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01/28/2018

Joshua 4: 1-5:12                “His Counter Strategy is Clear”                     1/28/2018   Rev. Jerry W. Krueger                  Boardman UMC

Hear the words of Joshua 4: 4-7.  Now hear Joshua 5: 2-4.

The Hebrew nation of Israel recalls God’s providence, to cross the Jordan and enter Canaan land. God commands that a river rock from the Jordan River, one per tribe, are piled up as a reminder.  And, for each of the males of the nation, there is a physical and symbolic reminder that takes place in the form of circumcision saying, “Remembered WHOSE you are.”  If it were up to me, I would just vote on picking up a river rock as a symbolic sign of remembrance.

As you read this complete text, information of military maneuvering and logistical details of a battle, are scarce. There is going to be a battle to take Jericho, but we don’t hear about chariot repair, stockpiling arrows, nor do we hear of tactics. The reason being is that the real battle that looms before the Hebrews in Canaan, in the Promised Land, is not physical or military. It is a spiritual battle between good and evil. The true conflict is not with the Canaanites or Amorites, or with other Hebrews.  It is with Satan and his demons.Whuuuuuuut?

In modern times, even acknowledging the existence of Satan, lumps us sometimes into the over reactionary, whack job role.

But remember this. In ancient times, Canaan was the best, most fertile and choicest real estate on earth. Canaan connected Africa with Europe, accessed the Mediterranean Sea, and most importantly was a gift of God to Israel.

God sets the property apart and proclaims “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great.” Gen. 12:2.

The Hebrew’s are God’s covenant couriers to all the world.  Humanity’s story of redemption would be written here. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, sacrifices at the Temple, prophecies of the prophets, the Messiah, will all occur on this land. The Redeemer of all humanity, Jesus Christ, would be born, walk, live and die here. He would be resurrected here too.

The Book of Joshua is not Just about claiming land, it is about setting a stage fro God's redemption plan for all humanity.  Satan has a counter strategy.  Contaminate the Promised Land, and preempt the Promised Child, and Destroy God's people and God's work.  Don't let them remember what God has done for them.  Joshua's battle is spiritual.  Hear this text from the New Testament (Ephesians 6: 12-16.) NIV

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Just saying Satan, or the Devil now days, makes some people  say, “Step into modern times. This devil, Satan stuff is just literary metaphor. It is foisting a convenient name off on the boogeyman of your own conscience.  Or its genetics, bad behavior, lousy government or environment.”

Yet the Bible says the real and present foe of our faith is Satan. Or the devil, Beelzebub, Belial, the obstructer, the tempter, the evil one, the prince of demons, the prince of the power, or of the air.  But he is real and active.

Satan is not a counterpart to the Easter bunny or a cartoon character. Evil exists in our world, and he is an invisible fallen angel Lucifer, who aspired, desired the high place only God could occupy. He rebelled and disobeyed and was thrown out of heaven, and would like each of you to do likewise.

Scripture tells us Satan incited David, persuaded Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus, kept a woman bound for 18 years, blinds the minds of those who do not believe, and has one objective, “to steal, kill and to destroy.” John 10:19.

Even Jesus the Christ who we know to be real, to be true, to be God, confronted Satan. Hear these words from John 8:44 speaking about the devil,” He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Hear from Luke’s Gospel 3:1-2,  Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”  Verse 12 states,   Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’]13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” 

Meaning that he prowls around, waiting to speak words of deceit, or hate, or doubt to us in weak moments.

This talk about you acknowledging the Promised Land, and Glory Days makes you a target. Whenever you do a good thing for another in Jesus’ name, you climb higher on the list. Walking in faith, leaning on grace, hearing God’s voice more, and the devil’s less, makes you a target.  Satan could care less about your living in the wilderness. You pose no threat. 

But when you accept Jesus, work for him, think of the Christ daily?  Welcome to my world folks. Welcome to enemy territory. 1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The Joshua text says that 40,000 troops were ready for battle to rush and attack Jericho. But God stopped them and said, “Remember what I have done for you. Remember who you belong to. Remember WHOSE you are!”

God commands one member from each tribe to take a rock from the Jordan, and pile them up to recall what God had done for the Hebrew people.  God is saying, “The secret to survival in enemy territory is to remember God, and to stack up the stones that God has blessed you with.” Set the doubt aside. Focus on God.

A member from Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin, each carried a Jordan River rock and placed it so that others might see and remember what God had done for the Hebrews .

How easy it is to forget, instead of remember, that you have work, family, a vehicle,  friends, or health care, and  knowledge and a  relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life.  We should each create a trophy room in our hearts to recall what God has done for us. But frequently we hear the subtle voice of the evil one saying, “ don’t expect any thing good. You don’t deserve it. You can achieve no more. Just settle for what you have.”

Piling up rocks, the act of male circumcision, We ask , “why, what for?” 600 years earlier God told Abraham, “circumcision is a sign of the covenant, you belong to me, and I to you in covenant.” You are not like the pagans, you are different.

This is an act of identity. Like when we are baptized, we become a new creation, with the circumcision of our hearts, we are water washed and Spirit born into Jesus Christ.  In a sense all believers in Christ have been spiritually circumcised and set free from evil desires.

Christ cuts away our old life, he has severed any ties we used to have from the power of sin and death. Your former self is gone, you are not the same person you were in your old life. You were buried with Christ, and raised with Christ.

As Promised Land people, when we see that we are a new creation,  we become God’s child, Christ’s friend, a member of Christ’s body, a saint, redeemed and forgiven for our sins. We become a coworker with God, a citizen of heaven, and are adopted into God’s family.

As Christian’s we stand up to the evil one, we give him no quarter. We don’t cower at his attacks. When the past is dredged up, speak who you are. You are a child of the Living redeeming God. You belong to Christ, not to the powers of evil.

 “I have been bought with a price and belong to God.” (1 Cor. 6:20)

We all face trials and difficulties in each of our lives.  This is a part of life, and God’s Promised Land people know that they will be challenged. Our tactic is not to fall back and say, “I need to blame someone and I blame God.”

Each of you who is a faithful follower of the King of Kings, the Lord of Hosts, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the gift of the father’s unfailing grace, each of us, serves as a beacon, as a milepost, as a rock marker to others who come after us, who walk beside us, who see you, even if you are unaware of them.

Your actions and words, point the way for those who may be wavering in their faith. Your words and actions, serve as a clear marker for those who may be traveling through wilderness times right now.

God calls to each of us and says, remember whose you are, you belong to me, and I belong to you.

Remember people of God, what God has done for you. Remember in your hearts, and live your life out in a way, that serves as a sign post for others that proclaims, “I am NOT who I used to be before I knew Christ. Now, I am God’s child. “

Remember whose you are, and then you will be prepared to face Jericho.  In the name of Jesus the Christ we pray.  Amen.