Sun, Mar 03, 2019

Joshua 6:1-2 A God of War?

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JOSHUA 6:1-2

A GOD OF WAR?

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Joshua chapter 6 as we continue our study through the book of Joshua.

            This morning we are beginning a new section of this book. You see, the first five chapters focused on HOW TO ENTER THE LAND or HOW TO ENTER A LIFE OF SPIRITUAL VICTORY!

            And what an important section, because we all want that victory in life, but many times we don’t have it because we are not following the Lord!

            Obviously, we enter the land of Canaan by faith, it is a walk in the Spirit, trusting the Lord and that is the key. It is a walk by faith and not by sight. And it is not easy as things come our way and we begin to focus on them instead of the Lord!

            But I will tell you this, you will never experience the peace of God by walking in the flesh. You will never experience the victory that God has for you by walking in the flesh.

            You can live in the wilderness, you might say, the carnal life, but it will be frustrating for you.

            How much better to walk in the Spirit and see the victories that God will give you in the battles that you will face.

            And yes, there are battles we face every single day just as the children of Israel faced battles in the Promise Land!

            We enter into that life of victory by walking in the Spirit!

            Now, as we move on in our study of the book of Joshua, beginning in Joshua chapter 6 and continuing on through Joshua chapter 21 we will see THE CONQUEST OF THE LAND or HOW TO WIN THE BATTLES!

            And, as we will see, the children of Israel will face many battles in the land of Canaan, the land that God promised to give to them, and He did give to them.

            And for us as Christians, we need to remember that our Christian maturity is not the result of winning one battle, or two battles, or even hundred battles! It is battle after battle that we face against the enemy and these battles will last a lifetime, until we go home to be with the Lord!

            And as frustrating as that may be, God is working in us through these battles we face to help us to grow in the faith, to mature us in the faith!

            In our last study we saw Joshua looking at Jericho. Its massive walls and how fortified a fortress this was. And as he is pondering all these things, he encounters a Man with His sword drawn!

            As you can imagine, Joshua was not sure if this was a friend or an enemy and he says to this Man, Are You for us or for our adversaries? Joshua 5:13.

            That is a very important question since this Man has His sword drawn!

            What is interesting to me is that this Man does not answer the question Joshua asked Him. He says to Joshua, No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.Joshua 5:14.

            You see, the real question here for Joshua is simple. “Are you for the Lord or are you against Him?”

            And by the response of Joshua, we see that this Man is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

            How can I be so sure? Because Joshua falls down to worship Him and then Joshua asks Him, What does my Lord say to His servant? Joshua 5:14.

            And the Lord tells Joshua, Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy. Joshua 5:15.

            You see, this battle was not going to be won because Joshua was such a great leader, not at all!

            Jesus Christ came to direct this battle and Joshua acknowledge that it was the Commander of the Lord’s army that was in control of this battle. If you want victory in your life you have to understand you are not the commander, Jesus is!

            The other point I want to bring out here is that there truly is no victory in our lives until we worship the Lord, and that is what we see here with Joshua. He gives the Lord all the praise and honor that He deserves, and Joshua places his life in the hands of the Lord.

            And as we will see over the next few weeks, it is going to be a walk of faith because the battle plans that the Lord gives to Joshua are foolish, from a human perspective. Thus, not only Joshua, but the children of Israel were going to have to walk by faith and not by sight to obtain this victory over Jericho!

            With that as our background, let’s begin reading in Joshua chapter 6, beginning in verse 1 and let’s see what the Lord has for us this morning as we look at the topic – “A God of War?”

 

JOSHUA 6

VERSES 1-2

            Keep in mind that the people of Jericho were well aware of the children of Israel. Remember when the two spies came into the city of Jericho and met up with Rahab the harlot. And she said to these men, . . . ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.’ Joshua 2:9-11.

            Stories had gotten back to them of all that the children of Israel had done and now they have crossed over the Jordan River and Jericho is before them.

            So the city was on red alert you might say. It was what we might call DefCon 1 or maximum military readiness. The city was locked down. No one was going in or out!

            And keep in mind that Jericho was not a very big city. It only occupied an area of about half dozen acres or so and yet, it was a walled city.

            In fact, it was a double walled city. The outer wall was 6 feet thick and the inner wall was 12 feet thick and about 30 feet high. 

            They were linked together by houses and this is where Rahab lived, on these walls, a place that you might say was a low rent district.

            But for the children of Israel, with the weapons they had, these walls might as well have been 100 feet high. But this was the Lord’s battle and He would give them the victory if they would walk by faith!

