Reading through Judges recently, I was intrigued at how God wanted to teach the Israelites warfare (Judges 2:21-23, 3:1-4). He did not drive out all the nations left during the time of Joshua, because He wanted to test the hearts of His people to see whether they would keep walking in God’s ways and continue to drive out the enemy or be seduced by the foreign cultures and their gods in the land where they were living.
‘The Lord left (the nations) to test all those ... who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan. He did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience’ (Judges 3:1-2).
The Israelites did not learn warfare, unfortunately. They chose to befriend the other cultures, intermarrying and worshipping their idols. The Bible tells us that choosing friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God (James 4:4).
To bring it into a modern context, our test or battle can come when ‘other cultures and their gods’ sneak their way into our church or family through new age practices such as yoga, and homeopathic remedies amongst other things. Or it may be the personal internal battle of walking with integrity at times when the battle-free route would be to walk the road of compromise. The heart of the Lord is still the same as it was in the time of Joshua, where He wants to teach us warfare.
Battles present an opportunity for our spiritual muscles to get flexed and built up, using our spiritual armour which includes the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Our battle is not against people, but against what is contrary to God’s word and heart, the things which Satan packages up in deceitful ways to make them palatable.
When something is said twice in Scripture, it is to underline an important point, but when it is said three times within a very short time, then it is highlighting something imperative to our walk, not least, in this case, on the battlefield. In Ephesians 6:13-14, the word ‘stand’ is used three times! ‘Stand your ground’, ‘After you have done everything, stand’, ‘Stand firm then’.
I would suggest that the word stand is used three times to highlight that the most difficult thing to do in the heat of a battle is to keep upright, standing firm and not moving from our position and conviction in Christ.
The Bible says, ‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful’ (Hebrews 10:23). The word ‘unswervingly’ could also be exchanged with the word ‘uncompromisingly’.
Today I encourage you to stand firm, uncompromising in your conviction, knowing that He who promised is faithful. He has your back and has victory in store for you and me. ‘For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour; no good thing does he withhold from those whose way of life is blameless’ (Psalm 84:11).
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