As a Christian I would like to add two more things that you can be absolutely sure of. . .
(1) God’s love and His Word are unfailing, and (2) If you pray to surrender your will in exchange for being led by the Spirit…you WILL be tested.
I know this makes many of us scared to utter such a prayer, LOL Nevertheless, I find myself speaking out loud “Lord, I want more of you, and less of me“, “I want to be led by Your Spirit, so I won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh“, “I want YOU to be in control, not me“… on and on it goes. When I’m caught up in worship & prayer, experiencing the wonderful presence of the Lord, it compels me to pray such things. I know it’s the Father’s heart & desire for us. But afterwards..
EXPECT a test! Opportunities will arise, almost immediately, causing your fleshly or carnal attitudes to surface. These “opportunities” often come in human form, and you have to remind yourself that the battle is not against flesh & blood.
God allows such moments, that feel more like an attack from the enemy, in order to answer the very prayers we’ve been praying. Too often we forget what we’ve asked for in prayer, so when the tests come, we think it’s from the devil and we try to rebuke it! We ask God to “stop” the very thing that He’s allowed in order to answer our original prayers.
Instead of fighting the process that God has chosen to purge us of ungodly attitudes and mindsets, we need to recognize what the enemy has meant for harm, God is working in it, in order to take us to another level in our spiritual walk.
The problem comes when we don’t see the bigger plan, and we fall prey to the enemy’s temptation to be offended by people, disappointed in God for not coming to our rescue, or rejected because our prayers are seemingly unanswered.
Christians whose hearts are to grow in the Lord, yet have not conquered their flesh, loose ground at times when they don’t understand the enemy’s tactics, and the Lord’s process.
So let’s embrace the trials that come our way as a tool for spiritual growth and allow God’s grace to strengthen, mold, and transform us into His image.
I had a dream last night where a giant game of Checkers was right before my eyes. The game was close to the end because both teams had several pieces missing. One team was advancing to have most of their men “crowned”, which would ultimately mean victory.
As you probably know, in the game of Checkers, once you have any of your men “crowned” as a King, they’re able to move in any direction in order to defeat their opponent. Before being crowned, they’re limited by only being able to move forward.
In my dream I heard this voice say “spiritual freedom is like a game of Checkers”. This got my attention, and the voice went on to explain…
As a Christian, you are moving forward toward a goal (God’s will for your life). You have an enemy that’s standing in your way that you must overcome. However, you aren’t truly free when you have restrictions that hamper your movement (ie., sin / bondage).
Being “crowned” as a King represents the mature child of God who’s had a revelation of who they are in Christ (an heir). This is the born again, BELIEVING Believer, filled with the Spirit (and desiring to walk humbly being led by the Spirit). This person is FREE to move without restriction as the Lord leads…and they are the ones who defeat the enemy!
Rom. 8:14-17 – “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Therefore, according to my dream…Freedom is not just for the individual, but it is necessary to win battles for the glory of the Lord! This is the desire of our Heavenly Father, and the duty (inheritance) of His children.
I awoke from my dream with a new desire to be “crowned” as a King. My prayer for everyone reading this is you will do the same…Awake and be crowned!
1 Cor. 9:24-27
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
2 Tim. 2:5
“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”
Phil. 3:14 (NLT)
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Do you think the Lord is trying to tell me something?
The commentaries say that the Greek games were more of a passion than just entertainment. Therefore, the athletes went through no less than 10 months of rigorous training. The entire culture saw the games as a source of patriotic pride. It was not uncommon for those competing to exercise great discipline, self-denying diets, endure extreme cold and heat, all while pushing themselves toward perfection.
What does this mean to us “spiritually”?
Obviously it’s a call to persevere and exercise self-control. But for me it’s not just a word to admonish us to live a more disciplined Christian life. Right now, I believe it’s more of a “cheer’ from the Lord – saying “Don’t give up! You’re so close, don’t give up! PUSH yourself – and you’ll get the prize.”
I’ve been contending for a long time for very specific promises that the Lord has given me and my family. Many times it has felt like I AM in a race…and I can’t say that I’ve always “run”…sometimes I’ve walked, sometimes I’ve barely crawled, sometimes I’ve been so hurt, I’ve actually limped…and unfortunately there were times when I got off the track altogether (but by His grace, I’ve always gotten back on) – one thing I haven’t done…is QUIT. I’ve remained in the race!
