Part of our Christian experience is learning how to recognize the enemy and how to deal with him. God’s people need to be more offensive and less defensive. Defense is when we wait for somebody to attack us, then all of a sudden we throw up a shield and worry about what we are going to do. We have to be warriors. We need to be offensive with our attack on the enemy by presenting the truth. We should not wait for him to attack the truth and tear things all apart. We must march onward and forward.
“Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal.” Joshua 8:30. Already there was trouble in the land, because something good was about to happen. Joshua said, “Let us build an altar unto the Lord; let us do something for the Lord; let us show honor and glory to the Lord.” This was one of the rare occasions when Israel said, “All right, let us just do it.” When you get people together who say let us do something for God, great things can and will happen.
“And all Israel, and their elders [notice who is involved here], and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them . . . .” Verse 33.
That tells me that everybody was involved. Joshua said, “We are going to build an altar unto the Lord” and all of Israel said, “Okay.” That meant the elders and the priests. Today it would mean everybody in the church—men, women and children.
Why did they come together? “That they should bless the people of Israel.” Ibid. They got together to build that altar because there was a blessing in the making.
Seek the Blessing
“And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.” Verses 34, 35. Everybody was included. Even if you were a stranger, as it were, one who just walked along with Israel, whether you were just along for the ride or not, you got involved!
God gives us so much truth today, but many choose to read only part of it or choose to live only part of it. We are not willing to go all the way with the Lord. When Joshua read from the book, he read everything; he did not leave out anything. He challenged the people. What a challenge it is for us in Adventism today, in our Christian walk. Many times we are receiving only half of the message, watered down theology, not the whole truth.
All of Israel came together in a unification effort, a joining together for joint power. Somehow, we find it difficult to find real unity in the Christian world today.
We know that we are never to unify on wrong principles, but sometimes we think it might be all right to do so. It is not! Joshua read everything that was to be read, and he challenged the people to take a stand on what was read, because it said a blessing was coming. Let me tell you, we need that blessing! There are blessings now and there are blessings that are coming—but only for those who listen and heed and do what is written in the law of the Lord. There will be a curse for those who do not.
Water for the Thirsty
God was ready to pour His Spirit out upon these people as they came together and said, “Let us do something for God; let us put up an altar.” God’s people today need to join together to do something for God, to get out the Three Angels’ Messages. It is going to take a united effort of all of God’s people to accomplish this. This may be the hour to which God has called all of us. We need to make a commitment before the Lord. We need to pray that hearts and minds will be open to do God’s work.
The Bible says that the gospel has to go into all of the world. What power there would be in a prayerful, united effort to spread the gospel message! Then Jesus could come! We should use every avenue that God gives us to do this.
Satan says, “No!”
The Lord is looking for Joshuas, for leadership. He is looking for laity, for you and for me, to say we will do our part, by the grace of God.
The blessings are going to come! The women, it said in Joshua 8, came; the little children came together; the stranger was there. Everybody needed to hear what Joshua had to say. Everybody needed to be blessed. Oh, dear friends remember this: when everybody says “Yes,” the enemy says “No, it is not going to happen.” But, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.
The devil is a smoke screen artist. That is all he does. Just hold your breath a little bit and walk on through his smoke; that is all you have to do. Do not worry about it; he cannot stop the movement of God. Oh, he is going to act like he is going to do just that and that is enough for some people, but it should not be enough for us. It is not enough for those who are really honest, true, and faithful.
God Will Supply our Need
Circumstances will never stop God’s people, and we need to quit reasoning as the world reasons about outreach for Jesus and move forward in faith. He has already commissioned us to go into all of the world. He has already invited us to go; He has begged us; He has pleaded with us. Certainly He has supplied all that is necessary. If He tells us to go some place, He will absolutely supply all of our needs.
Now, remember the people of God said, “Let us do it! Let us build an altar.” In other words, let us give praise to God; let us remember who God is; let us do things the way God wants it done.
