A Dead Man's Resolve
by Jesse L. Smith
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The officers of the Israeli host rose and quieted the bustling ranks of soldiers on the apointed day of battle. Off in the distance the hills were blanketed with enemy forces waiting to utterly erase the name of Israel from the earth. This was not the first time this had happened, in fact Moses himself had written commandments for days such as these. Accordingly the priest looked over the thousands of nervous soldiers and bellowed with a mighty cry,
"Hear, O Israel! You approach this day to battle against your enemies: let not your hearts be faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be afraid of them. For the LORD your God is he that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you!!"(Deut 20:4)
After this declaration many of the soldiers felt a strength come over them as their fears evoporated into the still air. Others however looked silently down at their feet, while others wept silently with hopelessness. With a little anger in his voice, an officer then yelled out to the people,
"What man among you has built a house, and not dedicated it?! let him go and return to house, lest he die in battle, and someone else dedicate it!" (Deut 20:5)
Absolute silence struck the soldiers, and he yelled out again,
"And what man of you has planted a vineyard, and not eaten of it! Let him go home! Lest he die in battle, and other man eat of it!" (Deut 20:6)
Another pause, and the officer yelled even louder,
"What man of you has betrothed a wife, and not taken her!! let him go home! Lest he die in battle, and another man take her!" (Deut 20:7)
Some of the soldiers began to feel ashamed when the officer yelled finally,
"And what man of you here is fearful and fainthearted!!! Let him go home!! Lest you cause your brothers hearts also to become fearful and faint!!!"(Deut 20:8)
At that moment the soldiers realized what this was all about... when they marched into battle, they couldn't afford to be careful about anything outside their duty as soldiers. Not only would that mindset hurt their performance on the battlefield, but it could also endanger the lives of their fellow brothers. When they stepped out into battle, they needed to be fully prepared to die - and trust the outcome fully to God. As king David had discovered long before, the only place of safety in battle is the LORD. (Psalm 91)
As Christians we also can get caught up in the cares and concerns of this life... home, emploment, marriage... things that God cares about in our lives, but often only distract us from our calling as soldiers. In order to have faith for the battle at hand, those cares need to be crucified in our lives, and fully entrusted to God. Paul couseled his spiritual son Timothy,
"No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who has called him to be a soldier" -2 Tim. 2:4
Most of those soldiers in Israel had families at home, wives, children, hopes and aspirations for the future. Their commanding officer however wasn't asking them to abandon those things, but rather to entirely lay down the care of them. In Christ, God asks us to do the same thing. Paul wrote to the Phillipians,
"Be careful for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." -Phillipians 4:6-7
Just like many of those Israeli soldiers discovered, the peace of God will come over your life, and even faith for the future, when you have died to the cares of this life. When you enter into battle with the resolve of a dead man - you will surely be a fearsome opponent to the enemy.
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Amen. A nice, to the point, well written devotion. Everything flows nicely, one paragraph to the next. Well done. Be blessed and keep writing.