Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Joshua wasn’t aiming for an early retirement. He finished fighting battles and establishing the new land late into life. Nancy Leigh DeMoss reflects on his career.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: See the progression there? First the conquest, then the settlement, then the rest. That’s when you can put down your sword. That’s when you can take off your armor—when the battle has been fought.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, October 27, 2014.

Do you feel engaged in a battle? You should be. Whether it’s a battle in prayer on behalf of your family or a war against your own sin, Nancy will explain why it might be time to re-enlist, continuing in a series called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 11): Waging and Winning Spiritual Battles." 

Nancy: We’re in Joshua chapters 10 through 12, and we’re seeing what some would consider a pretty boring description, an overview and summary of the battles that Joshua fought one after another. He’s most famous for the battle of Jericho, but there were lots of battles to be fought.

We’re looking in this passage to find some gems, some treasures that will help us in our spiritual battles, the battles we face against Satan, against this world’s system, against our own flesh and indwelling sin.

We said in the last session that although God gave the land to His people, they had to fight to take possession of it, one square inch at a time, one city at a time. There were many battles to be fought. Each battle was different, and God gave different battle plans. So they had to follow the Lord through each battle. They never could do this on their own.

I want to pick up in this same portion of Joshua with some other insights on this matter of spiritual battle, spiritual warfare, that have been helpful to me as I think about my own walk with the Lord.

The first one I want to point out today, on the face of it it will not be very encouraging, but it’s important to realize. That is that in Joshua’s case as in ours, the battles did not get any easier. In fact, they got harder.

You see, the more victories they won, the more intense, determined, and fierce the opposition became. You can really see this pattern as you move from chapter 10 to chapter 11. For example, look at chapter 10. In the first verses of that chapter there’s a description of the southern coalition of kings that came against Joshua and the Israelites.

The summary is there in verse 5 of chapter 10:

Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

Then we come to chapter 11, verse 1 and following, and we see a description of the northern coalition that was even more fierce. Let me read this, the first five verses, and I want you to get the feel of what Joshua and the Israelites are facing. Verse 1 of chapter 11:

When Jabin, king of Hazor, heard of this, he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, and to the kings who were in the northern hill country . . . and in Naphoth-dor on the west, to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites under Hermon in the land of Mizpah.

That’s quite a coalition. I don’t know who all those people are but they are fierce and focused and determined in their effort to come together against Joshua. Look at verse four.

They came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

I read this and I go, “Whew!” This is a major battle coming up here. And Joshua has already been fighting. He’s in his 90s now. He’s been fighting and you’d think, “Surely the battles are going to get easier.” But no, they get harder.

In the first verse of this passage you see Jabin the king of Hazor. Jabin was the leader of the northern coalition and Hazor was the largest, best-known city in Canaan at that time, and it was also the best fortified. This was a fierce enemy.

They introduce a new element into the warfare and that is chariots. We haven’t read about them coming against Israel to this point, and Israel did not have chariots at this point. According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, who wrote several hundred years later, the combined forces of the opposition in this case were 300,000 foot soldiers, 100,000 cavalry, and 20,000 chariots.

I say all that to say don’t be surprised when you find yourself at times facing fierce enemies. There are times when I think, “You know, I’ve been walking with the Lord for nearly forty-five years now.”

And I think, “How can I know the Scripture the way I do and have walked with the Lord all these years and seen His acts on my behalf, and still sometimes find myself in this fierce battle.”

  • It’s the way it is.
  • Don’t be surprised by it.
  • You can’t avoid it.
  • It’s going to happen.
  • Be prepared for the fact that the battles don’t get easier.

The more battles you win, you’re taking territory from Satan. And the more you move into his territory, the more intense and focused he’s going to become.

In the midst of all this with all these fierce foes and all this opposition, I love the fact that God repeatedly tells Joshua, “Don’t be afraid.” God assures Joshua of the outcome.

Look at chapter 8, verse 1. When Joshua was going into Ai, God said, “Do not fear and do not be dismayed.”

