Introduction: In 2 Kings 3, the Bible recounts how the Jews turned a near defeat in a war against Moab into a victory. Today, our battles are mostly spiritual and not physical: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12). Through the Jews’ mistakes and later successes, God reveals seven lessons for success in spiritual warfare. These include: (1) having faith, (2) being Spirit-led, (3) humility, (4) being God’s salt and light, (5) worship, (6) obedience, and (7) judging the evil desires of your flesh.
First, Jehoram feared God after seeing God strike down both his father Ahab and brother Ahaziah. Yet, he was unwilling to part with his idolatry. Without God, he would face a revolt in Moab that he could not control. From Jehoram’s mistake, God reveals that success in spiritual warfare is impossible without faith. Second, Jehoram turned to the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, to fight the Moabites. The two succeeded in unifying God’s people. Yet, they failed to initially seek God’s guidance. From their mistakes, God reveals that success in spiritual warfare requires Spirit-led unity of the Church. Third, the Jewish kings escaped death in a desert by humbling themselves before God’s prophet Elisha. From this example, God reveals that success in spiritual warfare requires humility before God. Fourth, Elisha first confronted Jehoram for his sins before he agreed to help. Like Elisha, success in spiritual warfare requires being God’s salt and light to sinners. Fifth, Elisha used musicians to prepare the thirsty Jews for God’s Word. From this example, God reveals that success in spiritual warfare requires worshiping God. Sixth, God rewarded the Jews for their obedience by both providing for their needs and by confusing their enemy. From their example, God reveals that success in spiritual warfare requires Spirit-led obedience. Finally, God used the Jews to judge the Moabites, who symbolized the flesh. Success in spiritual warfare also requires that you judge the evil desires of your flesh.
Jehoram continues the evil idolatry of Northern Israel. After seeing God strike down both his father and brother, Jehoram dispensed with the state-sanctioned Baal worship in Northern Israel. Yet, he was unwilling to part with all forms of idolatry: “1 Now Jehoram the son of Ahab became king over Israel at Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, though not like his father and his mother; for he put away the sacred pillar of Baal which his father had made. 3 Nevertheless, he clung to the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin; he did not depart from them.” (2 Kgs. 3:1-3). Jehoram was the ninth consecutive evil king of Northern Israel. He was Ahaziah’s brother and the second son of Ahab (1 Kgs. 22:51). He reigned for 12 years from 852 to 841 B.C. (2 Kgs. 3:1). His reign began in the 18th year of Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah. Jehoram must have felt some conviction regarding his father’s pagan worship. Thus, he removed a sacred pillar used in connection with Baal worship that his father Ahab created (1 Kgs. 16:32-33). Yet, he still did evil in God’s eyes by continuing the idolatry first started under the first king, Jeroboam, including the worship of golden calves and a counterfeit priesthood (1 Kgs. 12:26-33; 13:33; 2 Kgs. 3:2-3). He kept the caves at the cities of Beth-el and Dan to keep the Jews from worshiping at the Temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, he did not destroy the Baal pillar. He simply put it in storage. It would appear again at the end of Jehoram’s reign (2 Kgs. 10:26-27). Thus, his actions were calculated to avoid God’s punishment while still trusting in himself for control over his nation.
You cannot have dual allegiances between God and the idols of the world. God warned the Jews not to tolerate idols in their lives. They were instead ordered to destroy their idols: “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.” (Ex. 23:24). “You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 26:1). Like Jehoram, many believers know that God exists. Yet, they remain unwilling to part with the idols in their lives.
True faith is more than seeking to avoid God’s punishment. Because Jehoram lacked any real faith in God, his heart was still evil in God’s eyes. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6). If you are seeking to avoid God’s punishment without walking in faith, your actions will also be unpleasant to God.
