Google+ 12/05/12 Off To War!

Deuteronomy 20:1-5

 

When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots

And an army greater than your own, do not be afraid.

The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you!

When you prepare for battle, the priest must come forward to speak to the troops.

He will say to them, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel!

Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today!

Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them.

For the Lord your God is going with you!

He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’

Then the officers of the army must address the troops and say,

‘Has anyone here just built a new house but not yet dedicated it?

If so, you may go home! You might be killed in the battle,

And someone else would dedicate your house. 

 

As you read this Scripture today, you may be thinking that I have completely lost my mind!  The question could be asked as to why I would be writing about Old Testament war practices.  After all, that is exactly what this is.  Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Law that the Bible speaks of often.  The first five books of the Bible are also called the Pentateuch , meaning "five books" in Greek.  It is widely accepted that Moses wrote Deuteronomy, even though some modern liberal scholars have attempted to question this fact.  The fourth subsection of Deuteronomy deals with war practices.  It is now that I should let you in on my opinion about wars.  There has never been and will never be a war that is not a "Holy War."  If you look at history, whether declared or not, every war has two sides;  the one fighting on the side of God and the one that doesn't.  Once again there is no room in war for lukewarm or fence sitting.  In a "Holy War," no one in their right mind ever says, "Can't we all just get along?"  The answer is "NO" and we have to only look at the Middle East to prove this point.  If you haven't read Joshua lately, go read about the "Holy Wars" that God not only ordained, but insisted on having the Israelites fight.  Like any good military maneuver, there must be rules.  While there are always casualties of war, without rules and preparation, the casualty count rises unnecessarily.  Hence, our Scripture lesson today.  These are very different rules from what we encounter today in our "Holy War" preparation.  The first part of our Scripture basically says that when we are faced with what we think to be insurmountable odds waged against us, that we should not be afraid.  O good, that seems easy!  At some point in almost every day I live, I look out at the landscape and see "multiple horses and chariots" coming at me.  On my own, and with my personal weaknesses, it is easy to panic.  So, what are we supposed to remember in these times of fear and apprehension?  Remember that the Lord our God is with us.  Other than the fact that God is Omnipresent, how do we know God is with us?  The Scripture says that we know God is with us when we go to war because, before we enter into battle, the priest is going to pray and call on God's name on our behalf.  We are supposed to pray every time before we go into battle?  Absolutely!  God is not a genie in the lamp who pops out for us when we rub it the right way.  Remember the Scripture "When two or more of you are gathered in my name, I am with you?"  We need to be intentional and ask.  For me, knowing that God walks every step of my "Holy Wars" with me provides great peace.   Finally, during the military times of Deuteronomy, military exemptions were given to men who had just built new houses and not dedicated them, to men who had just put in new vineyards and not tasted of their fruit, to men who were recently betrothed (engaged), and to men who were in great fear and were faint-hearted.  Are you kidding me?  They actually did this?  Yes they did, and it is obvious why.  All of the above conditions would indicate that the minds of the men involved would have, at best, been distracted.  As anyone knows, distraction in a military battle is actually a tool used by the enemy to affect victory.  If the adversary can distract you and make you fearful, there is a very good chance they will be able to claim victory.  For this reason, exemptions were issued for men to get rid of the distraction before going to war, thus eliminating the liability for the rest of the army.  Before you go into battle with the enemy today, deal with your distractions.  Resolve conflict now.  Clear your mind of the trivial.  Build and bless your house, plant the vineyard and taste of its fruit, kiss your spouse goodbye for the day, and pray that you will not be faint-hearted for our God.  Our "Holy Wars" have become much more sophisticated today.  In Old Testament days, we could almost always see our enemies coming.  We could do adequate preparation before the enemy arrived.  Today, we must rise each morning preparing for war. We must pray with our priest, who is Jesus Christ, to keep us safe and free from fear EVERY day.  The reason is that we often don't know when the enemy is coming, from what direction, and in what form.  The day of the frontal attack by Satan seems to have come to an end.  That's why Jesus and your family of God are so important.  In short, they "have your back!"  So in the words of our Scripture today, "Do not be afraid to go out and fight your enemies today!"