Joshua 9: The World, The Flesh and The Devil
So far in the previous chapters, we have come to understand the following:
- Joshua is a type of Jesus.
- Jericho represents the world
- Ai represents the flesh, our old sinful nature.
So in today’s lesson, you will not be surprised to learn we will see a representation of the devil. And he will be portrayed in one of the most effective ways in which he operates.
The enemy of the believer is the devil, Satan. He is referred to as the prince of power of the air. John writes the whole world lies under the influence of his evil. So our trifecta of enemies is complete- the world, the flesh and the devil. Which is usually the way we refer to this trio- with our flesh, our old nature, in the middle. This positioning of our old nature in the middle is really a picture of our position as it is the world and the devil which has put our old nature in-between in order to conform us, squeeze us and mold us into its thinking.
He is our adversary. He goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy. He originally showed up appearing as an upright serpent, described as more cunning than any beast of the field. He can appear as an angel of light. He is a tempter, he is the father of all lies, he is an accuser, and he is a deceiver. Ephesians 6 speaks of the ‘wiles of the devil.’ He is a thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to keep us from the abundant life which Jesus provides to the believer. He has been and continues to deceive millions to this very day.
Observe how the Gibeonites use deceit to fool Joshua and the Israelites. The first thing we see is the Gibeonites used a disguise to pull off a hoax. They wore tattered, worn clothes and possessed old, mended wineskins and carried molded bread which they said all of these were all new when they started out their journey. The deceived the Israelites into believing they had come from a distant country. The Gibeonites wanted a peace treaty because otherwise, they knew Israel would destroy them.
*The enemy can disguise himself. He can appear as something good, or innocent, or even deserving of our compassion. (All of us are moved by the plight of the Syrian refugees- and the enemy will use this as cover.)
They claimed they came because they had heard of the fame of their God, their Lord. They wanted to work with them and for them, become their servants and live in peace with them. Israel was under the commandments of God to destroy all the enemy residing in the Promised Land. For those outside of the boundaries of the Promised Land they could offer a peace treaty.
Joshua was deceived. He believed what he saw as they all did. The Gibeonites were deceivers. They were clever, cunning, and with knowledge of the God the Israelites worshipped. They spoke in religious terminology. Appeared to want to be part of God’s flock. We are called the Lord’s sheep and He is our Great Shepherd. This is why Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount told us to beware of false prophets ‘ who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.’ Wolves in sheep’s clothing want to pull the wool over your eyes. We are not to be ignorant of the enemy’s devices. Joshua and Israel were deceived. They believed what they saw and made their decision by their natural sight. They were walking by sight and not by faith.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE DECEPTION OF THE ENEMY
“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to take your stand against the wiles (schemes) of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:11, 12)
Very simply, the enemy, the tempter, the deceiver wants to trick you into following him or accepting his philosophy, or tolerating his behavior as acceptable. He does so first by appearing harmless. He appears to be interested in spiritual things. He does not need to infiltrate the night clubs, or the places of sexual promiscuity, he wants to infiltrate our churches, our Bible studies, our colleges and schools where he may add a little leaven to the whole batch. And leaven (yeast) taste so good. He wants us to compromise.
James writes: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) But I would also warn you- he will be back.
Let us look at the whole armor of God and make sure we understand how important it is to put on the WHOLE armor. The New Testament spells out some of these attacks for us. Colossians 2:8 informs us Satan takes people through false philosophies. He is the mastermind behind false religions. Remember he wants to be worshipped. He sows tares (weeds) among the wheat. Do you know when the enemy did this deed? According to Jesus, in the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13, he did it while everyone was asleep. Today in the 21st century, we, believers, need to wake up to the truth.
We see the evidence of this all around us as the philosophies have infiltrated their way into our – government, our society, our schools, our institutions which God established, such as marriage. The enemy did not want just to have the same benefits of marriage with tax deductions for marriages other than between a man and a woman. The enemy did not want just the benefits and privileges the government has established for the traditional families- they do not want just equality under the law – they want to be recognized as their lifestyle being good, honorable and equal including in the eyes of the church. They want the church to accept them and allow them to continue in their sinful lifestyle and be a part of the church.
