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  • Paul Reich

God With Us: Five Blessings (Part 3)

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Blessing 3: Because God is with us, we can have victory in spiritual conflict.


Image from istock. Text added


I grew up in a tall family. My dad was 6’4” (193cm), my two younger brothers are around 6’7” (201 cm), and my older brother is 6’10” (208 cm). I’m the runt at 6’3” (191 cm). By the time I was in grade five, Greg, who is 18 months younger, was already taller and bigger than I was. So, I never got hand-me-down clothes from my older brother; they always skipped me and went to Greg. Eventually, when I was a young adult and my youngest brother, Kevin, outgrew me, I occasionally received a few “hand-me-ups” from him when his clothes shrank. Compared to many men, I am tall, but growing up in such a tall family, I never thought of myself as being very tall. It's all a matter of perspective.


The downside of growing up with an older brother who was 6’10” and a very talented basketball star was that his shoes were too big for me to fill (both literally and figuratively) and he cast a very big shadow (again, both literally and figuratively). There was no way that I could follow in Mark’s footsteps and compete with his size and talent. On the positive side, this forced me to forge my own path in life, and I could live in his reflected glory, “That’s my big brother!”


Mark has always been a strong support in my life. He has been there for me in countless ways throughout my childhood, my teens, and my adult years. For example, while growing up I experienced him as my protector on several occasions. One occasion was in elementary school.

Our school was comprised of grades one through eight, and as best I recall I was in fifth grade. My older brother was two grades ahead of me, so he would have been in grade seven. By this time, he was already about 6’3" (191 cm), taller than anyone else in the school except perhaps one teacher. By eighth grade he was 6'7 (201 cm) and by high school he was 6'10" (208cm). His shoe size pretty much matched his age from 11 to 15.

Mark's grade 8 class photo. He's the one in the middle standing at 6'7" (201 cm). His teacher is on the left back row standing at 6'3" or 6'4" (191-193 cm). The man on the right back row with glasses is the principle at about 6' (182cm).

In the wintertime, the school roped off a large snowball zone at the end of the playground – away from school windows, swings, slides, monkey bars, hopscotch players, and those skipping rope. To participate in snowball fights, students had to be inside the snowball zone. Throwing snowballs at people outside the zone was forbidden. A second rule was that “washing” an opponent’s face in snow was not allowed, and a third rule was that snowballs had to be targeted at an opponent’s body, not at the face.


One recess after a freshly fallen snow, I was in the snowball zone with friends along with many older kids. The snow was heavy and great for packing. Having played both infield and outfield in baseball, I had a good throwing arm that could propel a ball from the outfield all the way to home plate. That day, my friends and I got into a snowball fight with boys from older grades. To avoid being hit, we ran to the opposite side of the field, nearly the full width of a city block. I packed a tight ball and let it fly. It soared across the field - SPLAT! - it hit one of the older boys right in the side of his face.


Angry that I hit him in the face with a snowball, this older boy immediately ran across the field toward me threatening to punch me. I was frightened by his anger and his clenched fists as he ran toward me. Seeing what was going on, my older brother came running and stepped in front of me to protect me. Feeling safe behind my brother. I tried to apologize and explain that it was not my intention to hit him in the face. In the end, it was my older brother’s size and words that protected me from the boy’s temper and his fists. My brother explained the difficulty of being accurate at that distance. His explanation went something like, "A snowball doesn’t have a steering wheel, you know. You can't steer it after it's been thrown." His analogy, brilliant for grade seven, now makes me chuckle.


I was extremely grateful at that time to have an older and much bigger brother. Because Mark was with me and stood up for me, I was protected from a fight with an angry kid that was older and bigger than me – but not bigger than my brother! In the same way that my brother was there for me, God often assured His people of His presence during times of war. These assurances to be with His people were intended to give them courage when they went to war and faced enemies who were often much larger and more powerful than they were – but not more powerful than God! Most often these assurances were also accompanied with promises of victory. This leads us to consider the third blessing of God being with us: Victory in Spiritual Conflict.


