Thursday, August 22, 2013

JOSHUA 10...getting serious with the enemy!



It’s a hard thing to come to terms with the fact that the ‘road of blessing’ is at the same time a ‘road of hard spiritual warfare.’  And as we have seen thus far, Satan’s attacks upon us are always carefully choreographed and methodically implemented.  Satan does not battle sloppily! For him, his whole existence is organized around your defeat, and your neighbors, and mankind in general!

These 5 kings...who no doubt were not ’bosom buddies,’ were motivated to seek an alliance and a union between themselves in order to corporately face the coming common enemy...Joshua and the people of Israel. Such may seem strange bedfellows, but as the old adage reads… “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  Often a common hatred, a common ‘foe,’ will unite historical enemies in a inexplicable bond. The only requirement is a greater hatred and/or a greater fear of the common foe than they have of each other! In this matter, the world is so often wiser than we the greater church!
  
They gathered together as one force, but instead of coming directly at Israel, they attempted instead to take out one who was affiliated with Israel, which in this case, was the Gibeonites. ‘Unions” such as these are still common today. I have witnessed people who can’t stand each other unite to come together against one of God’s chosen.   Often too is the case, they will not come after me directly...although I am the (at least verbalized) focal point of their hatred as pastor here,  but rather they will come after you or another member of the flock.  This is because they hold to the premise that by hurting you they can hurt me...and that is very true. They also think you are easier to overcome, which is not always the case!  In fact, such enemies of the cross have been consistently surprised at many of you who are “closet spiritual kung fu masters.”

 And what such enemies come to find out, is the same as these 5 kings: we watch each other’s backs.  In community we walk out our lives with some big brothers watching out for us, and we come to the rescue...just like Israel did, when they enemy tries to gang up on one of our own!
  
Once these enemies were defeated, the text goes on to describe in verses 22-27, a scenario that many would find excessively violent and cruel.  Joshua went on to humiliate and publically crush these enemies in a very stark fashion. No doubt there would be many who would criticize Joshua here...where’s your mercy Joshua? Where is your grace and forgiveness?

 How often I as a pastor has been criticized on the occasions for which I had to deal with an individual by name from the pulpit, or had to overtly remove someone from this fellowship. You don’t have to do that too many time by the way to gain a very stark reputation!  It is something I do not do lightly, nor do I do so without prayer and a time of seeking the Lord.  But the reality is, without such extreme action on occasion, the enemies of God would be eating a lot more sheep and souls of God’s children would be lost because of it. I will not stand idly by and try to reason with the wolf while he is munching on a sheep leg! There is no reasoning with a rabid dog. You just ’put it down.’

  Do not misunderstand me...there most definitely is to be an out pouring of mercy and grace and forgiveness when a person is truly seeking such. 70 times 7! Jesus offered forgiveness and covering for those who were repentive and contrite. But he saved his most severe rebukes for those who attacked the weak, kicked the innocent and crushed the young...especially if they attempted to do so under the guise of religion.
  
He called these folks dogs, fools, blind guides, snakes, hypocrites, and more...sometimes he did so while violently turning over the tables they were sitting at and whipping them with a cat of nine tails! “Jesus-meek-and-mild” indeed! Once again….this flies in the face of our common overtly passive position as Christians. I say that not to negate the “turn the other cheek” attitude as believers. But there is a difference between when they hit you for your faith than when they hit someone else in attempt to take that individual off that eternal road to the Father, or even to hurt them needlessly! To do nothing often is the opposite of love and the embodiment of self and the flesh!
  
There comes a time, that we are to seek to be the church that is feared. Not a building...not in terms of cruelty or harm. In fact, just the opposite! But our reputation should be one that makes the enemies of God think twice before he or she “stirs up the bee hive.”

 The world should recognize and rightfully fear the power of God that is manifested in this fellowship. The commitment and love should be so strong that the world and the pseudo-Christians screech to a halt at the bond of community that they witness here...that the idea of the ‘greater family’ is so strong, that nothing can come between us. We should be together uncompromising in our faith, courageous in our testimony and holy in our living. Such...if lived out sufficiently, should stagger their resolve! All of this because of the fact that many folks frankly are quite committed to doing as much damage to the church of God as they possibly can. It is their personal ‘mission.’  John 16:2 reminds us that “the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.
  
We are to be marines...a verifiable marine SEAL division. Not looking for a fight, but not running away from it either. Once the need for deployment has been issued, we must certainly be willing to go “nose to nose” with the enemies of Christ if necessary!  Such a soldier of the Lord is “righteous in his conduct, uncompromising in his principles, passionate in his devotion, sacrificial in his service, and transparent in his life.” REDPATH 
  
These are the attributes that the world fears! Along with consistency, faithfulness, spiritual confidence, ... hearts of humility and backbones of integrity! The enemies of God  just don’t get it. Such a life is strange and unusual, and they don’t know what to do with you.