And now, when I feel like the finish line is so close…this is the point in the race where you feel excitement, yet you’re exhausted. Weariness has settled in and you feel it in every “spiritual” muscle you have. Often when you’re running your own personal race, you don’t have a crowd of people cheering you on. Many of the spectators in your life got tired of the length of the race and went their own way. This is when you’ve got to know that the Lord Himself (as only HE can do) is watching & cheering for you, running with you, AND waiting for you at the finish line (all at the same time).
All we have to do is:
- Deny your flesh (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
- Stay on track (2 Tim. 2:5 – obey the rules)
- Focus on the prize (the promise) and keep running! (Phil. 3:14)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” –
2 Tim. 4:6-8
There are 3 dangerous “C” words that plague the Body of Christ and at least two extremes to which I’ve seen Christians fall prey.
1) Ignoring the fact that we’re in a spiritual battle and only seeing things through a carnal (earthly perspective).
2) Seeing EVERYTHING as the result of demons, and blaming the devil for every bad thing in their life.
Somewhere in the middle, is the real Bible believing Bride of Christ. The Bride knows that the enemy wants to ensnare her. She knows that her Beloved, Jesus, has conquered the power of the devil.
Why then, you might ask, does the Bride not show any signs of victory, display His power, or live continually a life without spot or blemish?
Because the enemy of the Church is summed up in these three words:
• Complacency • Compliance • Compromise
Complacency is where the cares of your own selfish life have taken precedent over the call of God. It’s where debt keeps you up at night. It’s where decisions needed to be made cause confusion, and where the lack of intimacy with Jesus through worship & prayer, have made you weak in faith and double-minded. It’s the silent killer of dreams, the anti-spirit of evangelism! It keeps you focused on the temporal, while everyday you let someone pass you by that could spend eternity in hell if they don’t repent, and your attitude is “not my problem”, “not my gifting”, or “I’m too busy”.
Compliance– Listen to the definition:
- The act of conforming, acquiescing, or yielding.
- A tendency to yield readily to others, especially in a weak and subservient way.
Christians comply to the will of the enemy everyday…when we don’t stand up for God’s Word! When we don’t BELIEVE that God’s Word is true despite our circumstances – walking by sight and not by faith – which is the opposite of what God has commanded us to do! (2nd Cor. 5:7) We comply with our culture (allowing it to shape our views and beliefs as opposed to the unchanging Word of God!) The Bible says not to be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2). We comply when we cave into “spiritual peer pressure” and we’re afraid we might look too radical if we obey what God’s calling us to do at times. We comply when we adopt a “hang on until Jesus returns” attitude that keeps us in “survival mode”. Where is the victorious Church? We’re too busy acting like we can’t do anything about it, so we just lie down and take whatever comes our way. Compliance is a total slap in Jesus face as we ignore the very authority He purchased for us on the cross!
Compromise – Often the most subtle, yet most damaging tactic of the enemy to the Body of Christ. The ways of the world are always calling, and we know our flesh is weak. Only by God’s grace, and continued spiritual disciplines (worship/prayer/study God’s Word) can we stay on track. We may think because we’ve given up our old way of life, which for some included what I like to call “outward sins” (obvious sin as seen by our actions), that we don’t have to deal with temptation. The truth is “inward sins” are always lurking in our hearts – sins of attitude, fleshly desires, ways in which we need to align our will with God’s, but haven’t quite surrendered yet. This is why the Psalmist prayed “Lord, search me and try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me.” (Psalm 139:23) The enemy will always come to tempt you – to see if you’ll “take a bite of the apple”. No one is above it, remember, even Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (when He was weak from fasting) yet He did not sin. Compromise is much more than dealing with temptation – it’s when you give in or give up a little at a time. When I think of compromise, I think of the way they used to fight in the Bible times. They had forts surrounded by large gates. The enemy would use a large battering ram and slam it against the gate, over and over and over again…until it weakened. This is a perfect picture of compromise. The problem is, once you give an inch, it takes a mile! You give in just a little, and then a little more, and then a little more – until you’ve agreed to full blown sin. Compromise makes you inconsistent. It’s an open door to the enemy to take control of that area of your life.
