Three Lessons in Spiritual Warfare from Joshua 1

We owe it to the generations coming after us to do everything we can to leave them a world that is more like heaven than the world we inherited.  Sometimes by looking at the news, it feels like that is not happening.  I’m here to give perspective on the big picture view of what is actually happening in our nation and the world, and then to give practical strategies and tips for how we can do the most effective, most important thing possible in leaving our children with a world more like heaven.  We can engage in spiritual warfare against the spiritual forces at work behind the scenes and pray like never before.  Now is the time to rise up and believe that you were created for such a time as this, get on your knees and believe your prayers are effective, and watch our Father fight our battles.  We’re going to learn how to pray with eyes wide open.

The book of Joshua is an amazing resource for understanding how to engage in spiritual warfare.  Father God had led his people out of slavery in Egypt through his servant Moses, and after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, God’s people had finally made it to the Promised Land.  The land was filled with giants, however, and Moses’ successor, Joshua, had to lead God’s people in battle against the giants.  This story is a picture of how our Joshua (Jesus) is leading us in battle against spiritual forces in order to take possession of the land God has given us.  We will delve into all of this in much more depth as we move along in this blog.  For now, however, I’m giving you a few quick points from Joshua chapter 1 that will help set the stage for the rest of what we discuss in the blog, and will help you get started immediately in spiritual warfare.

1.)  Prayer is discovering God’s heart and agreeing with it. 

 “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.  Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.  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.” Joshua 1:6-8 

It’s easy to read the word “Law” here and immediately just think of the book of Leviticus.  First of all, Leviticus is an amazing book that reveals God’s heart!  But, beyond that, the word “Law” actually refers to the Torah which is the first 5 books of the Bible.  It reveals God’s heart in the creation of mankind, in his redemptive plan after man’s fall, in God’s plan for the entire world through Abraham’s family, in his rescue of Abraham’s family from slavery in Egypt, in his care in giving them Laws to keep them safe, etc.  The Torah is one beautiful story and instruction after another that gives us an intimate view into the Father’s heart.  He told Joshua that the way to be successful in taking the land filled with giants was to keep God’s heart for his people in Joshua’s mind and in his mouth.  To believe and agree with God’s heart for his people is crucial to success in spiritual warfare.

2.)  You need to know who God says you are and agree with that in order to have success in spiritual warfare.

“Moses my servant is dead.  Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.”  Josh 1:2

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Josh 1:5

This must have been an intense time for Joshua! His mentor, Moses, had been the one who spoke with God face to face as a man speaks to his friend.  Moses had performed incredible miracles and had guided God’s people through plagues, and had brought them through a 40 year journey.  He brought water out of rocks, and he prayed to God on behalf of the people when they rebelled.  These were some really big shoes for Joshua to fill, and I love how God got straight to the point.  Yes, Joshua’s mentor had died.  But God was going to be with Joshua just like he had been with Moses, and God told Joshua “for YOU shall cause this people to inherit the land” (Josh 1:6).  God met him right where he was afraid, acknowledged that fear, and then told Joshua who Joshua was — the man who would bring the Israelites to their land. 

In the same way, you have areas that you feel lacking.  Does God really hear your prayers even though you’re not a missionary or a pastor?  “I’m certainly not Moses or Joshua”, you may be thinking.  Before you can be ready to meet the giants that we will be discovering over the next few days in this blog series, you must believe you are who God says you are.  Spend some time with him, and reveal to God what your deepest fears about spiritual warfare are.  Then let him give you the truth about who you are in him.  He is the one who has created you for such a time as this.  He knows what gifts he has given you.  And he sees exactly how YOU are the person for the task ahead.

3.)  Spiritual warfare isn’t just mental and verbal, it also requires putting your shoes on.

James said that “faith without works is dead”.  Real faith results in outward actions.  James was talking primarily about caring for our neighbors with good works and in walking in justice, and not just talking a big talk.  But, one way that we can actually engage in spiritual warfare is by getting our feet active.  It’s one thing to hide in our rooms and pray what we think we want God to do.  It’s another to get out into our streets, walk around in our neighborhoods, and ask God what he sees.  It’s amazing the things that God then will bring to our hearts to ask on  behalf of all the people around us.  These are real people that we’ve been praying for, but maybe because we’ve removed ourselves they’ve started to feel less like people and more just like ideals we were hoping for.  God told Joshua to “arise” — get up out of your tent and look around at the land I’m giving you.  He also said, “every place that the sole of your feet will tread upon I have given to you”.  As Joshua walked around, meditating on God’s heart and promises, he was taking back the territory promised to God’s people as he moved his feet.  It’s incredible.  In the same way, when we get out of our churches and houses and look around at what needs to change in our communities, and we meditate and declare God’s promises regarding those issues, change starts to take place.  We aren’t slaying physical giants anymore, but we are battling against spiritual forces.  When we get out and about and see the giants with our eyes (see what the spiritual forces are doing against our neighbors),  we can then speak God’s word and use the sword of the Spirit against the forces of darkness.  God’s word really is powerful.  The fervent prayer of the righteous man really does avail much.

I started meditating on this verse a few years ago when my husband had a job that required us to make a lot of cross country trips.  We would load up boxes and boxes of essential oils chemistry books that he needed for teaching, pack enough food and clothes for a couple weeks, cram our kids’ homeschool books in the car, and head out.  It was a fun, adventurous time in our lives.  One year we went through St. Loius, MO 4 times.  We went through Tennessee (what a loooooong trip!) 3 times that year.  We also went to CA, WA, OR, Ontario, and a long list of other places during those years.  Sometime around the 2nd or 3rd time in 2 years that we were in MO again, I remembered this verse. “Ok, God, you sure do have me in St. Louis a lot,” I thought. And I started believing that somehow as my husband and I zigzagged across the United States and Canada, we were taking back territory for the kingdom of heaven.  I didn’t understand how (Was I somehow going to own St. Louis in heaven?), but I believed on some spiritual level — in some way I couldn’t see — I was actively engaging in a spiritual battle just by sitting in the passenger seat and believing God’s promises.   Now any time I walk or drive a stretch of land numerous times, I pay attention.  “Why do you have me on this street again, Jesus?” I ask him what his heart is for those houses, that street, that city.  Then I can say those things out loud and do warfare with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, while I walk with my feet.

Over the next few weeks, we’re planning to go deep into what God’s heart is for our families, neighborhoods, our nation, and the world.  We’re also going to frankly look at what the giants in the land are up to.  We’re not going to shrink back, because we are well able to take the land, and God is with us just as he was with Moses.  We’re going to believe we are who God says we are, and we’re going to keep our eyes wide open as we spend time in our communities and see what change actually needs to take place.  We’re going to walk forward, believing all of God’s promises, and fighting in the strength of his might, as we wield the sword of the Spirit.  It’s going to be intense!  But it’s worth it.  We’re going to take back the land for our children and our children’s children.