Campfire Scripture: A dose of man-Bible every weekday, for the thoughtful, manful Christian.
Book Author and Date:
Moses. Moses wrote the Pentateuch – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Except for the last part of Deuteronomy 32:48 – 34:12, because that records his death. I know I said Samuel didn’t write Samuel because it records his death, but the Pentateuch says of itself that Moses was the author, so someone had to have appended the ending onto Deuteronomy posthumously. The date of authorship must’ve been sometime shortly before Moses death in 1405 B.C.
Courage, Adversity, Battle, Divine favour.
Deuteronomy is essentially Moses final exhortation to the Israelites before the enter the promised land, it contains a lot about God and His nature, a summarizing of the law and some other specific instructions and Moses warnings to Israel to follow and obey God, and his ominous declaration that they, unfortunately, will not.
Chapter 20 comprises God’s rules of engagement in warfare, within the larger section of Deuteronomy where Moses is outlining laws for the Israelites to follow.
What I Reckon:
Well meaning Christians often take verses like this to apply generally to all people everywhere. ‘Do not be afraid… for the Lord your God… is with you’. There are plenty of passages in scripture that exhort all believers to not fear, or worry ‘for tomorrow will care for itself‘, but the subject of today’s devotional is not one of them.
I included the ‘context’ section in these campfire scriptures for exactly this purpose. This passage is the perfect example.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can learn from it today.
This is an exhortation specifically to the Israelites from God, pertaining to the law. It is meant to be taken literally by the Israelites. He was making a legal sanction to the Israelites not to fear any enemy in battle. Even if you are hopelessly outnumbered, never forget that I am your God, and I got your back, just like I had it when I delivered you out of Egypt… and then wiped out the entire Egyptian army single-handed.
As is probably going to be the case with most of these devotionals, this is a tremendous passage demonstrating God’s awesome power.
Without any specific application to war (or horses and chariots), what this verse does make clear is that the Lord has all things working in subjection to Him. In this case it is the outcome of battle.
For all believers today, the promise of eternal life is the reason we have nothing to fear. God is with us, literally the Holy Spirit dwells within our flesh, making us Holy to a righteous God.
Plus you know, chariots are cool.
All Campfire Scripture passages are taken from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise stated.
John MacArthur, 2006, The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (1995 edition).