The devil is going to be on the attack. Since we already know that, we should have a plan to defeat him. Joshua 9:1, 2 tells us: “And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof . . . .” Here we go! All of a sudden, because God’s people began to show some action, everybody around them got uptight. God’s people made a commitment, and they were on the move, and the surrounding nations got mad about it. “They gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua [against him, not beside him] and Israel, with one accord.”
Joshua and the leadership of God had just conquered Jericho and Ai. These were tremendous battles, and they just routed the enemy, so everybody was certain they knew what was going to happen. They thought, God’s people are moving forward, so we are going to have to do something here.
Uplifting the Law of God
And then Israel had the boldness, in the face of all the nations, to make a startling pronunciation. They said something like, “We are pronouncing that we are going to uplift the law of Jehovah in all the land of Canaan.” They had the nerve, the audacity, to lift up the law of Jehovah! Is not that something that God is asking us to do, to lift up His downtrodden law and show it to the world? This is it exactly!
It is not just to Joshua of old, but God has reached down to men and women today. He says, “Lift up; elevate the law of Jehovah.” Israel said, “Yes, what the Lord has said we are going to do.” Israel intended to be the sole ruler of Canaan, and the law of God was going to be that which would be elevated for the world to see.
It scared the rest of the nations! The other six nations thought, “Oh, no, we are in trouble.”
We Know the Victor
Do you know what the devil would say today if we really united? The same thing! “Oh, no, I am in trouble.” The devil does not have a plan to fight the unity of God’s people and the power of God together. So he uses the divide and conquer method. Yet we still try to stay aloof and separate. Do we join a group over here just to have unity? No, the right principle has to be there. We cannot unite upon wrong principles. This is what Joshua was saying. He did not leave out a word. He never bypassed a thing. He said, “This is the way it is going to be,” and all Israel said, “Yes, God’s people are taking over the world.”
We go around moping today because we are such a small minority. I do not know how we are going to accomplish the work. It just seems that this work is never going to get done; yet we know who wins the battle, do we not? We know how it is going to be won. How wonderful to be able to do God’s work, by faith to look through the time frame, and say, “Here is the winner!” It is a sure thing; it is not a gamble!
The gamblers of our society would like to have a sure bet such as that—to be able to look into the future and know who is going to win the race. Amazing! They would give everything they ever had, or ever touched in their lives, for that sure thing, and many of us are not willing to give time, means, energy, or talents to tell them!
Israel had a sure thing, and we have a sure thing, also. We know who is going to win; we know the final score.
These six nations of Canaan came together, and the Bible tells us that they came in one accord. (See Joshua 9:2.) Six different nations, different because they were at odds with each other; that is why they were not together under one rulership. Six nations, not counting Gibeon, who did not like each other, came together in one accord, but notice whom they were against. They were against God’s people. They fought among themselves. They were separate nations, because they could not get along. Like so many denominations today who do not agree, when it comes to God’s people uniting and lifting up the law of Jehovah, all the denominations, all the nations of the world, will come together against you.
Are we seeing these kinds of things taking place today? Yes, we are. Everybody disagrees, and they cannot get along with anyone, until someone comes along to give a Bible study, to lift up the truth as it is in Jesus. Then they put aside their differences to make sure they eliminate the ones teaching truth. That is what happens. That is what happened in Israel.
These six nations had hatred for one another. No doubt family members and others had been killed as they all went into battle and separated. But these pagan nations put aside the hate and the differences in order to attack God’s people and try to eliminate them.
What God Has Said, We Will Do!
The book of Revelation tells us that everybody is going to go against God’s last day people, too. Do we understand that this is going to happen? It sounds so brutal to some of us, but as we read Scripture, we are in awe as we see these things taking place.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.” “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Revelation 13:16, 15.
Look at the parallel. The whole world is going to unite against the true and faithful of God in the last days. They are going to put aside their differences. You see denominations coming together today in the religious world. They do not believe the same, but they are all coming together. What do you think the purpose of that might be? It is to fulfill prophecy. We are going to see it.
