This is one place in scripture that begs for more clarity and it has been delivered in various sermons to mean a lot and has left many confused.
It there is one interpretation that stands out in this part of the world I come from is the idea that the demons in Africa are more violent and wicked which would necessititate that our prayers should be more violent approach. I always found it strange when a minister would say that the demons in Europe are soft and that is why their ministers prayer softly.
I think if anyone thought deep on that statement you will first realize that demons are not made in races. Satan is not Hebrew nor American. Devil can operate in territories but it doesn’t grant them a passport and naturalize them.
But more importantly the subject of praying against demons is the farthest idea from what Jesus himself was talking about.
Jesus was talking the transition to the kingdom that he came to bring. John was the last prophet to announce the arrival of the kingdom and had the opportunity of seeing The King who would bring it.
This is the chief reason that John preached for them repent for the kingdom of God was at hand. Why did they have to repent? Because before John there 400 years of silence. No prophet was on the scene with a word from God. So its probably the case of the Jews having lost hope of the promised kingdom of the Messiah. 400 years which is about 10 generation is a mighty long time.
For them to repent was to change their mind about something. A change from their despair and despondency and give them hope that it was closer than they thought. John’s ministry was necessary to prepare the minds of the people to receive Jesus, the King and Messiah.
Jesus came to set up His Kingdom, and He said that it would continually grow. He used these two analogies to describe this aspect of the Kingdom:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches” (Matt. 13:31-32)
It is necessary for us to understand that Jesus set up His Kingdom upon His first coming. Many have taught that Jesus set up the “Church Age” and that we are not currently living in the “Kingdom Age,”. They say that the Church Age continues until Jesus’ second return, at which point He will initiate the Kingdom Age.
The unfortunate thing is that Scripture does not support this point of view in any way; Jesus clearly brought His Kingdom. Matt. 4:17
“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
and sent His disciples to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Matt. 10:7
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Not the Gospel of the Church Age. The whole concept of a “Church Age” cannot be found in Scripture.
The Kingdom arrived in the first century when the rock cut without hands, Jesus, crashed into the Roman Empire, and it has been growing ever since.
Daniel interpreting the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar explained about Five eras make up the statue from the dream:
• The Babylonian
• The Medeo-Persian
• The Greek
• The Roman
• The Divided Roman Empire (represented by ten toes)
The current kingdom ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar was the first symbolized by the head. After him, Daniel served under King Darius the Mede, the second kingdom (see Dan. 6) and King Cyrus the Persian (see Dan. 10). After the Medeo-Persian kingdom came the Greek kingdom and then finally the Roman Empire, which fiercely took control of the civilized world of their day in which Jesus lived.
The fifth kingdom, which was represented by clay and iron toes in the dream, occurred when the Roman Kingdom was divided into ten provinces under Augustus Caesar, who ruled from 27 BC to AD 14. During Augustus’ rule, the ten toes were established, and then Jesus came as the Rock and crashed into the toes in 3 BC.
As prophesied by this dream, during the divided Roman Empire, Jesus came and setup His Kingdom as the rock that would fill the whole earth. This is consistent with other passages of Scripture where Jesus is referred to as the chief cornerstone and the rock that the builders rejected (see Luke 20:17), as well as the rock that followed the Hebrews in the wilderness (see 1 Cor. 10:4). It is very clear from various support passages that the rock in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream speaks of Jesus.
As always context is always the first place for primary interpretation before we could actually look at secondary applications.
Look at how Jesus actually puts it.
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
16 “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, 17 and saying:
‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not lament.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Now lets us look at it again from a more recent translation considering that Old King James was written sometime around 1611. Words such “suffereth” is not in use today. This is the message (Msg)
11-14 “Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. For a long time now people have tried to force themselves into God’s kingdom. But if you read the books of the Prophets and God’s Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the kingdom. Looked at in this way, John is the ‘Elijah’ you’ve all been expecting to arrive and introduce the Messiah.
15 “Are you listening to me? Really listening?
16-19 “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
So came John came and his ministry made people to press into God’s kingdom. So the people tried to force their way into God’s kingdom but the REALQuestion is; Did they enter?
THE ANSWER: NO!
They couldn’t enter until Jesus had finished the work on the cross. His death freed man from the old covenant marriage. Until that was done no man could enter. Under the law there was no way in.
Jesus also gave a major reason why under the law it was impossible in Matthew 23:13
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”
He declared a final judgment on that system, that Old covenant institution that was just and holy but could not impart holiness and righteousness to man. The next chapter Jesus in Matthew 24 gave the big prophetic picture of the end of that age and not the end of the world.
So that scripture is not about praying more aggressively to destroy devils. It is about man’s desperate efforts to enter the kingdom of God and his failure in it. Now we can rejoice that we are in the kingdom because we are born again having being disconnected from our Adamic heritage into Christ.
We are in the kingdom now and it is advancing as Jesus prophesied. As Jonathan Welton once commented
“The Kingdom came in the manger, was proclaimed by John the Baptist, explained and demonstrated by Jesus, confirmed in the covenant of forgiveness at the last supper, established more fully by the finishing of the Old Covenant on the cross, passed to the Apostolic Ambassadors before His ascension and grew throughout the book of Acts to reaching the entire inhabited civilized world before the 70AD destruction removed the Old Covenant ways entirely.”
Grace to you.