Cost of War

Judges 20:42-48

42So they fled before the Israelites in the direction of the wilderness, but they could not escape the battle. And the Israelites who came out of the towns cut them down there. 43They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them and easily overran them in the vicinity of Gibeah on the east. 44Eighteen thousand Benjamites fell, all of them valiant fighters. 45As they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, the Israelites cut down five thousand men along the roads. They kept pressing after the Benjamites as far as Gidom and struck down two thousand more.

46On that day twenty-five thousand Benjamite swordsmen fell, all of them valiant fighters. 47But six hundred of them turned and fled into the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, where they stayed four months. 48The men of Israel went back to Benjamin and put all the towns to the sword, including the animals and everything else they found. All the towns they came across they set on fire.

Introduction

Have you ever wondered about the difference between war and battle?

A battle is a small part of a war between individuals or small groups leading up the winning or losing the war.  The war is about principle or ideology behind the disagreement.  During the two World Wars, battles were fought on land, in the sea and in the air.  Wars have been fought under different flags and banners.

The word battle has been used on a personal level too.  Patients fight battles against disease, illness, cancer and even emotions.

As evangelicals, where should we stand in relation to world wars?

We believe church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal. (TMEC Membership Handbook p8).

We would rather have peace with all people at all times. But, we do not stop church members if they desire to join the armed forces. It is every citizen’s duty to defend their country in most peaceful ways possible. We don’t disregard world wars, but as believers of Christ, our greater focus is spiritual warfare.

It says in Ephesians 6:12, 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Not everyone is serious of spiritual battles. By faith, we can relate to the events happened to the Israelites. Their struggles reflect what we may struggle as God’s children. The Israelites survived battles among their fellow Israelites. What can we learn from them when spiritual battles among Christians arise?

When the Israelites went to war against their fellow Israelites, the Benjamites won the first and second battle. On the third battle, the Israelites employed ambush strategy, and the Benjamites were defeated severely.

1. Defeat>

42So they fled before the Israelites in the direction of the wilderness, but they could not escape the battle. And the Israelites who came out of the towns cut them down there. 43They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them and easily overran them in the vicinity of Gibeah on the east. 4418,000 Benjamites fell, all of them valiant fighters. 45As they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, the Israelites cut down 5,000 men along the roads. They kept pressing after the Benjamites as far as Gidom and struck down 2,000 more. 46On that day 25,000 Benjamite swordsmen fell, all of them valiant fighters. 

War is costly. Many lives are sacrificed. Properties are destroyed. Pride is hurt. Relationship is damaged. Trust is broken. No real winners after the war.

One group can dominate but there’s no winner worthy of praise after war.

The tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out after the war. With 600 men left in Benjamin, the Israelites realized they almost vanished one tribe. But, why did God allow them to fight against each other?  It’s tough love, if you accept it.

God may have allowed war among the Israelites as painful lesson when they disregarded His instruction and when they did as they deemed it right for them.

Nonetheless, the war among the Israelites should teach us that it’s not worthy to fight each other. War is defeat for everyone, no matter how good or logical the reason behind wars. Nobody wins after wars!

The battle between Benjamites and the Israelites teaches spiritual battles we may encounter. We also struggle to have harmony among us believers.

We can be confused but we can agree to disagree. Disagreement does not mean that we hate each other. We just don’t have the same style or approach to life or ministry but things can be arranged properly by God’s graces. We also need God’s wisdom to find solutions or means to coordinate and collaborate.

It says in Ephesians 1:17, 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 

To know more about God’s will, we’ve got to let Christ rule over us. When our spiritual gift is used for His glory, it reflects doing His will. So, by our human effort we fall short of knowing the Lord’s plan. By Christ’s Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, God reveals the most cohesive and smooth way to use our spiritual gift for God’s glory which happens to be the best life we can have.

Psalm 46

Psalm 46 has poetically and articulately described how we should act and behave as God’s children. As faith increases, godly behavior progresses.

1God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…

6Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

We almost always encounter battles every now and then, personally and within secular and Christian community. We’ve got to let Christ’s Spirit prevail in our life so that joy and peace prevail within us despite of chaos around us.

Peace in Israel was disturbed when the tribe of Benjamin did not cooperate with the other Israelite tribes. After the war, their city and life was destroyed.

2. Destroy

47But 600 of them turned and fled into the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, where they stayed four months. 48The men of Israel went back to Benjamin and put all the towns to the sword, including the animals and everything else they found. All the towns they came across they set on fire.

The ‘Rock of Rimmon’ was located somewhere between Jerusalem and Jericho. The Israelites could have easily pursued them but they let them flee.

Instead, they totally destroyed and burned every city and town in Benjamin.

In short, the territory of Benjamin has come to nothing after the war.

The proud Benjamites were very sure they would win the war against the 400,000 Israelite swordsmen because of their military expertise. They refused to let the wicked men of Gibeah be punished. As a result of saving and defending the wicked men of Gibeah, they were defeated. Their cities were destroyed.

It says in 1 Peter 5:5-8, 5In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Apostle Peter warned of our enemy the devil. It would use all possible opportunities to destroy us. Pride can destroy us because it shows opposition to the Lord’s will. It may appear to dominate at first just like the proud Benjamites but eventually, the proud will be destroyed by the Lord.

NBA Players

NBA Basketball players are exhibits of popularity and wealthy lifestyle. Their behavior, if they are proud or humble, can also affect their success and failure in the game or their individual lives as well.

Believers can excel or fail in the ministry but the Lord will decide who should be rewarded and not. We wish all church members excel in the ministry they have chosen but we are warned against becoming conceited and proud.

It says in Philippians 2:3-4, 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

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