Decisive Battles Of The Bible
The Apostle Paul explained one important purpose for the Old Testament record.
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (I Corinthians 10:11)
The Old Testament provides examples from which we are to learn. When you read the Old Testament, you will find many records of battles fought in the natural world. You may wonder why these records were included in the Bible. The importance of these battles extends beyond their immediate results. The strategies of Old Testament warfare in the natural world can be applied in the spiritual world to defeat our enemy.
Just as a soldier in the natural world improves his skills by studying the historical record of previous battles, you can develop your spiritual warfare abilities by studying decisive battles of the Bible.
A DECISIVE BATTLE
A "decisive battle" is one that decides an issue by force of arms. It is a battle fought in a time of crisis. It results in advance or retreat, victory or defeat. It is the result of an offensive action (taking territory) or a defensive action (defending territory). In other words, it is an important conflict.
REASONS FOR OLD TESTAMENT BATTLES
The natural battles of the Old Testament were fought for three spiritual reasons:
For God's people to defeat evil forces which would enslave them.
For God's people to take from enemy forces territory He had given them.
To chastise God's people for evil when they turned from Him.
Our spiritual battles occur for the same reasons.
Before you study specific battles, it is important to understand general principles of Old Testament warfare because they are also applicable to spiritual warfare:
In a properly conducted war authorized by God, He promised protection to the warriors (Deuteronomy 20:1-4).
Israel's enemies were God's enemies. The people were to trust in Him for victory rather than their own strength (Judges 5:31, Exodus 17:16). When they did this, God fought with them.
The ark of the covenant served as the symbol of God's presence with the Israelites during battle (Exodus 30:6; 25:21-22). The ark went before the armies of Israel to symbolize God's active presence with His people. It had no power in itself, but was only a symbol of God's presence with His people (I Samuel 4:1-11). In the New Testament, Jesus said the Holy Spirit was to dwell in believers and was God's actual, active presence within them (John 14:16-17).
If God was to fight for His people, they had to be holy (Deuteronomy 23:9-14). They were to separate themselves from anything sinful.
The fearful were exempted from war (Deuteronomy 20:8; Judges 7:1-6).
Cowards will turn and run in the middle of the battle.
People engaged in the affairs of life were exempted from war. Deuteronomy 20:5-8 records that a recently married man did not go to war for one year. This was because he was primarily concerned with his wife, setting up a household, getting established, etc. He was too busy with these affairs of life to be effective in warfare. This is why Paul warns Timothy "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of life" (II Timothy 2:4). Jesus also warned us about being overcome with the cares of the world. In the prophecy of Daniel, we learn that one of the main end time strategies of the antichrist is to "wear away the saints of God" by the affairs of this life.
God's people were to fight until the enemy was completely destroyed (Numbers 31:10-11).
The walls surrounding Israeli cities were important to their defense. These walls were approximately 10 feet in width and as high as 30 feet. Watchmen watched from the top of the walls for enemy activity. The New Testament compares the believer to a "city set on a hill". You have spiritual walls of defense against the enemy.
A trumpet signal by the commander in chief opened each battle (Judges 7:18) and, when it was over, the trumpet called the soldiers away from the fight (II Samuel 2:28; 18:16). Jesus sounded the trumpet in the spirit world when He commissioned us to go into all the world with the Gospel and gave us power over the enemy (Matthew 28:18-20). Someday in the future a trumpet will call us away from the fight (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).
• Scripture reference: Read the story of each battle in your Bible.
• Battleground: The geographic location of the battle.
• Opposing forces: Identity of the forces involved in the conflict.
• Reason for the battle: Why the battle occurred.
• Strategies: Strategies for victory or reasons for defeat. Some strategies appear repeatedly in the Biblical record. For example, the people are told repeatedly not to fear the enemy.
DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE BIBLE
• Scripture reference: Genesis 14
• Battleground: Dan, near the River Jordan.
• Opposing forces: Abraham and the four kings of the east.
• Reason for the battle: The kings had taken captive a relative of Abraham named Lot.
Anytime you go into enemy territory you can expect a battle.
Abraham organized his forces into two easily controllable groups. His small forces conquered the armies of four kings. Victory is not dependent on size of the forces, but on organization, planning, readiness, and execution of the plan of God.
• Scripture reference: Exodus 14-15
• Battleground: The edge of the Red Sea located at the border of Egypt
• Opposing forces: Israel and Egypt
• Reason for the battle: Israel was escaping slavery in Egypt. They were fleeing the Egyptians when they were trapped by the Red Sea ahead and the enemy behind.
Do not look at the circumstances: Israel "lifted up their eyes" and saw the Egyptians pursuing them (Exodus 14:10-11). When they looked to the circumstances instead of God, this caused fear.
Do not look back: The people began thinking of the good things of Egypt, which is a natural example of the spiritual bondage of sin (Exodus 14:12). When you are looking back you cannot advance spiritually.
Fear not: The first message to Israel was "fear not" (Exodus 14:13). Fear paralyzes you in the face of the enemy. Faith energizes you to take action.
Stand still: (Exodus 14:13). Until you receive specific direction from God, this should always be your response to the enemy. Do not flee in terror.
Let the Lord fight for you: The battle is not yours. You do not have to do the fighting. God will fight for you (Exodus 14:14).
Hold your peace: Do not let the threats of the enemy cause you to lose your peace (Exodus 14:14).
Advance, do not retreat: God told Israel to step into the waters of the Red Sea. They were to advance into the flood, not retreat from it (Exodus 14:15-16, 21).
Be assured that God will move for you supernaturally (Exodus 14:19-31). When you follow Biblical principles in spiritual warfare, God will move supernaturally to defeat the enemy. Repeatedly in these battles, you will see God moving supernaturally on behalf of His people.
• Scripture reference: Exodus 17:8-16
• Battleground: Rephidim
• Opposing forces: Israel and Amalek, a tribe of fierce nomads
• Reason for the battle: See Deuteronomy 25:17-18. The Amalekites had attacked Israel from the rear, making a cowardly assault upon the "faint and weary" stragglers.
Conquer through prayer: Israel could not conquer by the sword alone. The action taken by Moses is considered an act of prayer (Exodus 17:9-11). It expressed an attitude of dependence upon God that affected the outcome of the battle (Exodus 17:11).
Grip "the rod of God": Moses took firm hold of the rod of God, a symbol of divine authority (Exodus 17:9). When you go into battle you must have a firm hold on your divine authority. You must know who we are in God and the authority He has given you.
Obey spiritual leadership: Joshua did as Moses instructed him (Exodus 17:9-10). God has placed among us those to whom He has given special abilities to lead. He enables these leaders to give direction so His purposes will be accomplished. Confusion results when everyone tries to give direction.
Go out and fight: All fighting is not defensive from the place in which you find yourself. There are times when offensive strategies are needed and you are to be aggressive in attacking your enemy (Exodus 17:9).
Seek assistance: God raises up men to assist you in meeting spiritual challenges. God called Joshua to assume military leadership while Moses gave spiritual leadership. Aaron and Hur assisted by holding up Moses's hands when he grew weary.
Recall past victories: Remembering past conquests through the power of God gives renewed vigor to face present opposition. God told Moses to write the story of this battle in a book for a memorial and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua (Exodus 17:14). Joshua, destined to be Moses' successor, would later lead Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land.
• Scripture reference: Numbers 14
• Battleground: Hill country in the vicinity of Hormah
• Opposing forces: Israelites against the Amalekites and Canaanites
• Reason for the battle: The Israelites went up to drive out the Amalekites and Canaanites to possess the land.
Do not grumble: The Israelites complained about their situation (verses 2,3). To grumble and complain is displeasing to God (verse 11).
Do not rebel against the Lord: Rebellion is sin. You must totally renounce it (verse 9).
Beware of slanderous reports: Satan leads astray through evil reports and persuades by a multitude in agreement with these reports. The majority is seldom right (Numbers 14:36-38).
Obey the voice of God: God had made it plain that Israel must return to the wilderness but they proceeded in the opposite direction (verse 25).
Do not be overconfident: The Israelites moved in presumption and overconfidence (verses 42-44). They proceeded into battle without the blessing of God. God's presence is necessary for victory.
Make decisions in faith, not fear: Decisions based on fear result in defeat.
• Scripture reference: Numbers 21:1-3
• Battleground: Hormah
• Opposing forces: Israel and Arad the Canaanite, a tribal chief
• Reason for the battle: Israel was forced into this battle. It was not their plan to enter the land from the south.
Recognize that failure is a temporary word: This battle against King Arad and the Canaanites was fought in the same area as the aborted attempt to enter the Promised Land 38 years earlier (Numbers 14:45). Though Israel failed then, this time they succeeded. Failure should never be considered permanent defeat. You will never fail until you stop trying.
Learn from past failures: God can use failure to teach spiritual truths. Israel learned they must have God with them in battle (verses 2-3). Ask God what He wants you to learn through your failures.
• Scripture reference: Numbers 21:21-32
• Battleground: Jahaz
• Opposing forces: Israel and the Amorites
• Reason for the battle: Moses wanted to gain access to the land west of Jordan which had been promised by God. He asked for peaceful passage (verses 21,22), but Sihon, king of the Amorites, refused (verse 23).
Understand that conflict is unavoidable: If you are to possess the promises of God, spiritual conflict is unavoidable. The enemy will not permit peaceful passage to claim God's promises.
• Scripture reference: Numbers 31
• Battleground: Plains of Moab
• Opposing forces: Israelites and Midianites
• Reason for battle: The Lord commanded the destruction of the Midianites because they were evil people involved in Baal worship (Numbers 25).
Purify yourselves: God instituted a purifying process that Israel was to follow before going into battle. He established the process, but they had to act upon it. If God is to fight with you in battle, you must be spiritually purified. He has established the way through Jesus Christ, but you must act upon it.
