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Principles Of Warfare

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#41 Fortigurn



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Posted 30 September 2003 - 07:50 AM

Consider the following example:

Luke 21:
1And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
3And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
4For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

If even a penurious widow can give her best, surely we, in all our comfort, are able to do the same.

At first we might seek to find excuses why we cannot always give our best, but if we really think about it, we will realise that every day, someone receives our best. Often it is our workplace, or our school.

Often it is the team sport in which we engage. At other times, and quite commonly, it is ourselves. We willingly give the choice of our time and energy to the person, place, or thing which we value the most.

There is no gainsaying this principle. God demands our best, because He knows that it is His due, and that we are capable of giving it to Him.
He knows that we are incapable of giving it to Him consistently, but He still expects us to try.

He would certainly be offended (and rightly so), if He saw us giving up, deciding that because it is too much to give God our best at all times, we have decided not to give our best at any time.

Think about who gets the choice of your time and energy in the week.
Under the Law of Moses, the choicest part of the sacrifice (the fat around the inner organs), was always Yahweh's portion. He demanded the best.

Imagine giving that to someone else. Hophni and Phineas, Samuel's sons, did just that, stealing the fat of the offering, and taking it to themselves.
God killed them for their sacrilege.

When I used to spend 7-8 hours a week training and playing my chosen team sports at University, I certainly wasn't giving God my best. I can assure you that I spent nowhere near that amount of time studying Scripture, or even reading my Bible. I didn't spend that amount of time in prayer, or meditation.

These are not the only ways in which we serve our God, but they are the principle ones, and the ones which develop a Godly conscience which brings forth Godly works. Because I wasn't doing them, my relationship with God suffered. I wasn't prepared to give them up, because they were mine.

My sport fell on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I was still able to give God my Wednesday nights for the class, Friday nights for youth group and Elpis Israel class, Saturday nights for CYC, and all of my Sundays.

It was only when I realised that I had more to give which I was keeping for myself, and that I wasn't giving God anywhere near my best, that I realised I had to make the sacrifice which I had hitherto ignored.

Remember, all of us can give our best. It hurts, but that's what sacrifice is about. Think about your life seriously.

Does God hold the priority position in your life?
Does He receive your best, or are you unwilling to sacrifice that to Him?

#42 Fortigurn



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Posted 07 October 2003 - 05:14 AM

Today I'd like to examine another principle of warfare, that of the regulation of conflict by laws. I have chosen to term this principle 'restriction' for want of a better description.

In literal warfare, the restrictions to which I refer are the 'Rules of Engagement' to which combatants agree before they enter into conflict.

Perhaps the most famous of these is the 'Geneva Convention'.
Actually, there have been about 3 conventions held in Geneva over the last century, all with the intention of restricting countries to the use of certain weapons, and the treatment of prisoners in certain ways.

For example, so horrible were the injuries inflicted by chemical warfare in World War I, that a subsequent Geneva Convention banned their use in warfare.

One might therefore wonder why even those countries which did agree to and sign the convention, continued to develop their chemical warfare arsenals after the war, and actually used them in the next war.

What does this tell us about such restrictions? Clausewitz has this to say:

'Self-imposed restrictions, termed usages of International Law, accompany it [warfare] without essentially impairing its power.'

Although Clausewitz recognised that there were international treaties and laws which attempted to regulate the way in which nations fought, he also believed that they were little more than words on paper, completely unenforceable themselves, unless supported by military power.

Here he makes the point that such ‘rules’ only operate as ‘restrictions’ if a particular nation chooses to be restrained by them.
Otherwise, they merely ‘accompany’ warfare, trailing along behind, as it were, without actually infringing on the actions of those engaged in the conflict.

#43 Fortigurn



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Posted 07 October 2003 - 05:14 AM

This principle is directly applicable to our own warfare.
In this war, there are no ‘rules of engagement’. There is no quarter given, there are no prisoners taken. There is no ‘Geneva Convention’, there are no agreed methods of combat, no banned weapons or strategies.

