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17. Joshua 11: “God at Work in a Life”

Salem County Correctional Facility in Woodstown, NJ – Men’s Evening Chapel Service on 1/22/2012

(edited September 2019)

 

Verses 1-5:  And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west, And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many. And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.”

 

God’s Old Covenant Nation, Israel, had been delivered from Egypt by God’s direct intervention at the parting of the Red Sea. That generation, under the leadership of Moses, were the fathers and grandfathers of the Nation that Joshua was leading into the Promised Land in this chapter. The older generation had refused to move ahead with God and His plans for them. They often withstood Moses, too, asking to return to bondage in Egypt and refusing to accept the challenges of conquering the Land of Canaan. But among that generation, Joshua had been a refreshing exception. Now the old generation has passed away, and so has Moses.

 

God is on the verge here of bestowing the Promised Land upon His People. But, as you can read above, there are some terrible obstacles to be overcome. It will require effort and obedience on their part. The Lord’s main instrument of deliverance is now Joshua, the servant of Moses. After years of remaining faithful, but staying in the background, it now all falls on Joshua to lead the armies of Israel to victory in Canaan. Whoa, what a load has been placed on this man:

 

Verse 6:  And the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.”

 

Before we start feeling too sorry for Joshua, I think we need to realize that sooner or later the Lord will call every one of us (EVERY BELIEVER) to rise up to the challenges we must face in our day. Unlike Joshua, we are not on a physical battle. The New Testament is very clear about that, as stated in II Cor 10:1-5. But, like Joshua, we also need the Lord’s FULL support and He expects our FULL obedience in order to get through the struggle. To get to Heaven we must believe, suffer, sacrifice, and resist the enemies of God and our soul.

 

Verses 7-14:  So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them. And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire. And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms. And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.  And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded.  But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn. And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.”

 

Joshua (whose name in English is “Jesus,” by the way) sets a great example of obedience for us:

 

Verses 15-17:  As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same; Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them.”

 

But…

 

Verse 18:  Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.”

 

…the struggle was a marathon not a sprint. That reminds me of my Christian walk. Does it remind you of yours?

 

Verses 19-22:   There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses. And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities. There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.”

 

Wow, there was no shortage of conflict. And Joshua kept on obeying, kept on acting out his faith, even in some very bad circumstances. THAT is how they finally laid claim to that physical Promised Land:

 

Verse 23:  So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.”

 

By the hand, and mind of Joshua, and the army under his command, God established the ancient Nation of Israel.

 

As a “baby” in Christ (and still, at times to be honest) I have sought to avoid ALL conflict and, when conflicts came, to get by through constant, direct, miraculous intervention by the Lord…but, later in my Christian walk, God in various ways seemed to be saying to me: NOW, YOU must be an instrument of blessing that I will use. DON’T BE AFRAID. Fight and obey and I will be with you to accomplish my will in your life and in your sphere of influence. It REALLY FRIGHTENED me for a LONG time and still does, but less over time.

 

I know I can’t go back to spiritual babyhood. No one can really, beloved. It is good to be humble and meek, but it is a sin to hide in the shadows if God is calling you out into the light of day or even into battle. It was a shock for Israel to have to battle these heathen nations, I’m sure. They were used to hiding out in the wilderness and living off of miracles. It was also a shock for Joshua, I think. He was a just humble servant of Moses for about 40 years. He wasn’t in charge of anything! But Joshua rose to his Holy challenge and so can we. The Scriptures are full of examples of those who had to agree to BECOME A BLESSING to others at the cost of their own comfort and blessing. And there is no greater example of this than Christ Who gave more than any of us could ever give to bless ALL of us.

 

I’m not saying that you must face heathen armies, nor die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. But, for all of us, there are battles of some type to be faced. The Apostle Paul acknowledges this very specifically in the New Testament. Let’s close with a look at what he said to the believers at Ephesus in Ephesians 6:10-23. He’s not wishing difficulties on any of them, but, firmly and tenderly, warning them and preparing them to live a life of faith and maturity in the Will of God:

 

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:  Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.”

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