God Will Fight for You

Yael Eckstein  |  August 18, 2020

Soldier wearing tallit and tefillin prays with the Torah in the desert

When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” — Deuteronomy 20:2-4

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Shoftim, which means “judges,” from Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9.

When my husband and I decided to move to Israel and raise our family here, we were well aware that our children would most likely be required to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), like every 18-year-old in our country. Now, as our children begin their teen years, I pray that peace will come before they need to serve. But if it doesn’t, we will be proud to have our children serve in the first Jewish army since the Jews were sent into exile nearly 2,000 years ago, one of the greatest armies in the world. It is God’s army and prophecy come to fruition.

This week’s Torah portion discusses laws of war. We learn that when the army of Israel set out for war, it wasn’t the general of the army who addressed the soldiers, giving them encouragement and guidance as is the case in most armies. Instead, God’s law prescribed that the priest addressed the soldiers.

The reason that God instructed the priests to inspire the fighters before war is because, from a spiritual perspective, the success of any battle is not due to the might or numbers of the army, but to the will of God. The Israelites needed to know this when they went out to battle, and so the priest, the prime liaison between God and the people, would address the army. He would say, “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

What better encouragement than that before a battle?

In truth, these words apply equally to our daily lives. Every day, we face plenty of challenges, potential for danger, fears to overcome, and unexpected obstacles. In a sense, our lives are a battlefield where we are charged to vanquish enemies, both physical and spiritual. Some days, our battles can be tough, and we might become worried that we will not succeed. Nevertheless, even in our most difficult moments, we can overcome anything because God is by our side, fighting for us!

Your turn:

What battles are you facing right now? Let’s pray for one another — for God’s assistance and our victories!

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