Beth Moore - Victory In An Uphill Battle
You may be seated, and you are where in the Scriptures? Joshua chapter 10, now I want to tell you a little bit of background. This chapter has one of the most fascinating scenes in all the Old Testament right in the middle of it, perhaps you're familiar with it, perhaps you're new enough not to know anything about it. One way or the other, I pray that God is gonna give us an eye wide open to what the power of God can do in behalf of believing children. So, I want you to just hear this one portion with me, and then we're gonna pull out the lens. But I want you to know that there in the 13th verse it tells us in chapter 10 that God caused the sun to stand still, and the moon to stop until the Israelites took vengeance on its enemies. And it stopped right there in the middle of the day, in the middle of the sky, until they could fight the battle that God had sent them to fight.
When the sun stood still, that's what you and I are studying tonight, this wild moment in the Scriptures tucked right in the middle of Joshua chapter 10, when God caused natural laws to be broken so that his children, the Israelites, could be victorious. It tells us in that very next verse in verse 14, "There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord listened to a man like this, because the Lord fought for Israel". So, here's what we're gonna do. You and I are gonna look at the circumstances around this event, see what it conveys to us about our God, and see what it conveys about us as his people when he would intervene the way that he did.
Now, Joshua is the book of the Bible that records the conquest. This is after the exodus when the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, and Moses was sent by God to tell them that they would be set free to worship him out in the wilderness. And through many, many signs and wonders, finally, Pharaoh released them and they went into the desert, they went through a dry path in the Red Sea to cross over into the wilderness where they could have, in a very short couple of months, entered into the Promised Land. However, they did according to the instructions of God sending spies into the land to come back and tell them about the land, and tell them what good promises of God lay on the other side. But instead, all but two of them came back and gave a bad report.
And they said, "Listen, we're grasshoppers compared to them. They're giants in the land. There is no possible way that we will be able to defeat them". And so, because of their unbelief, they wandered around in that desert for 40 solid years until that generation would completely die off that had been faithless, and the next generation would come up with the faith to move in, except that these two men, Joshua and Caleb, were spared because they came back with a good report.
Now, I'm gonna ask you a question. What kind of character does it take to keep a decent attitude for 40 solid years when it's not your fault that you're wandering around in the desert? Anybody know what I'm talking about? I mean, I just want you to enter in with me what it would have been like to be these two men. Now finally, they are in the land of promise, but something very significant has happened here. And I want you to understand with me that these surrounding regions and cities, because several big cities have now been taken, Jericho has had the walls crumble down, that city has been entirely taken by the Israelites. AI has been taken by the Israelites. One city after another is being taken, and the kings of the other cities are beginning to hear the news of these desert people that are coming in and taking these walled cities, and they're freaking out.
And so, they come together. It's the very first time and all of Scripture Jerusalem is ever mentioned by name. And it is the King of Jerusalem Adonizedek, Adonizedek is the king of Jerusalem at that time. They are a heathen people. They are the Canaanites. They know nothing of the one true God, these are idolaters. And so, he calls together four other kings and says, "Okay, this is what has happened. One of our major people groups, the Gibeonites have made a treaty with the Israelites. And so, what we're going to do, because they've made a treaty with them, is that we are gonna go against the Gibeonites, and we are gonna take them down".
And it says sure enough, that they in verse 5, I'm gonna start reading in verse 5 with you, Joshua 10. "So the five Amorite kings, the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon, joined forces, advanced with all their armies, besieged Gibeon, and fought against it. Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: 'Don't give up on your servants. Come quickly and save us! Help us, for all the Amorite kings living in the hill country have joined forces against us.' So Joshua and all his troops, including all his best soldiers, came from Gilgal. The Lord said to Joshua, 'Do not be afraid of them, for I have handed them over to you. Not one of them will be able to stand against you.' So Joshua", it says in verse 9, "caught them by surprise, after marching all night from Gilgal".
Now see, if we take this chapter out of context and don't look at the chapter prior to it, we miss all the complications of the battle. And don't tell me the battles can't be complicated. Somebody knows right now in the battle that you're facing, how complicated it can get and this is one complex situation. Because I want you to glance back in chapter 9, go to the chapter just previous to what we're reading, chapter 9 and I want you to understand what has happened here. If you see a little caption over chapter 9 of Joshua, you're gonna see that it says something to the effect of, "deception by Gibeonites", and what it tells is that this group of people, this little palm sort of people come from Gibeon to the Israelites where they're camped at Gilgal, and they trick them into a covenant with them. They come wearing old clothes with their shoes worn out, with their bread moldy and crumbly and they say, "See, we've come from a faraway land and we want you to make a treaty of peace with us".