Subordinate private interests: (verses 25-54). In battle, private interests must be subordinated (laid aside) for the cause of corporate victory.
• Scripture reference: Deuteronomy 2:24-37
• Battleground: Jahaz
• Opposing forces: Israel and Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon.
• Reason for the battle: Sihon refused to let the Israelites peacefully cross over the Jordan River into the land God gave them.
Claim what God has given: God had already given the Israelites the Promised Land of Canaan which is a type of the Spirit-filled life (verse 24). He has also given you an inheritance. It is already yours, waiting for you to claim it. (See also the battle at Endrei in Numbers 21:33-35. This same strategy of taking possession of what God has already given is reflected in this battle.)
Let God fight for you: Sihon made a hostile attack on Israel and suffered defeat because the Lord fought for His people (verses 31,33).
Recognize nothing is too hard for the Lord: There was not one city too strong for Israel to defeat (verse 36). There is no stronghold of Satan in your life which cannot be overcome.
• Scripture reference: Deuteronomy 3:1-11
• Battleground: Edrei
• Opposing forces: Israel and Og the Amorite, king of Bashan
• Reason for the battle: Og, a giant such as had scared the spies when they first explored the land (Numbers 13:33), came with his men in battle against the Israelites.
Be assured that God will deliver the enemy into your hand: God's command to Israel to advance against Og was accompanied by His promise to deliver the enemy into their hands (verse 3).
Overcome all obstacles: The height of the enemy's fortified cities and the size of their king did not defeat the army of the Lord. Nothing is too difficult for those empowered by Him.
Claim the fruits of victory: Deuteronomy 3:8-11 summarizes the fruits of Israel's victory at Edrei. Each battle in which we engage presents an opportunity to claim new "fruits of victory" in your spiritual life.
• Scripture reference: Joshua 6
• Battleground: Jericho
• Opposing forces: Israelites and the king of Jericho and its mighty men
• Reason for the battle: God told Joshua to lead the Israelites to conquer the city of Jericho.
Recognize that God's ways are not your ways: No matter how foolish a situation appears, you must trust God. His thoughts and ways are not as yours (Isaiah 55:8). What the world calls weak, God uses to put the strong to shame (I Corinthians 1:27). God sometimes intervenes in ways that seem foolish to the natural mind. Israel was doing battle God's way, no matter how foolish it appeared. See I Corinthians 1:25.
Seek assurance of God's presence: The ark of the Lord, mentioned nine times in verses 6-13, symbolized to Israel that God was with them. Before entering battle, seek assurance of God's presence.
Use the strategy of silence: Israel was told to march in silence (with the exception of the sounding trumpets) until they heard the command to shout (v. 10). The strategy of silence should be used in warfare until you receive directions from God of when and what to speak.
• Scripture reference: Joshua 7
• Battleground: City of Ai
• Opposing forces: Israelites and the Amorites
• Reason for the battle: Joshua was leading the Israelites in battle to possess the land God had promised them.
Do not violate God's instructions: Achan's sin caused God's favor to be withdrawn which resulted in disaster for Israel (verses 1-5). Sin lurks in the shadow of victory.
Do not underestimate the enemy: The spies underestimated the population of Ai (verses 2- 4). Do not underestimate the power of the enemy to kill, steal, and destroy. At the same time, do not let the rational assessment of his powers bring fear. You have power over all the power of the enemy.
Discover and deal with the cause of defeat: When there is defeat, there is a cause.
Israel dealt with the guilty as instructed (verses 13,25,26). This discipline resulted in restored approval by God. To maintain the presence of God, you must deal with sin by confession and repentance.
Abstain from fleshly lusts: Achan's sin was a progression...he saw, he coveted, he took (verse 21). In I Peter 2:11 we are told to "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul". The lust of the eyes is not of the Father, but is of the world I John 2:16). From the very first attack of the enemy on man, fleshly lusts have been instrumental in defeat (Genesis 3).
• Scripture reference: Joshua 8
• Battleground: Ai
• Opposing forces: Israel and men of the city of Ai
• Reason for the battle: God told Israel to take the city of Ai and that this time they would be victorious.
Support one another: Working as a team, Israel defeated the enemy by setting an ambush. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 indicates we have added strength against the enemy when we stand in support of one another.
Be ready: Joshua told the men of war to be ready (verse 4). You are engaged in spiritual warfare. You must be ready to advance and be on guard against the enemy at all times.
Use the sword: Joshua's sword was the signaling weapon to the men hidden in ambush (verse 18,19). Believers have a spiritual sword which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). You are to use it to warn others of the approach of the enemy.
Turn and face the enemy: The Israelites who fled into the wilderness turned back upon their pursuers and slew them (verse 21). Turn and face your enemy in the strength of the Lord. "Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the Devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
Focus on the Victor rather than the victories: Joshua led the people in worship after the victory was won (verses 29-31). Sometimes we make the mistake of emphasizing a spiritual victory and our part in attaining it. We are warned, "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).
