I recently assigned to give a message which was part three in a three-part series with the theme “Divine Protection”. The scripture I was asked to preach on was Exodus 14:14.
What does “The LORD shall fight for you” mean in relation to:
- The Children of Israel & The Exodus
- The New Covenant & The Kingdom of God
- Stephen’s fight. Love Compels
In Relation to The Children of Israel & The Exodus
The children of Israel left Egypt after knowing nothing but slavery for 400 plus years. God had long ago chosen a people for himself through Abraham (Gen 12:2). God would use this nation to not only glorify his name, but to bless (Gen 12:3) and save (John 4:22) the nations of the world. But at the moment, these escaped, non-battle hardened slaved are slowly making their way out of Egypt; the children, elderly, women and men huddled at the edge of the red sea while the ferocious armies of the most powerful nation of that day advance on their flank. It is at this point the Moses speaks to the people and says:
[Exo 14:14 KJV]  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
Indeed, the LORD had been fighting for them in the form of 10 mighty plagues, the final being the killing of all the firstborn of the Egyptians. At this point the Egyptians probably felt like they had nothing to lose. It’s likely a full or partial destruction of the people was their goal (Ex 15:9). Verse 17 gives us a perspective on YHWH, the covenant keeping God.
[Exo 14:17-18 KJV]  And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.  And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
The battle only appeared to be between the Israelites and the Egyptians. God allowed Israel to go into bondage, and it was he who would carry them out with a strong hand. Yes, God wanted Egypt to know that he was YHWH, but he also wanted Israel to know and remember his power, lest they become weary or lifted up with pride. Note the song of deliverance:
[Exo 15:1-3, 13, 17 KJV]  Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.  The LORD [is] my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he [is] my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  The LORD [is] a man of war: the LORD [is] his name. …  Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people [which] thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided [them] in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. …  Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, [in] the place, O LORD, [which] thou hast made for thee to dwell in, [in] the Sanctuary, O Lord, [which] thy hands have established.
God designed this victory so that he would be honored, and that is people would learn to trust in him and know that even though he cannot be seen (in contrast to the idols of the surrounding nations), and even though he would further test Israel, that trusting in the LORD will always yield the best results.
Unfortunately the initial stages of the Exodus were not enough to soften the hearts of the people to continue in belief that God could and would supply all their needs. God chastised, them, while at the same time teaching them by causing them to wander for 40 years.
During this time he did the following.
- God fed them with Manna.
- Feet did not swell.
- Clothes did not get old
- Led them through harsh wilderness with fiery servants and scorpions
- No water, yet he gave them water out of a rock
God reminds them of their conditional covenant with him as they get ready to cross into the promised land (2nd attempt).
[Deu 8:1-20 KJV]  All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.  And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, [and] to prove thee, to know what [was] in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.  Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.  Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, [so] the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.  Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.  For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;  A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;  A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any [thing] in it; a land whose stones [are] iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.  When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.  Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:  Lest [when] thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt [therein];  And [when] thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;  Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;  Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, [wherein were] fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where [there was] no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;  Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;  And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of [mine] hand hath gotten me this wealth.  But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for [it is] he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as [it is] this day.  And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.  As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.
God goes on to say in the next chapter that it was not because of Israel’s righteousness that God would drive the nations out, but because of the evil of those nations. He called them a stiff-necked people (Deu 9:36:3-6)
Based on the numerous passages in the book of Deuteronomy we can see that God fights our battles because:
- For the honor of his name. All will know that the LORD is God
- For The salvation of his people.
- To Humble Us & Prove Us (Deut 8:2,16) God knows the latter end, but will we trust him and be patient in the meantime? (Sometimes God fighting our battles is harder for us because God does it his way in his time.
- Teach us to rely on him (Deut 8:3 – Manna in the wilderness)
- God does more than “fight our battles”, he sustains us (shoes and clothes did not go bad in 40 years Deut 8:4)
- God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble
It is my prayer that these four reasons behind why God fights our battles will be shown to be just as relevant under the new covenant and in your life as it was to the children of Israel thousands of years ago.
In Relation to the New Covenant and the Kingdom of God.
God brought forth his Son at the appointed time to bring us a new Covenant.
- Joseph’s dream puts him in Egypt = Joseph’s dream puts his family in Egypt
- Israel comes out of Egypt at a certain time (Pharaoh no longer a threat) = Jesus comes out of Egypt once Herod no longer a threat.
- Baptized into Moses through Red Sea = Jesus baptized at start of ministry
- Led into wilderness by cloud = Jesus led into wilderness by the Holy Spirit
- Tempted with hunger, idolatry, tempting/testing God, Failed = Jesus tempted with the same, passed. 40 years/40 days.
- Moses led up on mountain to receive the law = Jesus goes up on mountain and delivers Kingdom principles (Matt 5-7).
Jesus’ mountain message (Matthew 5-7) doesn’t sound like the kind of commandments that if one obeys God will drive the enemies out. Mourning, suffering for righteousness sake, turning the other cheek, etc. What happened to God fighting our battles? How can we destroy our enemies and liberate Jerusalem if we are supposed to be forgiving our enemies?
“God will fight our battles” is a scripture/thought that we like to take from the book of Exodus and put on a bumper sticker or quote whenever we feel someone has wronged us. Is it an accurate saying? What does is mean for our lives today? Does God “fight our battles” for us?
The simple answer is “yes”. And the heart of God is still the same. God wants us to trust in him, putting no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3). We battle not against flesh and blood (God had called Israel to do that for a certain time and certain purpose, but it was all based on spiritual principles) but against Satan and his spiritual army. There is actually little difference in what pleases God in the O.T. vs. the N.T.
[Psa 147:10-11 KJV]  He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.  The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
Why, oh why, would God not simply drive out evil by physically destroying those who oppose him? Surely he would at least have his Son do something about it.
