Good day to each of you reading this column on the third and final installment, for we will tackle the issues of camp cleanliness, food trees to be spared, plunder or booty and the treatment of captives.

Have you ever thought about sparing food trees in war? Why do we need cleanliness in camp and treatment of captives?

Before we begin, let’s take a moment to pray for our soldiers who are entering the Ukraine. The Russian’s have amassed over 125,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, according to Fox News, while the United States has troops currently in Eastern Europe & the Black Sea region that could respond. As for the Ukraine, the Tennessee National Guard’s 278th Armored Calvary Regiment has troops on the ground helping that country run its Yavoriv Combat Training Center.

According to NBC News, President Joe Biden said Friday night he will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe and NATO countries “in the near term,” without elaborating on the timing but adding that the number would be “not a lot.”

The phrase is simple, “poking the bear” is not wise for one never knows when the bear will begin poking back which could mean World War III. Our troops and our country need our prayers for this is only the tip of the iceberg. Our situation in the United States is growing graver as I write and we are still in only the first month of 2022.

For those of you saying this isn’t so bad, get your head out of the sand and look at all that is going on. The Christian faith of this country (USA) is being severely tested—If you don’t believe me, turn to Psalm 10 and read the chapter.

Folks, this chapter fits our country to a tee for this chapter asks the question as to why do the wicked succeed? Why is “right, wrong and wrong, right?” Take a moment and think about it, why is that and why are the wicked succeeding whether it be criminals, politicians, elected officials, financial and corporate pirates, the media and various preachers from the pulpit?

The answer is simple, Satan has the world on a string or so he thinks and he and his legions are making the most of the time they have before the King comes back to claim his throne.

Satan wants to take as many of us as he can to show God—Billy Joel, once said in a song that he would rather die with the sinners than laugh with the saints for the sinners have more fun—Billy, as a Christian, I will take the way of the saints.

Before I begin the 3rd installment, turn to James 5:1-6 and read these six important verses that are coming so true in today’s society—pay special attention to verse 4 where we seeing this take place before our eyes.

Now, for the rest of the column, for we see that fruit trees are to be spared—turn to Deuteronomy 20: 19-20 (NIV) When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them? However, you may cut down the trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

God created all things and had a place for all things for He provides perfect order. The creation of fruit trees was to provide man with food whether he was in battle or not and trees which did not bear fruit to assist him in building weapons and devices to aid him in war against his foe.

I have heard the saying, “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, turn to Deuteronomy 23: 9-14 (NIV) When you are encamped against your enemies, keep away from everything impure. If one of your men is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he is to go outside the camp and stay there. But as evening approaches he is to wash himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp.

Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.

Why have cleanliness in camp? For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.

God hath provided the answer for personal hygiene in camp, but he does not stop there for God addresses when the Israelite soldiers killed or touched anyone that they must outside of camp for seven days. The third and seventh days, purification for you and your captives must take place along with the purification of garments and everything made of leather, goat hair or wood. See Numbers 31: 19-20.

God, being the author of order, tells the priest to tell the soldiers who had gone to battle about the seven-day purification process before re-entering camp.

Metals such as gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, lead and anything else that could withstand fire must be put through the fire to cleanse. It must be purified with water for cleansing. Items that could not withstand the fire must be cleansed with water. On the seventh day, wash your clothes to be clean, so you can come into camp.

Simply put, God provides instructions for the soldier’s personal hygiene in and out of camp and the cleansing of metal goods such as kitchen utensils, pots, pans, glassware, plates and devices used to make food. God made it very clear when the Israelites went to battle and touched or killed anyone that they were stay outside of camp for seven days and go thru the purification process.

Why? For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.

We know come to the subject of plunder, spoil or booty when the Israelite army had successfully defeated the enemy. We have three examples found in the Old Testament as to what must be done.

Turn to Numbers 31:11,12 where the Israelites defeated Midian and took all the plunder and spoils including the people and animals and brought it all to Moses and the priest and the Israelite assembly at their camp.

The Lord, who was with Moses, Eleazar the priest, the Israelite assembly and army, gave them strict instructions to follow including when the army was successful in defeating the enemy.

The Lord begins Numbers 31 by saying to Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites and then be gathered to your people. The Lord gave Moses each step to follow and provided him with the wisdom and discernment to lead the Israelites into battle.

As a double witness, turn to Deuteronomy 20:14 (NIV) As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the You’re your God gives you from your enemies.

Deuteronomy 20 begins the chapter with when the Israelite army goes to war against its enemies and sees an army greater than their army. When reading this chapter, I have utilized many verses to answer various questions in the past such as booty or plunder, food trees to be spared, regulations in battle, those who are fearful and faint-hearted and those who are newly married.

Plunder, spoil and booty examples are found in Joshua 8:2 and Joshua 11:14 where God has given the Israelite army victory for he says, For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.

In both of the above examples, it is the Lord who delivers the enemy first and it is the Lord who gave the enemy into the hands of Israel.

Why is it so hard for our leaders to understand this? Look back and ask yourselves during the Vietnam, Korean, Middle East and Afghanistan wars if God delivered the enemy into our hands?

The Bible provides solutions to each and every problem—why is it that our leaders are so stiff-necked? The answer is right in front of them.

Before I close, it is essential to pray when a crisis, a battle or a war effects our country. For all the conflicts, crisis and wars the United States has faced, we have had our share of those who were captured during battles.

God knew the Israelites would face this very same problem for he provides Solomon with the answer when the army was taken captive. Turn to 1 Kings 8:46-51 and read Solomon’s insight into the future as to the capture of the Israelites.

These verses coincide with 2 Chronicles 7:14 where we are to pray if taken captive. We should not only pray, but we should repent and plead with our merciful God to forgive us and cause our conquerors to show mercy.

It will be God who ultimately deals with both the conquerors and conquered.

This brings us to the treatment of captives—I reference Deuteronomy 20: 13-18 (NIV) When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock, and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshipping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

How could a merciful God order the destruction of these people above? God did this protect the Israelite people from idol worship. God has provided the Israelite people with the Ten Commandments which included not to worship idols. The Israelites were forbidden to follow after foreign gods and idols for the Israelites were to a blessing to all nations. By following foreign gods and idols, they would not be separate and would receive the curses for their sins including the worship of idols.

Israel did not listen to God for they did not completely destroy these evil tribes above and, in return, have experienced greater bloodshed and destruction.

Take the time to review who the tribes above are in modern times and I think you will agree, they still are “a thorn in our sides today”.

In closing, history does repeat itself, if we would take the time to read and avoid those mistakes that our forefather experienced.

May we Bless God in all that we do, say, and act and may we be a light for those in darkness.

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