Week of Monday, April 8 – April 14
Victory – Man as Defender

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’” - Deuteronomy 20:1-4 ESV

Military history has always interested me and was foundational to the leadership course I used to teach at Hampden-Sydney College. George Washington provides many great examples of leadership, including his insistence on having chaplains serve with the Continental Army. The 
Library of Congress has a printed version of a sermon preached by a military chaplain on the eve of the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. Chaplain Joab Trout urged Washington’s army to trust in God:

And now, soldiers and brethren, we have met in the peaceful valley on the eve of the battle… It is a solemn moment… But I know you are strong in the might of the Lord... And in the hour of battle, when all around is darkness lit by the lurid cannon glare, and the piercing musket flash, when the wounded strew the ground, and the dead litter your path, then remember, soldiers, that God is with you. The eternal God fights for you—he rides on the battle cloud—he sweeps onward with the march of the hurricane charge—God, the awful and the infinite, fights for you, and will triumph.

What a rousing sermon that must have been for those men, who were almost always outmanned and outgunned by the British, facing overwhelming odds! Although they lost a number of battles along the way, God ultimately gave Washington and his army the victory.
Likewise, we read in Deuteronomy 20 that the priest was to come forward and encourage the Israelite army to put their trust in God, who would fight their battles for them and give them the victory. Trusting in God would be a challenge as the Israelites looked the enemy in the eye, seeing their size, strength, and weaponry. But no matter the human calculations and odds against them, the Israelites were to stand firm, not fearful, trusting God’s promises to deliver them by His might and strength!

Although God would fight for them, the Israelites had to be “all in” as soldiers. There are several groups of men who are excluded from active duty, but the common denominator is the potential for distracted service and divided loyalties. Men who were in the process of building a new home, planting a vineyard, or marrying a wife were to be excluded from military service. Why? Because of the likelihood that their hearts would be divided and distracted. Verse 8 adds another category that disqualified men from active duty: faintheartedness. Faint, half-hearted commitment is contagious. Put a guy like that on the battlefield, and if he cuts and runs, others will do the same. You can't count on a half-hearted warrior. James says, “a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways” (1:8 KJV). When you wage war, you've got to have an army that is “all in.” Total commitment. That’s true not only in a physical war but also in spiritual warfare.

As Defenders, we must stand strong and courageous, depending on God’s promise that He will fight for us and give us victory over the enemy of our souls. Trusting God entirely, we pray that the enemy would NOT touch our homes or families! We pray that the same faithful Creator who promised to give Israel victory over their enemies would bring victory to our hearts, homes, and loved ones today!

- When you see the forces of the enemy arrayed against our faith and our families, do you respond with fear or with faith? Do you have a distracted or a divided heart when it comes to the battle for the souls of those you love and lead?
- How are you building dynamic faith into your children and grandchildren’s hearts and lives daily? Are you encouraging them to put their trust in God to bring victory?
- Ask God to give you courage and a wholehearted trust in Him amid life’s battles.