As I was reading my Bible one morning this past week, I was particularly struck by the following verse:
When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots, and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 20:1).
When God was giving the Law to Moses, including the above exhortation, the notion of facing large, fierce armies was a very real prospect for the Children of Israel. They were on their way to the land promised to them, and, in so doing, expected to do battle with the abhorrent tribes then occupying the territory. But this particular passage was not intended only for the context of Israel’s immediate future. It was part of the Law, to be carried forward well beyond the time Israel was to have entered and taken the Land. In fact, it is part of that Law of which Jesus spoke when he said, “For truly I say to you, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).
So the attitude God expects of His people today is the same attitude He commanded when He gave the Law to Moses: Do not be afraid of them!
Thankfully, few of us are called to actual military service these days, and of those who are, only a fraction are placed in a position of facing an enemy in direct combat. To those who do enter into combat on our behalf, defending our country and its ideals, we express our heartfelt gratitude. My God bless and defend them!
But what about the rest of us? We may not be facing the Taliban or ISIS fighters in the deserts of the Middle East, but I’m sure we all have our own, personal enemies to face every day. The commandment is the same for us – Do not be afraid of your enemies, for the LORD your God is with you!
Yes, God was telling Moses that the armies of Israel should be courageous in the face of their well-armed enemies. God was with them! Yes, most of the spies faltered, but what about Joshua and Caleb? They spied out the same enemies, and took courage regardless. If they could face their enemies unafraid, so can we face our enemies with courage and confidence in the unchanging God of Israel!
The Sabbath is not a time to seek out battles to fight, but it can be as a good time as any to take courage. We can take some time on the Sabbath to look to God, who brought Moses and the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, and actively place our trust in Him. It’s also a good time to express gratitude to God for answering our faith in the battles of the prior week by meeting us and delivering us from our enemies.
If you’re struggling with battles that seem too big for you, cry out to Jehovah, and He will hear and answer you. I can testify that He has done that for me this week, and He has delivered me from my “enemies.” Have you faced “enemies” with “horses and chariots” that seemed too big for you to handle? Have you looked to the God of Israel for your deliverance? Has He met you in your hour of battle? We know that God is good, and that all things “work together for good” for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.
But, you might say, “I’ve tried to be strong and courageous, but I’m still afraid.” I get it, I really do. But since God commanded it, we know it’s possible, through Christ and His Righteousness, to take faith, and declare ourselves unafraid in Him. We’re not standing “alone and unafraid,” we are standing with Christ. And in Him, we can declare ourselves “unafraid,” no matter what our trembling hands and shaky nerves may be trying to communicate.
So take heart, and give thanks! For no matter what has been going on this week, “the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”