            Now the people of Jericho were Amorites, a tribe that descended from Canaan according to Genesis 10:15-16. And the general picture is that they were Canaanites.

            Now, before we deal with the battle plan that God gave to the children of Israel to defeat Jericho, I want to look at this idea of God calling for the children of Israel to go into battle and wipe out the people of Jericho!

            That is a problem for many. Let me share this with you and you will see what I mean. We are told,

            A number of cases of mass killings of people, apparently at God’s behest [request], are recorded in the Old Testament:

            The Flood (Genesis 6-8)

            The cities of the plain, including Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19)

            The Egyptian firstborn sons during the Passover (Exodus 11-12)

            The Canaanites under Moses and Joshua (Numbers 21:2-3; Deuteronomy 20:17; Joshua 6:17, 21)

            The Amalekites annihilated by Saul (1 Samuel 15)

            The first three examples are similar in that there was no human agent involved – in each case it was God, or an angel of God, who carried out the mass killings directly. The mass killing of the Canaanites is the first of two cases in which the text claims that God’s people, the nation of Israel, were commanded by Him to attack other nations. . . .

            The problem many people have with these stories of mass killings is that they do not seem to fit the popular conception of the Christian God. In particular, the question is asked how a God of love could allow or even command such brutality.

            Furthermore, it is suggested that the God described in these Old Testament books is a different character from the God described in the New Testament. The former is supposedly angry, vindictive and ruthless, the latter loving, patient and forgiving. Even for people who are convinced that the Bible is true and represents God’s revelation of Himself these accounts can be deeply troubling, especially when one thinks about the death of innocent children.

            One way in which biblical scholars have attempted to resolve the problem of the mass killing of the Canaanites is to suggest that God never commanded it. . . .

            [or the mass killings never actually happened]

            Proponents of this view suggest that the accounts of mass killings are not contemporaneous to the events themselves but were written later in the history of Israel, during the period of the kings, by scribes who were witnessing the ill effects on the nation of idolatry involving Canaanite deities.

            These scribes supposedly concluded that it would have been better if Israel had eradicated the Canaanites when they first settled among them and so included commands from God in their ‘official history’ of Israel.

            This view also necessitates an understanding of Scripture as the opinion of human beings rather than the true word of God or even an accurate record of historical events.

            In addition, it says little for the honesty of the authors of the Old Testament, who become little more than ‘spin doctors’, and raises the question how God’s people could have been so mistaken in their view of God. It actually creates greater problems in one sense than the preceding view since it places the concocted accounts of mass killings at a later stage in Israel’s history when an evolutionary view of their religion should expect a more enlightened concept of God.

- http://bit.ly/2T0NEYU

 

            Not a pretty picture of God! So why does God want these Amorites destroyed? It just does not seem fair. First of all, God gave them over 400 years to repent of their sin and turn to Him.

            Remember what we are told in Genesis 15:13-16, Then He [the LORD] said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’

            The problem here is that they refused to turn to the Lord and God was going to destroy them.

            Make no mistake about it, the people of Jericho knew of the God of Israel and they were fearful. But it did not change them. They did not turn to the God of Israel but rejected Him and thus, they were going to be judged for their actions.

            It is as we are told in Revelation 6:15-17, And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’  You see, they knew where this wrath was coming from, but they refused to turn to the Lord, they hardened their hearts to Him just as they did here in Joshua. You can’t fight against God and win folks!

            And as people read this, they come to the conclusion that the God of the Old Testament is a vengeful, hateful God! But again, and there are many instances like this, you just have to read the Scriptures and you will see that is not true, not at all.

            You see, in Jericho was a harlot by the name of Rahab who did come to saving faith and her and her family were spared the judgment of God!

            But make no mistake about it, there are many who see the God of the Old Testament as a very vengeful God, a very hateful God.

            In his best-selling book “The God Delusion” (2008), the British atheist Richard Dawkins described the God of the Old Testament as “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic [strongly prejudiced against women], homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal [one who kills a son or daughter], pestilential [relating to or tending to cause infectious diseases], megalomaniacal [a pathological egotist, that is, someone with a psychological disorder with symptoms like delusions of grandeur and an obsession with power], sadomasochistic [the giving or receiving pleasure from acts involving the receipt or infliction of pain or humiliation], capriciously malevolent [impulsively wicked] bully.”  

            And I guess you can understand an unbeliever struggling with this because they don’t know the Scriptures and they can’t understand them apart from the Spirit of God opening them up to them. But, because of all this misinformation that is out there, many Christians struggle with this idea of God not only destroying lives but asking His people to do the same.