You say, “Why would He need to say that as he’s going into Ai? They’ve just come off this great victory at Jericho.” But keep in mind, they’ve also just come off a big defeat at Ai. The people at Ai, the first time they fought this battle, caused the Israelites to flee.

Now they’re going back for take two. And God says to Joshua, "Don’t be afraid. Don’t be dismayed. Don’t let your heart fail you now. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai and his people, his city, and his land."

God says, "Here’s what’s going to happen." He doesn’t always tell him on the front end how it’s going to happen, but He says, "You will win. The enemy will be overcome."

Look at chapter 10, verse 8. This is talking about the southern coalition that came up in chapter 10. God says, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.”

So you have the charge of God—don’t be afraid—and you have the promise of God—I will give them into your hands.

And then chapter 11, verse 6. As you’re reading Scripture and as you’re meditating on it, look for these repeated concepts. It will give you clues and insights that are really, really valuable. We have the northern coalition, the one I just read about with the chariots and the hundreds of thousands of armed soldiers.

And God says in verse 6, “Do not be afraid of them.”

Why did God keep telling Joshua, “Don’t be afraid”? I think it’s because Joshua was afraid. God knows we get afraid. We are afraid at times.

God says, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel.”

God says, "I will give the victory. Don’t be afraid."

Once you have the promise of the Lord, you can face any enemy no matter how fierce that enemy may be. What’s precious to me about this passage is that Joshua receives these promises from the Lord. God says to him, “Don’t be afraid. I’m going to give you the enemy.” And then Joshua uses those very same promises to turn around and encourage his troops and to reassure others on the basis of God's promise.

Look at chapter 10, verse 25. Joshua says to his soldiers, “Do not be afraid or dismayed.” Where did he hear that? God had just told him, “Do not be afraid.”

He says now to his soldiers, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”

Ladies, your husband, your children, your fellow workers, your friends, your family members, they need courage, too. As you get courage from the Lord and get His promises, you can become a means of encouraging those around you.

Your husbands are in a spiritual battle. They need courage. They don’t need somebody picking on them or pulling them down. They need someone lifting up their hands and strengthening them and someone saying, “Be strong and courageous.” You can become a means of grace and courage and faith in the lives of others as you get God’s promises.

Here’s another insight I see from this section of the book of Joshua and that is that the Israelites fought together to conquer each region of the land. There were different regions. There was hill country, there were lowlands, there was a coastal region.

Ultimately, each tribe was going to take possession of one part of the land. They were not all going to inherit the hill country. They were not all going to be in the desert. They would not all be on the coast. Each tribe was going to have its own place.

But they were all to strive together until everyone had the obstacles overcome in their territory. You see, until all the enemies in the region were subdued, no one’s portion was secure or safe. Israel could not be the light or the witness that God intended for her to be in the world until every tribe had taken possession of its portion.

Here in the west we have this mindset that tends to be very individualistic, and that sometimes shows up in our spiritual lives as well. So the mindset becomes, “I fight my battles, and you fight yours. I fight my battles, and I leave others to fight theirs.”

But what I see in this passage is that we are part of a community of faith; that we are in this together and none of us is secure until all of us have had our territory conquered in the name of Christ. We need to assist each other in taking possession of all that He has given to each of us.

The effectiveness of my witness and my ministry in this world depends in part on others in the Body of Christ being victorious over the enemies in their region. If you are being overcome by the enemy, that’s going to affect my light and my witness. If I’m being overcome by the enemy, that’s going to affect your light and your witness in the world.

What’s the bottom line? We need each other in the battle. We are all in this together. We need to join arms, link forces with each other. Wouldn’t it be an incredible thing in the Body of Christ, in the local church, if families would bond together, if families would bind themselves together and say, “We are going to covenant to pray together for the children of the families in this church”?

It’s not just your teenage kids you’re having problems with, but if you’re having issues with rebellion with your children, that’s going to become our issue corporately. We’re going to together go to the Lord and cry out to God and ask Him to give victory. We’ve got people in this church who are struggling with lust or with moral impurity or with broken marriages. We’re going to say that is our collective issue.