They are going to put aside their prejudice, their dislikes, their doctrinal beliefs, to come against a people who are bold enough to say, “What God has said, we will do. By the grace of God we will lift up the law of Jehovah.” As we just read in Revelation, it says that God’s people should be killed. What an awesome thought that is for us today. It seems impossible that we are walking in some of the footprints of ancient Israel. We will go through some of the same things.
Joining in a Common Cause
So these nations came in one accord. They put their minds and powers together, and they put all differences aside. “These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.” Revelation 17:13. There is the parallel! They come together, put all their strength and power together, and their one sole purpose is to eliminate God’s last day people from the planet.
I am not so blind as to know that God’s last day people, those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus (Revelation 12:17), are not of a particular name or denomination, even though some of us like to think along those lines. If it is not in the Scripture, dear friends, do not be projecting that this is what God means. Since when do we know more than God? We are not to add nor subtract from what God says.
As we come to the end of time on this earth, we are going to see the political and the religious groups joining together against the true remnant, against those who love Jesus with all their hearts.
God Makes No Mistakes
There are those who are not safe to be saved in God’s kingdom, those who are not willing to obey Him now. If we are not willing to obey Him now, we will not obey Him in heaven. If we will not obey Him now, we are not safe to take to heaven, and we will not be there. Are you obeying God now with everything that is in your mind and in your heart that you know to be truth? If you are not, you are not safe to be saved in God’s kingdom. God is not going to make a mistake.
Let us consider Joshua 9. Here is where the Gibeonites come into the story. Evidently they were the only thinking nation around. As God’s people conquered nations, God had them get rid of all the surrounding nations. God did not want His people in close proximity to the heathen, to people who would teach them bad things. Although God loves every individual, pagan or heathen, whether they think about Him or not, He knew that some of the filth of the heathen would rub off on His people just by being in close proximity.
So as they conquered the nations, God said, “Kill them all, men, women and children.” Does that sound brutal? I guess it would, compared to the way we think today. We are not willing, today, to separate from a friend, just one person. We are not willing to stay away from things that we know are not good for us. This is the way the children of Israel were, too, but God made it very clear how He feels about these issues.
The other nations knew that, too. Israel was coming off the success of their battles, and the surrounding nations were scared, because they knew what the God of heaven had commissioned Israel to do. They knew that they were next on the list, and they had to be on the offensive. They were going to have to attack and kill God’s people before they were attacked and killed.
It did not have to be that way, as we learn from the nation of Gibeon, who put on their thinking caps. They knew a lot about the God of heaven. Someone had been witnessing, and the message was getting out to every nation. So when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, they went to work.
They knew that they were going to be killed. How did they know it? They knew how Israel was set up and what was going to take place. All of their “Adventist” friends were passing on the information. Everybody knew what was happening.
Today, if we in Adventism were standing for what is right and doing what we are supposed to be doing, the nations of the world would quiver and shake at the thought of us, also. Jehovah God leads these people, they would say. These people are going through. These people move forward; God moves everything out of the way for them. There is nothing that can happen to these people.
When God said to take a nation, He told Joshua, “We are going into battle and not one of your men will be hurt. Every one of them will come back. There will not be a scratch on them. They will do hand-to-hand combat; there will be hailstones coming out of the heavens; people will be killed all over the place; people will be running for their lives; it is going to be a horrible scene and a horrible sight.” We might think that surely one of God’s people would have fallen and twisted an ankle or one of them would have hurt a hand, but not a one of them was hurt. Tell me the God of heaven is not working on behalf of His children! When He gives you your marching orders, you know that He is going to be preparing the way.
Here Gibeon is thinking, we have seen what happened to Jericho; we have seen the God that they serve; look what they did to Ai! (See Joshua 6; 8:1–29.) We do not want to end up like that. But they also knew that the heathen nations close to them would be killed. They were only about three miles away. They knew they were about to become extinct.
