JOSHUA 10-12

SEPTEMBER 13, 2009

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            The 1998 movie Wide Awake is about a Catholic school boy's search for God. The boy, Joshua, specifically wants to find out whether or not his deceased grandfather is okay.

            In one scene Joshua and his friend Dave are sitting in a car in a garage having a discussion.  Both are about 10 years old.  Joshua says: "You know what, Dave?  I'm going on a mission.  A real mission."

            "What kind of mission?" Dave asks.

            "The kind where you're looking for something important," says Joshua.

            "What are you gonna look for?"


            "God?" Dave asks incredulously.  "What for?"

            "I just want to talk to him."


            "To make sure my grandpa is okay."

            Dave thinks for a moment, then says: "Remember when you told me I was stupid for staring at that bug lamp on my porch for six hours hoping the purple light would have gamma rays and turn me into the Incredible Hulk so I could fight crime?  Your mission is more stupid than that."

            "Why?" Joshua asks.

            "'Cause you can't look for God."

            "Why not?"

            "Where in the world are you gonna look?"

            More than anything else, this is what the next three chapters of Joshua are about - where to look for God, and specifically, where we can expect the supernatural intervention of God in our lives.  These three chapters, and don’t worry, we are not going to read them, are rather easy to summarize.   After establishing a foothold in the center of the land with the conquest of Jericho and Ai, Joshua moves south to take on the Southern Confederacy.  That’s described in chapter 10.  Then in chapter 11, Joshua moves north to take on the northern confederacy, and then, chapter 12 is a summary of all the kings Joshua and the Israelites defeated.  So, that’s what we have in these three chapters, a written record of the southern and northern campaigns, plus all the names of the kings he conquered.  But more than that we have the supernatural intervention of God into the  lives of the Israelites. 

            The key verse is the 42nd verse in chapter 10.


            Joshua took all these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.


            God fought for Israel.  In other words, God supernaturally intervened, and in these chapters we will see this in spades with a timely hail storm, with the sun stopping in the middle of the day, and with very wise military counsel to Joshua from God.  These three chapters literally drip with the supernatural intervention of God, and this morning I want us to note the times, the occasions, and the circumstances in which God is most likely to intervene supernaturally intervene in our lives.  These times, these occasions, these circumstances are places to look for God.

            First, we can look for God is when a great promise has been made.  Joshua 10:7 & 8.


            So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the fighting force with him, all the mighty warriors.  The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have handed them over to you; not one of them shall stand before you.”


            That’s a great promise, especially given the fact that the Israelites are outnumbered five to one by the Southern Confederacy, but God says, “Don’t fear them for I have handed them over to you.” 

            God continues to make us great promises.  For example, God has promised us joy.  God said, “I’ve said these things so that your joy may be full.”  God promised us abundant life.  Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and that you might have it abundantly.”  And Jesus promised us power.  God said, “Greater works will you do than I did because I am going to the Father.”  Joy, power, abundant living.  Those are great promises.

            Unfortunately, many of us miss the supernatural intervention of God in our lives, we miss the joy, the power, and the abundant life, because we are looking in the wrong direction.  We are problem oriented rather than promise oriented. 

            Way too many of us are like Edward Teale, the naturalist writer.   Teale admitted that he often focused on the problem and not the promise.  He tells the story of the night he had trouble falling asleep so he decided to count sheep, but he was such a pessimistic and negative thinker, that the first sheep to come by stumbled and fell.  This so shook Teale that he became totally involved in the problem.  He began to worry.  He began to think, “Will someone else come along to help the sheep?  How many other sheep will stumble over this one?  How much money would the shepherd lose as a result of the accident?”  Rattled, it took him forever to fall asleep that night.

            God has promised us great things.  Let’s look for God to honor those promises.  Of course, if you rather not have joy, or power, or live abundantly, then just keep focusing on the problems and not the promises.

            Secondly, God not only intervenes when great promises have been made, but God also intervenes when great faith is present.  Joshua 10:12 & 13.


            On the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.”  And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance of their enemies.


            Joshua announced to all present that the sun and moon would stand still.  They would stop moving in the sky for a whole day.  I suggest that is great faith. 

