God’s ways are different

Battle plans. Strategies. Tactics. Resources. Goals.
God’s are different from ours…

“My ways are not your ways,” the Lord said in Isaiah 55:8.

In warfare as well as in ordinary life, that is so true.

The following examples have two things in common: God’s people heard his instructions, and they obeyed them.

  • Joshua, Moses, Aaron and Hur vs. Amalek, Exodus 17:8-13
    The Staff of God / Reinforcements for Moses’ hands

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

Joshua did just as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about, when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed; but when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.

And Moses’ hands were heavy. So they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. So his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. [Exo 17:8-13 NASB20]

  • Joshua and Gibeon vs. Five Kings, Joshua 10:1
    Time stood still / large stones from heaven / God fought for Israel

Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land … (he) sent word to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon … all their armies camped by Gibeon and fought against it.

Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us.”

And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have handed them over to you; not one of them will stand against you.” … And the LORD brought them into confusion before Israel, and He struck them down in a great defeat at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent to Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah.

And as they fled from Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the LORD hurled large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD on the day when the LORD turned the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, And moon, at the Valley of Aijalon!” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the Book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hurry to go down for about a whole day.

There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel. [Jos 10:1, 3, 5-6, 8, 10-14 NASB20]

  • Gideon vs. the Midianites, Judges 7
    Trumpets / Torches / Empty pitchers

(Gideon had to slim down the army to 300; their weapons weren’t swords, as you might imagine; God set the enemy soldiers against each other.)

And he (Gideon) divided the three hundred men into three units, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers. “When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets around the entire camp and say, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon!'”

When the three units blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”

And when they blew the three hundred trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the entire army; and the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the edge of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. [Jdg 7:16, 18, 20, 22 NASB20]

  • David vs. the Philistines, 2 Samuel 5:17, 21-25
    Marching in the Mulberry Trees / Strange sounds directed the battle

When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David… (they) spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim. And when David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.

And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going (marching) in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.

And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer. [2Sa 5:17, 22-25 KJV]

  • The King of Israel vs. the King of Aram (Syria), 2 Kings 6:8-23
    Elisha prayed specifically / Blindness / Kindness

Now the king of Aram was making war against Israel… And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” He struck them with blindness in accordance with the word of Elisha.

Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria. When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these [men,] so that they may see.” So the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.

Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” But he answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those whom you have taken captive with your sword and your bow? Set bread and water before them, so that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.”

So he provided a large feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel. [2Ki 6:8, 18-23 NASB20]

  • Jehoshaphat vs. Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir, 2 Chronicles 20:1 ff
    Praise and Worship / Ambushes

(The singers’ praise and thanksgiving brought confusion to the enemy.
God set ambushes and the enemy armies killed each other.)

Now it came about after this, that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat… Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD; and he proclaimed a period of fasting throughout Judah.

So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD. …

They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Put your trust in the LORD your God and you will endure. Put your trust in His prophets, and succeed.”

When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His faithfulness is everlasting.”

When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were struck down.

For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, completely destroying them; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. [2Ch 20:1, 3-4, 20-23 NASB20]


  • Israel vs. Ai, Joshua 7:1 ff
    Because of Achan’s disobedience the Battle of Ai was lost

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing*: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.

And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.

And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water…

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. …

And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. …

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. [Jos 7:1-5, 10-11, 20-21, 24-25 KJV]

God’s way is always the best way, and especially in warfare – natural, or spiritual. Even if His battle plans, strategies and tactics seem strange to us.

(* Accursed things: Idols and things associated with the demonic and depraved worship of the people of Canaan.)

Joshua, man of war and worship

A paragraph in yesterday’s Sunday School lesson (The Present Word) struck me as pretty inaccurate. It said that while artists depict angels as like little girl babies with wings, they are really tall and slim, non-gender and gentle creatures wearing flowing, shimmering robes — or some such nonsense as that. The Bible certainly doesn’t say that. In scriptural accounts angels looked pretty much like ordinary human men, except that they caused the people who saw them to be really frightened so usually the first thing they said was “Fear not.”

