March 12

The Lord Fought for Israel

How could it be that one nomadic nation could enter into a land filled with nations that had lived in abundance and, with the exception of Ai (due to their sin), so thoroughly dominate and defeat those much wealthier, better established, better equipped and better defended nations? On two separate occasions, Israel faces a coalition of many nations. And yet, they are victorious time and again. But this is not the story of Joshua, the great military leader. It is the story of Yahweh, the great God of Israel.

Three times in our reading today, we are reminded of the reason for their great victories – “the Lord fought for Israel.” (10:14; 10:42; 11:8)

As Christians what are we to take from this? Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (ESV) Similarly, 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (ESV)

In addition to our offensive spiritual war, we also fight a defensive war as Christians against our own sinful flesh. 1 Peter 2:11 says, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” (ESV)

Though Joshua fought for a physical representation of our spiritual reality, just as the Lord fought for Joshua, so does He fight for us. It is for this reason that Paul is able to say with confidence,  “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Are you engaging in the spiritual battles that inevitably come from serving Christ in the World? Are you battling against the flesh and it’s tendency to drive you back down into sin? If so, God is waging war on your behalf before you ever lift a spiritual finger, and, just as with Joshua, the outcome is already certain.

1 John 5:4  For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith.