Guest blogger: Amy Swanson - Do not be unarmed

“Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise-up and stand firm.” (Psalm 20:6-8)
 
Judges chapter 4 begins with a regularly seen Old Testament theme of Israelites turning from God to partake in the wickedness around them. As a result, they became easy prey for Jabin, the Canaanite king of the land. Verses 2-3 of the chapter say, “Sisera, the commander of [Jabin's] army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help.”

God heard their prayer and raised up Deborah as a prophetess and judge among the Israelites. Deborah was used by God to call upon a man named Barak, who was to go and defeat Jabin’s army. Barak was hesitant, but by the end of the chapter he, along with 10,000 men, miraculously defeated the wicked Sisera and tyrant king Jabin. The very next chapter is dedicated to the song of Deborah and Barak. It is a joyful song of praise and remembrance to the Lord for all He had done in bringing them to victory.

In the words of their song, we hear added context to the previous chapter’s gruesome battle. Verses 6-8 record what it was like before Deborah was called to serve the people. It says, “In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were abandoned; travelers took to winding paths. Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back until I, Deborah, arose, until I arose, a mother in Israel. God chose new leaders when war came to the city gates, but not a shield or spear was seen among forty thousand in Israel.”

As we were meditating on this passage in our Friday evening Bible study recently, the question arose:  was it possible the Israelites didn’t have any ‘shields or spears' to speak of? If so, why would that be? It didn’t take long to remember the previous discussions on Judges 3:16, when Othniel had to make his own sword. It was the weapon he used to defeat Eglon, King of the Moabites, who himself had oppressed Israel for 18 years. And also Judges 3:31, where we read that Shamgar saved Israel from the Philistines with a farm tool, his ox-goad. And again in 1st Samuel 13:16-22, where it talks of the time when raiding Philistine parties went out against King Saul. The Bible says, “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, ‘Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!’ …And on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand.” 

Fortunately, in each of these instances, we’re shown a glorious display of God’s faithfulness and deliverance. And Barak’s battle was no different. At the same time, these passages reveal a bit of the mind of Israel’s opposition over the course of many years - to disarm those they fear. Could this be an applicable spiritual truth raised amidst the often-avoided biblical narratives of history? Do not Christians also have an enemy who seeks to disarm and destroy? Bible teacher and commentator David Guzik has this to say about Judges chapter 5 and verse 8, “Satan doesn’t only want to oppress the Christian; he also wants to disarm the believer. He wants the believer to lay down the full armor of God that belongs to you in Jesus Christ.”

Our armor and weapons are much different than in the days of Joshua, the judges who followed him, and the ancient kings. According to Ephesians 6:13-17, the spiritual armor and weaponry for the Christian include: the belt of truth buckled around your waist, the breastplate of righteousness upon your chest, feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel, the shield of faith in hand, the helmet of salvation, and the sharpest sword, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Are you in danger of being caught unarmed? Take a moment to consider the spiritual inventory of protection God provides for your earthly journey:

The belt of truth: It sanctifies and delivers, it will mature your faith and set you free.
The breastplate of righteousness: It guards your identity in Christ, protecting your heart with God’s love and preserving your body for eternal life.
Feet protected by gospel readiness: Feet prepared for war, carrying with them the power of salvation in enemy territory, which is the gospel.
The shield of faith: An impenetrable assurance of things hoped for and promised to you by God.
The helmet of salvation: A vital covering of protection and clarity, both for your mind and beliefs.
The sword of the spirit: Your close combat offense, sharper than any sword. Weapon of choice when the devil comes to steal your love, joy, & peace.

In your own power, it is impossible to armor up and stay armed when the enemy troops come storming in. Thankfully, each of these pieces points to Jesus, and to what He freely provides and sustains. Maybe this is why Ephesians 6:18 follows up with a call to prayer, a call to continually be in relationship with the Father, through Christ. Because He is more than able to protect and strengthen. As it says in Psalm 20:6-8: “Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise-up and stand firm.”

1 Comment


Laura Wilson - March 5th, 2024 at 7:09pm

Amy what a powerful message. Thank you so much for this. I love and miss you bunches!

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