Ancient Israelites were commanded to carefully obey all the law their servant Moses charged them to keep! They were not to swerve to the right or to the left. Thus, they would be successful in everything they did. The laws revealed through Moses were to never leave their lips:
You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful. I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.”
Joshua 1:2-9 (NIV)
God gave a clear order for Joshua to take action to possess the land promised to the Israelites many years before. Action was required to receive the promise. The instruction then was to possess and defend what God had given.
Every step that Joshua took in obedience to the command opened up new windows of opportunity to perform what seemed to be an impossible undertaking. Joshua’s spies received assistance from Rahab, a harlot plying her trade in the city of the enemy.
According to Joshua 2: 8 and 9, the spies lay down for the night and Rahab went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.” Joshua 2:8-9 (NIV).
The Scripture repeatedly demonstrates that people that are oppressed, despised and exploited are on the heart of the Father when they are fighting for the Kingdom and not for the other side.
Rahab stated that the people’s hearts melted when they heard about the power of God after he parted the Red Sea and destroyed the Amorites. The reports of Israel’s exploits while they wandered in the wilderness created a general fear of YAHWEH, the God of Israel, in all the nations that surrounded the Israelite tribes. All that remained was for Joshua to take his people across the Jordan River and claim what God had already given them.
In a leader like Joshua there is a temptation to seek successful with motivations that are selfish.
Consider, for example, the rampant militarism and lust for expansive power that NATO and U.S. leaders along with Russia have invested in subjecting the Ukraine to warfare between at least two competing spheres of influence. Leaders on both sides seek to bolster their political ambitions by risking World War–threatening tactical nuclear engagement and incurring huge costs to populations on all sides of the conflict.
Americans that have no familiarity with the Bible have received a cultural understanding that abhors militarism. In fact, the idol worshipping nations and tribes that surrounded the ancient Hebrews worshipped conquest, sexual lust and militarism. Both major U.S. political parties and most of the public officials that live within eighteen or nineteen contiguous zip codes around the Washington, DC area, are committed to militarism because it serves their political ambitions!
Joshua had to remain connected to his Creator and continue receiving instruction every step of the way in order to prevail against the armies of the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites that stood between Joshua’s army and the peace and security that God promised.
To be a successful warrior, God reminded Joshua, “…be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.”
Thus, Yahweh instructed the ancient Israelites to remain grounded in the Books of the Law. A close relationship with God is necessary for a nation or an individual to succeed.
Trusting in the promise of God’s protection was therefore linked to strong action. A similar mindset is necessary in modern times. God has given us a mandate to protect the heritage with which we are blessed and the means for doing so with bold action.
The reason Israel spent forty years in the wilderness is because of the reports of men that Moses had sent with Joshua to survey the promised land. The men came back and gave all the reasons that seeking God’s promises was futile. We see the same thing today in the “mainstream” media and academic elite. They deride the idea that sound principles for conducting public policy can be found in the Bible.
If a student in most university classes advances the idea that Scriptural principles may constitute the basis for sound public policy, the professor will treat him or her like an unruly child that has interrupted a serious adult conversation in order to recommend that following the gingerbread crumb trail is the best way to find our way out of the forest. Our churches, on the other hand, often avoid any discussions that acknowledge that Scripture should provide a basis for sound public policy. Most church leaders avoid even the possibility for dissension by labeling certain subject matter as “political” distractions from the Gospel mission to evangelize the world.
David was already trained in warfare when he slew Goliath. 1 Samuel 16 demonstrates that he was skilled in warfare and prudent:
One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”
1 Samuel 16:15-18
Jephthah Rejected By His Brothers. There are others whom God called to lead in times of need – none of whom thought they were any more qualified for the task than the average citizen of today- young men like Jephthah:
Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, and he was the son of a harlot: and Gilead begot Jephthah. And Gilead’s wife bore him sons; and his wife’s sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.
In other words, Jephtah was rejected because his mother was a whore and he joined up with some kind of gang. But the Ammonites made war against Israel. And when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead turned to Jephthah who was in Tob.
The elders pleaded with Jephthah to lead them, apparently because he was experienced in fighting. They wanted him to fight the Ammonites. And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me, and run me out of my father’s house? and why are you coming to me now while in distress?”
The leaders of the community turned to Jephtah and asked him to go with them to lead the fight against the Ammonites, and be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head?”
And the elders of Gilead agreed to Jephtah’s proposal. Then Jephthah went with the volunteers from among the people to fight their enemies.
We might be tempted to call them thugs today. Most of these young men probably had suffered rejection. But Jephthah receives special mention in Hebrews 11- a list of men and women that demonstrate mighty faith?
Despite the fact that he seemed to be motivated by selfish ambition, Jephthah knew the heritage of Israel. Israel’s religious leaders apparently failed to appreciate their national heritage. Jephthah sent messengers to the opposing King of Ammon (the people that inhabited the territory comprising modern day Jordan). The message set forth a legal brief and Scriptural basis for Israel’s historical freedom.
Jephthah’s messengers asked the king of Ammon, “Why are you coming against us to fight in Israel?” And the king of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even to Jabbok, and to Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.”
And Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon again and said to him, “Jephthah told us to convey the message to you that Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of Ammon.”
Jephthah’s messengers knew their history and this is how Jephtah demonstrated great faith. He had good diplomats that represented matters in a way that was based on God-given rights!
The messengers went on to explain that, back in Moses time (the times of the Founding Fathers, so to speak), Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, “Let us pass, please, through your land into the Canaan.”
Sihon then fought against Israel. And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and Israel smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites from Arnon even to Jabbok, and from the wilderness even to Jordan. The LORD God of Israel had taken away the land of the Amorites and given the land to Israel.
The messengers boldly asked the king of the people that lived in and around modern day Jordan, “And should you possess it? Won’t you possess that which Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So who ever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.”
And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them, while Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?
Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.
Jephthah is an example of young men that understand their duty to uphold the heritage of their people. We need an understanding of Biblical history and our American Constitutional heritage in order to be prepared for the times in which we live! Jephthah was a warrior that declared the mighty works of Yahweh from one generation to another.