Battlements, Ramparts and Archery Slits behind the wall surrounding Jerusalem.
This week Jews around the world will be hearing Exodus 13:17—17:16 read in their Synagogues. It is an incredible passage, beginning with YHVH’s mighty deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh’s army through the Red Sea, continuing with one of the great prophetic songs in the Bible, and concluding with victory over the Amalekites in their first major battle on the road towards Canaan.
This week, rather than leading with our usual prayer points regarding “current events” in or related to Israel, we sensed the Lord would draw our focus to a vital principle of spiritual warfare to found in both the beginning and ending of this famous passage.
We pray the following teaching may be used by the Holy Spirit to encourage us as we cover—and value—the “positionings” our Captain entrusts to each of us. And the battle is the LORD’s!
GUARDING YOUR STATION FOR SEEING
We are in a decade of “seeing” (5770’s the Hebrew letter-number for “70” is pronounced and spelled the same as the word for eye.). What we see is of course very important for other believers as well as ourselves, because the perspectives from which we see will always be different. This is why it is essential that we each be in our right location…that we be “positioned” correctly. In the spiritual battles which we face, each of us is given a personal position or “station”—it may be changed from time to time, but it is placement which our Commander in his wisdom and watchfulness has assigned for us. He has chosen to depend upon us for the sight and guard necessary from our “place on the rampart.”
IN AN “IMPOSSIBLE” SITUATION, WE EACH HAVE AN ASSIGNED STATION
In Exodus 14:13-14 the children of Israel are leaving Egypt. Before them lies an un-crossable expanse of water, closing in from behind a vast and mobilized hostile army. Suddenly out of Moses bursts an astounding word: “Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today…The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (NKJV). The people are admonished not to fear and to SEE the LORD’s salvation. But first let us focus on the phrase “stand still.”
At face value this translation could be taken to imply a kind of passive “standing to the side and watching.” But that is not all which lies within the Hebrew. There are other words for “standing”—but here is used a form of the infinitive lehityatzev (Root: yatsav; Strongs 3320/5324). In every-day Hebrew, the word may mean “to stabilize”. But in a military setting, and often, as here, in Scripture it means “to SET yourself” (NASB), or “to TAKE your STATION” (Robert Alter)—not merely “to stand”, but “to TAKE your stand!” From that position of “setting yourself,” you would then be positioned (stabilized) to obey the next order, to “SEE the salvation (Hebrew: yeshuah) of the LORD!” These commands are in the plural; EVERYONE has a ‘placement’ within which to set themselves!
Take Your Station!—but did individuals in Israel already have a station? When they came out of Egypt, they likely did not even realize that they were an army yet. But their Commander in Chief did!
“And it came to pass at the end of the 430 years, on that very day, it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt…” “The LORD brought the children of Israel out of the Land of Egypt according to their armies.” “And the children of Israel went up in martial array/ orderly ranks/ armed.” (Exodus 12:41, 51; 13:18)
ON THE HILL—“BENEATH ARMS”—“BEARING ARMS” IN THE VALLEY
This is all very quickly and graphically illustrated a few chapters later in Exodus 17:8-16, where the Israelites find themselves in the thick of battle with the Amalakites, an enemy whom they will be required to face repeatedly in one form or other, from that day right down to the present. But Moses knows his station—“Tomorrow I will STATION MYSELF on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand” (17:9 NASB; same root, yatsav).
During the battle, Aaron and Hur were evidently at their stations, perhaps as observers, also on the hill. But they soon found themselves required to be repositioned (more on this later) to stations on either side of Moses holding up his arms. Meanwhile a number of other Israelis had been chosen by Joshua (whose name means “the LORD is Salvation”) to take their positions on the battlefield down in the valley.
Victory depended upon each one manning his position. When they became thus arrayed, the miracle banner (nes/Nissi) of YHVH was released over His army and they carried the day!
I SAMUEL 17
GOD OF THE ARRAYING
We had all best realize that we are in a war, and, as Bob Dylan memorably observed in his 1979 song “When He Returns,” “that there’ll BE no peace, that the WAR won’t cease, until HE returns.” And we’d best also recognize that our enemies will be “positioning” themselves! Psalm 36:4 says “The wicked…devises wickedness on his bed…He sets himself in a way that is not good.”
In I Samuel 17 we have the confrontation between David and Goliath. In verse 16 we read that “The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand (NASB). A form of the same Hebrew word lehityatzev as was used by Moses at the Red Sea!
