It was on this day, in 1949, that the Israeli Knesset passed a law that required all Jewish youth, both male and female, to serve in the Israeli military. This was deemed to be a necessity if the state of Israel was going to survive, considering that it was surrounded by so many enemies. Everyone who was able was called upon to share in the fight to protect the nation. It is still a a requirement to this very day.
Perhaps some of you are old enough to remember the classic movie, Sergeant York, starring Gary Cooper. The film was based upon the life of Alvin C. York, a devout Christian. At the outbreak of World War I, for religious reasons, York applied for an exemption from the war as a conscientious objector. According to the film, he changed his mind and went to war after reading a history of the United States. He was moved by the fact that so many brave men were willing to fight for their liberties and for the survival of the nation. York served dutifully in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of Sergeant and, for courage under fire, became one of the most decorated American servicemen during World War I. To this day, Sgt. York exemplifies the brave men and women who recognize that, at times, there is a need for people willing to fight on behalf of their nation.
When Israel was preparing to enter the land of Canaan, even though God had promised that He would be with them every step of the way, they were called upon to fight. Beginning at Jericho and for all the ensuing battles, the Almighty required that the children of Israel be willing to fight for what He had promised to them. God went before them, but they still had to take up the sword and wage war. To refuse to do suggested they were not willing or able to possess the land. And why is this important? I believe that, today, God’s people are, once again, being called upon to fight. We are most definitely at war. Paul described it this way:
“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Because we are in a spiritual battle, our weapons must be spiritual, as well. We will not win this war with bullets and bombs but must wage war on our knees, in prayer. Just because we may not face an enemy face to face does not lessen the fact that we are called upon to fight. As in any fight, we are all required to do our part. Possessing the land — which is equivalent to fulfilling our purpose — and our very survival may depend upon our willingness and commitment to fight for what God has promised us. But like the children of Israel, though we are engaged in a battle, we have assurance that our Heavenly Father is with us every step of the way. Therefore, we are admonished to be of good courage and strengthened by the fact that it is the Lord our God who goes before us. And so, whatever fight and whatever battle we may be facing today, know that our Father is leading the way and will bring us through to victory.