Eugene Peterson’s book Eat this Book teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and then put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. These stories from the battlefields of the Old Testament teach us to choose our battles; some are not ours to fight.
NOTE: This blog was published in mid-November. I am republishing it in connection to a blog published on Wednesday – Who Am I When my Body Fails Me.
2 Chronicles 20: 14-17; Exodus: 14: 1-14
Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel . . . in the middle of the assembly. He said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them; they will come up by the ascent of Ziz; you will find them at the end of the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel. This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” (NRSV)
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“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. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.'” (NIV)
Stand still! Be still! This is not your battle to fight! How often do we choose these strategies when faced with an argument, a disagreement, or a battle? The Israelites were in extreme danger in both of these scripture passages. In the verses from 2 Chronicles, a “great multitude made up of a coalition of eastern neighbors (Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites)” was knocking on the Judah’s door.
In the Exodus passage, Moses has led the Hebrews out of Egypt, and now they are standing on the banks of an uncrossable body of water. The people are fearful and angry. Why hasn’t Moses made any preparations for the crossing of this sea. Where is the bridge? Where are the boats? Is he really expecting our families to swim away from the chariots?
Jahaziel and Moses have listened to God and chosen what seems to be an impossible strategy: Stand still! Be still. This is God’s battle to fight.
♥ Memorize these two passages and put them in your “tool box” for when the evil one strikes with temptations that are difficult to withstand.
♥ Keeping still hardly seems the way to win a battle! As you go through your routine, be mindful of the “battles” you face within your family, at work, while traveling, at the grocery store, in your neighborhood. If you determine that this is not your battle to fight, stand down and let God win the victory, as long as that may take.
♥ Sometimes our worst battles happen in the middle of the night when the forces against us are fear, anxiety, bitterness, judgmentalism, indecision. In this case, keep still means quieting our minds. When you do battle at night, try reading or repeating Psalm 23, singing your favorite song or hymn, or praying for others who have their own battles.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“Consider Jesus. You don’t get the sense of his being harassed and burdened, even though his task was fairly impressive. He was to be the vindicator, the redeemer, the liberator of the whole creation. He had 33 years in which to do it, and only three public years. He simply had the task of freeing the whole created order from oppression, yet he doesn’t seem overly burdened, wondering how he will possibly get it done by bedtime. You don’t hear him talking to Abba at the end of the week, “What a crazy week! The pressures are about to do me in!” In fact, the interruptions were so relaxed that all these years later we’re still extracting wisdom from some of those encounters, like the woman at the well or his conversations with his enemies who were trying to entrap him” (By N. Gordon Cosby in Inward Outward, a website by the Church of the Saviour).