In my last article; Dealing With Human Nature, I discussed how a human being is made up of 2/3 spiritual energy and that the soul is the battle ground of spiritual warfare. In this study, we are going to step back and focus on the Old Testament and how God used physical warfare in his kingdom.
You may ask; "Why is this important?" The reason we are looking at the Old Testament is because you can learn a lot about Spiritual Warfare if you can see how it plays out in the physical. So, as I discuss Old Testament warfare, spiritually think about how God works with spiritual enemies today. It is really enlightening!
Exo 15:3-6 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. (4) Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. (5) The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. (6) Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
GOD VS PHARAOH OF EGYPT - GOD DELIVERS ISRAEL FROM BONDAGE
In Exodus chapters 5-14 is the account of the calling of Moses, the ten plagues, death of Egypt's firstborn, the Passover and the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt. This was a battle between Moses and Pharaoh; God being the one who orchestrates the conflict. Moses demands that Pharaoh lets Israel go, but he hardens his heart; thus nine plaques fall on Egypt. God then instructs Moses to institute the Passover, where every household had to have the blood of a lamb on the two side-posts and top-post of doorway. Each house had to have a lamb cooked and eaten, and be ready to leave Egypt. When the Lord passes by, whoever didn't have the blood applied to their house would die, and so it was, on the last plaque (#10), the Lord passed by every home and killed the firstborn. Then Pharaoh, thrust the people out of Egypt. When the people of Israel went through the Red Sea, then Pharaoh chased them into the sea. But, the Lord closed up the sea and destroyed all of the armies of Pharaoh.
The spiritual application is that Egypt is a type of sin and the world, and we need to have the blood of the Lamb applied to our life and be delivered from a world of sin through the sea (water baptism). We can see by this account how God will search people out and deliver them from sin if they just obey scripture. This physical stand-off between God and Pharaoh, is how God wrestles with the devil as people struggle through to find God. Sometimes God has to allow bad things to happen to get people to let go and be saved!
GOD LEADS ISRAEL THROUGH THE WILDERNESS
After they passed through the sea with dancing and singing, they journeyed from location to location being led by a "cloud by day" and a "pillar of fire" by night. When the cloud and fire stopped, they pitched their tents and camped; when it moved, they moved. This journey they were on was to prepare them for the promise land. God gave the law of commandments and instituted the tabernacle to deal with their sins. The biggest struggle God had was actually getting Egypt out of their hearts. Thus, God would have to judge them and sometimes people died. Which meant that they delayed their trip to the promise land.
Even though this isn't really about warfare, it is important to note that is was a struggle between God and Israel. The spiritual application is that after we "get saved" (delivered from sin), we begin a spiritual journey to obtain things from God (our promise land). We are led by the Spirit of God (cloud & fire) and receiving these promises will depend on our commitment and a willingness to endure the process and allow God to help us.
GOD VS AMALEK - KEEPING OUR HANDS RAISED
In Exodus 17:8-16, as Israel journeyed, the Amalekites (an enemy) came against Israel to war. This was an unprovoked war by Amalek. Moses had Joshua (a captain of the army) and the army of Israel, go and fight with them. Moses, Aaron and Hur went to a top of a hill to see the fighting. When Moses held up his hands, Israel was winning; when his hands got tired and let them down, Amalek was winning. So, Aaron and Hur, helped Moses hold his hands up. And this went on until Joshua and the army won the battle.
The spiritual application is that sometimes in our walk with God, the enemy (the devil) will attack us unprovoked. He will use any reason, circumstance or person to attack you. Sometimes the way to win a spiritual battle is to keep your hands up in praise to God! And if you get tired, have a brother help you pray and to ask God to help you!
JERICHO - THE IMPOSSIBLE STRONGHOLD
Joshua is now the new leader of Israel and they cross the Jordan river into the land of promise. But, now they have to make war and conquer the land which was promised to Israel. So, In Joshua 6, they come unto their very first major obstacle... the walls of Jericho! This city was a walled city and it was locked up because the people of that city feared them. This was a stronghold that was not going to be easy. God commanded Joshua to march around the city once each day for six days. Then on the seventh day, march around the city seven times. And then they were to just blow the trumpets and shout! And that is all they had to do; and that was it... the walls fell!
