I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; (Deuteronomy 30:19, N.K.J.V.)
A knight rode up to his king’s castle after a military campaign. The knight’s horse was bloodied and looked as if it was about to drop. The knight’s own armor was dented and twisted as though it had barely held up against a tremendous onslaught. As the knight dismounted from his horse and walked toward the palace door, he walked with an obvious limp.
The king was aghast as he watched the knight approach the throne. This noble knight had served him faithfully and successfully for many years, and never had he seen him in such a state. Worriedly the king asked, “What hath befallen you, Sir Knight?”
The knight straightened up as best he could and gave his answer. “Sire, I have been warring in your service. My fellow knights and I have robbed, pillaged, and burned out your enemies to the west. The fighting was intense, but we have accomplished the task for the glory of your kingdom.”
Shocked, the king replied, “You’ve done what? You fool, don’t you know that I don’t have any enemies to the west?” A long pause in the conversation followed as the knight processed what he had just heard. Finally he spoke up and ruefully said, “Well, Sire, you do now.”
It is so easy in life to get sidetracked fighting battles that God doesn’t want you to fight. Trust me, you can’t save the world and everybody in it. Even God Himself won’t (not can’t) do that. That’s why you should only fight the battles that He burdens you to fight, and you should cease fighting even those when He says, “That’s enough.”
In Bible story after Bible story, God uses His choice servants to bring people to critical points of decision. Putting it another way, God oftentimes instructs one of His servants to go to “battle” against an individual or a group, not for the purpose of defeating that individual or group, but rather for the purpose of bringing them to a defining crossroad.
This is the role the elderly Moses is playing to the Israelites in our text verse. He’s saying, “The words I have spoken to you are God’s message to you, but the choice is yours as to how you respond to them. By embracing the words and acting in accordance with them, you will choose life and blessing not only for you but also your descendants. But by rejecting the words you will choose death and cursing not only for you but also your descendants.”
The way the Bible stories play out, God’s servant’s job is finished once he or she has delivered God’s message. Sadly, in many of the stories the servant gets persecuted or killed simply for delivering the message. It’s the classic “If you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger” approach. While it’s true that in the case of our text verse Moses didn’t get persecuted or killed, he had certainly experienced more than his share of persecution in the preceding years.
Okay, so why has God burdened me to write this post? I think it’s because He needs someone who reads this to understand that He is now giving them the order to stand down. He is saying to this reader, “You’ve done the job I wanted you to do. You’ve delivered My message. Now lower your weapons and cease fighting.”
Frankly, if you keep up the “fight” after hearing this command from God, you will end up little better than that knight from my opening illustration. Even if you win some more rounds of the campaign, your victories won’t be pleasing to God your King. As Ecclesiastes 3:8 says, there is a time of war and a time of peace. So, faithful soldier, accept your time of peace as God is commanding it and let Him take care of the fallout from your efforts. You’ve done your job. Now let Him do His.