Deuteronomy 19-20 B

Carly’s thoughts on the cities of refuge were great.

  • “The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it.
  • Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use its fruit.
  • And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not married her? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.’
  • Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say,Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.’” (20:5-8‬)

What I love about this passage is how it screams, “we’re not desperate!” In most war movie scenarios, it is doomsday, all-hands-on-deck time, especially when they are outnumbered. Chapter 20 starts out with saying, when you’re outnumbered…

This reminds me of Gideon, as the LORD pares down his army, saying, “I can win this battle with less”. The LORD knows Israel is about to face intimidating enemies, and He wants them to know HE will be the one determining victory, not their own size or tenacity.

It also creates a sort of priorities list. What’s more important than war? Lots of things, like, building a home, planting a farm, and getting married.

What’s more, you’ve got to believe in the victory of the LORD and not be overrun with fear. He says He doesn’t need fearful people around spreading worry. He would rather worriers go home.

So often, I’ve heard Christian ministry likened to this moment with the Israelites going into battle; claiming the promises and collecting the courage. How would these priorities translate in this case?

More often we take up the words of Jesus about leaving behind family, or abandoning crops to enter this urgent spreading of the gospel. It can get confusing. When is family a priority?

In any case, I think it’s good to keep fear out of the picture. We don’t need to be out here, freaking each other out with worry. Worriers can go home. Take a break, remember who the LORD is, and focus on what He’s commanded you in your time and context.

He remains far from desperate.

I’ve spent so much of my life worried I wasn’t doing enough for the Kingdom, but it’s never been up to me. The victory has never depended on the numbers. The LORD is the One with the power. He’s not asking me to sacrifice all the things I’ve assumed in the past. He’s proving victory against all odds and will I merely believe Him?

-Bethany

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