FOUR WARNINGS FROM THE JOSHUA ERA
FOUR WARNINGS FROM THE JOSHUA ERA Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We are passing from a Moses era to a Joshua era. Because the spiritual warfare will grow more intense we will be encountering severe challenges, testings, forms of deception. There are lessons we can learn from the Joshua Era, the time when God leads His people into their inheritance.
Table of Contents
FOUR WARNINGS FROM THE JOSHUA ERA
"Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites." (Joshua 1:2—NIV)
It appears we are passing from a Moses era to a Joshua era. The Lord Jesus Christ is removing His shepherd's garments and donning the helmet of war.
There were behaviors of the Israelites under Moses that brought the disfavor of God on the people and hindered their progress.
They grumbled and complained against their leaders—in actuality against God.
They wanted to go back to Egypt.
They were hard of heart, disobedient, rebellious, weeping and howling in unbelief.
Sounds like some of us today.
Because of their grumbling and unbelief many of them were destroyed in the wilderness, thus becoming a warning to us who have left the world and are supposed to be pressing toward the inheritance, the rest of God in Christ.
Now that we are preparing to enter our land of promise, the fullness of our inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ, there are four additional dangers we must guard against:
Departure from the written Word.
Covetousness leading to disobedience.
Assumptions, taking matters for granted.
Willingness to come short of final victory.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8—NIV)
I was given this verse by members of the Navigators, when I was first converted while in the Marine Corps.
I don't believe there is an Christian who would not support one hundred percent the admonition to read the Bible and to be careful to do everything written in it.
But we of today have departed grievously from the written Word. Let me give you a few examples of current errors. These doctrines and concepts may have served in time past, but because of the intense spiritual warfare we are facing we must go back to the Scriptures. Careful adherence to the Scriptures is the only guarantee we are on the right track with the Spirit of God and therefore on the right track to victory.
A first unscriptural tradition is that the Lord is coming to take His Church to Heaven. The Scriptures declare consistently that the Lord is coming in order to set up His Kingdom on the earth and to bring justice to the saved nations.
A second unscriptural tradition is that Heaven is the eternal home of the saint. Eternal residence in the spirit Paradise is not the goal of salvation. Nowhere in the Scriptures is such a concept found. Rather, this idea comes from the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism, a poison that has influenced Christian thinking from the first century.
A third unscriptural tradition is that every believer when he or she dies will live in a mansion and walk on a street of gold. The destiny of believers who die may vary greatly, according to the Scriptures. We do not know much about the period of time between death and resurrection. However we have constructed an extensive mythology about mansions, streets of gold, harps, and golden slippers. There is a street of gold in the new Jerusalem, but it probably is symbolic of the purified faith of the saints. And the Greek text does not mention mansions.
A fourth unscriptural tradition is that we shall receive our reward when we go to Heaven. The New Testament is clear that we shall receive our reward when the Lord returns, in the day of resurrection, not when we die.
A fifth unscriptural tradition is that our physical body will not be raised from the dead. Here again is the influence of Gnosticism. As far as I know Christianity is the only religion that places great emphasis on the redemption of the flesh-and-bones body of man and the release of the material creation into the life of the Spirit. Other religions point toward an afterlife in the heavens.
The bodily resurrection from the dead is the focus of the Christian salvation.
A sixth unscriptural tradition is that we can never be lost once we have been saved. Here is one of the unscriptural teachings that have done great damage to the moral strength of the believers. The whole book of Hebrews, for example, is one long warning to the believers about growing careless in the midst of their discipleship. First John, Second Peter, Jude, and Revelation contain the severest of warnings to Christians concerning the diligence of their pursuit of Christ. To ignore the biblical consequences of failing to serve Christ diligently is to prove the teacher or believer is deluded concerning the nature of the Divine redemption.
A seventh unscriptural tradition is that of the so-called "pre-tribulation rapture" of believers, a flight to Heaven to avoid Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. This idea is so unscriptural that any intelligent young person could quickly point out from the Bible the errors and inconsistencies of the pre-tribulation rapture hypothesis and, in fact, the entire model of Dispensationalism. The concept of a "dispensation of grace" that prevents God from seeing our behavior is unscriptural, in fact, antiscriptural. Any teaching that advises us we do not have to keep God's commandments is clearly unscriptural.
An eighth unscriptural tradition is the overemphasis on God's love and the consequent neglect of the truth concerning God's severity.
A ninth unscriptural tradition is the concept of the "ticket." Once we take "the four steps of salvation" we have a ticket to Heaven. By relegating our salvation to an action taken in time past we neglect the biblical emphasis on working out our salvation from day to day, and also on the future aspect of salvation. He who endures to the end shall be saved, not a person who bought his ticket at some past time.
"We are not there yet, Mother!"
