Archive for January, 2023

A Word to the Wise

1-30-2023 – A Word to the Wise – The law of God is not “God helps those who help themselves.” rather His word says “God helps those who ask him.”

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A Word to the Wise

1-28-2023 – A Word to the Wise – Deborah: Why Women make Excellent Warriors

Children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, thus the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan that reigned in Hazor, the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.

Apparently, Israel just could not seem to keep to a Godly course. Thus, the Lord brings adversity upon His people to nudge them onto the right path. This nudge developed into twenty years of oppression by an enemy that Israel had failed to exterminate—the hated Canaanites. This is much like our own propensity to halfheartedly deal with our sins. Our own sins enamor us. Therefore, when they get out of hand, we put them aside for a while.

God had told Joshua to wipe these people off the face of the earth. We should understand that these people were evil. Child sacrifice was an integral part of their worship. They would often murder their firstborn and place them in the doorstep as a form of dedication to their god. There figurines and drawings put today’s pornography to shame, and in addition cult prostitution was an everyday part of life. While only a little is known about the particular tactic used by Deborah much is known about the methods, armament, and equipment utilized.

During this general period, the Egyptians and Hittites in this area fought a major battle. Egyptian scribes and artists have left drawings and scripts as our sources of information.

Apparently, Deborah utilized the same tactics against the Hittites that the Hittites had used against Ramses. In that, battle the Hittites had drawn the Egyptians into a trap whereas here Deborah sets one for Jabin.

The text indicates that the Hittites were in possession of nine hundred chariots of iron. This would have been a formidable enemy. It nearly matches the number utilized in the previous battle with the Egyptians.

These were 3-men, 6-spoke, and two-horse chariots armed with a charioteer, the shield-bearer, and the spearman. This implies close combat as opposed to the more distant archers. The text says that the chariots were further fortified with iron plates for protection. They were heavy and far less maneuverable than the Egyptian chariots, but at the same time, sturdier. Additionally, Sisera, the commander of the Hittite army, probably had an additional 10-to-15-thousand-foot soldiers at his disposal.

The chariots were used as a strike force by the Hittites and would have been incredibly difficult for a foot soldier to outmaneuver. Israel was at a distinct disadvantage. The Hittites were experienced professional soldiers, well-armed with heavy body armor for protection.

Israel was lightly armed but did have some advantages. Their forces were composed of slingers and archers who were exceptionally well trained with the left hand or right. The slingers used stone about the size of a golf ball or larger. A trained slinger could easily hit a man-size target at about 100 yards. The stone traveled about 80 miles per hour. The tribe of Benjamin provided men exceptionally skilled with the sling. (Judges 20:16)

Israel’s army also included the heavily armed phalanx, which was typical of the armies of that period. In addition, the army included lightly armed soldiers capable of foot pursuit if the opposing army broke ranks and tried to flee from the battlefield. (I Chronicles 12:32)

It is essential to be able to follow up an attack, which breaks the will of the enemy, causing them to turn and run with troops in pursuit. More enemy is destroyed running from the battlefield than those killed in outright attack are. This is why God’s army was to be composed of fearless warriors. Warriors who can withstand the onslaught then follow up with sustained attacks that do not end until the enemy is destroyed.

Sisera’s army was stationed at the Northwest corner of the Jezreel Valley. Deborah moves Barak and her 10,000-man army, made up of men from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun to Mount Tabor. Men from Zebulun were trained in all weapons of war (I Chronicles 12:33); those of Naphtali were armed with shield and spear or trained in the phalanx and close combat. Mount Tabor is defensible against the chariot. It was a perfect staging area with visibility in all directions.

Sisera hears of the deployment of Deborah’s troops (probably from Heber the Kenite.) This is likely disinformation employed to draw out Sisera. Deborah’s second force is concentrated on the northern slopes of Mt. Ephraim. Signal mounts at Mt. Gilboa and the Hill of Moreh are used to signal troop movements for Deborah.

Deborah signals for the troops on Mt. Ephraim to move and divert Sisera from Mt. Tabor. This force is then unsuccessfully intercepted by troops from the region around Taanach. Sisera moves to the aid of Taanach upon being informed that his help is needed.

Deborah and Barak then advance from Mt. Tabor on Sisera, driving Sisera into the now flooded swamplands around the river Kishon. The heavy iron chariots are bogged down in the marshy area along with the heavily armed infantry. Sisera and his men flee and are pursued by the Israelites. Sisera, abandoning his useless chariot, escapes on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. Of all places to hide, he expects refuge, but she kills him.

