Tuesday, July 2, 2024

God is Commander

If you live on planet earth in any kind of formed society, you are familiar with the idea of a commander - particularly, of a commander of an armed force. 

The commander is the one who assesses the situation, gauges your resources, draws a strategic battle plan, rallies the troops, and leads them into battle. This is true of the United States Armed Forces. It was true of Israel's armed forces. It's been true of armed forces for as long as there have been armed forces (or nearly) because it doesn't take long to have a battle going on before you figure out you need a leader and a plan or you're going to get slaughtered. 

In Israel, God led the army through a number of human leaders. First, Joshua. Then, a series of judges. Finally, the kings. In fact, that's one of the reasons that Israel wanted a king - they wanted someone to lead them the way all the other nations had someone to lead them. It was the king's job (part of it) to lead the Israelites into battle. 

You may even remember that it was David's failure to lead his army that left him open to sin with Bathsheba in the first place. 

Israel, though, had something even better than a king, even after God gave them kings like they asked for. 

They still had God as commander of their army. 

No matter what human was in charge, God was in charge even of him (or in rare cases, her). No matter what the troops looked like, God was their leader. Whenever an army was pulled together, it was God who determined who was fighting and how they were supposed to do it. 

We saw this at Jericho, when God told the armies to march around the wall with lanterns. We saw this when He told them to sneak around and plant a surprise attack on the other side of another city. We saw this when He determined what tribe of Israel would lead an attack, or which tribes would even participate. We see this over and over again throughout all of the battle scenes of the Old Testament. 

Yet, should we have any question at all about what it means that the Lord is the commander of His people's army, we need look no further than the reign of Asa in 2 Chronicles 14. 

Asa built an army during a time of good peace in Israel. He developed a corps of fighting men, strong and brave and numerous. And then, wouldn't you have it? Cush came to attack him. And as soon as they got into the battle, as soon as the two armies met face-to-face, Asa prayed and recognized God as the true commander of the army. 

One verse later, we are told, "Just as Asa requested, The Lord defeated the Cushites on behalf of Judah, and the Cushites fled." 

Just like that. Right on the battlefield, the Commander of the army stepped in and gained the victory. A victory that Asa had spent a whole season of peace preparing for but knew wasn't really his. 

Because even though he was king, he wasn't commander. 

That job always has been, and always will be, God's. 

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