The Lord fights for his people

angelGenesis 12:17: But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.

Abraham, in that story from which the focus verse was derived, had his wife taken by the king. But God fought for him (Genesis 12:9-20). And we have the tale of God fighting for his people throughout the scriptures.

In the New Testament, King Herod rose up against the church, first killing James, and then putting Peter in prison (Acts 12:1-24).  Peter was set free miraculously from that jail, but eventually Herod himself fell under the judgment of God, because he took a stand against Christians (that is what it seems to me).

When the church was facing opposition from the religious leadership of Judaism in the book of Acts, they came together and prayed; using the words of Psalm two: why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing, against the Lord and against his Christ (Acts 4:23-31). The later part of that psalm said something like this: severe judgment awaits those who seek to oppose Christ and his course.

When Amalekites went against the children of Israel as they were coming from Egypt, God vowed to be continually against that people (Exodus 17:8-16). God is attached to his people and the bible says they are the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8).

When the children of Israel were to conquer Canaan, their first point of call was Jericho (Joshua 1-8). Joshua, their leader met with the Angel of the Lord, who said that he is the captain of the host of heaven? And we see the hand of God moving to effect victory after victory for the nation of Israel, as they routed the nations in the land of Canaan.

God told Joshua that wherever the sole of his feet touches he has given it to him. He promised to be with him as he led the charge of the children of Israel against the powers in the land. God ensured victory for his people.

We should expect the same to happen for us. Paul said that God causes us to triumph in every way and everywhere we go (2Corinthians 2:14). John wrote that it is our faith that causes us to overcome the world (1John 4:4, 5:4). Jesus said that we should not be fearful, when we face tribulation and trial because he has overcome the world (John 16:33). We should rest that he, as the overcomer, is in us. Peter wrote that after we have suffered a while, God will perfect, establish, strengthen and settle us (1Peter 5:10).

The fact that we are seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3, 2:6) means that we are meant to rule and reign in this life, not under but above (Romans 5:17). Not only that, Paul also said that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms.

Paul recorded that we are more than conquerors, because we get to benefit from the battles Christ has fought for us (Romans 8:37). We could not have taken on the devil on our own, but Christ went to hell to confront him, and we read that Jesus triumphed over principalities and power on the cross (Colossians 2:10-15). And that victory was on our behalf. Therefore Jesus has obtained a name that is above any other name that is named, therefore at the name of Jesus, every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:5-11).

God said of his people: touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm (Psalm 105:8-15).

The Lord fights for us because we are part of him and he is part of us. He wants us to be above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13), he doesn’t want us oppressed, or negatively affected in any way. He wants his glory to shine all around us. He has designed that we become overcomers, we are meant to be strengthened with might by our spirit in our inner man (Ephesians 14-21). He equips us with spiritually, and has ordained that we trample on snakes and scorpions (Luke 10:19), so that nothing harms us, by any means whatsoever.

The Lord fights for his people with his light. John said that the light shines in darkness and darkness does not overcome him (John 1:1-5). He also translates us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his son Jesus Christ, where the light of freedom, victory, and resurrection life shine on us (Colossians 1:13). Darkness stands for death and the punishment of death, light brings life and prosperity. God is called, the Lord of Sabaoth (1Samuel 17:45), which means the Lord of hosts, which include the angelic hosts, i.e. angelic armies. And they fight on behalf of God’s people, which include you and me. There was an angel who killed 185,000 soldiers of the Assyrians, who were opposing Israel (2Kings 19:35).

When Joshua was leading the charge of Israel against the nations of Canaan, the Lord released hailstones from heaven, and more people died from God’s direct intervention, than Israel’s foot soldiers. God promised to be with them and told Joshua that throughout his life no one will be able to stand against him.

But there was a time the nation suffered defeat in the hand of enemies, under Joshua in the second city they want to attack, Ai. They were so surprised because of that defeat that they became demoralised, since that was not what God promised them.

A number of things went wrong at that time.

Number one was that after the miraculous demolition of Jericho (their first conquest), in a thorough routing, being a formidable city, they went into presumption that since Ai was a relatively smaller place; it will be like a walk in the park. They were so wrong.

Because of their presumptuous leaning on the arm of flesh (Jeremiah 17:5), they did not actively seek the will of God. God had given them the method of defeating Jericho, but they did not seek him for Ai. They walked by sight, judging by their own understanding, by outward appearance, believing that they are capable on their own to defeat Ai. It was like saying, God did Jericho, but we’ll do Ai, instead of seeing God as the all in all.

To show that they really walked by presumption, they decided to only send a small number of warriors to the land of Ai, and some of them were killed and the rest ran before the enemy. They refused to recognise that after they were able to win the first fight because God was with them, fighting for them, they were to go on with the same approach. Without him, they can’t do anything. They needed to be taught that lesson.

The second reason that God did not fight for them, was because of sin. There was instruction that when they go in to conquer Jericho, everything there must be burnt. But someone disobeyed the instruction, and stole something for his private use. (I believe that this point is actually secondary to the first because if they had sought God’s will for Ai, God would have told them about the second point and there will be no need for any defeat whatsoever.)

And before they could continue in their winning ways, sin had to be extracted from the land. The people had to be purged of sin, before they can experience God fighting for them again.

And God has not become more tolerant of sin now than he was then. He still expects our righteousness to be more than that of the Pharisee (Matthew 5:20). And that is a direct reference to internal holiness, which had to do with the thoughts and what we do when no one is looking, and sharing in the heart of God who prioritises kindness and mercy (Matthew 23;23), in his dealings with men. But for the Pharisees it is all about appearance, about tradition (Mark 7:1-23), about allegiance to a system of religion, rather than a committed to the person of God, and to Christ his Son (John 8:42).

 

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