This is not to say that there is no discipline in our warfare. Far from it.
If there were no discipline, there would be no victory. Rather, it means that there are no 'treaties' to which the flesh can appeal when we fight it.
Far from treating the flesh with mercy, we are commanded to fight it to the bitter end, to use every resource at our disposal in order to defeat it.

Here is an example of what happens when we make treaties with the flesh:

1 Samuel 15:
9But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Saul decided to treat Agag with mercy. He decided to treat Agag as a prisoner of war.

32Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.

When Samuel came, Agag instinctively knew that the situation had changed. He appealed to the 'Geneva Convention', and his privileged position as a prisoner of war.

33And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

Edited by Fortigurn, 07 October 2003 - 05:15 AM.

#44 Fortigurn



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Posted 07 October 2003 - 05:15 AM

Samuel ignored Agag's appeal completely. He demonstrated that there was to be no mercy shown to the flesh. He remembered that there was a higher principle at stake. Yahweh had already condemned this people long ago, and the only reason why they were still a thorn in the flesh to Israel, was that the commandment of God had *not* been obeyed in the first place:

Deuteronomy 25:
19Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

Disobedience to this commandment had cost thousands of Hebrew lives, and would threaten thousands more, even after Agag was dead. Remember the plot of Haman to destroy the Jews? Haman was an Agagite, an Amalekite of the family of Agag himself.

This illustrates a very important principle, that however much we might think ourselves to be restricted by 'laws' or 'conventions' which provide the flesh with mercy, we can be sure that although the flesh always appeals to such conventions, it never practices them itself.

How many times have you felt tempted to sin, and been almost at the point of sinning, before you felt the flesh say:

'Oh, no, I won't sin after all.  I'll let him off.  It's obvious the struggle has been quite hard for the poor fellow.  Enough, enough.  I shall be merciful.  I just won’t lust after that thing any more.'

Speaking personally, I can assure you that I have never had such an experience myself. If we treat the flesh with mercy, we are fools, if for no other reason than that it will survive, and will take advantage of our weakness.
Will it ever treat us with mercy? No, and we know it won't.

#45 Fortigurn



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Posted 07 October 2003 - 05:16 AM

Rest assured that you will never find a precedent in Scripture for treating the flesh with mercy, or 'making allowances' for the flesh.
Rather, the opposite:

Romans 13:
14But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

2 Corinthians 10:
5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The only rules which govern our warfare against the flesh are those which demand, in highly extreme terms, that we make every effort within our power to crush the flesh:

Galatians 5:
24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Colossians 3:
5Mortify [literally, 'make dead'] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

In our warfare, there is no room for pity to be extended towards the flesh. Whenever you feel tempted to treat the flesh as a 'prisoner of war', and grant it 'special privileges', such as the right to live, think what your position would be, if the situation were reversed, and you were in the power of sin.

#46 Fortigurn



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Posted 07 October 2003 - 05:16 AM

Think of those times when you were the slave of sin, and you hated it, because the flesh is unmerciful, relentless, and completely lethal:

Deuteronomy 13:
6If thy brother… entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
9…thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
10And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

#47 Fortigurn



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Posted 17 October 2003 - 07:00 AM

The theme I'd like to dwell on today isn't actually dealt with by Clausewitz in any particular detail, but it's a critical military principle, and can be very well applied to our own warfare.

The theme is loyalty, but I'd actually like to deal with both loyalty and desertion.

These responses will usually be manifested in moments of crisis, moments during the battle at which point complete dedication is required of the soldiers, when the commander needs to call on them for the ultimate sacrifice.
These, a poet once said, are the times that try men's souls.

The question is, at the very moment when the commander must call on his troops to *prove* themselves, how will they respond?

Loyalty is the commander's pride, desertion his worst fear.

Why is this? Why is it that these two extreme responses of the soldier in combat have the capacity to affect the commander so greatly, and so personally?

The answer is simple. Both of these responses reflect *directly* on the commander himself. These are the responses which demonstrate without doubt to the commander the *true* relationship between himself and his troops.

