“the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”
We have, in our nation today, a condition that marks a sharp decline in our nation’s hopes for a future. If ever there has been a time that a nation lost favor with God it is now. Our nation has chosen to begin persecuting those of us who believe the word of God and are willing to stand on it and see it carried abroad. It seems that, every turn we make, we meet another stone wall that is too high to go over, founded to deeply to go under, and is just too long to go around. And the church in America has lost the strength, the momentum and the power to just walk right through. To be honest, it seems as if there is nothing that we can do. But there is something that we can do. We can follow God. Never has God led one of His people to a trial or obstacle that He had not already prepared a way to overcome. We can do as He would have us too and He will do the rest. Looking at Joshua, let’s look at some things that we can do that will help us to tear down some of the walls that we face in this life.
I. We can be faithful to carry God’s word to the people…
Moses was sent to deliver a message to the people and he was given some things to do. One of those things was when he was commanded to speak to the rock in Numbers 20:8. Moses was afraid of the way that the people would see him in doing this. He thought that the people would think that he was mad if they saw him speaking to the rock. And this is often the way that Christians feel about telling the truth about what they believe and stand on. Men are afraid sometimes about how other people will see them. It should not frighten us to be labeled a religious fanatic. It should not frighten us to be thought foolish, or ignorant. We should count it an honour that God has entrusted us with the carrying of His word and His message in this wicked world. What an overwhelming privilege that the God of all creation would trust us to carry His message. What a responsibility has been given us; and that must be accounted for.
No doubt, there were some there that day that thought Joshua had fallen off his rocker. “What was that he said?” or “You gotta be kidding me, are you sure that you got that right?” Joshua knew some of them would think he was crazy, but he delivered the message and directed the people to do just as God had told him too. If we could have a revival of that in our day we would see a great change in the church. Preachers need to quit being so afraid of preaching the truth. If God has said to preach it, then preach it. It is our responsibility to carry the word that God tells us too. God will see to the rest.
You have a responsibility to testify, when opportunity arises, of the hope that you have in Jesus. You have a responsibility to tell those who do not believe as you do why you believe as you do. We are not to hide the truth of what we believe. We are to be willing to sound forth the call to whosoever will. Let the truth ring forth to all the world and let all be made aware that the Lord has sent His son to die for one and all and by faith in His finished work all who will may be saved. Oh, let us not fail in delivering the word of God to a lost and dying world. And let us not fail in encouraging the saints in the way that we ought to go. Let us lead by example.
II. We can lead those around us in obedience to the command that we deliver…
It is one thing to deliver a message or tell a truth, yet it is another thing altogether to live it before those to whom it is delivered. Joshua was not just telling them what they were to do according to God’s word, but he lived it before them. Too often we find that men who call themselves preachers of righteousness can not live by the righteousness that they do preach. Too often we have a bad example driving people away from the truth and no leadership into the truth. Joshua was willing to lead the people in the word that he delivered to them. He was there with them in view of all, an example to be followed and admired. Many hundreds of years later, even among the heathens of the land round about them, Joshua was known and his mighty example and courage were famous even among Israel’s enemies.
When we are long gone from the scene of this world’s history let us leave it marked by our presence as those who have shown themselves willing to live by what we preach. Let us be an example of what Christianity is all about. In our witnessing we must remember that what people hear the most in our profession is what they see out of us when our lips are not moving. Many an eye is on you when you feel that you are not being watched at all. You are being a witness when you think no one is around who knows that you are a Christian. Untold millions of people have seen the witness of what a great many hypocritical leaders in the religious world have done and been caught at. Preachers that have been caught embezzling money from churches, committing adultery, molesting little children, and publishing lies that even they will not try and live up to. There is no way to know the damage that is done by the slightest mistake, the smallest sin. We must be careful
Let us always endeavor to live up to what we are attempting to require of our listeners. Be an example or be quiet.
Joshua was an example. He led the people against what would have been impossible odds were it not for the presence of God. He showed his willingness to move by faith in expectation of God doing just what He said He would do. We should be just as willing to be an example for a lost and dying world. We should be what we expect others to be. Get out front and lead the people, show us what you are by your actions.
