For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory! (Deuteronomy 20:4)
Relate: When the nation of Israel was to go to war, the officers were supposed to ask their men, “Did anyone just build a house? Go home and live in it for a while. You can come fight with us next year. Did anyone recently buy a new vineyard? Go home and enjoy it. Why let the money go to waste? Is there anyone here who is engaged? Go home. Get married. Trust me, once the honeymoon is over, you’ll be glad to be back out here with the boys. Oh, and is there anyone here who is a chicken? Get out of here. Your cowardice might be contagious.”
In the New Testament Jesus gives a similar list. A man wants to throw a party and desires to invite his friends. One bought a yoke of oxen and bows out. Another acquired a vineyard and exempts himself. The third, a newlywed, wants to spend time with his wife. Seriously? The cow and the crop will still be there tomorrow. Relax. About that third excuse… I’m sure the bride would be glad to come along. In general women enjoy dinner parties just as much as men do (if not more).
React: For a fight, you want a focused force. The first thought might be to have as many fighting men as possible. It would be foolish to send so many home… or maybe not. The first three reasons to send the soldier home actually sound like good things. They’re just not good for the soldier. The new home, the new field, the new wife. They will all turn the mind from the task. They will all give a soldier a reason to perhaps not take the risk needed. Perhaps he will have a reason to turn and run and live, causing others to die around him. In time that new home won’t be so new, that new field, will have been cultivated a few years, that new wife… after living with her a few years you might be glad to get out of the house and do some soldiering. In some situations those hen pecked husbands might even be the ones volunteering for the front line on the chance they won’t have to go back home. But when you still have that newlywed naivete… you can’t fight for us.
For the feast, we seem to find the same excuses popping up. Where an officer was compelled to send home troops for those reasons, now the “best” guests are bowing out of the party for the same reasons. Where before it was reasonable, now it is ridiculous. Even still, the host doesn’t expose those lies for what they are. Instead he moves on to others. That is a wise decision. He’s throwing a party and he wants people there who want to be there. The host says, “bring in whoever will come.” So the question is, am I willing to come? Am I willing to fight? Or is there always something new and exciting that will keep me from the battle and, ultimately, disqualify me for the banquet?
You are my heart’s cry. You are what I want, what I am willing to fight for. There will always be something new, something exciting coming in my life, but don’t let those things keep me from longing for You. Be always my first, my last, my only great passion.