The battle belongs to You oh Lord and in the midst is the Lamb.
“Yes Ian, although you cannot see it, you can and do feel the effects of the unseen battle which is raging between My forces and the forces of evil. In the midst, symbolically stands the lamb – the symbol of victory won at a specific time and place on a cross. yet, although He has won the victory, the battle on the personal level still continues and will only cease when I wrap up the whole of history. It is important that you are aware of this much deeper level of our relationship because even as you face the battle you must remember the battle belongs to Me and you must stand in My armour and face the battle. The first step is just a reminder to be aware of this additional dimension of the walk along the narrow path filled with obstacles so that you can grow continuously.
Now on to 1 Samuel 7. After the apparent complete loss of awareness of Jehovah as described in Judges 21:25, and the evil of Eli’s sons, Israel has been brought up short by a massive defeat by the Philistine army. They then remember the ark, which represented God’s presence in the tabernacle and fetch it to help them in this battle. At this stage it seems they were seeing the ark as a sort of power in itself and God teaches them another lesson by allowing the Philistines to steal the ark. This proves to be a huge problem for the Philistines however and they get rid of the ark, sending it back to Israel. There it is put in the house of Abinadab under guard.
Today’s reading opens with the remark that the ark remained there for 20 years. A half a generation, a long time. Then comes this insightful statement in vs 2, “all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord.” Samuel picks this up and makes the key statement of this chapter, “If you are returning to the Lord” vs 3.
Now there is a repeated sequence in the book of Judges which is repeated here. Israel sins, God brings judgement as a punishment which leads to Israel’s repentance. Samuel, who is now called a judge vs 15, picks up this lament of Israel and points them to why they are experiencing God’s judgement and what they should do about it. vs 3b. “If you are returning to God, get rid of all the foreign gods and Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to God and serve Him only and He will deliver you.”
Samuel calls the people together for a huge religious ceremony at Mispah. Here he calls on God on behalf of the Israelites. The Philistines misinterpret the gathering, thinking that the Israelites were gathering together for war and start mobilizing their troops. This terrorizes the Israelites even more. There follows a touch which is a shadow of something which would happen many years down the line. Samuel takes a suckling lamb and sacrifices it. Echoes of the words in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. This turning from their sin in repentance and calling on the Lord for salvation from their hearts is followed by a divine slaughtering of the Philistines who are never again a problem to the Israelites.
Chapter 7 then is a story of the Israelites turning in repentance away from their unfaithfulness and to the Lord, but it is also a picture of Samuel’s rule, as judge over IsraeI. It describes the end of theocratic rule (rule by God directly through a human instrument) before the beginning of the choosing of the first king of Israel which we will see in the next chapter
There is much to learn from this chapter, which I am sure you can see. The way sin and unfaithfulness weakens us, the process that God uses to bring us to repentance. Does God still use this process today? To find the answer we need to look at this passage through the gospel filter. We have the Holy Spirit who helps us to walk with the Lord, we have Jesus who has died on our behalf for our sins, so we are very privileged. However we are still sinners and there is a pattern within this that God uses to discipline us and bring us back to Him.
The encouraging reminder here is that just as we are still involved in a spiritual battle, just as those Israelites, the battle belongs to the Lord. We need to use His tools to fight the battle, the main one is the shield of faith and we all need to learn that trusting God is the only way to win the battle. Take Ephesians 6 seriously where Paul describes the full armour of God. We also should not be fooled into thinking that there is no battle. The first step to victory is to recognize the reality of the battle.
So rest in God. When the storms of life arise and relationships are under attack, remember the battle is not yours, it belongs to the Lord. So bless you all till next week.
- God's grace, Love and Suffering.
- No Revenge.
- Blessed Assurance - Saving Faith.
- The Good Bridegroom.
- The Servant, Suffering for you and for me
- Man has Gone Astray and Needs Salvation.
- Fruit, the Sign of a Healthy Vine.
- Baptised into One Body by One Spirit.
- Future Grace, Living a Life that gives God All the Glory.