So, I want to pick up with you. Let's take it from 8 to 16. "They said to Joshua, 'We are your servants.' Then Joshua asked them, 'Who are you and where do you come from?' They replied to him, 'Your servants have come from a faraway land because of the reputation of the Lord your God. For we have heard of his fame, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two Amorite kings beyond the Jordan, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan, who was in Ashtaroth'. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our land told us, Take provisions with you for the journey; go and meet them and say, We are your servants. Please make a treaty with us. This bread of ours was warm when we took it from our houses as food on the day we left to come to you; but see, it is now dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them; but see, they are cracked. And these clothes and sandals of ours are worn out from the extremely long journey.' Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions, but did not seek the Lord's decision. So Joshua established peace with them and made a treaty to let them live, and the leaders of the community swore an oath to them".
Verse 16: "Three days after making the treaty with them, they heard that the Gibeonites were their neighbors, living among them". Okay, pause for just a minute and let me see if I can explain this briefly. What has happened here is that God has told the Israelites, Do not make treaties with any of these people that you are going to be living around. Do not make treaties with the Canaanites, no one in that region because you are going into take that land. Well, that's why the Gibeonites had to come and say, "Listen, we're from a very faraway place. It's just that we've heard of the fame of your God, and we want to be part of whatever you're doing. We will be your servants. Make a treaty of peace with us. We have heard how you've defeated the kings in these regions, and we want to be at peace with you. We will serve you".
So, they enter in because they look at the bread, sure enough, it's crumbly. They look at the wine skins, sure enough, they're cracked. All the evidence looks exactly right, but they do not go to the Lord to make the decision. And instead, looks right, feels right, "We'll make the covenant", only to find out three days later, they have been tricked into the covenant, brought in by false pretenses and now, what did they do? Chapter 10, I mean right on top of learning that the Gibeonites have deceived them, these five kings come up against Gibeon. Gibeon does a shout out by way they would have sent word somehow to the Israelites in Gilgal and said, "Come help your servants. We've been besieged. If you don't come help us, we won't make it".
So, now we have the context that the Israelites are going to have to go through this march all night long to go fight for a group that has tricked them into a covenant. How do you like that? I want you to see this with me because depending upon the exact location of Gilgal, the march would have covered about 20 to 25 miles. It would have taken about ten hours all night long, and this is the best part, it would have been uphill. In every conceivable way what you've got before you in Joshua chapter 10 is an uphill battle. Anybody got one? Anybody got one? Feel like that you're fighting so hard that you can't even draw your sword for the battle, that you're just trying to survive standing long enough to face it. You're even in opposition to a dangerous foe, an uphill battle when you risk already being exhausted before you've even drawn your sword.
I want you to see something with me in verse 8 of Joshua 10 it says that, "The Lord said to Joshua, Do not be afraid of them, for I have handed them over to you. Not one of them will be able to stand against you.'" Here is the thing about God, sometimes he will say to us, "Listen, you just stand still, I'm gonna do this thing myself. You're not going to have to do anything".
Anybody really anticipated a disaster that really never came to pass, the Lord just handled it? That's happened to me and, of course, when you're older like I am, and you've walked a long time with him that happens where you just anticipate that something really dreadful is gonna happen. This thing is gonna explode, only it doesn't because the Lord goes, "You know what? I'll just handle this one. You sit back, you stand still, and you just watch the salvation of the Lord". Other times, and this is what we're talking about tonight, this is what is on the table tonight. Other times, he's gonna give us that victory, but he is going to call upon us for every ounce of energy we have got, every bit of the wherewithal that we have, every drop of sweat, every fleck of courage, every bit of strength we can muster, he calls for all of it.
What happens when you're in a battle that could have been avoided? That's what's on the table tonight. There you are marching all night long when you could be in your memory foam mattress, your Sleep Number bed. You got your sateen sheets, your fan going just right, maybe you took your Tylenol P.M. and then you get word you're about to march all night and you've taken your two Tylenol P.M. You taking your NyQuil and now you're up. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And instead you're all loaded up, weapons in hand heavy, heavy, armed up, marching uphill for 20 solid miles, ten hours, all night long wishing you were in the bed. And here's the thing, this is the worst part is that you knew that it had been because of your foolishness that you had gotten involved with them. Anybody? It's bad enough for it to be their fault, but for it to be my fault too.