It is here an important principle is learned when engaging the enemy. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee. Peace is not acceptable. No, the Christian pursues and chases the adversary and his army until it ceases to exist.

In every major engagement in the battles of the Bible God expected His army to chase the enemy from the battlefield and to keep on until they were destroyed. God’s harshest criticism is reserved for those who quit. The enemy is to be destroyed. Not bargained with. Not preserved. No treaties made. The battles of Joshua and Judges emphatically teach this principle. Pursue the enemy until you physically drop, until you can no longer lift your weapon. Give no refuge to the enemy. Chase him until he has nowhere to go—then destroy him.

There is another lesson to be discovered in this battle. I have often wondered if more women warriors ought to be invited into combat. The problem is when they are, the tendency is to make them over into the image of men. Women are trained in men tactics, and men weapons.

Women think tactically different from men. Men who play war games find it easy to discern various strategies of an opponent. However, few could predict how a woman would conduct a battle. Sisera made the mistake twice and paid with his life.

In the early part of the 20th century, women began to attack the temperance problem and were highly successful in getting laws passed using tactics that overwhelmed proponents.

I suspect women have skills unused and unrecognized by the enemy, making them a greater threat. Men train women to be prayer warriors, evangelists, missionaries, and preachers, all the things men do. However, the tactics employed are from the minds of men. The purpose for using a woman in these areas should include recognition that tactics change.

Deborah was a judge and a skilled tactician, not an armor bearer, nor an archer, nor a slinger. We tend to forget Genesis 3:15 and God’s promise of enmity between the adversary and women. True, this is a Messianic prophecy, yet it also suggests something else.

Women, wise women, do not like to be fooled. Eve saw immediately how the evil one had tricked her. I suspect since that day the woman has conducted her own private war against the adversary. Deborah out thinks the enemy. Barak was willing to follow this woman into combat—not many men are wise enough to do the same.

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A Word to the Wise

1-27-2023 – A Word to the Wise – Lessons of courage: God desires in His warriors faithfulness. Not just when it is convenience but all the time. Asa is a great grandson of David and from the day he began to reign Asa determined to please the Lord. Asa commanded the people to seek the Lord and even deposed his grandmother who was into idolatry.

God honored Asa’s faithfulness and provided the wealth for Asa to continue to fortify the cities of Judah. “Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the LORD our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered. Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men. (II Chronicles 14:7-8).

Apparently, with the loss of the northern tribes Judah no longer have available some of the skilled fighters available in David’s time. Asa does have the heavy phalanx armed with large protective shields and sporting the long spears. This army is further supported with the lighter armed men from Benjamin who use the bow. The army has an effective strength of about 580,000 men.

Asa has great foresight in preparing the inhabitants for coming warfare. The main area of fortification in the early period of Asa’s rule is the Kadesh-Barnea and the area south. These fortifications originally built by David and refortified by Solomon had been over run by the Egyptians during the rule of Rehoboam, Asa’s grandfather. Now Asa rebuilds and strengthens the area.

There is a spiritual lesson in this for us. See weakness demands during times of peace that areas of our lives be fortified. Acquiring skills to overcome anger, immoral impurity, pride, weak marriages, vocational ineptness all the areas which the enemy uses to destroy us are open to fortification.

Asa’s building projects in the south are completed and the army trained now the enemy attacks.

The enemy usually attempts to overwhelm and frighten the godly. Zerah the Cushite leads thousands and thousands North in an invasion of Israelite territory. The tactics utilized have all the earmarks of an Egyptians backing. Observing Asa’s strengthening of the border probably motivated the Egyptians to back the Cushite attack..

The first battles must have occurred just south of Kadesh-Barnea at the fortified positions just described. Moving north Gerar, Ziklag, Eglon, and Lachish must have fallen to the invaders. Zerah utilizes the Philistines and the smaller towns around Gerar as staging areas in preparation for the main battle at Mareshah.

Asa’s army proceeds to Mareshah, to the Valley of Zarathah. The sight was terrifying. Stretched out in the valley was an armed force approaching one million armed intruders. The sight must have struck terror in the heart of Asa.

This chariot force was probably fashioned after the Egyptian chariots and the tactics were the same. It is probable that the Egyptian themselves may have provide the entire force of men and chariots since the control of the Palestinian land mass was a top priority.

