch on us, he wants to gulp us down his gullet feet and all.
NT Wright writes…
It’s a terrifying image, and one which alerts us at once to the serious nature of the Christian life. Too many Christians soft-pedal the idea of actual spiritual warfare, of a real confrontation with a real devil. As C. S. Lewis said when writing about his world-famous book The Screwtape Letters, consisting of letters from a senior devil to a junior one on how to tempt people, some people dismiss the idea of a devil by thinking of a ridiculous little person with horns and hooves wearing red tights. They can’t believe in a creature like that, so they decide they can’t believe in the devil. Other people become so fascinated with the devil that they can think of little else, and suppose that every ordinary problem in life, or difficulty in someone else’s personality, is due to direct devilish intervention. Lewis steers a wise path between these two extremes, and so should we. But perhaps, for many … the danger may be more in ignoring the tempter than in overdramatizing him.
We don't realize it; we certainly can’t see it, but in an unseen realm all about us spiritual battles like the one at Kruger happen every day.
It would be really scary if that were the end of the story, if that’s all we knew: we have an adversary, an enemy, and he’s the devil, a powerful fallen angel who prowls about seeking to destroy us. Let's run and hide. We are no match for him. But thankfully, just as we should be aware of our enemy, we should equally…
Be aware of the ways to defeat our enemy
God has not left us defenseless.
Ephesians 6:11 (ESV) — 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
God has equipped us spiritually with what we need both in offensive and defensive to engage in the battles.
James reminds us to..
James 4:7 (ESV) — 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Going back to our key verse, Peter calls us to do the same…
1 Peter 5:8–9 (ESV) — 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
We can resist because we have the presence of God in our lives; His Spirit dwells in us. That doesn’t mean we always will (thank God for grace) just that we can.
Growing up I endured the unfortunate attention of the town bully, Jeff McCullough. I was terrified of him until one day my mother made me confront him. I did. It cost me a bloody nose, but I realized I had been bigger than him all along and all that time all I had to do was stand up to him.
1 John 4:4 (ESV) — 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
And if that is not enough, we take comfort in knowing our enemy is already defeated…
Be aware that our enemy is ultimately already defeated
Revelation 12:9–12 (ESV) — 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Some of you are about to feel little cheated because I’m not spending more time here (later perhaps). That’s intentional not because it’s not important to learn how to engage in spiritual warfare, but because there’s a part to this defeating the devil thing that gets left out.
It’s fun to see ourselves as spiritual Rambos running around giving Satan his due but you should know…
We were never meant to fight this enemy alone
Wise old Solomon observed…
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 (ESV) — 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
If that’s true of life in general, it’s certainly true of the Christian life. We were intended to live within the community of faith…
1 Corinthians 12:12–13, 27 (ESV) — 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit… 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV) — 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Being a part of the community of faith isn’t an option for the Christian, though we are living in a day when many think it is (I understand why).
We need each other, especially when it comes to defeating our enemy, the devil. This is the backdrop of a bunch of teachings in the NT that get overlooked or down right rejected because they seem outdated, offensive even.
James 5:16, 19–20 (ESV) —16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. … 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Jude 22–23 (ESV) — 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
Then there’s the words of Jesus…
Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV) — 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Jesus and James and Jude aren’t trying to get all up in your business, I promise. They just know that the devil, the god of this world for now, has set everything up to take us down and the only way we can succeed is by submitting ourselves to the community of faith.
When we fall, it picks us up. When we fail, it shows us mercy and grace and leads us back to restoration. When we go off the deep end, it loves us enough to come and snatch us out of the fire. We are called as soldiers to put on the armor of God, but soldiers don’t act alone, they are part of an army!
One reason so many have been turned off to this is the abuse. Some churches, some communities of faith, get up in peoples’ business with the wrong spirit and attitude. They act like the police instead of brothers and sisters who want the best for their siblings.
One day I’ll flesh this out more. But for now, be open to embracing the need for being part of community, making church more than an afterthought or a matter of convenience.
It’s that important and the Battle at Kruger shows us why. Think about it.
How do lions hunt? The video shows us in a big way. They prowl. They crouch down far from the herd and watch and wait. They watch for, they wait for the unwise and the weak who leave the safety of the herd because even lions with all their power and speed and teeth and claws can’t take on a a few hundred buffalo or gazelles.
That’s exactly what that old lion the devil does. He looks for those Christians who leave the safety of the herd, the fellowship of other Christians. And when they get just far enough away, he pounces. He’s not about to just rush in. Notice, too, it was the baby that suffered most from being led away from the herd. Likewise, children bear the brunt of the devil’s attacks when parents fade out of church.
One of my goals is for us to become the kind of church that finds a balance between love and truth. The kind of church that understands brokenness. The kind of church that isn’t afraid to getting messy and even jumping in the fray to help someone, to save someone.
Conclusion: I have a confession to make. I didn’t show you all the video. Oh, there’s more.
*** show video 4 minutes, 30 seconds to the end
The first half of the battle at Kruger graphically demonstrates the need to be vigilant, to be aware that we have an enemy and he prowls about like a lion looking for Christians to devour.
The second half gloriously demonstrates the need for and role of the community of faith in overcoming that serpent.
Will you commit to two things today?
Resisting the devil.
Committing to church, to the faith community.
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