We are actually called to be the people that are God’s church...which the “gates of hell will not prevail against.” (Matt 16:18)  That description of the church hardly sounds like a “walk through the rose garden.”

The fact remains that many of us are trying to deal with Spiritual Warfare without actually fighting! How often the whole of our spiritual interaction is defensive.  We spend our days ‘hunkered down’ in whatever perceived safety we can build for ourselves. Whether it be our careers, our money, or our positions in society.  Or maybe its just trying to hide out here in Wisconsin...sort of like hiding under our beds!

But God did not redeem us to hide out or cower in fear. Because ‘perfect love casts out all fear!’ (1 Jn 4:18)  We are to fight the offensive battle as well as knowing what we need to do to cover our backside. Knowing the need for community, devotions, prayer, and accountability so we have defense in our lives also.  But we were never called to be a people who retreats, hides from the devil and possible battles.  We are instead called to the offense in the name of Christ...knowing that nothing can touch us without permission from God.
  
In the 17th verse of this chapter, we see that these kings found themselves ultimately hiding in a cave.  How in the world did this happen? I’m sure they never imagined such a thing when they gathered themselves together into a corporate arm of Satan.  They had armies! They had weapons! They intended to inflict some pain and damage but that’s not the way it played out.
  
Here they were….hiding from Joshua. How often this is this case with those who begin in an attack against God’s people...boisterous and bravado, only to end in a whimpering and hiding. Not because of our own righteousness, abilities, or bravery...but because “God is with us.” It is not a case of the proverbial “God is on our side,” but rather because “we are on God’s side!” Such a dynamic is not so much earned like a badge, but rather nurtured like a living baby.
  
Joshua stayed connected with his God. He messed up once...and got out ahead of God like we all seem to do at times. But he learned, and returned again to that place where...between battles, he would slow down and seek God. He would listen to God’s voice and hear His direction and worship Him. All so when the enemy came again...and he always will Christian...he was ready.

Like when the apostles failed to cast the demon out of the boy in Matthew 17, Jesus pointed out to them that “this kind of enemy only comes out with prayer and fasting.” And the point wasn’t that they messed up by not anticipating this specific battle and thus spent time in prayer and time fasting. The point was that such enemies will be coming...always and for us all, and we have to live in light of that inevitability.  Joshua had been living and walking and dwelling in peace, so that when it came time to move and make a decision he could “let the peace of God remain...”   He no longer just blasted forward from one battle to the next, presumptuously plotting on to the next challenge without seeking and asking and waiting ...that had got him into trouble. No, he took the time to “stand still and know that He is God.”

These kings were then so humiliated before all so that everyone would know that God is all powerful and that he alone “controls the field.” This was not a celebration of Joshua’s conquest...it was a worship of God’s!
  
Sadly...many of us correctly “surrendered” to God at salvation, but we went beyond that and essentially surrendered to everything.  We surrendered to passivity and non-resistance. We surrendered to the dreary, the stodgy and the tedious.  We have surrendered to a life inconsequential and conformable.  We’re spiritual Gumby's...just bending against the offense.  We have not surrendered to God...we have surrendered to Satan!  Christian...where are you going today? Do you have a plan? Is there a vision? A dream? A goal? Because “God loves to give good gifts to his kids.”

 This humbling scene presented by Joshua herein, is not just to take place out there ...with other sinners and ambiguous scenes of difficulty and hardship.  For many of us need to put our foot on the neck of our own pride...our jealousy, our critical spirit, our tongue, our bondage habits. For with many of us, the enemy lies primarily within.  But I assure you such will never happen unless we get serious about the fight, and do whatever is necessary to win it. Are you..like Joshua, willing to "get violent" with sin?
  
These “kings” of our world...especially the private ones in our heads and hearts, must be slain...rendering them powerless to hurt anyone.  Then we need to hang them up in the tree where we can see them...so we never forget.
  
Christian...must I remind you that in God’s army there is no “part time soldiers.’ Are you in or not?
  
If you are, then get yourself to the front and fight!  Because that is the place where God does miracles.  That’s the place where we see God’s hand.  That is the place where he supernaturally intervenes and “makes the sun stop in the sky.” That is the place of victory.
  
Passivity and the absence of chaos and battle is not “peace.” It’s retirement!  A clean barn does not mean you are a great organized farmer. It means you aren’t really farming at all... Jeremiah 6:14  They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. NLT renders that: They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.