            And here’s the thing. If you look at the Scriptures and believe what they say, then there is no problem with what we see. And I will show you that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament, they are not different God’s, not at all!

            To understand what is going on here, where we see God not only allow wars, but He actually encouraged the Children of Israel to go to battle, we have to go back to the very beginning.

            When God created the heavens and the earth the Bible tells us that it was very good. Genesis 1:31. There was no death, no violence, no wars. Harmony with all of life.

            Then we are told that sin entered the world through Adam. And that sin nature not only affected Adam and Eve, but all of creation, even the animals, birds, fish and-so-on!

            And from the descendants of Adam, things now changed. You see, when Adam and Eve were created by God, they were perfect.

            But once Adam sinned, we see things changing. Listen to what we are told in Genesis 5:1-3, This is the book of the genealogy of Adam. In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.

            Many times we just read through Scripture thinking it is not important, but it is! When God created Adam and Eve, we are told that He made him in the likeness of God. In other words, no sin, perfect!

            But after Adam sinned, listen to what we are told of his children and this is passed on to future generations as well. We see that Adam begot a son in his own likeness, after his image. What does that mean? It means that Adam’s descendants were born in the likeness of Adam, sinners! They had that sin nature.

            And the New Testament says the very same thing. Listen to a few verses in Romans chapter 5 and what they have to say about Adam and the sin that he brought into this world, how it has affected all of mankind.

            Paul tells us, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . For if by the one man’s offense many died . . . For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation . . . For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one . . . Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation . . . For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners . . . Romans 5:12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.

            I think Paul makes that point very clear, as he states this over and over again how sin came through Adam and through that offense death came to all men, sin came to all men, we are condemned by God because our sin has separated us from God!

            Now you may be wondering what in the world does this have to do with war, death, battles and-so-on?

            First of all, God’s desire was not for war, He did not want it to be a part of life on this earth that He created.

            But, because of man’s rebellion against God, because of sin in his life, man has this wicked desire to oppress his fellow man and thus, we have wars, we have fighting.

            You see, God has given man a free will to choose and Adam chose to disobey God and sin. And we all have free will to choose what we are going to do.

            Let me show you what I mean with this perspective of man. Several years ago, Mike Wallace, on the television show 60 Minutes, interviewed Auschwitz survivor Yehiel Dinur.

            He was one of the principal witnesses at the Nuremberg war-crime trials. During the show they showed a part of Adolf Eichmann’s 1961 trial.

            As Dinur came face-to-face with this man from Auschwitz he began to cry uncontrollably. And then he fainted! These events prior to the trial occurred twenty years earlier and yet, they haunted him still. And during all this the judged pounded his gavel down to gain order in the court room!

            Why did he cry uncontrollably? Why did he faint? Why all these emotions? Was it hatred for this man? Was it the horrific memories that still haunted him? It was none of those things. Listen to what we are told brought this emotional response to Yehiel Dinur. We are told,

            Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at once he realized Eichmann was not the godlike army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “I saw that I am capable to do this. I am . . . exactly like he.”

            Wallace’s subsequent summation of Dinur’s terrible discovery – “Eichmann is in all of us” – is a horrifying statement; but it indeed captures the central truth about man’s nature. For as a result of the Fall, sin is in each of us – not just the susceptibility to sin, but sin itself.

- Charles Colson, Who Speaks for God? P. 153

 

            I think he is correct. Those evil actions are in every one of us and we have a choice to make, to enact upon those evil desires or not to. And for many today, the thoughts and the intents of their hearts are evil continually.

            So, understand, first of all, where all this evil is coming from. It is not from God, it is from man. And God is working to right the wrongs you might say and to bring about His plans, His purposes to defeat evil!

            It is as Warren Wiersbe, the one-time pastor of Moody Bible Church in Chicago, wrote, “It’s unfortunate that many of the “militant songs” of the church have been removed from some hymnals, apparently because the idea of warfare disturbs people and seems to contradict the words and works of Jesus Christ. But these zealous editors with scissors seem to have forgotten that the main theme of the Bible is God’s holy warfare against Satan and sin. In Genesis 3:15, God declared war on Satan, and one day He will declare the victory when Jesus comes as Conqueror to establish His kingdom (Rev. 19:11–21). If you eliminate the militant side of the Christian faith, then you must abandon the cross; for it was on the cross that Jesus won the victory over sin and Satan (Col. 2:13–15).”

