We Need Not Fear
JULY 22, 2021
When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: 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.” (Deuteronomy 20:1-4)
In chapter seven of Deuteronomy Moses warned the people that when they crossed into the Promised Land, they would face seven nations bigger and stronger than themselves. But, Moses said, you are going to defeat those bigger and stronger nations, every one of them, because “The LORD your God, will give them over to you” (Deut. 7:2). Though they would have to fight, victory was assured because God would cause them to win.
For the Christian, those seven nations represent obstacles and enemies of our soul that we face today. Though we must fight against them, as Israel had to fight the nations in the Land (7:2b), we can rest in knowing that in the end we will overcome because the Lord is with us.
In Chapter 20 we hear an echo of chapter seven. Moses tells the people that when they face their enemies, those seven nations that are bigger and stronger, they could face them with courage, for the Lord was with them.
Yes, Moses said, the enemies are more numerous and mightier than you. They have horses, that is, cavalry. They have chariots, the ancient equivalent of armor. But Israel, he said, you still have the advantage. Israel had the advantage because “the LORD your God is with you.” Therefore, God could say to them, “you shall not be afraid of them” (verse 1).
“Israelite strength lay not in numbers, not in the superiority of their weapons, but in their God. The strength of their God was not simply a matter of faith, but a matter of experience; in the Exodus from Egypt, God had proved his strength and prowess in war against the strongest enemy that Israel had known.”
The message is the same for us. When we face cosmic powers and spiritual forces of darkness, we need not be afraid because the Lord our God is with us. Our strength is not in anything we bring to the battle. Our strength is in our God.
But God knows human frailties, he knows that though those people had many reasons to know that God would be with them, that when faced with mighty enemies their courage would falter. Therefore, in kindness, he instructed that before a battle would begin a priest would address the army and encourage them that as they faced their enemy to “let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you victory” (verses 3-4).
Pastors and teachers are essential for encouraging God’s people in their spiritual battles. “It is the work of Christ’s ministers to encourage their good soldiers in their spiritual conflicts with the world and the flesh, and to assure them of a conquest, yea, more than a conquest, through Christ that loved us.”
But it is not only the responsibility of pastors and teachers. This is something we all can and should do for one another. Just as Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses and held up his arms during the battle with the Amalekites, we can come alongside one another to encourage and provide support.
None of us should try to face our battles alone. Let us turn to God for strength and let stand shoulder to shoulder and together face whatever battles come our way. I need you. You need me. And we both need the Lord.
Much love, Barry