The answer to the 3 “C’s” are not hidden like a secret. It’s not found in some “new revelation” from the latest Bible guru, and it’s nothing new…in fact, it’s more of a return to the beginning (your first love).
In the book of Revelation, the letters to the churches provide insight to us today as to what God expects of us. There is a letter to a “compromising church”, and letter to a “loveless church” and a letter to a “Corrupt Church”, to name a few. The lesson learned from the compromising & corrupt church are to be aware of the things of the world that come in and “seduce” the people of God into mixing Christianity with idolatry (the ways of the world/the ways of the devil). We see from the letter to the “loveless” church that they uphold the truth, stand in judgment against un-righteousness, but they fail to do “right” in love. Have you ever been right in principal and wrong in spirit or attitude? God calls us to uphold His character both in holiness and in love.
So, fight against:
- By asking God to give you a “heavenly perspective” – thinking on eternal things,
- Understanding that you are not your own, you’ve been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Bible says we should take up our cross daily (Acts. 17:11)
- God has a plan for our lives – seek Him to find out what He wants, knowing that it’s better than anything we can come up with on our own.
- Recognize that Jesus has given us authority in His name and we don’t have to settle or be reactionary to our circumstances
- Greater is He who is in us, than He that is in the world!
- Pray against and break any stronghold from the “fear of man” We’re going to live to honor and please God, not man. (Prov. 29:25)
- Seek first the Kingdom of God and let all other things be added unto you! (Matt. 6:33)
- Be serious about purging yourself from anything that could cause you to stumble. (Matt 18:8-9)
- READ, PRAY, LIVE Psalm 119:1-15!!!
“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!” – Psalm 119:1-7 (NLT)
When I was younger in my Christian walk, I made many foolish statements out of ignorance. One such confession was regarding God’s power in my life. I would say “I know God CAN do this (fill in the blank)…but I’m not sure if He WILL do it for ME.” I was acknowledging that God has all power (that’s good), but still doubting His goodness (that’s bad). It was also a blatant disregard for what He’d already said in His Word. We often believe partially – like having faith for salvation, but stopping short of believing God will bless or heal us.
Let’s look at what happened in the Bible – God had Moses lead the people out of Egypt (saved them). Then He said I’m GIVING you a PROMISED land (blessing them) that flows with milk & honey.
So Moses sent out spies to check out the land God promised them. Joshua & Caleb came back in agreement with God’s promise (the land is good). The other ten spies came back with a bad report, focusing on the giants in the land and doubting God.
I know how tempting it is to focus on the negative instead of believing what God has promised! You must actively renew your mind and renounce wrong mindsets that are contrary to the Word of God! The Bible says that the people believed the spies with the bad report (the majority) and wanted to stone Joshua & Caleb.
As a result, here is the fate of those ten spies:
“Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report of the land, those very men brought the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the Lord.” – Numbers 14:36-37
Joshua & Caleb are spared and blessed:
“But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive, of the men who went to spy out the land.” – Numbers 14:3.
Have you ever thought about how differently it would have been for the people if ALL twelve spies came back with a good report? There is a great responsibility to those in leadership not to go against God’s Word and plan.
Fate of the Children of Israel:
God decreed that everyone 20 years old and above would die in the wilderness. Only the younger generation would enter the Promised land. (Numbers 14:26-30)
It’s important for us to understand that for the Israelites in the wilderness, it wasn’t a one time moment of unbelief that made God angry enough to say they couldn’t enter into the Promised land. It was a continual lifestyle of doubting, murmuring, complaining, and basically calling God a liar.
God allowed the younger generation to enter into the Promised land despite their parents/grandparents sin of unbelief.
“But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised.” – Numbers 14:31
Still, they did have to suffer for the sins of their forefathers.
“And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness.” – Numbers 14:33
The younger generation often has to “bear the brunt” of our sins when it comes to unbelief. If we don’t learn how to trust God, and take Him at His Word, how much harder will it be for our children, and our children’s children?
