Reading through the earlier chapters of the book of Joshua there are several lessons I have discovered and this presentation will highlight a couple that spoke to my life as I studied his life. My prayer is that they minister to you as well.
Lesson One: You need to be separated for God to be able to talk and minister to you.
Joshua received an exciting commission. "Moses My servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I Am about to give them...I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses...No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them...Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" Joshua 1:2-9. Joshua had the greatest beginning in his leadership of a rebellious nation. He was to embark on a journey of discovery that would take him across a wide spectrum and enable him to do the undone. Friend you may have come to the place in your life where Moses has to die. If he doesnít die you will forever live in his shadow and God will never talk to you. Like Joshua you too need a separation from the familiar and break out into the unknown. Moses had been an imposing presence upon the life of this young man. The day he died was a beginning for Joshua.
Lesson Two: What God promises will be confirmed in action through men.
Joshua saw the promises of God come to pass as the elders of Israel confirmed his calling. The people said to him, "As we obeyed Moses in all things so we will obey you, God be with you as He was with Moses" Joshua 1:17. The guarantee was that God's promise to him was confirmed through the leadership of the nation. When God has made promises to you, He is bound to rise up support for that word through men and women will support you through your walk with God. In verse 16 the people said unto Joshua: "All that you command us we will do, and where you send us we will go."
Lesson Three: The Word is the foundation of all that needs to be done in our lives.
Joshua received an instruction to value the Word of God with all his heart. The reason was so that he could be successful in all his dealings with the nation and promises of God. He had to find grounding in the Word so that he would know God's direction, find prosperity and have good success. The Word of God has to be the foundation and anchor for our lives. It has to come alive in our lives and drive out fear, discouragement and place us in a right standing with God. The command to Joshua was that he meditate on the Word of God day and night; the condition of his success or failure rested in obedience to that word. Paul writing to the Romans in chapter 12 encourages them to be renewed in their mindset through the Word of God. James adds a further dimension when he urges the Christian believer to receive the engrafted word which is able to save.
Lesson Four: We need to take precautionary action in our dealings with the enemy.
Having gathered the people to rally around him, Joshua had to strategize. He had to come up with a plan to confront and defeat the enemy that lay up ahead. His military instincts and training came to the fore when he sent out two spies to survey the land ahead, especially Jericho. He had target areas and he knew that should Jericho fall, this would open doors for a free entry into Canaan. As a strategist Joshua had to be secretive. From previous experiences from the first spying mission there was a need to send out people with a positive thought pattern. Joshua decided to keep this mission a closely guarded secret. He had learnt from the mistake Moses had made when he publicly chose 12 men from each tribe. Cutting down the number to two would ensure that there would be no divergent opinions or discouragement as to what lay ahead. Joshua used spies and what they found out pointed out that God can still do exploits on our behalf.
Lesson Five: We need to wait on and follow after God has led.
This is because we have never walked the road that lies ahead of us before. He is the Author and Pioneer of our Faith and thus has to take the leading role in all we do. In Joshua 3:3-4 we read an exciting portion, "When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are LEVITES, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and FOLLOW IT. THEN YOU WILL KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO, since you have NEVER BEEN THIS WAY BEFORE." That was Godís remedy for them. It is the same prescription for us today. Follow the Way, the Truth and the Life since you have no idea of where you are going. There was a stunning silence in the hearts of many. The priest would lead the way instead of the fighting men. This meant that the Man of War was going to be the head of the delegation into the Jordan River and over and across into the Promised Land.
Lesson Six: In the midst of seemingly difficult situations, God will make a way appear.
The nation came to the verge of the Jordan River. The promise of God had been gladly received. But the flooding River was a stumbling block. As soon as the Presence of God hit the waters they stopped flowing for a while. God made a road in the flooding River and showed great power to control natural events. If anyone has told you that flooding rivers cannot be crossed refer them to this account in Joshua 3:15-4:18. The entire nation of Israel crossed over on dry ground, the second time they had done it in their history. God is mightier than flooding rivers. At the mere sight of Him they hold back. So, what is stopping you from crossing over now that your Jordan has been split open?
