JOSHUA 10:1 – 12:24 and LUKE 4:1–44
The notoriety of Israel was continuing to grow and now it is King Adonizedec of Jerusalem who is in great fear. He seeks the help of 4 other kings to now come up against Gibeon; the city that Israel just made an agreement with (Jos 9). The men of Gibeon summoned Joshua to help them in the developing battle with the 5 kings. The Lord speaks to Joshua that they were to Fear Not and that He would deliver them into their hand (vs 9). The power of God is once again on full display. There was no sin in the camp and there was the great assurance of victory over these foes. In verses 10-11 Joshua and the mighty men of war discomfited these kings and their armies. God also was involved seeing that there were great stones (hail) from heaven that rained down as they fled. God’s methods and how he works in battles can often vary. He may use the arm of man or sometime intervene supernaturally. It is vital to hear the battle plan of God.
We now see another astounding miracle that involves Joshua. Remember, he witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and the parting of the Jordan River on previous occasions. Here, while in the midst of battle, a battle that was authorized by God, we see a most unusual occurrence. The day was drawing near the end and the battle was not yet won against the Amorites. He commanded the sun and moon to stand still (vs 12-13). Why did God honor such a declaration by Joshua? What would happen if we tried to that this evening? Would God do it? Why not; he did it for Joshua?
Joshua had a way in which he was in perfect alignment with God’s will. Faith accomplished God’s agenda and plan, not man’s. We get into trouble on the subject of faith when we seek to presume upon God and His will. Our prayer may well be self-serving. It is the daily walking and aligning with God’s heart where we can be instruments of the fruit of faith. There are times when the gift of faith may be in operation to accomplish an immediate need. God is not limited but He chooses to operate within the medium of faith.
In the midst of the battle we see the 5 kings fleeing and hiding in a cave at a place called Makkedah (vs 16). Instruction was given to seal the cave with a great stone until the appropriate time. These kings were brought forth and used as an example as to how God would deal with future enemies. The men were told to be strong and of a good courage. Joshua then slew these 5 kings and hung them on a tree. These early battles that Israel was engaged in resulted in total destruction of the enemy. It is the peace of God that shall put Satan under the feet of His saints (Rom 16:20). The foot being placed on the neck of the enemy signalled his defeat and submission. Joshua was very clear in demonstrating the means in which they would go forth to battle.
Joshua led Israel into several more battles all with the same result. Look at how thorough these battles are as the presence of the Lord goes forth on Israel’s behalf. Joshua wielded the sword decisively. He could do this because of the work of circumcision in his own life. Remember in chapter 5 where he stood before the Lord of hosts? He saw the Lord with the sword; a picture of how the Lord would go forth before them. At the same time Joshua was on holy ground and it was here where he had a revelation of the Sword of the Spirit being applied to his own life. The lessons of Ai make clear that all must be in order. The accursed thing in their midst allowed Israel to be vulnerable before their enemies. Sin is never to be trivialized; especially when God is in their midst. Joshua’s conquests in chapter 10 are also a picture of the Lord’s return at the 2nd coming. It will be through and complete. May God grant that we be among the Joshua Company of the last days.
Once again a similar scene is playing out as the other kings of the land hear in all that God is doing on Israel’s behalf. Like before, many of these kings joined forces so as to try and thwart the advances of Israel. Like before, the Lord speaks to Joshua to not be afraid. He adds that by tomorrow they will be delivered up to them (vs 6). The Lord instructed Moses to leave nothing undone and Moses did the same in instructing Joshua (vs 15). There was not any city that made peace with Israel except the Hivites who inhabited Gibeon, whom they earlier made an agreement with. It was God’s timing to destroy these cities and their kings. Their iniquity had become ripe and we see that it was God that hardened the hearts of these kings. We saw this with Pharaoh in Egypt. A heart can only be hardened if its soil is fertile for evil.
These battles must have been a marvel to witness. These enemy strongholds were falling like dominos, one after the other. I am calling to mind another charismatic song sung back in the early 80’s which captures this scenario. The last part of the song “There’s a light shining forth” has the following words: Nothing can stand; nothing can stand, before the armies of God. Today the world is being overrun by evil. The church as a whole is impotent in being able to stem the tide. We must take courage and know that the standard of the Lord will arise amongst many in these last days. We understand that all will culminate at the time of the 2nd coming but there will be battles to be won in the meantime. What is required is to have God in our midst (Zeph 3:17). As the Lord went forth on behalf of Israel may He also do so today. Lord, grant that we have clean hands and a pure heart.