            So God does not bring about war, violence, but He will deal with it. Why is that? Because God is holy, He is righteous, and He must deal with sin or He is not righteous.

            The thing we must remember is that God is patient, He is longsuffering, and He extends grace and mercy to us and if we refuse to come to Him, then He will have to deal with our sin and that judgment will come, not might!

            But why did God call the children of Israel into these battles? We don’t have to guess because we are told in the book of Judges chapter 3, Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan . . . And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. Judges 3:1, 4.

            Let me say this. There are four reasons that God left the enemy in the land.

            In Deuteronomy 7:20-24 the reason is so that the land would not become a wilderness if they were driven out too quickly, and we see that here in Joshua. 

            Secondly, in Judges 2:20-21 we see the reason is to punish Israel for their apostasy, and that does apply here in Judges. This punishment was not to destroy them but to draw them back to the Lord.  

            The third reason found in Judges 3:4 was to test Israel to see if they would be faithful to Him, and they failed here in Judges. Make no mistake about it, when things get tough many want to jump ship you might say. And the Lord was testing the faith of the children of Israel to see if they would continue to follow Him even when things were tough.

            And the fourth reason is found in Judges 3:2 and that is to give this generation an experience in how to fight against the enemy, and again, they are failing here in Judges.

            Also, keep in mind that God was preserving a people from which the Messiah would come. That is why we see the Lord tell the children of Israel to separate themselves from the Canaanites. God did want them to follow their ways, to turn away from Him. The Messiah was to come from the tribe of Judah, from the seed of David and we see Satan trying to prevent that and thus, we see the battle going on here.

            And yes, this battle is played out in the physical world but understand what is going on behind the scenes, the spiritual battle that is taking place. We will talk more about that in a few minutes, but don’t miss that point.

            And just as much as Satan wanted to destroy the linage of the Messiah, wipe out the Jewish people, he still wants to do that today.

            You see, I believe it is the Jewish people, at the end of the Tribulation Period, that call upon the Lord, their Messiah, Jesus Christ. And to prevent that from happening, Satan is trying to wipe out the Jewish people as he tried to do with Hitler, and he will do again with the Antichrist!

            Now, the question some may have is this. “I understand all that, but don’t we see Jesus, in the New Testament, speak of peace and not of making war?”

            The answer to that question is, “Yes and No!”

            That is not a copout because Jesus speaks of both. Let me show you what I mean.

            In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus said, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

            First of all we see these words, You have heard that it was said . . . And the Jewish religious leaders may have gotten that out of Leviticus 19:18, You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

            So that idea here is that you love your neighbor, but they took that also to mean you are to hate your enemies! I think Jesus is clarifying that wrong teaching.

            In fact, they only loved their fellow Jews, and hated Gentiles, feeling they were only created to fuel the fires of Hell!

            And I think that what we see here is that Jesus clarifies this for them and shows them what God desires of them.

            And as you read verses 44-47 of Matthew chapter 5, I think the main point here is that Christ should make a difference in how we live out our faith. That there should be this unconditional love flowing from our lives and towards others.

            In reality, what we do see, is back-biting, anger, hatred, bitterness within the church today! We get upset because this person said this, or that person did this, or I didn’t get that, or I didn’t go there, or whatever.

            Notice what the solution to this problem is. It has nothing to do with the other person but everything to do with YOU! Love them, bless them, do good to them, pray for them, no matter what they are doing to you!

            And do you see what God is doing? He is changing your heart and it may be through you the other person will change, but again, that is not the issue, your heart is the issue! It is as Paul said in Ephesians 5:1-2, Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

            And think about it, if you only loved those who loved you are you any different from the unsaved? Of course not. We are called to love the unloving, those who are nasty to us. It is as Jesus said in John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

            As the song goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love!” not by our anger, hatred, bitterness, and-so-on. It truly is the fruit of the Spirit that should flow from our lives and not the ugly works of the flesh!

            But we live in a day when vengeance, retaliation, getting back at others for what they have done to us is the norm and it should not be for the Christian!

            Paul put it like this in Romans 12:17-21, Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

            So we are not to repay evil to those who do evil to us. We are to try to live at peace with others, as much as possible and that does not mean we are the ones who refuse to get right, but they are.

            And in the end, God will deal with the ungodly. It is as one writer put it, “God has long ago settled the whole matter about exacting justice from wrongdoers. Not one of them will escape. Perfect justice will be done in every case and will be done perfectly. If any of us interfered, it would be the height of presumption.” (Lenski)

            And what we see here is that Paul tells us we are to care for our enemies, we are to give to them what they need to live, and as we do it will be like heaping coals of fire upon their head. 

