(Joshua 1:1-9 Written as if Joshua himself were saying this.)
I once had a friend who thought it would be great to be a soldier, wear a uniform and march in parades. H joined the army to travel and have prestige, but before long he changed his mind. The training was hard and there was an enemy who was trying to kill him! Often God’s people are just like that: they commit to follow God and live for Him, thinking of all the benefits this will have for them. Then they realize they are in a battle, and there is an enemy trying to destroy them. When you desert Satan’s army and join God’s army, you shouldn’t be surprised that you are in the middle of a conflict. This is true of all God’s people.
It was true of me, too. My name is Joshua. I was involved in much warfare in my time. All who desire to live for God are. In my day it was the Egyptians and the Canaanites we fought. In your day you are still battling God’s enemies, but they are different. You battle Satan and his forces, the flesh (your sin nature, that natural tendency to be selfish, prideful and self-centered) and the world system with its ungodly system of priorities and values. The weapons that were used against us were swords, spears and arrows. Weapons used against you are greed, selfishness, fear, lust, anger and pride. What I went through physically is a picture of what you go through spiritually (I Cor 10;11; Rom 15:4).
This battle is really between god and Satan. It just spilled over to this planet and is carried out here on earth. It started in Eden when Satan started attacking God’s people because He couldn’t defeat God Himself. He started with Adam and Eve, then attacked Cain. He hit everyone until God wiped out all but Noah in the flood, then Satan went after the people after the flood. He got them to build Babel. God then chose one man to make into a special nation to reveal Himself to the world. That man, Abraham, then was bruised. Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were all beaten by Satan. Eventually the new nation ended up captive in Egypt (a picture of the world) helpless slaves of Pharaoh (a picture of Satan). God intervened and delivered us by the innocent blood of the Passover Lamb (a picture of Jesus’ work on the cross). He defeated our enemies at the Red Sea (a picture of His resurrection power). From then on we were in a battle. In Egypt we weren’t in any battle, we were helpless victims with no power to fight back. Before salvation you aren’t in the same kind of battles you are in afterwards. With salvation you get many new things, but one of them is a new enemy. We all get that.
I was born a slave in Egypt. I remember the Passover and deliverance through the Red Sea. I saw all the miracles of God’s deliverance. My name means “Jehovah is salvation,” the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word “Jesus.” I was a soldier in Pharaoh’s army. That’s why Moses chose me to lead the Jews in our battle with Amalek (a picture of the flesh) soon after we crossed the Red Sea.
God’s enemies are our enemies when we are on His side, and they can seem formidable! The giants in the land caused most of the other spies as well as the people to run in fear, so we had to wander in the desert for 40 years. Then, when the older generation had died, God chose me to lead the new generation into the land (Joshua 1:1). Following such a well-known, successful leader like Joshua was not easy. I myself couldn’t do it. It was only God’s power that enabled me to lead our people to victory. I had to totally rely on God’s promises in order to have victory. God promised He would give us the land (1:2), but we had to move out in faith and fight the battles to take it. “I will give you every place where you set your foot” (1:3,4; Deut 11;24; Gen 12:1-7). The land was ours – but we had to set our foot there. The Canaanites who were living there would do their best to prevent that!
Fortunately God promised He would fight our battle through us. He guaranteed victory for us (1:5). God promises you that you will never be alone, either (Gen 28;15; Rom 8:38-39; Ex 33:14). Because of this we didn’t have to fear (1:6), and neither do you (Ps 118:6; 23:4; Isa 41:10; Dt 31:6; Mt 14:27). Of course God expected us to obey Him in everything (1:7-8) for if we were in disobedience we would be cut off from His power and protection.
He told me “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (1:9). That was what I rested my hope on. God has promised you, too, that he will meet all your needs (Ps 84:11; 23:1-3; Phil 4:19; Heb 13:5), that He will guide you (Ps 48:14; 32:8; Prov 3:5-6) and that He will be your strength for whatever comes (Phil 4:13; II Cor 12:9; Dt 33:25; Isa 40:29). He promises you victory in your battles, too (I Cor 10:13). You need only to trust His word and lean on His strength.
So when you have battles, and you will have them, learn from our battles. Ours were physical, yours are spiritual (Eph 6:12). Fight in God’s strength, wear His armor (Eph 6:10-17)and then, and only then, will you be able to have victory as we had victory. The book of Joshua is a book of warfare and victory, but it starts with God’s promises. If we wouldn’t have believed them and acted on them we would never have had victory. That is the start – believe what God says in His Word and trust Him, live in obedience to Him and face your enemies with the knowledge that He will give you victory. When fear or doubt, lust or greed, anger of selfishness, laziness or pride attack, quote God’’ promises of victory and move ahead in faith in His ability to overcome them. As the hymn says, make sure you are “Standing on the Promises.”
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)