What comes to mind when you hear the term, The Battle Is the Lord’s? or The Battle Belongs to the Lord?
Does the military imagery trouble you? Are you OK with the military imagery but troubled that our part seems to be too passive?
Do you ask yourself, if the battle belongs to the Lord, then what do l DO? Do I just sit here and do nothing? Well, sometimes the answer is yes. Other times, the answer might be different.
When the Israelites were rescued out of slavery in Egypt, God was setting a trap for their captors that would include rescuing His chosen people while punishing their captors but His own people couldn’t see past the obstacle in front of them.
When they saw the vast Red Sea before them, they complained to Moses that they should never have left Egypt.
They said to Moses, “Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:12)
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
It’s interesting to note that not only does Moses tell them they will be rescued without having to move but “be still” also has the sense of being quiet—stop complaining.
Let’s consider the setting for a moment. God had already rescued his people from the bondage of slavery. Essentially, it was the overthrow of the ancient nation of Egypt without Israel lifting a finger in their own defense. This is truly an example of how “the battle is the Lord’s”.
The people of God were enslaved and oppressed for as long as they could remember. Their parents and grandparents passed on stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but they needed to know God for themselves. They needed a fresh experience with the God they had only heard about.
They were not ready to break free from their bonds yet. I can only imagine that most of them couldn’t even dream of a life outside of their current miserable existence. They literally slaved away seven days a week for 400 years. There was no concept of working for the weekend—it didn’t exist yet—at least not for them.
Even still, I think God placed a hope in the hearts of his people that He would one day come and deliver them from their situation.
God led His people out of slavery while revealing a bit of himself to his own people and to their captors. Each of the ten plagues brought on ancient Egypt during the Exodus were designed to show the Egyptians the gods they worshipped were no gods at all. They needed to learn that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other (Deut 4:39). God’s chosen people needed to learn that too.
In the process, God made it clear that he could protect his people while punishing the people who had enslaved them for so long.
18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
God was also establishing his rightful place in the eyes of his own people. They knew life as slaves in Egypt was bad but they had gotten used to it.
Forty Years Later…
The multitude that had left Egypt had been through a lot in the last forty years. They have seen God work in miraculous ways. They saw the passing of the previous generation. They became a new people. This new generation was ready to take their place as God’s people.
As a parent of twenty-somethings, I couldn’t help but project, the babies are ready to leave the nest.
Forty years earlier, God knew His people were not trained to face the big bad world on their own. But now? This was different.
God’s people are ready to take possession of the land—at least most of them. This time, they needed to have a sense of ownership.
Think with me for a bit on this…
We tend to value things by what they cost us. If I pay $10 for a high school play, I may have a certain level of expectations. If I pay $200 for a Broadway play (as if that would happen), my expectations would be quite a bit higher.
Likewise, I have heard a lot of people say that if a person receives something without having paid anything at all, they tend to not value the item. Some writers will offer a Kindle book for free but the book never even gets started.
I can’t help but think that if God just gives us everything, we will tend to take it for granted. …take God for granted.
God promises to provide for our needs but He also expects us to work. We are saved by grace not works but God has also planned works for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Sometimes, we benefit from the struggle. I learned from my sister-in-law, a preschool teacher that sometimes the process is more important than the product. The four-year-old’s artwork may never hang in a high-end gallery but it helps the child develop critical skills.
The Israelites have walked with God for the past forty years. They have seen Him work in many ways while they wandered in the desert. Now it was time for them to trust God as He worked through them to enter the land.
What about us today?
Be Still. Be Strong. Which Way Do I Go?
I can imagine knowing human nature and personality styles, that some of us are more comfortable with one of these than the other.
Totally apart from the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, some people are wired for action, others are more thoughtful, passive in nature. God made Martha and God made Mary. We need both. Sometimes, we need to be both. If you have guests in your home, it’s nice to feed them but we also want to spend time enjoying conversation together.
As the Holy Spirit works in our lives, he will often mold our natural tendencies and leanings with supernatural power for His purposes.
Can I suggest three ways of looking at this for us today?
Be Still OR Be Strong
Sometimes, we need to discern which one is important for this situation. Whether we should be still or be strong. Praying for discernment and asking God to direct our thoughts is a good start. Reading through the Scriptures regularly will expose us to more examples of how God can use both concepts at various times.
Be Still AND Be Strong
We need to be ready for either option. This may be stretching but If you naturally lean toward one side, try to train yourself to be ready for the other one. If you are inclined to action, begin training yourself to be able to recognize God at work and enjoy the view! Being still may not be as easy as it looks.
If you are naturally inclined to be still maybe it’s time to step out in faith, as God may lead or based on the commands we all have in the Scriptures. The concept of a true prayer warrior might be the best example of being still and strong at the same time.
Be Still TO Be Strong
Sometimes, especially in our day, we need to work to be still long enough to sit at the feet of Jesus so we can train ourselves to hear God’s still small voice. As we nurture our relationship with Him, He will empower us with the strength to make an impact for eternity.
How about you? How have you walked the fine line between being still and being strong? How have you seen God at work in both situations?