Blessing 3: Victory in Spiritual Conflict


Though Christians are not engaged in military battles like God’s people were in the Old Testament, we are engaged in spiritual battles against the world (1 John 2:15-17, 4:4; James 1:27, 4:4), the flesh (Romans 7:23, 8:5-9; Galatians 5:16-17), and the devil with his forces (Ephesians 6:11-13). Moreover, many of the battles in the Old Testament also had a spiritual component to them, intending to demonstrate the superiority of Yahweh, the true God, over the gods and idols of other nations. Above all, the principle of God being with His people to assure them of courage and victory is a principle that is applicable to followers of Christ even today. With these thoughts in mind, let’s look at three of the many Old Testament accounts where God assured His people that He would be with them in battle.


God Assured the Newly Delivered Israelites, “I will be with you!”


About a year after being delivered from Egypt by God's mighty hand, twelve spies were sent to search out the Promised Land. At the end of their forty-day scouting mission, they returned bringing two very different reports. Ten came back with fearful reports that magnified the fortified cities and giants. Rather than focusing on God’s power, they magnified their own fear and inadequacy in light of the size and strength of the enemy (Numbers 13:31-33).


These ten spies had forgotten God’s mighty displays of power delivering them from their captivity in Egypt - the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. They had forgotten the numerous displays of God’s power in the wilderness as He led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, as He brought victory over a surprise attack by the Amalekites, and as He supernaturally provided manna, fresh water from a rock, and a miraculous supply of quail. All the ten spies could see were the intimidating obstacles. They didn’t see God as bigger than their problems, only that they were inadequate to conquer them.


In contrast, Joshua and Caleb came with a report of faith. They did not deny the obstacles. They saw the same fortified cities and the same giants, but they placed them in the perspective of God’s mighty power and His presence. They were looking to God for the victory, not to themselves and their own shortcomings.


Numbers 14:8–10 (NASB)

   “If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey.

   “Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”


Their response of faith stands in stark contrast to the other ten spies. They saw the same problems, but had a totally different perspective. The ten saw the fortresses and giants through the lens of their own inadequacy which maximized the problems, resulting in fear. The two saw the fortresses and giants in light of God’s incomparable might which diminished the problems, resulting in faith. God was on their side! His presence was with them! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 ESV)! Sadly, God’s people believed the ten spies.


10   But all the congregation said to stone them [Joshual and Caleb] with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. 


In reaction to the unbelief and rebellion of the people, the Lord wanted to destroy them with pestilence, but Moses interceded for them, appealing to God’s reputation and lovingkindness. In response to Moses’ plea, the Lord pardoned their sin, but conveyed that none of this generation would see the Promised Land. Instead, all those 20 years and older would die in the wilderness – except the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb. Furthermore, the ten “men who brought out the very bad report of the land died by a plague before the LORD” (Numbers 14:37 NASB).


Fear and disobedience go hand in hand. In contrast, faith and obedience go hand in hand. The difference between the two is recognizing that God is with you. Knowing that He is bigger than what you fear emboldens you to face your fear – much like I was emboldened when my big brother stood between me and the older boy threatening me.


Recognizing their sin, the people mourned the words of the Lord; but then wrongly resolved to enter the Promised Land anyway, disregarding that God said they would not enter. So, Moses warned them!


Numbers 14:41–43 (NASB)

41   But Moses said, “Why then are you transgressing the commandment of the LORD, when it will not succeed?

42   “Do not go up, or you will be struck down before your enemies, for the Lord is not among you.

43   “For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you, and you will fall by the sword, inasmuch as you have turned back from following the Lord. And the Lord will not be with you.


Despite Moses’ warning, the people persisted in their rebellion and heedlessly attempted to enter the Promised Land, suffering great defeat in battle (As noted in my previous blog, the Lord does not bless disobedience). Then just as the Lord had determined, that generation died during their 40 years in the wilderness. Forty years later, when the new generation prepared to go into the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of God’s faithfulness in the wilderness.


Deuteronomy 2:7 (NASB) 

7    “For the Lord your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing.”’


God had been with them, providing everything they needed for the past 40 years. This record of God’s faithful presence and provision was important for the new generation to understand because it would give them faith in God’s powerful presence when they faced the inhabitants of the land in battle. Due to the unbelief and fear of the previous generation, when the time was near for the new generation to enter the Promised Land, Moses further emboldened them with assurances of God’s almighty presence.


