Joshua: God's Strategies for Victory
Part I “Introduction and the Battle of Jericho”
The Book of Joshua provides a comparison of an Old Testament situation with the experiences and battles in life that we encounter as born-again Christians. The theme of the book revolves around the events, the warfare and the strategies of how the children of Israel went in to claim the Promised Land. We need to learn the same lessons to help us walk into the "promised land" (spiritually) of our lives.
As revealed in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, we do not war according to our flesh, or physical senses, but it is by God's power that we have victory in our lives. Spiritual warfare requires spiritual strategies that achieve spiritual victories. Even as Joshua encountered and defeated enemy strongholds through the power of God, we must also depend on God to overcome rebellious strongholds in our lives. Verse 5 says "we pull down reasonings and all pride that elevates [itself] against the knowledge of God and we lead captive all thoughts to the obedience of Christ."
Joshua exemplified a man of meekness and dedication to God, willing to be an obedient servant. He served Moses selflessly for 40 years and learned how to submit to God's will before he became the leader of Israel. He stayed strong in faith that God would provide what he had promised, even in the midst of decades of murmuring unbelief inside the camp and formidable enemies outside the camp. As they crossed over the Jordan River into enemy territory, Joshua remained focused on God and looked to him for direction and wisdom.
Joshua led Israel in battle against seven enemy nations in the land of Canaan--the Perrizites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Canaanites, Gergashites and Hivites. Those "ites" also spiritually represent strongholds that we have to deal with and overcome in our lives in order to walk in the fullness of what God has promised and provided for us as his children.
When Joshua came up against the stronghold of Jericho, he didn’t just rush in to fight the battle, he asked God what to do. The account in Joshua 6 describes how he listened to God and obeyed all the steps to win the battle. He instructed the people to quietly walk around the city each day for seven days. Seven priests blew on trumpets of rams' horns as they walked ahead of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant. On the seventh day they walked around the city seven times and then Joshua told the people to shout! The city wall fell down flat and they took the city. When God told him to do something that seemed completely illogical as a battle strategy, he obeyed God to the letter, helped the people to work together and they won the victory. As we look to God with humility and obey his voice, we shall walk and live in great victory in our lives!
This teaching covers Joshua 5 and 6.
Part II “The Battle of Ai and the Deception of Gibeon”
After their victory at Jericho, the children of Israel lost a battle to the relatively small city of Ai. Against God's specific command, part of the first fruits from Jericho were withheld from God because of greed and lust. Achan had taken from the spoils and hidden them inside his tent. Because there was sin within the camp of Israel, a number of the Israelites were killed by the inhabitants of Ai and the hearts of the people "melted and became as water."
In the flush of victory, Joshua had forgotten to ask God how to deal with the city of Ai but rather sent his men in to view the area and bring back a report to him. He listened to their recommendations instead of looking to God for direction, and as a result, 36 men were killed.
Joshua fell to the earth on his face repenting and cried out to God who revealed to him the source of the sin. When God showed him what had happened, it woke him up! When confronted by Joshua, Achan confessed his sin, and along with his whole family he was stoned to death and burned. His greed and his actions affected the whole community and cost him and his family their lives.
After Joshua dealt with the sin and sought God’s direction, they got back up on their feet and successfully ambushed the city of Ai. They didn't get prideful about their victory but Joshua had them worship, make offerings, and God’s Word was magnified before all the congregation of Israel.
Then all the kings of the "ites" in the area gathered together with one accord to fight with Joshua and Israel. The inhabitants of Gibeon had heard about Israel's victories over Jericho and Ai, and deceived Joshua into an alliance with them by disguising themselves as ambassadors. Joshua had doubts about them but did not seek God’s counsel. Rather, he walked by his senses, was deceived, made a covenant with them and then had to deal with the consequences of his actions. The Gibeonites became servants of Israel as hewers of wood and drawers of water, working in the temple through the time of David.
