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When you go to war against your enemies, and you see horses, chariots, and a people greater than you, don’t be afraid of them, because YHWH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you. — Deuteronomy 20:1 (TFBV)
Deuteronomy 20 provides some rules of war for the Israelites. They’re an interesting set of rules, especially when compared to the standards of warfare that were pretty general at the time. But in those rules, I find a plan of attack that can be used in facing whatever sort of difficulties in our temporal or spiritual lives. I’m learning by analogy here. There’s no doubt the chapter was written precisely for the purpose it appears to serveâ€”a set of rules for the conduct of war.
You might want to read the entire chapter.
Now here’s the outline:
First rule: Don’t be afraid (20:1-4)
This is the first rule of dealing with almost any problem. There are moments went a fear reaction is physiologically helpful. That spurt of adrenaline is useful in giving extra strength. But in most situations fear makes us do stupid things, or makes us freeze up. Now I don’t think the idea here is not to feel any fear. Rather, the idea is to be able to act in spite of whatever fear one may feel, to overcome it, and to act rationally and appropriately.
But the scriptures give us the key reason not to be afraidâ€”God is fighting on our side. If we can remember that, we can face whatever troubles may come.
Second rule: Go with those who can fight in unity (8)
The rule about fear is so important that those who cannot overcome their fear are to be left behind. Often when we are approaching a task we try to force as many people to get involved as possible, whether they want to be involved or not, and whether they believe God has called them or not. But it’s more important to work with those who can work in unity than it is to have lots of people. The best team is the called team.
Third rule: Go with those who are no distracted (5-7)
Distracted people don’t do that well in combat, spiritual or physical. The focus needs to be on the battle and on what needs to be accomplished. Let those who don’t have the right set of priorities go on about their business.
Fourth rule: Consider your enemy–be as tough as you have to (10-18)
Sometimes we act as though in spiritual situations, or in our day to day work life strategy is a bad word. But making a plan and applying the right approach to the right situation can be the key to victory.
Fifth rule: Consider the future; be prepared to rebuild (19-20)
Living by faith doesn’t mean living without consideration for the future. Keep in mind where you’re going next. The folks you’re offending today could be the folks you need to work with tomorrow.