Jesus is protected from stoning, mobs, hunger, storms, etc., until the appointed time of crucifixion. Then something very few people expected happens, Jesus willingly offers up his life (John 10:17-18). Jesus is our example (1 Peter 2:21). He is our model. Because God loved the world he sent his Son into the world to save the world (John 3:17). God sends us out for the same purpose.
When scripture clearly states that
[1Pe 2:21-24 KJV]  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously:  Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
This puts the “God will fight for you” statement in a different perspective.
Jesus came to earth as the suffering servant (Isaiah 53). He came as a lamb (John 1:29). The cross represents unparalleled love now towards sinners, and the cross is also final judgment later against sin. When we commit ourselves into the hands of God, we are committing our selves to the only righteous judge. God will take care of the “later”, of the “not yet” part of his kingdom to come (the judgment and the culmination of all things). We are concerned with the “now”. God will use our lives and our suffering to bring others to Christ before that great and terrible day of the Lord. God will eventually judge those who reject our message.
It is because of love and mercy that God is long-suffering (2 Peter 3:9). God has already won the battle. We will read about this shortly. In the meantime, God has given us his Holy Spirit as a kind of first fruits of the New Kingdom (Rom 8:23, James 1:18).
[Col 1:13 KJV]  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:
We belong to Christ and his kingdom, yet still live in this present (evil) age. In the same way that Christ was “not of this world” (John 18:35), so are we are no longer earthly citizens but kingdom citizens, hence we “groan” with all of creation to be delivered not only from this body of death, but from this present evil age (Romans 8:22-23). This groaning is OK. Blessed are those who mourn. It’s OK to feel out of place in this life. What’s not OK is to feel defeated or useless, to mentally and/or spiritually check out. God wants to fight our battles the same way he did for the children of Israel when he delivered them out of Egypt with power and might. We need to understand that God is primarily giving us spiritual victories (which still often manifest themselves physically). It’s also important to understand that our physical surroundings and circumstances have little to do with victory, if this ever seems hard to fathom, one would do well to reflect on the physical lives of Jesus and the apostles.
Just as Jesus was a faithful witness unto death, it appears his followers must be prepared to do the same.
[Rev 2:8-11 KJV]  And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan.  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
[Rev 6:9-11 KJV]  And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?  And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.
[Rev 17:4-6 KJV]  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:  And upon her forehead [was] a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
Babylon, the epitome of sin being “Drunken with the blood of the saints” doesn’t sound like God fighting our battles in the world’s eyes. But make no mistake, your life and your death is precious in the eyes of God
Stephen’s Fight. Love Compels.
In Stephen’s sermon he recounts the wondrous works done by God and the deliverance through Moses. He reminds them that Moses himself said that God would rise up a prophet like him. Moses was not the final authority or the object of their faith, the one to come was (and is).
[Act 7:52 KJV] 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
Just (or Righteous) One = Messianic term they would have been familiar with.
Stephen’s sermon is very similar to Peter’s sermon. Both recipients are cut to the heart (Acts 2:37, Acts 7:54), one responds with repentance, one responds with murder.
[Act 7:54-60 KJV]  When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with [their] teeth.  But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,  And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,  And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.  And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
What is the difference between the deaths of a follower of Christ vs. anyone else? We’ve seen a Buddhist on fire, we’ve seen suicide bombers kill themselves in the name of their god, and we’ve seen mass suicides in devotion to a cultish idea of God. What separates Stephen from a selfish, self-centered sacrifice?
Stephen uses his last breath to lovingly pray for those who are murdering him, to show the love of Jesus, to be his witness. This is one of the greatest things we can do on this earth. We can do great works, have great faith, teach and preach, but if Satan can get us not to love others he has won. 1 Cor. 13 says that even is we give our bodies to be burnt it profits us nothing without love. Being full of the love of God is the only way we can understand that real battle is spiritual, and even in our last breath, we are seeking to save that which is lost.
Stephen look ups and somehow sees the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This is significant. Jesus is always shown to be seated (Mark 16:19, Mark 14:62, Eph 1:19-20, Eph 2:6, Psalms 110:1). Kings don’t stand for just any reason. When we testify of Christ, when we suffer as he suffered we enter into ministry with him (Rom 8:17). As Jesus said to the suffering church in Sardis, “I know your works and your tribulation”. Isn’t it encouraging that Jesus himself knows what we are going through is not actively concerned and involved with his church?
God is long-suffering (towards us!) because he wishes that none should perish and all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Jesus could end the works of the devil at anytime with no help from us. Jesus came to save the world & sinners (John 3:17, 1 Tim 1;15). Therefore it is foolish to think that he left us here to do anything but the same. We are here to save the world (through the testimony of Christ), not wage a holy war against people. God’s Kingdom is now, in that we have the first fruit of the Holy Spirit that allows us to fight against principalities. We tend to get confused or disheartened when we think of God fighting our battle meaning that God will wage physical wars on those who would oppose us on this earth. On the contrary, God will use us as he used his Son, to reach out in love, to pour out our lives for those who would oppose us, and if needs be, to minister to those under the power of Satan by offering our very lives as a testimony.
God still loves us. And the reasons he will fight our battles are still the same. God will fight for us:
- For the honor of his name. All will know that Jesus is Lord.
- For The salvation of his people (spiritual salvation).
- To Humble Us & Prove Us
- To Teach us to rely on him
God will fight the final battle. Compare the angels of Elijah’s story (first week) with the Revelation of John.
[Rev 19:11-21 KJV]  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  And the armies [which were] in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.  And he hath on [his] vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.  And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;  That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all [men, both] free and bond, both small and great.  And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.  And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.  And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which [sword] proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
 Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.