"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, May 15, 2023


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 20: DO NOT BE AFRAID by Sonny Islas; check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: We are now in DEUTERONMY 20 where Moses will lay down the rules of war. We have to keep in mind that at this time in Israel’s history, Yahweh the LORD, God, Creator of all, was their KING, He was their Commander in Chief. Which made Old Testament Israel a Theocracy – that is, a nation governed directly by God Himself. And as the King of Israel, His main responsibility was to protect His people from their enemies.

And the only time He removed some level of His protection, was when His people Israel rebelled against Him. When they acted like God’s enemies, God acted like their enemy as a way to humble them.

Today, in a very special and intimate way, Jesus is the Head and therefore the protector of the Church. He is our Good Shepherd.

1 "When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. 2 "So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. 3 "And he shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; 4 'for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.'

As we can see, the first rule of war is - “DO NOT BE AFRAID” in times of battle no matter how formidable (terrifying or intimidating) your enemy is. The size of their army does not matter. The strength of their military weapons does not matter – when God is with you – is the point.

This reminds me of ISAIAH 54:17a
“NO weapon form against you shall prosper.” Ultimately, this is true. When it’s all said and done in heaven – this is true. Here and now, the enemy may get some wins over us, but in the end we win.

Vs. 1 “Do not be afraid of them (or of what you see), FOR the LORD your God is with you…” and verse 4 continues to say, 4 “FOR the LORD your God is He who goes before you (He’s a frontlines kind of Leader!), to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

The question is, do you really believe this? Are we convinced of this reality? That God is with us and that He fights for us. Not only is God the ultimate superpower, but He is also the source of all power AND He is for us.

This is the only truth that makes one courageous. Knowing that God is with us, we can stare even death in the eyes and smile. It’s been said many times that “One plus God is the majority.”

I remember growing up as a kid, I had no fear of anyone, BECAUSE my two older brothers and some older friends of mine were like my bodyguards. I remember that at the start of my freshman year in high school, my brothers and their friends told me “if anyone messes with you, just let us know and we’ll take care of it (and they did).” So, I walked the school halls with my head held high and not an ounce of fear.

This is [on a much smaller scale] somewhat the kind of peace, courage, and confidence the LORD gives His children. God wants us to be fully persuaded by both His unrivaled power and His mega love for us in all things.

In verse 1b, God reminds Israel by saying “who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Moses here is reminding Israel of God’s faithfulness and His ability to humiliate the world’s superpower at that time – Egypt. Humanly speaking, it would have been impossible for Israel to escape the grip and slavery of Egypt and much less altogether overcome Egypt by human means alone.

It was Moses’ way of saying, “Yahweh has been able to defeat your greatest enemy (Egypt), what makes you think that He cannot defeat all of your lesser enemies?”

In the same way, Jesus has defeated all of our greatest enemies, such as: Sin, Death, Hell, and Satan. What makes us think that he cannot defeat lesser enemies?

Notice that Moses started with the word “When (not IF) you go out to battle…” Israel fought many battles. They won some and lost some – depending on their trust in the LORD or not.

Let’s never become disillusioned when it comes to battles, troubles, and trials. They are inevitable. Expect them, but never fear them. Instead remember that God is with you through it all.
I say this because there are some baby believers who have thought that following Jesus is a walk in the park only to find out that at times it’s a walk in the warzone!

Jesus made the reality of problems (made up internal and external battles) very clear, but He also tagged a word of comfort to it.

In JOHN 16:33 Jesus says,
“These things I have spoken to you [that He’s going back to the Father in heaven], that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world [that is all the evil that this fallen world bombards us with].”

In other words, every battle that the Christian faces, and endures but at times is overcome by – is temporary. Jesus will one day place every one of our enemies (and His!!), under His feet. Just hold on and keep pressing on by the strength that God provides!

Listen, there are many fears that fallen humanity faces and God’s kids are not exempt from experiencing some of those fears. i.e. There are financial fears (will there be enough funds in the bank for such and such?), relational fears (Is this person the right one for me? Is this a loyal friend or an enemy in disguise?), health fears (will I be next in line for cancer? etc.), marital fears (will my rocky marriage end up in divorce?), parental fears, ministry fears, economic fears, and the list goes on.

Make it a practice to turn your fears in to prayers – prayers of faith in God’s goodness towards you. We need to choose faith in God over fear in whatever situation - every time. This pleases the LORD.

PSALM 27:1
“The LORD is my light
[not darkness] and my salvation [not destruction]; whom shall, I fear?” [Answer: No one!] “The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” [Answer: No one!].

What’s very interesting about this chapter (PSALM 27) is that it’s as though King David was saying, “I’m not going to focus on those things that can cause me fear, rather, I’m going to focus on the beauty of the LORD.”

When Israel was on the brink of war, verse 2 tells us that it was the priest's job to command the people not to fear because God was with them in battle. The priest did for them, what I’m doing for you tonight. Encouraging you not to fear anything – for the Omnipotent One is with you – always.

5 "Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying: 'What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. 6 'Also what man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it. 7 'And what man is there who is betrothed to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man marry her.' 8 "The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, 'What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.' 9 "And so it shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people

When it comes to Israel’s wars, first, a priest was to stand up and speak up – turning the army’s attention to God and off of their powerful enemies. Then, the Army leaders were to examine every soldier to see if they were fit for battle – war ready men. This was their military drafting procedures. This was both an act of weeding out the weak and an act of mercy and kind consideration on the LORD’s behalf. After they’d decided who was fit for war, lesser captains were selected to lead.

Vs. 8 “…what man is fearful and faint hearted? Let him go and return to his house, LEST the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.”

This shows us that Fear is contagious – I was telling the men on Monday night, at our men’s bible study that confidence in God is contagious. That when we are fearless in the LORD, (or anxious-less and worry free) our spouses and our children are spiritually emboldened by our trust in God. Our family gets to enjoy a sense of peace and security when we stand firm on the Rock which is Christ. When our unwavering faith in God overcomes our fear in whatever.

10 "When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it. 11 "And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you. 12 "Now if the city will not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 "And when the LORD your God delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. 14 "But the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself; and you shall eat the enemies' plunder which the LORD your God gives you. 15 "Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations. 16 "But of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17 "but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the LORD your God has commanded you, 18 "lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God. 19 "When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man's food. 20 "Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, to build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it is subdued

The next step in Israel’s rules of war was to offer peace. If the enemy expects, the men live and become Israel’s servants, but if they refuse the offer of peace, the men die. Israel was to go about this ONLY with the nations that were distant from them.

The Canaanite nations were to be utterly destroyed because verse 18 says, “LEST they teach you to do according to their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.”

The Canaanites were extremely wicked – at this point, even unredeemably wicked. God’s mercy had completely run out for ALL Canaanites (that’s a scary place to be). They were at the point that those who were in Noah’s day were. Where GENESIS 6:5 says, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Lastly, God commanded that the fruit trees be left alone. That only shade trees were to be cut down and turned into war forts and weapons. Because fruit trees are for food – not for weapon making.

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