The lesson wasn’t about Joshua, by the way, it was about John the Baptist, and the paragraph was about his clothing. Made of animal skins, supposedly it was very different, peculiar, odd, strange, outlandish and weird. Not ordinary dress.

But he lived in the wilderness, what kind of clothes would you expect him to wear? The description of his usual work clothes seems perfectly appropriate for the environment to me.

Someone in the class commented that John the Baptist lived way off from civilization – but if that was true, then who did he preach to? No, he lived a few miles from any town but it wasn’t way off. He lived and preached near the busy north-south trade route that ran along the Jordan River, so there was always somebody to preach to.

As I thought about John the Baptist, I began thinking again about Joshua. He was no doubt a young man when Moses returned to Egypt, and along the way he became Moses’ assistant. He was one of those in charge of the fighters, and Moses took him along when he went up into the mountain to receive the commandments. (See Ex. 24:13) He is mentioned in quite a few interesting adventures, long before he was appointed as the successor to Moses.

But one particular verse struck me as particularly important, and illustrative of the character of Joshua. A little background — Moses had been speaking to God up in the mountain, but he needed a place to speak to God down on the flat ground also. So he went outside of the camp a ways and erected a tent (called a tabernacle in KJV, but tent of meeting in other translations) for this special purpose. Moses would go inside the tent, and God would come to the front of the tent, appearing as a pillar of cloud that could be seen a long way. Read Exodus 33 about this. Everyone back in the camp would watch all this happening, and they would worship God right in their own tent doors back in the camp.

The verse I mentioned is Ex. 33:11. The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, and afterward when Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua stayed in the tent of meeting. Hmmm. Why?

I think he had his priorities straight. Did he see God face to face, too? It doesn’t say, but I know he experienced something extraordinary, the presence of God. This puts everything else he did into perspective for me.

Who died in the desert?

Major events of the Exodus

Major events of the Exodus

Questions seem to pop into my mind when I pray pretty often, usually instigating a scripture search and/or study. “Who died in the desert?” rattled around in my brain a day or two before I got out one of my Bibles and looked it up.

I knew it referred to the 40 years of wandering that Israel did after leaving Egypt and I felt sure I knew the answer. The ten doubting spies, of course.

Joshua and Caleb were the only spies who brought back a good report, the other ten brought back an evil report, so those ten weren’t allowed into the promised land. So, why the question?

The “rest of the story” was waiting for me to find.

All sorts of other questions came to me as I looked for that story. I kept getting sidetracked with all sorts of other interesting bits of information and questions to find answers for.

Was the wilderness truly a desert? Was there anything other than sand and rocks out there? Where was it, exactly? Were there any towns or villages, any trade routes, along the way? Why did they have to go through that particular wilderness, far south and later east of the Jordan River, instead of other wilderness areas?

Who all went along on the trip? Was it only Israelites? (No.) Or were there some Egyptians, some slaves, some other foreigners in the crowd? (Yes.)

What did they take with them? (Everything they owned, furniture, clothing, pots and pans, animals, etc.)

Were they poor? (No! They had been given the wealth of Eqypt – gold, silver, jewels, etc., etc.)

Was manna all they had to eat? (No – at first they had wheat and oil to make bread, though unleavened, plus lots of meat from all their livestock, sheep, goats, cattle.)

What did they house themselves in on the trip? (Hmmm – tents?)

I’m still reading, still looking, still getting sidetracked, still finding questions.

But that first question, who died in the desert – the doubters died in the desert. Everyone 20 years old and up who listened to the ten faithless spies and who grumbled and complained! It wasn’t just those ten faithless spies!

It was a multitude of men, and while those ten faithless spies died “now,” the other doubters died during the next 40 years, some sooner than others. Not until they were all dead could the children of Israel enter the promised land.

You’d think that after the ten faithless spies were killed for their griping at God that the other doubters would learn their lesson – but it doesn’t look like they did. They kept on finding fault, complaining and criticizing, and dying.

Start reading Numbers 14 and go backwards, like I did – or start with Exodus and go forward. It’s enlightening to say the least!

Lots of lessons in there that could apply to people today, aren’t there…