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Most Christians know they are called to a life of victory; unfortunately, many have not yet experienced that victory. God has called us to experience victory every day of our Christian lives. The Book of Joshua lays the foundation and basis for the life of victory in Canaan that God has prepared for each one of us.
It is more than mere history, more than a simple record of past results and rewards. This revelation is a present reality. Paul said: “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Oftentimes the Old Testament is illustration while the New Testament is interpretation. If we are going to understand all of God’s Word, we must understand both the illustrations and the interpretations of the Bible.
God has given to every Christian the promised possession of victory, to live the Spirit-filled, overcoming life. It is God’s plan. The Word of God talks about the possibility of failure, but it never assumes the necessity of failure. The Book of Joshua was written to show us victory is possible by practicing the specific principles.
THERE ARE POSSESSIONS TO POSSESS
1. The Conversion Experience.
1“Now it came about after the death of Moses, the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, 2‘Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.’”
The Israelites were in the wilderness. They had come out of Egypt and were on their way to Canaan, the Promised Land and the place of victory for God’s people. God had said for them to cross over Jordan and possess the land, to take what He had already given them. Notice the implications this story has for us.
a. Egypt represents the state of the lost. In Egypt, Pharaoh, the cruel taskmaster, came against the nation of Israel. Egypt represents a picture of the world, a picture of the lost person who is bound by sin and broken by Satan.
b. Pharaoh represents Satan. God came to deliver the nation of Israel from its harsh taskmaster.
c. The Passover Lamb represents the conversion experience. The Lord covered the sins of His people and opened the Red Sea for their deliverance from sin and captivity. At one time, we too were bound by sin. We were slaves to sin and this world, but Jesus paid the price on the cross for our sins and set us free. He gave us a new life.
2. The carnal experience. Many Israelites who left Egypt never made it into Canaan. They wandered in the wilderness for the rest of their lives. There is a legitimate wilderness experience, but God never intended for His people to live so long in the wilderness. If a person lives in the wilderness too long, they become carnal Christians (1 Corinthians 3:1). Carnal Christians never enter into Canaan or experience all God has prepared for them.
When we first come to know Christ as Savior, the Bible calls us “babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1). We are babies for a while but should not be all our lives. When we grow up in the things of God, in the principles and the promises of God, we want meat and not just milk. We want to know all the blessings and all the principles of God’s Word. Too many are content to live in the wilderness.
3. The Canaan experience. There is a conversion experience and a carnal experience, but God wants us to have the Canaan experience. Canaan represents several pictures.
a. It represents release. The people of Israel had been in bondage and slavery, but God set them free. God desires that His people be free from the shackles of sin and know victory in every area of life. That is why Paul wrote, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). The sinner is still bound by Satan and his plans for their life; but for God’s people, Canaan meant release. Not only did it mean release, but it also meant refreshment.
b. It represents refreshment. The Israelites ate manna in the wilderness for forty years. They had manna every day—seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. No one ever asked, “What’s for breakfast today?” They knew. The same for lunch. And dinner. They lived every day eating manna. Despite eating the same thing day in and day out, Canaan represented refreshment: a land of variety and plenty. It is okay to eat manna once in a while, but God’s plan is for victory in every area of our lives. Do you not want to be refreshed, revived, and touched by the power of God in every area of your life? For the nation of Israel, Canaan represented release, but it also represented refreshment.
I am reminded of the story about a pastor who visited a man who had not been to church for quite some time. The man made all kinds of excuses. “The kids have been sick, and it has rained a lot.” The pastor responded, “It is always dry in the church.” The man replied, “Well, that’s another reason I haven’t been coming.”
The supernatural power of God is available to touch every fiber of our lives and help us live the victorious Christian life. For God’s people, Canaan represents release and refreshment.
c. It represents rest. The Book of Hebrews calls it the land of rest. This does not mean rest from work but rather rest while you work. Jesus said, “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The Israelites had come out of Egypt, but they had no rest. They had wandered around in the wilderness, but they had no rest.
