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Courage in the Presence & Perspective of God

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We have been working through the book of Joshua and following the story of the Israelite nation as they move from a season in the wilderness (a desert like place they were in for 40 years after their escape from Egypt) on route to the land that God had promised them…The Israelites are moving into an unknown geography, are nomadic (no fixed buildings or fortresses to hide behind), limited supply chain and I imagine they needed serious courage for the battles ahead of them.

In Chapters 6, 7 and 8 there are three battles.

Battle 1 - Jericho (Ch 6)

Can you imagine the elation they must have felt - their first battle a triumphant success! They had taken the strategic city of Jericho and it was the perfect start to their campaign in the promised land.. Take notice of the strategy and how God did things differently to how man would in the story - not sure if this had ever been used as a military strategy before (marching around a walled city 7 times)…But they trusted the word of the Lord - acted on it and it leads to an incredible victory! It doesn’t end here though- this was the first of many battles they would fight…

Battle 2 - Ai (Ch7)

They follow their own plans and suffer defeat the city of AI. A series of things then happen and they identify Achan and his family as guilty of having kept some of the plunder.

Battle 3 - Ai v2 (Ch8)

This time, they follow the plans of God and defeat the city of AI.

There are two big themes here in the context of finding courage:

The perspective of God

The presence of God

Perspective of God

First thing we see in the 2nd battle (Ch 7) is that they don’t go into it with a promise or a plan from God…Call it the perspective of God..Israel seem to place more emphasis on the perspective of the spies/soldiers than they do on the perspective of God…

At Jericho…Their confidence was in God…In his presence he gives them a promise (The Lord said..) of victory and then a plan (march 7 times - his perspective) to win the battle based on what He could see. They follow his plans obediently, which unlocks his power and he delivers victory for them…

They underestimated the enemy and overestimated their own strength.

The danger in placing our confidence/courage in what we can see and control is that 1 - we have a limited perspective compared to God (he sees it all) and 2. when the things we can see or control change or shift, we can often find our confidence disappears.

It applies when we don’t have courage too - at times see things from out perspective and look at our lack or what we don’t have and disqualify ourselves - How can we? I don’t have? What if? Look at them? Which brings fear and doubt into our situation.

Israel had lost the perspective of God. Put another way, they had lost God’s thoughts and his Word about their situation which led to them being paralyzed in fear and their courage melting away. You could say it like this then, when the Word of the Lord disappeared, they lost courage and were paralyzed with fear. Or better, the Word of the Lord is our source of Courage.

We too can find perspective and courage in the word of God - he knows and sees everything and then speaks it into being. He has gone before us and he will reveal things to us through his spirit. Similar to when I was a kid and the light was switched on - When I saw things for what they were - call it truth - and I experienced peace and courage. His revelation and his truth are in his Word.

Are we seeking his perspective and revelation/word and willing to follow that obediently like in the battle of Jericho? Or are we still looking at things from our perspective and trying to fight our battles on our own? Trusting in ourselves? Relying on what you can see? Your perspective? What is in your hands? What is not in your hands? Or is God perhaps calling you to surrender those things at his cross…

Why didn’t they have the perspective of revelation of God at this battle?

1 - It could have been an over-confidence in themselves after the battle of Jericho…perhaps even an arrogance... or maybe an ignorance of the presence of God among them…Perspective issue

2- Or was it due to the sin of Achan and the consequences - God not wanting to remain in their presence…Presence issue

I think it could be a combination of these things…But lets take a look at Joshua’s response…

Presence of God

In a situation like this, I think it is so easy to blame others or circumstance when things don’t work out the way we expect or where things don’t go as planned…Take a look at Joshua, we don’t see him blaming of the spies or pointing of fingers at them to find fault. We don’t see anger at the soldiers for running away…Instead, we read the following…

6Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. 7Then Joshua cried out…

This is a picture of humility and surrender.

In God’s presence - Joshua receives a fresh perspective / revelation from God

Being in His presence gives us access to his perspective and in n His presence we get access to His plan to get out of his place of despair/fear…

In his God’s presence we gain his perspective and his plan

I think there are things in our lives that God wants us to surrender in order to experience his presence, before he is able to unlock his promises in our lives…I think at times, like Joshua, we are not aware of some of the things in our heart that God desires…Things he is asking us to address…There are parts of our hearts that are sacred, areas that he wants us to surrender to him…Things of this world that we sometimes fight to keep hold of (or worship) and place before him, money, work, status, people, spouses, bosses, material things, lust, greed, jealousy, power etc. I think he sometimes asks us to surrender these things, to set them aside in order for us to experience the fulness of his presence and then see him work in the other areas of our lives to bring about his promises.

God wanted to deal with things in their hearts before he delivered things in the land

A picture of victory in the spiritual before victory in the physical…Sometimes we only look to the external battles we are facing and don’t look internally at what is going on…Sometimes the battle is internal and external…And when we conquer internal, God can then change the external…

Purify yourselves…The heart of God is pure…While Israel had a ritual to follow and priests to access God on their behalf…We have Jesus who takes us from a ritual into a relationship…What do I mean by this? For Israelites - they had to perform rituals and sacrifices to be made right with God..For us, through Jesus’ work on the cross, we can all experience the presence of God…Through faith in his works, not our own..When we accept the free gift of salvation, placing our trust in Jesus, we too are seen as pure before God and are welcomed into his presence…

In Ephesians 3:12 Pauls says, It is Because of Christ and our faith in him, that we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

In the week ahead, won’t you join me in taking the posture of Joshua - let’s pursue the presence of God. Imagine if we all spent time in his presence, asking him to show us those things he needs us to surrender to him and then purify ourselves before him by asking for and receiving his forgiveness…Like for Israel, I wonder what promises and victory lie on the other side of that obedience for us…

After purification and the sin has been removed, the chapter ends with.. So the Lord was no longer angry.

The Promise and Power of God

In Chapter 8 we see Israel Purified and restored into the Presence of God - armed with the Perspective/Revelation of God some incredible things start to happen as he moves from working on their internal struggles to the external promises he has for them…

Chapter 8 1Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. 2You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.”

The chapter then goes on to describe a detailed account of valleys and an ambush set up through the night, the city being burned to the ground, the enemy army surrounded on both sides and every living thing in Ai being killed and it ends with the King impaled on a pole. Talk about a turn around!!

Take a look at some of the things going on here…

The Lord reminds Joshua of his original promise from Joshua Chapter 1 - Do not be afraid or discouraged for I am with you…Incredible picture of the redemptive nature of God…I have a promise for your life, my word will not return void. Yes, you have messed up, but guess what - my grace is bigger than what you have done..You are forgiven..Get up! Lets go - for I am with you and my promises are still true!

We see His presence - “Then the Lord said” - he was with them

We see His promise/revelation - “I have given you..You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho”

We see His Plan - “Set an ambush”

Israel then obediently follow the Lord’s Plan…

We then see His Power unlocked

We then see His Promises fulfilled - Victory in the battle

Joshua finds fresh courage in the presence of God

Joshua finds fresh courage in the perspective of God - or rather, he finds fresh courage in the Word of God, in two ways here:

Word of God - There is a Promise

Word of God - There is a Plan

To bring it all together we could say it like this…

Purified, they experience the Presence of God. In his presence they receive the Perspective or Word of God - the Promises and Plans of God..When they obediently followed the Plans of God it unlocked the Power of God and delivered the Promise of God in their lives.

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