• Scripture reference: Joshua 10:1-27
• Battleground: Gibeon
• Opposing forces: Israel and the five Amorite kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon with their forces
• Reason for the battle: Joshua was called to aid the Gibeonites because the king of Jerusalem organized troops to punish them for making a treaty with Israel.
These five kings wanted to prevent the Israelites from occupying this strategic location.
Put the enemy under your feet: Putting the feet upon the necks, the ancient symbol of subjugation, is acted out here by Joshua's field commanders (verses 24-25). Jesus said He is the head of His body, the Church. He has put all the power of the enemy under His feet. If we are His body, then this means our feet are upon the neck of the enemy.
Be strong and of good courage: This is God's Word to you in the face of battle. Your strength comes in knowing God is on your side. This assurance causes you to be strong and of good courage as you face opposition (verse 25).
• Scripture reference: Joshua 10:28-43
• Battleground: Southern Palestine
• Opposing forces: Israel and the cities of Southern Palestine
• Reason for the battle: Joshua launched a battle to take Southern Palestine.
Attack key strongholds: Joshua's battle strategy was a series of lightning-like raids against key Canaanite cities with the purpose of destroying the fighting ability of the inhabitants (verses 28-43). By attacking key strongholds of the enemy in your life (for example, the flesh) you weaken the ability of the enemy to attack you.
• Scripture reference: Joshua 11
• Battleground: At the waters of Merom
• Opposing forces: Israel and the Canaanite kings of the north under the leadership of Jabin, king of Hazor
• Reason for the battle: Following God's instructions, Joshua led the Israelites to possess another portion of the Promised Land.
Persevere: Joshua waged war with the kings of the land for around six years (verse 18). Perseverance (remaining faithful in battle) is essential in capturing strongholds, driving out the inhabitants (old sin nature) and possessing all God has promised.
Do not fear the size of enemy forces (verse 4).
• Scripture reference: Judges 6:1-8:35
• Battleground: Valley of Jezreel
• Opposing forces: Gideon and 300 men against the Midianites and Amalekites
• Reason for the battle: Because Israel sinned, God delivered them into bondage to the nation of Midian for seven years. When Israel repented and cried to the Lord, He sent Gideon to deliver them.
Heed the warning...Sin results in bondage: Israel's sin left her powerless before her foes (6:1-5). Sin brings you into the spiritual bondage of Satan.
Restoration comes from God: The Midianite oppression brought Israel to the place where they finally sought God for deliverance (6:6-8). When you have been taken captive by the enemy through your own sin, God is your only hope of restoration.
Get alone with God: Gideon was by himself when he was commissioned to deliver Israel (6:11-14). Valiant leaders of spiritual warfare must spend time alone with God. If you are to help others through a deliverance ministry, this strategy is vital.
Pull down the altars of idolatry: Gideon pulled down and destroyed the altars of Baal (6:25- 31). You are to pull down the strongholds of the enemy and destroy every idolatrous thing that stands in the way of total commitment to God.
Be endued by the Spirit of God: God's Spirit came upon Gideon to empower him to accomplish the divine purpose (6:34). The endument of power by the Holy Spirit must come upon you for the same reason. See Acts 1:8.
Seek deeper levels of faith: Gideon needed a fleece as a sign to be willing to trust God (6:36-40). Some Christians cannot believe unless they have certain favorable signs in the natural world. You need to seek a deeper level of faith that takes God at His Word even when natural circumstances are contrary. See Acts 27:20- 25.
Do not be self-reliant: God prevented self-reliance by reducing the army to a small number. God works in your life to eliminate self-reliance so you will recognize the victory comes from Him.
Do not hesitate: In spite of God's confirmations, Gideon hesitated to face the enemy. He had never led an army before and his men were untrained and inexperienced (7:9,10). There are times when you may hesitate to move in a new direction God has told you to go. You may feel inexperienced and inadequate. Do not hesitate...God equips those He calls.
Target the fear of the enemy: God allowed Gideon to hear the fears of the Midianites. In identifying fears, weaknesses are discovered. James 2:19 says that the devils believe in God and tremble in fear. Target the fear of the enemy with the power of God.
• Scripture reference: Judges 15
• Battleground: Lehi
• Opposing forces: Samson and the Philistines
• Reason for the battle: Samson attacked the Philistines over a family matter. The Philistines blamed the attack on his wife and her family and retaliated by destroying them with fire. The retaliation continued back and forth between Samson and the Philistines.
Know that God turns defeat to victory: While Samson's enemies were shouting in triumph, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and he broke the cords binding him (verse 14). He took a jawbone of an ass, attacked his enemies, and killed a thousand men. What appeared as defeat was turned into victory for the Israelite champion (verse 15). There is no binding defeat of the enemy that cannot be turned to victory by God.
