“I sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to Sihon the king of Heshbon, with words of peace, saying, ‘Let me pass through your land. I will go only by the road; I will turn aside neither to the right nor to the left. You shall sell me food for money, that I may eat, and give me water for money, that I may drink. Only let me pass through on foot, as the sons of Esau who live in Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did for me, until I go over the Jordan into the land that the Lord our God is giving to us.’ But Sihon would not let us pass by him, for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that he might give him into your hand, as he is this day.
“The Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to take possession, that you may occupy his land.’ Then Sihon came out against us [with] all his people… And the Lord our God gave him over to us, and we defeated him and his sons and all his people. And we captured all his cities… We left no survivors. Only the livestock we took as spoil for ourselves, with the plunder of the cities that we captured. From Aroer, on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and from the city that is in the valley, as far as Gilead, there was not a city too high for us. The Lord our God gave all into our hands.” Deuteronomy 2:26-36
We think one way, God another. We foolishly pretend the enemy is not dangerous, and gear our strategy thus: dismiss, skirt by casually, or hope a simple, peaceful separation can be accomplished with minimal effort and trouble. But God’s enemies are vicious and must be slayed and left forever. When He deals with them, He does so wholly, in a way that glorifies Him and teaches us who’s really the Victor. (Isaiah 55:8-9; 1 Peter 5:8-9)
In God’s wisdom, He calls us ahead one step, one enemy, at a time. Begin to take the land. Life is a continuum of battles, and He gives triumphs individually so our confidence in Him grows and we can learn methods and mindsets from each to apply to the next. His faithfulness stands fixed and firm, our faith increases with each exercise of its power. We experience His enabling and accomplishing, and know better and better the LORD our God and His absolute commitment to His promises. (Deuteronomy 3:1-8,21-22; Psalm 119:89-90)
Are there dangerous habits of heart and mind we deem benign, that we flirt with and try to transect with no effect on our affection for Jesus? Where have we grown spiritually flabby? What warfare has God assigned against temptation that we are not taking seriously? What will it take for us to take Him at His word, and conquer once for all the beasts of pride, hatred, favoritism, greed, lukewarmness? What new spiritual land of humility, love, compassion, unselfishness, forgiveness, is God calling us to possess?
“Onward, Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
going on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner go!” ~S. Baring-Gould (1637)
Lord, give me eyes to recognize, and courage to conquer, Sihons that would ruin my love and witness for You.