Lesson Seven: In the trials and difficulties, God will leave a testimony or memorial for future generations to look at and refer to.
Twelve stones were carried from the riverbank and set up as a monument and reminder of this great and awesome event. They represented the crossing over on dry ground. Now the children who had not crossed the Red Sea understood and knew what their folk had often talked about. You too need to have your own testimony of what God can do and you will live to tell it to others. You will also have the privilege of building your own monument that will forever remind you that God is a Jordan breaker. Every test is a recipe for a testimony and every trial is a breeding ground for triumph. God will always leave a landmark in our lives that will remind us that thus far has He been with us.
Lesson Eight: There is a time to change form the usual to the unfamiliar.
When the nation crossed the River Jordan, the manna stopped falling and they ate the fruit of Canaan for the first time. What they had become used to as food for 40 years was not what God wanted them to eat for a lifetime. There on the plains of Jericho the nation of Israel celebrated the Passover under the leadership of Joshua. It was then that the manna stopped and that year they ate the food of the Canaanites. Its time the manna stopped flowing because you've got to your destination. Now is the time to eat real food.
Lesson Nine: There is need to renew the covenant you made with God.
For many at Gilgal it was the first time to undergo circumcision. They had to heal before moving forward. For you and I there are times we must stop and make right with God before we meet the enemy. At Gilgal God told Joshua to take another step towards reconciliation by renewing the covenant of circumcision. You might be saying circumcision is a dead and done deal. Friend, the Bible says the new covenant of circumcision is not one done by the hands but it is one of the hearts done by Christ Jesus in faith. You need to get your heart circumcised because you are in a new place and the enemy you are facing and charging towards is jittery. Joshua had the privilege of being the first after his great ancestor Abraham to circumcise in the Promised Land. One interesting fact is that having heard of the kingís fear of Israel, Joshua did not at once go out to war. You need to take time out to mend your relationship with God so that when you get ready to face the enemy there is no unfinished business with God. The nation of newly circumcised Israelites remained in camp at Gilgal until they were healed. Your need the circumcision of Jesus to get rid of the old nagging problems and you need His wounds to heal yours so that you become a brand new creation. Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you" Joshua 5:9.
Lessons Ten: God always has the blueprint to our victory and we ought to follow it fully.
Who would have thought that doors would open up for me in the sphere of writing as it is today? This is my gift to the world. Then the LORD said to Joshua, "SEE, I have DELIVERED Jericho into your hands along with its king and fighting men" Joshua 6:2. The God we serve is a God that delivers the king, the city and all its fighting men into our hands. Sons we are on a mission to take control of our inheritance and this is exactly what God expects us to SEE. To Joshua, God says, "SEE." You need to see the victory even in situations that look very bleak. You cannot chase something unless you first see it. Joshua was given the vision of a defeated Jericho albeit there were clear-cut instructions he had to follow. Just follow what God has said. Run with the vision God has placed on your heart. See it and then go and get it. Joshua had been standing near Jericho. He saw how shut up it was yet God said, ďSEE IT OPENEDUP AND GIVEN TO YOU." It is yours. Once you get this fact right nothing can stop you. Remember that God had said as long as you step on it you get it.
Lesson Eleven: We need to deal with sin that can hinder our blessing.
Unconfessed sin can be destructive and can cost lives. The military strategist Joshua sent out men to spy out Ai so that he could draft his next attack plans. The men came back with a convincing report that stipulated that not all the fighting men had to go out. The attack was planned and the men of Israel were routed and chased from the city gate as far as Shebarim. At this the hearts of the men melted and became like water. What was the real cause of such a set up? Joshua humbled himself before the LORD to seek His face. The leaders of the nation took the cue and did likewise. One bad egg fouled the lot for all Israel. One stole yet Israel got blamed for it. Donít steal things devoted to God otherwise the rest of the nation will suffer on your behalf. As Joshua sought the face of God, there was a startling revelation that was given unto him. "Stand up! What are you doing on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated My covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why Israel cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they are liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever is devoted to destruction" Joshua 7:10-12. Israel was not going to have success because God had turned His back against them. This only came about because of devoted things that were not destroyed. Godís order was for the things at Jericho to be destroyed but one man made Israel a stench in the eyes of the enemy. As Joshua sought the face of God there was this revelation. At times we tend to be unsuccessful because we have some un-confessed sin or some devoted things in our possession. What God demands is that these be first destroyed then He can be on our side again. As sons in Christian warfare we need to stay on track with a clean record before God. If we want success all the time, we must be prepared to stay in His will always.