Deuteronomy 20:1–4 (NASB) 

1    “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.

2    “When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people.

3    “He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them,

4    for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you (ESV – “to give you victory”).’“


They would not go into battle alone. Though they would face advanced military technology and bigger armies, the Lord would go with them, fight for them, and give them victory!


God Assured Joshua, “I will be with you!”


Knowing from the Lord that he would not be entering the Promised Land, Moses later reminded the people once again that the Lord would go with them and give them victory. At this same time, He also took great pains to assure Joshua that the LORD would be with him since he would be the one leading the new generation into the promised land (Deuteronomy 31:3-8). Just before his death, Moses again commissioned and assured Joshua of God’s presence in front of the people (Deuteronomy 31:23).

Image of Joshua from the mini-series THE BIBLE produced by Mark Burnett, and wife Roma Downey.

One would think that these repeated assurances of God’s presence would be enough. However, God is aware of our frailty and need for assurance. So even after the death of Moses, God once again assured Joshua of His presence.


Joshua 1:2–10 (NASB95) 

2    “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.

   “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. . . .

5    “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.

6    “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. . . .

9    “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


God will go with Joshua and His people, He will give them the land, and He will not fail or forsake them. But He wasn't going to do this without their participation. Joshua and the people needed to cross the Jordan, march throughout the land in battle, and Joshua would give the people possession of the land. It was a divine-human partnership. God’s presence and power would enable them, but they needed to do their part. Because God was with them, they need not be fearful, but must move forward with strength and courage!


The same is true for us. It is not God alone or us alone that brings victory; but rather God with us, in us, and through us that wins the battle. We are not passive spectators, but active participants. We win spiritual victories as we courageously move forward in faith, trusting God to go with us and empower us to overcome.


God Assured Gideon, “I will be with you!”


Perhaps, the timidest warrior in the Bible was Gideon. He threshed wheat in a winepress to hide it from the enemy, his family’s status was unnoteworthy, his father was an idol worshipper, he was the youngest in his family, He sought continued assurances from God, and he carried out his first God-given mission at night because he was afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city. Yet despite all these signs of his timidity, he was God’s choice instrument for delivering the people of Israel from their idolatry to Baal and from the oppression of the Midianites. God often uses “the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong . . . so that no man may boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:27–29 NASB). He is more concerned with the posture of our hearts and our willingness than our natural courage, talent, or status.

Photo by Pic Studio on Unsplash

When the Lord sent his heavenly messenger to call Gideon, he was threshing grain in a most unorthodox place, a wine press, to keep it from Midianite marauders (Judges 6:3-5, 11). The angel of the Lord began his message to Gideon with a personal assurance of God’s presence, “The Lord is with you [singular], O valiant warrior.” (Judges 6:12). God saw something in Gideon that he did not see in himself - courage. Courage is not lack of fear, but the determination to face your problems despite your fears. This is possible when you recognize the Lord is with you.

Taking the “you” as a collective for all Israel, Gideon questioned the angel’s words, venting that Israel’s current state of oppression under Midian and the lack of mighty delivering miracles were signs that the Lord had abandoned them.


Judges 6:13-16 (NASB) 

13   Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 


When Gideon evaluated Israel’s current situation and did not see evidence of God’s miraculous intervention, he concluded that God was not with His people. Many believers today also doubt God, especially His love and presence, when they do not see evidence of His intervention in their difficult circumstances. Like Gideon, they may not realize that the Lord sometimes allows difficulties for higher purposes. Consequently, troubling circumstances alone are never to be taken as a sign of God’s abandonment. In Gideon’s case, God had allowed the Midianite oppression to discipline His people for their sin (Judges 6:1). This disciplinary action was an act of God’s love intended to draw His people back into an obedient covenant relationship with Him.


