I’m just old enough to remember the fear that gripped the world in the first few days of June 1967.
Just as the Bible had promised as part of the end-times scenario, Israel was surrounded by her enemies. As newsmen sent us images of tanks, soldiers and planes readied for war, many of us braced for catastrophic global events.
An estimated 100,000 Egyptian troops were positioned in the Sinai Peninsula. Syria had 75,000 men on Israel’s northern border. Just across the Jordan River, 55,000 Jordanian troops were lined up for war. Iraq had given tanks to the effort. The Soviet Union had provided the planes for Egypt’s vaunted Air Force. In sheer numbers, tiny Israel was vastly outnumbered in both troops and equipment. She was facing enemies on practically every border. Had those enemies attacked first, it’s hard to imagine Israel winning the fight without divine intervention.
But on the morning of June 5, the Israelis attacked with lightening speed and deadly efficiency. By midday, the Egyptian Air Force had been effectively destroyed. Its troops in the desert were sitting ducks. Thousands surrendered. Thousands more left their tanks and attempted to walk home. Syrian and Jordanian forces enjoined the battle still believing they would have air support from the Egyptians. It would be several days before they learned why they only saw Israeli planes in the skies.
By the end of the six-day battle, 19-year-old Israel had secured its borders, taken the Golan Heights and recaptured Jerusalem. It was the first time since 70 CE that Jerusalem had come under Jewish rule.
Military students have studied Israel’s philosophy of preemptive strikes ever since those six, tension-filled days in 1967.
Perhaps they should also read the Bible.
When Joshua led his people into the same land some 3,200 years before, he faced similar military situations on two occasions. Once was shortly after the people had shouted down the walls of Jericho. Five kings gathered their forces and prepared for an attack.
“After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise,” reads the words of Joshua 10:9. The preemptive attack worked, and the original Israel secured a huge portion of the Promised Land.
Almost immediately, many more kings and their forces joined together in the Galilee. It was a huge army armed with thousands of war chariots and their horses.
He “came against them suddenly and attacked.” (Joshua 11:7). Once more, the preemptive strike proved to be the key to victory for Joshua’s forces. With one swift move, they took the Galilee.
Call it a preemptive strike. Call it doing what needs to be done. Call it a decision to stop putting off the inevitable and getting on with the task.
The lesson for us?
Maybe a doctor says surgery is the only option. Your answer? “How soon can we get this done?” Putting off the date will only prolong the misery. Getting on with the battle means you’ll be that much closer to recovery.
Perhaps there’s a difficult conversation that needs to be had at home or at work. What good will come from another day of procrastination? Do you really want to live under the shadow of dread for another day? Attack!
Maybe there’s even the distressing day when you come face to face with what you’ve done wrong. What’s needed? A guilty plea. An apology. A humble request for forgiveness. If there’s a penalty to be paid, why choose to pay compound interest on the pain?
How did Jesus put it?
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court,” Jesus said. “Do it while you are still together on the way!” (Matthew 5:25)
You won’t run into tough situations very often. Even modern-day Israel doesn’t have to fight major battles every week, though she is still surrounded by her enemies.
But when it’s obvious that a battle is coming, don’t waste time and energy with procrastination.
When it’s time, attack!