The Moabites rebel against Northern Israel, and the Jews unite against them. Because the Jews were weakened through idolatry, internal conflicts and wars with the Syrians, a vassal king in Moab exploited this chaos by refusing to pay further tribute to Northern Israel: “4 Now Mesha king of Moab was a sheep breeder, and used to pay the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams. 5 But when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. 6 And King Jehoram went out of Samaria at that time and mustered all Israel. 7 Then he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying, ‘The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?’ And he said, ‘I will go up; I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.’ 8 He said, ‘Which way shall we go up?’ And he answered, ‘The way of the wilderness of Edom.’” (2 Kgs. 3:4-8). Mesha was a regent as opposed to a formal king: “Now there was no king in Edom; a deputy was king.” (1 Kgs. 22:47). From sources outside of the Bible, scholars have confirmed this rebellion. A stone monument in Jordan called the “Mesha” Stele or Moabite Stone (circa 840 B.C.) recounts how Mesha responded to the oppression under the house of King Omri, which would have included his heirs Ahab, Ahaziah and Jeroram. Moab was east of the dead sea and was forced to pay yearly tribute to the Jews after King David conquered them (2 Sam. 8:2). Mesha felt that the yearly tribute of lambs and wool was excessive. Because Northern Israel was weakened from constant conflict with the Syrians, Ahab’s death and divisions with Judah, he felt that the time was right to rebel. He first rebelled in 853 B.C. when Ahab’s oldest son Ahaziah became king (2 Kgs. 1:1). After Jehoram became king, he prepared Northern Israel for war. He also asked Jehoshaphat to have the Jews from Judah assist him in the battle (2 Kgs. 3:7). Jehoshaphat previously used almost identical words to form an agreement to fight with Ahab to fight against the Assyrians: “And [Ahab] said to Jehoshaphat, ‘Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?’ And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, ‘I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”’ (1 Kgs. 22:4). Yet, God was forced to intervene to save Jehoshaphat’s life after Ahab tried to trick the Assyrians into thinking that Jehoshaphat was the King of Northern Israel (2 Chr. 18:31-32). Jehoshaphat, however, may have overlooked his prior mistake because the Moabites had previously attacked him: “Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.” (2 Chr. 20:1). Jehoshaphat had also forgotten Ahab’s betrayal when he formed an unholy alliance with Ahab’s son Ahaziah: “35 After this Jehoshaphat king of Judah allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel. He acted wickedly in so doing.” (2 Chr. 20:35). Thus, Jehoshaphat seemed to have little concern about forming an alliance with a third wicked king from Northern Israel. Jehoram asked Jehoshaphat where to attack because of his greater experience in battle. He proposed attacking through the “wilderness of Edom,” which was on the southern end of the Dead Sea (2 Kgs. 3:8). This desert area was considered the least defended portion of Moab. Yet, it was also dangerous for a traveling army because it lacked water. Edom, which was to the south of Moab, was also a vassal state of Judah and hostile to the Moabites (2 Kgs. 3:9). Yet, not long after this battle, it would also rebel against Judah: “In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves.” (2 Kgs. 8:20).
Jehoram refused to trust in only God, and his nation suffered on the battlefield1
Do not trust in your own strength and understanding. Jehoshaphat did not consult with God regarding whether to join the Jews of Northern Israel in battle against Moab. He also did not consult with God regarding the path that he should take. Instead, he relied upon his own understanding of the wilderness area and the Moabites to pick their route. If God had not miraculously intervened, this mistake would have resulted in the death of all three armies from thirst in the desert. Jehoshaphat forgot that God alone would determine their success in battle: “For by their own sword they did not possess the land, and their own arm did not save them, but Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, for You favored them.” (Ps. 44:3). “and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:47). “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.” (Ps. 20:7). “The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.” (Ps. 33:16-17). “For I will not trust in my bow, nor will my sword save me.” (Ps. 44:6). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). Do you trust in God or your own abilities to succeed in your conflicts?
Act with one accord, yet under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Jehoshaphat’s father Asa fought wars against Northern Israel (1 Kgs. 15:16). In contrast, Jehoshaphat searched for peace and unity with Ahab (1 Kgs. 22:44). He again searched for peace and unity with Jehoram (2 Kgs. 3:7). His love for uniting God’s people was a virtue: “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Col. 3:14). Each person in God’s army should work together because He has given each person different gifts: “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Cor. 12:20-21). Yet, this unity must be under Christ’s leadership through the Holy Spirit or it has nothing to do with God: “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Ro. 12:5). “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17). “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12). “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” (Eph. 4:4). Thus, although Jehoshaphat succeeded in unifying God’s people, he failed to seek God’s guidance.
Through the Spirit, seek help from your brothers and sisters. God calls believers “sheep.” (Jo. 10:27). Sheep have no natural defenses. When you act alone, you put yourself at risk for the enemy’s attacks (1 Pet. 5:8). To obtain the protection offered from God’s flock, you must stay connected to others in Church: “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25). When united by the Spirit, believers in Christ are also commanded to “fight the good fight of faith . . . ” (1 Tim. 6:12). Believers are also called upon to fight in His army (2 Tim. 2:3). When you feel persecuted or under attack, are you seeking Spirit-led help from your brothers and sisters?
