Thursday, August 30, 2018

A well-placed heel

The moment we realize we are in the thick of the fight, we can begin to waver a little bit in our faith, can't we? Being on the outside looking in isn't all that intimidating, but being right there in the middle of the fight - well that is a different matter all together! God rarely calls us into spectator faith - he wants us involved! That means we will get our hands dirty on occasion, and that we won't always be able to be observers. There will be times we must step up, be the one to take on the enemy, and then to push on through until we see the enemy turn tail and run. At other times, we will be called to fight to the death - not ours - the enemy we face off with will be the one to meet their end. There is no middle-ground in this Christianity thing - either we are in it or not!

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. 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 was 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? Ready to call it quits - to just be a spectator again...maybe all we need it to 'send word' that we need help - that this enemy we are facing is bigger or tougher than we can face on our own. 
The men of Gibeon send word to Joshua that they are surrounded and require his immediate intervention. They raise the standard higher - not of surrender - but of intent to fight on.

Joshua had been camped at Gilgal with his army. They had to march all night to reach Gibeon, but the call for help would not go unanswered. As they approached Gibeon, scripture tells us that God threw all the military of these five opposing kings into immediate panic and confusion. The 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 - just remember that - the enemy often hides out, hoping we will just give up in our pursuit of their total destruction. When Joshua and his men had finished the work of taking the five armies, they came back to the cave and took the kings.  They are brought before the people of Israel, where 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 when you understand the purpose or symbolism of that maneuver.

Joshua was giving Israel a visual display of the might of their God. He was showing them that God had delivered these kings and all their military might or tactics into their hands. They were victorious over even the strongest of the military in the land - none could stand in their way. 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. Imagine how our enemy might feel when we do exactly the same thing! 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. 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, just to name a few. In each prayer, he has been faithful. 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, we are invited to come into victory - not to be observers, but participants in pushing that enemy fully out of the caves where they hide in our lives and then declaring our total and absolute victory over them. Ask God for what seems impossible. Place your heel upon the neck of your enemy today. Your victory awaits. Just sayin!