After this account, there is no other mention of Joshua walking by his senses. We can learn and be encouraged from these records that there are consequences to sin but when we repent, God will enable us to deal with them. As Joshua, we can learn from our mistakes and even when we don't walk perfectly, we can remain faithful to continue seeking after God.
This teaching covers Joshua 7, 8 and 9.
Part III “The Southern Campaign”
There is a great lesson to be learned in Joshua 10 about how to deal with fear. We must pursue the enemy until defeated, no matter how long it takes, and not settle for anything less than complete deliverance and victory.
In Joshua 10, five kings of the Amorites conspired to stand together and fight against Joshua and the Israelites. After Gibeon, one of their royal cities, betrayed them and made a pact with Israel, the kings decided to take action to defeat them. This was a coalition of very mighty warriors. The campaign was organized by Adonizedek, the king of Jerusalem, and he strategically wanted Hebron involved because of the intimidating giants who lived there. The purpose of the campaign was to cause great fear.
The Gibeonites went to Joshua for help because they knew he would honor the covenant he had made. Previously, Joshua had to deal with defeating only one city at a time, even though Jericho was a huge and intimidating walled city. Now he was faced with fighting five powerful kings at the same time. But he sought God’s way and met the problem head-on. In Joshua 10:8 we read, And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.”
With God’s direction, Joshua and his army came upon them suddenly in the middle of the night and caught the kings completely by surprise. Then as they fled through a great valley, more of the enemy were killed by hailstones from the Lord in heaven than Israel killed with the sword. And the hailstones fell only on the enemy, not on the army of Israel!
After nearly a full day of battle, God gave Joshua the authority to command the sun to stand still to provide more time to pursue the enemy. The five kings hid in a cave at Makkedah and the men of Israel rolled a stone in front of the mouth of the cave and trapped them while Joshua led the army to slaughter the enemy. After the battle, Joshua took the kings out of the cave and killed them all. The five cities were utterly destroyed as God had commanded and Israel rejoiced in the victory together.
We must face our fears and deal with them. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but [a Spirit] of power and of love and of instruction.” (APNT) All are from God and all are required to go against fear. We are often challenged by fear with things that could overtake us. We must realize that the battle is spiritual and the battlefield is in the mind.
We are to pursue our enemies until the battle is won and then share the testimony of victory through the greatness of God and his strength, not our own. As the song says, “When the enemy presses in hard, do not fear! The battle belongs to the Lord!”
This teaching covers Joshua 10.
Part IV “The Northern Campaign and Joshua’s Last Words”
In Joshua 11 we see another coalition of kings rising up against Israel to destroy them. This time, instead of five kings, there were fifteen kings from the north under the king of Hazor that joined together to go against Israel. Joshua had to turn his attention to the north where they were gathering at the waters of Merom.
Hazor was the economic center in the land of Canaan and Jabin, the king of Hazor, was calling the shots. The sheer numbers of foot soldiers, men on horses and chariots were overwhelming and Israel's resources were no match.
Again, God told Joshua to have courage and that he would deliver them from their enemies. In the face of extreme intimidation, Joshua faithfully obeyed God and trusted him to the uttermost.
Joshua and the army of Israel came suddenly upon the enemy and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel. God had instructed Joshua to hamstring the horses and burn the chariots of the enemy to teach him that he couldn't trust in the same things as his enemies to win the battle. The multiplication of horses was actually forbidden in the law, as written in Deuteronomy 17:16.
Joshua captured Hazor, killed the king, burned the city and took all the plunder. He acquired the land and divided it among the tribes of Israel. He left nothing undone that God had told him to do and as a result Israel was victorious and had rest from war.
In Joshua 24, when Joshua was nearly 110 years old, he gathered all the tribes of Israel together to encourage them. He shared the history of Israel and how God had blessed them. He exhorted and charged them to forsake all idols and strange gods and to turn their hearts to the one true God. They agreed to serve God only and to obey his voice so Joshua made a covenant with them and set a great stone under an oak tree as a witness.
We, too, must serve God with our whole hearts, for he has called us from before the foundations of the world and has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ. All things are under our feet and God gives us the strategies and the victories. In him we have rest.