The two Jewish kings nearly die of thirst before turning to God. By relying upon his own wisdom, Jehoshaphat nearly caused the Jewish armies to die from thirst in the desert. In their moment of desperation, he sought out God’s prophet for guidance: “9 So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom; and they made a circuit of seven days’ journey, and there was no water for the army or for the cattle that followed them. 10 Then the king of Israel said, ‘Alas! For the Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.’ 11 But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?’ And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, ‘Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.’ 12 Jehoshaphat said, ‘The word of the Lord is with him.’ So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.” (2 Kgs. 3:9-12). After seven days of marching in desert terrain, the three armies of Israel, Judah and Edom had run out of water (2 Kgs. 3:9). Because he lacked faith, Jehoram was convinced that the three allied armies would die of thirst or because of a weakened state when in battle (2 Kgs. 3:10). In contrast, because Jehoshaphat was a man of faith, he asked for a prophet to guide them, something he should have done in the very beginning (2 Kgs. 3:11). With almost identical words, he previously asked for a prophet when Ahab asked Jehoshaphat to fight against the Assyrians: “But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not yet a prophet of the LORD here that we may inquire of him?”’ (1 Kgs. 22:7). At that time, the prophet Micaiah predicted defeat. Yet, neither king listened. Jehoshaphat may have learned from this mistake. Thus, he asked to meet with Elisha. Unlike his prior encounter with Micaiah, this time Jehoshaphat recognized Elisha as God’s true prophet.
Jehoram and Jehoshaphat find their soldiers suffering without the living Word2
God guided and protected the Jews only when they sought out His advice and obeyed it. Despite his frequent failures of faith, Jehoshaphat was still considered a godly man (1 Kgs. 22:41-43). Even though he delayed in doing so, he eventually sought God’s guidance and now listened to it. In contrast, Jehoram feared God because of his ongoing idolatry. He had seen God strike down both his father and brother: “Both Jehoram and Jehoshaphat believed there was a spiritual, divine element to their current crisis. Jehoram believed that God was to be avoided because of the crisis, while Jehoshaphat believed that God should be sought because of the crisis.” (David Guzik on 2 Kgs. 3).3
God exalted both Elisha and the three kings because of their humility. Jehoram described Elisha as the man who poured water on Elijah’s hands (2 Kgs. 3:11). This spoke to his selfless and humble service (1 Kgs. 19:21). God elevated Elisha because he demonstrated his loyalty in serving Elijah with humility. Just as Elisah did for Elijah, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples: “Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” (Jo. 13:5). The three kings also honored Elisha by going to him in humility instead of summoning him (2 Kgs. 3:12). Their humility also allowed God to elevate them to victory. To allow God to exalt you, you must also serve Him in humility: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14). “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 29:23). “‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”’ (Jam. 4:6(b)). Do you walk with humility in serving God and others?
Elisha rebukes Jehoram and only agrees to help because of Jehoshaphat. Because Jehoram had rejected Yahweh, Elisha rejected his request for help. Jehoram was blessed with God’s protection only because he walked in the company of a man of faith: “13 Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, ‘What do I have to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.’ And the king of Israel said to him, ‘No, for the Lord has called these three kings together to give them into the hand of Moab.’ 14 Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you.” (2 Kgs. 3:13-14). Elisha initially told Jehoram to consult with the false prophets of his father Ahab and his mother Jezebel. This included the counterfeit priesthood and the prophets of Baal and Asherah (1 Kgs. 18:19; 22:6, 10-12). At this point, Jehoram has developed a fear of God. Thus, Jehoram proclaimed that God in His sovereignty brought together the three armies (2 Kgs. 3:13). Yet, his fear of God was not enough to cause him to turn from his evil ways. Even though Jehoshaphat did evil by forming alliances with three wicked kings (2 Chr. 20:35), Elisha agreed to help because he still considered Jehoshaphat to be a man of faith (2 Kgs. 3:14; 1 Kgs. 22:43). Unlike Jehoram, God does not want you to turn to Him only when you need Him.
