Joshua 11:1-9 Faith always puts us on the offensive
Then it came about, when Jabin king of Hazor heard of it, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon and to the king of Shimron and to the king of Achshaph, and to the kings who were of the north in the hill country, and in the Arabah—south of Chinneroth and in the lowland and on the heights of Dor on the west— to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Jebusite in the hill country, and the Hivite at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.
They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”
So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. The Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they struck them until no survivor was left to them. Joshua did to them as the Lord had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire. (NASB)
Joshua engaged the northerners in a surprise attack at the waters of Merom. Although the Canaanites came out as numerous as sand on the seashore, but Joshua was equal to the task. In today’s devotion, we learn the source of Joshua’s courage which was the Word. Joshua’s commitment to the ministry of the Word enabled him to be on the offensive even against enemies many times bigger than Israel.
They came out, they and all their armies with them…
News of Joshua’s conquest of the central and southern parts of Canaan had reached the kings of the north. Thus, they began a desperate attempt to organize themselves against the onslaught of the Israelite army. Jabin king of Hazor, being the most prominent, rallied the northerners against the Israelites with troops numbering as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. The coalition encamped together at the plains near the waters of Merom (a short distance northwest of the Sea of Galilee), to fight against Israel. The northern confederacy included as many as 300,000 soldiers, 10,000 men on horseback and 20,000 chariots.
So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly…
The coalition of the north seemed overwhelming for the Israelites and the odds were clearly stacked against them. While Joshua weighed his chances against the massive array awaiting him, God’s reassuring word came to him, “Do not be afraid because of them…” Apparently, that was all that Joshua needed to imbue courage into his men for an outright offensive against the northern confederation. Jabin supposed Israel would adopt a defensive stance but Joshua was already marching towards Merom, probably a five-day track from Gilgal. Joshua and his men had put their complete trust in God’s word, and without wavering came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. As a result, Israel by the hand of God completely destroyed the coalition of the north leaving no survivors.
Joshua did to them as the Lord had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire. Following God’s instructions to the tee, Joshua killed all of them, burned their chariots and lamed their horses. Why did God command such drastic actions as burning the chariots and hamstringing the horses? Shouldn’t the chariots and horses be reused for future military campaigns? God wanted the Israelites to put total trust in His Word. As long as they remained obedient to Him, they would always be victorious and under no circumstances should they be dependent on chariots and horses.
No matter how dire your circumstance may be, there is always something you can do about it. Here, when Joshua was faced with the reality of being severely outnumbered and while it appeared that there was nothing more he could do, he launched a surprise attack. Every time when Joshua faced an impending attack, he preceded it by an attack of his own. When most would resort to a defensive strategy, Joshua would go for an offensive. Joshua taught us never to be caught back footed no matter how impossible our situations may be. During bad times, many prefer to ride out the storm in a passive manner while hoping for the best. Many real estate agents reinforce one another’s perceptions of the current downturn and that nothing more can be done. On the other hand, I have seen some agents earning more than they did the previous year because they refuse to accept the current reality. Yet some take the opportunity of the slow down to be trained and to prepare themselves for the upturn. They actively expand their network by seeking out potential investors thus enabling them to maximise their sales effort should the economy turn around. They perceive each season as carrying a purpose for good. Hence, they will produce fruit and prosper in every season. The psalmist wrote concerning the righteous,
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers. Psalms 1:3
We must always impregnate ourselves with God’s Word. Before Joshua faced off with the enemy, he impregnated his spirit continually with God’s Word. Therefore, before push comes to shaft, believers must always keep themselves pregnant with the Word of faith. The power of the Spirit cannot manifest itself through people who do not read the Word regularly. I can say with 99% certainty that churchgoers who do not have an appetite for the Word are not filled with the Spirit because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Such may pray in tongues and exercise certain gifts, but their lifestyle do not exhibit righteousness and victory. Believers who read the Word regularly exhibit the following traits:
– They hear God’s voice clearly. The reverse is true that those who do not read the Word regularly live by their fleshly conscience. Because they cannot hear God’s voice, they rarely experience miracles and supernatural breakthroughs. Thus, apart from attending weekly church services, they live and think like unbelievers who too live by their fleshly conscience.
– They are able to exercise faith and do the impossible. But those who do not read the Word are repelled by various fears and trapped in the confines of their comfort zone. Hence, they could not exercise faith even though they knew the promises. Moses’ generation was a classic case in point. Although they were given the promise of land, they could not exercise faith and fled at the sight of their enemies. As a result, they passed up on the abundance that God had intended for them.
God spoke to Joshua at the onset of his military career concerning the importance of God’s Word,
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:8-9
1. Are you overwhelmed by a particular situation at your workplace, at home, or the present state of the economy? Do you sense fear and helplessness creeping into your soul? Take the offensive over your situations by first submitting yourself under God’s authority. Fear and helplessness compel us to take the route of least resistance and play into the devil’s hands. Instead, we must endeavour to listen to God’s voice and obey His instructions while trusting Him to do His good work.
2. Do you avail the best part of your day to the reading of the Word? Some will only open the bible when they are about to sleep. Some prefer to read while commuting to work. We must build our family life, work life and ministry around the reading of the Word. In doing so, we will find hope and courage to prosper in all seasons and circumstances.
Dear Lord, I believe your Spirit in me is greater than my present challenges. As I endeavour to submit to your Lordship, open my ears to hear your voice clearly. Fill me with the Spirit of truth so that I may understand and receive your Word. Give me courage and perseverance to stay the course of victory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.