Wailer or Warrior

Psalms 106:34-35 – Israel failed to destroy the nations in the land, as the Lord had commanded them.  Instead, they mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs.  They worshiped their idols, which led to their downfall. 

When you look back at the nation of Israel during the time when God was bringing them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, you will see a nation that was quick to cry out to God in need, yet slow to respond in obedience. Not only were they slow to respond, but they were a fearful people who underestimated their God, which not only led to disobedience but also to a life of compromise.  This life was easier than conquering their enemies, but ultimately left them in the desert, wailing to God and each other in their despair, and never occupying the land God had promised to them.

The Lord had commanded them to destroy the nations in the land, but instead they intermingled with them and even adopted some of their evil customs.  What brings a person to such a place of disobedience and compromise?  Fear.  Fear will steal your confidence and even cause you to betray your own beliefs if it means to save your pride, your possessions, or your life.  Probably one of Satan’s greatest weapons, fear is capable of stripping the believer of every ounce of courage, handcuffing them to their enemy, and leaving them imprisoned to the very thing God calls them to conquer.

The Israelites, however, did eventually enter the Promised Land.  Joshua, with Caleb, led the Israelites into Canaan after all those that had rebelled against the Lord had died in the wilderness.  Two men, just two men, from an entire generation enjoyed the Promise of God.  Why did they live to enter into the Promise?  Because they believed and they obeyed.  Joshua and Caleb saw the same enemy the rest of the Israelites had seen.  They heard the same Word from God the rest of the Israelites had heard.  They faced the same fear that had stood before the rest of that Israelite army.  In fact, all was the same, except for their response to God. 

As Joshua and Caleb focused on the Lord and not their enemy, their faith strengthened them and gave them the courage to move forward as the Lord commanded.  They didn’t need to be stronger or bigger than their enemy, they only needed the Word of the Lord.  Joshua and Caleb were excited to enter the land, saw prosperity rather than defeat, and believed the Word of the Lord regardless of what was standing in their way. 

Joshua 1:5-9 – No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall [a]divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may [b]prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you[c] shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may [b]prosper wherever you go.

In this passage the Lord encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous more than once.  As it was when Moses was leading, the nations in that land were still strong, their cities still fortified, and the people still as large as giants.  But take a closer look at this passage.  As the Lord encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous, to what does he direct his call to strength and courage but to God and His Word, not his enemy. 

We tend to get caught up in being strong and courageous towards our enemies, and towards the circumstances we face.  That, however, keeps our eyes on the opposition and not on the Lord.  This was the downfall of the Israelites under Moses’ command.  They looked at their enemy, and they cried out in fear, desperate to return to the safety of Egypt, the very place of their captivity.  Their hearts were so discouraged they actually intermingled with the enemy and became their “friend” so as to save their lives.  Compromise became their savior and their place of comfort. 

Has compromise become your savior or place of comfort?  Has the enemy you faced become so big that you’ve intermingled your faith with fear, accepting its place in your life and in your land?  Has that same fear left you imprisoned to your circumstance and the enemy before you, allowing the thing God has commanded you to conquer to become an active participant in your life? 

God’s command to Joshua was to be strong and courageous, to do all that God had commanded him to do, to not turn to the right or to the left of His Word, to meditate on His Word day and night, and to speak only His Word – and this would make him successful and prosperous.  The warrior would arise not in physical strength and stature, but spiritual strength and stature.  The warrior was not commanded to study his enemy or to even look at his enemy, but to look only on, and meditate on, the Lord his God. 

The battle belongs to the Lord.  Rise up today, take your eyes off of your enemy and your circumstance, and look intently into His Word. Spend time with the Lord and allow Him to speak to you as He did with Joshua and be determined to do all that He calls you to do.  

Be strong and courageous.  Keep your eyes on Him and in His Word.  Be a warrior in His Kingdom. 
Quinn Pruett