Battles to Fulfill God’s Call
Sometimes, even when God has called us to do something and we are acting in His perfect will, this does not mean that things will come easily without a struggle and nothing will “go wrong”. One biblical example of this can be found in Judges 20 in the Old Testament.
In this Scripture we see a civil war between the rest of the tribes of the Israelites on the one hand and the tribe of Benjamin on the other. The war arose because of a horrific rape to death of a woman from the tribe of Judah by men from the tribe of Benjamin in the town of Gibeah.
Despite demand from the rest of the Israelites, the tribe of Benjamin would not surrender the men who committed the crime for execution. The rest of the Israelites in response decided to attack the town of Gibeah. The tribe of Benjamin responded by supplementing the 700 elite troops who were already in Gibeah with 26 000 more troops to defend the town from attack by the Israelites.
The Israelites gathered 400 000 troops and asked God which tribe should attack first (verse 18). God told them that the tribe of Judah should attack first. When they launched their attack, Benjamin’s warriors killed 22 000 Israelites and managed to defend their town.
After this initial defeat, the Israelites consulted God again and asked if they should attack the tribe of Benjamin. God told them to go out and fight the tribe of Benjamin. The next day when the Israelites attacked again, the tribe of Benjamin killed 18 000 experienced Israelite troops (and again defended the town of Gibeah).
The Israelites again consulted God, seeking direction. God again told them to attack and promised that with the next attack, God would give the Israelites victory.
In the third battle, the Israelites attacked using a different strategy to draw Benjamin’s troops away from the town (by pretending that they were again retreating) while another group of Israelite troops entered and burnt the town. The Israelites then combined forces and turned on Benjamin’s troops, causing them to flee. In the end, the Israelites defeated the tribe of Benjamin that day and killed 25 000 of Benjamin’s troops. They chased them into nearby towns and the Israelites ended up ransacking these towns as well and killing the occupants. In the end, the Israelites not only conquered Gibeah, but ended up winning more territory than the town of Gibeah they had initially set out to conquer.
Note that despite having been directed by God to attack Benjamin, the Israelites did not succeed the first and second time that they attacked. In fact, the Israelites lost 40 000 troops in the first two days of battle and failed to conquer the town of Gibeah. The situation looked bleak and hopeless. The Scripture says after each battle they lost, the men wept in the presence of the Lord and on the second day, they even fasted.
There is a lesson to be learnt from this. In pursuing what God has placed in our hearts to do, we should expect that there will be fierce resistance from our spiritual enemy, the devil and demonic forces. There will be battles. After all, let us not forget that we are in a spiritual war. So let us not be discouraged when opposition comes against our pursuit of what God has put in our hearts to do. We may suffer setbacks, but those setbacks are not defeat. We may be told “no” or “impossible” (or the like) many times, but our responsibility is to remain strong in our faith that what God has called us to do, He will fulfill. Setbacks are never easy, and they may come at a cost to us in one way or the other, but if God has said “Yes”, any “no” by man is only temporary.
Jahaziel, speaking under the direction of the Holy Spirit said: “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle [is] not yours, but God’s’.” [2Chronicles 20:15 NKJV]
If we stand strong in faith and persevere, despite setbacks and difficulties, God will make a way where we can’t see a way forward. In the end, when He gives us victory, the success will exceed our expectations (just as the Israelites ended up conquering more towns than just the town of Gibeah)!
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” [Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV]