The life of a believer, follower, or disciple of Jesus can be summarized as spent getting to know Jesus better. The process of knowing Him more has the added affect of changing the disciple into the likeness of their Master. The typical methods used today are prayer, Bible study, worship, perhaps service to others, or ministry within a church. But what about combat? What about the biblical method of learning about our God through learning combat? You haven’t heard about that particular method? Ah, then this entry is for you!
Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. (Judges 3:1-3 NASB)
From the passage above, you can clearly see that Yahweh used the Canaanites in the land to teach His people about Himself through combat. Does that seem a lot to derive from the word “test”? Fair enough, then consider the next few verses:
They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses. The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. (Judges 3:4-6 NASB)
Does the testing seem more clear now? And, not only the testing, but the people’s struggle to pass the test, becomes clear. The people of Yahweh seemed content to live among the people, as Canaanites themselves! Combat was the method Yahweh used with His people to distinguish them from their Canaanite neighbors, to demonstrate they were different than the Canaanites. Through combat, His people became holy, it was a test to sanctify His people. Instead, His people married among those they were supposed to oppose.
Do you see where this is headed yet? We, as disciples of Jesus, are to be obviously different than our “neighbors”. We are supposed to be holy. We’re not supposed to look or act like “everyone else”. Our priorities and goals are supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be distinguishable from those around whom we live and work. But, most of the time, we seem content to be different at church. That we go to church at all seems to be difference enough for many of us. While going to church is great, and necessary, it’s not “holiness”, or not nearly enough of it.
For a disciple of Jesus, the struggle to be different, for holiness, is not about being an individual. It is personal combat against the pressure to be unlike Jesus. This can be difficult, even in church. But, the struggle for holiness can be easily forgotten in the rest of life. It’s easy to forgive ourselves for not being different “out there”, after all, who wants to be “offensive”? Well, to be clear, Jesus did. John 6 is a great view into Jesus’ “Church Growth Strategy” – drive off inauthentic followers. To be His disciple means we will be fearlessly offensive as well.
It’s not easy being a disciple of Jesus. It takes whole-hearted determination, perseverance, and pig-headed stick-to-it-tiveness. It takes study to get to know Jesus’ priorities, His point of view, and His goals. It takes study of both Testaments. The people of Yahweh, the sons of Israel, struggled with Yahweh. That’s what their name means. They earned it. And it’s time for us, as disciples of Jesus, to enter into this struggle as well.
Suit up! Grab your gear! Let’s get out there, and fight!
That’s my view through the knothole this morning. What do you see of our Master through yours?