Scripture contains some striking examples of both loyalty and desertion in combat, and in every case these examples tell us something of the relationship between the commander and his men:

1 Samuel 14:
6And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. 7And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.

A finer example of loyalty, one could hardly hope to find. Jonathan simply expressed his desire to do the work of Yahweh, and his faith in his Commander to assist him in the battle, and his armourbearer was inspired to follow in his footsteps.

Such an example of loyalty inspires us also, and encourages us to be ready for the battle.

#48 Fortigurn



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Posted 17 October 2003 - 07:01 AM

But what of desertion? It is something which we do not like to think of in connection with ourselves.
Let's examine two examples of desertion, and see how they affect us:

Mark 14:
48And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?
49I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.
50And they all forsook him, and fled.

The moment of their trial had truly come, and they were not ready for it.
Christ had earlier exhorted them to watch and pray, lest they fall into temptation, but they had not prepared themselves sufficiently.

We can sympathise with the disciples who forsook Christ in his hour of need at this time. We understand that they were confused, dismayed, and alarmed at being confronted by such a large company of armed men.
We can forgive them for this.

But there is another desertion narrative which appears after this, and it is this one which affects us profoundly, which makes us uncomfortable:

Luke 22:
60And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
61And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
62And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.

Why is it that this affects us so personally? It is because this situation was different to the one in the garden. Peter was not confronted with armed men, there was no direct threat to his life.

He simply chose to desert his Lord at the very first sign of danger.
He chose not to identify with his master.

I believe that this is the example of desertion which hurts us more, because it is so personal, because it mirrors our own life experience far more than the desertion in the garden.

We know that we are called upon so rarely to give a witness to our faith, to answer our Commander's call to arms, and to stand proudly below his battle standard.

But we also know that the temptation to desert our Lord in time of trouble is frightfully strong, and the reason why this disturbs us is that it reveals to us the true nature of our relationship with Christ.

#49 Fortigurn



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Posted 17 October 2003 - 07:02 AM

When a deserter feels shame, it is because he truly loved his commander, but was simply unable to overcome his own weakness.
The tears that Peter shed were tears of bitterness, not of fear, or even sorrow.
They were tears of guilt and self-condemnation.

It was for Peter a time of very real and painful self-examination, when he finally understood that his relationship with his Lord was not all that he could have wished it to be; perhaps not all he thought it to be.

This was the moment which was most painful for Peter, the reason for his agonising tears:

Luke 22:
61And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

With that one look from Christ, Peter knew that his relationship with his Lord had changed. Not because of Christ, but because of himself.
Undoubtedly he was shaken to the core, thinking of the sorrow, the hurt which he had just inflicted on his Lord.

Yet I think that the look on Christ's face would have been one of infinite understanding and sympathy, and I think it was for this reason that Peter wept so bitterly, having failed so great a man as this.

Peter learned in the most terrible way possible that the moments which challenge the loyalty of a soldier are more than simply a test of his personal courage and commitment.

Such moments are the demonstration of the true relationship which exists between the commander and his men, and the implications of this fact are extremely serious in nature.

Edited by Fortigurn, 17 October 2003 - 07:04 AM.

#50 Fortigurn



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Posted 17 October 2003 - 07:03 AM

Continuing the theme of loyalty and desertion, let’s examine what these responses actually demonstrate about the relationship between the soldiers of an army and their commander.

Firstly, let's consider loyalty. What is the significance of the loyalty of the soldiers to their commander?
We may say 'A very great deal', for without their loyalty, they will not follow him into battle.

But there is another dimension to loyalty which goes beyond mere leadership. It involves inspiration, example, and sacrifice.

Look at the men who formed David's army:

1 Chronicles 12:
33Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: they were not of double heart.

The last phrase 'not of double heart' (literally 'a heart and a heart'), means, unsurprisingly, that they were wholehearted in their loyalty to David.

He naturally drew such men to him.
His enemies were their enemies. His battles were their battles.
They were wholehearted - his heart was their heart.

1 Chronicles 12:
16And there came of the children of Benjamin and Judah to the hold unto David.
17And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you…
18Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the captains, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band.