When God’s people finally cried out to Him in their distress due to the Midianite oppression, He answered their prayers by first sending a prophet to reprimand them for their idolatry and disobedience (Judges 6:6-10). God’s next answer to their prayers came through raising up a deliverer who would set them free from the tyranny of Midian. This was why He sent His angel to Gideon. Rather than resolving Gideon’s complaint of abandonment, the Lord simply informed Gideon that he is the one who would deliver Israel.


14   The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” 


Often when we are waiting on God, He is waiting for us to pray and invite Him into our situation. Then His answer frequently involves us participating with Him in the solution. So, God called Gideon. In response to God’s call, Gideon pulled a Moses (see previous blog), offering excuses of his inadequacy to do the job .


15   He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” 


Just like Moses felt inadequate to deliver God’s people from their Egyptian oppression and lead them to the Promised Land, Gideon also felt inadequate to lead God’s people in battle and deliver them from the Midianites. In the same way that Moses listed his deficiencies as reasons for not doing what God called Him to do, Gideon also listed his deficiencies to excuse why he was not the one to deliver Israel. Finally, just like the Lord assured Moses of His empowering presence to guarantee success, God assured Gideon of His empowering presence for granting victory over the Midianites.


16   But the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” 


Like Gideon, we often feel inadequate for the spiritual battles we face. These battles may be personal spiritual attacks, or they may be public attacks on the church and Christianity. It is no secret that there is now an overt onslaught against truth and against anyone who holds to a biblical worldview. This onslaught comes in full force through mainstream media, secular education, Hollywood entertainment, social media, and sometimes even through personal relationships. Much like Gideon, we are often intimidated into silence and hide from the battle. We may feel inadequate and ill equipped to stand strong in personal spiritual attack or against the oppressive ideological forces in our world today.


God’s answer for us is the same as it was for Gideon, “Surely I will be with you!" As stated in my previous post, God's answer for our inadequacy is His empowering presence. Furthermore, God has given believers divine armor and weapons with which to battle.


2 Corinthians 10:4–5 (NASB) 

   for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 

   We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 


In the context, Paul is pulling down the deceptive doctrines of false teachers that came into the church at Corinth. In the same way, much of our spiritual warfare today is against deceptive voices and anti-truth speculations that have erected mental fortresses in our society. These conceptual strongholds made of lies and demonic thoughts have captured the minds of many, shaping the godless ideologies and immoral behaviors that are so evident in our world today. But God has given us a full set of divine armor so that we might tear down these fortresses and stand firm against wicked spiritual forces that attack us both individually and collectively. We do not stand in our own power, but by “be[ing] strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” and by “put[ting] on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20).


Despite God twice assuring Gideon of His empowering presence to act on his behalf, Gideon still had reservations. So, he asked God for a sign to prove that it was truly Him who was calling him. Gideon prepared a sacrifice and as the angel of the Lord touched the sacrifice with his staff, fire supernaturally sprang from the rock consuming the meat and unleavened bread (Judges 6:17-21). Gideon responded with fear, now recognizing he had seen the angel of the Lord face-to-face. God again assured Gideon,


Judges 6:23 (NASB95) 

23  The Lord said to him, “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.”


It is difficult to know whether God was only assuring Gideon, “do not fear; you shall not die” because he saw the angel of the Lord face to face, or if God also intended these words of assurance to give Gideon confidence in carrying out his first mission which immediately follows. After all, Gideon’s first mission was to pull down the altar of Baal belonging to his father and to cut down the wooden Asherah idol beside it (Asherah was a mother goddess and consort of Baal). Gideon was to then build an altar to the Lord “on top of this stronghold,” burning the wood of the Asherah to offer a bull as a burnt offering to the Lord (Judges 6:25-27). This act would demonstrate Yahweh's superiority over Baal and Asherah.


Spiritual Warfare


As with many battles in the Old Testament, Gideon’s first mission clearly demonstrates that military wars were not viewed solely as physical battles between nations, but also viewed as spiritual battles between the gods of those nations. In the Old Testament, military warfare was also spiritual warfare – the true God of Israel versus the false gods of other nations.