Now I do not want us to be fearful of this enemy, but I want us to understand how he operates so we can be on guard. Our God has wonderfully supplied us with everything we need. “His divine power has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR LIFE AND GODLINESS THROUGH OUR KNOWLEDGE OF HIM.” (2 Peter 1)
Satan and his legions have intimate knowledge of the way our minds work and the weakness we human beings have. From that knowledge he has developed a variety of schemes for particular people and circumstances. He attacks and can corrupt large institutions or individuals with an array of weapons to intrude into our lives. He keeps people from coming to Christ by blinding their minds. He persecutes believers. He causes divisions in church. He plants doubts in our minds. He shapes cults and false religions which mix the truth with lies.
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times, some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have become seared with a hot iron.” (I Timothy 4)
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. Ever learning but never coming to the truth.” (2 Timothy 3) (Oprah- new series on OWN- Belief.)
The enemy has convinced us life should be fun, a virtual playground. He wants us to view God as a vending machine who can be manipulated to supply us with happiness. We go through life as consumers, shopping is a recreation, a way to please one’s self as we walk down aisle after aisle stacked high with goods which appeal to the lust of our eyes, the lust or our flesh and the pride of life. We are above all nations in the world, a consumer nation. And America has turned the celebration of the Lord’s birth and entry into this world, into a shopping extravagance upon which businesses depend for great profit.
The book of Joshua shows us physically and externally what Paul’s instructions to us in Ephesians show us spiritually and internally. To take hold of our inheritance, to possess what God has given us- we must as Joshua and the Israelites did- be strong and very courageous. We must meditate on the Word of God day and night and be careful to obey it and we will be successful. We overcome the world by faith. The Israelite army could do nothing about the double set of walls surrounding Jericho. They placed their faith in God’s word and the walls came tumbling down. Ai and Achan revealed the flesh must be put to death. Now we must deal with the enemy and to do this we must understand how he operates.
Here are five very important basic truths about spiritual warfare:
- There is an invisible world. ( Both the Old Testament and New Testament refer to it often)
- There is a war in this invisible world between good and evil. We are involved in this invisible war. In fact we wrestle not against flesh and blood.
- Our foe is formidable. He is real. He is a created spirit, created by God. He had a heavenly estate and was once a highly placed angel in heaven known as Lucifer. His sin was his pride in his beauty and power which God had given him.
- We must respect his power but not fear him. He attacked God once, but was thrown out of heaven. He attacks God’s program – the church. He attacks God’s people. But his power is limited. We are assured- greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world.
- We do not fight for victory – we fight from victory in Jesus.
Now we cannot defeat the enemy with human weapons- they are no match for the enemy’s schemes. Our weapons must be of a divine nature, powerful and fully capable of tearing down strongholds and destroying and exposing the deceitfulness and the lies of the enemy.
Since he is a deceiver and father of all lies- let us look at how each piece of the armor is uniquely suited to guard us against the schemes of the devil.
Let’s look at the whole armor and each piece found in Ephesians 6:10-18.
When we follow these instructions faithfully, we will be able to stand against the schemes and attacks of the enemy and be successful.
- The command of our commander-in-chief to put on the “whole armor of God.”
- The first piece is the belt of truth.
- Next listed is the breastplate of righteousness
- Footwear was important for a soldier. Feet fitted (shod) with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace.
- The shield of faith- the largest piece of armor.
- The helmet of salvation.
- The sword of the Spirit- the Word of God.
- Prayer of all kinds.
The first piece of the armor is a foundational piece to which other important pieces of the armor are attached. The KJV says to ‘gird up your loins with the belt of truth.’ The belt held the sword and the breastplate was attached to it. Gird up you loins was what the first action of a Roman solider was- he would tuck his long robe into the belt in order to be able to move freely and not stumble. Our first piece of armor is a direct defense against the enemy’s number one tactic- Deception. We use the belt of truth not only to recognize the lies of the enemy, but also to recognize in ourselves how we allow our old nature to deceive us. Knowing the truth will keep us from stumbling and falling by girding our loins with the belt of truth.
