Moses went and spoke to all Israel as follows. Today, I am one hundred and twenty years old, and can no longer act as leader. Yahweh has told me, “You shall not Cross this Jordan.” Yahweh your God himself will lead you across, he himself will destroy and dispossess these nations confronting you; Joshua too will lead you across, as Yahweh has said.
Yahweh will treat them as he has treated Sihon and Og the Amorite kings and their country — he destroyed them. Yahweh will put them at your mercy, and you will deal with them exactly as prescribed by the commandments which I have laid down for you. Be strong, stand firm, have no fear, do not be afraid of them, for Yahweh your God is going with you; he will not fail you or desert you.’ Moses then summoned Joshua and, in the presence of all Israel, said to him, ‘Be strong, stand firm; you will be the one to go with this people into the country which Yahweh has sworn to their ancestors that he would give them; you are to be the one who puts them into possession of it. Yahweh himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be alarmed.’
Moses is coming to the end of his life, he can no longer go into battle, the forces have disappeared. His succession is regulated. Joshua will take over the leadership of the people. Who is continuing the wars? The answer clearly shows that the Lord is fighting for his people. This is a physical war.
This is a rather unfamiliar thought for us human beings today, because we see God and His anointed, our Lord Jesus, primarily in the context of peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
But is peace always the way forward?
As we have heard in past reflections on Joan of Arc, she waged war against the English occupying power on behalf of God. When the French King Charles VII entered into negotiations with his opponents, she warned him and wanted to continue the war of liberation. She knew that now was the time to fight.
One might think that the king chose the better way, namely to find a peaceful solution through negotiations. What was done, however, was that the war continued for many years and brought more suffering. If the king had listened to Jehanne d’Arc, the war would have been over in a short time, as she knew from God.
Let us not give rise to a misunderstanding: of course peace is an infinitely high good and we should do everything we can to ensure that a comprehensive peace can be given to the people!
But we must realistically include that the world turned away from God, the corruption of man and the forces of evil! For these reasons, war can sometimes be inevitable because it stops the spread of evil. From this point of view, war is part of the order of the fallen world.
This is also the way to look at today’s text. The peoples who were destroyed did atrocities before the eyes of God. So the Lord decided to destroy them and to give Israel their land. But Israel should live according to his commandments, and be a holy people.
The defense of evil and the implantation of good is part of our order of being, until that time has come in which light and darkness are finally seperated by God. Faith speaks of hell as a place of distance from God, while the totally union of love with God is heaven.
Physical war – as painful as it is and should be avoided as much as possible – can therefore be a means of limiting evil. If it must be led for such reasons, then God may be on the side of the fighters.
We know this also in the war defense against the attempts to conquer Europe from the side of Islam which is also attributed in particular to the intercession of Our Lady (Lepanto, Wien). The road to peace can sometimes have to go through phases of physical warfare.
More important for us Christians is the spiritual struggle. The defense of evil and the pursuit of good is a daily challenge, for there is a battle in ourselves, as the Apostle Paul makes clear to us.
The primal rebellion of the fallen angel with its appendix is reflected in our interior, in the invisible world surrounding us and also in the physical world. We are called to fight the right way in all these areas. This, too, applies until the end of time or on the personal level until our death!
How we must be realistic that till the end of time there will not be a completely peaceful and God-ordered world – but we should struggle every day as a light to live in this world and to give our contribution – so it is with our personal spiritual struggle! Day after day we are called to the “spiritual weapons” described to us by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6.
The main field of our inner battle is our heart.
It is necessary to resist the “evil”, to tame the disordered passions, to strive for the virtues, to allow the Holy Spirit to expel our shadows with His light.
The deeper we are connected with the Lord, the more we are able to resist the attacks of demons, for the Lord will fight these wars for us and destroy the “Asorite Kings”. He will take away from them the territory they have conquered through the sin of men, and we can take possession of the land.
Wars are therefore still inevitable. They must be conducted in the right spirit for the Lord to fight for us.