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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 20

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

Verses 1-20

  1. Intro:
    1. Our worlds Global Defense Spending is $1.756 Trillion...annually. US leads w/$640 bill per yr.
      1. During the reign of Julius Caesar, to kill an enemy soldier cost less than $1. At the time of Napoleon, it had considerably inflated - to more than $2,000. At the end of the WWI, it had multiplied several x’s to reach $17,000. During WWII, it was about $40,000.And in Vietnam, in 1970, to kill an enemy soldier cost the US $200,000. Today?
      2. Right after WWII they came up with the Geneva Convention(1949) for establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of war.
        1. And of course before that the Hague Convention(1899), the use of weapons of war.
        2. And the bio-chemical warfare Geneva Protocol (Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, 1925).
    2. Title: Conduct of Warfare
    3. Outline: Warfare & Welfare.
  2. WARFARE (1-18)
    2. The people were to go into battle with the encouragement of the priest (1-4) and in the assurance that, no matter how strong the enemy, God would give them the victory.
    4. Exemptions from military service were allowed on somewhat generous terms. Those to be excused were:
      1. The owner of a new house (5)
      2. The owner of a new vineyard (6) [could last up to 5 years]
      3. A man anticipating marriage (7) [The exemption for newly married man was 1yr. 24:5]
      4. And he who was just plain scared (8) [reminds me of Gideon story]
        1. He was after the most committed to the Lord and those free from any distractions.
        2. This holy war was waged as a punishment for the wickedness of the Canaanite population, but it was also fought so that Israel might have a land in which to live a stable and peaceful life - building homes, planting crops, and raising families under God’s rule.
    6. At no time before nor since has one nation been specifically chosen by God as the arm of his vengeance.
    7. Different treatments were to be given to Israel’s enemies.
    8. FOREIGN (10-15)
      1. Those who lived at a distance were to be given the opportunity to make a peaceful settlement. These would be non-Canaanitish tribes. If they refused to negotiate, the men were to be killed but women, children, and cattle spared.
    9. DOMESTIC (16-18)
      1. The tribes of Canaan (17) were to be completely exterminated to remove forever their contaminating influence (18).
  3. WELFARE (19,20)
    1. The chapter concludes with a commandment about the treatment of trees in warfare (19-20).
      1. Fruit trees were not to be cut down and used as engines of war. They were to be spared for needed food.
    1. ​​​​​​​Christianity is a state of war/conflict. (Adapted from Morning Exercises, March 13, pg.128.)
      1. All Christians are soldiers. No pacifists in Gods army.
      2. We wage a warfare. Everything commends it, & everything requires it.
      3. It is not only a just war, but a necessary war.
      4. All that is valuable is at stake. We must conquer or die.
    2. Christianity is a demanding war/conflict.
      1. It continues through every season of life, & in every condition.
      2. Admittedly, our foe is superior than us. In number, in wisdom, in vigilance, & might.
      3. And so, the danger, apprehension & alarm.
      4. Fortitude/courage/bravery is the virtue of a warrior.
      5. If he considers only his foe & himself, his confidence will fail him. But he has something else to consider:
        1. The divine presence (present) - for the Lord your God is with you.
          1. Remember in your situation today...Nothing is too hard for the Lord.
          2. If He is with us...who can be against us.
        2. The divine record (past) - who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
          1. This was not only a proof...but a pledge.
          2. It not only showed what He could do, but was a voucher for what He wud do
          3. How strange for God to safely escort them through the Red Sea, only to have them drown in Jordan’s desert sands?
    3. In the comic strip Peanuts, one of Snoopy’s fantasies portrays him as a WWI flying ace, carrying a personal grudge against the Red Baron.
      1. That prompted the singing group The Royal Guardsmen to write/sing Snoopy vs. The Red Baron. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or moreThe Bloody Red Baron was rollin' up the score Eighty men died tryin' to end that spree of the Bloody Red Baron of Germany
    4. What many don’t realize is that The Red Baron wasn’t made up by Charles Shultz.
