BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Judges 20:18-42 records the war between the tribes of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, one of the tribes of Israel. Some men of Gibeah of Benjamin had raped to death the concubine of a Levite (Judges 19:25-30). Israel demanded that the tribe of Benjamin should deliver up those who committed the crime. However, the Benjamites refused, and Israel was, therefore, forced to go to battle with them in order to punish this evil.
Before the children of Israel went to that battle, they went up to the house of God to inquire of God which of the tribes of Israel should go up first to battle against the tribe of Benjamin, and the LORD said that Judah should go first. They went to the battle, following God’s instruction. Unfortunately, instead of defeating the Benjamites, all the other tribes of Israel were roundly defeated.
The first time, the Benjamites killed twenty-two thousand men of the Israelites (Judges 20:21). After this defeat, they encouraged themselves and asked the LORD again if they should still go to fight the Benjamites; He said yes (verse 23). However, the Benjamites killed an additional eighteen thousand Israelites (verse 25). This was not because of any sin, as in the case of battle of Ai. Achan had sinned in the war against Jericho and the Israelites were defeated at Ai. It was after Achan had been fished out and stoned to death together with his children (Joshua 7) that they could defeat the people of Ai. However, in the war that God gave them approval to go and fight against the Benjamites, the tribes of Israel did not sin, yet they were defeated!
After the erring tribe of Benjamin had defeated the other tribes of Israel the second time, the Israelites were not bitter against God, though they cried and fasted and sacrificed to God. That showed they still trusted Him; they had not given up on God for disappointing them!
Judges 20:26-28 says, “Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. So the children of Israel inquired of the LORD (the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, ‘Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?’ And the LORD said, ‘Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand’” (NKJV). Did you see that?
The Israelites kept trusting God, even when they didn’t understand why He would ask them to go to war, only for them to be killed by the erring Benjamite tribe when they had not sinned against Him.
On their third attempt, the Benjamites, who were deceived that they would kill and defeat the Israelites as before, pursued them again. “So the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city. They began to strike down and kill some of the people, as at the other times, in the highways (one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah) and in the field, about thirty men of Israel. And the children of Benjamin said, ‘They are defeated before us, as at first’ (Judges 20:31-32 NKJV).
At the end of the battle, the Benjamites (one tribe) lost about 25,000 warriors (verses 35, 46), and the Israelites burnt their cities. The other tribes of Israel lost altogether slightly over 40,000 warriors (verses 21, 25, 31).
Why would the LORD ask the other tribes of Israel to go to war against the Benjamites and still allow the Benjamites, with fewer soldiers, to defeat them twice before finally giving them victory over the Benjamites?
You must know what to do when you don’t understand what God is doing. It is not every time God tells you to do something that you get an immediate favourable result. When this happens, there is the tendency to doubt whether God actually told you what you thought He told you! You can begin to doubt yourself first and then you extend it to doubting God! But God is not man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (NKJV). God’s will may, sometimes, encounter some problems! However, if God says it, He will do it. Understand that God’s will is not always exempted from difficulties, but it will eventually prevail if you don’t give up.
What to Do
1. Enquire of the Lord. Go to the Lord and ask what is happening and what to do. Deuteronomy 29:29 says the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of the law. Ask and it shall be given to you; those who ask shall receive (Matthew 7:7-8). When you enquire of the Lord, He determines the answer He gives you. He may tell you what you don’t know before, what you already know or what you should do. He may reassure you all is well. Sometimes, He may keep quiet!
Don’t just sit down and continue to weep; enquire. In the war between the tribes of Israel and the Benjamites, the tribes of Israel enquired before they went to the battle (Judges 20:18). After they were defeated the first time, they asked the LORD if they should go again to fight the Benjamites. The LORD told them to go (verses 22-23).
After they were defeated the second time, they enquired again of the LORD if they should go again to battle against the Benjamites or cease, and the LORD said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand” (Judges 20:28 NKJV). This third time, the LORD gave them victory. Don’t be discouraged; enquire of the Lord in prayer. David often enquired of the LORD (1 Samuel 23:2, 4, 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1, 5:19, 23).
