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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Come into victory

24 When they had them all there in front of Joshua, he called up the army and told the field commanders who had been with him, "Come here. Put your feet on the necks of these kings."  They stepped up and put their feet on their necks.
 25 Joshua told them, "Don't hold back. Don't be timid. Be strong! Be confident! This is what God will do to all your enemies when you fight them."
(Joshua 10:24-25)

Joshua was going up against one army after another as Israel is coming into possession of their promised land - Canaan.  One of the tribes of Israel, Gibeon, was in serious trouble with enemy kings surrounding them.  Not just one army attacking, but five Amorite kings had mustered their military might and had surrounded Gibeon!  Ever feel like Gibeon?  Surrounded on all sides and ready to send up the white flag?  

The men of Gibeon send word to Joshua that they are surrounded and require his immediate intervention.  Joshua had been one of the twelve spies Moses sent into Canaan to spy out the land prior to their entering.  Only Joshua and Caleb came back with any belief that Israel could take the land.  When Moses died, Joshua became their leader.  Under Joshua's godly leadership, Israel entered Canaan to take it as its own.  Now, he is called upon to assist Gibeon.

He had been camped at Gilgal with his army.  They had to march all night to reach Gibeon.  As they approached Gibeon, scripture tells us that God threw all the military of these five opposing kings into immediate panic and confusion.  They five armies scattered to the hills and valleys - running in panic.  This military battle is probably best known for the prayer of Joshua - asking God to stop the sun and moon - giving him more time to attack until every last one was rounded up.  

The five kings were not too eager to lose their lives, so they hid in a cave.  When Joshua and his men had finished the work of taking the five armies, they came back to the cave and took the kings.  This brings us to the passage we examine today.  They are brought before the people of Israel, the military field leaders of Israel's army are instructed to come forward and place their feet on the necks of these five kings.  A strange thing to ask, huh?  Not really.

Joshua was giving Israel a visual display of the might of their God.  He was showing them that God had delivered these kings and their military might into their hands.  Now they were victorious over even the strongest of the military in the land.  The foot on the neck is a symbol of victory - it is a sign of submission by those that are held in such a manner.  A humbling experience for these kings of the Amorites indeed.  

What can we learn from this passage?  First, nothing can stand against the people of God.  God is supreme and when he is raised up in the lives of his people, he will go before them.  Second, when we have the faith to believe the impossible, God has the wherewithal to do the impossible.  I have never asked the sun or moon to stand still, but I have asked God to heal cancer, restore lost children, and release me from guilt.  In each prayer, he has been faithful.  Last, but certainly not least, victory belongs to God.  As his children, it belongs to us, too.  He invites us forward, just as Joshua invited the military field commanders to come, in order that we might place our foot on the neck of our greatest enemies.

Our enemies come in many forms - that favorite sin that drags us down, the long-held shame of past failures, the present compromise of misplaced affections.  Regardless of the form, God is victor over all.  If we are "in Christ" and Christ is "in us", then we are victors over all, as well.  Today's invitation is to come into victory.  Ask God for what seems impossible.  Place your heel upon the neck of your enemy today.  Your victory awaits.