We’re going together to wage war against the enemy. I’m not just going to leave it to the others to fight for their church or I’ll handle mine. Listen, I need you when it comes to fighting my battles and you need me when it comes to fighting your battles. We need each other.

We see that beautifully illustrated in the way that the Israelites came together to take the land.

Two other points I want to make about spiritual warfare from this portion of Joshua. They did a thorough job. They were not halfhearted in dealing with the opposition. There was no compromising with the enemy. There was zero tolerance for anything or anyone that God said was to be destroyed.

In chapters 10 and 11 if you’ll read these chapters, and I had to read it several times, many times, before this all started to stand out to me. But over and over and over again you’ll see phrases like this: "Every person in it they conquered." "They left none remaining." "They took all the land." "They took all the kings."

You’ll read these over and over again. What’s it saying? They didn’t do a partial job of obedience. They didn’t say, “We’ll just take some of these enemies, some of this territory, but we’ll sit back and let the rest just stay.” They did a thorough job.

Chapter 11, verse 15 tells us, “[Joshua] left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.”

Verse 23: “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses.”

I see here a man who took God seriously and a man who was intent on carrying out all that God had commanded. I think so many of us in our Christian lives get to a certain point and then we say, “I’m tired of battling. I’m tired of dealing with my flesh. I just want to sit back and pamper my flesh for a while or let it have its way.”

We see Joshua saying, “No, we’re not going to let any of these enemies survive. We are going to keep going, keep going, keep going until the whole land has been conquered for God.”

My dream in life is that a split second before I step from here into heaven is when the last battle will have been fought. I’ll be like, the next step is I’m just ready for heaven because the sin has been overcome, the battles have been fought, the flesh has been crucified. The next step is just into the presence of the Lord.

I think that’s what the Lord intends for us. I don’t want to finish this life and say, “Oh, there’s still much land to be conquered, areas I never brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.”

You see this thread, this emphasis through the New Testament. Hebrews 12:1,

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely.

Get rid of it all! Don’t leave any of it. Second Corinthians chapter 10:4-5,

The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

How many wrong philosophies is it okay for us to leave in our own thoughts or in this world? None! How much are we supposed to take captive for Christ? How many of our thoughts? Every thought taken captive for Christ.

I see that principle illustrated in the life of Joshua. He left none remaining of the enemies of God. He took all the land, all the kings, all the cities, took it all for God.

Ephesians 5:3 and 11 talks about sexual immorality and impurity and it says,

Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints . . . Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

You see this kind of “all or nothing” mindset? We’re “going for broke” in dealing with the enemies, with flesh, with sin, with wrong ways of thinking in this world.

We’ve become so tolerant even in the church today, so tolerant of foolishness, of unbiblical thinking, of unbiblical living. It seems normal. It seems normal to just live with it. There’s a lot of divorce in the church. There’s a lot of immorality in the church. There’s greed and selfishness and pride and lust and lovelessness and prayerlessness.

Okay, we’re not saying that’s great but we’re not committed to do battle against it and to say, “This is not what God intended. We will take this land in the name of Christ.”

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:1,

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Have you settled for less than complete victory in your spiritual battles? Have we settled for less than complete victory in the Body of Christ? I think we have. As I read Joshua I say, “You know what? He was 90-some years old. We’re not too old to keep going, to keep fighting, to keep, in the name of Jesus and by the power of His Spirit, engaging in the battle.”

Finally here, we see in the life of Joshua that rest follows battle. First, the battle, then the rest. We want the rest of heaven, our ultimate final rest. We want it here and now. But in the story of Joshua you see that first he had to have the battle and then came the rest.

Look at chapter 11 verse 23: “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses.” That’s the conquest. And then we see the distribution and the settlement of the land.

“And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.”

See the progression there?

  • First the conquest
  • Then the settlement
  • Then the rest

That’s when you can put down your sword. That’s when you can take off your armor—when the battle has been fought.