While the younger generation of Israelites experienced God’s protection and provision in the wilderness, they didn’t see firsthand the deliverance from Egypt, or the parting of the Red Sea – they only heard about it. Unfortunately they also heard their forefathers constant complaining and witnessed their unbelief.
We MUST pass on our faith to our children, not only in word, but in deed as well! They need to hear and SEE us walking the things we believe. They need to hear and SEE us reading our Bible, worshipping the Lord, praying for the sick, helping the needy, ministering to others, and walking in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- God is truth
- He is not a man who would lie.
- In Him there is no darkness at all, He’s not even capable of telling a lie.
- The devil is the father of ALL lies
- God IS good, and His plan for us is good
- God is faithful
- He will never leave us or forsake us
Encourage yourself in God’s Word and speak out loud who He is and what He’s said. Give no room for the devil to deceive you. Don’t entertain negative thoughts that contradict God’s Word, but take these thoughts captive and throw them out!
If we allow our doubts to become a stronghold of unbelief in any area of our life, not only do we miss out on (all/or some) of our “promised land”, we end up dying a spiritual, emotional, mental, and sometimes even physical death in our own personal wilderness. We also need to remember that our disobedience and unbelief affects the next generation.
Who’s in control?
Joshua instructed the people NOT to touch or keep any of the “accursed things” lest they become cursed. This would have been anything used in pagan rituals or idol worship to their foreign, false gods. The people of God are not to mingle with the things of this world that are used to glorify the devil. I’m not talking about man’s rules or legalism – I’m speaking of tv shows,movies, music, clubs, organizations, or practices that clearly have a dark message or tone that comes from the enemy, that are not only socially acceptable, but widely popular. The trick of the enemy is to desensitize people into believing these things aren’t really harmful, when in fact, they can open you up to the demonic, often without your knowledge.
After their victory, Joshua declares that anyone who rebuilds the city of Jericho will be cursed before the Lord. It will affect their firstborn and their youngest (generational curse would be upon them) – Joshua 6:26: God honored Joshua’s decree, and it happened just as he said! You can read about it in 1 King 16:34. It was during the reign of the evil King Ahab, when a man named Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. It cost him the lives of his first born son Abiram, and his youngest son, Segub. It’s unclear if he actually killed his sons as a sacrifice, or if they died by the hand of the Lord in some mysterious way. What we do know is that the word spoken by Joshua came to pass after 500 years. This proves the power we as Christians have in our words to decree & declare a thing, and it shall be done. Jesus has all power and authority in Heaven and on earth (and below) – He gave us that same authority in His name.
Jericho was utterly destroyed, no human or animal survived (other than Rahab and her family as promised). Despite Joshua’s curse, and the obvious price Hiel Bethel paid to rebuild this city, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years. To this day, Jericho is located on the west bank of Israel under Palestinian rule. Israelis are not allowed in Jericho.
It’s important to ask ourselves: why was the enemy allowed to take back this land that God had given to His people?
As the Children of Israel were facing their first battle in their newly acquired promised land, Joshua gives them some very strange instructions from the Lord. It’s clear to see that this will be no ordinary battle, and in typical “God fashion”, He does the complete opposite of what comes natural.
Only God would:
- Send an army in to march around the City wall for six days without making any attempts to fight. They were told not to make a sound, or in any way use their voice. Perhaps this was to keep them from voicing their concerns about how this was going to work??? Especially given their forefathers, who did nothing but question and complain in the wilderness.
- Armed with the weapon of God’s choice – trumpets made of rams horns before swords
- And then tell them to march around seven times on the seventh day, and when they hear the trumpet, they are told to “shout” and they’ll see the walls around Jericho fall flat!
Now God had already assured them of their victory, yet He was working in the people:
- Unity – they marched together, following the priest who carried the Ark of the Covenant
- Obedience – they followed God’s orders without knowing how He was going to accomplish His promise for victory – and when it made little sense in the natural.
One important tool the Lord highlights in this story is the power of praise. A shout of victory can still bring down spiritual walls and break spiritual bondage to this day!