Now, this is a recipe for disaster. So, this is a perfect setup for defeat in battle. When you are faced with a fight that is a blend of somebody else's fault and your own, somebody else's fault and my own, what are we gonna do then? And I want to throw you out two questions just for our deliberation in this present subject matter, that when we are faced with a fierce battle, I mean a fierce one that's gonna take everything we've got, and it could have been avoided. How did you keep your attitude then? Whether it was entirely somebody else's blame, or entirely my blame, or just nobody's blame at all, what do we do when we have on our hands one of the fiercest battles of our lives, and we think there could have been a way to avoid it?
I want to throw out two questions to you and the first one is this, can we keep from sabotaging ourselves with self-condemnation? One of the biggest questions we have to ask ourselves when we are facing a really fierce battle that was avoidable if we had been wiser and if we hadn't gotten involved with so and so, hadn't believe so and so, hadn't gotten somehow messed up in all of that, can we keep from sabotaging ourselves with self-condemnation? I've been thinking about it today and I think maybe self-condemnation is a form of playing God.
I want you to think about it with me. Condemnation means, I even looked it up, it is dooming someone. It's declaring someone reprehensible, declaring them evil. Self-condemnation is, figuratively speaking, putting yourself through hell. Anybody? Goes to condemn, we condemn someone to hell, well, self-condemnation, we just put ourselves through it. We just put ourselves through it, just in case. God does not punish us enough. Anybody know what I'm talking about? We'll just punish ourselves. And so, here we go, here we go. There's some among us today that self-sabotage even when something good is happening to you because you don't think you deserve anything good to happen to you.
Listen, life's hard enough. We got fierce battles to face. And one of the easiest ways into defeat is to continually self-sabotage. I want to say something though. Let's not mix up self-condemnation with accepting responsibility. Accepting responsibility is what grownups do, it's what wise people do, it's what healthy people do. I will do two things when we have helped get ourselves in a really big mess and have ourselves in a fierce battle that we feel like God is going to call upon us to use every bit of strength we've got to fight with him. We gotta know that there are just two things to do: repent and take responsibility. I mean, just like repent, take responsibility.
All the self-punishment after that is playing God. It ends with repentance. "Lord, I have blown this up. I don't know what happened, or maybe I do know what happened here. Maybe I walked into it knowing exactly what I was doing". I can still repent because I tell you, God has a way with the power of the Holy Spirit of making sure you're sorry when you really, really, really wig out in rebellion. Can I get anybody to say amen? It has been my experience that God is very, very faithful to make sure when I go opposite what he put in front of me, that he's gonna make it painful enough for me to go, "Man, I really messed up, I really messed up", repentance and then take responsibility. "Okay, okay, okay, I've got my part in this. What am I gonna do with this"?
I want to throw something out at you because I think it's so, so very important. I think sometimes we can confuse self-loathing with humility, and they are not the same thing. I think it would be such a powerful thing if God worked among us in this house tonight to free us from some of the bondage to self-loathing. Self-loathing is just another way to be self-obsessed. It's just another form of being completely ego driven, is that I'm completely obsessed with my own self because I hate myself so much. It is of no honor to God to hate self. I pray he's gonna set somebody free tonight to know that's not humility. Humility is realizing the prize that God has made you by his grace and that there is nothing you could have done to earn it. The treasure that you are, what he's done on your behalf, and what he has done on my behalf, and the realization that there is nothing I could have done to receive it, that is humility.
The first of two questions on the table: can we keep from sabotaging ourselves with self-condemnation? That's the first one. The second one is this: can we keep from expending our much needed energy on blame? Can we keep from expending our much needed energy on blame? One reason we can't get to the end of a fierce battle is because we are so eaten up by unforgiveness toward the person that helped us get in that battle that we can't see straight enough to fight the real enemy. Can anybody step in that with me?
One of the things I felt like God was showing me today is, is that blame is blinding, don't you think it is? It's blinding. It blurs our vision. We can't even see where to lay a good punch because we're too involved with what flesh and blood has done us wrong. And so, here we are, I just want you to just think of this figuratively with me, this long uphill battle that we're on marching through a really long, dark night that could go on months and months and months. Maybe it's gone on a couple of years, an uphill battle, and with every step it's like your fault, your fault, your fault, your fault. Or it's my fault, my fault.
Imagine the strength of being able to march when your feet are weighted down with whose fault it is. Or we can just do this one, this one's me, my fault, your fault, my fault, your fault, my fault, your fault, can't decide whose fault it is. It's somebody's fault. I know it's somebody's fault. Whose fault is it? Weighted down in a long uphill battle, and we're too exhausted by the time we get to the battlefield to even fight. Because here's the thing, they were having to go to the rescue of someone that they needed to be for, not against. Imagine you're gonna go fight with blood, sweat, and tears for someone who put you on the battlefield. You can't fight for somebody that you're against.