      1. The Red Baron was Manfred von Richthofen the celebrated World War I pilot who was responsible for shooting down 80 enemy aircraft.
      2. How was he finally defeated on April 21, 1918? - He was chasing a British plane that was trying to escape the battle. As the Red Baron pursued his prey behind Allied lines, it was gunfire from either machine-gun nests on the ground, or another British pilot who had come to help that killed von Richthofen. They say he pursued the plane “too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory.”
    5. ​​​​​​​What some thought to be a fictitious story, was really true. (not about snoopy & his dog house)
    6. Some think Satan, & his ability to gun down his enemy is a fictitious story. One day everyone will know the truth of this enemy.
      1. Meanwhile, do not fly “too long, too far, nor too low into enemy territory.”
      2. 1 Pet.5:8,9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
    7. What are the 2 worse errors you can make regarding the Devil? C.S.Lewis answered, that he doesn’t exist; or you give him too much place.
    8. Paul takes time in Eph.6:10-18 to prepare his readers for the spiritual conflict of life.
      1. We have an enemy. He’s powerful. And he’s a master strategist in his warfare against us.
      2. We have an enemy. We can be powerful. We have a way to fight against him…if we’ll follow these 3 steps…answering What/How/Why.
    9. What: To be Strong in the Lord (6:10)
      1. How can we be strong in the Lord & live the Victorious life? [2 Chron.20:15 the battle is not yours but God’s]
      2. 2 Extremes: Quietist & Pietists.
        1. Quietist – Believe only way to live the Christian life is passive surrender. (e.g. Let go & let God) [yet we have 3 commands in this section]
        2. Pietists – Emphasize self-discipline & holy living to the extreme of adopting legalistic standards for living.
          1. The 1st addresses Gods responsibility only.
          2. The 2nd addresses Mans effort only.
      3. In the power of His might – His might? Yep.
        1. This is God’s inherent strength. [Inherent = unable to be considered separately from the nature of something. Natural strength]
        2. Hence believers can be strengthened not only by the person of the Lord, but also by His resources. So, How strong is God?
          1. So we can say no to that temptation that comes our way.
      4. Depend on God: On His energy, on His power, and on His resources.
        1. Human effort is not enough.
        2. Strength & power for the fight must come from God.
        3. How? Simply, remember your Position & your Power.
          1. ​​​​​​​Position – He has seated us w/Christ in the heavenly places.
          2. Power – Gods power is available to every believer.
    10. How: To Put on God’s Armor (6:11a)
      1. Why do we need armor anyways? – Because we are weak & in danger.
        1. Physically - Like in the game rock/paper/scissors. [Bullets win over flesh]
        2. Spiritually – Satan’s attacks are nuclear against our own strength.
    11. Why: To Stand against the Devil’s Strategy (6:11b-13)
      1. Stand – [Military sense] “to stand & hold out in a critical position in a battlefield”
        1. ​​​​​​​We are not to attack Satan, or advance against him; we are to stand or hold our territory, that Christ has conquered.
        2. Like Solomon, who simply needed to “keep” what his father David had fought for.
    12. Take up – another Military term.
      1. It’s the last preparation & final step necessary before actual battle begins.
    13. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ran an article about the Alaskan Bull Moose. The males of the species battle for dominance during the fall breeding season, literally going head-to-head with antlers crunching together as they collide. Often the antlers, their only weapon are broken. That ensures defeat. The heftiest moose, with the largest and strongest antlers, triumphs. Therefore, the battle fought in the fall is really won during the summer, when the moose eat continually. The one that consumes the best diet for growing antlers and gaining weight will be the heavyweight in the fight. Those that eat inadequately sport weaker antlers and less bulk. There is a lesson here for us. Spiritual battles await! Satan will choose a season to attack.
      Will we be victorious, or will we fall? Much depends on what we do now - before the wars begin. Let’s hold to the the Bull-Moose principle: Enduring faith, strength, and wisdom for trials are best developed before they’re needed.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 20". "Bell's Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/deuteronomy-20.html. 2017.
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