Are you tired of going in circles without purpose in your life? Do you want to have the joy of Jesus, the comfort of Christ, and the strength of the Spirit? Are you tired of being confused and defeated? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? If you want His rest, then you must leave the wilderness and go to Canaan.
d. It represents reality. Up to this time, the people of Israel had had discussions and descriptions of Canaan but had never discovered Canaan. Do you want God’s Word to come alive in your heart and life? Then you must go to Canaan where God’s plan becomes real. Some have been in the wilderness so long they have come to think that living in the wilderness is normal. When someone gets excited about serving Jesus and talks about the victorious Christian life, we mark them as abnormal. We say they are fanatical when in actuality, the wilderness is abnormal and Canaan is normal. The person who is defeated is abnormal; the person who is victorious is normal. God’s plan is not for us to wander in the wilderness but to camp in Canaan.
Moses spoke to the nation of Israel and said, “He brought us out from there in order to bring us in” (Deuteronomy 6:23). God did not bring them out of Egypt to leave them in the wilderness; He brought them out of Egypt to bring them into Canaan. God did not save us to leave us defeated; He saved us so we could live victoriously, have abundance, and see His power.
THERE IS A PROMISE TO PURSUE
1. The walk of victory. Notice the walk of victory mentioned in verse 3: “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.” God has given us victory. He said to Joshua, “I have already given this land unto you.” All Joshua had to do was go out and take what was his. We too must reach out by faith and received the possessions God says are rightfully ours.
On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It was not doomsday but deliverance day. He had just purchased deliverance for all who would believe. The devil wants us to live in defeat and in the wilderness and not experience the blessings found in Canaan.
We do not have to pray for victory because we are praying from victory. We will possess our land of release, rest, refreshment, and reality when we put our foot down in faith on the promises of God. The Lord told Joshua to walk on conquered land.
2. The width of victory. The Bible tells us how wide it was:
4“From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory.”
God said their possession was all they could see from the north, south, east, and west. There was no limit to the victory God planned for His people. Canaan is not heaven; Canaan is now. I am not so concerned about what is going to happen tomorrow as I am what is going to happen today. We talk about the happy by and by, but I am concerned about the nasty now and now.
Many years ago, a cold and hungry elderly man walked into a music store in London, England. He asked the owner if he would give him a few dollars for his violin so he could buy something to eat. The owner gave the man five dollars for the violin. After lighting a candle and studying the violin, he saw the words, “Antonio Stradivari, 1704.” He realized he had possession of a violin that had been missing for more than one hundred years. The violin sold years later for millions of dollars; but for a while, it had been in the hand of a penniless man on the verge of starvation who did not realize its value.
God’s people often walk into the church with a Bible in hand, never realizing the value of its promises. They live on the brink of starvation instead of experiencing the joys of salvation. God did not plan for us to go from salvation to stagnation but from salvation to victory. There are possessions to possess and promises to pursue.
THERE IS A PRINCIPLE TO PERCEIVE
1. Conquering power.
5“No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life.”
This represents God’s conquering power. Power lies behind everything God has asked us to do. Behind every command of God is the omnipotent power of God to help us fulfill God’s Word. Every command is a promise. Every verse in the Bible is a promise to each of us.
God said He would be with Joshua, and I suggest He is saying He will also be with us to possess our Canaan.
2. Continuing presence.
5“Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”
God’s Word is not outdated. He said He would be with Joshua, and He will be with us also. We often say God was with Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Daniel, the three Hebrews in the furnace; with Peter, James, John, and Paul—but not with us. God is no respecter of persons. What He did for them He will do for us. His principles have not changed. He is still in the midst of His people giving victory in every area of life.
A circus strongman would always squeeze a lemon dry and then offer $100 to anyone in the audience who could squeeze more juice from the lemon. One day a man stepped forward and met the challenge. He twisted the lemon until he got four or five more drops from the already drained lemon. Asked how he could do that, the man explained he was the treasurer at the local church. When we believe we have exhausted our resources, the Lord will give us enough strength to succeed!
Some two thousand years after speaking to Joshua, the writer of Hebrews 13:5 quoted Joshua 1: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (KJV). If you and I are to expand the end of that verse and squeeze all the juice out of it that we can, then this verse will say to us, “For He, God Himself, will not in any way fail you or leave you without support. He will not, will not, will not leave you helpless or forsake you or let you down or relax His hold on you—assuredly not.”
A seminarian once shared with his grandmother that the Greek intensive form of this verse in Hebrews should be repeated three times to say, “I will not. I will not. I will not.” In his excitement, he said, “Look, Grandma, at this promise. God is saying, ‘I will not, I will not, I will not leave thee nor forsake thee.’” With a smile on her face, she said, “Well, for you seminarians, God may need to say it three times; but for me, once is enough.”
