I was incredibly blessed today by Tommy Moore's preaching (listen to sermon here). So grateful to have a number of people in our church who can skillfully explain God's word so that we can all be built up and encouraged. I was especially struck by the passage in Deuteronomy 20 that encourages God's warriors to take care of business in their homes and in their hearts before waging war on their enemies. Here's an excerpt:
Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Is there any man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. 6 And is there any man who has planted a vineyard and has not enjoyed its fruit? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man enjoy its fruit. 7 And is there any man who has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.’ 8 And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.’ Deuteronomy 20:5-8
While God is certainly concerned with waging war against the people groups who are a threat to the establishment of his new redemptive community, he is also just as concerned with the establishing of homes and families that will be the lifeblood of this community once founded. This establishment of the rule and reign of God in the home is also a kind of war.
I was struck by this as I studied the Proverbs 31 woman last week. She is said to be an "excellent" wife (vs10). The Hebrew word "chayil" that's translated here is usually used to describe valiant warriors. Later in Proverbs 31, we see that the woman "dresses herself with strength" (vs17) or more specifically she "girds her loins" with strength. This is another military term that was used to describe soldiers who were going from "at ease" to "standing fast" in order to engage in combat. What you'll also notice about the Proverbs 31 woman is that she is managing a home and tending to her business dealings. There are no swords to sharpen or blood to shed.
What Deuteronomy 20 and Proverbs 31 are getting at is that the home front is a war front too and is just as important as what's going on outside the home, which we sometimes think of as the "front lines". God is making sure that his people know (both men and women) that taking care of homes and cultivating fields and getting married are just as important as defeating God's enemies. From Genesis 1 & 2, God has been clear that the daily work of managing home and family is an incredibly important endeavor for the glory of God and the advancement of his Kingdom.
I say all of this to encourage those who are spending most of their time on the home front. I was just in the house of a young mother with three children who is exhausted and struggling. What she is doing everyday from sunup to way after sundown is anything but glamorous. There are no raises, no bonuses, no employee of the month plaques. There aren't even days off! I've lived alongside my own wife through this season of life and there is NO doubt that it is an all out war. Honestly, it make's occasional hand to hand combat look like a vacation some days.
I'm also saying this to encourage those who work outside the home not to glamorize what they are doing over and against the domestic. Make sure you are appropriately prioritizing that domain and those who have been called to focus on it. I didn't always do this and it has caused my wife to have to bear up under more weight because she wasn't being sufficiently encouraged by me. Just as the soldiers were in need of encouragement by the priests before battle (see Deut 20:1-4), so do the warriors back home.
Part of what makes either of these fronts a war is the third front which is the heart. I think it's so interesting that God says to his soldiers, "Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own." As Tommy said this morning, this isn't some ploy to create a bunch of macho tough guys who never show fear. It's pointing to the most important war of all - the war within our own hearts. It is here that we are called to cling to grace and depend on the Spirit in order to experience a reformation of our hearts such that we go from being fearful to full of faith. This heart level transformation is what God ultimately wants in his people. A heart that's needed in both the war front warrior and the home front warrior.
Jesus knew this as well as he encouraged his own disciples who were going to be given the task of establishing his church in the face of life threatening hostility. He says to them:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (Jn 16:33)
Just as the Israelites had to plunge headlong into some really scary scenarios, so do we. Jesus even promises that we WILL have tribulation. But he also says "take heart" because he has done the fighting for us.
So whether you are fighting on the home front or the war front, take heart. Your God has fought and will fight for you!