Got Enemies?

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 25   

imagesFive kings of the Amorites join together to fight against the people of Gibeon because they have made peace with Israel. The Gibeonites cry out to Israel for help. Sounds like terrible odds—5 to 1—until God is factored into the equation—“And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand;  not a man of them shall stand before you’” (Josh. 10:8).

The next day the LORD assists Israel in battle—“The LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword” (10:11). Joshua commands the sun to stand still in order to give Israel more daylight in which to mop up the battle against the Amorites. Enemies joining forces simply require greater intervention by God. He is up to the battle!

One enemy king after another falls as Israel fights their first campaign. Success is credited to God’s activity on Israel’s behalf, “All these kings and their lands Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel” (10:42).

No sooner does one campaign finish than Israel begins another, as numerous kings join forces in an army with “as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude” (11:4). Once again the LORD assures Joshua of victory, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel” (11:6). Incredible odds for any army but God’s army! Again, Israel defeats a consolidation of kings.

Joshua successfully leads Israel to defeat thirty-one kings, “For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, but that He might destroy them” (11:20).

These military stories reveal a number of truths about God and the enemy:

  • Sometimes the Lord consolidates the enemy so that only one battle is fought instead of several.
  • Victory over the enemy is not based on man’s might or power, but upon God’s resources and intervention. He may commandeer weather and nature and hurl hailstones against the enemy.
  • Fear immobilizes, while faith in God mobilizes His people to face their enemies. Either fear or faith increases when enemies join forces. Fear immobilizes people either to run or to surrender to their enemies, while faith in God mobilizes His people to face their enemies.

What God has done for Israel He will do for any of His children who face opposition. The Psalmist confidently boasts, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6).

Questions from today’s reading (Joshua 10:1-12:6):

What characterizes the first years of Israel’s time in the land of Canaan?

How does this apply to the Christian life today?