A tenth unscriptural tradition is that the teaching of the Apostles supersedes the Words of the Son of God in the Gospel. The truth is, everything Jesus taught is repeated by the Apostles in their epistles.
An eleventh unscriptural tradition is that there will be a Gentile kingdom in Heaven and a Jewish kingdom on the earth. To which kingdom, then, does the new Jerusalem belong, for it will be located on the earth? Let us hope it is not exclusively a Jewish kingdom (as though the Jews after the flesh will inherit the Kingdom of God) because the Throne of God and the Lamb will be in it.
There is only the one Seed of Abraham—the Lord Jesus Christ and those who belong to Him. There is no other seed of Abraham that will inherit the promises of God, other than the promises directed at the physical nation of Israel and their return to the physical land. No individual, Jewish or Gentile, has any inheritance in Kingdom of God until he or she has been born again, as Jesus the Jew told Nicodemus the Jew.
Once a person has been born again, all distinctions of race and gender disappear as far as the Kingdom is concerned. There is only one new Man. I do not understand why competent scholars insist on dividing the work of God into Jews and Gentiles. This division is certainly anti-Pauline.
Obviously we have not mentioned all of the current errors. We have not discussed the imaging, prosperity, soulish faith, and reconstruction errors. They are demonstrably incorrect but may not have done the harm produced by the eleven we have mentioned.
How did we get so far away from the Scriptures? There may be at least three reasons.
First we have rejected the truth concerning self-denial, suffering for the Gospel, carrying our cross after Jesus. Therefore God Himself has deluded us.
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie (II Thessalonians 2:11—NIV)
Second we apply models, such as Dispensationalism and then distort passages of the Scriptures until they fit the model.
For example, we take the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, a passage addressed to grieving relatives of deceased Christians, and turn it into the hope Christians will be caught up to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. Then we make this funeral passage the blessed hope of the Church, stressing the catching up of the believers and ignoring the prerequisite resurrection from the deadan experience that will make us invulnerable to Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. This obviously is a perversion of the text.
We take the statement "He that guards the word of my patience I will guard from the hour of temptation," and translate it "he who takes the four steps of salvation will be removed from the earth before the Great Tribulation." Yet the Apostle John, the same writer using the same Greek terms, says, "I do not pray that you will take them out of the world but that you will guard them from the evil one." Careless scholarship!
Third we apply deductive reasoning to the Scriptures. There are many seeming contradictions in the New Testament, such as salvation as forgiveness and salvation as moral transformation.
We decide on one leg of a seeming contradiction, such as the grace of forgiveness. We then saw off the other leg, the grace that produces righteous behavior, and use the leg we have selected as an axiom. Now we are saved by grace alone. From our axiom we deduce truth regardless of what the Scriptures teach.
We always should use inductive reasoning. We must allow the Scriptures to control their own "therefores." In fact, if we will pray and seek Jesus the Bible will speak for itself. We do not need charts, models, or axioms. The Bible is simple and clear if we will just read it and go to God for help in understanding and obeying it. If we had done this we never would have fallen into the above errors.
We Christians have constructed a superstructure of error on the sure foundation of the blood atonement and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have come up with a system of interpretation that encourages us to ignore the commandments of the Apostles in favor of a nonexistent, unscriptural "state of grace," a state of which the Apostles of the Lamb knew nothing.
We simply do not understand the new covenant. The new covenant is the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart, which is equivalent to saying the forming of Jesus Christ in our mind and heart. We have turned the new covenant, a program designed to create in us iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father so we can rule on the earth as God's royal priesthood, into a ticket to a mansion in the spirit Paradise. How much further from the new covenant could we get?
We have changed the Great Commission from "go into all the world and make disciples of the nations, teaching them to keep My commandments" to "go into all the world, save souls, build churches, and tell the believers they are saved by grace, do not have to keep Christ's commandments, and at any moment will be caught up to Heaven so the Jews without the Holy Spirit can preach the Gospel in the face of Antichrist." This scenario would be humorous if it were not so pathetic, so weakening, so unworthy of the devout, intelligent people involved in this revised form of the Great Commission.
The Philistines are upon us. It is time for the hair of consecration to grow back before we find ourselves totally blind, grinding at the mill, and amusing the demons with our religious antics.
We will not succeed in pressing forward with the establishing of the Kingdom of God upon the earth until we embrace the idea that Christians have to take up their cross and follow Christ; until we abandon the charts and models that force alien interpretations on the Scriptures; until we abandon deductive reasoning and allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves.
We must begin to meditate on the Scriptures day and night that we may be careful to perform all that is written therein.
We all know the story of Achan. During the siege of Jericho he took and hid items that were devoted to the Lord. This means they were to be placed in the treasury maintained by the priests and used for the Lord's service.
"When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath." (Joshua 7:21—NIV)
"I coveted them and took them." Covetousness leading to disobedience.
