This was an interesting passage in terms of fighting battles. In general, the people of God, Israel was not a warlike nation; they were rather to avoid warfare and seek peace. We could easily take some of what was said here and apply it to non-combat type battles in life as well. God knew the people were going to face all sorts of battles and combat in overtaking and protecting the land promised to them. They needed to understand the who, the why, and the how. Did anything surprise you in today’s reading?
There were some interesting “outs” listed for those getting ready to fight. Fear was one of them. I had to wonder if there would be any people left willing to fight. But God’s promise was to be with them. Even the priests were to come and address the troops with encouragement, reminding them, “the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!”
When we face opposition in our own lives, isn’t it helpful to remember we have God on our side? Knowing that there is nothing that can separate us from his love can certainly help bring peace to most any circumstance.
Did you notice what the first step was? It was to begin with offering peace. That should always be our first attempt as well. When we have a dispute with a neighbor, friend, or even family member, our first approach should always be to settle in peace. Here, Moses instructs them if it doesn’t work, to take the town. I liked what he said, “When the Lord your God hands the town over to you” because we need to give God the credit for the successes in our lives, too. The people were to remember who was in control and act accordingly.
Moses was also clear that these instructions were for far away lands, not the towns that God had already promised them. For those towns, those inhabiting the peoples mentioned in our readings, the people were to conquer without mercy. I personally have a hard time with imagining such bloodshed, but it’s what the Bible says. These people and their ways were detestable to God and needed to be eliminated.
God’s intention in all of these rules are to make sure the people trusted him, relied on him, followed him, listened to him, loved him. When you look at that motivation, it all comes clear. It’s no different today. That’s what God longs for from us as well.
Let’s pray… Lord, forgive me for those times when I forge ahead without checking with you first. I am being still in this moment waiting to hear from you on an important step in my life. I am waiting on your leadership to know which direction I should take. Forgive me for my fear or my own worry. I know you are working things out in your perfect timing. It is my job to trust, be listening, and to love you with my whole heart. Bless my steps and each conversation I have. May you be glorified in my life.