JOSHUA: The Type of Commander Required for Conquering Land and Gaining Ground
‘Moses my servant is dead. Therefore the time has come for you to lead these people into the Promise Land’ -Joshua 1
Moses type leadership will not lead us into the Promise Land, but Joshua-types will! This is one of the issues I’ve encountered as I’ve travelled. There are Moses types who will prophesy about what needs to be done, but they do so from the position of having been in Egypt and fitted for the desert as Desert Guides. They call people out of worldly systems and into the desert but are not the type of leaders that can take the next generation of warriors to conquer new ground…
The next generation are looking for Joshua-types…
‘They answered Joshua, “We will do whatever you command us, and we will go wherever you send us. We will obey you just as we obeyed Moses. And may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your orders and does not obey your words and everything you command will be put to death. Be strong and courageous!’ (Joshua 1:16-18)
ACACIA GROVE: Courage is the Condition for Conquest
The first place the Israelites camped under Joshua was Acacia Grove. They camped here BEFORE they crossed the Jordan to conquer territory! Acacia means ‘thorny’ and was the type of wood Noah’s Ark and the fittings of the Tabernacle were made from. It’s at Acacia that we have the opportunity to turn our ‘thorny’ ground into focused and courageous ground (see Mark 4 and the Parable of the Soils). Thorny Soil disciples cannot conquer the Promise Land as the seed of the Kingdom that’s necessary to conquer gets choked out by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth. Our comfort has to be chopped down and made into a vessel that can rescue others…
GILGAL: The Mission Base for Conquering the Land
Gilgal was the first place Israel camped after crossing the River Jordan (a symbol of baptism) and became the strategic Mission Base for their operation in the conquest of the Promise Land. Gilgal means ‘rolled away’ as the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ (Joshua 5:8-9). It was at this place that Joshua circumcised all the sons of Israel (‘rolled away’). This 2nd generation did not die in the wilderness for their disobedience like their parents had done. This was a new generation and their shame and reproach had been rolled away! They were now ready to be the fighting force necessary to conquer the land!
JERICHO: The Luke 10 Prototype
Before engaging the first major battle for the West, Joshua sent out two spies ahead to the area surrounding Jericho to Spy the Land (reminiscent of Luke 10)
They found the House of Peace in the Walls of Jericho belonging to Rahab the Prostitute. She welcomed them and even hid them when the King of Jericho came looking for them. Rahab’s oikos included her mother and father, brothers and sisters, their families and all her relatives. In the ensuing battle of Jericho- all of her family were to be saved whilst the rest of the city and it’s inhabitants were to be destroyed! She just needed to keep her word and not betray the spies and hang a scarlet rope out of her window so the armies of Israel would know not to touch her household! Her statement to the spies from Israel is interesting: ‘I know the LORD has given you this land,’ she told them
The spies returned to the base with a good report; ‘The LORD has given us the whole land for all the people in the land are terrified of us’
When the armies of Israel arrived outside Jericho, the gates of the city were tightly shut- everyone was afraid of Israel. But the LORD said to Joshua;
‘I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors’. God gives Joshua a strategy for defeating the strongholds of that fortified city. They marched around the town once a day for six days and on the seventh day, march around the walls 7 times blowing rams horns. On the last long blast of the horns the walls would collapse and the people could charge straight into the town.
However, The LORD also commanded them, ‘Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you will be completely destroyed and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze or iron is sacred to the LORD and must be brought into his treasury. Everything else must be destroyed’
As they followed the LORD’s unusual battle strategy, they were able to conquer Jericho and ‘So the LORD was with Joshua, and his reputation spread throughout the land’ (Joshua 6:27)
AI: A Warning for Pioneer Mission Team Members
FIRST TROUBLE- After the victory in Jericho they must have been elated! However, in their next battle at Ai they hit some major trouble! During the battle for Jericho where everything was supposed to be burnt except the gold, silver, bronze and iron that was meant to be set apart for the Lord’s house, a man named Achan (meaning trouble) stole stuff that didn’t belong to him.
Ai means three-toed sloth…be careful the kind of people you admit onto a Pioneer Mission Team…There will always be Achan-types looking for position and power. They are trouble. They promise much but deliver little. They not only take what doesn’t belong to them, they also lie about it…[see Joshua 7:11-12]. The result of this betrayal: the whole household was condemned to death in the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7:26)
THEN VICTORY- after the first defeat in the Battle of Ai due to the sin of Achan the Lord spoke to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all the fighting men and attack Ai and you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king’ (Joshua 8:2)
They now did EVERYTHING the Lord had instructed and ‘So the entire population of Ai, including men and women, was wiped out that day- 12,000 in all. For Joshua kept holding out his spear until everyone who had lived in Ai was completely destroyed’ (Joshua 8:25-26)
‘Joshua buried Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening. And at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day’ (Joshua 8:28-29)
COVENANT+KINGDOM: After Trouble Causers are Removed, The Covenant is Renewed
Before they could move on to conquer the next territory (Gibeon), due to the disobedience of Achan and his family, the Israelites had to pause to renew the LORD’s covenant.
Mike Breen writes of this dual dynamic in his book Covenant+Kingdom, the double-helix that runs throughout the Bible of Relationship+Responsibility. Israel had taken responsibility for attacking Ai (Kingdom) but reneged on the relational aspect- disobeying God and lying about it to others (Covenant)
In renewing the covenant, Joshua built an altar to the LORD on Mount Ebal and divided the whole of Israel into 2 groups with 2 miles distance running between them. Half the people stood on Mount Ebal (curses) and Half the people stood on Mount Gerazim (blessings). The priests stood in the middle and Joshua recited all the blessings and curses Moses had written in his Book of Instruction and so the Covenant was renewed. (Joshua 8:30-35).
This is a reminder that in catalysing Church Planting Movements it’s not only a matter of strategic plans and tools (kingdom) it’s also a matter of right relationships between God and each other. It’s not just what we do, it’s a matter of who we are. What type of people are we?
STRONGHOLDS: All the Kings of the West of the Jordan River
Every king Joshua fought in his conquest of the Promise Land is a picture of the principalities, powers, rulers, spiritual forces of this dark age in the heavenly places that we are now to wage war against.
After the battle of Ai, 5 kings came together to attack Israel. But Joshua defeated them all. The 5 kings fled and hid in a cave, Joshua instructed his forces to ‘Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and set men by it to guard them,’ and afterward Joshua struck them down and put them to death hanging them on 5 trees.
Next Joshua fought against the king of Libnah ‘and he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho’ (Joshua 10:30). Then Joshua and Israel attacked more kings, ‘Just as he had done to Hebron and to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and its king’
So every king that Joshua defeated he hung on a tree, took him down at evening, and then buried him under stones that are there to this day.
Does this remind you of anyone?
Jesus, the King, hung on a tree, taken down in the evening, buried in a cave, but the stone was rolled away (Galatians 3:3)
Like all the kings in Joshua, Jesus was hung on a tree, taken down in the evening and buried behind a stone (Matt 27:57-58, Mark 15:45, Luke 24:1-3). Unlike every other king, Jesus triumphed over his enemies. Now, all of his enemies have been placed under his feet. (Romans 6:4-11)
May this help you fight the LORD’s battles as we progress together in Mission Britain