This chapter is a record of the battles that Israel fought on both sides of the Jordan. In verses 1-6 we see the battles that were fought under Moses on the eastern side of the Jordan. It is in this area where the Reubenites, Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh settled. These battles served as a precursor in how God would fight on their behalf within the land of their inheritance. God was absolutely true to His Word. These battles were decisive in nature. The Fear of the Lord came upon the other nations as they heard of how Israel was advancing.
There have been so many miracles along the way. It began with the Exodus out of Egypt, the opening of the Red Sea for their passage into Midian, the daily provision of manna, the fact they required no new shoes or garments, and the battles that they would engage in. We also saw how the Lord was meticulous in the construction of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle communicates so much about God and how we are to relate to Him. The distinguishing qualities of the priesthood and their subsequent functioning of office gave greater insights as to how God would interact with man.
I feel it is important to relate the above due to its direct impact on their being successful in battle. Israel, under both Moses and Joshua, were not casual in how they went about fighting the enemy. These were men who did all that the Lord required (Jos 11:15). The one lone defeat at Ai came as a result of disobedience over a coveted item. That one act by one person affected the whole nation of Israel. It had to be put right and when it was atoned for they again went forth and experienced victory. This is the same prescription that is required in the battles we fight today. We are not coming against flesh and blood enemies but spiritual principalities and powers that govern men and nations. God demonstrated His power on behalf of Israel under Moses and Joshua but He also trained them in how to fight. These battles of record testify to the faithfulness of a mighty God, but they also present a blueprint for us. The Tabernacle, the priests, the offerings and instructions of God were all part of Israel’s boot camp. God did not introduce them into fighting right away. It was an incremental process otherwise they would have been consumed. One cannot help but come away awed and inspired in seeing how the Lord fought on their behalf. These were decisive victories against formidable enemies. This should encourage the believers of our day as we engage in our respective battles.
How does God train his church today? How can one apply the Old Testament means of preparation in a way that will make the church “fighting fit”? There are further keys that can be gleaned from chapter 12. The victories that were recorded under Joshua are found in verses 7-24. There were a total of 31 kings that Israel engaged against in war. How can we make a modern day application? A man by the name of A B Simpson wrote a short manual on the 31 kings. He applied these kings to 31 areas of the self-life that must be overcome. It is a beautiful picture of where the fiercest battles take place. Here is a link to this brief manual. http://www.pulpithelps.com/www/docs/1092-7039
These 31 kings of self are addressed in the Levitical offerings. It helps to give definition to what the Lord was requiring under Moses and Joshua so that we can understand its intent for us. It is also a picture of what we discussed earlier concerning Joshua. He encountered the Lord of hosts who held a sword in His hand. In that place, upon that holy ground Joshua realized the significance of the sword of circumcision. It first had to be applied within his own life before he could be effective with the sword in going forth to battle.
This is the New Testament reality. The greater battles are within. Once the kings within are conquered we become aligned with the Lord of Hosts for the great battles that must be waged without. This is how we can be equipped to come against spiritual powers and strongholds in high places. The danger today is that we feel we can take the battle to the enemy on our terms, thinking or assuming the Lord is with us. We may experience initial success but there is the danger of coming to a place of taking the presence of the Lord for granted. If this is our attitude today we will not stand in the greater battles to come. This happens when the Cross is minimized, when the message of grace is redefined and doctrine is altered. The battles that were waged throughout Canaan were a thorough annihilation of the enemy. There was a reason why it was so decisive. It was God fighting on behalf of Israel. He willingly did so due to the leadership of Moses and Joshua who were all out for God.
The 31 kings’ manual by A B Simpson is an effective tool in being able to blend the Old and New Covenants together. Simply put, it allows us to apply the preparatory tactics that Israel used in a modern day context. The list should be studied and meditated upon. The very first king mentioned is self-will. How appropriate and relevant this is. It was in the area of the will where Lucifer fell (Isa 14:13-14). It was in the area of the will where the Lord obtained the victory in becoming the sin sacrifice (Luk 22:42). One of the greatest gifts that God gave to man was the ability to choose. He does not force us to make decisions. True, He can help us to make right choices by way of circumstances or people that come into our lives; in the end we still are the ones who choose. To whom will we yield our members? Who’s “will” rules and reigns within us? Do we delight in doing and seeking after His will or do we satisfy the flesh by being self-willed? Can you see the power of this king?
Each one of the 31 kings can speak to an area of self within our lives. This is where the true battles are waged. If these kings are defeated, we can then be positioned in being a part of the Lord’s last day army. We must not be men and women of an uncircumcised heart. The New Covenant is the key in defeating these 31 kings.
