We sometimes assume that if the Lord tells us to do something that we know how things will pan out. For example, surely we will be successful straight away if He has told us to do it? Or surely we’re going to win if He has told us to go? The truth is, the outcome is none of our business, our job is simply to be obedient. The Lord has His own strategy and His own reasons for doing what He does, but because we don’t always understand, we sometimes get left feeling like we’ve misheard God or perhaps even been let down. Let’s read Judges 20:18-48 which is an interesting passage of scripture.
“Before the battle the Israelites went to Bethel and asked God, “Which tribe should go first to attack the people of Benjamin?” The Lord answered, “Judah is to go first.” So the Israelites left early the next morning and camped near Gibeah. Then they advanced toward Gibeah to attack the men of Benjamin. But Benjamin’s warriors, who were defending the town, came out and killed 22,000 Israelites on the battlefield that day. But the Israelites encouraged each other and took their positions again at the same place they had fought the previous day. For they had gone up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the Lord until evening. They had asked the Lord, “Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?” And the Lord had said, “Go out and fight against them.” So the next day they went out again to fight against the men of Benjamin, but the men of Benjamin killed another 18,000 Israelites, all of whom were experienced with the sword. Then all the Israelites went up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the Lord and fasted until evening. They also brought burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. The Israelites went up seeking direction from the Lord. (In those days the Ark of the Covenant of God was in Bethel, and Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron was the priest.) The Israelites asked the Lord, “Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again, or should we stop?” The Lord said, “Go! Tomorrow I will hand them over to you.” So the Israelites set an ambush all around Gibeah. They went out on the third day and took their positions at the same place as before. When the men of Benjamin came out to attack, they were drawn away from the town. And as they had done before, they began to kill the Israelites. About thirty Israelites died in the open fields and along the roads, one leading to Bethel and the other leading back to Gibeah. Then the warriors of Benjamin shouted, “We’re defeating them as we did before!” But the Israelites had planned in advance to run away so that the men of Benjamin would chase them along the roads and be drawn away from the town. When the main group of Israelite warriors reached Baal-tamar, they turned and took up their positions. Meanwhile, the Israelites hiding in ambush to the west of Gibeah jumped up to fight. There were 10,000 elite Israelite troops who advanced against Gibeah. The fighting was so heavy that Benjamin didn’t realize the impending disaster. So the Lord helped Israel defeat Benjamin, and that day the Israelites killed 25,100 of Benjamin’s warriors, all of whom were experienced swordsmen. Then the men of Benjamin saw that they were beaten. The Israelites had retreated from Benjamin’s warriors in order to give those hiding in ambush more room to maneuver against Gibeah. Then those who were hiding rushed in from all sides and killed everyone in the town. They had arranged to send up a large cloud of smoke from the town as a signal. When the Israelites saw the smoke, they turned and attacked Benjamin’s warriors. By that time Benjamin’s warriors had killed about thirty Israelites, and they shouted, “We’re defeating them as we did in the first battle!” But when the warriors of Benjamin looked behind them and saw the smoke rising into the sky from every part of the town, the men of Israel turned and attacked. At this point the men of Benjamin became terrified, because they realized disaster was close at hand. So they turned around and fled before the Israelites toward the wilderness. But they couldn’t escape the battle, and the people who came out of the nearby towns were also killed. The Israelites surrounded the men of Benjamin and chased them relentlessly, finally overtaking them east of Gibeah. The survivors fled into the wilderness toward the rock of Rimmon, but Israel killed 5,000 of them along the road. They continued the chase until they had killed another 2,000 near Gidom. So that day the tribe of Benjamin lost 25,000 strong warriors armed with swords, leaving only 600 men who escaped to the rock of Rimmon, where they lived for four months. And the Israelites returned and slaughtered every living thing in all the towns—the people, the livestock, and everything they found. They also burned down all the towns they came to.”
Judges 20:18-48 NLT
In this passage, Israel inquired of the Lord multiple times only for Benjamin to come out stronger at first. Many of us have experienced this... we’ve asked the Lord whether we should do a certain competition, take a certain test or job only to be unsuccessful the first time or maybe even the second and third time. Why Lord? I thought you told me to do this?? - You’re right, He did. Just as He told Israel to go against Benjamin, yet still allowed them to lose around 40,030 men!! That’s a lot of men! To you and I this doesn’t make any sense, surely the Lord could have defeated Benjamin without Israel having to lose any men? The answer is of course, yes. But for some reason God did not chose this method?
When Israel found themselves losing at the beginning, they did the right thing in that they came BACK to the Lord each time and asked again. Too often people turn their backs on the Lord when things don’t go the way THEY expected them to go. The truth is God told the Israelites to fight against Benjamin, but He didn’t tell them the details / method He would use... this was revealed as the battle went on. Yes, they had to lose men but as they REMAINED in obedience they eventually experienced victory by the Lord’s hand - completely destroying Gibeah.
Let this be a reminder to us that our job is simply to obey our Father. What He decides to do with our obedience is His business and He has EVERY right to use whatever method He desires. One thing we can know though is that if we REMAIN obedient and do not quit, we will ALWAYS eventually experience His VICTORY.