Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Our natural tendency is to want to be delivered from the battle. "I’m not ready for this! God knows that." I believe He sometimes puts us right in the battle so we can experience the supernatural power to defeat our enemies.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, August 4, 2014.

If there’s some big task looming over your day, take a few minutes to find out what the Bible says about handling it. We’ll do that by looking at the life of Joshua.  We’ll be studying the life of this hero starting here in August and into the fall.  Our current series is called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part One): Learning to Be Victorious."

Nancy: Have you ever been given a task that you felt totally unprepared and ill-equipped to handle? Inadequate? Not up to it? Maybe you got thrown into a job that you didn’t have the training or the experience to handle and you just felt, I am in way over my head!

Or maybe for you it was marriage. Did anybody wake up like within the first week of marriage and think, I am not ready for this, but it’s too late to be having this thought?

If you didn’t have it then maybe you had it when you became a mother and you thought, Oh, Lord, they didn’t train me for this. I didn’t study this in college. I’m not ready for this. You’re holding this little thing and you’re thinking, How do you do this? Maybe you weren't raised or nurtured in a godly environment, but you are wanting to pass that on to your children—a godly environment, a godly legacy. And you are thinking, I am clueless. I do not know how to be a wise or a good mother to this little noisemaker here.

It may have been in the area of you being asked to lead a Bible study or a small group or to disciple a young believer. Somehow you agreed to it and then you thought, What have I agreed to? How did I get into this? There is no way I can do this.

Oh, my goodness. You’ve heard me say on Revive Our Hearts before how many times I have felt that over the ministry of Revive Our Hearts and my calling, and how many times I have sat at my computer, like late last night thinking, What have I got myself into? I cannot do this. I am ill prepared. I am unequipped. I am inadequate for this calling. I feel that so much of the time.

Well, we’re studying the life of Joshua. I started into this study of Joshua’s life because I needed some encouragement for running the race of the Christian life. I didn’t want to just run hard when I was young. I did that by God’s grace. But I’m getting older now, and as I face the second part of my life, the later years of my life—I don’t know how many the Lord will give me—but I want to stay faithful. I want to run well.

So as I’ve studied the life of Joshua from his early years to his later years, I’ve been asking myself, What can I learn that will help me in my life? We started in the last session in Exodus 17, and let me ask you to turn there again. This is the first reference to Joshua in the Old Testament, and it’s an important passage. So let me read it beginning in verse 8, and then we’ll start to talk about what it means.

"Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.” We talked in the last session about how the Children of Israel had just come out of Egypt. They’d crossed over the Red Sea. They were following Moses’ leadership. Joshua was in that group, watching God lead them with His presence, watching God provide water and food and all that they needed. Now they come to this place of Rephidim and this enemy, this opponent of God, Amalek, comes against them and fights them.

“So Moses said to Joshua . . .” First mention. Where had Joshua come from? What had Moses seen in him? Did God say, “Pick out Joshua”? We don’t know. We just know that Moses said to Joshua, verse 9,

“Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek [the enemy] prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner, [Jehovah Nissi, the name of God, Jehovah Nissi] saying, "A hand upon the throne of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex. 17:8–16).

Let’s start into the first part of that passage. Verse 8, “Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.” Who was Amalek? The Amalekites were descendants of Amalek, who was the grandson of Esau. Esau was Isaac’s son, of course. The Amalekites were nomads. They lived in the region south of Israel. Because of this attack on Israel at Rephidim, because of what they did to God’s people, they were going to become subject to God’s decree of annihilation.

It would be many years before their doom would be final. This battle we’re reading about here was just the first of a long series of skirmishes with the Amalekites, ending finally in Esther’s day when the last descendants of Agag, who was the Amalekite king in Saul’s day, when final descendants of Agag were destroyed in Persia.

If you didn’t follow all that genealogy, that’s okay. Just know that these were people who came against Israel and, as a result, God said, “I’m going to deal with you. You will be under My wrath and My judgment.”

This was a cruel, unprovoked attack. There’s a parallel account—you don’t need to turn there, but in Deuteronomy chapter 25 as the Children of Israel, forty years later, are getting ready to go into the Promised Land, Moses is rehearsing their history. And when he comes to this chapter in their history, here’s the way he describes it in Deuteronomy 25. He says,

Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind (Deut. 25:17–18 NIV).