This is not merely describe 'brave men'. This is a description of men who were bound to their commander with emotional ties, rather than mere political expediency. These men had a relationship with their commander.

#51 Fortigurn



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Posted 17 October 2003 - 07:06 AM

Now let us see how this relationship affected the manner in which they fought:

1 Chronicles 11:
12And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties.
13He was with David at Pasdammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines.
14And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great deliverance.

In the most severe heat of the conflict, the moment at which others had fled, this man Eleazar chose to stand by his commander, and fight by his side.

Eleazar was not merely inspired by David's example, he identified with it.
He didn't have a 'double heart'. His heart was the same as David's, knit with his own. The two men stood as one, and through them God wrought a mighty act of salvation.

Perhaps we can now begin to see what loyalty truly meant to these men.
It was not simply a feeling they had for their commander, it was an emotional involvement which they had with him. They shared his own mind.

So great was their identification with him, that they even felt his own needs, and responded naturally to them:

1 Chronicles 11:
15Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David…
17And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, that is at the gate!
18And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the LORD,

This is far more than an admirable tale of courage. This is true identification.
These men felt their commanders needs to the extent that they naturally responded to them.

They identified so completely with him that they felt what he felt. To bring this water to him was as natural to them as to obtain it for themselves.
David understood the significance of this action perfectly:

1 Chronicles 11:
19And said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with their lives they brought it. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest.

#52 Fortigurn



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Posted 17 October 2003 - 07:07 AM

They followed him. They identified with him. They shared the same heart.
They were partakers of his suffering, and they laid down their lives for him.

So important was he to them, that they counted their own lives as lost without him:

2 Samuel 21:
16And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. 
17But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

The word translated 'light' here is word which means 'candle' or 'lamp'.
It is clear that David's men saw in him not merely a great commander, a mighty man of valour, but a true leader, a guide to them all, without whom they would lose their way in darkness.

This may seem to be extending the metaphor rather too far, but I honestly believe that this is the manner in which David was viewed by his men.
But this is the very manner in which Yahweh Himself describes the role of David

When describing the division of the kingdom between Rehoboam and Jereboam, Yahweh makes this promise:

1 Kings 11:
36And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David My servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen Me to put My name there.

We know that Yahweh Himself was the light and guide of Israel, but here He demonstrates that this very role was one which David had shared, and which his sons after him would also share.

They were to be a personal example to the people of the light of God, a personal witness of the character of Yahweh, manifested in the flesh to His servants.

You have probably understood the analogy which I have been drawing from the example of David and his men, and realise where it is leading.
If you have a moment, dwell on it briefly, and see where it naturally leads.

#53 Fortigurn



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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:09 AM

To continue, I'll now expand the analogy I was drawing yesterday, and demonstrate how it ought to be applied.

Firstly, we saw that those soldiers who are truly loyal to their commander are loyal because they are not of 'double heart'.
They are at one with the mind of their commander:

James 1:
8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

The double minded man cannot be trusted in battle. Loyalty is the result of unity of mind with the commander, and is demonstrated by service to him, and only him:

Matthew 6:
24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Philippians 2:
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

If we intend to strive to be truly loyal to Christ, then first we must share his mind. We must not be of a 'double heart', nor be divided between service to two masters. This is not loyalty.
Our heart must be that of Christ, our mind the same as his.

Secondly, loyal soldiers not only share the mind of the commander, they share his sentiments. They do not simply follow him, they identify with him, and so stand firm with him when he stands firm:

Philippians 1:
17…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

That mind, as we have seen, is the mind of Christ. Sharing the mind of our Commander will inspire us to stand with him in the battle, and share his strength when we do so.

By this means, we will be better able to overcome. Note the strength which Jonathan's armourbearer obtained from him, and the manner in which Eleazar was inspired by David's example.

#54 Fortigurn



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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:12 AM

As a result of their faith and loyalty, these men were blessed by God, who strengthened them in their warfare, to victory.
If we have the same relationship with our Commander, then the same will apply to us:

Philippians 4:
1…so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

1 Colossians 1:
28Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
29Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

The Colossians quote above I picked up from our Wednesday night Bible class tonight - it pays to listen!