Even outside the Bible, this double emphasis is found in extrabiblical historical records where kings commonly credited their national god(s) for victory over an enemy. Along with the Israelites, other ancient near eastern peoples also believed their gods led them into wars, fought with them, and judged the enemy by defeating them. Defeating an enemy nation was also seen as a victory over the god(s) of that nation. According to the Bible, the nation of Israel alone served the true and living God. Except for disciplinary reasons when God withdrew His empowering presence allowing the enemy to overcome His people, God assured them that He was with them and would give them victory.


In addition to these three biblical accounts, there are numerous other battles where victory was assured because God was with His people.[1] Furthermore, spiritual forces were commonly acknowledged in military battles. As you may recall, Goliath cursed David by his gods (1 Samuel 17:43), and in response David boldly declared . . .


1 Samuel 17:45–47 (NASB) 

45   . . . “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.

46  This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel

47   and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”


Knowing that God’s presence assured victory, on one occasion the Israelites wrongly presumed that by taking the ark of the covenant into battle, they would have a guarantee of God’s presence along with assured victory over the Philistines. However, because of ongoing sin among God’s people and in particular the lives of Eli’s two priestly sons, Hophni and Phineas, God’s presence did not go with them despite them carrying the ark. This resulted in great defeat, the ark being captured, and the death of Hophni and Phineas. The distressing news of this defeat caused the death of the very elderly Eli (98 years old) and induced Phineas’ wife to go into labor. Before her death after giving birth, she named her newborn son Ichabod, “saying, ‘The glory has departed from Israel,’ because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband” (! Samuel 4:1-22).




Most of us will never see military war, but more than ever I’m convinced that we are in a spiritual war. We all face personal attacks from demonic forces, the world, and our flesh. In addition, the activities of demonic forces have become increasingly evident through society’s ideological strongholds, the acceptance of every form of sexual perversion, occult activity, and the worship of foreign gods.


Thankfully, greater is He that is with us and in us than he that is in the world. Thankfully, we have the full armor of God - spiritual realities provided for us in Christ - so that we may be strong in the Lord and empowered to stand against the devil’s forces and all his schemes.

“You need not fear. God is with you, and He is greater than the enemy. It cannot be possible for the gates of hell to enclose those who have God with them.” Charles Spurgeon[2]

My dear readers, God is with you. "The giant in front of you is never bigger than the God who lives in you." [3] The Lord will fight for you and fight through you, bringing victory over spiritual attacks, mental strongholds, and fortresses of sin. Go forward with courage taking obedient steps of faith to conquer "the land" (spiritually speaking) that the Lord has given you.


[1] For two other examples, see God’s words through Jahaziel to King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:17) and God’s words through King Hezekiah to the people of Judah (2 Chronicles 32:8).

[2] Elliot Ritzema, ed., 300 Quotations and Prayers for Christmas, Pastorum Series (Lexham Press, 2013).

[3] Freqently credited to Christine Caine.

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Dec 21, 2023

I second the above comments, Paul! I found this one particularly strengthening for the season I'm in now. God is training me in warfare and it was just what I needed, so thank you. I really enjoyed the story about you and Mark, and the last paragraph was a great, encouraging way to close. I enjoy these blogs so much that I'm looking forward to whenever your books start appearing. I pray God continues to bless you and Plumbline Ministries.

Dec 21, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Sharon. I'm grateful that my writing has been a blessing to you. Now that my life and schedule are somewhat normalizing, I'm able to write more regularly and hoping to finalize one of my books for publishing in 2024. May the Lord also bless you and Randy, your family, and your ministry!


Dec 20, 2023

Thank you Pastor Paul once again for another well thought out, thoroughly researched and powerfully communicated blog. Especially done @ this very busy time of year.

I appreciate your personal stories and the transparency that brings your stories to life. It's like you draw your readers right into your experiences with you so we can feel & see what you are learning. You are relatable & your walk with God is authentic, humble & contagious.

You continually keep the choices before us of fear & disobedience versus faith & obedience. You speak the truth in love & promote & inspire us to walk in the reverential spirit of the fear of the Lord.

You keep glorifying & exalting G…

Dec 21, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Joya for your kind thoughtful words and your continued prayers. In spite of loss and trial, God is good and faithful. Because of your prayers and the prayers of many others, I daily experience the Lord's "grace, power, and presence." Thank you!

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