They had no fear of God. They did not fear God. They did not reverence God. They were ultimately wanting to attack God, so they attacked God’s people. They were cruel. They were ruthless. This was unprovoked. And God said, “Payday someday. You will reap what you have sown.”

First Corinthians 10—we mentioned this in the last session—tells us that these Old Testament stories were written for our example and for our instruction. Commentators by and large agree that Amalek or the Amalekites are a type in Scripture of our spiritual enemies. When I say they’re a type, I don’t mean that this story didn’t actually happen. It did actually happen just the way it’s described.

But sometimes God gives us pictures through these stories of spiritual truths to help us understand spiritual realities by visible realities. In Scripture, Amalek is a type or picture of our spiritual enemies. It’s a type of the evil forces that oppose God’s people—the world, the flesh, the devil.

I want to remind you that we will face these enemies in our Christian lives. It’s unavoidable. The Israelites didn’t pick this fight. They didn’t say, “Oh, I think I want to have a battle today. We want to prove that we are superior.” The Amalekites came and picked a fight that was unprovoked. They came and cut off the Israelites when they were weary and worn and just fresh out of coming out of Egypt.

It happens to us in the Christian life. You’re going along, you’re minding your own business, you’re doing what you think God wants you to do, you’re trying to obey God, trying to be a faithful follower of Christ, trying to be a good wife or mom or daughter or worker or whatever it is that you do in your season of life. And here comes this thought opposing God in your head or this thing in the world that provokes you to want something that is ungodly or Satan attacks in one way or another.

The Christian life involves warfare. The life of Joshua is going to teach us a lot about how to fight that warfare and how to be victorious over the forces of evil that are symbolized by Amalek, the Amalekites in this story.

The Scripture says that Amalek came and fought with Israel. The verb tense there (you can’t tell it in the English) in the original Hebrew is, when it says, “They came and fought with Israel,” it suggests repeated action. They did this again and again. They kept provoking, kept attacking, kept coming after Israel. This wasn’t just a one-time incident. They kept doing it.

The enemy had some clear advantages in this case. First of all, they were on their home turf. They were familiar with this terrain, as opposed to Joshua and Moses and the Children of Israel. They’d never been here before. This was home territory for the Amalekites.

The Amalekites had another advantage. They were on the offense. They chose the time and the place of the battle. They had the clear advantage.

So verse 9, “Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek.’” At this point Joshua is somewhere probably between forty and fifty years of age, if you put together all the different accounts of his life. He's actually referred in Exodus 33 (which we will get to further in this study), he's referred to as a young man. I guess when people were routinely living to be 110 years of age or more, forty to fifty would have been considered a young man, relatively speaking. Of course, he was young compared to Moses, who was eighty.

At this point in his life, as a young man, Joshua likely has no idea of how God is going to use him. He didn't have the book of Joshua in the Bible, like we do, to know the end of the story. To know Joshua becomes a great warrior; he leads the Children of Israel into the Promised Land; he leads them into defeating the enemies of God. He didn't know any of that. He didn’t know the plan that God had mapped out for him, just like you don’t know the plan that God has mapped out for your life.

I could not have imagined twenty years ago what God would be asking me to do today and some of the opportunities the Lord would give me to serve Him. It’s been a blessing. But I’ll tell you what, if I had seen all of this back when I was in my twenties, I might have bolted. I might have just run and said, “No, thank you.”

But God doesn’t show us the whole thing all at once. What He gives us is what we need to do for our next step. We take that one and then He shows us the next step.

Joshua is destined by God to be a great warrior and leader even though he doesn’t know it himself. God is preparing him. God is grooming him for his life’s calling. It begins here at Rephidim where he faces his very first battle, the first of many more to come.

However, at this moment Joshua finds himself in a situation for which he has had no training or preparation. He’s had no boot camp. He’s had no military training, no practice drills, no experience as a soldier. This is his first time in battle.

His very first time in battle, he’s given a commander’s uniform. He is sent into battle against a powerful enemy. Don’t you know he had to wonder, What chance do I have of survival, much less success and victory?

I was discussing this passage with one of our staff who served in the Army for several years as a Captain and a Company Commander. I said, “B.G., tell me, how would this relate to the Army in today’s terms?"