The Egyptian chariot was capable of 24 to 27 miles per hour, with a fire power of 8-10 arrows on target per minute, or about 3000 per minute from the three hundred chariots. It is unlikely that Asa had anything to counter the chariot since none was listed in his force. The chariot force was lightning fast and known for its ability to quickly overwhelm a foe.

Asa calls upon God. The God he had been serving faithfully. Asa’s prayer acknowledges that there is no one like the Lord God Almighty. Asa in his prayer reminds the Lord that His faithful people are gathered against this vast army. Defend your People O Lord.

The initial blow is struck by the Lord. The text does not say how. But whatever it causes the army of Zerah to flee in mass confusion. God’s warriors have been taught to never flee the battlefield because more are killed when fleeing than those who stand and fight.

Fearlessness is the character quality at work. Between the fearless Israelites and the power of God Almighty the enemy is crushed.

The amount of plunder is tremendous. Calculations based on the usual amount dedicated to the Lord yields just in animals at 7000 head of cattle and 70,000 sheep and goats! The weapons and other material goods would have been overwhelming. God generously rewards faithfulness. “And without faith is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6).

Often the Lord turns hardship, trial, and the impossible into supreme blessings when we obey and trust the Lord to provide, guide correct, and direct our steps.

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (II Chronicles 16:9).

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A Word to the Wise

1-17-2023 – A Word to the Wise – What is possessiveness? Human possessiveness is a misguided sense of ownership. No one in any relationship owns another person. Husband denotes relationship, not ownership. Wife denotes relationship not ownership, mother, brother, sister, friend. These are relationships not ownerships.

The deepest yearning in every human being is for a ‘sense of belonging’ but it must be fulfilled in God. If it is to a person it brings many forms of unhappiness most importantly it ultimately destroys the relationship.

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A Word to the Wise

1-13-2023 – A Word to the Wise – Life means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the task life sets before us.

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A Word to the Wise

1-11-2023 – A Word to the Wise – What I must remember, ponder, meditate on, it is not what I expect of life rather what life expects of me.

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A Word to the Wise

1-4-2023 – A Word to the Wise – Women and Wisdom:

Using Womanly Wisdom. So if the woman possesses insight, how does she use it? How does the woman even get the man to listen? How does the wise woman reveal to her husband wise choices? The answer is a hard one; she must wait on the Lord. The woman cannot force her husband to pay attention to her ideas and to make use of her insight. The Lord must act on the husband’s heart and make him realize the value of listening to his wife. Kim, a former shared how the Lord brought this about in her marriage. Here is that story.

Several years ago, I had a couple in counseling. The husband was very intelligent. He had risen very high in one of the top ten accounting companies. His opinion of his wife’s definition of wise financial investment bordered on thinking her to be incompetent. Why, he reasoned, invest one’s money in a bank where one collects four or five percent interest, when one can invest it elsewhere and get sixteen percent?

The Lord wanted to address a much deeper problem in James’ life. After fifteen years of marriage, it was time to learn the importance of listening to his wife. Kim shared how the Lord brought this about.

It seems the Lord was prompt Kim to look at the newspaper, something she rarely had time to do. But she starting reading it. At first, she did not know what or why she was doing it; she just felt this intense urge. After awhile, she found herself looking in the business section. Again, she did not know what she was looking for. After a week or so, she found that she was looking for the name of a company in which her husband had invested a sizeable amount of personal and business money. She could find nothing about the company.

After some time, she decided to call the Attorney General of the State to make inquires about the company. Now, knowing this woman and hearing her say she called the Attorney General’s office was quite a shock. It was not ordinary behavior for Kim.

However, the only information she received was a terse reply that they could not respond to her request. Now she was worried. However, she knew it would not do any good to tell her husband, he would merely laugh at her. (Later James acknowledged that this is what he would have done.) A couple of weeks went by. Then, one day they received an official letter stating that the owner of this company had absconded with all of the funds. It was a big financial loss for James. He recognized the Lord as the source of this correction. Most importantly, he learned to listen to his wife, even in an area where he possessed the greater knowledge. You see the Lord wants the man to listen to his wife. Listening does not always mean agreeing. It does mean hearing. There are many answers the Lord gives’ only to the woman just for this reason. It teaches the man to put great value on his wife. When he learns to listen to her and to take seriously her ideas seriously, the woman feels of greater worth. God gives to the woman an insight that often seems illogical to the man.

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