The spiritual application is fairly easy to see, on some battles God may want us to just be patient, circle our obstacle and when he leads you to shout... then blow your trumpet (voice) and shout! Then your stronghold will come down!
Psa 47:1 O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
GOD - GIDEON WINS WAR WITH 300 MEN
In Judges chapters 6-7, God calls Gideon to fight against the Midianites and Amalekites, who oppressed Israel (because of their sins). Gideon asks God to confirm he was called by putting a fleece on the ground. Then he gathers 32,000 men for war and God says that is too many. Send all the fearful home; that left 10,000. Then God says, still too many. God then instructs Gideon to take them down to the water hole. All those who lap like a dog with their tongues on the water, set aside. The others who drink on their knees, with their hands, set aside. After the water test, God told Gideon, use the 300 men that lapped with their hands! Then he went to war and each man of war had a trumpet and an oil lamp. They surrounded the city and pretended to be a huge army. God gave them the victory with 300 men; compared to the Midianites and the Amalekites who had a very, very large army.
The spiritual application is that God doesn't need a lot to win a battle for us. He may have to decrease our strength or take-away something that we trust in. The reason God will do this sometimes, is because God doesn't want us to claim the victory and think that we won by our own power. He wants to get all the glory!
Judges 7:2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
DAVID THE GIANT SLAYER
In 1 Samuel 17, the Philistines challenge Israel to a war and a giant named Goliath wants to fight just one man. The winner of that conflict would mean their respective people would rule the land. However, no one from the army of Israel wanted to challenge Goliath because of fear. David is just a youth, and was sent to check on his brothers who were in the army. David hears of Goliath's challenge and volunteers to fight him. King Saul (of Israel) wanted David to wear armor. He put it on, but cast it off because he didn't need it. As most know, he took a sling-shot and five stones from the brook and killed Goliath with just the name of the Lord!
The spiritual application is that no matter what the giant is in our lives or someone else's life, we can defeat the giant if we trust the Lord, and use the tools to fight what God directs us to use. We don't have to be "super-spiritual" to fight! However, like David, he had already killed a bear and lion with his own hands. So it is in spiritual warfare, we must have some experience and knowledge of the giant to be able to win!
JEHOSHAPHAT WINS BATTLE WITH A SINGING CHOIR
In 2 Chronicles 20:1-29, the Moabites, children of Ammon and Seir came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Jehoshaphat became fearful and proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah. Then he and the people prayed a desperate prayer of repentance and here is some of what he said...
2 Ch 20:12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.
The the Spirit of God moved apon some Levite men and they prophesied in the name of the Lord. Here is a part of that word...
2 Ch 20:17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.
Then Jehoshaphat lead the army to war and what he did is incredible. He is led by God (through counselling) to appoint singers (a choir) to go in front of the army as they march toward their enemies. They were to sing and praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army; and to say, "Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth forever!" As they sang their song, Moab, Amon and Seir started fighting and destroying each other. Thus, the battle was won by God with just a choir!
The spiritual application is easy to see, some battles are won by just praising the Lord! But, to get to this place, we have to look our problem in the eye, get rid of the fear and seek God for direction.
I could write five times more than what is on this page of Old Testament battles. Isreal went through many battles with the enemy. Some they lost and some they won. The biggest factor in winning their battles was they had to be right with God. When Israel wondered into sin, God allowed the enemy to come against them to get them to turn back to God.
When we look at these battles, all you see is actual physical fighting between real people, using real swords. However, God is involved with all this warfare because the kingdom of God on earth in the Old Testament was with physical Israel and a real promise land.
What we have in the Old Testament is a mixture of both physical and spiritual warfare. Not only was God involved, but angels were involved as well. But, we don't read a whole lot mentioned about devils except in a few places where satan stood against Joshua the high priest, David, and the attack on Job. Why is that?
Satan actually worked in the background using the armies that came against Israel. Even though the devil isn't mentioned a whole lot, he did use those actual physical armies. There is an account where the devil (not mentioned by name) is linked to the king of Tyrus (Ezk 28).
So, as we conclude this study, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you understand and read the Old Testament when warfare is mentioned. You will learn so much about fighting battles for the Lord from these accounts; except you will be fighting them spiritually and not wrestling with flesh and blood!
READ NEXT: Battlefronts of the New Testament