Judges 1:1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?
In verse 1, we can see that Judah is about to conquer their enemies in the promised land; the land of Canaan. They seek help from God on how to conquer these strong and massive enemies of Canaanites. God gave them victory after victory over the Canaanites and never failed them, except the passage in 19, that God could not drive out this particular enemy because they had ‘chariots of iron‘.
This is not because our God is weak and had no power to drive out the people of the valley or chariots of iron. Rather, the reason is that God did not want to go against the free will of Judah, who chose not to overcome the chariots of iron themselves.
God did not create us as robots, He could rebuke us or chastise us, but He could not force us into making decisions that are not of our own free will.
This passage was the starting point of verse 20 and onward where the children of Israel spiraled down into a repetitive cycle for hundreds of years and eventually God gave them up to Babylon, and that’s how they became separated as a nation.
This is unfortunate, as they were God’s chosen people, and because of this enemy they could not overcome, God eventually gave them up to their enemies. Worse still, they befriended their enemies and lived worse than their enemies.
This is the same for us Christians too. Once saved, we won’t lose our salvation, but we could still live worse or more sinful than a lost sinner.
So the one way for us to gain victory in God’s sight is to overcome our enemy, our flesh, or affliction in life. If we fail to do so, God will put us through this repetitive cycle, for us to learn to overcome again. If we continue to fail God, we will then continue to spiral down into greater despair.
However, if we can overcome it, it will ensure our gain of great rewards when we face the Judgment Seat of Christ.
‘Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?’
In verse 1, the nation of Israel was considering what to do first, checking with the Lord before they went up against their enemy.
The same goes for us, before we fix a problem, it is important for us to stop first and consider if we are clearly putting things into perspective. Often, we are too quick to jump into quick fixes or fleshly methods, which usually cause us to end up in bitterness, hatred, or even drunkenness and with drugs.
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
The only one key secret that will help us to get every single reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ is ‘overcometh‘; overcoming!
Do we take overcoming seriously enough, in order for us to grow in the Lord? If we were to overcome every sinful temptation out there, we would be as innocent and holy as God.
Of course, we will not be perfect as God, but we were to strive to be as perfect, to try to conquer as much sinfulness, then we will be able to overcome it, and have no fear at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
We know for sure that by overcoming trial, we will secure ourselves the Crown of Life as mentioned in James 1:12.
So how do we overcome?
It would be very hard if we rely only on our flesh to do so. Instead, we should be relying on God and His Holy Spirit that lives within us. If we pray hard enough to God, His glory will be manifested in us through the Holy Spirit. If we overcome more and more, we will continue to receive the filling power of the Holy Spirit.
In contrast, our pride could be a hindrance to us. Hence we need to pray hard and discipline ourselves to overcome our pride.
Psalm 78:41-42 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.
The children of Israel fell back into sin time and time again because they did not keep in mind the statutes of God and His miraculous power.
This also happens to us, instead of falling into and trusting God, we fall into our weakness and fleshly emotions, which eventually yield us back into the same sin and problem.
We need to really take time to consider, constantly pay attention to our weak spots, this will help us to overcome our issues tremendously.
Prayer, Bible reading, and scripture memorizing are some great ways to help us to grow spiritually and improve our knowledge and ability to consider before making ruthless decisions.
Judges 1:2 And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
We can see the communion between Judah and God, that helped Judah to conquer most of their enemies. This comes to show how powerful communion with God is for us.
Without a strong and sincere communion, most of our actions and intentions will be based on flesh and our own emotion instead.
If we choose to commune with God, it also means that we need to trust God completely in all of His ways, and His timing for us. Sometimes God’s answers to our prayers may not be what we desire, but we need to overcome the pain and discomfort that come with His answers. It is not about our own flesh that we should please, it is the will of God.
What is the secret power that we can use in our prayer?
We need to pray using the right words from the right hearts and the right thoughts.
Often when we pray, we only ask for blessings or wish for good things to happen to us. But when we are in pain and suffering, we need to refer back to the first point, to consider what is the reason for our suffering, and how we can use the experience to glorify God, instead of just wishing for it to go away.
Psalm 17:1-3 Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips. Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal. Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
God can do everything, but He cannot clear our problems if we do not allow Him to. We are not robots, remember?
Judges 1:19 And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
This passage also teaches us that, if we want God to answer our prayers or help fix our problems, God will want us to also do our part in overcoming certain aspects or facets within the problem itself. If we choose to ignore that, then God will not remove the problem in general, what are our ‘chariots of iron’ that we always choose to ignore?
For example, sometimes God may answer our fleshly prayers, even the fleshly ones, regarding problems with career or family. However, God will require us to go through some hurdles and make sacrifices in His glory in order to achieve that. It is entirely up to us if we want to accept God’s answers to overcome or no. Do we choose to go through the embarrassment and pain to glorify God, or do we choose to avoid the pain and honor our pride instead?
We need to always keep in mind how great our God is, and how bad our sin is. That will help us to submit to God. Most of the time we yield to sin instead because it makes our flesh feel good, and therefore turn us away from God. When we habituate this pattern of thinking and action, it becomes much more difficult for us to surrender to God.
In Judges 1:19, God ‘could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley‘, simply because Judah did not want to surrender to God and do what He wanted them first.
Judges 1:32-33 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out. Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth-anath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath became tributaries unto them.
Practice makes perfect, if we practice overcoming frequent enough, it becomes easier for us to stay away from sin.
Are we willing to motivate ourselves to do what’s right, or to carry out our duties as a Christian?
Judges 1:29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.
In the moment of pain, procrastination, or laziness, etc. Are we willing to push ourselves out of those states and carry out?
Judges 1:21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.
Compared to all the other verses, this passage basically says that the children of Benjamin did not even bother to defend even only one city of Jerusalem, because they got too comfortable.
So, are we like the children of Benjamin, or are we willing to feel uncomfortable and not let a little thing slide?
Judges 1:28,30 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out. Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries.
These people weren’t sinning, just that they didn’t completely act in accordance with the will of God and drive out the Canaanites. They chose their own way to deal with their enemies, this will potentially open a gateway to the devil’s attack.
The advice is to not compromise with the way of God, or how we carry out His will for us. Even if we manage to fix the problem, but it means nothing to God if it’s not His way.
Judges 1:34-35 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley: But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries.
The tribe was Joseph was victorious until in verse 35, he fell back. We can see that he considered, he communed with God, he cleared out his hindrances, he carried out the order, but he failed to continue and he forgot to consider that again, it is an unfailing process that we have to constantly keep in mind.
Overcoming is not a one-step solution. It involves an unfailing cycle of series of steps, and we are to do it again and again.
Titus 3:1 is a good reminder to ask us to prepare ourselves so that we are ready to carry out God’s order.
God has given us a billion-dollar worth of instruction and advice through the scriptures. Let’s not throw it out of the window and turn to worldly advice instead. Learn to overcome, and we will have His riches of glory awaiting us in Heaven, as written in Revelation 21:7.