The first 13 verses give the account of The Lord being tempted by the enemy. He had just been in the wilderness for a period of 40 days. The wilderness was a season that was appointed of God; it was the Spirit of God that led Him there. On two occasions the devil uses these words in His approach to Jesus, “If thou be the Son of God” (vs 3 and 9). One of the enemy’s most powerful weapons is that of identity theft. He is always seeking to define what is right or wrong. We see it in today’s world. The moral underpinnings have given way to a whole new reality. The problem results when a people try to live according to these revised values. We seek to find our identity by being accepted in this new reality. Satan even sought to try and undermine the Lord’s identity. Remember, he is the father of lies; he is always seeking to redefine truth (John 8:44). The Lord on several occasions received affirmation from His Father. His voice was heard at the waters of Baptism and it was reaffirmed at the Mt. of Transfiguration. One of the reasons why there is widespread identity theft today is due to a lack of true father. It is a father who can instil hope and belief in the life of a child. When a society is void of a father’s voice it can then fall prey to the culture and spirit of the world, seeking to find his or her acceptance on its terms. God created each of us with a purpose and a plan in mind. He has given us identity and we need to allow Him to help bring us into that place of discovery.
Speaking of identity, the Lord then went to Nazareth where He received the book of the prophet Isaiah. He read the passage from Isaiah 61 that spoke of Him. He closed the Book and then stated that this day the scripture is fulfilled before you. He knew who He was and He knew what His mission and work required. This must have been an astonishing moment to those who witnessed this event. The people noted His gracious words but then he turned His fire towards the priests and scribes.
In verses 23-27 Jesus refers to the ministry of Elijah and Elisha and how they were sent to individuals outside the camp of Israel. This discourse was a strong indictment upon the learned scribes and priests. These men existed by putting on a good outward show of religiosity. The Lord was publicly taking these men to task making clear that this hypocrisy would not be tolerated.
Life can carry on quite well when darkness is concealed. Up to now there was no man, other than John who was able to shine the light into these hidden areas. Jesus was now a threat to their ministry and reputation. This is why today’s teaching on holiness and the Cross is not widely received. The church now has clever doctrines that circumvent these heart related issues which allows the church to exist and in many instances flourish. It is like the fig tree example we looked at from Mark 11. The tree from a distance appeared to be fruitful but upon close inspection there was no fruit beyond its well clothed veneer. The Lord cursed the tree and then proceeded to go into the temple and turn things upside down. That is another picture of what the Lord is doing here. Jesus is cutting through their veneer of religion and exposing them. Does the church have within it the means to establish similar standards today?
We also need to see the beautiful balance that Jesus projects in His teachings. His Words were found to be gracious by many who heard Him when he read from Isaiah. The Words He shared to those in the synagogue were found to be offensive. We need to seek the Lord for that beautiful balance in our own lives. The men in the synagogue were in an uproar and they sought to be rid of Jesus then and there (vs 29). They wanted to cast him over a cliff which was one of their means of execution through the Old Testament (2 Chr 25:12). The Bible mentions that He passed right through them. How He did this is not clear but it was not yet His time to die. Here is an important Truth! Jesus was in the perfect will of His Father. Though there were enemies who tried to destroy Him, they could not do so because Jesus had a destiny with the Cross. Now this raises another important point. Can people die before their time? Can people who have a designated call upon their lives die prematurely? The answer is yes. It is vital for us as believers to take care of our physical bodies while maintaining a daily intimate communion with God. This will help ensure that we will hear needed instruction and correction to keep us in alignment with the Father’s purpose. The closer we get to the mark that God has for us the more intense the battles will become. The enemy will be charting our walk and seeking opportunity to divert us by way of easier doctrine or outright attacks. God is our preserver and is well able to keep us in such times.
Jud 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
We cannot presume that God will spare our lives before fulfilling our course if we are not living in the light. The key is walking in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). After this encounter He resumes His ministry onto the people. He goes about healing and casting out devils. His reputation is now increasing with these public displays of the miraculous. We see Jesus at the end of a long day coming into a place to have communion and prayer with the Father (vs 42). This account was summarised in the commentary of Mark 1. It was from this position of Rest where He was refreshed and instructed for His next assignment. He had to move on to other cities to fulfil His calling. This closing portion again points to the subject of Rest and the Sabbath. This theme is threaded throughout the whole Word of God going back to the time of creation (Gen 2:2). The Bible is truly a Living Word.