Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Deuteronomy 20 - On Fear and Faith and Holy War

LINK: Deuteronomy 20


BACKGROUND

The Israelites were about to go into a land where they would face overwhelming odds, but God was with them. Therefore, they had nothing to fear, ". . . do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you" (Deuteronomy 20:1).

According to John Ortberg, author of If You Want to Walk on Water, You have to Get Out of the Boat, there are 366 references to not fearing in the Bible. What an exhortation for us! God always knows the outcome. So, if He leads us, we can move forward and trust that He will be with us through thick and thin just as He was with Israel.


This chapter also deals with the sticky wicket of God's command to "not leave anything alive" in the land that He had given Israel as an inheritance (20:16). This was not commanded of the people mentioned in 20:10-15. The Canaanite culture was totally degenerate and depraved. They were to be destroyed, but why? It is answered in the text: "So that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God" (Deuteronomy 20:18).


God knows the future. He knew what those people would do to the Israelites. God wanted their whole heart. We will soon see that Israel did not obey the LORD and destroy them completely. The result is even greater bloodshed and destruction than had Israel obeyed God in the first place.


I know many of you struggle with this concept of total destruction, and it may be an issue of trust in God's ultimate wisdom and judgment. I feel for you in your struggle. I really do. Please dialogue honestly with Him about it and allow God to get to the root issue in your struggle to understand what seems like a very harsh, unmerciful command of God.


REFLECTION
When I am afraid, I will trust in You,O God, whose word I praise.In You I have put my trust.I will not fear;What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4)
How appropriate that this would be one of the verses I would be praying through in Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship during my devotional walk this morning. I am seeing more and more that much of what we do is based on fear of man rather than trust in God! That is why I am thankful for Old Testament passages like Deuteronomy 20 that remind us to not fear because God is with us.


I had dinner with a good friend recently, and she poured her heart out to me about what God has been showing her about her fearful heart. She has even purchased a ring engraved with two simple words:


Fear Not


This woman has walked with God for over 30 years. Yet, she still struggles with fear. She is praying to trust Him more. Don't we all need to do that?


When Moses commanded the Israelites to not be afraid, he did this based on the fact that God had been faithful to Israel in the past, and He would be faithful to them in the future, especially because He had promised them the land they were about to go in and conquer. Against all odds, they would come out victorious. 


Like the Israelites, we can trust God based on His faithfulness in our own lives in the past. So, step out in faith, trust God, and do not fear!


APPLICATION


How are you doing in the area of fear?


Here is another installment of "Many Aspire, Few Attain":
4. Trust God

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).


You are going to have times in your life when the living God is going to take all the chips, to use a gambling analogy, and push them into the middle of the table. He’s going to say, “Friend, we’re going for broke on this one. Let’s see how you’re doing in your Christian life”. More often than not, people when faced with this scenario, start pushing all kinds of panic buttons on the console of life, and end up punching out.


If you really want to walk with God, you have to learn to trust Him. Trusting God begins by trusting Him in the little things, so that when the big things come along, you have established a habit of trust with Him. God will put your faith to the test. A day is going to come when the bottom is going to drop out of your life, the roof is going to cave in.


Are you trusting God in the little things? How about your finances? It’s tough to really trust God in this area. For example, it’s hard to give when you can’t afford it. Giving when you can afford it doesn’t require any faith. Faith comes when you give and can’t afford it.


You can do many things in your life without biblical faith. Without faith you can get married, have a home, even become a millionaire. Without faith you can live a normal, relatively happy life. Without faith, however, there is something you cannot do. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him: (Heb. 11:6). 

If you’re planning on pleasing God, you have got to walk by faith. God is in control of this world. All He wants from you is intelligent cooperation. Boiled down to one word, it means trust. Many will never make it simply because they cannot muster up enough courage and faith in their soul to really trust Him when the going gets rough.

PRAYER

Lord, we trust You. Amen. 
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