You know that feeling you get when you’re dreading something?
The discomfort you feel when you don’t know how it’s going to turn out – good or bad? The way your stomach twists as you imagine the worst outcome? The anxiety that taunts you even as you try to trust that everything will turn out alright?
If you’re feeling that way or have ever felt that way, then Deuteronomy 20 is for you.
Because in this chapter, Moses tells his people how to go to war. He tells them how they should get ready, how they should fight, what they should do with the spoils of war.
And even though back then Moses’s words were meant for the Israelites, today his words have meaning for us, too.
Sure, we don’t have any literal wars to fight. We’re not suiting up to conquer anyone’s land.
But neither were the Israelites, so to speak. We know they weren’t fighting just to kill people and get rich. They were fighting evil. They were destroying wicked nations.
Their battle was with sin – just like you and me.
We fight with sin when we struggle with toxic relationships and frenemies. We fight with sin when we stand up against injustice and when we protest oppression. We fight with sin when we try for the zillionth time to overcome an addiction. We fight with sin as we do our best to scrape out time to spend with God and build our relationship.
In other words, we are always fighting. We are always at battle. And maybe you’re dreading your next scuffle with temptation. Maybe you’re anxious about the election (you definitely are). Maybe your stomach is twisting because no matter what you tell yourself, it feels like failure is inevitable.
That’s why we have to read and re-read the most important words Moses spoke about war in this chapter.
“Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
Victory. Victory. Doesn’t that sound sweet? Does it sound too good to be true?
Can you believe that God doubles down? In verses 5-9, Moses describes all the possible reasons for sending a soldier home before the battle even begins. He’s basically telling them how to lessen their chances, how to weaken themselves – but victory is still promised!
That means that winning our battles is not about how strong we are or how prepared we are or how streetwise we are – it’s about the God we serve. The only way to win in life is to fight life’s battles with Jesus by our side. The only way we’ll defeat the dread, the anxiety, the fear, our enemies, and our sins is if the Lord our God is the one who fights for us against it all.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
There’s nothing scarier than acknowledging your own weakness. There’s nothing scarier than realizing that you can’t stop bad things from happening. That you can’t protect yourself or the people you love. That you can’t even stop yourself from falling into the cycle of sin and addiction.
Like an army who has lost all of its soldiers, you are doomed.
That’s why we need a Savior. And we have one.
His promises overflow. Constantly, in the Bible, He assures us that we will be victorious if we let Him fight our battles for us. He begs us not to be afraid. He repeats that He is God – He can handle all of the enemies and sins and powers and principalities that we fight with.
But what do you believe? Our dread, our anxiety and our fear betray our doubt. If we were truly trusting God, would we be afraid?
So let’s try this a different way. I’m battling addiction. You’re fighting to keep a relationship alive. We’re all worried about the battles that this next election might bring.
Today we are going to fight our enemies, but we are not afraid. God goes to fight for us. God will give us victory.
What do you think? Which of life’s battles are staring you in the face right now? Will you give them to God? Comment below and share this post with a friend.