Exodus 23:30 – Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.
THEME OF THE DAY. TRAINED FOR BATTLE. I remember all those long days of training while in the Navy. We would go to sea and run drill after drill; training activity after training activity, and all to prepare the crew to deploy to places where hostilities might occur. We trained and trained and trained in the event we found ourselves in some form of conflict. It was constant and effective. By the time we headed to faraway places to fulfill our mission, we were ready; well-trained and well-equipped. And to arrive at the optimum state of readiness, the training was little by little over an extended period of time. We didn’t just train one day and were good to go. No. It was slow, tedious, and each drill built upon each other.
In today’s scripture, the context is found in Exodus 23:20-33. It is the account of God giving His people the promise of inheriting Canaan – the promised land. God is training His people; equipping them for the battles they would face against formidable foes. He promised to be with them and defeat their enemies. Yes, they would fight, but He would give the victory. Yet, how He would do so seems a little strange. We would not have driven out or defeated His people’s enemies in the fashion He did. Read today’s scripture. He doesn’t just instantly destroy them. Not like He did the Egyptians in the Red Sea. No. He tells His people, “I will drive them out from you, not all at once, but little by little.” This account of God’s dealing with His people and their enemies is full of instruction in the battles we fight against sin, Satan, and the world for God sometimes chooses not to immediately defeat our enemies either. Why? Three reasons . . .
First, the Lord may choose not to deliver us from a besetting sin in order to teach us to fight against our besetting sin. Here is a for instance. Take a person who has a problem controlling their tongue. They gossip. They talk about people with ease. All of a sudden, the Spirit of God brings deep conviction for such ungodly speech. The awakened Christian is appalled over the sin, now seeing it for what it is. They repent, but quickly find out this sin doesn’t immediately go away. They stumble, but are quick to recognize it, confess, and resolve under the power of the Spirit to have a controlled tongue. What is happening? The Lord is using sin for their good. He is building “battle resolve” against a weak area of a believer’s life.
Next, the Lord may choose to delay deliverance from our foes to teach us “battle patience” waiting for His delivering power. God does most of His work in His children through suffering for Him and waiting upon Him. As we fight against sin, Satan, and the world, we often grow weary, in need of fresh grace. What does God do? Sometimes He delays in acting to teach us “persevering prayer” which is one form of displaying spiritual patience.
A final reason for God equipping and delivering us from our spiritual foes little by little and not all at once is to teach us the sufficiency of His grace. Remember the Apostle Paul asking the Lord to deliver Him from his thorn in the flesh? He cried, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). Paul learned to rejoice in God NOT DELIVERING him for he experienced more and more of the Lord’s grace, love, and presence as a result. In God’s love to us, He may not deliver us from something in our lives to actually draw us closer to Him. Be careful complaining to Him when He doesn’t relieve us of some affliction or trial. It might be given to us for life for the purpose of further reliance upon Him who is our life.
Trained for battle. That is what the Lord is doing for us each and every day. There will be a day when the battle is over, but that is not today. Learn to be trainable before Him. There is a lot at stake in this life and the life to come in how we fight.
PRAYER: “Lord, help me to learn to fight the spiritual war I am in by Your ways and means.”
QUOTE: “God will train us for spiritual battle, His way, not ours. Our responsibility is to respond to His training”