            And some of you are thinking, “Good, I’ll heap those coals high on your head!” 

            That is not the point.  

            I think Paul is saying that we are to bless them with the coals of fire. What does that mean?

            In Paul’s day, when a fire went out in a home, it was difficult to reignite it. Therefore, if someone’s fire went out, the women would carry live coals in clay jars upon their heads to share with the person who had no fire. Thus, the implication here was not of burning one’s enemy, but of warming him in order to ultimately win him to the kingdom.

            And if we don’t overcome evil with good then our good will be overcome by evil! You see, we can allow evil to overcome us if we stew in a situation, if we refuse to let it go, if we refuse to do good.

            In other words, “If you keep picking at that scab, it will never heal!” I think you understand that. 

            Darby said, “If my bad temper puts you in a bad temper, you have been overcome of evil.” 

            So I think you can clearly see that we, as Christians are to be PEACEMAKERS!

            But we are also at war! I know, that seems confusing and it contradicts that fact that Jesus said we are to be peacemakers. I think the confusion comes because we don’t understand who we are doing battle with.

            This is not a physical war, a physical battle but it is a spiritual battle that is played out on a physical level. And that is why we mess things up so much, because we attack the person instead of what is going on behind the scenes!

            You may not agree with me on this. I know it can be difficult. But listen carefully to what Paul is saying in II Corinthians 10:3-6, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

            Yes, we walk in these physical bodies, but our warfare is not in the physical realm. This is a spiritual battle!

            There in Corinth Paul was speaking of waring against these false teachers who were being used by Satan to wage spiritual warfare against Paul and the church there in Corinth. How were they doing that? By sowing false doctrine into it!

            We need to be careful because the enemy also gets us to go down rabbit trails and fight these battles that just distract us from the real battle, the real fight, which is against the Devil and his forces.

            That is what Paul said in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

            Paul was not going to get drawn into this verbal battle with the enemy. He is not going to allow them to goad him into a fight on a carnal level. He is going to deal with this on a spiritual level!

            And understand that this is a warfare or campaign against Satan and his forces. It is not just a local fight! The Devil wants to imprison people and we want to set them free in Christ. There is the battle!

            But what weapons do we use to fight with?

            These weapons are mighty in God and they are prayer, they are the Word of God. We see that spoken of in Ephesians chapter 6 that deals with the armor of God. You see, there is nothing to add to that except God for He is the One who can give us these victories as we use the weapons that He has given to us – spiritual weapons!

            And they will pull down the enemies strongholds. What does that mean? Listen to what II Corinthians 10:5 says, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

            In other words, they are arguments. The Greek word is LOGISMOS and it means, “thoughts, opinions, philosophies, theories” and you can sum it up with this word, “ideologies.”

            That is what we are fighting against, these lies of Satan that are being spoken by the people of this world who are in bondage to Satan!

            And notice, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.The word and can be translated even.

            Thus, Paul is saying that we are fighting against these ideologies, even every high thing or every proud, lofty ideology that is exalting itself against God!

            And we see that today. Man, apart from God is trying to exalt himself against the knowledge of God, they are trying to eliminate God from this world. But, as much as they can try, they will NEVER be able to do that!

            That means all the false religions of the world, all the cults, communism, Marxism, atheism, secular humanism and what we see so much today, naturalism. All these are moving people away from the true and living God! And we are in a war against them!

            I love when people say that we as Christians are being brainwashed. The reality is, we are not being brainwashed. God never tells us to turn off our brain and not think. He tells us to think, to reason these things out!

            And think about it. Say we are being brainwashed, our brain is being washed with the Word of God and that is not bad, that is not wrong, that is awesome!

            But, for the people of this world, they too are having their brain washed with the things of this world, the philosophies of this world and all these things are in a constant state of flux, they are always changing, and they seem to be getting more and more evil! And they are also moving people away from God.

            You see, we’re fighting against lies, thoughts, opinions, philosophies, theories that people raise up against the true knowledge of God.

            I like the way that the New Living Translation puts these verses, We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

            Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and as the Captain of our salvation He has enlisted us as soldiers to continue to fight the good fight of faith in the battle with the god of this world which is being waged for the souls of men and women.

            A great example of what should be done regarding evil is given to us by Abraham Lincoln. You see, Massachusetts’s congressman, Thaddeus Stevens, wanted to completely crush the south after the Civil War. But Abraham Lincoln wanted to make peace, to heal the wounds and forgive. 