Thirdly, as we saw from the example of the men who brought David water from the well at Bethlehem, soldiers who are truly loyal also share the emotions and sufferings of their commander:

2 Corinthians 1:
5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
7And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

True loyalty requires that we stand stedfast beside our Commander throughout the battle.

If we share his sufferings, we shall share with him the victory:

1 Peter 4:
13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

Philippians 3:
8Yea doubtless, and I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…
10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

True loyalty is to count all personal things loss, to be interested only in those things which concern our Commander, to know him so well that we have fellowship in his sufferings, as David's men did, in order that we might attain unto the same victory as did our Commander.

Finally, just as David was the light and guide of Israel, so Christ our Commander is our light, and the guide to our footsteps:

Ephesians 5:
8For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
13But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 
14Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Seeing that we have such a light, we must follow after it, walking in the very footsteps of the Commander who guides us through the darkness:

1 Peter 2:
10For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 
21For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps

#55 Fortigurn



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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:13 AM

Having dealt with loyalty in some detail, let’s now examine desertion, and what it reveals about the relationship between a commander and his soldiers.

Historically, desertion has always been punished with the greatest severity. The colourful uniforms of early European armies were not only a good way of identifying one’s troops, but also of dissuading them from deserting, as they could be easily detected at a distance.

Deserters were invariably punished with death, for the following reasons:
  • It was considered an excellent deterrent to others contemplating desertion

  • Desertion was considered to erode discipline, and lower morale; the severity of the punishment was to reinforce the importance of discipline

  • Deserters would never be trusted by the other soldiers again
The warriors of ancient Sparta, most warlike of all the Greek states, were told by their wives to return carrying their shields, or carried on them.
In other words, alive or dead. Desertion was simply not an option, and was regarded with disgust.

Desertion is an ever present danger for any army, and was actually addressed specifically by God on one highly important occasion:

Judges 7:
2And the LORD said unto Gideon…
3Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

On this particular occasion, it was highly important that Israel understand that God would provide the victory, and that the number of soldiers in Gideon’s army would have nothing to do with the battle.

Furthermore, it was also important that all the soldiers be entirely committed to the battle. Any fear displayed by them would demonstrate a lack of faith in God, and would severely undermine the faith of others.
This is an example of the second point above, that desertion is a critical danger to morale.

#56 Fortigurn



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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:14 AM

We see another example of this earlier in Israel’s history, when ten of the twelve spies sent by Moses to search out the promised land brought back a report which was not only faithless, but which eroded the faith of others:

Numbers 13:
32And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 
33And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Numbers 14:
1And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.

It is incredible that the lack of faith demonstrated by these ten men had such a profound effect on the rest of the people. Yet by the actions of these men, hundreds of thousands of Israelites would meet their death in the wilderness, their weak faith destroyed by an evil report.

This is the disastrous effect that desertion can have on an army. It ought to make us very aware of all that we say to others, especially when we are speaking to those who are more sensitive than ourselves.

There is a profound difference between sharing problems (particularly those of an ecclesial nature), with people who can understand, appreciate, and help us resolve them, and sharing them with weaker brethren and sisters who will only be alarmed and discouraged, and be made weaker still.

In this way, desertion is destructive not only to our fellow soldiers, but also to our relationship with them. The effect produced will weaken the entire army. This in turn will affect the relationship between the army and their commander.

#57 Fortigurn



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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:16 AM

Consider the effect, the personal effect, on the commander who suddenly realises that his army has lost faith in him, is unprepared to follow him, and is at the point of deserting him completely:

1 Samuel 8:
7And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

1 Samuel 12:
12And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto Me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.

It is clear that God saw the decision of Israel to choose a king from among themselves as a personal rejection.
There were two obvious implications:
  • That Israel felt their God was somehow less relevant to their lives than He had previously been

  • That their God was no longer enough for them, and that a mere man, chosen from among themselves, was a superior substitute
These implications were of considerable importance to God, because He understood precisely what they meant. The relationship between Himself and His chosen people had changed.

