Israel Against The Odds

In the face of growing international pressure and the rising wave of terrorism, will Israel survive as a nation? Throughout history, Israel has not always enjoyed the best odds, but Israel has survived.

Joshua was preparing to lead the people of Israel on to victory and possession of the Promised Land. They had just crossed over the swollen Jordan River on dry ground, and were camped in tents at Gilgal. Israel had no fortress or structure in which they could take refuge; if attacked. Israel was vulnerable.

Then there was the matter of all the males of Israel being incapacitated, unable to fight, because they had to be circumcised, since none had been during their forty years in the wilderness. Also, while they were camped at Gilgal, the people celebrated their first Passover in the Land. If a nation was waiting for an opportune time to attack Israel at its weakest, surely, this would have been the occasion.

Meanwhile, Joshua was preparing a battle-plan to possess the Promised Land. He needed a strategy that would help them overcome numerous fortified cities as quickly and effectively as possible. Jericho a gateway to region was a major city before them. Victory here would send a clear message to all.

"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, 'Are you for us or for our adversaries?' So he said, 'No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.' And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and said to him, 'What does my Lord say to his servant?'" (Joshua 5:13-14)

While considering the battle-plan Joshua met a man whom he immediately recognized as a man of war, a warrior – his sword was drawn ready for battle. But was he friend, or would Joshua have to fight him? Thus Joshua asked, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?"

He definitely wasn't neutral. His sword was drawn, ready. If this warrior were an adversary then Joshua was prepared to battle, but it would undoubtedly delay Israel's campaign. Time was of the essence. However, if he were a friend then perhaps he could assist with intelligence and vital information about the weaknesses of Jericho.

Then the warrior said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." He was not an adversary, nor would he be joining their ranks. But as the Commander of the army of the LORD his moment had now come. Like ripened fruit, the time was fully ripe with the arrival of the people of Israel in the Land. So too, the time had come for the Commander of the army of the Lord and his host, to fulfil their mission.

Joshua immediately fell to the ground and worshipped. He realized that this was no ordinary being, though His appearance was that of a man. He was the Commander of the LORD's army, the heavenly host who are equipped and commissioned for victory in the heavenly battles.

The Commander had been waiting for Joshua to arrive. The battle for Jericho had already begun and a place had been prepared for Joshua. "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." (Joshua 5:15) Like a war conference room a place had been set aside for Joshua so that he could be instructed in the strategy he and Israel would employ to have complete victory over Jericho.

The heavenly battle for Jericho had begun and the first objective had been achieved. "And the LORD said to Joshua: 'See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valour.'" (Joshua 6:2)

The instruction given to Joshua would be scoffed at by most military leaders today. But Joshua knew the LORD and his faith in Him was steady. Joshua's instruction was clear. All the men of war would encircle Jericho. The ark of the LORD would follow the armed men, and the seven priests would blow the trumpets they carried. They would march round the city once each day for six consecutive days. On the seventh day, however, they would march round Jericho seven times. For six days they would march silently. Then on the seventh day and when the seventh circuit was complete, the priests would blow a final sound with their trumpets, at which the people of Israel would shout. AND THEY DID!.

No modern-day military strategist or analyst could have predicted what happened next. The walls of Jericho collapsed. The enemy was completely routed. Up to this point, not a single earthly weapon had been used. Subsequently, Israel completely destroyed the city and its inhabitants, with the exception of Rahab, and her father's household. It was a comprehensive victory in seven days. All praise to the LORD who sent His Commander and army to destroy the spiritual forces, and who entrusted His servant Joshua to lead His people, Israel.

The victory was clearly a joint effort between the Commander and the army of the LORD in the heavens, and Joshua with his troops on earth. Both were vital for victory, for taking possession and for Israel's survival.

Throughout Israel's history these two components, the heavenly and the earthly, have worked together toward the same goal. Sometimes Israel's leaders have acknowledged and declared faith in the heavenly Commander, while at other times the Commander has worked behind the scenes. Regardless of the odds, the result has always been the same – Israel has survived.

This is true of Israel today. Since the declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948, Israel has fought bravely against overwhelming odds. The day after the State was declared Israel was attacked from every side. The odds were overwhelming. An ill-equipped, under-manned, fledgling Israel against the might of six well-trained, well-funded and well-equipped armies. Israel didn't have a chance. All expected Israel to be thrown back into the Sea. The war would be over in the blink of an eye and Israel would no longer exist, or so everyone thought. Miraculously, Israel survived.

How many times does Israel have to suffer needlessly, before the nations will esteem them as the people of God? Apparently, too many!

In 1956, less than nine years later, the odds were again stacked against Israel. And no less by the same nations who attacked in 1948. Miraculously, Israel survived.

It happened again in 1967, in the Six-Day War, with the same aggressors, and the result was the same – Israel survived.

Then again in 1973, the Yom Kippur War – Israel survived.

These are modern-day miracles. Israel's survival is no accident. The strategy which has brought about their survival today is the same as that which brought victory to Joshua and the people of Israel when they entered the Promised Land. At that time, the Commander of the army of the LORD had come, and Israel survived against the odds. Today, Israel may not be the most popular nation, but because the LORD has sent His Commander and His army they will survive against the odds – Israel lives today to tell the story.

"You have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is he who has fought for you." (Joshua 23:3)