Friday, February 23, 2018

Joshua Chapter 10: Under Our Feet

Let's begin today in Joshua 10:16-27.  The five kings that had decided they were going to band together and fight against Gibeon and the Children of Israel have now fled the battlefield and have hidden themselves away in a cave.  Men came to tell Joshua where the kings were and Joshua gave them instructions on what to do with them.  He did not take care of the kings right then.  He told the men to roll a stone in front of the cave and to stand guard.  The kings were contained.  They were hiding in fear at what they knew was their defeat after seeing how the Lord fought for Israel.  Since they were no threat at that time, Joshua sent the Israelites to pursue their enemies and attack their rear.  

Joshua 10:19  And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand."

Joshua reminded the men that were fighting that the Lord has delivered their enemies into their hands.  The kings - the leaders of the armies that marched against Gibeon - were contained in a cave.  What I found to be so interesting is the fact that Joshua chose not to deal with the easy targets in the cave at that time, but instead pursued those that fled. He did not allow the distraction of an enemy that was hiding and posed no threat to deter him and the children of Israel from obtaining the victory that God had given. Only after they had returned to camp after fighting, after the bigger threats were taken care of, Joshua asked for the kings to be brought to him.  Once the kings were brought before him, Joshua told the captains of war to put their feet on the necks of the kings. AND THEN...

Joshua 10:25  Then Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight."

Joshua gives his captains encouragement through the very words God said to him.  Do not be afraid.  Do not be dismayed, but be strong and of good courage.  The Lord will do this to all your enemies you fight against!  

Are you busy fighting the enemy in the cave that is not a threat right now while the battle rages around you?  Have you allowed yourself to be distracted and have not obtained the victory God has already given you?

It is so easy to become distracted, we all know that.  We have to seek the Lord's guidance with which enemies to pursue and destroy and which are already contained and defeated. Unlike Joshua, all of our enemies have already been disarmed.  We use our minds, thoughts, and emotions, to give our enemy back power over us and the ability to hurt, distract, and destroy us.  Joshua's enemies were flesh and blood.  Our enemies are not, they are spiritual.  Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons.  What do you need to do today to obtain the victory over a weaponless enemy?

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Joshua Chapter 10 - The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Forgive me for beginning chapter 10 late.  This is a chapter packed with victory and honored covenants.  It took me a little bit to get through it and there are several things that come out of Chapter 10 for me, but the first thing I want to look at in this chapter is a concept that we talk about a lot, but do we truly believe it or allow it as a foundational principle in our lives?

The Battle Belongs to the Lord.
He will fight for us as He has promised. 

So, let's set the stage of chapter 10 and then dive right in.  The chapter opens saying the kings in the area greatly feared the fall of Jericho, Ai, and Gibeon.  According to verse 2, Gibeon was a larger city than Ai and had might warriors.  The King of Jerusalem called out to the kings of surrounding areas and asked for their help so they could go down to Gibeon because they aligned themselves with Joshua and the children of Israel.  With an attack imminent, Gibeon called on Joshua and reminded him of their covenant and Joshua and the children of Israel made the trek to Gibeon.  Verse 8 says:

Joshua 10:8  And the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you."

God told Joshua not to be afraid of them that He had delivered the kings into Joshua's hands.  Don't fear is a constant message from God to Joshua.  Don't we get afraid frequently?  Don't we fear when the mountain seems to high to climb or our enemies outnumber us?  I think we can learn this lesson among many from Joshua:  Do not fear!  

God also told Joshua that He had delivered the enemies into Joshua's hands and that none of them would stand before Joshua.  

Joshua 10:9-10  Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.  (10)  So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah.

Not only did God tell Joshua not to be afraid of the enemy, but God "routed" them before Israel.  Do you know what that means?  God disturbed, destroyed, broke, consumed, vexed, and troubled the enemy.  God slaughtered them, verse 10 says.  Then the enemy started to flee from the face of Israel.  They tried to get away from the slaughter.  What did God do?

