The Changing of the Guard 19 – Avoiding Mistakes

When Israel went up after the exodus to take possession of the land, they too had examples of encouragement set before them.

They were very well aware of what God had said. They knew His promises. They knew that the land was theirs for the taking (Gen.12:1-3), that it belonged to God, not to the Canaanites (Ps.24:1), and that God had entrusted it into their care (Joshua 1:2). They knew that if only they would obey God’s Word and do God’s work, they would be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8), that every place which the soles of their feet trod would be granted to them (Joshua 1:3), and that no man would be able to stand before them all the days of their lives (Joshua 1:5).

They knew that. They also knew that God had already confirmed the authority and veracity of His Word. Sure there were “giants in the land” (Nu. 13:33). But there was no need to fear them. The giants had already been beaten. The examples were set before the people throughout Bible history. Time and time again, the sons of Shem had demonstrated that even giants were no match for a people with the blessing of God.

The great Shemite king Chedorlaomer (Gen.10:22; 14:1) and his Japhethite allies (Gen.  9:25-27; 14:1) had no trouble whatsoever subduing the giants: He conquered “the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. Then he turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Thmar” (Gen.14:5-7).

And following Chedorlaomer’s romp, his Shemite cousin, Abraham, turned right around and defeated him (Gen. 14:13-17).  Thus was fulfilled both Noah’s prophecy that the Canaanites would be “the servants of servants” (Gen. 9:25) and God’s covenant promise that all the land of Canaan would be Abraham’s (Gen.15:18-21).

Israel’s Shemite brethren, the Moabites and the Ammonites, also had taken dominion over the fierce Rephaim, the Emim, the Anakim, the Zarnzummin, and all the other giants (Deut.2:9-12, 19-23).

The fact is, Shemites had always been giant killers! Such examples spoke for themselves. Thus, Israel had nothing to fear from the giants. God had proven that, in Word and in deed. He had set before them examples. He showed them their victory ahead of time. All they had to do was to imitate the righteous.

But they refused to hear or heed. All the enemies that they feared: the Rephaim, the Anakim, the Amalekites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Nephilim, and all the other sons of Ham had already been defeated many times over (Nu. 13:28-29, 33). They were far from invincible.

But the Israelites would have none of that. They were obsessed with the odds. They trembled at the sight of the giants, forgetting their Shemite giant-killing heritage altogether (Nu.13:29-33). They ignored God’s Word. They denied God’s work. They spurned God’s examples of encouragement, and so they were defeated (Nu. 14:40-45).

As we venture into the arena of political action to face the humanist Rephaim, Anakim and     Zamzummin of our own day, it would stand us in good stead to recall these lessons. If we are to survive, much less to win, we must learn from the examples God has set before us. We must face the odds with faith.

In Spite of it All

We are invincible (Eph. 6:10-18; Ro. 8:37-39). Even the gates of hell cannot prevail against us (Mat.16:8). If, that is, we would only do our job.  If we would only “make disciples of all the nations.”  If we would only “occupy till He comes” (Luke 19:13). If we would only pay heed to the examples God has set before us (I Cor.10:6, 11).

God has given us the victory already (I Cor.15:57). All we have to do is go forth with diligence and claim it (Gen.1:28).

We may have to work with few or even no resources at first, like David (I Sam.17:38-40) or Jonathan (I Sam. 14:6).

We may have to improvise, utilizing less than perfect conditions and less than qualified workers and less than adequate facilities, like Aaron (Ex. 25:1-29:46) or Nehemiah (Neh. 1:20).

We may have to battle the powers that be, the rulers and the principalities, like Deborah

(Judges 4:4-24) or Peter, James, and John (Acts 4:17-20). We may have to go with what we’ve got, with virtually no support, no notoriety, and no cooperation, like Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-18) or Jeremiah (Jer.1:4-10). We may have to start “in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling (I Cor.2:3), without “persuasive words of wisdom” (I Cor. 2:4), like the Apostle Paul (I Cor.2:1) or Moses (Ex. 4:1-17).

Instead of allowing their limitations and liabilities to discourage and debilitate them, the heroes of the faith went to work. God’s power was made manifest in their weakness (I Cor.1:26-29).  In spite of the odds, they won.  By faith.

And God has set them before us as examples. Against all odds, Ehud faced the power of Moab and won (Judges 3:12-30).  Against all odds, Shamgar faced the power of the Philistine and won (Judges 3:31). Against all odds, Gideon faced the power of Midian and won (Judges 6:12-8:35).  Against all odds, David faced the power of Goliath and won (I Sam.17:42-52). Against all odds, Jonathan faced the power of the Philistines and won (I Sam.14:1-15).

Against all odds, God gave His faithful people victory. Against all odds, He made them examples for us.

Isn’t it high time for us to imitate them, to follow in their footsteps, to pay heed to their example? Isn’t it high time for us to demonstrate to an unbelieving world that God can still beat the odds? Isn’t it high time for us to prove to a fallen and depraved generation that God can raise up a weak and unesteemed people against all odds and win?

Isn’t it high time for a changing of the guard? Isn’t it?

Covenant Blessings

In the heart of the Pentateuch, God lists the covenant blessings that He will shower upon any society that is faithful to Him and His Word:

Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the

increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them” (Deut.28:1-14).

 How could any Christian walk away from these blessings? How could any Christian seriously ‘believe that none of this can happen in history, now that Satan’s defeat at Calvary is behind us?

Conclusion

The tenth basic principle of the Biblical blueprint for political action is that we can face the odds . . . and win. We have God’s sure Word. We have the evidence of His mighty acts throughout history. We can do it!

To be sure, the odds are stacked against us. Even so, God has assured us the victory is ours for the taking.

The road to victory may be fraught with danger and difficulty. But the Lord will clear the way. He has promised us He would. We need only to follow the example of the righteous men and women who have gone before us. We need only to imitate those who have taken God at His Word, facing the odds and claiming dominion.

If we are salt and light, reclaiming the land with excellence, valour, and honour, no force on the face of this earth will be able to withstand us. Nothing will be withheld from us.

 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of  our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Against all odds, we can win. Against all odds, we shall win.

 Summary

God has set before us examples: good examples to imitate, bad examples to avoid.

This is, in fact, the essence of discipleship: following after the righteous from glory unto glory and from victory unto victory.

For this reason God gives double witness to His very great and precious promises: Word and deed. He gives us models to pattern ourselves after. The Israelites had this two-fold witness when they went up to the Promised Land, but they failed to hear and heed. And thus they were defeated.

The lesson for us is clear: We must not imitate those faithless Jews at Kadesh. Instead, we must pattern ourselves after Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, Daniel, and the disciples. If we follow them, then their victory will become our victory. We can thus face the odds . . . and win.

We can thus effect a changing of the guard.

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