The Bible is full of accounts of great battles. Who can forget the crumbling walls of Jericho or the asymmetrical contest between David and Goliath? Yet some believers today may be squeamish about such bloody victories. They may struggle to reconcile the God of love and grace with a God who commanded the utter destruction of Jericho’s populace and crowned as king a young man who beheaded a giant with his own sword. I believe, however, that we miss a crucial and empowering aspect of God’s nature when we ignore His affinity for war. After all, as Moses and Israel sang at the edge of the Red Sea when they saw their former slave-drivers washed up dead on the shore:
The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.
The great battles of the Bible were not recorded simply as matters of history. Many battles and wars were never recorded. Those that did make it into these hallowed pages through the inspiration of the Spirit were not written to glorify war or titillate our desire for action and excitement. I believe that like the rest of the Bible these battles were included for a very specific, divine purpose.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
“What instruction can we possibly receive in patience from accounts of battles?” you might ask. “What comfort could we possibly gain?”
My answer? “Plenty.”
Patience means patient endurance of hardship. There is no greater example of this principle than the life of a soldier, a fact which prompted the apostle Paul to write to Timothy,
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
(2 Timothy 2:3)
What about comfort? What comfort can we draw from stories of great battles? I ask you, what greater comfort can we gain for life’s ongoing struggles than to witness the God-empowered triumphs of our forefathers in the faith?
Make no mistake. We are fighting a war every day of our lives. Ignore that fact if you will, but you do so at the peril of your soul. It is my prayer today that this series of posts bringing the battles of the Bible to life and applying their principles to our lives will inspire you to strap on your armor, take up your sword and shield and take your place on the battle line. Join me on the battlefields of the Bible if like Paul – writing from a Roman dungeon under shadow of the executioner’s sword – you want to be able to say one day:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
(2 Timothy 4:7)Thanks for spreading the word!
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