The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow, I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.” NIV
I found this verse a few days ago by typing “worry” into Bible Gateway.com. It has taken me a few days to get comfortable with the concepts expressed in this verse. Comfortable might be an overstatement. I can’t honestly say that I’m actually comfortable with them, but I am not as offended by them as I was when I first found them, and, I think I am beginning to see the wisdom here.
Joshua has led the people into the promised land after 40 years spent in the dessert as punishment for not trusting God and obeying His commands.
In this verse, Joshua and the people are about to face the armies of the Northern Kingdom, an army of great size. Verse 4 says they were “in number like sand on an ocean beach — to say nothing of all the horses and chariots.” MSG
Joshua trusts God. He has seen the miracles that God worked first hand as the people fled Egypt. He encouraged Moses and the people originally to enter the promised land.
Joshua is also an obedient servant. God tells him not to worry, that the battle already has been won, and that by the next day all of the innumerable warriors will be dead. Joshua believes this and leads his army into battle against the larger force and takes the opposition by surprise, and there were no survivors.
It might have been tempting at that point to say, “We’ve won! Let’s all go home.”
But, God left instructions. Joshua was to cripple all of the horses and burn the chariots.
I’ve spent a couple of days thinking about those poor horses. It is not in my nature to harm things, and, I think that it would have been very hard for me to do what God told Joshua to do.
But, as I thought more about it, I realized that the availability of all of those horses and chariots would likely have changed things for Israel.
First, if they had the trappings of a powerful army, they might believe that they were a powerful army and cease to trust in God, from whom their power emanated. Second, if they had a bunch of gorgeous horses and chariots, other armies might have attacked them to gain that property. I can’t think of a third thing that might have happened, but, I’m confident that the destruction of the horses and the chariots was important.
I also think that the fact that Joshua obeyed God, even in the case of an extremely unpleasant task, is an important example for us today. Not everything we are called to do will be fun and gratifying … some of what we must do while we are here is just hard work that goes against our nature.
I need to think more about what I can learn from Joshua’s example. I was pondering these verses as I sat through the sermon this morning. The speaker talked about spiritual warfare, and how sometimes we as Christians are sometimes blind to what is really happening.
I’m pretty sure these concepts are tied together, but, I don’t have all of it worked out yet. Perhaps I am not meant to figure it out. I do know, that just as this verse says, I don’t have to worry … God already has won the battle.
That’s what I’m thinking about today.