The Promise And The Pronouncement - Part II
This article is continued from the September issue of The Evangelist.
There is quite a difference between the promise and the possession of the promise. Joshua stood on the banks of the Jordan River, overlooking the land that had been promised to Abraham generations before. They had all gone through a wilderness experience, but the promised land was now in sight. It would be here that God would speak to Joshua and provide him with three promises and three pronouncements (charges or commands). Interestingly, these pronouncements all begin in the same way, “be strong and of good courage.”
Occupying and Dividing the Land
The first pronouncement that God gave to Joshua centered upon Joshua leading the people of God into the promised land, and the division of that land between the twelve tribes of Israel. However, to divide the land, they would first need to occupy the land. And to conquer the land, there must be war. Occupying the land would not be done easily or quickly but would span many, many years. Joshua was now a military leader, Israel's Commander in Chief, the leader of an army that would face formidable opposition in the years to come. The land that was promised was vast and heavily occupied by powerful, evil tribes, completely wicked to their core, with their cup of iniquity overflowing. God was going to use His people to be the catalyst for their extinction. Knowing what lay ahead, God would instruct Joshua to be strong and courageous. He was to stay the course and never deviate from the task.
One could look at this as a type of sanctification. Possessing the promises of God means war. Satan will do everything within his power to deter us from receiving God’s provision. Yet possessing and maintaining these promises is not done easily but may take a lifetime of perseverance. The process of sanctification begins when we accept Christ and continues throughout our lives, meaning that sanctification is both instantaneous and progressive. Throughout this course of action, we are commanded by our heavenly Commander in Chief to engage in one mission—to fight the good fight of the faith (I Tim 6:12). We are not called to do battle against the devil, and neither are we told to take up arms against the powers of darkness. Instead, we are advised to fight to keep our faith anchored in Christ and the cross. This is the fight we are told to participate in. The enemy of our soul is set on weakening or exterminating our faith, yet we must daily exercise our faith in what Christ has done for us, to bring about the help of the Holy Spirit, Who alone can provide victory.
However, when we move forward on this journey of faith, Satan will not stop attacking us because our faith is now anchored in Christ's finished work. In fact, there will be attacks leveled against us that are meant to weaken, and even destroy, our faith. Satan knows that if he can undermine or destroy our faith, he can undermine or destroy us. Regardless of the attacks we may face, our main objective must be to continue believing in the cross of Christ. It does not matter how many times we may fail, we must get back up, keep our faith anchored in Christ, and keep moving forward. Do not lose hope, but continue to be strong and courageous looking daily to Christ for all things.
Be Faithful to the Word of God
The second charge given to Joshua was to remain faithful to the Word of God. Joshua was commanded by God to be obedient to the entirety of the law of God. He was not to turn away from the Word, but to speak the Word daily, meditate on the Word, and never look to any other source except the Word. In reality, Joshua's prosperity and success depended upon his obedience to the Word of God. We should notice that these instructions given by God to Joshua were not military in nature, but spiritual. God told Joshua that if he desired prosperity and success in life, he needed to stay close to the Word.
As Joshua's success and prosperity depended upon his knowledge of the Word, so it is with us today. If we desire success and prosperity in life, we must adhere to the Word, which always leads to the cross of Christ. When we speak of success and prosperity, we are speaking of spiritual victory and well being above all. If we are not successful and prosperous spiritually, then nothing else really matters. However, I personally believe that God wants us to be successful and thriving in life. Still, we must begin covering the spiritual before we cover any other aspect of life. I encourage you, be strong and courageous in your fidelity to the Bible. Learn it. Devour its contents. Study its pages. And most of all, see Jesus and the cross. The Bible is our road map to life and living, and it will lead us to a more abundant life.
Do Not Be Afraid
The third and final command given to Joshua was to remain strong and courageous, despite fear and discouragement. Fear and discouragement are the opposite of being strong and courageous. Joshua would have to face enemy after enemy, and make decisions to send young men, fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons into battle. This was a responsibility that could weary anyone. Yet God would command Joshua to continue to be strong and courageous, as He would be with Joshua everywhere he went. God had given him the promise that He would never forsake him, would never leave him, and would be with him continuously, no matter where Joshua would be called to go.
Fear and discouragement are things that every Christian will face. Fear comes when we are concerned about the future, or what is ahead. Discouragement comes from what has happened in the past that gives us little resolve to move forward. We tend to question everything, and thoughts of quitting begin to flood our minds. The idea of moving forward causes us to cringe, and we feel that we cannot go any farther in life. But we need to remember one thing: Whenever we cannot feel God near us—He is working. When we cannot see His hand moving, He’s working. He has promised us that He will never leave us, even in our darkest hour, nor will He ever forsake us. He will be with us wherever we go. We have been given these pronouncements that if our faith remains in Christ and Him crucified, we will stand victorious over the world, the flesh, and the devil. The book of Joshua is a book of victory. It details the blueprints given by the Holy Spirit, and if we apply them to our own lives, we will also stand victorious like Joshua of old.
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