In the Bible, the number seven symbolizes perfection. They had seven priests with seven ram’s horns, and were told to march around seven times -on the seventh day they were to shout…surely the number seven is significant! We see in Gen. 2:2-3 that after God created the earth in the first six days, He rested on the seventh. Therefore, God blessed the seventh day. In the battle of Jericho, they marched for six days (that was their work) and on the seventh, they marched and shouted because that was the day of perfection, the day of their victory!
“Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!” – Joshua 6:16
The Israelites did exactly as God commanded, and they saw the walls crumble before their eyes. The entire City was destroyed – every man, woman, child, and animal, with the exception of Rahab and her family. Joshua had instructed them to spare Rahab, according to the promise they made to her when she hid the spies. It is important to keep your promises – just as God is trustworthy, so are His people.
The battle of Jericho was special in that it was their first victory in their promised land. In the battles following Jericho, the Lord allowed the people to take the spoils (riches). But for this battle the Lord required the spoils to be consecrated to Him.
“But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron are consecrated to the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” – Joshua 6:19
This was in keeping with the command to give your “first fruits” to the Lord. God wanted the first fruits of their first battle to be consecrated to Him. He still wants us to put Him first in all areas of our lives, giving Him top priority – and of course the first fruits of all our wages earned.
The Israelites went on from Jericho to win many more battles – and God was with them just as He promised. “So the Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout the country” – Joshua 6:27
- Just as God was with Joshua, He is with us today.
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age” – Matthew 28:20
- We still have guaranteed victory over the battles we face.
“A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” – Psalm 34:19
- We each have to take possession of our own personal promised land
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Let’s end with these very encouraging words found in Joshua 21:43-45
“So the Lord gave to Israel all the lands of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”
When God fights your battles, you always win! When the enemy sees that you are taking possession of your promised land, he will fear you – God will give you rest as long as you continue to trust and follow Him. God’s promises, no matter how long they may take to come about, will come to fruition exactly as He promised. God never fails to keep His word!
Immediately after crossing over the Jordan…to set their feet on the promised land, God had instructions for Joshua and the people. There were two things he was directed to tell the people to do right away, before they went any further. We would do well to heed these instructions in our own lives, when our Heavenly Father is leading us into our destiny. Life with God is a journey, and nothing is wasted. All along the way, we are learning valuable lessons that will serve us in our future endeavors, tests and trials.
What did He command Joshua to do first?
Joshua 4:1-2 – the Lord told Joshua to take twelve men, one from each tribe, and give them these instructions:
“’take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’”
Then in Joshua 4:5, he said to them:
“cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come saying ‘what do these stones mean to you?’”
So they collected stones to make two memorials, one on the ground, and one in the middle of the Jordan they had crossed over. This was God’s way of making sure that they REMEMBERED what He had done, but also, He wanted them to share their experience (testify) with their children, and their children’s children.
I want to be able to tell others “what the stones in my life mean to me” – every word, interaction, sermon, prophesy, and major milestone in my walk with the Lord..every time I’ve “experienced His presence and was forever changed by it”, I want to remember and be able to pass along to those who need to be encouraged.
We see this same pattern carried out in the Old and New Testament. At the Passover, the children of Israel were told to eat the Passover meal and keep that ceremony from then on, explaining to their future generations how God had saved and delivered them out of Egypt. He tells Joshua to build memorial stones to remember crossing the Jordan, just like the Red Sea. In the New Testament, Jesus celebration of the Passover with His disciples is now known as “the last supper”. When Jesus breaks the bread and passes the wine cup, He commands them to keep this ceremony and do it in remembrance of Him until the Lord’s coming.
So what is the significance of remembering?
“that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” – Joshua 4:24
What happens when people forget what God has done for them?
Let’s look at this verse as a perfect example:
“How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power; the day when He redeemed them from the enemy, when He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan…” – Psalm 78:40
Forgetting what God has done leads us to abandon His way and begin to do things on our own. We are told not to lean on our own understanding, but in all our ways acknowledge Him (Prov. 3:5-6). That’s because the Bible says that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9). The children of Israel were constantly forsaking God and going back to the ways of Egypt, which represents “flesh” or the “worlds system”. But God has longed for a people that He can show off as His own. He wants to glorify His name through a people belonging to Him.