Acknowledge God as your provision: After the exertion of killing 1,000 Philistines, Samson was thirsty. His weakened condition would leave him prey for other Philistines seeking to avenge the death of their countrymen. In his distress he called on the Lord (verse 18). God is not only our strength in battle, He is your provision.
Be refreshed at the spring of the Lord: In answer to his call, God caused water to spring forth. Samson drank, and he was revived (verse 19). Jesus said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37). Just as soldiers in the natural world need times of rest and refreshment, we need refreshing spiritually.
Many seek this refreshment through recreation, hobbies, and entertainment. True spiritual refreshment comes at "the spring of the Lord." Spending time reading the King James Bible, praying and seeking God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
• Scripture reference: Judges 20
• Battleground: Gibeah
• Opposing forces: Benjaminites against all the other Israelites.
• Reason for the battle: A Levite's concubine was raped and killed by a group of men of
Gibeah. The Levite called for the elders of each tribe to hear charges and consider appropriate action. All but the Benjaminites agreed to punish the men of Gibeah. They
1. Ask counsel of God: Israel went before God repeatedly seeking counsel concerning battle strategies (verses 18, 23, 26, 28).
2. Exercise corporate discipline: The other tribes of Israel asked the tribe of Benjamin to turn over the offenders for punishment. Israel wanted to remove evil from their corporate life by punishing the offenders (verse 13). As believers we must cooperate with God in removal of evil from our lives by offering these areas to Him.
3. Do not quit fighting: In the first two battles the Israelites were defeated by the forces of Benjamin. The Israelites wept, fasted, and went before the Lord again for counsel. He said they should resume the battle and promised them victory (verses 18-28).
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• Scripture reference: I Samuel 4
• Battleground: Between Aphek and Ebenezer
• Opposing forces: Israelites and Philistines
• Reason for the battle: Israel battled against the Philistines, God's enemies.
1. Do not trust in spiritual "forms": The ark of the Lord was the visible symbol of God`s presence among His people (verse 4). But the people were not to trust in the form. They were to trust in the God it represented.
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• Scripture reference: I Samuel 11
• Battleground: Bezek
• Opposing forces: Nahash the Ammonite and the men of Jabesh along with Saul and the Israelites
• Reason for the battle: The Ammonites attacked the Israelite town of Jabesh-gilead. Saul organized an army and defeated them (verse 11).
1. Prepare for battle in the morning watch: Saul attacked the Ammonites in the early morning hours (verse 11). Come before the Lord in the early morning hours and "put on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11-17).
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• Scripture reference: I Samuel 13-14
• Battleground: Michmash
• Opposing forces: Israelites and Philistines
• Reason for the battle: Jonathan killed a Philistine military officer at Geba.
1. Be patient in the hour of crisis: Saul's impatience cost him his position of king (verse 13). He became fearful as he saw his army fleeing before the Philistines. He disobeyed the instructions of God to wait. In the hour of conflict do not let fear force you to act foolishly.
2. Stress dedication, not numbers: Israel won battles not with superior numbers, but with dedicated men of valor (14:6).
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• Scripture reference: I Samuel 17
• Battleground: Valley of Elah
• Opposing forces: Israelites (David) and Philistines (Goliath)
• Reason for the battle: The Philistine army had assembled to attack Israel. The Israeli army had set up a defensive position on the opposite side of the valley. A Philistine giant, Goliath, suggested that the battle be settled in a fight between him and an Israelite warrior.
1. Draw strength from previous victories: David had experienced victories in saving his flocks from wild beasts. He assured Saul he could protect the flock of God from this Philistine (verses 24-36). Faith strengthened in past difficulties yields faith for new crises.
2. View obstacles as God's opportunity: Every difficulty is actually an opportunity for God to reveal His power through you. David saw the giant as an opportunity rather than a challenge (verses 32,45-47).
3. Use proven armor: David refused Saul's worldly armor because he had not used (proved) it in battle (verses 38,39). Spiritual battles cannot be fought with worldly strategies. They must be fought with tried and proven spiritual armor.
4. Face the enemy in the name of the Lord: Goliath came with a sword, spear and javelin but David faced the giant in the name of the Lord (verses 45-47).
5. Remember that the battle is the Lord's: The enemy may appear to have the advantage, but when the battle is the Lord's the victory is certain. David confirmed that the Lord, not man's power, determines the outcome of battle.
"...Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." (Zechariah 4:6)
6. Do not be limited by your own abilities: The giant looked on David in the natural as a youth with no experience in battle (verse 33). God does not see us as we are, limited by our own inabilities. He sees us as what we can become if we permit His power to flow through us.
7. Confess the victory: David confessed past victories in God and spoke words of faith in confessing future victories.
8. Recognize the purpose of spiritual warfare: David stated it in verse 46..."That all the earth may know that there is a God..."
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• Scripture reference: I Samuel 30
• Battleground: Near Ziglag
• Opposing forces: Israelites and Amalekites
• Reason for the battle: While David and his forces were away from Ziglag, the Amalekites
made a raid and took captive their families and burned the city.
