We are going to look at some actual battles from the Scriptures and glean what the Lord would have us understand about spiritual warfare. In Josh 1.1-9 we have Joshua telling us to “be strong and courageous” and that the Torah is not to depart from us, in other words, know the Torah. The context for these Scriptures is warfare.
In Josh 1.13-18 it says if we do this we will enter his rest. Now, this relates to Psalms 95 through 99, and Psalm 29. These psalms are eschatological and are called “Kabbalat Shabbat” psalms, which means “receiving the Sabbath” or “rest.” These psalms are read at the beginning of every Sabbath. Psalm 95.7-11 says that “if you hear” you will enter his rest (remember Josh 1.13).
The Apostle Paul in Heb 3.7 through 4.10 talks about this rest “if we hear his voice” and obey the Lord, which in Paul’s mind meant being Torah observant. There are three types of Sabbath rest Paul refers to, the weekly Sabbath (not Sunday), the Messianic Kingdom and the rest we have in Messiah. This is a very important thing to remember in our warfare.
Now, Josh 10.1-15 we learn of a battle at Gibeon. Beth Horon is the favorite place for battle in Israel. It is an ascent that you have to pass through to get anywhere, and it is good to control the upper level of the ascent, with the enemy coming up to you. The Maccabees tore up the Greeks there and the Romans lost their entire rear guard on this ascent. A modern bus goes up this ascent so slow you can walk next to it as it goes up, a perfect place for an ambush.
In Judges 1.23-26 we learn of the conquest of Bethel. The cities at this point had extensive tunnel systems, like the Hittites. These were used to escape a siege and attack the enemy. What is the danger to these tunnels? If anyone was captured, they could make them talk and show them these passages. It was like the “back door” to these cities. The house of Joseph sends out a “recon” team to look for anyone coming out of any tunnels (Judges 1.23-24). They capture a man and he shows them the way into the city, and it was taken (Judges 1.25).
In Judges 4.1-24 we learn of the battle with Sisera. This battle is very eschatological. Deborah (meaning “congregation”) leads the army, with Barak (meaning “lightning”). The time of the battle was during the spring, with seasonal rains, which will neutralize the 900 chariots Sisera brings. We see the Messiah in this battle through the season of the year, the names of the people involved and the geography. It will be fought in the Jezreel valley, near Megiddo.
Sisera will be a type of the False Messiah, Barak a type of the Messiah and Deborah, the congregation. Barak forces Sisera to fight him when he hears of the call to arms from Barak. Barak was wise in two ways. He assembles his troops at Mt Tabor, so he chooses the place of battle. During the spring of the year, the Kishon River floods and the ground becomes muddy, and Sisera cannot use his chariots, and Barak attacks him. In Judges 4.21, Sisera had fled to the tent of Heber, the Kenite. He has a wife named Jael, meaning “goat” (an allusion to the goat “L’Adonai” on Yom Kippur). He falls asleep, and she drives a “yotaid” or a tent peg through his temple with a hammer (Hebrew “Maccabee”).
The “yotaid” is an idiom for the Messiah (Ezra 9.8; Isa 22.15-22; Zech 10.4). The yotaid is what you hung the vessels of the Mishkan on. This yotaid (tent peg) was driven into his temple, just like the Messiah will crush the head of Satan (Gen 3.15; Num 24.17; Hab 3.13). She does it with a hammer (Hebrew “Maccabee”-Jer 23.29) while he was asleep (spiritually also-1 Thes 5.4-8). This happens after Barak (Hebrew “lightning”) attacks from the east (like Messiah will against the false messiah-Matt 24.27).
The make-up of a Canaanite army is basically as we have described before. There are chariot squadrons as the main force, covered with iron metal plating. The Israeli army was basically a militia, with little training in battle tactics and no weapons (Judges 5.8; 1 Sam 13.19-22). This is why we started in Joshua 1 with “be strong and of good courage” and they were not to let the Torah depart from them. If they followed the Lord, then they would win if they heard from God, no matter what the odds and no matter what kind of weapon they had.
In Judges 6 and 7 we hear of Gideon. He had every reason to believe God would pick someone else. He was from the smallest tribe. He gets rid of their idolatry (their “defense” they thought) and he confirms what he thought he heard from the Lord. In Judges 7 we see the battle plan. There are 30,000 people on each side, but Midian’s weapons are superior. The laws of warfare are implemented from Deut 20.8 and some from the Israeli army are sent home, leaving 10,000 people.
In Judges 7.7 you will see a phrase used over and over again in the Scriptures, “each man to his own home.” This means “returning from the army” and Gideon sends home 29,700 more men. In Judges 7.9-13 we learn of the time of year, which was spring, sometime between Passover and Shavuot (they had matzah in 6.19). He divides the 300 into three groups and they camp on the south, north and west. This will force Midian to the east to the Jordan, where a fourth group waits to slaughter them in their panic.