I've been thinking a lot about that because I've been thinking about how important it is to lay down our weapons toward people that need us to fight for them, have cost us a lot, have cost us some suffering, a lot of frustration, maybe a good bit of money. And I'm not saying we just pour money into it without any kind of regard for how we're being taken advantage of, but I am saying that it's really hard to fight for people that we are against in our hearts. And somewhere along the way, we have to set the weapons down and go, "I'm gonna fight this battle in prayer. I'm gonna take on the real enemy here that is not flesh and blood". And that's how we're gonna be effective.
Resentment hamstrings a warrior. Resentment hamstrings a warrior. And let me tell you something. We are warriors and there are several places that we know that in the Word of God. In the New Testament, in our covenant, in our New Testament, this side of the cross and the resurrection and ascension of Christ we are called to be soldiers. I'm thinking of 2 Timothy chapter 2, where Paul tells Timothy, "Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus", and he talks about those who are in military service. And that's what he's calling us.
And I mean we're just like, that this is a war with an unseen, very powerful enemy, and it's not flesh and blood. It's rulers and authorities and cosmic powers over this present darkness. We have a real enemy, and it's not our husband or coworker or ex-friend or ex-husband our mother-in-law, our neighbor. It's not flesh and blood. I'll tell you something. One of the most important doctrines in all the entire Word of God is the sovereignty of God and what the sovereignty of God tells us is that at the end of the day God is in complete control. That nothing can come our way that has not either been proactively planned by him or permitted by him somehow according to his will, because he knows how it's all gonna work out. And that same sovereign God says that he will work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
There is absolutely nothing he cannot bring fruit from, absolutely nothing he cannot use for our good and for his glory. But we gotta know at the end of the day when we enter into fierce battles that we think were avoidable, and, I mean, what we wanna do is spend so much energy on regret, on replaying that decision that got us into that situation in the first place. Anybody do that besides me, where you replay the whole thing? "If I'd have just done that a little differently. That was when I should have walked away". Can I get anybody to witness to that?
That was the moment I should have hung up the phone. That's the moment I should have been done. Oh, but no, no, no. Anybody got a warning of the Holy Spirit and disobeyed that warning? I need to see just so I can have some company, just so I can have some company in that. See, almost across the board. Do you know what time and effort we could spend just on nothing but chronic regret? That what if we'd done it a different way? You know what? That's done. And somehow some way God already knew before he ever called me every single decision I would make, and you, as well. He called your name before the foundation of the world, Ephesians tells us. Your works, the works he would have you do, Ephesians 2:10, the very things he would call you to do in his name were also chosen long before you were a thought in your parents' mind. He already knew. He already knew.
Now, what do we do with it? Now what? Now what do we do in the battle? I was thinking how much we need a clear head for battle. Clear head. How much blame and resentment blur our thoughts and our vision. Remember that it said in a, "The Lord said to Joshua, "'Do not be afraid of them'". Let me pause there for just a moment, because he does this over and over with Joshua, over and over. He's done it with Moses, too. You don't tell someone not to be afraid that is not afraid, not when you're God you don't.
See, because God knows if we are or not. He doesn't tell someone not to be discouraged if they're not discouraged, and I don't know if that is any help to you, but it is to me, because sometimes we can see these figures like Joshua and like Moses as superheroes. That they weren't really flesh and blood like us. They didn't have the same insecurities that we do. They didn't have the same fears that we do. Yes, they did. Yes, they did. They would have gotten blisters on their feet walking 20 miles uphill. Their neck would have hurt from what they were carrying. They would have gotten thirsty. They would have been sleepy, annoyed.
They would have needed to stop and go to the bathroom because they're human flesh and blood like us, and so he says to him, "Don't be afraid of them, for I've handed them over to you. Not one of them will be able to stand against you. So", it says in 9 and 10, "Joshua caught them by surprise, after marching all night from Gilgal. The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel. He defeated them in a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them through the ascent of Beth-horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And they fled before Israel, and the Lord threw large hailstones on them from the sky".
I want you to pause there just a moment. Did you see that he threw them into confusion? I wanna tell you something. I want you to just take a minute with this and see if this is so. That there are times when God will throw a situation into complete confusion, but he wants his servant to keep a clear head. There are times when you will look around you and go, "I have never seen a bigger mess of disorder in all my life". Anybody know what I'm talking about? Hey, has it ever occurred to us, 'cause we always think, you know, God is not the author of confusion. This is absolutely right, but if we don't think he could throw something into confusion, we are reading the wrong Bible.