He said, "This would be unheard of in the military today."

And I think I knew the answer to that before I asked. But I asked him, "What would a soldier today have to go through before being given this kind of responsibility, before being put into this type of position?”

My friend talked about the educational requirements. He said there would be intense, comprehensive, and ongoing military training. They would need experience before they would be asked to lead a battle of this nature. He said that someone commanding a unit of over 100 soldiers, which would typically be a Captain rank or higher, would have at least three years experience leading soldiers before he’d be given that position, that responsibility.

Joshua didn’t have any of that. So I asked B.G. (and I think I knew what the answer was before I asked), “What chance would a soldier have today of succeeding against a trained military force in these kinds of circumstances?”

My friend said, “It would be suicidal without divine intervention.”

Last year I read and enjoyed reading so much David McCullough’s book 1776 about the struggle for the birthing of our nation. If you’ve read that book, you know that it describes the untrained, inexperienced, colonial army. They were a bunch of farmers, craftsmen, and so on, many of whom didn’t get along with each other.

They took on the British. The British at that time were the greatest military machine the world had ever seen to that point in conventional warfare. Logically, the colonial army had no chance of victory. Their effort bordered on being suicidal. I don’t think I realized how true that was until I read this book.

They failed miserably again and again, including George Washington as the Commander of the troops. It was only after numerous painful losses and a lot of hard-won experience that they started seeing success. Which by the way, let me just say parenthetically, it reminds us of God’s incredible hand on the founding of this country. It’s something I hope you don’t take for granted.

Now in Exodus 17, back to Joshua here, an enemy has come up against Israel. It has happened at Rephidim in the very place where the Israelites have just seen God work so powerfully. They had no water to drink. Two to three million people—men, women, and children and babies—no water, nothing to drink. This is desperate situation.

God says to Moses, “Strike the rock.” Moses did so with his staff and the water came forth to meet the needs of the people.

  • They’ve seen God provide food.
  • They’ve seen God provide water.
  • Now they need to see that God can also defeat those enemies who seek to destroy them.

It’s just another chapter in God preparing and training them to go into the Promised Land. But at this point, the nation of Israel has no trained, organized, or disciplined military forces. They’re large in number. What have they been doing for generations? For four hundred years they’ve been slaves.

Undoubtedly they were physically strong. But there was much that they lacked, that they needed if they were going to take possession of Canaan, the Promised Land and defeat the pagan nations, the opponents of God, that were entrenched in that land.

So God needed to prepare them for that. They got thrown into battle with no prior experience or training. Joshua, with no prior military training that we’re aware of, is now assigned to lead a detachment of hand-picked men who are not yet skilled in battle.

Talk about on-the-job training. He was getting it. Joshua would learn to be a good leader, a good commander, not in the classroom by reading textbooks and listening to other people tell him how to do it, but right smack on the battlefield. That’s where he got some of his most important lessons in leadership.

It reminds me as I’ve been meditating on this passage that some of the best training for our lives takes place on the battlefield, on the job, in the midst of trials. You say, “I was not prepared for this. They didn’t teach me this in school.”

God may have known that the only place where you could really learn that was having to sink or swim, getting thrown in and having to look to the Lord to teach you and show you how to do it, and to supernaturally intervene on your behalf because you didn’t have the training, the experience, or the ability even if you had the training and the experience.

You see, it’s in the midst of trials that God provides for us opportunities to grow, opportunities to see God’s power. Those trials, those battlefield experiences, put us in a place where we most need God, where we’re desperate for Him.

"Lord, if You don’t come through, I’m not going to survive. We are going to lose. These children will never have a heart for You if it’s just up to me. I will never be able to help this person that I’ve been discipling or ministering, help them to get it. If you don’t turn on the light, Lord, I can’t deal with this situation. I can’t handle this responsibility. I need You."

You want to see God work in the most powerful ways? You’ve got to get to the place where you desperately need Him, where you can’t manage without Him, and where everything you’ve ever known and experienced prior to that point proves to be inadequate and insufficient to take you through the battle of this moment.

Our natural tendency is to want to be delivered from the battle. "I’m not ready for this! God knows that." I believe He sometimes puts us right in the battle so we can experience the supernatural power to defeat our enemies.