Joshua 10:11  And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.

There were more killed by hailstones from Heaven than by the swords of the children of Israel.  God did what He said He had already done.  He delivered the enemies into their hands.  God delivered victories to Joshua, just as He said He would.  He delivered those victories as Joshua sought to honor a covenant he had made with the people that wanted to be made the Israelites' servants.  We have to remember the things and people we make covenants to are important.  What we commit ourselves to we are bound to.  Joshua knew that and as a result God honored the fact that Joshua was willing to fight on behalf of those he had made Israel's servants.  I am probably talking in circles here, but I want to make one thing clear.  

Joshua 10:14  And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.

The Lord fights for us and it His battle.  David knew this and said so to Goliath and the Philistines on the battlefield.  

1 Samuel 17:47  Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD's, and He will give you into our hands."

Joshua and the children of Israel did not try and fight outside of what God had planned for the battle.  They did not run ahead thinking they were going to win on their own.  They went trusting the Lord to do what He promised He would do.  Unlike Joshua, our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).  Sometimes it would be much easier for us if we could physically see our enemy, but then we would not rely on God for deliverance and safety.  We would not give Him glory and thanks for a battle won because we could have done it all.  So, do not be afraid!  God has already delivered the enemy into our hands.  We are victorious because Jesus was victorious.  He disarmed the principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15).

So, why do we give the things Jesus disarmed power over us once again through fear? 

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Letting the enemy in...

Yesterday we saw Joshua and the Men of Israel allow some of the people they were supposed to destroy infiltrate their camp.  There was some hesitation from some of the men, but ultimately, Joshua made the decision and the strangers, the enemy, were allowed to mingle among the group.  We saw in Chapter 9 where the enemy had used trickery and deceit to make themselves appear as something they were not. 

Wouldn't it be great if we could identify our enemies before we allowed them in?  Paul told the church at Ephesus:

Ephesians 6:10-12  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  (11)  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  (12)  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

There is one major key to the scriptures above:  we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.  While it may seem from time to time that our enemy is the coworker who seems to have it out for you or the "friend" that has spread horrid, hurtful gossip about you, they are not your true enemies.  Our enemies cannot be seen with our physical eyes.  They operate in the spirit realm while we live in the physical.  This is very important because the armor of God we have been given has invisible characteristics that we must put on every day to withstand the attacks and "wiles" of the enemy.  What does "wiles" mean?  Wiles mean trickery.  It means exactly what Joshua fell victim to when the Hivites presented themselves as ambassadors from a far away land.  Do you think maybe Joshua got just a little comfortable?  AFter all, they did not seek the counsel of the Lord.  Do you think maybe Joshua let his guard down a little bit instead of standing "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might"?    I do.  Just think about all the children of Israel had been through up to this point AND they had just renewed their covenant with the Lord.  Sometimes we can get comfortable in our relationship with the Lord and forget where we have come from.  We reestablish our commitment to Him any many times we relax thinking we are okay.  After all, because He overcame we are overcomers.  That is so very true; however, that does not stop the attack of the enemy.  

Jesus said He was sending us out into a world of wolves.  

Matthew 10:16  "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

Wolves are very purposeful in pursuit of their prey.  They also travel and hunt in packs.  You will rarely find a lone wolf on the hunt on its own.  Sheep are vulnerable with few defense mechanisms and fall to wolves easily if the shepherd is not vigilant in the oversight of his flock.  The really great thing is we serve the Good Shepherd.  We serve the Shepherd that will leave His 99 to find the one that wandered off. 

Jesus goes on and says that we are to be wise as serpents.  Serpents are crafty, tricky, and can strike quickly.  Scientists say a snake can strike with the acceleration of 20 Gs.  I am not a rocket scientist or an aerospace engineer, but even I know 20 Gs is super fast and there would not be enough reaction time to escape an attack should a snake decide to strike.  So, 

1 Peter 5:8-9  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  (9)  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

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