Those words were actually spoken to Joshua by the Lord before he was commanded to cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land given to the Israelites .... Be strong and confident and courageous! Joshua receives the promise that God will not fail or abandon him. And remember, Joshua had spied out the land, so he knew what was waiting for him. And I believe there is a lesson for all of us who know the magnitude of what is facing us as a nation and as individuals. As Americans in the 21st Century, we see the potential for chaos, lawlessness, and anarchy that lies before us; and we have never been here before. As Christians, we discern the spiritual battles and judgment that are looming over us; and again, we have never been here before. Our physical and spiritual lives have been pretty undemanding and painless until now ... and the rapid changes have left us stunned.
And I want to primarily speak to my fellow Believers today, although what I have to say applies to secular friends, too. I know that many of you struggle with the idea of "prepping" or "training" for a future event that would require us to store up supplies or to defend ourselves. We modern Christians have adopted a belief system that tells us that we are to rely on the Lord for all our needs. While this precept is true in many aspects, it does not represent the fullness of our relationship with God. Yes, God does promise us protection and deliverance, but it may not always look like how we want it to.
Joshua was a wise military leader for the nation of Israel; wise enough to know that the battle was the Lord's and it was his job to trust the battle plan he was given, using the provisions he had been given, the training he had received, and the men who would follow his orders. He didn't always know how the Lord planned on defeating His enemies; only that he would be obedient in using all the resources at his disposal. We must act in the same faith and wisdom!
If you are awake at all as a Christian, then you intuitively know that a significant battle with the kingdom of darkness is at our doorstep. And I am discerning that many Christians are struggling with their own concepts of how they want that battle to play out. They desperately want to rely on the old paradigms and traditions of the Church that tell us that 1) we will either be raptured out of here before the battle begins, or 2) as long as we live a righteous life, Christians won't suffer anything consequential -- God will protect us and provide all we need. But God and Jesus have never promised that! In fact, in Isaiah 43:1-3, God tells us that even when the battle is His, He will sometimes lead us through fire or the waters. There is no promise that those closest to Him will escape trials or testing!
For those who want to dismiss the Old Testament and cling to the New Testament covenant and promise of the Cross, I would remind you that the purpose of Jesus's death and resurrection was to offer us Eternal Life through faith in Him. It delivered us from Eternal Death, but did not promise us we would not suffer from the ensuing battles between the Kingdom of God and Satan's evil kingdom. REMEMBER: Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:45 that God "makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]." There are no promises that we will escape Satan's wickedness or God's judgment upon the nations, even if we are a righteous individual. As an individual citizen of a nation that has sinned mightily against God, I understand that I may be subjected to the righteous judgment upon this nation. I rest in the knowledge and the promise that when that judgment comes, I know He will separate the good from the evil, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
So, I want to make the point that the battle is in both the physical and the spiritual. Yes, we are to pray continually and fervently as the Ekklesia; acting as the representatives of God's heavenly form of government, bringing it to the earth. We must put on our spiritual armor and go to war in the second heaven against spiritual forces of wickedness. There we will battle [in our spirits] against the army of Satan who seeks to infiltrate this physical realm with his demons and powers of darkness to keep us from regaining our Genesis 1:26 dominion over the earth. And besides these supernatural, spiritual agents of the devil, we also must battle with physical opponents. We are seeing that in our halls of Congress and on the streets of our cities!
Again, God does not say that we will not suffer in this physical battle. Just as He tells Joshua to inform his commanders to "prepare your provisions", we need to discern that it is our responsibility to increase any needed food and medical supplies for a potential crisis. And just as Joshua receives instructions from the Lord that his men "shall go across [the river] before their brothers (the other tribes) armed for battle, all your brave warriors, and they shall help them [conquer and take possession of the land]", so must we be prepared to battle in the physical.
But we must not become obsessed or unbalanced in either the physical or the spiritual. We must pray for wisdom and be willing to evaluate and re-evaluate every situation in which we find ourselves. We must use our spiritual gifts and talents, and our physical provisions and training to determine the circumstances and forces we are facing. Then praying in the spirit, we must seek God's battle plan; we must be prepared to act according to His will, whether He intervenes or sends us to the front lines.
We must come to the understanding that God loves to work through His people; He wants us intimately involved in both the physical and spiritual aspects of this world. That's what Moses and Joshua walked in. It is what the Disciples and the Early Church walked in. That, too, is how we are to walk out our faith. So, I have some serious questions for you in this hour of our history, both as Americans and Christians: Are you waiting for God to orchestrate a miracle that will insulate or shield you from any scary scenario in the future? Or are you willing to be an ordinary instrument of the Lord to do extraordinary things for His Kingdom? Are you focused [in distress] on the problems we face, or are you focused on the Lord of the battle?
I remind you that as Joshua prepared to do battle for the Lord, the Bible says that the inhabitants of the land were terror stricken (Joshua 2); their hearts melted in despair and fear. We must fight against this mindset because it only leads to doubt and unbelief. We must believe that God's will is for us to be protected and succeed in our battles, and that His Grace [which is His power in us to do what we cannot do on our own] always accompanies us to help us carry out our calling and purpose, no matter the circumstances.
So whether our future holds defeat or victory over the physical and spiritual forces aligning against us, we must be prepared and trained for war; with our provisions in place and our armor on. We must rest in the knowledge of how precious we are to the Lord; the tremendous price He paid for us is our inheritance. When the waters and the fires of testing come, we will not be overwhelmed. We will endure and persevere. The Lord will not fail us or abandon us. And above all else, we must be encouraged by the knowledge that as we pass through these trials, we come ever closer to seeing God's plan fulfilled. And I can think of nothing more valuable in this life than knowing I played my part and accomplished my assignment. Let us overcome old paradigms of how this is going to play out, and let us walk in strength and confidence and courage!
Psalm 66:10-12 But you, God, have tested us—you’ve refined us like silver, trapped us in a net, laid burdens on our backs, let other people run right over our heads—we’ve been through fire and water. But you brought us out to freedom!