            But Thaddeus Stevens slammed his fist down on the table and said, “Mr. Lincoln, I think enemies ought to be destroyed!” 

            Abraham Lincoln very quietly responded and said, “Mr. Stevens, don’t I destroy my enemy when I have made him my friend?” 

            You see, destroy the enemy with the love of God, point them to Jesus and make them your friend, a child of God. May we learn from Lincoln’s example! And make no mistake about it, we are in a war, it is a spiritual battle and we must use the spiritual weapons that God has given to us to get these victories!

            And, like the children of Israel, the purpose behind the spiritual warfare that we face in the Christian life is to test our obedience to what God has commanded and to teach us how to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

            Also, we need to understand that the enemy has waged war against our souls as well. He can’t take away our salvation, but he can destroy our witness of Christ to the people of this world!

            Remember, Jericho was before the children of Israel. What Jericho’s are before you that the Lord wants you to tear down, destroy?

            It could be alcohol, drugs, pornography, pride, marriage problems, materialism, and the list can go on-and-on.

            And you may feel that the enemy is just too strong, too powerful for you to defeat! But let me ask you this. Have you brought it before Jesus? Have you taken those steps of faith trusting in Him? Is He the Commander of your life?

            Don’t step aside. Don’t give up. Don’t raise the white flag and surrender to the enemy! Stand strong in the Lord and see the salvation that He will bring to the situation you are facing. God wants to give you the victory, do you trust Him? Are you willing to walk by faith no matter how long that walk may be? He wants you to!

            If you don’t deal with these Jericho’s, these enemies of your faith, then they will be an irritant in your life until you do.

            I have seen that so many times, people who refuse to deal with issues and they move to another church, another state, they move here and there thinking the problem will go away, but it won’t.

            Do you know why? Because the problem is with you and unless you deal with it, it will continue to follow you.

            In Numbers 33:55 we see this spoken of. We are told, But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.

            The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those you let remain of them shall be as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they shall vex you in the land in which you dwell.

            God wants to give us that victory, He wants us to drive out those enemies in our lives or, again, they will be irritants in our eyes, thorns in our sides, they shall vex us, annoy us. And don’t we find that to be true. Those things we refuse to deal with keep coming up and bothering us and irritating us and we get tired, we get frustrated and we just give up.

            No, don’t give up, give it to the Lord and walk by faith. Obey His Words to you and tear down those strongholds in your life that are vexing you and remove those things that try to exalt themselves above God. Keep Jesus the priority in your life and everything else will fall into place!

            As Christians we will face constant battles against numerous enemies in the course of our lives.

            They take different forms in each of our lives, but they all stand in the way of us taking hold of the promises of God and enjoying the fullness of all He has for us as His children.

            Don’t ignore them, confront them and defeat them and the sooner the better!

            And I will close with this wonderful news. Jesus came the first time as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. He did not come to condemn us because we are already condemned by our sin. He came to save us.

            But as loving and peaceful as Jesus is, He is also a righteous Judge and He is coming back to judge this world for its wickedness. He is coming to judge the ungodly, those who have rejected Him!

            Yes, God is a God of love and He loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to pay the penalty for our sins. But don’t forget that He is a righteous Judge as I have said, and listen to what the Scriptures tell us of this coming judgment.

            In Isaiah 13:11 we are told, I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

            That day is quickly coming as we see the thoughts and intents of man’s heart becoming more and more evil and it continues to grow.

            And we see the culmination of all this in Revelation, after the seven-year Tribulation Period, after the Millennial reign, that, Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15. 

            And for us who have been washed clean in the blood of Christ, we see the eternal state spoken of in Revelation 21, Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ Revelation 21;1-5.

            I hope you have seen that God is not some angry, vengeful God but a loving God, a righteous God who must deal with sin. And He has dealt with sin by sending Jesus to pay in full the penalty for our sins. Thus, we can come before God because the debt of our sin was paid for.

            And for those who have rejected Jesus, they will have to pay in full the debt of their sin for eternity apart from God.

            And I will leave you with these words this morning because they are words of a loving God to sinful man to turn from His wicked ways. And if you haven’t done that, I pray that you do.

            In Ezekiel chapter 18 we are told, The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. . . . ‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord God, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?’ . . . ‘Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,’ says the Lord God. ‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!’ Ezekiel 18:20, 23, 30-33.

            God is a righteous Judge, but He is also a loving God, THEREFORE TURN AND LIVE!

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