In Formation by Randy Rowley 6/3/19 ©


On a warm weekend in late March, four friends and I headed to the Hill Country Hog Ranch near Sabinal for a weekend of hunting hogs with sticks and strings, as guns were prohibited.

The ranch had 3300 acres, but its 35 acre rectangular shaped hog pen is what interested us.  The owner kept around 100 hogs in the pen.  Each side had a couple gates that hogs could push open with their snouts, but they would spring shut when they were no long pushing on them; therefore, hogs could get in but couldn’t get out.

On the first day we tried doing several drives from one end of the pen to the other.  We’d get in a line around 30 yards apart and try to walk as quietly through the thick woods as we could, keeping ourselves between the guys to our left and right.  We saw several hogs, but the hogs would bolt outside of bow range.  None of us loosed an arrow.

We then tried pheasant-style hunting.  We’d put a couple guys at one end of the pen and then have the other guys try to herd hogs towards them.  Most of the time the hogs would pop out of the woods outside of bow range.  The one exception was a herd of hogs that ran by Tim Price as he was hiding behind a cedar bush, just nine feet away.  Tim succeeded in arrowing one of the hogs and then let the rest of us know.

We converged on Tim’s location, waited a few minutes, and then went looking for his hog.  It initially left a good blood trail, but as we progressed the trail became less and less heavy.  After 100 yards or so it dried up completely.  Throughout our remaining time there we found several dead hogs, but none of them were fresh so it appeared to us that Tim’s pig survived to oink another day.

Eventually we gave up on our group hunt ideas and decided to hunt separately.  I decided to head towards the south side of the pen.  I had almost made it to the Southwest corner when I suddenly saw about 30 hogs running down the far fence line.  David Chalmers was in hot pursuit about 75 yards behind them.  The hogs got to the corner on David’s side and then ran to the corner near me.

I was in head to toe camo, including a face mask and gloves.  I had spayed myself down with Scent Killer, was as quiet as the grave, and hadn’t moved a muscle, yet somehow they knew that I was there.  They started to mill around and then got into a ‘group picture’ formation quicker than most groups of humans could have done so.  The big hogs got in the back of the formation, the medium-sized hogs got in the middle, and the small hogs got in the front.

There was a stock tank (pond) around 20 yard to my left and the fence line was around 20 yards to my right.  I knew that they wouldn’t go back the way that they had come because David was now around 50 yards from them.  I figured that they would either try to go between me and the tank or right down the fence line.  And right down the fence line they came, in that formation!

The formation ensured that if I wanted to shoot a big hog’s vitals I’d have to shoot through a medium-sized one and if I tried to shoot a medium-sized hog’s vitals I’d have to shoot through a small one!  I aimed at one of the big hog’s back and let loose.  To my chagrin, my arrow stuck harmlessly in a cedar tree’s trunk just beyond the hog.

All of us ended up getting around three shots that weekend at pigs that were running as fast as their hairy legs could carry them.  With the exception of Tim, we all missed.

Without a doubt, the most interesting battle formation that is depicted in the Bible is the formation of the Israeli army during the Battle of Jericho.  Joshua chapter 6 tells the story of the first conquest of the Israelites in the land of Canaan – the Promised Land.

In Joshua chapter 3 the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River into Canaan, crossing on dry ground as the waters divided for them.  They then laid siege to the city of Jericho, which was a formidable fortress city with thick and tall walls.  The city was prepared for a long siege and knew that the Israelites were coming as they could see them camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho and then on the other side of the Jordan River.

God commanded Joshua to employ a very unique strategy for the upcoming battle.  Joshua 6:2-5 says, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.  March around the city once with all the armed men.  Do this for six days.  Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark.  On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.  When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

I can only imagine the Israeli soldiers’ reactions when Joshua explained this plan to them, a method of warfare that was nonsensical.  They had been waiting 40 years for their first fight to possess the Promised Land.  They had undoubtedly drilled and honed their skills and weapons.  They were ready and anxious to fight.  Then Joshua told that all they were going to do for a week was to march around the city again and again.

This was also an unusual plan for the priests, who normally didn’t travel with the soldiers.  The plan also might have put the ark at risk.  Perhaps they understood that God wanted the soldiers to keep their minds and hearts on him and not on how difficult the task in front of them might be.  To the priests and soldiers credit none of them questioned Joshua’s sanity.  This demonstrated great faith from them and the rest of the nation, as it required total dependence on God.  It also required great faith from Joshua, because as the leader he had to execute this plan.

Joshua did as the Lord commanded for six days.  On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times.  Except this time when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army to shout!  The men let out a war cry and Jericho’s walls miraculously fell down flat.  The Bible does not say that Israel knew this would be the outcome of their obedience.  The way that God delivered Jericho into their hands may have surprised them as much as the people of Jericho.

When the walls fell the Israelite army then raced in and quickly conquered the city.  Every person in it was killed, except for Rahab and her family, because she had hidden two spies sent by Joshua to scope out Jericho.  Obviously, God could have easily flattened Jericho’s walls without Israel’s help, but he wanted them to participate in his work – as he wants us to participate in his work today.

In summary, Israel displayed great:

  • obedience – Israel precisely followed the battle plan;
  • courage – Israel followed the battle plan despite being open to attack from the people of Jericho who had the height advantage on top of their walls;
  • patience and endurance – Israel followed the battle plan for six consecutive days, undoubtedly exhausting the army on the eve of battle; and
  • faith – Israel had a good look at the imposing walls during their six days of marching and knew that the odds were against them, yet they trusted God and not in their own might and cunning.

Of these attributes the greatest of these was their faith.  Without it they would not have had the resolve to be obedient, have courage, and be patient and endure.  The Israelites appear to have known what the author of Hebrews knew, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  (Hebrews 11:6.)

Perhaps God won’t ask us to get into a particular formation, like the Israel army did at Jericho and those pigs did on that warm spring day, but he will likely ask us to serve him in ways that we have never thought of as we continue to grow in our walk with him.  The dilemma that we will encounter is how will we respond?

Categories : Devotionals

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I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/