Deuteronomy 19:15-20:20; Luke 9:37-50; Psalms 74:1-11; Proverbs 18:9-10
OT: “When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and an army larger than yours, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you. When you are about to engage in battle, the priest is to come forward and address the army. He is to say to them, ‘Listen, Israel: Today you are about to engage in battle with your enemies. Do not be cowardly. Do not be afraid, alarmed, or terrified because of them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’” (Deuteronomy 20:1-4 CSB)
40 years prior to this, fear had kept Israel from entering the promised land, and the subsequent disobedience caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Fear is a natural reaction, but we can’t allow fear to overcome our faith and lead us to disobedience. Moses was preparing the people for the inevitable. They were going to face enemies that were bigger than they were. They were going to face enemies that were more powerful and better equipped than that were. He wanted to make sure that this generation of Israelites didn’t make the same mistake as their fathers. Their fathers compared the opposition to themselves and found themselves severely lacking. However factual the Israelites condition may have been, the truth was that the Israelites weren’t going into war alone. God would be with them. Moses wouldn’t be there to remind his people of the truth, so he charged the priests to remind the people. The same God who defeated the elite Egyptian army would go with them in battle and would fight for them and give them the victory. Instead of allowing themselves to be overcome by fear, they were to overcome their fear with faith in the Lord their God. There is great opposition to God’s word, will, and ways in the earth today. There are enormous enemies that stand against righteousness and true justice. Unlike the Israelites of old, our enemies are not flesh and blood. Our enemy is the kingdom of darkness and all the systems of the ruler of this age. Will we be intimidated into silence and inactivity, or will we stand with God and His Kingdom and know that if we are for Him, then He is for us and will fight with us and through us to see His kingdom advanced in the hearts and lives of souls across this earth.
NT: “The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, because he’s my only child. A spirit seizes him; suddenly he shrieks, and it throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; severely bruising him, it scarcely ever leaves him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.” Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” As the boy was still approaching, the demon knocked him down and threw him into severe convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And they were all astonished at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all the things he was doing, he told his disciples, “Let these words sink in: The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this statement; it was concealed from them so that they could not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it. An argument started among them about who was the greatest of them. But Jesus, knowing their inner thoughts, took a little child and had him stand next to him. He told them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. For whoever is least among you — this one is great.”” (Luke 9:37-48 CSB)
Just a few days prior to this, Jesus gave His disciples power and authority over sickness and the kingdom of darkness… and they went into the surrounding towns and villages healing people and casting out demons. Jesus didn’t rescind His delegation… they still had power and authority over the demonic. For some reason, while Jesus, James, John, and Peter were gone on their trip up the mountain, the remaining 9 disciples lost their faith. In other Gospels, Jesus not only rebuked them for their lack of faith, but their lack of prayer and fasting as well. While Jesus was away, they didn’t maintain their discipline of meeting with God the Father, and their faith in God and Jesus’ ability to delegate power and authority to them waned. So when a distraught and desperate father came to them to deliver his son, they couldn’t do it. I wonder if that is why Jesus reminded them quite seriously that He was going to be betrayed and wouldn’t be physically with them when hard times came. They couldn’t allow their faith in God and their faith in Him to be weak. Greatness in God’s kingdom isn’t determined by how big, strong, and blustery you are. Greatness in God’s kingdom is determined by how humble you are and how dependent you are on God the Father for everything. When we engage the enemy, our faith isn’t in our devotional habits or our own self-righteousness. Our faith is in the Lord our God, our Savior Jesus Christ, and the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Proverbs: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected.” (Proverbs 18:10 CSB)
The Lord God is our strength. He is our advantage. He is our unshakable defense. As we engage the enemies of righteousness, as we remain in Him – submitted to Him – trusting in Him, we will be safe.