The next piece of armor deals with the accusations and condemnation of the enemy. Satan attacks with deceit and he fires the fiery dart of accusation and condemnation. The breastplate protected the vital organs, including the heart. (Remember, as a man thinketh in this heart, so is he. Guard your heart with all diligence.) This righteousness is not works of righteousness done in the flesh- this is the righteousness of Christ which was imputed to us by God and received by faith in the finished work of Christ at Calvary. Paul had spent the first three chapters of Ephesians telling us what all we possessed. We were told we had been forgiven of all our sins and fully accepted by God in Christ Jesus. His blood has paid for all our sins- past, present and future. Remember every command from God is for your own good because your Heavenly Father loves you. He promises you if you know the truth, you will be set free. He does not want you standing the middle of a very real, but invisible war without the breastplate of righteousness to protect you. Put it on every day. Do not leave home without it!
Next piece of armor makes practical sense- it involves your footwear. Cannot fight barefooted. We need to have firm footing, so we will not slip or stumble. We have various types of footwear for various activities. Football players do not come on the field wearing leather soled, wingtips. They have cleats to maintain traction. Women do not play tennis in high heels. In fact, Alexander the Great is credited with developing a type of spiked sandal for battle. As Christians our feet need to be shod with preparation (the readiness) that comes from the Gospel of Peace. This means we must know the gospel inside and out and be ready to share it. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. The message is the power, not the messenger. It starts by not being ashamed of the gospel. Then being prepared to share the Gospel. The Gospel is based on facts. I can share the Gospel by telling my story. And I love to tell my story because I know it’s true.
The shield was the largest part of the soldier’s armor. The approximate size of a door, it was made of wood, metal and leather. Sometimes soaked with water to extinguish fiery darts of the enemy. The ultimate cause of defeat for all believers is unbelief. This is why the shield of faith is so important. There are three truths that make this shield strong:
- The truth of God’s character. Remember this about God: “He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.”
- God’s promises can be trusted. He can be taken at His word. He cannot lie. And He does not change.
- God’s program and timing. He has plans for us and He is working all things together for our good.
Our next piece of armor is strategically placed to guard our minds- the helmet of salvation. It protects our mind and reminds us to set our mind on things above, not things on earth. Our mind is transformed by the word of God.
The next piece of armor Paul tells us we must have is both defensive and offensive. Paul refers to it as the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. When Paul refers to the Word of God he is not using the word- logos, which refers to the whole word of God, the entire Bible. He is referring to rhema, a specific word, verse or truth which is to counter a specific lie or temptation from the enemy. This will be what the Spirit will bring to your mind when you are attacked in the battle. This is why it is so important to have your mind transformed by the word of God. To saturate your mind through meditation of the Word day and night. To be a doer and not a hearer only of the Word of God.
The Word of God is alive and powerful and sharper than a two edged sword. It divides asunder the thought and intentions of the heart. It is a detector of lies and a deflector of lies. Know how to use it- study to show yourself approved a workman rightfully dividing the truth of the Word of God.
Jesus showed us exactly how to use it in his encounter with the devil in Matthew 4.
But we put on all of this armor to enter the battle and the battle is fought in prayer. Prayer is the mightiest weapon we can wield. Prayer is not saying grace at a meal, although we should thank Him for providing our sustenance.
Prayer is not giving God a ‘to-do list’ of things you need or want. Although we can bring all our petitions to Him. This where the wrestling takes place. It is the weapon the unseen enemy fears the most. No wonder one of his greatest deceptions is to get us to take prayer so casually.
Have you noticed each time Joshua and the Israelites got into trouble- they made decisions based on their own wisdom, own assessments, what they saw- ( a small city in Ai with few men; a group who had traveled far as witnessed by their tattered clothing, mended sandals and molded bread). They had neglected to pray and seek God’s face and God’s will. They had failed to search God’s word for specific directions and guidance and obedience.
Paul has led us through all of this armor and the reason for each piece for the ultimate purpose- to be effective in our prayer. Pray always. Pray with consistency. Pray intensely. Pray with a plan. Pray for one another.
In spite of this God was able to use this blunder and turn it into a blessing. Five Amorite Kings- the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon- joined forces to attack Gibeon because they had made peace with Joshua. (In chapter 10)
When they attacked Gibeon, the Gibeonites sent word to Joshua they were under attack and needed Israel to rescue them. It was one of the most interesting miracles God performed in all of the Old Testament. We will look at one of the most controversial miracles in the Bible next week, a day which the Bible says: “There has never been a day like it before or since, a day the Lord listened to man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel.