I hear people say all the time , “The Old Testament is just full of wars and battles. I don’t read that stuff. Jesus came and made a New Testament. One of love and peace.” I understand. My husband is an old Army guy. He loves war movies. My eyes glaze over and I pick up a good book to read instead. Blood and guts being spilled out into my living room is not my idea of entertainment.
When Joshua and the Israelites entered the Promised Land, other God-less people lived there. People who, for over a thousand years, had heard about God yet turned their backs and worshipped idols. Peoples who delved in immortality and wickedness. We know not all of them were that way. Jethro, Moses’ father in law, was God fearing. The Old Testament tells us of others in this Promised Land as well. Some converted to worship the one true God, although they were few and far between. Yes, there are battles in the Old Testament. Messy, bloody ones. But, isn’t that true of life?
The world is God-less in it’s view. It is a “me first, get what I can” place without God in it. Yet, this is where we must dwell, just as Joshua and the Israelites were to dwell where God was leading them. We’ll all have earthly battles against corruptness and evil during our life and, as Christians, will be called to wield the sword of righteousness. Just as then, along our journey, some will choose to follow us and turn to God. But also, a great deal of our battles in life will not be in this realm. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 speaks to this.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
What I see, if I look beyond all the battle plans and violence, is that God systematically helped Joshua and the Israelitles fight each of their battles. Joshua relied on God’s wisdom and guidance and did as God told him. One by one, as each enemy emerged ahead, God and Joshua together went in to defeat them.
So it can be for us. Often times, the battles of this life can seem overwhelming. But if we obey God and follow Him, His Holy Spirit will guide us into war against the things not of this world – greed, lust, envy, selfishness, hate, etc. – that want to dwell in us as well as battles against physical things such as cancer, violence, destruction, joblessness, chronic illness, and the like. One by one, battle after battle, we’ll be victorious. Because Christ has already conquered the big battle – sin and death. Our promised land is eternal life in God’s presence, which starts here and now on earth.
So, put on your spiritual armor as described in Ephesians and sing, “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Prepare for battle. Just make sure it is the battle God is leading you to fight. Obey His commands, as Joshua did, and victory is assured.