They fled down from Endor and crossed the Jordan at Beth-Shean. They pursue and go to Sukkot (Judges 8.5) where Gideon receives no help, and it is a very important valley as we will see. It is where David sets up a second command headquarters, the first was Jerusalem. This area is possibly where Israel will flee to from the false messiah in the Birthpains, where they will congregate, going south to Petra. It has a bearing on the story of Uriah the Hittite and Joab’s forces are camped there (“temporary shelters” is Sukkot in Hebrew-2 Sam 11.11).
This is the second time Sukkot is mentioned, the first time is Gen 33 with Jacob. Gideon goes to Penuel (meaning “face of God) and they do not help Gideon either. In Judges 8.8-17 he teaches these cities a lesson for not helping him. In the 1930’s the Hagganah was founded. They had a striking force called the “Palmach” and they were trained by a British officer who used the Bible to instruct them men on warfare. They studied the battles, and he would fight many battles the way Gideon did.
In the Yom Kippur War in 1973 “Operation Gideon” was carried out. They sent 300 men with radio’s up on the Golan Heights, and told them to “just talk.” Normally, a radio was used for every 100 men. By having 300 radios talking, the enemy thought there was 30,000 men represented. Remember, Gideon started with 32,000 men. The Syrians believed the Israeli’s were massing at a particular point, so they shifted their troops to counter them, allowing the Israeli’s to go in another direction.
Gideon’s battle took place at the east end of the Jezreel Valley, while Deborah’s took place on the west end. God instructed Gideon on who to take with him. David learned from this and did not go out unless he heard from the Lord.
Spiritually, we get into trouble because we go out and plan battles ourselves, the “logical” way. In Gideon’s battle, there was nothing logical about it except to listen to what God said. In Judges 9.1-57 there is another battle where the son of Gideon is killed when he got close to a tower and his head was crushed when a stone was thrown by a woman. Now, Abimelech had declared himself king, like Satan did. We have had two evil men, Sisera and Abimelech, and both have had their heads crushed by a “woman.” This alludes to Gen 3.15 and the fate of the false messiah and Satan.
This is the “tavnit” or pattern and it tends to repeat itself in the Scriptures because the Lord is teaching what is going to happen to our enemy. With Abimelech, we learn to not get to close to the walls (9.52). It is dangerous to “pull down strongholds” unless you are sent because you are going to be a casualty. Don’t venture up to the wall, gate or tower of the enemy without instruction from the Lord (1 Cor 10.3-4).
The term “pulling down of strongholds” does not mean going into a “room” and praying. It may include that, but it means to get in the front lines of the battle, a dangerous place to be. You will have to watch out for a “millstone” or an arrow coming at you. Uriah was close to the wall and was killed (2 Sam 11.14-25).
Spiritual battles mean “getting involved.” The battles in Judges teach much on the Messiah and his future battles, the false messiah and people in general. When they turned from idols, the people were blessed. Then they would go back, that’s the way people are. Like Abraham and Jacob, they were called to the land of Israel but they would go back and forth.
In Judges 11.1-40 we have the battle with the Ammonites, led by a man named Jephthah. He makes a vow in v 30-31 and says that if the Lord will give the Ammonites into his hand, “whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
This verse has been misinterpreted by many so we will clarify it here. Jephthah wins against the Ammonites and his daughter comes out to meet him. He realizes he must keep his vow, but did he sacrifice his daughter? The answer is “no” and here is why. In the Torah you cannot sacrifice a person. In this passage you have one of the complex problems of the Scriptures. Translating the word “and” as “or” takes away the difficulty. The Hebrew prefix “and” ia a “vav” in Hebrew and it means that it can be “or” depending on the context. Lev 27.28 has a “vav” translated as “or.” He cannot offer as a korban olah (burnt offering) something not permitted by the Torah.
Sacrificing children to Molech was not permitted (Lev 20.2-3). There was no precedent for such an offering. No father by his own authority can put an offending child to death, much less one that was innocent. His vow was regarding her total separation to God (Judges 11.39). There seems to be a class of women devoted exclusively to the Temple service who were Nazarites (Exo 38.8; 1 Sam 2.22; Luke 2.37).
In Judges 11.40 the word for commemorate is “L’tanot” which means to “celebrate.” His sorrow was due to the fact that he would have no descendants (Judges 11.34-35) and this was seen as a horrible thing. This teaches us not to make hasty vows to the Lord.
In Part 11, we will pick up in Judges 19 through 20.48, with a battle fought by the sons of Israel against the tribe of Benjamin for a horrendous act done by some “worthless fellows” (“sons of Beliel”) from that tribe.