by Dr. Kris A. Jackson, ThD
Pastor & Teacher
The army followed the Ark. The sheep follow the Shepherd. Following Joshua’s lead, the people scaled the riverbank into their new homeland. I’ve stood on the Jordani side of the River Jordan and looked westward, opposite Palestinian Jericho, and felt the magnetism of God’s chosen land. Israel took an east to west journey, Why? “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). The old life is left behind. The new life comes with a new land, “old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new”. But the victorious life is not automatic. The house of Jacob has to “possess their possessions” (Obadiah 17). Canaanites must be expelled, the strongholds of Jericho and Ai are to be surrounded and subjugated, bad habits and negative mindsets removed and carnal reasonings cast down, else those which remain “shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell” (Numbers 33:55).
It is God’s will for the landentered and possessed to be also a land established. In church language we speak of “recovering stolen property”, “standing on the promises”, “receiving our inheritance” and so on, all of which speak of pleromaor entering the fullness of the Spirit.Every acre of the land was to be possessed, just as we have claim to all the blessings and benefits of the covenant.
The first several chapters of Joshua are exciting as Canaanite kings are cleared aside one after another to make way for the rightful possessors of what had been promised to Abraham. But chapters eleven through twenty-four can be a drudgery to read if not interpreted correctly, for they picture the establishing of what has been gained, a part of ministry far less exciting than the toppling of Jericho’s walls or commanding the sun to stand still in the heavens. But the menial is often more vital than the miraculous.
Let’s look at some important points: first, MAPPING. Eugene Peterson paraphrases – “Pick three men from each tribe so I can commission them. They will survey and map the land, showing the inheritance due each tribe…” (Joshua 18:5 MSG) The old Authorized Version used two interesting verbs, “divide” and “describe”. A legal property title normally bears a “description” of the lot under question. Faith describes in advance its expectation. Pastors and church leaders must be a visionary team, working together to determine strategy for reaching the lost and establishing each particular work. Faith surveys the land then writes the vision to make it plain (Habakkuk 2:2). It perceives possibility and potential. As Dr. Maxwell quipped, a true leader “knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”.
By “mapping” I mean all the planning that goes into a successful team effort. Records are kept, “Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord…” (Numbers 33:2) He set a marker by which growth could be measured, a “starting point”. If we don’t start where we are, we will stay where we are. Mapping gives a framework on which to build. If a local church doesn’t know where it wants to go, no map will help. Joshua’s appointed men charted specifically what was theirs. They knew where they had to go and what they had to do in order to complete their mission; from Beersheba to Dan the land would be divided into seven parts. Of course, they never totally conquered what had been mapped, for pockets of resistance remained in Jerusalem or “Jebus”, areas of Dan and elsewhere, but they wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did had they not mapped out a plan.
Second, there was MARCHING. The conquest of the Promise Land was a constant march forward. For seven days they marched around the walls of Jericho and continued their march from city to city as each tribe allotted parcels for their families. Today’s church must not settle into the mediocrity that is content with owning a church building, selecting a good pastor and “holding the fort” till Jesus comes. The kingdom of God is on a forceful advance. “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord” (Revelation 11:15) but that will only happen if believers consistently take territory for Christ. The Book of Joshua is a back and forth mission of taking inventory then taking territory. We examine our hearts then go forth in power to stretch Heaven’s borders.
Though Joshua never passed beyond the northern edge of Philistia, David “went to recover his border at the River Euphrates” (2 Samuel 8:3). Notice “his” border. Each believer has the potential of possessing a broader inheritance. Where is your “border”, dear pastor? How far will you dare to lead the church?
Joshua’s armies defeated the Anakim giants everywhere they were confronted except “in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod” (Joshua 11:11). Listen to the evening news. Modern day Israel still deals with unresolved issues from thirty-five centuries ago because they didn’t take their march to these strongholds and headquarters of demonic power. Gaza is a hotbed of radical jihadism, Gath produced Goliath “of Gath” and the Ashdodites intermingled with the Jews in Nehemiah’s day. The enemy repossesses territory when the church becomes pacifistic, instead of militant. But wherever Israel did march the victories were quick and complete. Thirty-one kings were defeated one after another in chapter twelve. I relate that to the thirty-one days in a month – when the church marches forward in faith, a victory can be check marked on every day of the calendar!
Third is MARSHALING. Joshua’s victory was only as certain as was the unity of the people. When he presumptuously sent just a few soldiers to battle against little Ai, the whole platoon was routed. On second attempt, “Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai…” (Joshua 8:3) The army became as one. ‘We’ is stronger than ‘Me’. The pastor, as spiritual commander in chief must learn how to rally people behind the vision and marshal “an exceeding great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). Joshua’s whole life was training for this monumental work. As a young man he grew under the personal mentorship of Moses and was first to fight in the wilderness against Amalek. After Moses’ death the task of leading the people naturally fell on Joshua’s shoulders, but he was ready because for forty years he had watched Moses’ wise leadership. We give God praise for those iconic figures that have patterned leadership in India and abroad, but we must realize that leaders today are also modeling ministry for ensuing generations.
Which takes us fourthly to MAINTAINING. After a geographic area had been conquered it had to be settled and what was settled, of necessity had to be protected and brought under management. Evangelism takes territory but stewardship defines its long-term viability. The next step then was to inaugurate a priesthood and not just a military. The church fights its battles on bended knees. There will always be a place for intercessors in the prayer closet and missionaries and evangelists on the field, but the rooting and grounding ministry that maintains what has been won for Christ must not be ignored. Failure to do so in the late chapters of Joshua led to a spiritual comfort zone that resulted in the tragic words that define the Book of Judges, “…there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). As we establish God’s work the next generation must always be kept in mind.
Establishing the nation begins with establishing the family. Joshua gathered his children and extended family around him and publicly declared, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We place great emphasis on family order, because, as goes the family so goes the church and ultimately the nation. As Moses died and passed the baton on to Joshua, he too would have to leave the scene. An ecclesiastical structure cannot be built on a single leader for all such arrangements cease with his or her passing. So at the commandment of the Lord, priests and feasts, Tabernacle worship, typological furnishings and strict biblical order were instituted.
Everything would be structured according to God’s Word. From the twelve stones pitched in the beginning at Gilgal to the fencing in of the cities of refuge to the felling of every timber to build the Israelites’ homes, every effort was with conscientious obedience to God’s laws and all was done to maintain what had been gained. They were in the land and could not afford to lose what God had given them. In the New Testament sense, that means establishing the divine order of the sacraments, appointment of elders and deacons, the exercise of spiritual gifts and endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It means leading the next generation beyond religion into relationship. Unfortunately, after Joshua’s departure the Israelites drifted into idolatry and “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25), a state that could never have occurred had they properly valued the land they had been given.
MGM Ministries-Article Source: trumpetmagazine.com/read.aspx?lang=1&id=4&mid=118