Obedience: An art and act of warfare

Now that is an unusual title isn’t it? As I have journeyed along the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land in my bible study, I have discovered nuggets such as the one I would be sharing shortly, along the way. The Israelites had now entered the promised land under the leadership of Joshua and had conquered much land to call home. However, the Israelites did not drive out all the pagan nations from the land. God allowed some of the nations to remain to teach the new generation of Israelites two things: first, the art of warfare and second, that their victory in warfare came from obedience.

These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.

Judges 3:1-4 NIV

Throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who had seen the great things that God had done, the Israelites served God faithfully but there came a generation after who neither knew God or the things he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10). Now while that in and of itself is problematic and bears pause, that is not the focus of this topic. The people quickly fell into a pattern of idol worship and consequent suffering under the strong hand of raiders and nations who oppressed them. Every time they went out to war, the hand of Lord was against them just as He had sworn to them He would do and they were defeated.

Again and again, God raised up judges for them who saved them out of the hands of their enemies. And as long as the judge was alive, the people obeyed God but returned to their corrupt ways upon the death of the judge. This triggered a pattern of times of peace followed by times of oppression even though they were in the land God had promised them. As I studied the lives of the judges God raised for the Israelites and the many battles the Israelites fought in their first few years in the promised land, it became apparent obedience always led to victory and disobedience to defeat. The art of warfare- their secret weapon- was obedience. It was not a physical (carnal) weapon and yet a highly effective one!

Obedience is still an effective weapon for many seen and unseen battles in our lives today. The bible assures us of us this fact. Now pay attention to this scripture:

The weapons of our warfare are not weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 BSB

This scripture demonstrates obedience in action as an art and act of warfare. Even rogue thoughts, arguments, and presumptions that have been set up above the knowledge of Christ are torn down and held captive when obedience is at work. These strongholds, when submitted to the lordship of Christ are defeated just as the enemy nations of the Israelites were defeated and many times their strongholds torn down when the Israelites were living in obedience to God. In their obedience, they listened to and followed God’s plans in times of war even when the plan did not make sense. Shouting as they marched around a city, selecting men for battle based on how they drank water, falling in love with a Philistine woman as a battle strategy, regardless of how ridiculous the strategy may have seemed, the battle was always won because someone obeyed!

Last year, I went through a phase where everything felt like a struggle and battle. Many times, I felt God telling me to hold my peace and that he would fight for me. And did I listen? Of course not! I thought I had to take matters into my own hands and I kept spinning out of control until eventually I had spun myself into an intricate web of despair and defeat. I look back now and realize how obeying the voice and promptings of God not to say this or that, or to walk away, or to hold my peace etc. may have been an effective strategy to win the battles of 2022!

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you are in a fight of your life for things you should not be fighting for? Are you in the thick of a physical, emotional, psychological, or financial warfare? In addition to the many weapons in your artillery, add obedience and see God lead you into great victories! Here’s to winning our battles in the strength and might of the Lord with our secret weapon!

Yours Truly.