What counsel can we gather from the book of Joshua about the end times?
Joshua faced a truly daunting task; conquering the land of Canaan and dividing it among the twelve tribes of Israel. He knew that he needed counsel from the Lord to determine his next steps, so the Lord gave it to him. The main charge He gave to Joshua was to meditate on His Word day and night and do all that was written within it. Doing this would prosper his way and he would be successful.
Meditating on God’s law brings one closer to God (as we discussed in our last Message) and in doing His will, we can succeed in His work. If we choose to forsake His Word for the wisdom of men, we will not receive an inheritance among the faithful at His coming.
Before they crossed the Jordan, Joshua reminded the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to keep their word to Moses. They were to enter Canaan and help their fellow Israelites claim their inheritance while their wives, children, and cattle remained on the other side of the Jordan River. They were not to forsake their tribesmen and pursue their own peace. These tribes understood the importance of this mission and affirmed their commitment to fulfilling it.
At the Jordan, the Lord stopped the waters so Israel could cross over. But before the waters were released, the Lord commanded that Joshua send twelve men, one from each tribe, to gather twelve stones from the riverbed and set up a memorial. They would use them to teach their children that the Lord did this so they could enter the Promised Land. Remembering every step on their journey was a crucial part of preserving Israel’s history. As such, the Lord set up ways to remind later generations of His work among them.
News of this miraculous crossing melted the hearts of the kings of the land. They had heard long ago about the Lord’s work in freeing Israel from Egypt and in opening the Red Sea before them. They had heard about how He delivered His people from those who sought their harm. They knew the Lord and they knew why His people were there.
The world, like the kings of these lands, knows about God. They know about Him through the Scriptures and every opportunity is available for them to do so. His works throughout countless ages speak of Him and now, before the return of His Son, we should get to know Him for ourselves. No barrier should hinder God’s people from doing this.
When the people arrived in Canaan, they ate of the food of the land and the manna had now ceased. But God did not cease to provide food for them, from then to now. He will continue to do so, even through eternity. God provided manna and quail for His people for 40 years without fail. He kept them safe from harm, their clothes from decaying, and their feet from swelling. As such, God’s people should not be concerned about provisions in the last days. When there is a need, He will meet it accordingly.
God also provided Israel the battle strategy to defeat Jericho, one that left no doubt as to His hand in helping them overcome this challenge. God typically uses these kinds of situations to help us build our faith in Him and to help us rely on Him more than we do ourselves. As such, we should rely on no one other than Him in delivering us in the last days.
Cooperating with the Lord brought salvation to Rahab and all her house. She moved forward in faith and had Jericho done the same, it would not have fallen. The testimony that she and all Canaan received was meant to help the nation repent of its rebellion against the Lord. The redemption of Rahab is a strong testimony to the face that the Lord will deliver all who trust in Him.
But the success of the Israelite forces depended on their obedience to God. With the exception of Rahab and her house and the treasures consecrated to the Lord, the city was to be utterly destroyed. It was accursed and the men were strictly charged not to take anything from it, lest they curse themselves and Israel. Through one man’s actions, Israel learned the importance of obedience the hard way.
This lesson cannot be emphasized strongly enough. The only loss Israel experienced in battle was solely because Achan had cherished something that the Lord counted as accursed. We must look within our own camps, with the Lord’s guidance, and determine if any accursed thing is among us. Removing them is key to greater success in the work the Lord would have us do.
Removing the accursed thing from among them was the key to winning the battle against the king of Ai. Nothing other than complete trust in their Captain’s plan of attack and their faithfully carrying it out in could have led them to utterly defeat Ai.
Posing as delegates from a faraway land, the Gibeonites made a league with Israel. But rather than inquire of the Lord, they trusted in their own judgment. No matter how many victories that the Lord brings, we must not forget to seek His counsel in all our decisions.