Elisha rebukes Jehoram4
God’s prophets were His salt and light in the wounds of a sinful world. Elijah’s presence caused others to feel convicted of their sins: “So she said to Elijah, ‘What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!”’ (1 Kgs. 17:18). Also following in Elijah’s example, Elisha sought to convict Jehoram of his sins. God would show His love and willingness to assist Jehoram. Yet, He would do so despite Jehoram’s conduct, not because of it. He would also do so to protect the man of faith, Jehoshaphat, from suffering defeat at the hands of pagan armies. God would defeat this common enemy of the Jews. Yet, at the end of this account, God would not restore Jehoram’s control over his vassal state in Moab because Jehoram was still living in rebellion against God. God’s later prophets would also be an irritant in the wound of sin. God also calls upon His people to be salt and light in a fallen world. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matt. 5:13). If you are God’s salt and light, sinners should feel convicted in your presence. On the other hand, if you do not convict sinners or lead them to the light of Jesus, you are not serving a useful role in Jesus’ army.
Through worship music, Elisha promises both God’s provision and victory. Because the Jews were focused on their primal needs for water, Elisha first used music to prepare their minds for God’s prophecy of victory: “15 But now bring me a minstrel.’ And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. 16 He said, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘Make this valley full of trenches.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts. 18 This is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord; He will also give the Moabites into your hand. 19 Then you shall strike every fortified city and every choice city, and fell every good tree and stop all springs of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.’’” (2 Kgs. 3:15-19). Elisha called upon a minstrel to reveal God’s Word (2 Kgs. 3:15). God sometimes used the worship of a musician to reveal His Word to His prophets (1 Sam. 10:5). God also used worship music to reveal prophecies (1 Chron. 25:1). The worship served the purpose of refocusing a person or prophet’s focus on God and off the cares and concerns of the world. After hearing the worship music, Elisha told the Jews to dig trenches in the valley where they were standing, somewhere southeast of the Dead Sea (2 Kgs. 3:16). God then miraculously caused the trenches to be filled with water without a drop of rain falling or any wind to carry it from some other place. He did this to provide for the thirsty troops and animals (2 Kgs. 3:17). Yet, Elisha promised that God would perform an even greater miracle by defeating the Moabites (2 Kgs. 3:18-19). Because they would serve as God’s instrument of judgment, they would be allowed to destroy trees, water wells and lands beyond the limits normally allowed under His rules for warfare (2 Kgs. 3:19; Dt. 20:19-20). The attack on the Moabites would humble them in the short term. The attack on their economic resources would humble them in the long term.
With a minstrel and worship music, Elisha declares God’s victory5
Worship music plays an important role in preparing you to receive God’s Word. Samuel once told Saul that he would meet musicians who would also reveal God’s prophetic Word through worship music: “Afterward you will come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is; and it shall be as soon as you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre before them, and they will be prophesying.” (1 Sam. 10:5). David also called upon prophets to reveal God’s Word through worship music: “Moreover, David and the commanders of the army set apart for the service some of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun, who were to prophesy with lyres, harps and cymbals; and the number of those who performed their service was:” (1 Chr. 25:1). Many of the Levite priests were also musicians because music was an important part of worship: “Now these are the singers, heads of fathers’ households of the Levites, who lived in the chambers of the temple free from other service; for they were engaged in their work day and night.” (1 Chr. 8:33). If you are consumed with your challenges, you may not be in the right frame of mind to receive God’s Word. Is worship music a central part of your walk with God?
The worship music prepared the thirsty men for a great act of faith. The leaders and their men performed a great act of faith to realize God’s promise. They were thirsty and near death. It would have seemed utter madness to be told to dig large trenches in the hot desert to hold water when no rain clouds were in sight. If their faith was without works, they would all die of thirst. The worship music cleared their minds to make this possible.
Worship includes giving thanks for God’s provision. The Psalmist gave thanks for God’s provision: “Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O Lord, for it is good.” (Ps. 54:6). “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.” (Ps. 92:1). “I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” (Ps. 9:2). Are you giving thanks for God’s provision?
God confirms His promises by providing water and confusing the enemy. Because the Jews showed Spirit-led obedience, God provided for them and confused their enemy: “20 It happened in the morning about the time of offering the sacrifice, that behold, water came by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. 21 Now all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them. And all who were able to put on armor and older were summoned and stood on the border. 22 They rose early in the morning, and the sun shone on the water, and the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood. 23 Then they said, ‘This is blood; the kings have surely fought together, and they have slain one another. Now therefore, Moab, to the spoil!’” (2 Kgs. 2:20-23). God confirmed His Word by miraculously filling the trenches with water, just as Elisha had foretold (2 Kgs. 3:20). By correctly foretelling God’s actions, Elisha also confirmed that he was a true prophet (Dt. 18:21-22). The Jews and their Edomite allies might have assumed that the miracle of the water was merely for their provision. They could not have imagined that God would make the waters appear red to the enemy, causing them to think that the armies of Edom, Judah and Israel had fought against each other (2 Kgs. 3:21-23). Because God produced this water without any rain or wind, the Moabites assumed that it had to be blood from a battle. They also knew that the Jews from Northern Israel and Judah had repeatedly fought each other in the past. Thus, this was a reasonable assumption. Because their gods were fake, they could not expect a miracle.
