Qualified and Motivated to do Battle

Deuteronomy 20

Jerry A Collins




v        Why should we not fear when battling in our spiritual lives?

v        Who is our enemy and how do we go on the attack?

v        Is there a protocol to follow as a fight the good fight?


Yesterday while on the internet I received an instant message from Rob, a friend of mine from New Jersey, currently living in London, England, whom I met while teaching in Albania where he, his wife and family were serving as missionaries for two years. He wanted me to know that they were planning to return to the States in May and wondered if I knew about any employment opportunities in Michigan. I told him they were not good right now and that things might be better elsewhere. Like Rob, when anyone finds and/or gets new employment, you have to figure out everything related to it and begin to take possession of what has been given to you. With you’re ability and the opportunity you have in front of you, it is now time to take possession of that territory. You muster your resources and get to work! That is what God is calling the Israelites to do. Their timing for arrival in the land had to do with the destruction of the Amorites. Genesis 15:6, where God told Abe the people would be 400 yrs in a foreign land and then come back when the iniquity of the Amorites is full. Then God would bring in the Israelites to wipe them out. This is the time for them to go to work to fight & take possession. Here we learn about their approach and strategy to do battle.


Battle against your enemies 1, 3, 4 Notice it says ‘when you go out to battle’, ‘you are approaching the battle’. The basic instruction was to take possession of the land. God said he gave them he land. But the people have to battle for it to take possession of what God gave them. Notice, too, that at same time v4, God says He goes with them ‘to fight for you’. There is something God does (sovereignty) and something the people do (free will). Deuteronomy is a free will book. God has given them the land. Now they must take possession. We have all been given a certain life situation, born into a certain country by certain parents, with certain gifts, talents, desires. None of which God asked our opinion. He just gave it to us as our territory. If I have the ability to teach, I still need to learn how to do that. Now it is up to us to take possession of it and that will require going into battle. To do that will require going up against giants in the land, a determined enemy in the land. If we are not careful, we may not want to do battle because it is too much work. Our enemies will be anything that influences us not to do battle necessary to take possession of our God-given life situation.

Do so without fear 1, 3, 8  You can lose your motivation to battle when you focus on the strength of your enemies v1. When you crest the hill and look over the vast plain filled with your enemies horses, chariots and soldiers your heart can melt in terror. Just like it may when you understand what you will have to battle in order to take possession of your life situation. You may be facing a life situation right now that brings you prostrate in fear or anxiety but you must do battle righteously with the weapons God has given you to make war with. For Israel, they needed to know that the outcome of the battle would never be determined by mere military might. To fortify them for the battle ahead, the Priest’s were charged in v2-3 to encourage the Israelite army as they approached the enemy. It will be easy to be faint-hearted at this moment. So officers were to remove a feint-hearted soldier before he had opportunity to defect in battle or cause others to become disheartened too v8.

God will help you 1, 4 God has helped them before v1 and he is still with them. He will also help them now as they go into battle v4. The same God who gave you your position in life will help you take possession of it too. To take possession means we need to trust God even when we see no way to overcome. So we can wage war with confidence and with passion and determination because as we fight to take possession of our territory, God fights for us against our enemies to deliver us. So there is no need for panic as we wage war to secure our life situation and righteously pursue our path.

Watch out for distractions 5-9 The role of officers was to ensure the soldiers were free from any distractions that might dampen their spirits for battle. So there were exemptions for those (1) who built a new house (2) planted a vineyard (3) engaged to a woman (4) afraid like Gideon’s army in Judges 7:3. Then, v9 leaders were appointed in the army. So don’t appoint leaders until you know who will be in the army and thus fighting in the battle. Do the same thing in ministry. First, find out who is in the battle, then appoint leaders qualified to lead others. These battles will require leadership but so, too, will our spiritual ones. You must take the lead in your battles but you will get sidelined if you become distracted by your life situation. Sometimes our life situations become demanding and require time and effort to manage them, like getting out of debt, before giving like we want to. Don’t allow your life situation to become detrimental to possessing what God has given you.


Use the plunder 10-15 For those they battle outside of the territory God is giving them, first of all offer terms of peace v10. The enemy can choose to be your slaves which is a way of forcing them to acknowledge the sovereignty of Israel’s God and of Israel the nation. If they do not want to make peace v12, surround the city and starve them out of it. When you take the city, kill the men, so there is no hostile standing army to threaten Israel, take the women, children and animals back to your city as plunder from the battle. This is only for the nations far away from you. Blood was not to be shed needlessly. They were not to be warmongers perpetually at war as a way of life. While they were always warriors, they were not to always be at war. God-honoring peace is preferable if attainable. Even Joshua celebrated when the land had rest from war Josh 11:23. Now the plunder could be used to serve them back in the land.

Destroy the enemy 16-20 The enemies inside of Israel they were to wipe out completely. The reason was so they will not teach them to do the detestable things of their gods v18. Their evil influence was to be utterly removed. No life, no booty at all. If you are going to take possession of the territory, your life situation given to you by God, then you must commit yourself to wage war against any enemies that might influence you to give up some or all of that territory until you have destroyed their influence. Keep the fruit trees so you can eat 19-20.  So we wage war:   (1) It must be God’s war like repenting of sin, confessing my sin, exposing false teachers not like the crusades. (2) With enough courage to totally destroy the enemy. That is, sin that influences me to compromise my position given to me by God. (3) It must be fought and won without any deals or treaties, that is without allowing some sin in our lives to remain. (4) It must be fought with valiant warriors who are committed to complete victory. (5) It must be a conflict we can win and bring to an end. I can defeat anger in my life for instance and should do so until it is no longer an influence that compromises my territory any longer. So don’t try to use things to serve you which do cause you to sin. Remove the influence and take possession of your position.