The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Battle Belongs to the LORD

“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.’” - Joshua 10:8

It would be a mistake to think that when entering the Promised Land of fullness of the Spirit that the war is over. In fact, when we enter the Promised Land of blessing the battles have just begun. Why is that? For one thing, our spiritual sense are heightened so we are more aware of the presence of the enemy and engage him in battles more readily whereas before we might glance over him. And secondly, the enemy is always going to try to bring down those who have totally surrendered themselves to the LORD. The enemy is not going to relinquish ground without a fight. Alan Redpath expresses this well when he states:

“Strange paradox as it may seem to some, nevertheless it is eternally true that the land of full blessing is a land of intensive warfare. We have to learn to conquer and then we have to learn to possess all that is ours in the Risen Lord.” [1]

While it’s important to understand that when we enter into the fullness of blessing with the Lord we should expect battles, it is just as important to learn that the reality and truth that ushers us on to victory is that: The battle belongs to the LORD. God is able to give us victory in spite of ourselves. He is able to raise us up to victory even when we are following Him in less than perfect ways. In fact, God loves us so much that He will, if necessary, make the sun stand still to accomplish His will in and through us. That should be encouraging to us.

In Joshua chapter 10 five kings form an alliance because of the fear they have due to the prospect of facing God’s army (10:1-5). But they are also concerned that other groups will follow the way of the Gibeonites and join God’s people. This is not God’s plan. But from their limited perspective this was a real concern.

Notice these pagan kings, “feared greatly” the Israelites (10:2). It is God’s plan to instill a certain fear in unbelievers concerning His people. Again Alan Redpath conveys this point well when he writes:

I believe with all my heart that God’s purpose for His Church today is the same – to make it a Church to be feared. Speaking of the church for a moment in terms of a building, it should be a place to which people almost fear to com lest they be converted. A church as a fellowship should be composed of people who are uncompromising in heir testimony, courageous in their faith, and holy in their lives. In the church services there should be the awe and reverence demanded by the presence of God.

This is God’s purpose not only for His Church, but also for every truly regenerate man or woman of God – that they shall be feared. The Christian man is he who is righteous in his conduct, uncompromising in his principles, passionate in his devotion to his Savior, sacrificial in his service, and transparent in his life. He has no life behind the scenes to which he retreats to indulge his appetite for things that he would be ashamed to do in the company of Christian people. His life will bear the closest scrutiny of his strongest critics, from which he will come out unscathed, a holy man of God continually. . . .

How can we achieve this? . . . In light of His Word, it is God’s plan that His people should always be on the offensive, never on the defensive. Too often we retreat, run away, hide from the devil, instead of launching a full scale offensive in the name of Jesus.[2]

And that is what we see Joshua and Israel do in this chapter; they go on the offensive and do a thorough job of dealing with their enemies.

The Gibeonites call for help when they are threatened by the five king confederacy (10:6). Here we see the beginning of the complications that result from unholy disobedient alliances with unbelievers. There are always complications and troubles when we are prayerless and disregard the teaching of God’s word (cf. Joshua 9:14). But God is able to work even when we mess up life with our wrong decisions. It states, “So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 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.” 9 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” (10:7-10). The battle belongs to the LORD! God works all things together for good (Rom. 8:28). He can bring beauty from ashes (Is. 61:3). And here He brings victory.

O How God is like a Heavenly Father caring for His children. He pulls out all stops to assist us. He will literally move heaven and earth to protect us and bring us victory. “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. 12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13     So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 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. 15 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.” (10:11-15). O how He loves you and me! How much does the LORD love us; to what extent will He go to bring us victory? He will stop the sun in the sky for us if need be. Think about that; it’s pretty incredible. Obviously if you don’t believe in God or miracles you will take issue with this. But if God is “God” then He can do miracles. Stopping the sun in the sky is no big deal for Him. And if God can do this to bring victory, what can’t He do (other than act in an unholy way) to bring you victory?

When you gain victory over the enemy, he runs for cover. He will hide out until things calm down and then his plan is to come out and fight again. That is what we see these five kings doing. They run for cover and hide in a cave (10:16). But when Joshua finds out about it, he has large stones rolled into place to trap the kings in the cave (10:17-18). He isolates his enemy so he can completely destroy them. That’s a practical step for us in our sanctification. Identify and isolate the problem then open the mouth of the cave and deal with whatever kings of sin have threatened the territory of your heart (10:19-21).

If you want God’s peace and you want to be agents that emit awe at His presence in your life, then you have to be willing to completely annihilate enemy intruders of sin in your life. “No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. 22 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.” 23 And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.” (10:21-23). Bring out the kings of sin and acknowledge the reality of who they are. Don’t hide them. Don’t ignore them. Deal with them!

It can be pretty intimidating to come face to face with kings of sins; those who want to rule you and rob you of God’s promises and fullness of blessing. Don’t be afraid! In faith take action and do what you need to do to eliminate and do away with those kings. “So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. 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.” (10:24-25). Chop off their heads! Deal with the things that challenge God’s rule in your life in a way that they won’t be able to come back to life.

The typology we find here is instructive. Joshua orders the kings be hung on trees. This pictures hanging our sin on the cross of Christ. Our “old man” the sinful nature and all its faces needs to be hung out to dry on the cross of Christ (Romans 6;  Gal. 2:20;  Colossians 3). “Put to death” the old man members (Colossians 3:5f.). And do a thorough job. That is what Joshua does: “26 And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. 27 So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day. 28 On that day Joshua took Makkedah, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them—all the people who were in it. He let none remain. He also did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.” (10:26-28). God’s victory is total; complete; thorough. In fact, “There will be no victory in the name of Christ until you declare total war against everything in your life that is sinful.” [3]

The rest of Joshua 10 recounts a number of other enemy areas that were defeated. There will be more battles. But just as the LORD delivered and brought victory previously, we can count on Him bringing victory in the present and on into the future (cf. 10:29-42). The LORD is the One who delivered this victory (10:29, 32, 42). Joshua merely had to obey, “as the LORD God of Israel had commanded” (10:40). Notice God’s attention to detail. God cares about the details. He has our hairs numbered (cf. Mat. 10:30-31).

The sanctifying process must be thorough. The old sinful nature cannot be trifled with. It is incapable of holiness. We must turn to the Spirit and seek His holy work in and through us. And that turn must be one of total commitment and abandonment to the Holy Spirit to do His holy work. Only then can we secure victory and the fullness of God’s blessing. The battle belongs to the LORD! Fight on!


[1] Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living, (Calvary Chapel Pub. Santa Ana, CA 2007)  pg. 134
[2] Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living (Calvary Chapel Pub. Santa Ana, CA 2007)  pgs. 135-136
[3] Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living (Calvary Chapel Pub. Santa Ana, CA 2007)  pg. 138

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