1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said , I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said , I will never break my covenant with you.
2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?
3 Wherefore I also said , I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.
19 And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies , and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand.
20 And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed , that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities.
Here in Judges, which will be our text this morning, we read that the Lord was with His people for 40 years in the wilderness. We see that eventually they arrived at a place opposite of Jericho. They had experienced all the wonder workings of the Lord, how the Lord led them out of Egypt, how He did miracles for them in the wilderness. I don’t want to touch on those points where they grieved God and God was angry with them. I want to take you to the place where they were going to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land.
God had commanded Joshua that when he gets to that Promised Land, he should kill everyone and everything that is alive – people, oxen sheep. Everything that is alive, must be killed. We read that Joshua and Israel did that, except for those few that escaped. You know, I thought to myself, doesn’t that reflect our lives? Yes, we kill everything that is in front of us, but those that escape us, we let them live. That is why so many Christians come along and say, “Why is it that I can’t get victory over this and that?”
Israel were taught how to do it. Before Joshua led them over the Jordan, when they were in the plain of Moab, God used this time that Joshua should teach Israel. He taught them to wait upon the Lord. They waited upon the Lord, that the Lord should go ahead of them and lead and guide them. We read in God’s Word that Joshua even prepared them for battle. He reminded them of how God took them out and led them through the Red Sea and helped them till they came to this place. Only when they were ready, God told Joshua to proceed. Only when they were ready. Dear friends, we have His Word in front of us, under how many sermons have we sat? We know how to do it, how to wage war. For how many years has the Lord been speaking to us, showing us, telling us, teaching us.
We read that when they were ready, we read that Joshua led them across the river into the Promised Land. When they entered the Promised Land, what did they have to do? They had to conquer their enemies. So often we think that if we have surrendered our lives to the Lord and we have entered the Promised Land, it is all plainsailing, we can sit back and relax. That is exactly the opposite from what we read in the Lord’s Word. It is only then that we start fighting, where we have to fight and conquer our enemies.
When we read the book of Joshua, we read how he defeated one king after the other. It was a struggle. They had to fight for every inch where they walked. Why do we Christians get despondent? When things go difficult, we want to give up. Many Christians tend to throw in the towel and say, “We can’t. It is too difficult. The Lord has forsaken us, isn’t with us anymore. We have lost everything. What is the good of carrying on?”
That is why Joshua taught the people in the plains of Moab how to fight against the enemy. I am sure when they saw across the river, they were eager to go into the Promised Land. But the Lord said, “Joshua, you can’t take them across. You have got to teach and train them, that they are true warriors of Christ.” That is one of the most difficult things for us Christians – we can’t wait. We always want to have it now. We forget that God has a time for everything. Moses spoke about our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, but he had to wait 2,000 years before our Lord was born. That is the thing we Christians have got to learn: That we wait upon the Lord, that we are quiet and let the Lord attain His purpose with each one of us.
When they had conquered the enemy, they saw the beautiful things which the enemy had. God had told them to destroy and burn everything, not to leave a thing behind. How quickly was Israel attracted to that which was beautiful in their eyes. That is why we Christians have got to be on guard and on fire to destroy everything of the enemy. That is our problem, that we allow things in our lives which seem pleasant to us, that allow things in our lives which we don’t take seriously.
I was challenged and said, “Lord, do the people realize what it means to surrender all? Is Jesus Christ the first in my life? That my whole life circles around Him Who died for me. Are there other things in my life which I worship?
Maybe you as well can talk about what the Lord has done for you, how you were set free and were able to conquer things, but there were things which you left behind. Perhaps there are “insignificant little things” which you didn’t destroy, you didn’t obey God’s Word to the full. We read that the anger of the Lord was hot against them.
vs 21. “I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left behind.”
Your actions, your success, is more important and has taken the place of the Lord Jesus. Everything that becomes more important to you than Jesus, is an idol.
And Jesus, the Son of God, saw how mankind failed, and He came to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit and said, “I am prepared to become the sacrifice, that they can live a life of victory. Whoever accepts Me, I will save. Whoever allows Me to come into his life, I will change his life. The old will pass away and all will become new. I will be on the throne and have the say in the life of My people. I will be their King and Master and their Saviour. Whoever puts Me first in his life, I will give victory and he will conquer the world.”
That is what the Lord Jesus has come for, to save me to the uttermost – that I in truth may sing I crown Him Lord of all. That there is nothing else in my life that is important, except that I glorify Him Who left heaven to come and save me, a sinner. That I in truth may crown Him, my Saviour and Lord.