John 7:38 says that God's promises for those who believe in him are "yes" and "amen."
I think we forget that God has some universal promises for all of us.
He promises to:
never leave us
teach us which way to go
save us from our enemies
give us peace
give us mercy
give us forgiveness
give us wisdom
lift us up
give us a hope & a future
And beyond that, he has specific promises for each of us related to our individual needs. Maybe it's freedom from addiction, the desire to have a baby, the desire for marriage, the desire to pursue a career path or write a book or be free from depression and find joy. Whatever your specific needs are, God has some promises for you that can be realized on this side of heaven. On earth.
The book of Joshua follows a period of wilderness and slavery by God's people.
They’ve wandered and complained for years.
By this time, they’ve been provided for miraculously by God and led by Moses out of slavery.
They are people on the other side of slavery and yet to take the promised land. They’re in between.
It’s been a long road and many of the Israelites on this journey have passed away and their children are the ones who will enter the Promised Land.
*Takeaway: Leaving Slavery can mean more for your children than it does for you.
Up until now, Moses had led this group out of slavery but he wont lead them into the promised land. Moses’ own failure to listen and obey the Lord in FULL kept him from receiving his reward of the Promised Land. God lets him see it but doesn’t let him take hold of it.
*Takeaway: Sometimes, one person will lead you out of slavery and another person will lead you into the Promised Land and your next season of life. God calls different people to walk through different life seasons with us.
So, God appointed a new leader to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land: Joshua.
So, what is the promised land?
The Bible says the promised land is a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
It’s a land that’s luscious with plant life that would be useful for crops & livelihood. It represents abundance, provision, opportunity, freedom, career and purpose. It’s useful for building a home, starting a family and settling down.
For these people, the promised land meant:
• Security & safety
• Freedom from slavery
• Rest from war
It was a life that had a plentiful future where there were possibilities and hope. The future is bright in the promised land. It was a life that anyone would want.
Taking hold of the promised land was not easy though. Joshua had to lead his army in fighting many battles in the journey to actually take hold of the promised land.
*Takeaway: We have to fight a few battles to reap the rewards God has for us.
And the book of Joshua tells us how to fight the battles and win.
Joshua 12:24 says that there were at least 31 kings that Joshua led his armies to defeat on the way to taking hold of the promised land.
31 battles to fight.
31 kings to defeat.
Some battles took longer to win than others.
And while each battle shared a common denominator, they weren’t all won the same way.
The common denominator: Joshua listened to the Lord and was quick to obey specifically and in full to each command when the lord instructed HOW to defeat each battle.
The first battle was won at Jericho.
You may have heard the story of how God made the Jericho walls fall flat by a miracle.
No shedding of blood was required for this victory.
Joshua and his people obeyed the Lord by marching around the city in circles praying daily.
They marched around the city praying day 1, day 2, day 3…and on the 7th day of marching and praying…the Jericho wall fell flat. It was a miracle and it was a victory that only God could do!
1. They listened & obeyed God by marching and praying consistently not knowing what the outcome would be.
2. They prayed not just once, not twice, not three times but daily and on the 7th day, they got a victory. *Takeaway: Consistent prayer brings miracles.
3. The victory was won BY A MIRACLE. God did what none of them could have done without him. Their obedience opened the door for Victory and got them one step closer to the Promised Land they were fighting for.
There were many more battles to come.
Most of the battles were fought and won “by the edge of a sword” and obedience to God.
The edge of a sword represents the word of God to us today. The bible. Scripture.
Another miraculous victory was when Joshua defeated 5 kings in one battle.
Talk about a BATTLE.
Can you imagine fighting 5 enemies at once?
5 struggles at once?
5 hardships at once?
These are the times that make us ask how much can a person really take?
This is like going through a break up, losing a job, having financial struggles and someone dying all at the same time. These are those battles that are HARD to win and you're up against more than you can handle.
It takes a miracle to win this kind of battle.
In Joshua's case, the battle wasn't won quickly.
They fought and fought and fought.
They fought until they were losing daylight and they knew they were sure to lose the battle if the sun went down. So, Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and the moon not to move and God did it. It was a miracle that God answered "yes" and took over to help them win a battle they never could have won without God stepping in to take over.
We're not really sure if this means Joshua needed more time to defeat the battle or if it was getting dark and he needed more light to physically see. But we know this...Joshua needed help & this was a battle he couldn't fight alone.
*Takeaway: God fights for us. He helps us. He steps in and removes obstacles sometimes. He lets us walk through battles so that we can realize we need him and then he helps us overcome in huge ways that glorify Him.
We can’t see to fight the enemy in the dark.
We need light to see where we’re going & what we’re doing.
God provided the light that they needed.
*Takeaway: God sheds light on the dark places in our lives to open our eyes so that we can see truth and fight the right enemies and win. He doesn’t leave us in the dark. Time in prayer and in his word (edge of the sword) is access to him and his light and his POWER.
