Calling For Help
This morning we gather together to open up an ancient book and see what it has to say about our present lives. The events that take place in the book of Joshua occurred over well over three thousand years ago in a place most of us have never been. They involve people we’ve never heard of. And they describe things we can’t imagine doing today.
So why are we doing it? Why are we sitting here? What’s it all about? Well, if you’ve been with us lately you know part of the answer is: because the book of Joshua helps us understand history. It helps us understand where the nation of Israel came from.
This weekend we celebrate our national independence. Most of us are familiar with names like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Most of us have a grasp on how the colonies were started and how frustration with taxation grew. Most of us know about the Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, the Westward Expansion, the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War. We know how this nation came to be established, how it was settled, and how it grew.
Well, the book of Joshua tells us many of the same things about the nation of Israel. But, there’s a reason why this book of national history is also in the Bible. It’s because there’s more to the story than just military conquest and political ideology: at every turn we see there’s a God involved with Israel. This history is HIS-story. The book of Joshua is divine history telling us how the God who made the world also chose a special people and a special place for accomplishing His special purposes.
And that’s why this book, and the history it contains should be of interest to us.
But as Christians, there’s another reason why we look at the book of Joshua and that’s to help us understand what it’s like to grow in Christ. Throughout church history Christians have understood Joshua as an Old Testament parallel to Christ in the New Testament.
As some of you Bible scholars already know, Jesus’ name, in Hebrew, is Yeshua – or as we would say it in English – Joshua. (If you translate straight from Hebrew to English you get Joshua, if you go through Greek and Latin first you get Jesus.)
Think about the parallels between the two. God used Joshua to lead the people of Israel into the place He wanted them to live, and today Jesus does the same thing for Christians: He leads us into the life God wants us to live. Joshua led the people in victory over towns; Jesus leads us in victory over sin. Joshua was clearing out a place for people to live, Jesus is teaching us a way to live.
We’ll explore more of the connection between growing in Christ and taking the land this morning as we look at the attacks that come as God’s chosen people settle into the land.
If you remember from last week, word has gotten out that God has brought them here and some people, like Rahab and the Gibeonites have surrendered and submitted to God by joining Israel, but others are upset and are looking to resist and rebel.
Read with me:
Joshua 10:1 Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it—as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king—and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2 that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. 3 Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” 5 Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.
Last week, in Chapter 9, we saw how the Gibeonites had heard what God was doing through the people of Israel and instead of resisting, sought to join Israel. They went about it the wrong way, but their motive was good. Well, now that spooks the king of Jerusalem because it means the Israelites have control of the central region of the country and that makes him vulnerable, so he tells everyone else – let’s all gang up on Gibeon and teach them a lesson. He’s going to need all their help too because remember, Gibeon was “a great city” and “all it’s men were mighty.” It’s like attacking Lake Wobegon.
But think about this from Gibeon’s perspective though. We said that Joshua moving into the land of Israel is like the Christian being sanctified, growing in holiness and faithfulness in all areas of life. So, using that analogy, Gibeon is like a recent convert. They’re a new believer, someone who has just recently come to faith in Christ. And what happens? As soon as they express their loyalty to Jesus, the people who used to be their friends attack.
Is that true? Does that happen? Of course it does. Some of you know exactly what this is like because you’ve experienced it. You give your allegiance to Christ, you submit to God, and the people you used to call friends, the people you still call family, don’t understand and want to mock you, ridicule you, or ‘talk some sense’ into you.
Gibeon experienced a physical attack, but you and I experience a spiritual attack.
When that happens, whatever form it takes, what do you do? Can I recommend you do the same thing Gibeon does? Call for Yeshua – Joshua – Jesus and His people, the nation of Israel, or in our case, the modern church – and ask for help.
6 And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”
7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8 And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9 Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. 10 So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.
12 Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
And the moon stopped,
Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.
15 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
Gibeon calls for help in their time of need. They said, “Look, we came to you because we believe in the power and authority of your God and we didn’t want to be wiped out. But now we’re in danger from others, would you come and help us?” And the answer was yes. They were now considered part of the nation and God Himself was active in their defense.
Friends, we need to know that. You need to know and understand, that if you belong to Christ, God is your source and strength, and not only is He watching over you, you also belong to the Church, and the Church has an obligation to help you just like Israel helped Gibeon.
Read through the book of Acts and watch what happens with the early church: they help one another individually and corporately. People are willing to sell their own stuff to raise money to help other Christians. They take people into their homes. They take up collections for churches that are far away full of people they’ll never meet simply because they’re fellow Christians and they’re in need. They don’t march all night to fight in battle, but they still make sacrifices for other believers.