God did not say partial victory but victory in every area of our Christian life. The Bible tells us there is a principle to perceive. Just as God was with Moses, so was He with Joshua and so will He be with you and me.
THERE IS A PLAN TO PERFORM
1. Proclaim the Word of God.
8“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth.”
We need to proclaim the Word of God for there is power in speaking the Word of God. Jesus used the Word against Satan and so should we. We need to know it in order to live a victorious life.
Not only do we need to proclaim the Word of God, but we also need to ponder it.
2. Ponder the Word of God.
8“You shall meditate on it day and night.”
The Hebrew word for “meditate” is where we get the English word “hum” today. We need to get a song in our hearts as it relates to the Word of God. Have you had a tune on your mind that stayed there for the longest time? Before long, we begin to hum it. That is the way it is with the Word of God. We need to let it become like a song. We need to hum it, to ponder it, for in it is the victory we need in our life.
Not only do we need to proclaim it, not only do we need to ponder it, but we also need to practice the Word of God.
3. Practice the Word of God.
8“So that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.”
Proclaiming and pondering the Word of God will cause us to practice the Word of God. We can tell who believes the Word of God and who does not by what they do. The person who practices the Word of God is the person who believes the Word of God, but the person who does not live according to the Word does not really believe it.
Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21 KJV). Not only do we need to know the commandments, but we must also obey them to experience His presence and power in our life.
Not only do we need to practice the Word, but I also believe we can prosper in the Word.
4. Prosper in the Word of God.
8“For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
Do you want to be a successful Christian? Do you want to be a successful believer? Do you want to be prosperous in this world? Then you must practice, you must ponder, you must proclaim the Word of God. If you do that, you shall be successful and live victoriously in every area of your life.
5. Proclaim the Word of God. The story goes that a man enjoyed hearing a preacher from a different church more than his own. He was sitting with his wife in their home church listening to the other preacher’s broadcast through the earphone of a pocket radio when he heard him tell about a man who had a tremendous hunger for God’s Word. Forgetting where he was, the husband suddenly jumped to his feet and said, “Hey, he’s talking about me.”
When I hear the principles of the Word of God being shared, I have to exclaim, “Hey, He’s talking about me.” When I hear Timothy say that “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (KJV), I just have to say, “Hey, He’s talking about me.” When I hear Peter say, “By His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24), I have to say, “Hey, He’s talking about me.” When Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), I have to say, “Hey, He’s talking about me!”
When I read in 1 John 4:4 where John says, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world,” I just have to say, “Hey, John is talking to me.” When I read a little further in Philippians 4:19 where Paul says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” I have to say, “Hey, He’s talking about me.” When Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6), I have to say, “Hey, He’s talking about me.”
The Word of God is for you. Jesus Christ proclaimed it; the Apostles preached it; let us receive it and enjoy the victorious Christian life that God has planned for each of us.
THERE IS A PERSON TO PREPARE
1. Learn to be basic.
6“Be strong and courageous for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”
Learn simply to trust and believe what God says. We often get wrapped up in so many different theological ramifications that we lose the point of what God is saying. Learn to be basic. Learn to be simplistic. Learn to take God at His Word and say, “He has said it and that settles it. I am going to be victorious.”
Learn not only to be basic but also to be balanced.
2. Live to be balanced.
7“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do all according to the law which Moses my servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.”
We need to be balanced. We need to be balanced in serving Jesus and accepting God’s Word for every area of our lives.
We should also be bold believers.
3. Lead to be bold.
9“Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
God has not called us to live in fear but in faith. He has not called us to be defeated but to be victorious. We need to learn to be basic, to be balanced, and to be bold. To take our Canaan, we must live victoriously. There is nothing to fear for victory is ours.
On January 6, 1822, a child named Heinrich Schliemann was born to a pastor and his wife. These parents never thought their son would grow up to be someone particularly special. At the age of seven, Schliemann saw pictures in a book of the burning city of Troy that would change his life. He determined that one day he would find that city.
During his adult life, he began looking for the city he had seen in the pictures. Many ridiculed his efforts. In 1873, he discovered the city of Troy and became very famous and wealthy. Why? Because he learned to see the unseen. He refused to be discouraged by what others thought or said. His sights were set to find the unknown.
We too must set our sites on the unseen. In spite of what others may say or do to thwart our efforts, we must determine to live victoriously and possess Canaan as God has promised to all who will know and follow Him as believers.