Friday, November 6, 2015

The Lord who fights

The tenth chapter of the book of Joshua opens with the kings in the southern region of the Promised Land forming a coalition to come against the city Gibeon. The men of Gibeon send an urgent plea for help to Joshua and as he and the mighty fighting men of valor prepare for a night march, the Lord once again assures Joshua of victory:
Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you. (Joshua 10:8)
It is interesting to note that the Lord speaks in past tense though the battle has yet to be fought! The Lord will be gracious to empower His people and to secure the victory for them. The outcome is assured but the people must step out in confident obedience to engage the enemy.

What follows is surely one of the most interesting passages of Scripture! The author of Joshua reports that after Joshua and his men marched all night long in order to launch a surprise attack, it was the Lord Himself who secured the defeat.       
And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them…and as they fled before Israel while they were going doing the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them…and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword. (Joshua 10:10-11)
Verse 14 summarizes the Lord’s intervention: “for the Lord fought for Israel.”

Our God is a warrior God! He fought as the victor who crushes His enemy under His feet. In our pursuit of a kinder, gentler Savior, we sometimes overlook the power and might of our Lord who stores up wrath against those who oppose Him. We forget the Jesus of Rev. 19, he who will judge in righteousness and will make war, wearing a robe dipped in blood.
And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. (Rev. 19:14-16)
It is this God, mighty and terrible, holy and omnipotent, who fights for His people.

And it is this God to whom Joshua prays in Joshua 10:12 and the Bible tells us “the sun stopped.” Scholars attempt to explain or interpret this miracle as perhaps a solar eclipse or maybe even just poetic license on the part of the author. The emphasis of the text, however, is found in verse 14:
There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man…
This God, this powerful, almighty, sovereign God, the fierce commander of the armies of heaven, He hears, He listens, He answers the prayers of His people. What kind of God is this? What kind of grace? That the Lord of heaven and earth would stoop down, would condescend to hear and answer the prayer of wicked and sinful me.

I don’t know what your battle is. I don’t know where the enemy is coming against you. I do know this: the Lord’s words of comfort to Joshua are for you too. You need not fear. If you belong to Jesus, the Lord Himself fights for you. And your enemy? His doom is sure and his time is short.

Like Joshua, we too can cry out to the Lord, most especially when the battle is heated and our hearts are heavy. Because of Christ, we can draw near to Him in prayer as His daughters. As His child, ask Him for what you need! He is faithful and He will meet your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. He is gracious and He is sufficient.

Just as I don’t know your battle, I also don’t know what your victory will look like.  I daresay it will not be the ease and comfort of your best life now. In fact, it seems to me the victory the Lord most often grants is the perseverance, the grace, to get up and fight another day, another hour, another minute.

We discussed these truths in Bible study on Tuesday. After class my friend confessed through her tears that she is afraid of what the victory may look like. She and her family have endured much for  the kingdom of Christ. She is weary. She fears. And who wouldn't? But her hope is in the mighty Lord who fights for her. He is the fierce warrior, yes, but He is also the gentle Shepherd who comforts her and assures her that she can and will endure.

Glory to God, we have hope beyond this life! Whatever you suffer today as a believer in Christ, you can know that it is only light and momentary compared to the eternal glory that awaits. Keep fighting the good fight, sister. Don’t be afraid. The Lord has given you the victory and He Himself fights on your behalf.

1 comment:

  1. What a balm for the soul! In my fight I am weary but you reminded me of the truth that God will grant me persevance - which I greatly need. Thank you for your encouraging blog!