We see similar things happen today when churches rush in after disasters to help people recover. Or when Christians reach out to help a new mom with meals or help out with babysitting so the parents can get away for the night. Some of you have taken in my kids so Madeleine and I could travel to a missions conference in Kenya or to plan the birth of a new Crossfit ministry in Ohio. Christians are there for each other when our parents die, or when our spouse walks out. We’re there for each other when someone needs to confess a sin that is destroying them, or when someone has discovered their spouse or child is in sin.
So let me ask: if you’re a Christian, and temptation or trials, or the enemy of our souls or his people have gathered together to bring you down, if they’re sitting outside the walls of your life ready to attack or if they’ve already broken down the walls of your city and are running amuck in your life – have you called for help? Have you cried out to God? Have you told the church? Does your spiritual family know, or are you too proud or too ashamed to let tell anyone? The Bible uses the analogy of a family for a reason – reach out to your brothers and sisters.
And reach out to your Dad. We’re in this together, but it’s not just us. We help each other stand on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. The people of Israel marched all night to show up to help, but look at vs 14, “the LORD fought for Israel.” You need to know that God is a jealous God. And there will be times when He allows His people to suffer for reasons we don’t understand in the moment. He tells us, we will be persecuted, we will have trials, life is not always rainbows and unicorns for people who serve Jesus, but He also promises that vengeance is His and He WILL repay. No one is going to get away with hurting His people indefinitely. Our God is a God of love, but also a God of terrible wrath and justice and you do not want to stand guilty before Him.
In fact, look at the following verses and we see the end of those who sought to harm God’s people and resist the work of God.
Joshua 10:16 But these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in a cave at Makkedah. 17 And it was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.”
18 So Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. 19 And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” 20 Then it happened, while Joshua and the children of Israel made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they had finished, that those who escaped entered fortified cities. 21 And all the people returned to the camp, to Joshua at Makkedah, in peace.
No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.
22 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.” 23 And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.
24 So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. 25 Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” 26 And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. 27 So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.
OK, once again we run across something in the book of Joshua that makes us some of us a little squeamish. Why did they do that? Why does Joshua have his captains put their feet on the necks of these kings, and then why are they killed and their bodies publically displayed?
The answer is in
Joshua 10:25 Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”
Think about the progression as Israel entered the land. God brought down the walls at Jericho and then Israel just cleaned things up. Ai proved to be a tough fight at first, but once Achan’s sin was dealt with, things went much better. Gibeon just flat out surrendered. This is the first time the people of Israel have had to fight an enemy who initiated an attack against them and who pulled together a whole coalition of forces to do it.
It would have been logical to wonder, can we really do this? Can we really overcome this enemy? There are so many of them, and they’re actually coming out to meet us instead of quaking in their sandals behind the walls of their city.
And God says, “Yes, you can beat them, you can overcome them, because I am on your side.”
So, Joshua makes a public spectacle out of these kings for the sake of God’s glory. Israel, and the surrounding nations, need to know: this is what God has given us victory over. Joshua has captured the leaders of groups who once seemed so powerful and now he’s showing everyone what God has done.
And now think about that, because we said the nation of Israel coming into the land of Israel is like the Christian growing in their sanctification, driving sin out of their own life. And just like Joshua led the people in their efforts, Jesus leads us in ours.
So it shouldn’t be surprising for us to read things like:
Ps 110:1 The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
A passage that Jesus later used to show His own deity (Matt 22:34).
Or how about Paul’s claim that
Col 2:14 Jesus “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, … having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Can we go back and read that again? What has Jesus done with the spiritual forces that oppose us? He has “disarmed” them and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them.”
Does that sound familiar?
Friends you need to know that God has no problem dealing with sin in a very public way. He has no problem with making a spectacle. God is not a big respector of your ‘privacy.’ In fact, sometimes He brings things out of the shadows and into the light SO THAT we will finally deal with them and face them. There is a sense in which being exposed is healthy for your soul.
And now, compare that with the famous story of Mary and Martha. You know how Martha complained because she was so busy trying to take care of things around the house so Jesus and the guys could have a nice lunch, but what was Mary doing? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning. And Jesus said she had chosen the better thing. She had placed herself under Jesus’ feet if you will, in a position of submission, acceptance, and learning. She wanted to be conquered by Him.
What about you? Are you submitting to Christ? Are you under His feet in submission or surrender?
And Christian, let’s talk for a moment about the fact that there are some kings still hiding in caves in your heart. They need to be brought out, put to death, and perhaps even publically displayed. Will you let Jesus roll back the stone and do what needs to be done?
