UNAFRAID - OF OUR BATTLES
Joshua was one of Israel’s greatest leaders and that’s s saying a lot since he stepped into the enormous shoes of Moses. Moses was larger than life in the sense that he fellowshipped with God intimately, he led 600,000 people out of Egypt towards the promised land, dealt with grumblers and idolaters regularly, and tended to the spiritual and everyday needs of these multitudes. Joshua followed Moses closely right from the exodus. He stood outside the tabernacle long after Moses left, he waited for him at the foot of the mountain while he received the ten commandments and he finally accepted the mantle of leadership that was laid on him by God to succeed Moses.
On taking up his new role as the leader of the Israelites he had his work cut out for him as he was required to take a nation unprepared for war into the land promised to them. The catch was that this land was occupied by other people groups who needed to be eliminated in order to make room for them. These people had incredible military might, were imposing in appearance and had well-fortified cities. Joshua had to train up the young men of Israel and he had to lead them in conquest. Right off the bat before his very first battle, Joshua was met by the commander of the Lord’s army. In response to Joshua’s question of whose side he was on, his only reply was “No, but as commander of the Lord’s army I have now come”. It's interesting because it feels like God is confirming to Joshua that every battle henceforth will have God involved and they will not be alone. It must have been encouraging for Joshua since they were ill-equipped and under-qualified yet they had the God of angel armies on their side. What an assurance! What a relief.
Throughout the life of Joshua, the battles are many, the enemies are varied and the God-given strategies are unique. The conquest of each country had a different tactic that was given by God to Joshua who followed it to a tee. It resulted in the conquering of many lands, defeat of many kings, and land made ready for occupation by the people of Israel. This may sound straight forward but it wasn’t so. The hidden sin of one man in the Israelite camp caused the defeat of the entire army by the small country of Ai. The reason for the defeat was the blatant disobedience of this man Achan in keeping for himself plunder from the battle at Jericho. There was also a lapse in judgment on the part of Joshua and the elders when they were deceived by the people of Gibeon, who pretended they were from a far off land and got Israel to sign a peace treaty with them. The Israelites had to stick to their word and offer them protection instead of getting rid of them as per God’s instructions to them.
If your life feels like Joshua’s with you facing one battle after another, there is good news for you. You are not alone in it. God tells Joshua time and time again that he is to “Be strong and very courageous, do not be afraid nor be dismayed” for he promised to be with him wherever he went. While battles are intimidating and fear-inducing, as followers of Jesus we can be sure that we are never alone, not even for a second. When we accept Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Saviour, we are on His side and so we have access to help any time we call on His name.
In order to experience victory, we must be adequately prepared meaning that if we don’t have a relationship with Christ through his word and prayer we will be ill-equipped to handle the battle ahead. We also need the support of a Christ-centred community who will provide emotional, spiritual, and physical support for us during these intense seasons to prevent us from collapsing in isolation.
Each battle we face will look different on the face of it but the enemy is the same- Satan, the father of lies, the deceiver, and the adversary of God. Our God will provide different strategies for each battle if we would seek his face and listen for his voice. He will show us how to defend ourselves and if need be, teach us scripture or lead us to worship as a direct offensive against the enemy. We need not be afraid or unwary of the enemy’s ploys since we have a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and almighty. Nothing is beyond his realm of control. We can trust Him to lead us to victory.
During times of peace, we must be careful to consult God on the big and small issues so that our decisions are God-honoring and wise if not we could be deceived into trusting the wrong people and bringing them into our lives contrary to God’s will for us.
We can walk through battlefields unafraid when we realize that everything we undergo will eventually bring glory to God. Nothing is ever wasted with our God. He uses everything that happens to shape us and to reveal Himself to others.
Will you put on your God-given armor (Ephesians 6) and step onto that battlefield fearlessly?
Will you trust God to bring you victory?
Like Joshua may you choose to serve God alone and allow him to lead you through life’s battles victoriously.