We are entering an era of intense spiritual conflict. Satan will employ every means of war known to him.
Since Satan's power was broken at the cross he is required to work by lies and deceptions. He attacks our mind. He holds up items before us, items of relationships, of things, of circumstances. These attractions may be lawful under ordinary circumstances, just as taking plunder in time of war is lawful under ordinary circumstances.
But the saints have been directed to consecrate themselves to the purpose of God. We are not serving under ordinary circumstances. That which would have been accepted at other times no longer is permitted.
We must redeem the time. How many Christians in America are wasting time on the media, on entertainment, on buying and selling? If we were not in the climax of the ages these activities might be acceptable.
Today is an extraordinary period in the Kingdom of God. In order to go past Pentecost and enter the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, to have the Throne of God established in our inward nature, to have the fountain of the water of life installed in us, requires the total dedication of all we are and possess.
The believer who plays around, wasting his time on nonessentials, will one day cry out in the agony of Esau because of an inheritance irretrievably lost. There will be no place of repentance found. Grace will not operate then. Think about the foolish virgins, about the person who buried his talent. No, grace will not operate then.
"And the door was shut"—five of the most dreadful words found in the Scriptures.
Satan tantalizes our mind with wealth, or the delights of the flesh, or personal ambition, or the development of a talent, or a desire for prestige and importance, or with an excessive feeling of need for material security, or with material comforts and adornments, or with the exploding technological advancements. These may not be wrong in themselves. But when we are called to be a soldier of Jesus Christ they can become unlawful.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (II Timothy 2:4—NIV)
Satan gets our mind working on something. The first thing you know we find ourselves disobeying God.
This is why it is so utterly important to pray, read the Word, and assemble with fervent saints—all on a consistent basis. Satan is trying to conform you to his image by renewing your mind in the things of the world. He is attempting to get you to covet!
God wants to renew your mind in His Word so you are transformed into His image. You make the decision. Don't pray, don't read the Word, don't assemble with the saints, watch television, read the newspaper. Before you know it you will find yourself disobeying God.
One of the greatest of the dangers of the Joshua age is that of being led into disobedience by the lust of our eyes. Remember this because the hour of temptation is upon us and there will be numerous opportunities to occupy ourselves with the enticing things and opportunities of the world system.
Achan, his family, and all he possessed were buried under a pile of rocks. This is the Valley of Achor. The Valley of Achor can become a door of hope for us, the gateway to the Presence of Christ, if we are willing to rise from the chastening we have experienced and come forth leaning on our Beloved.
There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing. as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. "In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master (Hosea 2:16,16—NIV)
Moses sinned against God by striking the rock presumptuously when God told him to speak to it.
Joshua suffered a defeat during the invasion of Canaan by not bringing the Gibeonite delegation to the Lord in prayer. Instead Joshua assumed they were telling the truth. He saw their moldy food and took it for granted they indeed had come from a far country. Joshua had been commanded by the Lord to utterly slay all who were living in the land to be occupied by Israel, and so those who had traveled from afar were exempt from annihilation.
"This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey." The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. (Joshua 9:12-14—NIV)
"But did not inquire of the Lord."
Of all the lessons we need to learn today it is to inquire of the Lord concerning every matter great and small.
If I may have the attention of the Christian people for one moment: The Lord Jesus Christ today is very close to you. He is at your elbow. Right now stop and get a sense of His Presence and closeness.
He is willing to guide you every step of the way. You do not have to make assumptions or take anything for granted. He will direct you if you will cease charging ahead in your self-assurance and ask Him what to do.
Ask Christ about everything, about people, about opportunities, about every aspect of your ministry, about every decision you make. Ask him what to buy at the grocery store, what to wear, about people that come into your life.
As much as lies in you, do not take anything for granted no matter how obvious!
Learning to look to Jesus constantly will be of critical importance throughout the spiritual warfare that is upon us. There can be no letup at any time or for any reason. A wise officer posts a guard twenty-four hours of every day even though every aspect of the environment appears free from threat. The one time you do not post a guard will be the one time you get your throat cut.
How many times in history has a battle been lost because the high-ranking officers took something for granted or made assumptions about what the enemy would or would not do! They paid dearly for their lack of diligence and consistency.
The battle we are in has eternal consequences. Never, never, never let down your guard. You are not a typical American churchgoer. You are a member of the highly disciplined, highly trained warlike remnant. Never forget that.
The soldiers of Gideon's army who stuck their head in the water were sent home. They needed to be sent home. Those today who plunge into the apparent blessing of the Holy Spirit without watching for the enemy will be sent home. They must be sent home because they behave foolishly.
The remnant who are left drink of the same water but remain watchful. Are you jumping into the water or are you remaining watchful?
If I could yell at every Christian in the world, this is what I would cry: "Don't take anything for granted! Don't make assumptions no matter how obvious the situation is!"