            Maybe you recall how little David went to slay the giant Goliath with a slingshot and five stones.  Do they still make slingshots or did then stop making them for safety reasons?  If they stopped selling them to children I readily understand, because I almost put my eyes out with one when I was about ten years old.  Sometimes, I lwonder what my mother thought when I would do the dumbest things.  Like the day I wanted to see what it would look like down the barrel of a slingshot.  I knew what it looked like to aim and shoot a slingshot, after all, I had done that hundreds of times, but I never had one pointed at me, and looked down the barrel of one, so I held the slingshot to my face, and pulled back the rubber band, and when I released the tension the wooden part of the slingshot slammed into my face, giving me two black eyes.  Try explaining that one to your mother.

            Anyway, back to the point.  David is going to slay the giant with five stones, and everybody said, “Are you nuts?  Look how much bigger Goliath is than you,” but David said, “Yeah, and look how much bigger our God is than Goliath.”

            Great faith is important, and Jesus says if we believe nothing is impossible. 

            Then, thirdly, God not only intervenes when a great promise has been made and when great faith is present, but God also intervenes when a great cause is attempted.  Verse 6 in the tenth chapter, once again.


            And the Gibeonites sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us; for all the kings of the Amorites who live in the hill country are gathered against us.”  So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the fighting force with him ...


            Joshua and the Israelites are not fighting here for themselves.  They are coming to the aid of someone else.  They are going to save the Gibeonites ... those folk we looked at last week who pulled the wool over Joshua’s eyes pretending to be from a far off land and they were not ... they were going to save the Gibeonites from destruction.

            Let me remind us of something.  God gears the degree of his intervention to the degree of our commitment to a great cause.  In other words, we can’t expect much intervention in our lives if we pop open a six-pack and sit in front of the TV all day.  No, we see God’s intervention when we commit to a great cause. 

            Have we invested ourselves in something greater than ourselves?  Have we committed ourselves to being God’s ambassadors and witnesses in the world?  Have we committed ourselves to being good stewards of the planet?  Have we committed ourselves to fighting for social justice?  No?  Then let’s not expect much supernatural intervention in our lives.  God gives supernatural signs and wonders for God’s purposes and not ours.

            Then, fourth and finally, God not only intervenes when a great promise has been made, and great faith is present, and a great cause is undertaken, but God also intervenes when a great point needs to be made.  Joshua 11:4, and note the context.  Joshua is taking on the northern Confederacy now, and it is at the very beginning of that campaign.


            They came out, with all their troops, a great army, in number like the sand on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots.  All these kings joined forces, and came and camped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel.

            And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will hand over all of them, slain, to Israel; you shall hamstring their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.


            In this northern campaign something new has been introduced.  Horses and chariots.  The Israelites are all foot soldiers and this is the first time they come up against horsemen and chariots.  And I can just see Joshua here.  It’s not recorded, but I imagine he’s looking at the horses and the chariots and thinking to himself, “I don’t know if we can win this battle, but if we do, we are going to get those chariots, and we’re going to get those horses, and we are going to create a military machine the likes of which the world has never seen.  Nothing, nothing, will be able to stand in the way of our horses and chariots.”

            And God says, “Joshua, burn the chariots and hamstring the horses.”

            And Joshua says, “Ah, spit!  We could use those chariots and those horses.  Why do you want me to burn the chariots?  Why do you want me to hamstring the horses?  The would be a great addition to our army.”

            And God gets to the great point God wants to make.  “Joshua, you are to rely on me and not the latest military hardware.  If you have chariots and horses, you will depend on them and not me.”

            God supernaturally intervenes when a great promise has been made, when great faith is present, when a great cause is undertaken, and when a great point needs to be made.

            And sometimes we catch ourselves saying, “OK, God I get it.  I get it.  I get the point, you can ease off now.”  And sometimes we catch ourselves saying, “So that’s why all that happened in my life.  I get it now.”  And sometimes we say, “OK, God what’s the point of this?  What do you want me to learn through this?” 

            More than anything, God wants us to know he’s alive on planet earth, and not that hard to find if we just look in the right places.