So who is responsible for assigning our ‘placement’? When David faced Goliath and the giant bragged of what he would do, David answered, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, buy I come to you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted” (Vs 45). “LORD of Hosts” is YHVH Tzevaot—(literally Yehovah-Armies). Yet “God of the armies of Israel” uses a different word for armies, ma’arkhot. In everyday Hebrew the verb form of this word is used for placing something in order—such as setting a table. As a matter of fact, this is the word used in Psalm 23…”He prepares (or sets/orders) a table before me in the presence of my Enemies.” But in a military context, it is best translated by the English word “arraying” or “array.”
It is used several times earlier in this chapter to describe the two armies arraying themselves. David here comes in the name of the “Arraying–God of Israel.” How important is this Name to remember when praying for Israel! And of course, He is also the One who brings members of all of His armies into array as One—He is “Captain of the Army of the LORD” (Joshua 5:14). As such, He knows ALL of the soldiers whom He has called, exactly what each one is fitted for, ready for, not-yet ready for; the best places and timings for positioning in groups. And He knows each of his soldiers individually and intimately by name—and where his or her positioning will be optimum for each battle. He knows how to order His army—and He knows how to order you within it!
TAKING OUR STATION ON THE RAMPART
Standing our watch, taking our station, maintaining a lookout, seeing what we need to see—it’s all brought into marvelous focus in the first verse of Habbakuk 2, “I will stand my watch, and take my station (yatsav) on the rampart. And I will be on the lookout to see what He will say to me—and how I will respond on being sharply corrected.” Here we examine one more use of the Hebrew yatsav. In standing our watches, we are to position ourselves, to take our specific stations “on the rampart.” A rampart was a place behind the wall where supplies and weapons could be wheeled in to the soldiers standing at their positions.
Just behind the battlements of the wall surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem runs a long walkway upon which soldiers would stand, but also along which reinforcements, weapons and refreshment could be brought to those manning the battlements and archery slits. Obviously there must have been many different sorts of positions along these ramparts—those for lookouts, archers, commanders, those providing supply.
God has an assigned place for every one of us upon His ramparts. You have a position which He has sovereignly chosen to entrust to your oversight. His strategy, including the safety and effectiveness of your fellow brothers and sisters in arms, will depend upon your manning it effectively. There is a perspective of the battle that no one but yourself can see! He hasn’t made a mistake—He is Elohei Ma’archot—He knows exactly what you can and cannot see from your station. During the battle, His will being perfectly released “on earth as it is in heaven” requires your being there! He is your Positioner. You are—each of us is—a unique soldier!
Our security and sense of worth lies in the love and oversight of our Commander, not in our “position!” Don’t find your identity in where He has placed you—He may need to reposition you at any moment!! And to arrest our attention, especially in early training, He may have to speak very sharply to us (Habbakuk 2:1b). Our flesh loves to “get used” to things and doesn’t like to be told to change, much less in a sharp or rebuking tone of voice. Zechariah 2:13 says, “HUSH! all flesh before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation.” God knows the possibility of this interference from the flesh inside of us—so, in addition to standing his watch and setting himself in his place on the rampart to guard the outside, he also has Habbakuk “watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected” (NKJV).
“Watch” here is not merely ‘keeping an eye on’—its root is related to “mitzpe”—a lookout point, and to “tzophim”—scouts or rangers. We are to “keep a lookout” to see what He will say to us. Lookouts must be “all eyes & ears” at the same time. So we keep a lookout, as it were, for God’s voice within us (the Hebrew literally says, “what He will say in me”). He may desire quickly to alter my view from Southwest to South-Southwest, which will almost certainly require a refocusing. And there will not be time to argue with or be hurt by the voice—however sharp it may have had to sound if I have hesitated.
So as we watch from the wall, we maintain an alertness for His inner voice of instruction, all the while keeping a weather-eye out over our flesh.
He has not left us as orphans—nor as blinded confused rag-tag troops out on the battlefield. Each of us has a place of assignment to man when He calls us into array—whether on the wall, on the mountain, in the field, in the kitchen, in the office, in the truck, in the ditch, in the bathroom—and when we set ourselves in it he will instruct us from there. Trust Him! Our individual concepts of ourselves—our ages, our strengths, our past woundings, our weaknesses, our experience–these have been carefully taken into consideration for our positioning. Ask the Lord to bring you “into array”—to clarify the place of your station, the place to set yourself, to take your stand. It is there and waiting for you. No one can fill it but yourself—And you will!!
“As for me, You support me in my integrity and you SET me in your presence forever.”
“And having done all, to Stand!”
© 2017 Martin Sarvis