I used to attend a church that played a lot of what I’d call “gospel” music. These songs were backed by a great band. Good drums, a bass guitar thumping out a beat, a piano, an electric guitar and of course, an organ, which was played amazingly by the pastor’s wife. One of my favorite songs to sing there was “The Enemy’s Camp”. The main lyrics of the song were “I went to the enemy’s camp and I took back what he stole from me.”
The song is a reference to a story found in 1 Samuel 30, where the city of Ziklag is attacked and plundered by the Amalekites. David was marching a small army of his men to the city, but was too late to stop the attack. The Amalekites carried off all the women and children as well as many valuables from the city. David asks God whether or not he should pursue the Amalekites, given the fact that he is incredibly outnumbered and they are surely some distance away by now and his men haven’t eaten. God affirms to David that he should pursue them, which he then does. He defeats everyone of them and brings back the spoils. Not one Amalekite got away and every single soul was brought back to the city.
The story is an epic one no doubt, but the impact of the song has been far greater for me. Others might wax eloquent on the means by which David received his instruction or the generosity he shows in the end in the sharing of the spoils. For me however, it’s all about the idea behind the song: when the enemy takes something from us, we redeem it. We don’t just move on. We reclaim it for the kingdom.
This thought has different applications for many people. I’ve certainly used it in music. I grew up in really traditional, fundamental circles. These were the kind of churches and institutions that would chastise the kind of music that I would listen to. I remember one message in particular in Bible school talking about the “noise of war” that was in the camp when Moses descended from Mount Sinai, and how this noise was akin to today’s contemporary Christian music.
This same thought existed when we first planted Lakeside Church and the point was brought up that our music shouldn’t sound like the world’s music. My rebuttal to that was that it’s the other way around. I believe all music belongs to God. No poet is more inspired than the one who sings about the ultimate lover and the ultimate creator. I believe in this regard, that we are to take back God’s music from the world. We are to reclaim it for his glory. I would suggest that almost anything bad can be redeemed by man to be used for the glory of God.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with the story of Joseph, it was been inspired by Jacob’s last words to Joseph…
I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites. – Genesis 48:22
In other versions you might read that Joseph was given a “ridge” or a “portion” of land, but it was not so unspecified. In fact, the actual word that is used is “shekem” or “shechem”. This was the very land where Levi and Simeon tricked the men of the city into circumcising themselves and then attacked and killed them all in retribution for the rape of their sister, Dinah. Jacob was furious at them for this. It was wrong, and now he owned a piece of land that was attained in a sinful manner. This plagued Jacob for the rest of his life. However, he makes it right in the end by giving it to Joseph. He sees in Joseph a Godly man – one who will bring honor to what has been dishonorable for so long. He gives the land to Joseph, and in doing so, challenges him to reclaim for God what has been tainted by sin.
It would be difficult for me to give a general statement of practical advice on this. It’s much easier to speak of it anecdotally, but in the interest of trying, I would say that when we so readily avoid the things that have a bad history, we miss out on the opportunity to see God redeem it. Furthermore, if we are more than conquerors, why are so afraid to engage the enemy? Why would we not in boldness stand in the face of what the enemy has taken and declare “it is no longer yours!”?
Remember Braveheart? I love when William Wallace attacks a specific English outpost and allows for a few to survive to bring a message back to the enemy…
“Go back to England, and tell them there that Scotland’s daughters and her sons are yours no more.”
Perhaps the hardest part is identifying what the enemy has taken, so let’s start with the easy (as in the easy to identify) stuff. Whatever the enemy has taken from you personally…your joy, your self-worth, your courage, your power, your identity, etc…reclaim it today. Tell the enemy that your life is his no more. Reclaim it for the glory of God and experience the power of redemption.