Struggles of Israel Meditations: 1. Introducing Conflict
Prov 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Goals – People & God: In this series we are going to tackle a somewhat heavy subject and consider the struggles that Israel faced with their various surrounding enemies – and from further afield. I have never covered this ground before and perhaps it’s because I’ve never seen any writing on this subject, that I want to try to cover it now. It also crosses my mind that few Christians seem to have a grasp of the Old Testament, and I always need to hone my own knowledge.
The themes behind these studies are the need to understand people, and to understand God’s interaction with people. As we examine the recorded facts we will need to ask what was happening and why, and then what lessons can be learnt from these things. The subject of Israel fighting may not seem very thrilling, but the reality is that the struggles of Israel in this respect form the background that reveal both the workings of God as well as the failures of man. In that respect it is important that we understand these things. Very often we view mankind – and ourselves – through rose-tinted glasses. Studying the life of Israel disabuses us of any such false view, and this is necessary if we are to more fully understand our salvation.
Whose Plans Prevail? One of the primary things we will see is that the record of the Old Testament is so often the record of sinful mankind and the foolish choices, plans and ambitions that various kings had, (“the plans in a person’s heart”), and yet the Lord’s desire to preserve Israel (“the Lord’s purpose”) is what prevails and ensures that, despite the destruction of Israel, the northern kingdom in Samaria, and the Exile experienced by the southern kingdom, Judah, nevertheless centuries later the nation is still there and ready to become what I refer to as a ‘God-environment’ for the Son of God to come to from heaven.
Observing History Generally: Observe history (and I do a lot of history reading these days) and, as one commentator observed, we see that the history of the world is a history of wars. As another has commented, in the past three thousand years, there have been less than three hundred years when a war wasn’t taking place somewhere on the earth. Wars are simply one group of people being violent to another group of people, seeking to exert their will over them. Observe the two World Wars of last century and you see this feature again and again and again. It’s what they were both about in their differing ways. Never say that ‘sin’ is an outdated concept!
It is perhaps something that we take for granted in the world in general, even though we individually may revolt against it, but still in the world today, despite the existence of the United Nations, skirmishes, confrontations and wars of varying kinds exist. The apostle James spelt it out: “Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.” (Jas 4:1,2 Message version)
And Us? Lessons to be learned? Not to be surprised when wars occur for it is a fallen world. The way to overcome and resist fear is pray as well as fight. We need to do both in a fallen world.