GOD SPEAKS TO JOSHUA ABOUT THE ENEMY
Josh. 1:5 “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Israel had not done much fighting for the past forty years . . . except among themselves. That is not the kind of training one needs to defeat the Amalekites and the Canaanites. However, there is no instruction for training for fighting even though God sends them against the enemy. The conclusion is obvious. It is not the horse or sword that wins in the battle in Israel’s case. It is the LORD. He goes to battle with them and they never lose. That is right. When Israel lost a battle, it was because God did not go out to battle with them.
We are reminded of our Spiritual battle. Paul says if you want to win, “ . . . be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:10-13). The secret of victory for the child of God is the presence of the Lord. When He is with us, we are fighting a battle already won.
The LORD is preparing Joshua to lead Israel into the land He has given them. The first thing He does is say, “Moses my servant is dead . . .” He is not around. He will not be fighting earthly battles any more. Joshua must realize this. He is no longer a servant of Moses, he is a servant of the LORD like Moses. The next thing the LORD wants Joshua to know, is that He will now be speaking to him. The LORD says, “ . . . arise, go over this Jordan . . .” Joshua must finish the job that the LORD started. The responsibility has now fallen on him. He must know that the leadership has fallen on his shoulders. The LORD also speaks to Joshua about the land. He tells him that the land is given but they must claim the land by walking through it. The LORD says, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon . . .” The LORD gave the land but there is the walk by faith. He gives Joshua and Israel something to believe.
Now the LORD speaks to Joshua about the enemy. You know you can have the land but if it is occupied by one stronger than you, there is a slight problem. Joshua has to be a little nervous over his new position. He had followed Moses as a servant. The decisions were Moses’ decisions. Being a second man has its advantages. When the people disagreed with Moses and became disagreeable, they did not murmur against Joshua. It was always against Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron are dead. These men were more popular in death than they were in life. It is amazing how man deifies a dead man that he would have nothing to do with when he was alive. Joshua liked being the second man! Now he has been thrust into being the leader. It was not his choice. It was the LORD’s.
The LORD says, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee . . .” That takes care of “How in the world will we stand up against this strong enemy?” There are a couple of questions that every man of God needs to have answered. Has God called me and will He be with me? God determined the success of Joshua in this statement. Joshua will be fighting a battle already won.
There was only one Moses and one Joshua out of millions of Jews. Can’t you just see the disappointment in the faces of those who feel rejected because The LORD did not choose them instead of Joshua? The LORD is the answer to Joshua’s success. And the LORD sets that record straight here in the first chapter of Joshua. I have taught something for years that has met opposition in some of my dear friends. I will state it here. A man cannot develop beyond the gift or gifts that God has given him. If you try to develop beyond the gifts He has given you, you will be a miserable person. Always trying to do something that God has not gifted you to do. Or always trying to lead Israel (millions) when you have not been chosen to do it. You have been chosen to lead a smaller number of the whole. When you attempt to “do great things FOR the Lord,” and you find that no matter how hard you try, you are still not reaching your “perceived potential,” you will adopt the methods of the world and dedicate them to the Lord, so that He will be impressed with your dedication and your great accomplishments. Just remember this. God told Saul to wipe out the Amalekites and destroy all their possessions (1 Sam. 15:3). He saved Agag the king, and the best of the sheep and oxen, and the best of the things that they might sacrifice it to the LORD in Gilgal. Amalek is a type of the flesh. I often wondered why it was so important that everything be destroyed. Here it is: there is not one thing that originates in our fallen nature, that is called the flesh, that God will accept in His service. God has utterly rejected the flesh. Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God. When God saves, He does it by grace, and His grace is not a response to the works of the flesh. It is a response to faith. Let me state it again. The best the flesh has to offer, God has no use for. Don’t offer it. God works through the NEW MAN IN CHRIST. What man does that stands with God is the fruit of the Spirit.
What we need, He has, and is willing to give it to us. But He will only give it on His terms. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Not only does He give salvation by faith but also our walk in the Christian life is by faith (Heb. 10:38). Does this mean we are to be passive? Absolutely not. The LORD talked to Joshua about the soles of his shoes! We must walk through the land He has given us. We must serve Him in the area of our calling. He also says to us, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee . . . ”
Then the LORD adds as He speaks to Joshua, “ . . . all the days of thy life . . .” The LORD says to Joshua, “I am with you for the long haul. I am with you to the end.” Have ever read these words in the great commission: “ . . . lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Vance Havner said of these words, “I think the average church is more conscious of the absence of the people than they are the presence of the Lord.” I think too many go to church for a performance rather than a meeting with the Lord in worship. I praise the Lord that He is with us all the way. Even when we are wandering around in the wilderness.
The LORD says to Joshua, “ . . . as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee . . . ” I believe that brought back memories. Joshua was with Moses in some of those places where God was all over the place. This is an “as” and “so” that will encourage Joshua to be the leader for which he has been chosen. I can’t stress it too much. As long as you are where God wants you, doing what God wants you to do, and you have His presence, this is the most fulfilling experience you can have in this life. Satan will do his utmost to get you out of the Lord’s will. When we are out of His will we are fighting a battle already lost. It is a waste. When we are in God’s will, we are fighting a battle already won. And the flesh dare not take credit!
Then finally, the LORD said, “ . . . I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” The LORD tells Joshua that He will not fail him. There will never be a time when Joshua is faced with a situation that the LORD will not provide him with the right answer. The LORD says, “I will not fail you.” He also says, “I will not forsake you. Joshua, you will never get into a battle and find that I am gone. I will always be there.” Have you ever had a friend that told you “I will always be there for you,” and when you really needed him, he was nowhere to be found? And after you survived the battle with the cuts and bruises, you looked around and here he comes walking out of the shadows, and expects you to treat him like the friend he claimed to be? Maybe we expect too much of our friends. The Lord is really the only one who won’t let you down. He says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).
Let me close by saying, if we are disappointed in man, it just proves our trust was misplaced to begin with. And if we are bitter over the experience, it means that we are still as dumb as we were when we got disappointed. Our disappointments are His appointments and He never misses an appointment, i.e., “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” He is constantly teaching us not to depend on the arm of the flesh. Amen.
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.