Enemies in My Promised Land? Why Are You Still Here?
All of the promises of God are yea and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). When God makes a promise, He is faithful and just to deliver on His Word without fail. Sure, we won’t walk into the promise overnight or when we think the time is right – but with all certainty, we will enter therein.
What are your expectations when you enter your Promised Land?
- Rest… check!
- Peace… check!
- Abundance… check!
- Joy… check!
- Enemies… huh?!
Wait a minute now, God? What are these jokers doing in my place of rest, peace, abundance, and joy? Who invited them to my victory party?
You see, teammates, if we’re anything like the children of Israel – and we are very much like the children of Israel – we often want the effortless blessings and sweatless victories without any obligation or expectations placed on ourselves.
“Require nothing of me, Lord, just gimme mine!”
Welp. A good Father not only knows His children – He knows what’s best for His children. And, sometimes, our enemies are useful in ways that don’t make obvious sense to us.
God Puts Our Enemies to Good Use
While we’d love to drink our milk and honey all day and enjoy the carefree streams of our Promised Land, we’ve got company. Enemies, in all shapes and colors.
You got the job promotion you’d prayed for and gone to school for – now a coworker is trying to sabotage your work. You waited virtuously for years for your spouse – and now you wish you could exchange him/her for the person they used to be. Your body was finally healed – but now your finances are sick.
God + Our Enemies
Let’s take a look at God’s thought process regarding enemies. When the children of Israel entered the promised land after Joshua died, another generation rose up who didn’t acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty hand of God (Judges 2:10). So, the enemy nations that were going to be removed by God, well, let’s just say God had a change of heart:
“I will no longer drive out the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. I did this to test Israel—to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the LORD as their ancestors did.” Judges 2:21-22
Wow, God. Ok, let’s elaborate.
Sometimes, God keeps our enemies close by in order to:
1. Prove our Loyalty.
We don’t drive cars that haven’t been tested. Neither would we trust a parachute that hasn’t gone through Quality Control. Many times our enemies lurk in our promised land to test our loyalty to God’s instructions. If God blesses us with the desires of our heart, will said heart drift away from Him? If we win this particular battle, will we take off the whole armor of God and sit on the sidelines of the war? Is a little trouble the only way that God can keep our focus and attention on Him?
It’s not the only way, teammates, but we have to admit – it’s a very effective strategy to keep us rooted and cognizant of our commitment to Jesus Christ. You will know that God can trust you with more when the little He’s blessed you with doesn’t sidetrack your loyalty.
2. Serve as footstools.
Psalm 110:1 tells us, “Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?” Footstools provide comfort and function – neither of which naturally come to mind when I think of enemies.
A footstool brings comfort as a person sits, allowing them to rest their feet and, if it’s like an ottoman, you can also stretch out your legs for better blood circulation. Hmm…
As we rest in our promised lands, we won’t have to make our enemies “behave”. God will cause our enemies to support the very thing we stand upon. As we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, our beautiful feet (Isaiah 52:7) will rest on our enemies. Because we’re seated at the provision of God’s right hand, He will make our enemies support, confirm, provide resources, and humble themselves for us.
3. Teach us how to war.
Cotton will never sharpen iron. Too much of our soft, comfy promised lands will make us just that – soft believers. Sometimes, God leaves a few enemies in our promised land to teach us how to fight, “to teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle.” (Judges 3:2) Woah!
How can we learn to fight the good fight of faith if we have everything we’ve ever hoped for? How can we grow in discipline and contentment if we’ve never fought through the battles of being troubled on every side (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)? Can we really develop stamina that lasts when we’ve never had to wait for anything?
As earthly parents, we don’t spoil our children by giving in to their every request. Likewise, God often keeps our enemies around to teach or prompt us to stay ready for battle. He gives us opportunities for greater testimonies of His faithfulness and compassion that we need to grow – and others need to overcome (Revelation 12:11).
So, What’s the Play Call?
Trust God’s reasons for the presence of your enemies in your promised land. The table He prepares before you (Psalm 23:5) as a tried and true servant will be worth every war, every struggle, every battle. Sit at God’s table, prop your feet up, and rest on the sure promises of God.