17 “And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.
18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.
19 And the Lord was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Judges 1:17-19
What do you notice that is strange about these three verses? Judah and his brother Simeon under the direction and guidance of God have driven the Canaanites out of Zephath as well as Gaza, Askelon and Ekron. Now they come to the inhabitants of the valley and they fail to drive them out. And the reason the author of Judges gives is that they failed because those Canaanites had chariots of iron.
What? God is able to defeat all the other tribes, because they didn’t have iron chariots? Is that the message we are to take away from this episode? But if God’s enemies possess iron chariots then they can’t be defeated. None of this makes sense because we know that iron chariots or tanks or atom bombs or anything else has any power over the will of God. Since that is true then why couldn’t the Israelites defeat the Canaanites who lived in the valley?
The answer has to be found in the attitude of Judah and Simeon. They saw themselves the equal of the hill tribes and believed that with God’s support they could defeat the enemy. But when they looked down on the valley and realized that they would have to stand before an army of charging horses and iron chariots their fear overcame them and they refused to fight.
We are often like that, aren’t we? We trust God for the small things in our lives but when we are confronted with real problems we trust modern medicine, neighborly advice and television guru’s to solve our problems. Our God is not big enough. We believe He is the God of small things but can’t handle the iron chariots in our lives.
In the book of Joshua the Israelites were told be courageous and strong. God further told them do not be dismayed or frightened because “I will not abandon you or forsake you”. The Israelites were glad to claim those promises for the small things but when confronted by a real challenge they abandoned their faith and let fear be their guide.
What a different story would have been told, for the nation of Israel, if they had only listened to God and believed His promises. God would have crushed the iron chariots with the same ease that He drove out all the other Canaanites who dared stand against Him.
When we face those very dark and disturbing storms we need to put our eyes on God and claim His victory over the circumstance. We are not called upon to face life’s problems alone. God works in us and through us to crush the iron chariots.
God calls us to be courageous and strong believing in His great strength and unending love to deliver us from Satan’s attacks. Never do we ever need to be frightened by “the iron wheeled chariots,” in our lives.
The children of Israel lost out on an amazing opportunity to experience the hand of God at work. We must also be open to the promptings, Bible study, and personal devotion to God that draws us closer to His grace and allows us to experience Him in a deeper way.
There are no iron chariots that can defeat God and thus there is nothing that Satan can use to defeat us except fear. When we don’t put our trust in God we quickly become frightened of the situation we find ourselves in.
* Many people around the globe are experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death. I would say they are facing chariots of iron but they are courageous and strong and put their faith and trust in God. They need our support and continuous prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet but you have to search for it