Sunday, February 26, 2017

The LORD equips us for battle.

Last week, we watched the transition from Samuel as prophet and judge of Israel to Saul as king.  Samuel lived a life faithful to God and leading the people of Israel to walk with God.  Saul, young and untested, messed up right out of the gate.  He disobeyed clear instructions from God because he was afraid of the battle he faced against the Philistine army.  There were so many of them that they looked like the grains of sand on the seashore.  This not only frightened Saul.  It frightened the Israelite army as well.

Samuel then left Gilgal and went on his way, but the rest of the troops went with Saul to meet the army. They went up from Gilgal to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. When Saul counted the men who were still with him, he found only 600 were left! Saul and Jonathan and the troops with them were staying at Geba in the land of Benjamin. The Philistines set up their camp at Micmash.  Three raiding parties soon left the camp of the Philistines. One went north toward Ophrah in the land of Shual, another went west to Beth-horon, and the third moved toward the border above the valley of Zeboim near the wilderness. (1 Samuel 13:15-18 NLT)

To Saul, 600 men seemed like nothing compared to the countless Philistines in the opposing army.  All the other Israelite soldiers were either hiding or leaving.  Saul was stuck facing a battle with no way to win it.  Oh, and things were even worse than that.

There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The Philistines wouldn't allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews. So whenever the Israelites needed to sharpen their plowshares, picks, axes, or sickles, they had to take them to a Philistine blacksmith. (The charges were as follows: a quarter of an ounce of silver for sharpening a plowshare or a pick, and an eighth of an ounce for sharpening an ax, a sickle, or an ox goad.) So on the day of the battle none of the people of Israel had a sword or spear, except for Saul and Jonathan. (1 Samuel 13:19-22 NLT)

I think to myself, “Why would the LORD send the Israelites into a battle that there is no way to win?”  Then I remember: God has won much greater battles with much less.  Moses and Aaron didn’t lead an army against their Egyptian oppressors (Exodus 4-14).  Joshua led the Israelite army to walk around the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6).  God gave Gideon victory over the Midianites with only 300 soldiers (Judges 7).  If God can do this and much more, than God can certainly give victory to Saul with 600 men and two swords.

Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:11-18 NLT)

When we fight the battles for our minds, hearts, and lives today, it is just as easy to think the LORD is sending us into battle ill-equipped.  But it is simply not true.  God never sends us into battle without equipping us for battle.  The LORD always gives us what we need to win every battle we face.  We need to trust that the LORD equips us for battle.

How about you?  Are you facing battles for your mind, heart, life, or the lives of people you love?  Do you trust that the LORD equips us for battle?