God's Proving Ground for Faith by Os Hillman
By Os Hillman
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By Doug Fortune
"He did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience." Judges 3:2
God brought the nation of Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan through Joshua. After Joshua, there came an entire generation who had very little experience in fighting battles like the ones fought by Joshua. Training and testing God's people is one of God's important strategies that enable His children to succeed in spiritual warfare. This is why we do not live a life free of trials. These trials are sent specifically to see if our faith is real or simply empty words.
"They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord's commands, which He had given their forefathers through Moses" (Judges 3:4).
God allows circumstances to develop around your life to give your faith opportunity to be proven. It is only when we are tested in battle that we become skilled warriors. You can be confident God will allow trials to come your way through situations like an unreasonable boss, a vendor who refuses to pay, a false assault on your character, or a difficult relationship that requires unconditional love. These battles are sent your way to test what you know in the mind in order that they might become part of your heart.
You will discover if you have passed the tests or if you need more battles that will give you the opportunity to learn the art of spiritual warfare. Do not fear these battles that are before you. God has already given you the victory if you choose complete dependence and obedience to Him. Then you will become one of God's greatest warriors, skilled in spiritual warfare.
In this third chapter of Joel, we hear the prophet describe a time yet to come. It will be a time of great harvest on the earth, and this verse describes the catalyst. A plowshare is an agricultural instrument used to till the soil. At this point in history, it was a tool that spoke of one's vocation. However, the prophet was speaking of a time yet to come. The prophet described the plowshare as an instrument that will be turned into a sword. The sword is often used in the Bible to describe God's Word. The only way a plowshare can be turned into a sword is for it to go through extreme heat, and then the blacksmith must beat that plowshare into shape.
"...Everything is against me!" - Genesis 42:36 Eventually, Benjamin along with Jacob's other sons learned that their brother Joseph was second in command in Egypt. Joseph revealed his identity, and Jacob was reunited with his son whom he had not seen for more than 13 years. He had thought Joseph to be dead. So often we believe our dreams are dead. There seems to be nothing left in our world to live for. Everything appears to be against us.
Of all the biblical characters, David gives us a glimpse of a man who walked with God with great emotion in victory and in defeat. David never lost a battle throughout his many years of serving as king of Israel. In many of the Psalms, David often lamented about the difficult places where God had placed him. He talked of his enemies and the need for God to deliver him. He talked of God's everlasting love for him. How do you suppose David came to this understanding after years of being sought after by King Saul who wanted to take his life? His years of turmoil within his family gave him many reasons to lose all hope in a loving God.