2. Hold on to the promises of God. Don’t let the devil tell you lies; don’t let him confuse you. Keep reminding yourself of God’s promises (Psalms 37:3; 115:10-11; 118:8-9; Proverbs 3:5; 29:25). 2 Corinthians 1:20 says for all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
In Jeremiah 20:7, Jeremiah said the LORD had deceived him and he was deceived (KJV); the New King James Version says, “You induced me, and I was persuaded.” God doesn’t deceive or trick anyone. That was a lie of the devil. The devil was only making Jeremiah feel like that because the message God had given him, to deliver to the people, had made his ministry unpopular; and the people were mocking him.
Nevertheless, Jeremiah knew more than what the devil was telling him. In verse 11, he said, “But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten” (KJV). One notices the confusion in Jeremiah’s heart as he slid from praising God to cursing the day of his birth and so forth, making him sound like Job! (Verses 13-18) This is not the right thing to do when, despite trusting God, you’re getting a negative outcome, and you don’t seem to understand what God is doing. Don’t query God; hold on to His promises. Put His promises in your mouth. The psalmist says, “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust’” (Psalm 91:2 NKJV).
3. Continue to encourage yourself in the Lord. Judges 20:22 says the defeated tribes of Israel encouraged themselves and again assembled at the same place they had fought the previous day.
In 1 Sam 30:6, David was greatly distressed because he and his men had suffered a heavy loss and they wanted to stone him but he strengthened himself in the LORD his God. Be strong in the Lord. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10 NKJV).
4. Remain focused; don’t look for alternatives to God. Don’t lose your focus by concentrating on the undesirable turn of events or setbacks. Don’t pursue another course different from what God has told you, which appears not to be working. Don’t seek what does not help. Don’t quit on God. Don’t replace God with a god; wait for God. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD! Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, and will not call back His words, but will arise against the house of evildoers, and against the help of those who work iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out His hand, both he who helps will fall, and he who is helped will fall down; they all will perish together” (Isaiah 31:1-3 NKJV).
Don’t become weary; wait for the Lord. “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning — Yes, more than those who watch for the morning” (Psalm 130:5-6 NKJV). The Lord never fails those who wait for Him.
5. Persist in doing what the Lord has asked you to do, no matter the previous failures you’ve recorded. Failure is one of the components of success! There is a temporary failure, and there is a temporary success! It is better to fail temporarily and eventually succeed than to succeed temporarily and eventually fail!
After Elijah had gone to pray for the abundance of rain he had prophesied, he kept telling his servant to go up to look toward the sea. He asked him to go again seven times, and it was the seventh time that the servant reported seeing arising out of the sea a cloud as small as a man’s hand. Thereafter, there was an abundance of rain (1 Kings 18:41-44). Elijah never gave up until he got the desired result.
If you persist in doing the will of God, no matter the initial setbacks, God’s will shall be done. Don’t be a quitter. “But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chronicles 15:7 NKJV). Galatians 6:9-10 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (NKJV).
6. Be joyful, keep praying and keep praising God. Paul and Silas were cast into prison for doing the will of God – preaching the gospel. Did they lament and weep? Did they blame and curse God? No. Acts 16:25 says, at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; the prisoners heard them. God intervened and set them free! The city officials also set them free later, apologizing to them.
No matter the situation, don’t let Satan steal your joy. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2 NKJV). The Amplified Bible says, “Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials.” The testing of your faith produces patience or endurance.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (NKJV). The New Living Translation render the verse thus: “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Being sad won’t be helpful to you; neither will holding a pity party be advantageous. Don’t let grief kill you; don’t allow sadness to shorten your years (Psalm 31:10). Keep praying to God and keep praising Him, instead of being sad and complaining, “Lord, why me? Lord, why are you doing this to me?” With joy draw water from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3). The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
7. Follow any new instruction (s) the Lord may give you. Don’t try to protect your ego by being afraid to act because of past failure (s). Get rid of ego. Who are you when God is talking! Philippians 2:7 says Jesus made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. He died on the cross. To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). If you’re willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19). The opposite is a tragedy.
If Israel had not gone to the battle the third time, after being defeated twice, they wouldn’t have known that God would eventually give them victory over the Benjamites.
Conclusion: It is not every time that we understand what the Lord is doing in our lives or others’ lives. Sometimes, even the understanding we think we have is incorrect or incomplete. Sometimes, we have no idea at all what God is doing. No matter the situation, we must continue to trust Him and walk with Him, knowing that He has our best interest at heart. He knows what He is doing. All shall be well in Jesus’ name.
If you have not given your life to Jesus, do so now by taking the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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