There was yet another battle where the lord told Joshua to defeat the enemy in a new way. This time with fire. So, Joshua burned up their land to defeat them.
*Takeaway: Some battles require holy spirit FIRE. An outpouring of the holy spirit. A revival. A holy ghost experience to win. These are the times that you know that you know that you know that you heard God, saw God, lamented to him, tapped out and he steps in in a way that gives us an ENCOUNTER with God that changes us.
All of these battles lasted over 40 years. Joshua went from his 40’s to his 80’s during this time. He was in just as good of physical health in his 80’s as he was in his 40’s because he remained strong.
This tells me that our strength remains through prayer, through time in the word of God and obedience to God. This is what makes us bold, strong & courageous.
After they defeated several Kings and conquered many lands, it was time to finally take hold of and enter into the promised land.
Imagine the Promised Land like the United States and Joshua is our President.
God tells Joshua to divide the land into territories (states) and give it to a leader and that leader's territory (his people) by casting lots. Casting lots is like flipping a coin or rolling a dice to decide who lives where. It’s by chance who gets what land. The Israelites believed that God is sovereign and in control of all chance.
*Takeaway: Even though some things seem to happen by chance, God is still sovereign over them. He is in control of everything that happens in your life – even when it seems random or small. Have you heard the term: “This is my lot in life.” It means, this is the hand I’ve been dealt. And we’re all dealt a hand we didn’t choose in where we were born or who our family is. But none of that is by chance to God. It's divinely connected to our purpose and where he's taking us. And that's always to a Promised Land.
In Joshua 14:9, Moses says to Joshua: “…All of the land on which your foot treads shall be your inheritance, for your descendants perpetually, because you completely followed after the Lord my God.”
*Takeaway: Obedience isn’t always easy and it’s not always in the forefront of our minds to ask God how we should spend the next day or even the next hour because we’ve already planned it. But the reward of complete obedience is our “inheritance.”
Our inheritance (aka: Promised Land) is something that is passed down from generation to generation. That can look different for each of us. For some of us, overcoming addiction offers an inheritance of joy and hope and security to our children that they pass down and avoid the pitfalls of addiction because you overcame it.
Wealth and blessings follow wisdom and obedience to the Lord. These are things that will open doors for our children and their children and their children.
One thing's for sure: The Promised Land is a future. It’s a hopeful future. It’s beautiful and prosperous and full of possibility and it’s a LIFE that anyone would want a piece of. And it’s available to you! It’s a promise from God. We’re each given a promise. And we step into it by fighting the good fight . Through reading the bible, praying and being obedient, the holy spirit will escort us into the Promised Land.
I haven’t mentioned that Joshua didn’t lead this army alone.
He had a right hand man named Caleb.
Out of 12 leaders, Joshua and Caleb were 2 out of 12 that were CONFIDENT and BOLD and COURAGEOUS and STRONG. They believed they had power and that God was with them and they could do anything with God.
As the lots were cast to give out the land, Caleb received a land called “Hebron.”
The word Hebron means:
Joshua had a friend in Caleb. He had a partner in crime, an alliance to help him lead.
*Takeaway: Caleb and Joshua were united with each other and united in Christ. What would happen if some of us would unite ourselves with other courageous & strog men and women who are following “completely” after the Lord? What inheritance might come our way because we’ve partnered up with another obedient Christ follower? Not a half way, sometimes, when it’s convenient, when you feel like it Christ follower. But a devoted, committed, prayerful, bible reading, spirit filled alliance. (Note* The word "perfect" is never used.) But the word “completely” is used to describe the type of obedience required to enter the promised land. Link up with other believers and you will cash in on each other’s blessing!
What a blessing aligning ourselves with the right people can be for our lives.
There's an Interesting marriage story about Caleb that we read about in Joshua:
Caleb received his land but he still had to battle another army to take complete ownership of the land. So he made an offer to any man who would help him defeat the army and take the land. The offer was: Whoever helps me DEFEAT THIS BATTLE, whoever HELPS ME GET TO THE PROMISED LAND, whoever HELPS ME OBEY, whoever HELPS ME GROW THE KINGDOM….that man gets to marry my daughter.
And so it was that the man who helped him win that married his daughter.
The daughter inherited a great land but she went to her Father and asked for a land with water, which was given to her. The water and springs they settled by represent the wellspring of life, the holy spirit that fills us and gives us life. The water that washes away sin in baptism. She wanted WATER & SPRINGS that give her life. She wanted Jesus more than her inheritance.
*Takeway: An inheritance and a husband was not enough for this woman. She insisted on being planted near springs of water – that is the holy spirit to sustain your life.
Joshua spends his life helping those under his leadership conquer their own battles.
He speaks life over them and remains STRONG & COURAGEOUS reminding them what it takes to win a battle and how great the reward is for obedience.