1. Do not give in to despair: David's men were so grieved that they spoke of stoning him (verse 6), but David encouraged himself in the Lord. In times of discouragement when you are standing alone, encourage yourself in the Lord. Do not give in to despair.
2. Claim restoration of all the enemy has taken: The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy (verse l). God told David to pursue the enemy and take back all that had been stolen. God wants to restore to you all the enemy has taken (verses 8,18).
3. Realize that a victory for one is for all: Verse 24 gives a key principle in spiritual warfare. Those on the front lines and those who "stay with the stuff" share equally in the victory.
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• Scripture reference: II Samuel 5:1-16
• Battleground: Jerusalem
• Opposing forces: Israelites and Jebusites
• Reason for the battle: The Jebusites inhabited Jerusalem and considered their stronghold so great that it could not be captured. David captured the city and it became the center of Israel's national life.
1. Do not be intimidated by the ridicule of the enemy: The Jebusites ridiculed David saying their stronghold was so great that it could be defended by "the blind and the lame" (verse 6). David did not allow this ridicule to hinder him (verse 7). When the enemy makes you feel inadequate by ridicule, claim John 8:44.
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• Scripture reference: II Samuel 5:17-25
• Battleground: Valley of Rephaim
• Opposing forces: Israelites and Philistines
• Reason for the battle: When the Philistines heard David had been anointed king over Israel, they organized an attack against him.
1. Fight offensively: David did not wait for the attack of the enemy. He went out against them. Do not wait for the enemy to come and get you!
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• Scripture reference: II Samuel 10
• Battleground: Area of Helam
• Opposing forces: Israelites against Ammonites and Syrians
• Reason for the battle: The king of the Ammonites died. David sent servants to console his son and affirm his loyalty. But the new king listened to false accusations and insulted the Israelites instead of accepting David's goodwill gesture. He shaved off half of their beards, cut off their clothing, and sent them away in disgrace (verses 1-5).
1. Cooperate in battle: When David's general realized he was faced with a battle on two fronts, he divided his forces putting his brother in charge of half of the troops. Although divided, these forces fought together to defeat the enemy. Although divided geographically, culturally, or denominationally from other believers, we should cooperate in battle against the enemy, not fight each other.
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• Scripture reference: II Samuel 21:15-22
• Battleground: Gob and Gath
• Opposing forces: Israelites and Philistines.
• Reason for the battle: The Philistines continued to war against the Israelites. This is another brief account of the ongoing conflict.
1. Conquer the giants in the land: A number of Philistine giants were killed in these battles. These giants had plagued Israel over the years. Is there some "giant" of your old flesh that continues to plague you? Continue the battle until the giants are conquered.
2. Recognize that God uses different methods: Once David had faced Goliath and defeated him in the power of the Lord with a simple sling and stone. This time God used a different method to defeat the giant (verses 16- 17). Do not limit God on the basis of how you have seen Him move in times past.
3. Strengthen the leadership: Even great leaders can become weak in battle (verses 15-17). This is not the time to criticize, but the time to support them.
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• Scripture reference: I Kings 20
• Battleground: Samaria and later at Aphek
• Opposing forces: Ahab king of the Israelites and Benhadad king of the Syrians
• Reason for the battle: Benhdad, king of Syria, gathered his army and 32 kings with him to war against Samaria.
1. Recognize that the enemy will return: The prophet told the king of Israel to strengthen himself because the king of Syria would return against him (verse 22). However great a victory has been, it is not the end of the fight. The enemy will renew his effort to defeat God's people.
2. Do not be deceived by flattery: Flattered by the Syrian king's submission, Ahab consented to let Benhadad depart in peace. The motive behind flattery is selfinterest. It leads to pride, a selfish emotion which acts apart from God. See Proverbs 16:8.
3. Set proper priorities: Ahab was concerned about getting back his lost territories.
The statement "and as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone" (verse 40) reveals he did not set proper priorities. The will of God requires first place.
4. Do not compromise with the enemy: It was within the power of Ahab to end the struggle between Syria and Israel. But with Benhadad free, the struggle would continue with disastrous results (verse 42).
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Kings 3
• Battleground: Moab
• Opposing forces: Israel and her allies, Judah and Edom, against the Moabites
• Reason for the battle: Moab rebelled and refused to pay taxes to Israel. Jehoram asked the king of Judah to help him fight Moab. When they started to battle they were joined by the king of Edom.
1. Praise God for revelation: Elisha had music played to make him receptive to the Word of the Lord. As the minstrel played, the power of the Lord came upon Elisha and he received the revelation of God (verses 11- 15). Praise is a key strategy of warfare. It brings your spirit into a proper attitude to receive revelation from God.
2. Prepare for victory: Sometimes you cannot receive victory because you have not prepared for it. There was a drought and the armies of Israel and Judah were in danger of death from lack of water. Elisha prayed for a miracle. God said, "Make this valley full of ditches." God caused the ditches to be filled with water (verses 16-17). You must be properly prepared if you are to be channels for the life giving flow of God. Sometimes this involves digging some "dirt" out of your spiritual life!
