Summary: 18th in long series on Joshua. This talks about not giving up the fight, as well as a lengthy section on fighting the right fights. Could be considered controversial.
Joshua 10:40-43; 11:21-23 – Rumble in the Jungle
Chuck Swindoll wrote a book some time ago called Three Steps Forward Two Steps Back. In it he described what he called the 4 Spiritual Flaws. These are 4 common misconceptions about the faith and about growing up into mature Christians. They may be widely believed, but they are wrong.
The 1st Spiritual Flaw is: 1) Because you are a Christian, all your problems are solved. No, the truth is: Sometimes problems increase and the road gets rougher.
The 2nd Spiritual Flaw is: 2) All the problems you will ever have are addressed in the Bible. The truth is, they’re not. There are many times when we don’t find an explicit clear answer in the Bible for our problems.
The 3rd Spiritual Flaw is: 3) If you are having problems, you are un-spiritual. No, the truth is, having a problem makes you human, but no less a Christian.
And the 4th Spiritual Flaw is: 4) Being exposed to sound Bible teaching automatically solves problems. Good Bible teaching does not guarantee that our problems will be removed. Just because you see from the Bible what good life you’d like to have doesn’t make it easy to get there.
No, the reality of life is that sometimes it’s hard. We’ve been lulled into thinking that living in modern-day North America means the easy life. That never was true. The flooding down in the southern states proves that much.
Joshua and his people never expected life to be easy. He knew that conquering the Promised Land would be difficult. Let’s read some selected passages in ch.10 and 11. 40-43; 11:21-23.
This passage, which I only plucked verses from, summarizes the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan. There were wars. There were battles. There were enemies that needed to be beaten. Conquering Canaan was no walk in the park. This was a challenge. But they kept fighting until there was rest from the wars. They fought until they didn’t need to fight anymore. They persevered until the end. And I believe there’s something there for us, too. I believe we can gather strength for the journey as we look to the Israelites’ example of perseverance.
I’ve already said I don’t think Canaan is a good example of heaven. I don’t think that Canaan, or the Promised Land, reflects heaven very well. And I don’t think that crossing the Jordan River in ch.4 is a good description of death. The reason is simple: crossing the Jordan wasn’t the end of the Israelites’ battles. Canaan was not the end of their problems and fightings and wars. Rather, it was really the beginning.
No, I believe that God gave them the victory. I believe that God was on their side, or rather they were on his side, fighting the fight He wanted them to win. But I don’t believe that their lives got any easier. Which is why it’s not a good description of heaven. In heaven, there will be no sorrow or pain or sin or struggles. That’s why I believe, though, that conquering Canaan is a good description of living the Christian life. In particular, the life given over to God.
Call it sanctified or consecrated or holy or Spirit-filled or the second work of grace or whatever. I don’t use those phrases much because then you have to describe what they mean. Here’s what they mean, as shown by Joshua. They mean that even though life is still hard, God is with you. They mean that victory is yours for the taking. They mean that God will help you defeat your foes, now that you have determined to obey Him no matter what. They mean that even when you stumble or mess up, God forgives you and gives you the power to press on.
To me, that’s what it means to be sanctified. It means really wanting to do what God wants you to do. It means getting up again. It means not settling for 90% obedience. It means trusting God for the strength to live a fully devoted life to Him.
It doesn’t mean having all the answers. It doesn’t mean never doubting. It doesn’t mean having a perfect track record. It means more than hanging on at the end of your rope. It means continuing to climb.
That, I believe, is perseverance. Keeping on doing God’s will, no matter the challenges, until God gives you a break. That’s what Joshua did. Don’t stop fighting until the battle’s over! That’s what we are called to do, too.
But the problem is, we tend to fall into 2 categories with this balance. The 1st ditch we fall into is: Some quit the fight. Joshua could have stopped fighting before God told him to. He could have said, “That’s enough. I’m done!” But he didn’t. And neither should you.