Lesson Twelve: Even after we've been unsuccessful the first time around, we shouldn't stop to try again.
Ai won the first round but Israel gained a sweeter victory the second time around. It is a lesson to us that even if we fail the first time, we need not give up but move on. Scripture tells us that the righteous man can fall seven times but he can get up and walk again. If God did it for David He will do it again for you. Tell the Ai you are facing that the machine that is coming its way will bulldoze and cause it to be a permanent heap of ruins. Friend you need not suffer because once you were defeated. Now is the season when God says I Am giving you the city that once caused you to flee in disgrace? God is saying that the past is gone behold new things are rising up to cause a stir in your life. He is saying your past sins are forgiven expect new breakthroughs all because you have assembled the dream team of any serious war veteran commander. Hold out your javelin towards Ai because victory is certain.
Lesson Thirteen: When we are on a roll, deception can creep in.
The Bible records that a certain group of people became cognizant of the threat poised by Israel and decided to be very deceptive. They pretended to be travelers from afar off and came to sign a covenant of peace with Joshua. The shortcoming of Israel was that they didnít consult God on this issue and as a result they ratified the treaty by oath. Three days after this event Israel heard that the Gibeonites were neighbours living near them. When they decided to verify the matter it was found to be true. But Israel couldnít attack them because the treaty signed by the leaders was binding. As Israel bulldozed through the nations of Canaan, Joshua and his elders did not consult God at the crucial time and got deceived meaning that Israel was now compelled to watch over its vassals when mighty armies came out against them. The lesson we learn from the chapter of Joshuaís life is that we need to be careful about what we decide because we can affect our destiny. Just when things were going on well this minor event could have changed the fortunes of a nation. Even in your life be careful when you are on a roll because you can make a mistake when you least expected it. Itís so easy to get casual about your success and get carried away. So before you decide always consult God.
Lesson Fourteen: When it seemed things are getting tough we can change the normal setup.
Joshua called on the sun and moon to cooperate with him when time was running out. God did the undone in the history of miracles. There He was, Deity responding to the passionate cry of a success hungry man who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. In life if you want something as desperately as Joshua wanted it, you will get it when you call to God. God does things beyond human understanding. Here was a man who had made a controversial decision, fighting a war he had unnecessarily involved Israel in and then getting a victory no one expected. To cap it off he had the sun and moon obeying his cry. God uses sons who are prepared to wait on him. These are the ones that will soar on wings like an eagle.
Lesson Fifteen: After great victories greater opposition comes but we need to deal with it ruthlessly.
Joshua had won crucial battles against enemy alliances. But the enemy regrouped. Even when the enemy regroups we need to deal with the head to get the full victory. The LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, SLAIN. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots" Joshua 11:6. God had guaranteed victory. All Joshua had to do was to go out there and burn up the chariots. There will be times when the enemy will mass up against you so that you are not sure whether God is for you. But rest assured that He comes in with a word of encouragement to say that the battle is His not yours. God will encourage you in the times of discouragement. Hold your head up high, your previous conquests were not in vain because God has said even if the enemy comes in like a flood, He will raise the standards. With that word as backup, Joshua and all Israel came against the coalition suddenly at the Waters of Merom and attacked them, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Israel and destroyed them. At that time Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its king to the sword. Hazor had been the head of all these kingdoms. The royal cities and the kings were put to the sword. There is a serious need to target royalty and ensure that it goes down with the rest. When the head is down it is easier to destroy the rest of the body.
Lesson Sixteen: When all is said and done, God will give rest to His chosen ones.
This one needs no explanation. After great victories we will rest and glory in the rest that God will give to us in the same manner He gave to Israel after the final conquest of Canaan.