Will you let Him conquer the things in you that are still resisting Him? Will you lay yourself out in complete surrender and let Him put to death the kings of lust, anger, or indulgence? Will you let him put to death the king of prescription drugs? Will you let him put to death the king of pornography? The king of personal appearance and body image? Will you let him put to death the king of friendship and acceptance? Will you let Him kill the king of your career? Will you let Christ put to death the kings that are trying to rule parts of your life? Will you stop standing in the way and let Him open up the caves the kings live in, yank them out, and put them to death?
Will you come and put your foot on them like they’ve been putting their foot on you, and will you put them to death before they kill you?
If so, Christian, you have to know – these things, these ‘kings’, are going to beg and plead for you to let them live. They’re going to ask you to let them just go back to their cave. They’re going to suggest that now’s not the time. But you cannot let them live. They’re going to keep opposing you and the work that God wants to do in you. You’re destined to be ruled by someone – will it be King Jesus or King Sin? Which one has your loyalty? That’s the decision you must make today.
But if you will let Him, King Jesus will lead you in triumph and victory. He’ll give you the land, He’ll conquer the sin that is ruling over you now, and He’ll put it to death before your very eyes.
And once that happens, He’ll lead you into greater and greater things – like Joshua led the people into more and more land:
Joshua 10:28 On that day Joshua took Makkedah, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them—all the people who were in it. He let none remain. He also did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.
29 Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, to Libnah; and they fought against Libnah. 30 And the LORD also delivered it and its king into the hand of Israel; he struck it and all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword. He let none remain in it, but did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
31 Then Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, to Lachish; and they encamped against it and fought against it. 32 And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, who took it on the second day, and struck it and all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah. 33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua struck him and his people, until he left him none remaining.
34 From Lachish Joshua passed to Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it and fought against it. 35 They took it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; all the people who were in it he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.
36 So Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, to Hebron; and they fought against it. 37 And they took it and struck it with the edge of the sword—its king, all its cities, and all the people who were in it; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon, but utterly destroyed it and all the people who were in it.
38 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and they fought against it. 39 And he took it and its king and all its cities; they struck them with the edge of the sword and utterly destroyed all the people who were in it. He left none remaining; as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had done also to Libnah and its king.
40 So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded. 41 And Joshua conquered them from Kadesh Barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even as far as Gibeon. 42 All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel. 43 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
There’s a sense of momentum that builds when God begins His work - in the land, and in our lives. When we are willing to follow Him, we may have to march all night, we may have to work all day, we get tired and spiritually sore and sweaty, but “All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.”
God wants to give us victory in Christ if we will submit and surrender to Him.
We’re getting ready to celebrate communion this morning, but as we do I’d like to bring up another connection here between this ancient text and our modern lives, another link connection that runs through Jesus.
We saw a coalition of five kings oppose Israel this morning. They were conquered and then their bodies were hung from trees outside the city.
Does the idea of a king, hanging, on a tree, outside the city remind anyone of anything?
How about Jesus? He died, hung upon the timbers of a dead tree outside the city of Jerusalem, one of the very cities we read about this morning. The leader of that city was put to death for resisting God, but then one day, God’s own son would be found in the same position as an atoning sacrifice for our sin of resisting God.
So here’s the remarkable thing about Jesus – not only does He put sin to death, He’s willing to be put to death Himself for the sake of our sin. We resist Him, we rebel, we pretend to be the king or allow the kings of sin to live in our hearts. We should be put under His feet, We should be put to death, but He offers to take our place and take our shame, He allows Himself to be spit at, to be beaten, to have His beard plucked out, and to have people divvy up his clothes as He hangs bleeding, to have people mock Him and curse Him while He dies. He takes everything we deserve to give us what we don’t.
And if we will come to Him, if we will submit to Him, if we will allow Him to drive things out of our lives, He will come and fight for us. He will give us strength to resist sin and change. We don’t have to be who we’ve always been. Israel didn’t have to keep living in the Egypt or wandering in the desert, God had a better plan. And He has a better plan for us too, if we’ll just call for help. You’re surrounded, there’s no way out, sin has you trapped. OK – the Gibeonites understand what that’s like, so call for Jesus. He’ll come to you and He’ll bring the church, and you’ll find forgiveness, strength, deliverance, and help as He puts the kings to death and gives you victory.
Take some time this morning and think on these things as the ushers come forward and distribute the elements. Think about the things that are surrounding you, laying siege to your life, and call out to God for help. Think about the people in your life that need help and how God might want you to march all night so to speak to help them. Think about what kings in your life need to be put to death, ask Jesus to call them out of the caves in your heart and put them under your feet.
Friends, the stories of American independence are true – those men really lived and really gave birth to this country. The story of Israel’s birth is true too. God was at work back then, fighting for His people. And He’s at work today offering to fight in your life and accomplish His purposes. Will you let Him declare your independence from sin and establish you in the life He wants you to live? Think about it.
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