For this reason, we come to God’s second command to Joshua. Circumcision!
Circumcision was a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham (see Gen. 17). The new generation of Israelites born in the wilderness was not yet circumcised. So in Joshua 5, God instructs Joshua to have them circumcised and symbolically reestablishes His covenant with His chosen people. The old is passed away, all things in this land are being made new. (see Joshua 5:6)
After they were circumcised and healed, the Lord said to Joshua:
“This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”
Their bondage from Egypt was completely removed! This foreshadows how we are saved through Jesus Christ atonement on the cross and He has declared us FREE! “He who the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36)
The Israelites were God’s chosen people – the ones He decided to make covenant with, to show His favor and protection, and to make a distinction between them and the rest of the world. He did this, not to be exclusive, but so that as others looked on Israel, and saw how God dealt with His children, they would do as Rahab did, and seek Him for themselves. God loves the whole world…but wanted to show His character and ability to and through a people group. Of course after Jesus came, He extended salvation to everyone. Paul teaches that there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female (Gal. 3:28). All believers are sanctified and receive the covenant promises and the inheritance.
However, it is important to remember that while salvation is free, God still desires that we consecrate ourselves wholly to Him. This is no longer done through circumcision, but rather a circumcision of the heart.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
So the instructions we heed as we get ready to enter into our destiny is this:
- Always remember what God has done for you, His faithfulness, His power, His loving kindness and tender mercies.
- Consecrate yourselves to the Lord – make sure that you are living in a way that others know where you stand and that you belong to Him.
We are in this world, but we’re not of this world. Our citizenship and allegiance is to another kingdom, and Jesus is the King.
After 40 years of their ancestors wandering in the desert – and after much preparation…it’s FINALLY time for the children of Israel to cross over the Jordan River to their God-given promised land. (Joshua 3)
What is standing between you and your personal promise land? It’s time to cross over!
They encamp on the edge of the Jordan for three days and then Joshua gives the order. It’s that time! However, Joshua gives them this very important command:
“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” – Joshua 3:3
Now we know that the ark of the covenant held the Ten Commandments, manna, and Aaron’s rod. It was Israel’s most sacred and treasured possession because it represented God’s presence. So we can see that Joshua’s command to them was basically saying “GET UP and GO AFTER GOD’s PRESENCE! This command hasn’t changed for us under the new covenant (Luke 14:27).
Joshua gave further instructions:
“…Do not come near it (the ark), that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” – Joshua 3:4
They were told to put an appropriate amount of space between themselves and the ark because they were headed into unfamiliar territory and they didn’t know the way. Too often if God tells us where we’re going and what He has planned, we have a tendency to get ahead of Him. This was the warning to the Israelites “don’t try to get too close or worse, pass the ark, because you don’t know the way. You need to follow His presence!
Joshua gives them one more very important command BEFORE they crossed over:
“Sanctify yourselves…” – Joshua 3:5
- Set apart as or declare holy; consecrate.
- Make legitimate or binding by religious sanction.
Joshua was giving them a chance to leave their issues on this side of their promised land. Too many people don’t deal with their sin and try to move ahead into their destiny while still clinging to their sins and the things that hold them in bondage.
Verse 5 goes on to say that after they sanctify themselves, they will see God perform wonders!
“…for tomorrow the Lord will do wondersamong you” – Joshua 3:5
Joshua has a sense of expectancy…he’s joyfully anticipating how God is going to show His power and glory to the people. We NEED this same expectancy – when was the last time you went to church EXPECTING God to do something wonderful? Or how about in your own life, with your personal prayers? Do you expect God to perform wonders? I can tell you this, He responds to that kind of hunger (Matthew 5:6)
Joshua 3:6-8 – God gives Joshua “the plan”. Then Joshua tells the children of Israel “come here and hear the words of the Lord your God”. Then Joshua tells the people to follow the priests who are carrying the ark.
“And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” – Joshua 3:13
God had promised Joshua that He would part the waters of the Jordan just like He parted the Red Sea. This was a sign that He was with them just as He had been with Moses. It was also to show the people of the earth that God’s hand was on Israel (Joshua 4:24 – more on this next time)
If anyone had reason to question God’s timing, it could of been Joshua. Not only were they making a trip into unfamiliar territory, already knowing they would eventually have to fight the inhabitants of the land…but first they had to cross the Jordan…which was now at flood stage.