This word rest is a recurring word throughout the book of Joshua, six or seven or eight times (I forget how many), several times in the book of Judges. It’s the hope. It’s the thing we move toward. It’s the thing we long for. But in the meantime there are battles to be fought.

I love that quote by Amy Carmichael; I have it in my study at home. It says, “We have all eternity to celebrate the victories, but only a few hours before sunset to win them.”

After all the battles there came a time when the land had rest from war and they could just sit back and enjoy the inheritance God had given them. But before that they had to wage war for an extended time before they could settle in the ultimate rest that God had intended for them.

The book of Hebrews chapters 3 and 4—and we’ve talked about this earlier in this series—says that as children of God there is a spiritual rest that we can enjoy for our souls here and now as we enter into the rest of Christ.

But the whole of Scripture shows us that our final rest is not here and it’s not now. Between here and heaven there are still battles to be fought. I think a lot of depression, a lot of discouragement among believers comes because we expect to have here and now what is not intended for here and now, what will only be then and there.

If you expect the Christian life to be a piece of cake, if you expect it to be a Sunday school picnic, as they say, if you expect it to be battle-free then you’re going to be disappointed. Keep your eyes on the finish line. Realize there’s a rest waiting for us.

That’s a hope that’s been promised to us. Here in the midst of the battle we can rest in Christ. But there are still battles to be fought from here until we get to heaven.

So don’t be discouraged. Keep your eyes on Christ. Keep your eyes on your Commander. Know that the battle is the Lord’s; He is fighting it. He is the Victor. He is the Conqueror. The time will come when for all of eternity we will be able to enjoy the victories that we’ve won with Christ down here on this earth.

Leslie: So many women are in all sorts of battles today. That message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss comes to us at an important time, reminding us to keep fighting. If you’re doing what God called you to do, don’t give up until He gives the rest.

Nancy, you recently heard from a woman who knows what it’s like to do battle and who knows what it means to find strength to keep going.

Nancy: That’s right, Leslie. I received an email from a woman who grew up in a conservative church home and knew what the Bible said. She married a pastor and seemed to have everything together. But she was discouraged and seriously depressed. She was overwhelmed by the daily routine of being a mom, and for help she’d been turning to everything else except the Lord. She writes:

Then I discovered your books and your radio ministry. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude. I was so spiritually starved and for some reason could not comprehend how damaging it was.”

Even now I feel like a brand new Christian. I feel like I’m at the very beginning with SO much growing to do.

I feel like I’ve heard it all but none of it really clicked or made sense. And now God has brought me to a place where I’m ready and willing to listen and grow. And He connected me to your ministry where I’m being encouraged as a Christian woman, as a wife, and as a mom.

I can assure you that Revive Our Hearts has no ability to change lives like this. Only the Lord can make this kind of difference. I’m so humbled and grateful that He chooses to use this ministry and that He uses listeners like you who pray and who gave to help make this ministry possible.

Leslie: When you help make it possible, we want to say "thanks" by sending you the 2015 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. The theme this year is “Peace in the Storm.” Nancy and some of her friends contributed quotes on this theme, and then the artist Timothy Botts interpreted those quotes visually. I know you’ll find each entry of this calendar helpful as you courageously fight battles in the year ahead.

We’ll send the “Peace in the Storm” wall calendar when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. We can send one per household and this is the final week we’ll be making this offer. So call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: God called Joshua to battle, taking back land for the people of Israel. But that land didn’t really belong to those enemy nations, and it didn’t belong to Joshua afterwards. Identifying the rightful owner has some big ramifications in your life.

Nancy: This earth belongs to God. Now, it's a prodigal planet; it's a run-away planet. It's a planet that has ascribed allegiance to God's enemy, to Satan himself. But God says, "The earth is Mine and all that fills it. It all belongs to Me." Those who refuse to submit to His reign and rule came under His righteous judgment.

Leslie: What that means to you, on the next Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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