Friends, if we do not get it right, we are going to be put out of existence. I do not like the way Gibeon went about this deceit and fraud, but they had a plan. They were more prepared than are some of us. We do not have a plan. We wait until the bottom falls out, then we start looking around. If you know the bottom is going to fall out, and you are going to end up somewhere in the pit, you had better get yourself a ladder or a rope. We wait until we get down there in that mess and then all of a sudden we start asking, “Where is the rope? Where is the ladder?” The Lord says, “I am not going to save you, because you knew what was going to happen. You should have been prepared before, by faith.”
Now, if you travel a long distance by foot, and you are a long way from Israel, your shoes are going to be a little dirty, right? So the men of Gibeon began to prepare. They put old shoes on their feet, and the Bible says that they got moldy bread, as proof that they had come a long distance.
When they were questioned, they said they had traveled a long way. “Look at our shoes; look at our wine bottles; this is our bread. Look at it, we started out with fresh bread,” they lied, “now this has mold all over it.” Joshua 9:12, 13.
Almost impulsively the children of Israel said, “We will make a treaty with you.” When the children of Israel gave their word to make a treaty, God held them to their word. When you give your word, you have to keep your word, even when you find you made a mistake.
We Have Heard of Your God
The Gibeon people came to Joshua and said, “We are your servants. We submit to you.” It is very difficult to be angry with someone when they tell you they are there to serve you. There is nothing to beat down, nothing to win in battle; they are ready for service.
“And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of Him, and all that He did in Egypt.” Verse 9.
Friends, I wonder today, since we are Seventh-day Adventist Christians and people who love Jesus, when someone mentions the God that we serve, what do people think about Him? These heathens had heard about God. They knew who He was. If someone sees you as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian today, what do they see? They should see something in you! They should know that something is working inside of you, so they would say, “I may not understand all that you are talking about, but I know the Spirit of God is inside of you!”
Verse 11 continues: “Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us [as they came together from their nation], saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us.” Come together, you see, let us sign a pact; let us sign an agreement, so later you cannot turn around and kill us. The Gibeons did not want to be killed.
Under the Death Decree
I want you to notice that some things began to happen. Verse 15 simply says, “And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live.” They knew that without this pact they were going to die, because they had seen and experienced and heard about the power of God.
Many more people would accept our message today, the message that we have to give, if they understood that there is power in what is being said. If power were accompanying what is coming out of our mouths, being lived out in our lives, the world would take notice!
These people said they wanted to live, and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. Three days later they found out who the Gibeonites really were. It took three days for Joshua to discover that he had been lied to by this nation! (Verse 16.) Of course, Israel got a little uptight about it, and they started to murmur.
The Bible says, in verses 18 and 19, “And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them.” Why? Because they signed an agreement.
Servants You Will Be
Notice what instructions the God of heaven tells Joshua to give to the people of Gibeon: “You may live because we signed this contract, this peace agreement. But your nation will go get water for us, and you will cut our wood for us as long as you live here.” (Verse 23.) Why? Because they gained, as it were, their birth rights by deceit.
They could have come there and said, “We now understand the power of the God that you serve.” I believe that God and Joshua would have been just, if they had only come in plain truth and said, “We have had a change of heart. We want to serve the same God that you serve. Yes, we live next door, and we know that we should die. We know that if you make war against us, we all are going to die and you are all going to live. We want to live.” But they did not do that. They gained life by deceit, and because they did, they were in servitude to Israel for the rest of their generations.
Perfect Freedom in Servitude
God wants us to have freedom of movement, freedom of thought and of action in the world today. We should know God’s Word and implement the knowledge in it with great freedom and ease, not with the idea that we are serving a God who has us under His thumb! That is the way some people go around, but they have not been born again. A reformation has not taken place in their lives, if that is the way they feel today.
Every time Israel did exactly the way God asked them to do in dealing with the nations around them, they were more than conquerors. If we do exactly what God says to do, we will also be able to handle what confronts us.
Gibeon was now under a peace treaty, so what happened? When these other nations, who were ready to make war, heard about Gibeon becoming turncoats, they said, “Let us get rid of them. They have turned to Israel for help, now let us go kill them.” So Gibeon ran to Joshua.