“….for the Jordan overflows it’s banks during the whole time of harvest” – Joshua 3:15
It required faith –
- faith to believe God was with them, even after all this time – after their forefather’s murmured and complained, and ultimately disobeyed so that God was angry with them…they had to believe that God had not changed His mind about giving them this promised land.
- faith to believe that God would give them victory over the enemies in the land
- faith to believe that when the priests stepped into the water, it would stop flowing
- AND faith to believe that the water would hold, just as it did with the Red Sea, so they could pass through on dry ground!
“Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.” – Joshua 3:17
What can we learn from the Israelites crossing over?
- As your waiting to enter into the promises of God for your life, sometimes all you can do is stand firm!
- Even if the waters are surrounding you, in the presence of the Lord, it is dry ground (solid ground; He is our firm foundation).
- Let’s not go halfway and turn back, but like the children of Israel, we need to go completely across to the other side. No turning back, no standing still, no camping out in the midst of the Jordan…go completely over.
- The priests got to carry the presence of God (the ark), and the people followed them. The Bible says that we are kings and priests unto the Lord (1 Peter 2:9, Rev. 5:9-10) – as we follow Christ into our promise land, others will see it and want to follow too.
Joshua, just as Moses did, sent out spies (only two this time) to check out the promised land, especially the area around Jericho. While in the City, they find refuge in a very unlikely place…we aren’t told the details of how this came about, but they ended up in the home of a harlot named Rahab.
The King of Jericho was informed that the Israelites were spying out the land and a search party was sent out to look for them. Rahab hides the spies and lies to her own countrymen as to their whereabouts. Why does she help them? The answer is found in these verses:
“Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath’.” – Joshua 2:8-12
I find it remarkable that an unbeliever, a foreigner, and a harlot at that, exhibited this kind of faith. She displayed more faith in God’s power based on hearing about His mighty deeds, than the children of Israel led by Moses who saw the Red Sea depart with their own eyes. She stated right up front “I know God has given you this land” How did she know? Because God’s reputation for protecting and blessing His children had proceeded them. The whole City of Jericho was fainthearted because they were afraid of the Israelites. It makes me think, what if the 10 spies Moses sent out would of believed like Joshua and Caleb??? Instead of saying:
“…We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” – Numbers 13:31
“…and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” – Numbers 13:33
They would of saved themselves a lot of wandering in the desert if they would have believed God when He said “I’ve given you this land”. If they could of only known, their enemies on the other side of the Jordan were afraid of them. This is often the way the enemy deceives us – he makes things seem bigger and impossible. But if we trust what God has promised, we’ll see that the enemy is actually afraid of those who step out in faith and obey God’s commands. Those who dare to believe against what it looks like in the natural are a dangerous threat to the devil. I love how Rahab described the people of Jericho as having “no remaining courage”because of the people of Israel. This seemed significant to me since God went out of His way several times to tell Joshua “to be strong and courageous”. We can be courageous even when the courage of others fails because the Lord is with us.
Now Rahab decided to reach out to God’s people and strike a deal. She would help them in exchange for her, and her family’s life being spared when they took over the City. She makes them swear to the Lord (make an oath or promise before God) that they will save her. The spies agree on the condition that she hang a “scarlet chord” out her window and she and her family must stay inside. This sounds very similar to the passover – as well as a foreshadow of Christians being saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. The fact that Rahab was part of this story in history to help the Children of Israel shows us two things: •God loves everyone – no one is beyond His reach to be saved. We can’t put people and sin in categories and think that some are just too far gone to ever be reached. . •God can use anyone and anything to help His children obtain their promised land. He can cause all kinds of “unlikely alliances” in your life to accomplish His plans for you. We shouldn’t even try to figure out how God is going to work because His ways are NOT our ways! What happened to this unlikely alliance? Rahab’s one act in helping the spies forever changed the course of her life. She went on to marry and is recorded as being the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth and is listed in the lineage of Jesus Christ!