III. Be Faithful in the Face of Persecution
Another great cause for failure in the church in our day is the fear of opposition. People are afraid of what this person or that person, or group of people may think of what they are doing or teaching. “We don’t want to upset the community around us by teaching the people this truth or that truth, let’s just let this well enough alone, it doesn’t mater anyway.” Or maybe you have seen the people that you thought you knew refusing to speak against some perversion, or even go along with something ungodly just to avoid being ostracized or outcast. This is fear of men. The fear of man bringeth a snare. We are not to be afraid of numbers.
As a preacher I was once intimidated by those who had some education. I have often wished that I could have gone to college and gotten what I consider a “sure enough” education. I am just a plain talking, simple, country boy from northeast Mississippi. I have never been a beacon of brilliance. One day as I studied and had been much troubled by my lack in the education department God let me know a truth that really put this thing in perspective. The greatest Christian writing ever done for the world to see, hold, read, and obey, was written by some unlearned and ignorant men. That is exactly what was noted about the disciples in the book of Acts. They took note of them that they were unlearned and ignorant men. I praise God that He has chosen to show simple, life changing truth to such simple men as we that He has called into the ministry for His Honour and Glory. I know that if He did this for them, then He can do this for me. I will not be intimidated by the education that men may offer when God can show me what I need to know, when I need to know it.
This principle is to apply to all of us in all aspects of our lives. We are not to be intimidated by the numbers of those who oppose us. We are not to consider ourselves outnumbered or outgunned by the enemy. When it seems that the crowd that is against us is to large to stand against, rest assured that God is bigger. We can be glad and rejoice that the angel of the Lord encampeth round about us at all times, we have no need to fear. In 2 Kings chapter 6 Elisha’s servant was overwhelmed when he looked out on the army that had them surrounded. He turned to his master in a panic. And Elisha prayed that his eyes could be opened and when they were he saw the mountain about them full of chariots and horsemen of fire. Elisha told him that they that be on our part are far more than they that be against us. Well, God has not changed. The odds have not changed. We are still on the winning side and our team is bigger and better than the opposition. Quit fretting and get in line.
We also don’t need to be intimidated by superior intellect. As we have already noted, Acts 4:13 tells us that the disciples were known to be unlearned and ignorant men. And they were known as the ones who turned the world upside down.
And don’t be intimidated by superior strength. David faced a giant who was around nine feet and nine inches tall. This little stripling of a boy was willing to face a giant because he knew God and he knew that God would not leave him without help.
Joshua and Caleb were willing to stand against the other 10 spies and the whole nation of Israel for God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not at all concerned about the fiery furnace because they knew that God would not leave them without help. They were willing to face overwhelming odds in faith.
Imagine the children of Israel as they marched around the wall of Jericho. There must have been a lot of insults and curses coming from the wall as they walked silently around. They were commanded not to speak a word as they walked. They had to listen to all the insults of the enemy. No doubt, you as well as I would have wanted to shout right back. I don’t want to be insulted. I don’t like to be insulted, but we are supposed to be willing to suffer for Him. Blessed are we when men revile us and persecute us and say all manner of evil against us falsely for His name’s sake. We should rejoice and be glad that God has counted us worthy to suffer for His Glory. It is hard is it not? It is hard to take a lot of verbal abuse and say nothing. It is hard to watch those you love take verbal abuse and say nothing. Yet, we are supposed too. God will vindicate us if we will leave it in His hands. And He will do a very thorough job of it too. Trust in Him who called us and has commanded us to carry His Gospel. He will not leave us without help and comfort when it is needed. Follow Him, be faithful to carry God’s word, to live by God’s word, and to willfully suffer persecution and the walls will come down. Not only will they come down but look at what happened at Jericho. The wall fell down flat. Every man went up straight before him. God so thoroughly crushed the wall that as they surrounded the city, every man was able to walk straight in. It was flat, not a pile of rubble that had to be climbed over, but a pathway that could be walked upon. God will bring our obstacles down and make it a way for us to continue our journey as we grow in faith and in His service.
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