How do we learn to deal with temptation, with our sinful flesh, with tough relationships? You know how we learn? By having to do it, by getting thrown into it. God wants to use your trial, your battle, to train you. So don’t run from it. Don’t resent it. Don’t resist it.

By the way, let me remind you that not only do you need trials and battles to teach you, but those of you who are moms or will be someday, your children need battles and trials to learn God’s ways too. Don’t overly protect your children.

Don’t throw them into sin’s path or harm’s way. There are ways in which you need to guard your children's hearts and minds so they are not exposed unnecessarily to sinful things. They don't need to taste of sinful things to learn that it is not desirable. Hopefully they can learn a lot from your experience. But there are some things they are not going to learn until they are thrown into the battle, until the faith that is yours that you’ve been trying to pass on to them becomes their own.

When they get into the battle, be careful about trying to rescue them because it may be that it’s right in that situation that you, as a mom, are going, “I can’t let my child stay there.” It may be in that situation that God is going to shape a Joshua, God’s going to shape a leader.

Now what I just said—there are different ways to apply that. There are times when you ought to snatch your child out of a dangerous or an ungodly situation. That’s where you need God’s wisdom to know: “Is this a battle God is putting into this child’s life or God is allowing to happen for their good, or is this a time to intervene?”

Joshua has witnessed all that has taken place in the Children of Israel from the time they left Egypt up until this point. He has seen firsthand the amazing, awesome power of God. He’s also learned—remember he’s a young man. He’s learning. He’s learned by watching Moses what a leader should do when he doesn’t know what to do. Moses was such a great teacher, such a great example for Joshua of this.

Again and again Joshua watched Moses in these desperate situations where Moses would cry out to the Lord and say, “God, I can’t handle these people. I can’t find food for them. I can’t provide water for them. God, help!” Moses cried out to the Lord. Joshua saw that. Moses humbly acknowledged his inability and asked God for wisdom, for direction, for supernatural intervention.

So Joshua, a younger man, half Moses’ age at this point, is learning dependence, dependence on the supernatural power of God, learning to lean on the everlasting arms. He's learning that the battle is the Lord's. He's learning the God can be trusted. He's going to see that in the battle with the Amalekites. He’s going to realize that the battle is not man’s. The battle is not Joshua’s to win or lose, or Moses’ for that matter. The battle is the Lord’s. God can be trusted, and nothing is too difficult for Him.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss giving solid counsel to every woman who feels like she’s in a battle today, which is probably most of us. Nancy will be right back to pray.

After hearing her message, I hope you’ll ask God to show more of Himself in the middle of your battle. It’s an important take-away as we study the life of Joshua.

To help you prepare for each day’s battle, you need to be connected to the Lord.  Nancy will show you why it’s so important to spend time alone with Him each day in a book called A Place of Quiet Rest. In this book, she’ll help you capture a passion for connecting with God. And she’ll give you practical tips for prayer and Bible study.

We’d like to send you A Place of Quiet Rest this week when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. You wouldn’t be hearing my voice right now if it weren’t for those who support the ministry financially. 

Leslie: Your gift will help us continue on the air. And you’ll be helping women find life-giving truth that they desperately need.

Ask for A Place of Quiet Rest when you call with your gift of any amount. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send one book per household for your donation.  Contact us by August 11, the last day we’ll be making this offer.

Tomorrow, Nancy will pick this series back up on Joshua. When you do what God has called you to do, it often can feel like battle. Find out how to get strength for the battle, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. Now, here’s Nancy to pray.

NancyPerhaps you find yourself today in a battlefield you’ve been thrown in. You don’t have the training, you don’t have the experience, you don’t feel like you have the equipment or the resources that you need to succeed in that battle.

If you find yourself in that place having followed the Lord as best you know how, you haven’t intentionally stepped out of His will and that’s why you’re there. But you’re there at His leading under His providence and sovereignty.

Would you just take a moment to say, “Lord, though I can’t see how this battle could be won, I’m trusting You. I know that You are big enough, and You are great enough. You are powerful enough to do what needs to be done in this situation. Lord, I’m available just to be Your servant. Use me. I feel like I’m way in over my head, but I’m willing to let You use me. Would You do it and would You bring glory to Yourself, Lord, in each life represented here? I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.”

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. 

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