Gibeon’s league with Israel had not wrought a change of heart in the Canaanite nations. It had only inspired them to war against them with greater fury. In this rebellious act, these kings had sealed their fate. They had rejected the sole means of saving their cities from destruction. Deliverance will only come from the sole way God provided for us in the last days. When we refuse it, we set ourselves against God as the Canaanite kings did. This course can only lead to defeat.
The five kings of the Amorites did not remain with their nations in their time of judgment. They had fled from them, seeking to save their own lives. They were not willing to endure the consequences of their decisions that led to their nation’s destruction. This is what makes trusting in the Lord in the last days paramount. When man sees the chance to save himself, he will abandon all to do it. His heart will fail him and he will not regard those in his charge. But he who trusts in the Lord to deliver him will not be disappointed.
The remaining kings of Canaan, even after beholding the defeat of these five kings, did not repent. They marshaled their forces and fought against Israel. This course led to their utter destruction. Rebellion had so hardened their hearts that they cast aside all reason and understanding to fight against God. Many in the world will do likewise in the last days. The earnest appeals of the Lord’s servants will do nothing for those who are determined to defend their sins. They will war against God just to keep doing them. They will make no peace with Him.
With a significant number of their enemies now vanquished, the time had come to divide the land between the tribes. It was now up to the tribes to move forward in faith to claim the promise the Lord made to their fathers.
But the spoils of victory seemed have lessened their obligation to their mission. When they waxed strong in the land, they put the Canaanites to tribute rather than drive them out of the land. Moreover, only four of the eleven tribes had claimed their inheritance in Canaan (The tribe of Levi was allotted an inheritance, for the priesthood was their inheritance. They inherited cities and suburbs in the land.).
In the last days, we must remember that the Lord has promised an eternal inheritance. We must not slack in claiming this promise for ourselves. God desires that all may claim it, but we become content with partial victories when we could celebrating complete ones. Indeed, many have grown so attached to the limited peace of their earthly lives that they cannot see what the world will be with complete peace. This pursuit of limited peace can cost them the eternal peace that they have lost sight of. The limited peace they enjoy now is just that: limited. It cannot last and it will not last.
The Earth is soon going to be troubled by a great crisis and from that point, their limited peace will be over. But even more troubling than this is their reaction to this loss. Many of those content with their limited peace will do whatever it takes to restore their understanding of “normalcy.” They do not understand that sin is not normal. True normalcy is defined in Genesis 1 and 2. The events from Genesis 3 and on are anything but normal. We must shake off this unnatural desire to enjoy the limited peace of this world and strive for the eternal peace that God will soon bring.
But how do we do this? Joshua provided us a perfect answer. Sometime before he died, he counseled all Israel to remember their God and how He had been with them from the beginning of their wanderings until now. Israel was being influenced by the Canaanites who dwelled among them. Their gods were beginning to influence them for the worse. They needed to be reminded that it was God who blessed their patriarchs. He delivered them from Egypt and He brought them into Canaan. For 40 years, they longed to be where they were and now they were there because of Him. No Canaanite god has ever, can ever, or will ever do this.
He also counseled them to put away their false gods and serve the Lord in sincerity and truth. These false gods were being worshipped, whether in secret or in the open. They were slowly being led to despise the God of their fathers. To those who began to think this way, Joshua said:
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
What others may believe must not influence us from serving our God. Nor should we accept counsel that will turn us away from Him. Though God gives us a choice to serve Him (as He does not impose upon our free will), He is the only One who will deliver man from this troubled world. The gods of the earth will stay where they are created; on Earth, never to lead a soul away from God again. They will be found wanting when the time comes for clouds and reveal our Deliverer.
Led by the Captain of the Lord’s host, God will deliver His people as Joshua delivered Rahab and her house. Their godly character will be as distinguishable as the scarlet line she hung in the window and the victory over sin will be as complete as the destruction of the city of Jericho.
We must prepare for this time. Even now, the army of the Lord prepares to come as the Israelite army prepared to take the city. We must remember our God and put our false gods. We must get ready, for the walls are about to come tumbling down.
To Be Continued…Check Us Out Next Time!