Be Strong In The Lord.
1 Chronicles 5-6, Ephesians 6
And when they prevailed over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him. – 1 Chronicles 5:20 ESV
Once again, as we read through the genealogical record found in the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles, we find an interesting side note provided by the chronicler. In referring to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, he gives an added detail that provides a unique insight into these three tribes that occupied the Transjordan region. As the Israelites were preparing to enter into the Promised Land, these three tribes asked for permission to settle on the opposite side of the Jordan. Joshua’s only demand was that they agree to fight alongside the Israelites and help them conquer the nations occupying the land of promise. Once all the tribes were in their allotted places, they could return to the other side of the Jordan. They had kept their word and settled on the opposite side of the Jordan. And the chronicler describes them as “valiant men who carried shield and sword, and drew the bow, expert in war, 44,760, able to go to war” (1 Chronicles 5:18 ESV). In other words, they were proven men of battle. But he gives us another important insight into their success as warriors. He tells us that “they cried out to God in battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him” (1 Chronicles 5:20 ESV). These men were recognized as valiant, brave, and skilled soldiers, but the secret to their success was their trust in God. When facing battle, they cried out to God. They didn’t simply rely on their own strength, they placed their trust in God. And the chronicler tells us, “many fell, because the war was of God” (1 Chronicles 5:22 ESV). Their reliance upon God brought victory by the hand of God. It would have been easy for them to lean on their own military might and experience in warfare, but instead, they trusted God and relied on His strength. Later on, in the book of 2 Chronicles, we read the words, “But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down” (1 Chronicles 25:8 ESV). The power of God has always been available to His people. When they were standing on the edge of the Promised Land, preparing to enter in and conquer its inhabitants, God told them, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about God?
God offers His people His help. He makes available His strength and awesome power. He provides an immeasurable resource into which we can tap at any time. But we must trust Him. We must believe that He is capable of accomplishing all that He has promised. He reminds us to be strong and courageous, not because of our own strength or capabilities, but because of His. What set the people of Israel apart from all the other nations was their God. Without Him, they were nothing. Which was an invaluable lesson they would never seem to learn. Their refusal to regularly rely on Him and trust Him for their well-being would ultimately result in their spiritual failure as a nation and their defeat at the hands of their enemies. But God had always been there for them, ready to put His unlimited, unstoppable power at their disposal. But a big reason the people of Israel turned to other gods was due to their lack of trust in Yahweh. They wanted to hedge their bets and ensure that they covered their bases by keeping any and all gods on their side. The one true God was not enough for them. They never fully rejected Him, but they combined their worship of Yahweh with the worship of all kinds of false gods, in the hopes that these other gods could step in and provide them with aide when Yahweh couldn’t or wouldn’t. But the apostle Paul reminds us, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10 ESV). His recommendation is that we, as the people of God, put our trust, hope, faith and full reliance on God alone.
What does this passage reveal about man?
But when the going gets tough, our tendency as human beings is to place our trust in anything and everything we think may provide us with help – including ourselves. But as God’s chosen people, we are to recognize our need for Him. The battles we face in life are not designed for us to showcase our strength or prove our self-sufficiency. They are opportunities to watch God work. They are unique vantage points from which we can witness the power of God and enjoy victories that would have been otherwise impossible. But first we have to trust Him. Paul goes on to say, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11-12 ESV). The battle we find ourselves in is far more than we can handle in our own strength. Left to our own devices, we are ill-equipped to face the enemy who stands against us. We are in a spiritual battle that is far greater than anything we could ever imagine. So we must find our strength in God, not ourselves. We must put on His armor, not our own. Repeatedly, Paul tells us to stand against, withstand, stand firm and stand. But we are to do so based on our trust in God and His strength. We are to wear His armor – His truth, His righteousness, His gospel, His faith, His salvation, His Spirit. Like the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, we are to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18 ESV). We are to turn to Him and trust in Him, relying on His strength and exhibiting courage based on His power, not our own.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
I have always found it fascinating that God did not just give the Israelites the land He had promised them. He could have easily eliminated the nations who occupied the land without the Israelites ever having to raise a finger. In fact, there are numerous occasions when He did just that. But for the most part, God required that the people of Israel put on their armor, pick up their swords and go into battle. They had to do their part. But He had promised to be with them. He had promised that the battle would be His. He would reveal His strength through their weakness. He would reveal His power through their insufficiencies and inadequacies. The people who lived in the land were great and powerful. The odds were totally against the Israelites and any hopes they had of defeating their enemies seemed slim to none. But they had a secret weapon: God. They would not be fighting alone. They would not be going into battle having to rely on their own strength and military might. They would be led by the Lord of Hosts. And the same thing is true for us today. The enemies we face are great. The odds are stacked against us. But we are to trust in God and go into battle equipped with His resources and wearing His armor. We must constantly remind ourselves that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ESV). We can be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. We can wear the armor He has provided. We can stand on the promise of His presence and the power He provides through His Spirit. We can do battle with the cosmic powers aligned against us because our God is great and His victory is assured. But we must trust Him. We must rely upon Him. And we must constantly remind ourselves that we can do NOTHING without Him.
Father, I get so tired of trying to fight the battles on this life in my own strength. I don’t know why I keep trying to trust in myself when I constantly prove incapable and insufficient for the task. I want to learn to stand firm on Your strength. I want to rest in Your power. I want to learn to cry out to You and trust in You. Help me to stand firm, not based on anything I bring to the table, but solely based on Your reputation, power and promises. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men