Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Joshua was finally ready for the greater God’s plan, which led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Initially, his great faith alone was not enough although he had the greatest faith among the entire old generation of the Israelites. In fact, Joshua and Caleb were only spies who reported the God’s promise and faith to take over the Promised Land. The other ten returned with what they saw and were in fear of the people in the Promised Land, who were stronger and even there were formidable giants of the descendent of Anak. However, Joshua and Caleb were not deterred by what they saw in faith of God’s faithfulness while trusting His promise. Due to the unfaithfulness, God sent them back to the wilderness. Joshua, as a result, had to endure another thirty-nine years in the wilderness while waiting for the Promised Land. Joshua could have blamed the others who did not trust God, but he did not. Instead, Joshua held tight the promise of God for the next thirty-nine years.
Joshua had to go back to the wilderness due to the unbelief of the others. Not blaming them was very hard, but he endured the first year. There was no sign to go back to the Promised Land. He endured anther year in the wilderness. He dreamt the Promised Land every night. The full two years were gone. Still there was no sign that God’s promise would be fulfilled. He had to endure again another year in the wilderness. At the end of that year, there was no sign of returning to the Promised Land. Year after year, no change at all. Slowly he was aging, and his peers were dying out one by one in the wilderness. Even so he could not see any sign of going back to the Promised Land.
If we were Joshua, how many years could we endure without losing the hope of returning to the Promised Land? At the end of each year, we could see no sign of getting back to the Promised Land. It would be very tempting to question God’s promise, whether it would be real or not. There had been no sign at all for years, not just a coupe of years, but tens years. Our bodies started aging, but the promise had not come in spite of his hope in God. Joshua was different. His faith must have been really great and bigger than us and anyone of the Israelites. He endured thirty nine years with one single hope that God would bring him back to the Promised Land.
Surely, God saw Joshua’s faithfulness not being deterred by what he saw and the peer pressure. And God appointed Joshua as the leader of the entire Israelites of the new generation. Joshua proved his faith before God. He was the best among the Israelites.
Joshua, however, soon fell. Yes, he fell, during the initial phase of his leadership of the entire Israelites of the new generation. Joshua, who was certainly the most qualified in faith, did fall. Not just one, but twice. His fall brought him great pains and shame before his own people, whom he led. However, God used them as the greatest opportunity to strengthen Joshua and his faith. Through the painful and shameful failures, Joshua learned and realized that his own self was the most formidable enemy. Joshua was able to overcome the peer pressure and patiently waited for thirty-nine years in faith, but indeed, his great enemy was Joshua himself. The great faithful was powerless before his ego, which was in the way between God and himself by placing He wisdom ahead of God. Soon Joshua himself became his own god. Before the king, nothing could stand including God. Without knowing, he steered his own future by relying on his own decisions without no communication with the One and Only One God. Joshua’s greatest faith powerlessly knelt down before Joshua’s ego. Even so, God was with Joshua. God let Joshua fall. The fall was the only remedy of the dire situation that Joshua, the faithful, was hostaged by his own ego. Again God was Joshua, and let Joshua fall twice and experience the pains and shames. Joshua was also great. After two falls, Joshua could take off his sin which ever clang so closely. This is the greatness of Joshua. How many falls do we need?
Yes, taking off our sinful nature so tightly clinging to ourselves requires a strong measure – a really painful and shameful fall or falls. Joshua needed only two dozes of the falls, but they were painful and shameful. Completely shaping Joshua as God wanted did not come easily because God’s plan for Joshua was greater than Joshua could handle. However, as soon as Joshua was ready, God quickly mobilized Joshua. The God’s great plan started unfolding.
When King Jabin of Hazor heard what had happened, he sent messages to the following kings: King Jobab of Madon; the king of Shimron; the king of Acshaph; all the kings of the northern hill country; the kings in the Jordan Valley south of Galilee; the kings in the Galilean foothills; the kings of Naphoth-dor on the west; the kings of Canaan, both east and west; the kings of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites in the towns on the slopes of Mount Hermon in the land of Mizpah.
All these kings came out to fight. Their combined armies formed a vast horde. And with all their horses and chariots, they covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore. The kings joined forces and established their camp around the water near Merom to fight against Israel. The entire land was ready to fight against Israel.
Joshua fully ready for God’s plan asked God first, and God answered, “Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men. Then you must cripple their horses and burn their chariots.” Of course, Joshua’s armies were far less than the combined armies covered the landscape like the sand on the seashore.
After hearing God’s answer, Joshua and all his fighting men traveled to the water near Merom and attacked suddenly. God, who fought for them, gave them victory over their enemies like the sand on the seashore. The Israelites chased them as far as Greater Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward into the valley of Mizpah, until not one enemy warrior was left alive. Then Joshua crippled the horses and burned all the chariots, as God had instructed. Joshua faithfully heard God’s command, and He exactly followed as God told Joshua.
So Joshua conquered the entire region—the hill country, the entire Negev, the whole area around the town of Goshen, the western foothills, the Jordan Valley, the mountains of Israel, and the Galilean foothills. The Israelite territory now extended all the way from Mount Halak, which leads up to Seir in the south, as far north as Baal-gad at the foot of Mount Hermon in the valley of Lebanon. Joshua killed all the kings of those territories, waging war for a long time to accomplish this. No one in this region made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites of Gibeon. All the others were defeated. For God hardened their hearts and caused them to fight the Israelites. So they were completely destroyed, as God had commanded Moses.
During this period Joshua destroyed all the descendants of Anak, whom the Israelites feared most because they were giants and had never been defeated. The original first ten spies, whom was sent thirty-nine year ago to the Promised Land, spotted the descendants of Anak. Then they were completely melt in fear of the giants. The spies reported that they would be looked like grasshoppers before the giants. The giants were one of the key reasons why the first ten spies blocked the Israelites going into the Promised Land. Now, Joshua boldly chased the giants, who lived in the hill country of Hebron, Debir, Anab, and the entire hill country of Judah and Israel. With the power of God, Joshua killed them all and completely destroyed their towns. None of the descendants of Anak were left in all the land of Israel. The God of Israel fought for His people, and there were no more fearful giants.
So Joshua took control of the entire land, just as God had instructed Moses. He gave it to the people of Israel as their special possession, dividing the land among the tribes. So the land finally had rest from war. This was what God did for Joshua and Israel. Not because Joshua and his people were mightier than the people in the land, but because they trusted God and His promise.
Are we truly ready for God’s greater plan? If not yet, we will sooner or later go through God’s training course. Please note that we make us go through the course by own fall caused by our self filled with our own ego and earthly desires rather than seeking His glory, and carefully following His plan.
Yes, the training course brings pains, hardship and agony. In fact, some of us are already in this course now. How can we, then, shorten the period of God training? First, we respond in hope in Him, and in the hope, we overcome the pain and hardship with the power of the Holy Spirit. Then stand firm in faith like Christ who endured the cross, disregarding its shame and pain because of the joy awaiting Him, which is not for Him but for us. That is, the victory in God for all of us in our earthly lives, challenges, pains and hardships, as well as in Heaven for our eternal joy and praises in Him forever! Therefore, we can declare our victory over our falls, pains, hardships in Christ. This is the triumphant moment in Him. Praise, honor and glory to God, who is always patient and merciful to us especially in the mist of our pains and hardships due to our own fall.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2)