I think every Christian at least once each day should pause and look to Jesus to see if he or she is on the right track. Usually we get a clear signal to go ahead. On other occasions to our surprise we are alerted to the fact that something is wrong. Then we are to proceed cautiously until we can determine if it really is the Lord who is checking us or the enemy trying to confuse us.
I am not advocating passivity in which the believer waits until he is "moved by the Spirit." Such an attitude of passivity will result only in indecisiveness and general confusion and unfruitfulness. Rather I am speaking of dynamic seeking of the Lord and dynamic pressing forward in worship and service. Our will must be kept sharp and active throughout the process of seeking God's guidance.
The Gibeonites remained as thorns in Israel's side for generations to come. Joshua's splendid record was marred by this one incident. This tells us the Holy Spirit is emphasizing the need for a constant seeking of the Lord's guidance as the Church prepares to cross over into the rest of God.
We have not been here before. Much change in the way we Christians do things will take place in the days to come—change that is absolutely necessary if we are to triumph over the outpouring of evil as Satan and his followers are forced from the heavens.
As we are changing what we are doing, as the choruses become more militant, as the people rise from their pews and march around the sanctuary with their tambourines, as worshipful dancing increases, as the young people carry the great banners with the cross or the rampant lion, as mime, drama, pageantry of all types change our choir anthems from entertainment to greatly increased activity and participation on the part of the worshipersas all this fervency accelerates, many traps will be laid for the unlearned and unwary.
There must be diligent oversight by experienced elders who have no desire to lord it over God's flock but are watching for behavior that is not edifying. It is their responsibility to lead the believers away from the demonic interventions, back to that which is glorifying Christ.
The believers who will not submit to reasonable authority are useless as soldiers in Christ's army and should leave the assembly. They will destroy the work of God with their criticizing, slandering, backbiting, and other actions that serve only to create division and bitterness.
Perhaps in another assembly they may be able to grow and serve more successfully.
Every Christian is well acquainted with the sad history of the Israelites, how they were willing to settle down in part of their inheritance and permit the original inhabitants of Canaan to live alongside them in their towns.
The Benjamites, however, failed to dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites. (Judges 1:21—NIV)
God had warned the Israelites to make no peace whatever with the inhabitants of Canaan, saying if they did so they would soon find themselves worshiping the Canaanite gods. This, of course, is precisely what happened.
Perhaps the worst of the Canaanite customs was to offer their little children as burnt offerings to the god Molech. You would think with the background of the Jews they would never do such a thing. But they did!
And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:25—NIV)
So it is with us. Some of the enemies in our personality may be dealt with readily and quickly. There may be others that cling tenaciously to us.
Everything depends on our attitude toward these giants. If we have a breath of a desire to compromise with them they will hang on forever. We must become ferocious, desperate, making it known to the demons, to ourselves, to God, and to anyone else who will listen that we absolutely will never, never, never agree to this darkness in us.
The reason people do not get delivered from profanity, drugs, alcohol, criticizing, rage, covetousness, and like problems is they are not determined enough. This does not mean it is our determination that delivers us. Rather it is that we are the judges of men and angels. Until we once and for all time judge with every ounce of desperation in us that such behavior belongs in the Lake of Fire and nowhere else, the demons will hang on.
Christ destroyed their authority on the cross of Cavalry. They are running a bluff on us, telling us we owe it to the flesh to live according to its appetites and lusts. The Bible says this is not true.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12—NIV)
We must make up our mind. We must choose to serve the Lord. When we finally reach the point where we are not entertaining this sin any longer, the power of God will forgive us and remove it from us. But as long as we permit any self-pity or any other form of acceptance or justifying of our behavior, the darkness will remain in us—even after we have been prayed for by every minister of deliverance in the world.
Departure from the written Word.
Covetousness leading to disobedience.
Assumptions, taking matters for granted.
Willingness to come short of final victory.
Perhaps these dangers were not as present during the Moses era. But now as we enter the age of Joshua they can prevent victory. They must and shall be totally removed from the warlike remnant of saints who even today are being awakened in the Christian churches.
You are invited to join the Lord's army. Raise your right hand and repeat after me:
"The Lord helping me I will go back to the Bible and see if there are clear passages kept in context that support the eleven traditions described above as being scriptural. If I do not find such support I will reject them as deceptions of the enemy and begin to read the New Testament to find out how I am supposed to live.
"The Lord helping me I will guard my mind against covetousness and every other sin by praying, reading my Bible, and gathering with fervent saints (as possible) on a consistent basis.
"The Lord helping me I will not assume anything, not take any matter for granted, but will seek the Lord Jesus for guidance in all situations great and small.
"The Lord helping me I will not accept anything but final victory in every area to which the Spirit of God directs me."
You may put your hand down.
From here on it is between you and the Commander in Chief.