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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Got Enemies?

Either fear or faith increase when enemies join forces. 
Five kings of the Amorites join together to fight against the people of Gibeon because they had made peace with Israel. The Gibeonites cry out to Israel for help. Sounds like terrible odds—5 to 1—until God is factored into the equation. The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you” (Joshua 10:8). 
The next day the LORD assists Israel in battle by “hurling large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites” (Joshua 10:11). Joshua commands the sun to stand still in order to give Israel more daylight in which to mop up the battle against the Amorites. Enemies joining forces simply require greater intervention by God. He is up to the battle!
One enemy king after another falls as Israel fights their first campaign. Success is credited to God’s activity on Israel’s behalf, “All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:42).  
No sooner does one campaign finish before Israel begins another as numerous kings join forces, “a huge army as numerous as the sand on the seashore” (Joshua 11:4). Once again the LORD assures Joshua of victory, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain” (Joshua 11:6). Incredible odds for any army but God’s army! Again, Israel defeats a consolidation of kings. 
Joshua successfully leads Israel to defeat thirty-one kings, “For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally” (Joshua 11:20). 
These military stories reveal a number of truths about God and the enemy.
  • Sometimes the Lord consolidates the enemy so that only one battle is fought instead of several. 
  • Victory over the enemy is not based on man’s might or power, but upon God’s resources and intervention. He may commandeer weather and nature and hurl hailstones against the enemy. 
  • Fear immobilizes while faith in God mobilizes His people to face their enemies. 
What God has done for Israel He will do for any of His children who face opposition. The Psalmist confidently boasts, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).

Older Post
Strength Training 
 "After an all night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise" (Joshua 10:9)

Imagine marching all night long over 25 miles of rugged landscape only to arrive at your destination to immediately begin fighting. By stopping the sun in the middle of the sky for twelve hours God gave them an extra twelve hours in which to fight. That means they spent twelve hours marching and then twenty-four hours fighting. Where had they learned such endurance?

Remember how often the cloud moved by day and the fire by night while the children of Israel moved about in the desert for forty years? What seemed like senseless movement was simply God's preparation--strength training. Little did they know that God would use their experience in the wilderness to prepare them for this very day.

It is like that in our lives. Often we can't make sense of what God is doing in our lives and we despair. God never wastes our experiences. The very things that are distasteful and frustrating are the very things that "make" us.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading: Joshua 10:1-12:24
  • The gathering of the five Amorite kings to attack the Gibeonites was actually God's gathering the enemy for their defeat. How do the Gibeonites respond to the Amorites and why?
  • How does God intervene on Israel's behalf?
  • How does Joshua encourage his army? (What had God already told him in verse 8?)
  • Describe Israel's first campaign.
  • Describe Israel's second campaign.
  • What makes Joshua such a successful leader?
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the Lord to show you where you are resistant or responding poorly to His character developing process in your life.