They no longer relied on Him. They did not put their faith in Him. He was not enough for them. They were deserting Him.

How does a commander feel when his entire army walks away from him, and follows one of their own, just another soldier from among the ranks? Undoubtedly he feels hurt and rejected, as God did. But what else?

If he is a commander with the same integrity and the same love for his men as God has, then he also feels grave concern.

#58 Fortigurn



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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:19 AM

We have seen that desertion changes the relationship between the commander and his troops. It does so, because it affects him personally. It is a true reflection of their regard for him, and the way in which they view him.

We have seen how Israel's desertion from God personally affected Him, and now we shall see how it altered their relationship with Him.

The initial reaction of the commander to desertion is grief, then anger:

2 Kings 22:
17Because they have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore My wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.

This is followed by a response in kind by the commander.
If his men have deserted him, then he will leave them to their own fate - he will not follow after them, and beg them to return:

2 Chronicles 12:
Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken Me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.

2 Chronicles 24:
Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, He hath also forsaken you.

Jeremiah 15:
6Thou hast forsaken Me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

The most dangerous consequence of this separation between the commander and his men is that the deserters will feel in no way inclined to return.
Furthermore, they will justify themselves, in order to convince themselves that they were in the right.

Once they have begun to justify themselves, their chances of returning to their commander will diminish rapidly. To return at this point would necessitate confessing their sin, and this would hurt their pride.
The justifications which they create simply perpetuate their separation from their commander:

Malachi 1:
6And ye say, Wherein have we despised Thy name?
7…And ye say, Wherein have we polluted Thee?

Malachi 2:
7…Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him?

Malachi 3:
7…But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
8…But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee?
13…Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against Thee?

Here justification is piled upon justification, each reply a personal defence.
Note in particular the reply to God's appeal for Israel to return:

Malachi 3:
(The Living Bible)
“You say, ‘We have never even gone away!’

The implication is that either God doesn't even know where His own people are, or it is He who has deserted them, and not the other way around.

Both of these are terrible insults to a commander who knows that his men have left him, and who desires their return. Yet we find that this is the typical attitude of the flesh when confronted with its own sin. It prefers to make God a liar, than to confess its own wrongdoing.

#59 Fortigurn



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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:20 AM

We have seen the incredibly damaging effect that desertion has both on the commander of the army, and on his relationship with his men.

We have seen also that historically the standard punishment for desertion was death. Any soldier who had left the army of his commander was immediately considered to be an enemy.

The same principle applies to our relationship with our Commander:

Matthew 10:
32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Our Commander demands complete obedience. Those who leave the ranks are immediately considered to be foes, and are fought against with the same severity as against all other foes.

#60 Fortigurn



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Posted 16 November 2003 - 05:22 AM


The real danger of desertion is that it actively discourages reconciliation.

The deserters, being the guilty party, are reluctant to return to a commander they know will be wrathful.

The commander has no choice but to treat them as foes, and cannot afford to trust them, even if they return.

A state of enmity exists between those who formerly were part of one company, an enmity which is self-perpetuating, and extremely difficult to resolve.

We first see this principle in Genesis:

Genesis 3:
8And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Having transgressed against the commandment of God, Adam and Eve completed their desertion, and fled from God.
When He sought them, they removed themselves from Him.

Once discovered, and confronted with their desertion, Adam and Eve had to pay the same penalty which deserters have paid ever since - death:

Genesis 3:
19for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

If the incident had ended here, there would have been nothing more of Scripture ever written. As implacable and unforgiving as a human commander, God would have left these two deserters to their eternal grave.

Though evasive, both Adam and Eve were eventually compelled to confess, and to throw themselves on the mercy of a God whom they knew had both the power and the right to condemn them to everlasting oblivion.

However, the God we serve is not a man, for which we give gracious thanks. An important principle was established, that of forgiveness subsequent to confession and repentance.

A sacrifice was made, and the principle of sacrifice for sin established. For this was a Commander who so valued His men that He would search out His deserters, and call them back to Him.

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