Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters, yet your footsteps were unseen. Psalm 77:19
The ways of the Lord are often cloaked in mystery. Get used to it. This will always be part of the journey we mortals encounter in light of Eternity. God wildly colors outside the lines of expectation and secures breakthroughs and victories in the most counter-intuitive and unique ways. The shocking stories of His divine intervention clearly demonstrate that HE ALONE can bring forth triumph in the face of impossible situations.
I don’t know about you, but as frustrating as the divine mystery can be with my perpetual angst to simply know what is going on, somehow, I appreciate how the Lord invites us deeper into relationship as we pursue Him. What starts as a pursuit of answers or direction frequently culminates in unforgettable encounters with majesty. Sadly, we often must reach the cusp of desperation before we’re provoked enough to truly pursue God and wholly cast ourselves upon His mercy.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings to search it out. Proverbs 25:2
The great thing about God’s unconventional battle strategies is – they’re really all about Him. He does the wonders, gets the glory, and displays His power and authority, and humor, and creativity, etc. We are simply invited through faith and obedience to join the wild ride and revel in His victories.
For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon—That He may do His work, His awesome work, And bring to pass His act, His unusual act. Isaiah 28:21
So, what are some of God’s unconventional battle strategies?
BE SILENT…until it’s time to SHOUT
The descendants of Jacob had struggled 430 years under brutal task-masters. Their deliverance and exodus out of Egypt was replete with the miraculous, testifying to God’s power and authority. Yet here they were, on the banks of the Red Sea, pursued by Pharaoh’s army and in need of divine deliverance.
God’s Strategy: You stand firm and BE SILENT. I’ll part the sea and drown your enemy.
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14
Fast forward 40 years. Words had been their downfall before. Complaining and disobedience resulted in an entire generation wasting away and wandering in the wilderness. Now a new generation was at the helm and it was time to enter the Promised Land. First stop: Jericho – the mighty walled fortress.
God’s Strategy: BE SILENT and march around; then SHOUT, but only on my cue. I’ll cause these walls to fall.
But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” Joshua 6:10
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, often, God’s victory shout will emerge as we still our soul in silence. To be clear: there is most certainly a time to shout, to speak up, to break silence – especially in the face of moral depravity, injustice and evil.
But our willingness to be still and listen first, to discern His heart and His ways and to align our words to His perspective, should always precede our speaking.
Our words, when laden with fear, anger, worldly thinking, or unbelief tend to get in the way (think of Zechariah, who was stricken dumb because of his doubt…Luke 1). Be still, hold silence, and let His victory shout come forth at the right time.
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4
This one is tough. I feel like my life echoes this word on multiple levels. Waiting somehow exposes all of my inner ick. Perhaps that’s the point.
David, having just wrought a great victory against the Philistines at Baal-Perazim (Lord of Breakthroughs), was once again facing a foe in the Valley of Rephaim (giants), also known as the Valley of Baca (weeping, same word as for “Balsam” tree). This battle strategy is entirely “Lord-of-the-Rings-esque”.
God’s Strategy: WAIT until you hear an army marching in the treetops. I’ll bring forth victory.
And when David inquired of the Lord, he said, “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” And David did as the Lord commanded him and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer. 2 Samuel 5:23-25
Wait even when it’s uncomfortable, when the battle is rapidly approaching, when it seems beyond impossible, perhaps even bordering on irresponsible. I guarantee there will be times you’ll be tempted to take matters into your own hands but WAIT until He gives the cue and leads the way to victory.
The breaker goes up before them; they break out, pass through the gate and go out by it. So their king goes on before them, and the LORD at their head. Micah 2:13
STAND FIRM & WORSHIP
Jehoshaphat was facing a vast army of Moabites and Ammonites. They were outnumbered and afraid. In fervent prayer, Jehoshaphat set his face to seek the Lord, fast and pray. He reminded the Lord of His mighty acts of deliverance throughout Israel’s history and voiced His trust in God’s faithfulness.
O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. 2 Chronicles 20:12
The Lord’s reply was encouraging, to say the least, and their part was merely to STAND FIRM and to WORSHIP as the Lord worked deliverance.
“Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s…17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. 2 Chronicles 20:16-23
Put on those garments of praise and get your worship on. There’s something about worship in the face of trials and tribulation that attracts the Lord’s attention.
Whatever He tells you, do it. John 2:5 (Mary, speaking to the servants at the wedding in Cana)
Often, the Lord will offend our mind in order to reveal our heart.
Whether it be an invitation to “gather vessels” (2 Kings 4:3) or “dip in the Jordan” (2 Kings 5:10), or the command to “strike the arrow” (2 Kings 13:17) “speak to the rock” (Numbers 20:8) or even “dig ditches” (2 Kings 3:16), He can bring about victory on His terms, by His creative interventions. He simply calls us to believe and obey wholeheartedly, even when it doesn’t make sense.
So, is there anything that can derail the Lord’s victory strategies?
It appears that God’s miraculous power is only inhibited when we choose the path of UNBELIEF and DISOBEDIENCE.
In Matthew 13:53-58, we see that Jesus could not do many miracles in Nazareth. The Author of Life Himself was limited in His capacity to work miracles? Why? Because of their unbelief. And the author of Hebrews reminds us that it was unbelief and disobedience that caused years of wilderness wanderings and prevented the people of Israel from entering the Promised Land (Hebrews 3:18-19).
Fearful disobedience led Saul to presumptively offer the sacrifice without waiting the appointed time for Samuel (1 Samuel 10:8) and it cost him the kingdom. Achan’s disobedience brought trouble on the entire camp and hindered victory at Ai (Joshua 7).
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God… Hebrews 3:12
Our God is Master of Creative Strategies, He specializes in timely breakthroughs and unusual victories. Ultimately, our part to play is relatively small. We trust and obey and let Him lead, whether in silence, through waiting, standing firm or worshipping. He never disappoints.
Be amazed as He brings about mighty deliverance and victory even in unconventional ways.