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Kings 6:8-23
• Battleground: Dothan and Samaria
• Opposing forces: Israel and Syria
• Reason for the battle: When Syria was fighting Israel, Elisha revealed to the king of Israel the location of the Syrian army. When the King of Syria learned what Elisha had done, he sent armies to capture him.
1. Pray: As you have probably noted, prayer to God was made repeatedly in Old Testament battles. In this account, Elisha prayed for the Syrians to be struck blind (verse 18). Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons of spiritual warfare.
2. Develop spiritual insight: Elisha's servant saw nothing but the natural circumstances. Elisha had spiritual insight and could say: "Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them (Syria)" (verse 16).
3. Allow God's power to be demonstrated: When the Syrians were struck with blindness, Elisha led them to the king of Israel. He asked the king not to destroy them, but to send them home as a demonstration of God's power (verses 18-23).
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Kings 6:24-7:20
• Battleground: Samaria
• Opposing forces: Syria and Israel
• Reason for the battle: Benhadad and his army surrounded Samaria and a terrible famine resulted in the city. Food was so expensive and scarce that people were eating garbage and even their own children.
1. Move toward the impossible: As the four lepers pondered their situation, they knew the worst the Syrians could do was kill them. They would die anyway if they did nothing. They decided to move toward the impossible situation. God made the Syrians hear sounds of an approaching army which caused them to flee, leaving behind their belongings (7:3-7). When you move towards the impossible, God acts in your behalf.
2. Share with other believers: The lepers shared the good news of the defeat of the enemy (7:8- 10). You have a responsibility to share with others what God has done for you in impossible situations. Through this, other believers are strengthened.
3. Do not be skeptical of God's supernatural power: One leader did not receive the blessings of God because of skepticism of God's power (7:2, 17-20).
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Kings 17
• Battleground: Samaria
• Opposing forces: Israel and Assyria
• Reason for the battle: Hoshea, king of Israel, was to pay tribute annually to the King of
Assyria. Israel stopped paying tribute, so Assyria attacked them.
1. Worship is a key to effective warfare: Israel ceased to worship God and He delivered them into the hand of Assyria. Worship is the highest form of spiritual warfare (see Job l and 2). If you fail in worship, you will soon be captive of the enemy.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Kings 19
• Battleground: Jerusalem
• Opposing forces: Assyria and Israel
• Reason for the battle: Israel's king, Hezekiah, trusted in God and tried to destroy idolatry. To assure safety for his kingdom he paid tribute to the Assyrian king. Then he received a threatening letter.
1. Do not fear the threats of the enemy: Hezekiah took the threats of the enemy to the Lord. God told Him there was no need to fear, for the enemy would be removed from the land. Just as God defeated the Assyrians, He has defeated Satan. You need not fear his threats.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Kings 24:1-25:30
• Battleground: Jerusalem
• Opposing forces: Judah and Babylon
• Reason for the battle: Judah did evil repeatedly in the sight of the Lord. Finally God
permitted the people to be taken captive by the Babylonians who were the dominant
world power. Jerusalem was burned and the walls were torn down.
1. Understand that sin results in captivity: God's people were taken captive by the enemy because they permitted repeated, unconfessed sin in their lives. Instead of being used by God to defeat the enemy, they were taken captive by their foes.
* * *
• Scripture reference: I Chronicles 14:8-17
• Battleground: Valley of Rephaim and Baal-perazim
• Opposing forces: Israelites and Philistines
• Reason for the battle: When David became king of a united Israel, he was a threat the
Philistines could not ignore. They immediately launched an attack against him.
1. Hold out for decisive victories: David and his forces won the first battle, but it was not decisive because they did not completely possess the land (verses 9-13). In the second battle, God gave Israel a decisive victory. They forced the Philistines out of Israelite territory (verses 13-17).
2. Wait for proper timing: Timing is a key to effective warfare. David waited until he knew God had gone before him as promised (verses 14-16). Many battles have been lost and won on the basis of this one principle of proper timing.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Chronicles 12
• Battleground: Jerusalem
• Opposing forces: Egypt and her allies against Rehoboam, king of Judah
• Reason for the battle: Rehoboam was unfaithful to God and turned to sinful practices of the Canaanites. The invasion by Shishak, king of Egypt, was permitted as judgment from God.
l. Prepare spiritually; Spiritual preparation is necessary for victory: Rehoboam did evil because " he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord" (verse 14). Prepare your heart to seek the Lord before entering the battlefield.
2. Humble yourself: When Rehoboam humbled himself, God granted him "some deliverance". He did not allow him to be totally destroyed (verses 5-7).
