Summary: Learning why Christians must fight for those who have yet to know the truest taste of freedom in Jesus Christ
Let’s all do something together. Quickly turn to the cover of your bulletin and stare at the picture for just a moment. Notice the tired, ruggedness of this combat soldier. He’s not a spring chicken anymore. More than any of this, the photo depicts a man charged with a duty to fight for the defense of his nation, his way of life and faith, and the rights of the helpless.
In less than two weeks, our nation will honor those of you who served this great nation on Veterans Day. The reasons each of you served will vary from person-to-person. But one reason you fought -- whether it was conscious or not -- was to defend the religious freedoms we all have in Christ Jesus. Some of you fought during WWII, some in Korea, other’s Vietnam -- just as I fought during Desert Storm. And whether you were overseas on the battlefront, or here at home in the factories or raising children, we have all fought -- in one form or another -- to support and defend our freedoms in Christ, and to preserve for God a remnant of his chosen children the world over.
During WWII, our nation fought against an evil tyranny hell-bent to destroy freedom and the Children of Israel. In Korea and Vietnam, our nation fought to preserve freedom for those who were being denied freedom and the right to know Christ Jesus. And during Desert Storm, we fought to protect the wellbeing of others -- and equally as importantly -- to protect the Israeli Nation from foreign invaders. I guess we could say, that in each case, our nation fought a reformation of righteousness over evil… over God’s chosen way of life, verses that of the world. But this reformation of sorts did not begin with us, nor did it begin with Luther, nor shall we even say with Christ -- but rather, with Joshua and fledgling nation of Israel of old. This morning we’re going to start in the Book of Joshua and make our way forward in time, and look at the reasons we fight. Let’s begin with Joshua. Turn please to Joshua 14:6-15.
ISRAEL’S FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL
Last week we ended with God reiterating his covenant and his promises to his chosen children, before they crossed over into the Promised Land. Listen again to God’s word, because it’s an important crux for what we’re going to consider for the rest of the morning:
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
Israel renewed its covenant with God, crossed the Jordan River, and battled for 45 years to take the Promised Land. Let it be known: Israel’s fight was not easy. But the new nation followed God, even though they strayed from his command at times.
The Bible records Israel fought 31 battles. But, that is less important than the reason they fought. For that is what’s truly important. And that reason is this:
The occupiers in the land neither believed in God, nor worshipped Him. They worshipped tiny little gods fashioned from bronze, gold, and wood. What’s important in all of this for us to understand, is these people -- these occupiers if you will -- lived opposite of truth, love, and righteousness -- much the same as today in America.
God Almighty could not allow his children to occupy the same land. In order to make the land pure and fit a righteous nation, God commanded the land purged of its evil ways.
Let’s call this the first reformation of heart. God needed to reform the region to align with his ways, and not those according to humanity.
Secondly, Israel also fought to serve the will of God and to preserve for him a remnant of righteousness upon this earth. Equal to this, they fought to take hold of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: those promises being land, nationhood, and to serve as a blessing to the nations.