God caused the Moabites to see water as blood6
God’s many miracles show that you can trust in His promises to you. God alone can turn a dry desert into water: “He changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water;” (Ps. 107:35). The accuracy of God’s promises and His miracles show that you can also trust His promises for you as well. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thess. 5:24). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). He is faithful even when you are not: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). Have you given thanks that you can trust in His faithfulness even when your faith fails Him?
The Holy Spirit can also give life to your dry spiritual life. God’s ability to provide for you is not limited to your physical needs. The Holy Spirit can also miraculously restore your spiritual life: “Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field is considered as a forest.” (Is. 32:15). If you feel like your life lacks purpose, pray for the Spirit to give you purpose.
God granted the Jews victory because of their faith and obedience. The Jews’ obedience made God’s blessings possible. If the Jews had not acted in faith-led obedience, the waters that God miraculously provided would not have been captured for them to drink. They all would have died of thirst. Moreover, the more the men dug in this faith-led labor, the more they would be blessed by God’s provision: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). If you are doing God’s will and you act in faith, He will also guarantee your victory in His timing.
God also promises to confuse your enemies. When you are obedient, God also promises to cause your enemy to be confused: “27 I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.” (Ex. 23:27-28). For example, God allowed Gideon’s small band of 300 soldiers to defeat 135,000 Midianites by confusing their soldiers and causing them to attack each other (Jdgs. 7:22). Faith and obedience can cause your enemies to be confused and fear you. Only a fool turns down God’s help.
God will also bless a nation with protection when its faith leads to the fruit of obedience. When the Jews followed God’s Word, He also promised victory (Lev. 26:7-8; Ex. 23:22; Nu 10:9, 35; Isa. 54:17; Gen. 22:17). God will also bless a faithful and obedient nation with His hedge of protection against its enemies: “7 The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.” (Dt. 28:7). ‘“But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.’” (Lev. 26:7-8). “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.” (Josh. 23:10). For those who are obedient and take refuge in God in the face of the enemy, He promises to be a shield against the enemy’s fiery darts (Prov. 30:5(b); 2 Sam. 22:31). Are you praying for sinners and the nations to repent in order to receive His blessings?
Act upon God’s Word, and He will bless you. Like the Jews, God expects you to act on His Word. Obedience is not a test for salvation. Yet, for those who obey God’s Word, He promises many kinds of blessings: “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Dt. 5:32-33). “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Dt. 6:3). “But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Ex. 23:22). Throughout the Bible, God reminds His people that vows of obedience must be followed by action: “And the LORD said to me, ‘Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear the words of this covenant and do them.’” (Jer. 11:6). In case anyone believes that these are relics of the Old Testament, they are repeated even more often in the New Testament: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21). “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24-25). “[F]or it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.” (Ro. 2:13). “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jam. 1:22; see also, Rev. 14:12; 22:14). God doesn’t want you to be obedient for the wrong reasons. Out of love (and not the promise of reward) are you being obedient to God’s Word, His Spirit, and His calling in your life?