3. Submit to God's service: Although God forgives, there are consequences for disobedience (verse 8). Compared to the service demanded by the world, how much better it is to submit to God. See Matthew 11:28-30.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Chronicles 18
• Battleground: Ramoth-gilead
• Opposing forces: Syrians against Ahab king of Israel and Johoshaphat king of Judah
• Reason for the battle: Johoshaphat made an alliance with Ahab and together they battled
1. Do not make unholy alliances: After 65 years of hostility between Israel and Judah, Jehoshaphat made an alliance with Ahab. This included the marriage of his son to Ahab's daughter. This unholy alliance proved disastrous for Jehoshaphat personally as well as for Judah because it brought in the evils of heathenism. Alliances with evil never produce positive spiritual results.
2. Use discernment in choosing counsel: Before going to battle, Ahab called for his prophets to bring a word from God. But these professional prophets were more interested in saying what Ahab wanted to hear. Jehoshaphat insisted they call a prophet who was not dependent on Ahab for sustenance. Ahab sent for Micaiah whose prophecy was from the Lord (verses 1-16). Discernment must be used in seeking spiritual counsel. A majority in one accord is not always verification of God's will.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Chronicles 20
• Battleground: Valley of Berachah
• Opposing forces: Men of Moab, Ammon, and Mt. Seir against Jehoshaphat, king of Judah
• Reason for the battle: Several nations joined in a conspiracy against Judah.
1. Use the strategy of fasting: Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast in all Judah (verse 3). God deals with you on the basis of your relationship to Him. Fasting does not change God, it changes you. It alters your relationship to Him which affects His response to you. See Jonah chapter 3.
2. Keep your eyes upon the Lord: Jehoshaphat prayed, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You" (verse 12).
3. Remember that it is better to trust than try: God's answer came to Jehoshaphat, "The battle is not yours, but God's" (verse 15). When only God can do what is needed, it is better to trust than to try in self-effort.
4. Rejoice in the midst of battle: Singers were appointed to sing as they went out before the army. God set an ambush against the enemy and they were defeated.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Chronicles 25:5-16
• Battleground: Valley of Salt
• Opposing forces: Edomites and Amaziah, king of Judah
• Reason for the battle: Amaziah battled the heathen nation of Edom.
1. Follow Godly advice: In an attempt to strengthen his own forces, Amaziah hired mercenaries from Israel. This was displeasing to God who spoke by a prophet to send Israel home or else be defeated. Amaziah followed this Godly advice and victory was his.
2. Destroy all idols: Amaziah began to worship the Edomite idols (verse 14). Effective spiritual warfare will destroy all idols in your life, whether they be of stone or wood or materialistic possessions.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Chronicles 25:17-24
• Battleground: Bethshemesh of Judah
• Opposing forces: Jehoash, king of Israel, against Amaziah, king of Judah
• Reason for the battle: Pride over success in defeating Edom led Amaziah to challenge Israel to battle.
1. Pride results in defeat: Amaziah was filled with pride over a former victory. This led him to challenge Israel (verses 17-19). See Proverbs 16:5.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Chronicles 28
• Battleground: Jerusalem
• Opposing forces: Judah against invading forces of Syria, Israel, Edom, Philistia, and Assyria
• Reason for the battle: Judah was invaded by Syria, Israel, Edom, Philistia, and Assyria.
1. Worldly corruption brings spiritual ruin: Ahaz worshiped foreign gods thinking they would strengthen him. Instead, they were his ruin (verse 23). Corrupting influences of the world will result in spiritual ruin.
2. Even valiant men fall when they forsake God: See verse 6.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Chronicles 32:1-23 & II Kings 19
• Battleground: Jerusalem
• Opposing forces: Sennacherib, king of Assyria and Hezekiah, king of Judah
• Reason for the battle: The king of Assyria invaded Judah and surrounded the fortified cities.
1. Cut the supply line of the enemy: Hezekiah's strategies were to cut off the water supply for Assyria and build up the walls of the city (verses 3,5). Division in the Body of Christ is one of the main supply lines of the enemy. We equip Satan when we supply him with ammunition against other believers through wrong use of the tongue. Instead of criticizing and gossiping about fellow believers, we should build walls of protection around them.
* * *
• Scripture reference: II Chronicles 35:20-24
• Battleground: Valley of Megiddo
• Opposing forces: Necho, king of Egypt, and Josiah, king of Judah
• Reason for the battle: Egypt wanted to pass through Palestine to fight Nebuchadnezzar,
king of Babylon. Josiah would not permit them to pass.
1. Reject deception: Josiah disguised himself when he went out to battle, hoping for protection from the fate spoken by the "words of Necho from the mouth of God" (verse 22). Deception is not effective in spiritual warfare, as Satan is the master deceiver.
2. Listen when God speaks: Josiah had previously been in right relationship with God. The acts of his goodness are noted in verse 26. He knew the voice of God, but in this case did not listen when God spoke.
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Now it is your turn...
Begin to keep your own historical record about spiritual battles you fight. Record what the battle concerns, the reason for the battle, strategies Satan used to attack, and counter strategies you used for victory.
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