“The inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city . . . .” Joshua 10:1, 2.
These other nations were tight, because Gibeon was a big place “and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.” Verse 2. They knew what happened to Ai. They knew what happened to Jericho, and Gibeon was even greater than that and had more men of war. They said, “Man, they have joined with Israel, now we are going to be conquered; we are going to have to get rid of them.”
A Peculiar People
Verse 4 simply tells us, “Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.”
Friends, what happens when you really unite together? Persecution comes! Has just the thought of persecution,—not being liked, being rejected,—maybe prevented some of us from doing what we should be doing?
Satan puts in our hearts and our minds the thought that we have to be loved by everybody. Why is it that we have such a desire to be liked and to be loved by every person? It might be a nice desire, but how do we deal with it when we see that it is not a reality? It is not going to happen, because we are different. We must be different! So different that people can see the difference in us as we go about our daily lives.
Gibeon was smart enough to go to Joshua and say, “Look this is going to be brutal here. There is going to be a fight. Please come and help us.” Verse 6 tells us, “And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp of Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants . . . .”
God’s plan was that when anyone comes to Him, they are grafted into the family of God. We are promised that we are to receive the promises and everything just exactly like the bloodline. Gibeon came in. If they had come in the right way, they could have received all of the blessings that God was giving Israel. They could have accepted His bounties. That is what God wants for all of us.
We have to understand the ways God has in His Word for us. They simply said, “Help us, we need help,” “For all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.” Verse 6. Do you think that Joshua was thinking, “I really wonder if we should even sacrifice our men to go down since these people came to us and deceived us. They have lied to us, should we even bother?” But the Lord intervened. He came to Joshua and told him to go, so Joshua would know exactly what to do. (See Verse 8.)
Friends, when you are going down a road and you do not know what to do, go to God. It is good to get counsel from a brother, but go to God and talk to Him about it first. You labor on it with God. Get your Bible, open it up, and begin to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to what you need to read.
Get out the inspirational books and pray to God to show you what you need to know. Certainly, you can call a brother and tell them that you are at the crossroads and you need some help. You may ask them what is their advice. Ask them to pray with you on the issues. If, in that crossroad, you really want to know and to do God’s will, He will manifest Himself to you. He will show you a plain path; He will tell you what to do.
Joshua was not just a special pick. He was not somebody different from you or me. He was a man, who served God, who loved God, so he heard from God. “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not.” I like this. Here all these nations are going to come against Israel, who are not even trained to fight. Yes, they have won battles, but only because God fought the battles for them. And now God tells Joshua to not worry about them: “Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.” Verse 8.
Stepping Out in Faith
Everyone who came against God’s people was going to die, and not a one of God’s children would be hurt. Do we believe the promises of God? Do we think Joshua had to exercise faith here? Sure he had to exercise faith. God does not move into action without it. It is not possible. So even though he was a man of God and the Lord spoke to him, he had to exercise faith to know that God could be trusted.
Do you believe God can impress you? Does God speak to your heart? We are embarrassed sometimes to say we believe God has spoken to our heart, because our brethren ask what God said. Then, depending on what we say and their understanding of the Scriptures, they might question whether God spoke to us or whether it was the enemy. The only way to know is to go to Scripture.
God told Joshua to just go out and not to worry, because He was going to deliver the children of Israel. God says that to you and to me today. The battle has already been won. It is finished! He knew how it was going to turn out, if they would just follow Him. Do you know how it is going to turn out? Do you really know who is going to be victorious? Yes, you do! Now all you have to do is go forward by faith. Do not look to the right; do not look to the left. Just as Jesus had to be about His Father’s business, we will be about it also. Men of power today, dear friends, are men of prayer.
The Lord is speaking to us today, as He spoke to Joshua back then, the very same way—giving us messages that bring comfort to our hearts. Our minds can know that we are not alone in this battle. The angels of God are with us. The power of the Spirit is with us, and He will see us through to the end.