Lessons from the Book of Joshua
Joshua 24:13 … multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac …
Okay, as I was saying before I got sidetracked by a side note, I never saw this before but thank God I see it now and more importantly, thank God for the lesson I learned from it.
I, perhaps you too, used to think that because the manifestation of the promises of God was Isaac first then the vast nation of Israel, occupation of the promised land and, even further, the numberless children of faith … I used to think that was the order in which God made the promises to Abraham and that they manifested for us to see in that order because that was the order in which the Patriarch believed and thus received them; but boy, that is sooo incorrect … so incorrect. Believe me, I had to read through the journey of Abraham’s faith again to be sure.
Here is the correct sequence of things.
Genesis 12:3b … in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
This refers to Jesus Christ who was born through Abraham’s bloodline and by whom, through faith, all families of the earth are saved and connected back to eternal life. Abraham must have believed God because he moved at God’s invitation.
Genesis 13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
God promised Abraham the land he was then looking at and Abraham must have believed because, once again, he moved through the land at God’s invitation.
Genesis 15:4 … he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
Both Abraham and Sarah concluded that it referred only to Abraham having a child and so they made their own move which, not surprisingly, yielded quick results. Our way always seems quicker because we always have to wait on the Lord with faith and patience for His own promises to deliver in His own way.
So, God cleared things up, washed Abraham’s eyes with a second touch when he said,
Genesis 17:16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be [a mother] of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
Genesis 17:17 Then Abraham fell upon hisface, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall [a child] be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
This was the first time some components of the promises God had been making dawned on Abraham because he fell down laughing. We often give Sarah a tough rap for laughing but Abraham fell over in laughter.
Anyway, later God showed up and washed Sarah’s eyes a second time with his promise and she laughed because it was the first time she considered it was still possible.
Genesis 18:12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have [sexual] pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
Well, she and her husband eventually got along with God’s program within a space ofthree months. I say three months because a year from that day, Isaac was born.
So that was the sequence of promises made and promises believed. However, in the sequence of manifestation of those promises was in the opposite order. Isaac was born, then his people multiplied, then they occupied the land and now, all the nations of the earth have been blessed through the spiritual seed, Jesus Christ, and the number of Christians alive on earth and in heaven is as the sands that cover the earth.
The lessons I have thus learnt include the following:
First lesson: Once one has believed, truly believed God’s promise and word over a particular thing, it has come into reality already at that same moment, even if it is not yet visible. The fact that God respects the flow and process of time doesn’t mean the receiver has not believed God.
The invisibility of a thing does not take away from its reality except for those who do not have the first of the six senses we have called faith and quite often, even those who do live by faith may not see this invisible thing because they were not involved in that transaction with God that the primary receiver was. Therefore, no one can believe God for you like you; stop waiting for a faith club to determine what you can or cannot receive from God. And on the other hand, don’t try to claim to be in faith like someone else is when you have not received the word that that person has received. You can’t copy faith.
Second lesson: I have often said that doubt is impossible without faith. If we know what faith truly is, then we would realize how true that statement is. Faith is born once a man has believed what God said, as we have seen in the foregoing; we know that now. Well, I also know that it is the typical way of the devil to come with a doubt sowing concept after a faith growing word has been received.
See, if I may share on the devil briefly, I have to point out that that Satan is not an originator or creator of anything; nothing ever starts with him; he is merely a twister, corrupter and thief of what already existed. Quite often, he steps in close to the beginning of the origin of a thing and corrupts it so that with the passage of a little time, one is persuaded by history that things have always been that particular way. But only God knows how things were in the beginning. That’s why Jesus could say “In the beginning, it was not so.” (Matthew 9:18b).
For example, the devil tempted Eve based on what she had previously heard and received as an instruction from God. Prior to receiving that instruction, there was no temptation. In the same way, it was after the declaration, by God, that Jesus was His much beloved son that Satan came around to ask Jesus to “turn these stones to bread if you are the sonof God”.
So, every time we receive a word from God, Satan comes around to harass us and most times we don’t realize what he is after. His coming is always … always after we have received a word and his objective is to either snatch up that word before we understand it (steal), cause us to get offended over the stand the word makes us take (kill) or render it unproductive by many and varied distractions (destroy). Please read the Parable Of The Sower in Mark 4:14-20 and you will see that every negative thing that happened came after the incidence of the word and came specifically against the heart that the word was sown in. He cannot come against the word and survive, he knows that but he can come against us for the sake of the word. Why does he do this?
1Timothy 1:18-19 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck
It is because that very specific word we received, the Rhema, is what we needed at that particular time to conquer the difficult situation he would rather we remain in. His aim is for us to drop that weapon so he can knock us out. But if we hold on to that same word, we will, with it, knock him out.
Now, back to Abraham. If we apply what we have just discussed, we will see that the reason some of Abraham’s problems arose was that he started believing God. Once he did, he got tempted. Examples?
Genesis 12:7-10 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, [having] Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south. And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine [was] grievous in the land.
How come there was famine only in the land God promised to give to Abram?
Genesis 15:3-6 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD [came] unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
And what happened next?Genesis 16:2-4 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.
The point is faith attracts doubt because the devil must come to try that faith; you can’t have a test of faith unless there is a faith to be tested. The fact that you are going through a hard time right now on the way to your promised land does not mean you have no faith; you’re simply being tested. If however, you examined yourself to see whether you’re still in the faith and you found out that you’ve exchanged the faith from God for the doubt from the devil, then thepresence of the doubt proves there once was faith; make the switch. You can get back to the faith building Rhema again … like you first believed, and if you’re having problems finding that faith again, get back to where you got that Rhema from – the presence of God.
Third lesson: God always helps our journey of faith with tokens of the covenant He has made with us in the form of some promise manifestly fulfilled. We refer to them as testimonies of God’s faithfulness and such testimonies seriously came in handy for Sarah. (Hebrews 11:11)
The birth of Isaac was a token ahead of the coming multiplied seed who would inherit the land, birth the savior and bless the earth.
Looking at it all, God set the big picture before his man, Abraham … a grand view of a grand scheme of a pursuit that was more than life long – a sort of long term goal. But then, he followed up with things that would benefit the man directly and then his immediate descendants – a sort of short and intermediate term set of goals. This way, while the man worked to fulfill the grand design, he didn’t forget what was in it for him personally and anytime his focus drifted to focusing on his personal benefit, it didn’t hurt the big picture because his personal benefit was part and parcel of the big picture and fulfilling his personal dreams assured him that the big picture was as real to God as his own dreams of having a son was real to him.
So, whether in terms of nation building or leading a smaller group of people, the lesson for you, and I, is that you learn how to set your big picture of the grand design and vision before the people from the onset. But then you must realize that it is equally important to make your people see what’s in the big picture for them; help them see that their big dreams are integral to the grand design and, that way, they can get to work either from the point of view of fulfilling a grand design while they fulfill their hopes along the way or they draw their motivation from pursuing their own goals within the larger design realizing that as their goals get met, the grand design is being fulfilled at the same time.
Very importantly too, make sure you generate results along the way to serve as tokens of promises yet to be fulfilled to maintain the confidence of your people in the existing arrangement.
And if you happen to be a team member, find how your personal goals in life help drive the corporate objective or the other way around and you will never lack drive and job fulfillment.