God confirms His promises of victory by destroying the evil Moabites. God demonstrated His sovereignty and His faithfulness by granting the Jews victory, just as He promised: “24 But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites arose and struck the Moabites, so that they fled before them; and they went forward into the land, slaughtering the Moabites. 25 Thus they destroyed the cities; and each one threw a stone on every piece of good land and filled it. So they stopped all the springs of water and felled all the good trees, until in Kir-hareseth only they left its stones; however, the slingers went about it and struck it. 26 When the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took with him 700 men who drew swords, to break through to the king of Edom; but they could not. 27 Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel, and they departed from him and returned to their own land.” (2 Kgs. 3:24-27). With God on their side, the Jews and their Edomite allies easily crushed their Moabite opponents as they fled in a confused panic (2 Kgs. 3:24). The allies then destroyed the trees, the wells and the Moabite capital of Kir-haraseth, approximately 11 miles east of the Dead Sea (2 Kgs. 3:25). This confirmed Elisha’s prophecy and demonstrated again that God is faithful to keep His Word. The Moabite king then decided to attack the Edomites, possibly believing that God would not protect a pagan army. Here again, God was faithful to keep His Word, and the Moabites’ counterattack failed (2 Kgs. 3:26). Theologically, this had important meaning. God was and remains equally faithful to keep His Word for both Jews and gentiles. Finally, the Moabite king showed the futility and stupidity of living for idols. He sacrificed his own son to the Moabite god Chemosh in the futile hope that his god would intervene. Yet, because he was a false god, Chemosh did nothing. God, however, did not use this victory to make the Moabites servants of Northern Israel. The Jews were so appalled by this child sacrifice that they went home after the war was over (2 Kgs. 3:27). The war was started by the pagan king Jehoram in an effort to reassert control over a vassal state. God intervened because of Elisha and Jehoshaphat. He did not intervene to force one pagan king to pay tribute to another.
The fulfillment of God’s prophesy of judgment against Moab. The Moabites symbolized the flesh. They were the offspring of Moab, the eldest son in the incestuous union between Lot and his eldest daughter. Their son was named Moab (Gen. 19:36-37). God previously prohibited the Jews from encroaching upon Moabite territory because Abraham gave them their lands (Dt. 2:8-9). Yet, the Moabites abused God’s mercy and grace and instead embraced pagan idolatry. For this reason, God judged them: “Woe to you, O Moab! You are ruined, O people of Chemosh! He has given his sons as fugitives, and his daughters into captivity, to an Amorite king, Sihon.” (Nu. 21:29). King Balak of Moab hired a sorcerer named Balaam for the purpose of cursing the Jews (Nu. 22:1-5). God later prevented Balaam from cursing Israel (Nu. 23-24). Yet, Balaam still wanted to earn the pay that Balak offered him (Nu. 22:17). He also knew that the Moabites were too afraid to fight the Jews directly in battle (Nu. 22:3). He further knew that God was protecting His people (Nu. 23:8). Just like the devil, Balaam knew that the only way God’s people could be destroyed was if they voluntarily broke His Law. Having them join with temple prostitutes was one rule he figured he could induce them to break (Ex. 34:14-15; Dt. 23:17; Jdgs. 2:17; 1 Kgs. 14:22-24). Thus, he came up with a plan to have the Jews defile themselves with the Moabite and Midianite woman (Nu. 22:4). He instructed Balak to send his most attractive women to invite the Jewish men to Moabite banquets (Nu. 31:16). The women then seduced the men through acts of temple prostitution. The men would have had free sex with the prostitutes in exchange for their agreement to first eat foods sacrificed to Baal of Peor, the Canaanite fertility god, and then to worship him. Although Balaam caused many Jews to die from God’s judgment, he could not cause God to remove His protections over His people. Because of both the Moabites’ idolatry and their acts against the Jews, God revealed through a prophecy to Balaam that the Jews would eventually rule over the Moabites (Nu. 24:17). Yet, God delayed His judgment to give Moab a chance to repent. The Moabites, however, ignored God’s warnings. In addition to practicing idolatry, they continued to try to subjugate Israel. After the Jews invaded the Promised Land, King Eglon of Moab invaded Israel and enslaved the Jews for 18 years (Jdgs. 3:12-14). God then raised up a deliverer named Ehud. Ehud traveled to King Eglon under the pretext that he was delivering the Jews’ annual tribute to the Moabites. Ehud then killed King Eglon with a hidden dagger (Jdgs. 3:15-26). Through the example of Ehud’s faith, God granted the Jews victory over the Moabites (Jdgs. 3:29-30). God not only judged the Moabite king, He also judged all of Moab for its wickedness: “Woe to you, Moab! The people of Chemosh have perished; for your sons have been taken away captive and your daughters into captivity.” (Jer. 48:46). David later partially fulfilled God’s warning of judgment against the Moabites by conquering them (2 Sam. 8:2; 1 Chron. 18:2). Because the Moabites continued in their wicked ways, God used the Jews again in this war as His instrument of judgment.
Out of grace, God allowed Israel to defeat Moab7
Make no provision for the flesh. If Moab symbolized the flesh, the Jews made no provision for their flesh by leaving it. Believers are also called upon to make no provision for the flesh. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14). Are you denying the evil desires of your flesh?