The title of Chapter 7 in The Story is “The Battle Begins.” It’s the story of God’s people entering into the promised land. They have a new leader and his name is Joshua. Earlier, Moses had changed his name from Hoshea (which means, salvation) to Joshua (which means, The LORD is salvation).
The story from last week recalled the 12 spies who were sent into the promised land 40 years earlier and came back with a report about big armies and fortified cities. There is not much that has changed in these 40 years. In the region of Canaan (modern day Israel), at this time, there were many different kings in charge of different regions and cities. God had promised the whole swath of land to the 12 tribes of Jacob as their inheritance and there was only one way in, through military conquest.
It can be quite difficult for us, as 21st century American Christians, to understand this type of battlefield. It can even be more gut-wrenching when we read this story to see God issuing the command for complete annihilation of cities. We’ll talk a little more about this on Sunday morning, but the main point in all of this is that God is very serious about how he treats sin. And, he is very serious about following through on his covenant promise.
In Moses’ final words to the people, he clearly laid out to the people the two paths they have to choose from: the way of life, or the way of death. THANKS BE TO GOD that all judgement and punishment for our sin has been paid through Jesus Christ. Even when we make the wrong choices in life, there is an unlimited amount of grace and forgiveness that God has for us.
At the beginning of the book of Joshua, God said to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Wow. That’s a powerful pep talk! Yes, God was speaking these words specifically to Joshua, however God has spoken the same words to you as well. Jesus says, “I will be with you always to the very end of the age.” This is good news, because you too go to battle every day.
There may be literal enemies you will have to face in this life. Many Christians throughout the world face a literal life and death decision whether or not they will keep faith in Jesus Christ. We need to keep our brother and sister Christians throughout the world in prayer that they will keep the faith amid persecution, but even more so, we need to pray for their protection! I’m grateful that, for us, that is not the current state of affairs in our lives. Yet, the decisions that we make in life are just as much a battle ground. Will we stay content living according to the will of God at work in this world, or will we choose our own way? Will we fight for the truth of the Gospel, or will we fold to the ways of this world? It is a battle, and you are aware of how it is playing out in your life.
At the end of the book of Joshua, after receiving the entire land as an inheritance, Joshua speaks to the people, “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Friends, choose this day to serve the LORD! He goes before you. He comes after you. He is with you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified and do not be discouraged.
If you missed the sermon last week, you can get caught up by going to copperluth.org/sermon-archive.
As you read chapter 7, here are a couple things to ponder.
1) Make a list of the things in life that are, a) causing you fear and b) causing you discouragement. As you watch God’s power demonstrated in this story for the sake of his people, how can believing in God make you strong and courageous to handle these difficulties of fear and discouragement?
2) What temptation is currently most difficult for you to say, “no” to? Satan is working hard at getting you to walk away from choosing life this day. If you keep falling into the same temptation, pray this prayer, “Heavenly Father, please protect and defend me from all evil. You are my God and I trust in you. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Watch this week’s sermon: