The Faith to be Victorious, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, December 31, 2017 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As we turn the page from the end of one year to the beginning of another, it’s a good time to reflect on your victories and defeats over the past year. When you lost something important in your life, what were the reasons? When you experienced a victory, what worked? The turn of the annual calendar is always a great time to resolve to do things differently going forward. At the end of the day, however, you will not be able to succeed in making the necessary changes unless you have a plan or steps that you follow.

This is no different than what we see in sports. Often, a TV commentator will give the viewers a certain number of “keys to victory” for each team. The purpose is to identify the steps for each team that would be necessary for them to accomplish their goals. Generally, they are nothing spectacular. They are almost always as obvious as “score more points than the other team” or “stop them on defense and get your offense going." It’s important in any area of life to know what needs to happen in order for us to have success. As we learned last week, the most important thing to remember is that we must remain obedient and trusting of the Lord even when we are feeling hopeless and need a miracle to achieve victory. We also learned that “no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37). So, in other words, doing what God’s Word says is one way to guarantee ourselves success in the next year, provided that our goals and definitions of “success” match up with his.

Last week, I briefly introduced you to a man named Joshua from the Old Testament and told you that his name means the same thing that “Jesus” means, which is “the Lord saves." Joshua was leading the people of Israel through the wilderness and toward the Promised Land (then Canaan, but now present-day Israel) after Moses had died. God had a major victory prepared for them that would come through his miracles, but he chose to test their faith first and help them grow and be prepared to win that victory. Hebrews 11:30 tells us that the faith of the people led to the collapse of the walls around the city of Jericho. Their faith was not just a matter of internal belief. It was shown in their actions as they marched around the enemy’s city for seven days, before doing anything else, simply because that was what the Lord commanded. That faith in action didn’t come easily, but was learned over time.

We find the story in Joshua 6, but the chapters before that help us to see how God was building up their faith every step of the way. Joshua 2 tells us the story of Rahab. We’ll look more specifically at her next week, but I want to draw your attention to two separate verses that show us the same thing. Rahab lived in the city of Jericho and aligned herself with Israel by hiding the spies when they came to survey the land. We see in verse 9 that she tells them the reason she protects them is because she knows the Lord gave them the land and all who live there are “melting in fear” because of them. We then see in verse 24 that the spies go back to Joshua and tell him the same exact thing! God showed them from the very start that they wouldn’t have to worry about creating their own victory. They could believe that he was already causing their enemies to melt in fear. So often, we want to control people and make them do or think what we feel is right or best. We must accept that God is always working on hearts, our own included.

Joshua 3-4 then tells us about the moment the people actually entered the Promised Land. The Jordan River, which separated them from the land, was at flood stage. This would be another obstacle for which they had no answer, but God did. He causes the waters to dam up and allows them to pass through the river on dry land just as he had done previously with the Red Sea. It’s important for us to note, as Joshua 4:4-7 tells us, that a member of each tribe of Israel picked up a stone from the middle of the Jordan River to serve as a reminder for them and all future generations of the Lord’s great work on their behalf.

Joshua 5 then tells us about a situation that required great trust in the Lord, as well as full obedience and commitment to him. Joshua and the Israelites camped at a place called Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. At this point, they are actually IN the Promised Land. But, just because God promised them something, that didn’t mean everyone else would be okay with it. Not everyone is always going to support what God is doing in your life. Sometimes, they’ll even fight directly against it. The Israelites expected some of the people occupying the land to put up a fight. They probably kept moving forward wondering why in the world no one was attacking them. But Joshua 5:1 tells us that it wasn’t just the native people who were “melting in fear," but their kings as well! God gives the Israelites a free path all the way to Jericho, then commands Joshua to circumcise all the males in the Israelite camp right then and there. The reason is that all the men previously circumcised died in the wilderness, so it was time for Joshua to do so with the men who were born during the 40 years in the wilderness. We may not see why this is important, but we must remember this was God’s requirement as a sign of faith and trust in the covenant he made with them. Understand that this meant they would have to spend time at the camp waiting to heal from the circumcision. This is in a place where their pagan enemies still live! They would be completely vulnerable, but Joshua and the Israelites obey the Lord just as he commanded, and he keeps them protected yet again.

After that, we see that they celebrate the Passover, and then begin to enjoy the produce of the land the next day. God had provided manna for the Israelites to eat the entire time they were in the wilderness, but they no longer needed it because they were feeding off the land they had always been promised. Then Joshua has an individual encounter with the Lord. When he is near Jericho, he sees someone who appears to be a soldier ready to attack. Joshua asks if he is for them or their enemies, and the man replies “neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come” (Joshua 5:14). We need to understand this is the Lord speaking directly to Joshua. Who is commander of the Lord’s army? That would be THE LORD. Plus, Revelation 22:8-9 shows us that angels are NOT worthy to receive worship, yet that’s exactly what Joshua does once he figures out who he is speaking to. He falls down in reverence, refers to the man as his “Lord," and then obeys the command to take off his sandals because it is holy ground. You’d think God would say that he was on Israel’s side, but that wasn’t really the issue. It was more important for Joshua and the Israelites to determine if they were going to get on God’s side, not the other way around.

The rest, as they say, is history. The Lord told Joshua and the Israelites very specifically what they needed to do to conquer Jericho, and it had nothing to do with fighting at first. They needed to march around the city walls for six days, giving their presence away and again making them vulnerable in the eyes of the world. Then, on the seventh day, they would march around it seven times, give a loud shout, watch the walls collapse, and go into the city and rout those living there. They did everything he commanded and God gave them a great victory. But it all began and grew with the steps of faith and trust along the way.

What can we learn from all this? Joshua and the Israelites had four keys to victory that apply in any battle we are facing in life. First, they died to themselves and trusted the Lord fully when they were circumcised. Second, the celebrated the Passover and remembered the stones from the Jordan River, which were testimonies of the blood of the Lamb and the work God was doing. Third, they ate the produce in the Promised Land, meaning they continued to feed on God’s promises and his Word. Finally, Joshua took off his sandals, showing he was fully surrendered to the Lord. The Israelites followed suit when they obeyed the instructions. If any of us keep these four things in our individual lives, we will be victorious in whatever comes our way!

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