He can go, "You know what? I'm just gonna spin this around, but I want my servant to be able to think clearly. Keep a clear head. Do not be driven by anger. Do not be driven by resentment. Do not be driven by bitterness, because I need you to have a clear head, and I need you to have clear vision, because I'm going to tell you what to do, and I'm gonna give you a victory here, but I do not need you to be distracted".
Anybody know what I'm talking about? An orderly mind in a very disordered situation. That we would not be confused that the battle is the Lord's, and we are a soldier in his army. It's a powerful thought to me. So, he throws them into confusion, and then you saw it, verse 11. Then he throws large hailstones on them from the sky. You know, that's when, you know, you give 'em hell. You know what I'm talking about? You know, that's what I'm talking about. That's exactly what I'm talking about. From the sky, and it says, "And they died". Here. Verse 11. Verse 11, the end of it, "More of them died from the hail than the Israelites killed with the sword".
Then here is the question I have for you. This is so important. Then why should they fight? Why couldn't they stay on their Sleep Number mattress? That's what I've come to ask you tonight. Why aren't they back there on their MyPillow? Why? Why? And it says in verse 12, "On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord in the presence of Israel", this is audacious, "'Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.' And the sun stood still and the moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on its enemies. Is this not written in the book of Jashar? So the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed its setting almost a full day. There has been no day like it before or since".
I don't know. I've heard this story since I was a little-bitty girl in Sunday school, and I've got chills all over me. The reason I do is because this gorgeous scene of Joshua having faith enough to go, we're gonna have to fight this battle. We're gonna have to swing the sword. And even though God had sent them into confusion and he'd thrown down all those hailstones, they were still gonna have to fight it. They were gonna have to fight it with everything they had, and because what Joshua knew, because he was a strategist. He was a man. He knew the ways to lead an army, and he knew that what they needed in a land they did not know was daylight. Somebody stay with me here.
What they did not need was for that sun to go down, because then the people that were from that area, those soldiers, would know the terrain. They would not know it. They needed the sun to stay, and it froze in that sky for a full day until they could avenge every single bit of that enemy. Who would even think to ask the Lord such a thing? What was on Moses's mind when he cries out in Exodus 33, "Show me your glory"? Who asks a thing like that? He doesn't get to see it. He gets hidden in a cleft of the rock, and God puts his hand over him, 'cause he knows, "If you see my glory, it's gonna kill you, but you're sweet for asking. And I'm gonna let all my glory pass before you and all this is gonna happen for you because you did have the boldness to ask". Who is it most at risk here in the small things that we are asking God? Are we trying to protect God? Like, let's just ask a little bit of him because we don't want to embarrass him.
I'm just gonna ask you tonight when was the last time you prayed big things? Big things, because I present to you the Scriptures in which you will find a God that loves that, even when it doesn't happen the way we wanted it to. Do you think he does not love that his child has got enough faith to ask him to do the outrageous? When was the last time on behalf of your family you asked God to do something outrageous? On behalf of your church. On behalf of your workplace. And not for your selfish gain, but for him to be glorified. When was the last time we asked really big things? And he did it. Hung that sun right in the sky, which you realize since we rotate around the sun he was having to hold the earth in order for that sun to freeze. Just hold it still. Come to a screeching halt.
Why would he do that? Why? I just submit to you he wanted them to know they had it in them. He had put them to the test. In Jericho they had fought the battle just exactly like he told them to. They had been obedient, and it happened. I mean, it went as smooth as silk for them. "March around the city for seven days. Then on the seventh day seven times, and then when I tell you to you're gonna shout, and then those walls are gonna crumble". It happened just exactly like he said it would. Then there was disobedience in the camp over Ai. They lost a battle and a number of them were killed, and God said, "Was there not disobedience? Go back and do it right".
They went back. They did it right. This time they get into this battle because they've entered into a treaty without taking the decision to the Lord. Do you see him teaching them how to fight? Do you see that even in every situation he's saying, "You're gonna keep your head. You're gonna go back after it again"? Not one single time does it say that he just allowed them to go, "We just quit. We just quit". Turn to Joshua chapter 7. Joshua chapter 7. What happened here that caused them to be defeated in this battle and several hundred of them to be slaughtered is that they were told that among these nations and among these cities they were not to take anything for themselves. That those things were set apart. Those things were not to be taken into their tents. Well, someone did, and so it caused the whole army to be defeated, but here is what I love.
Joshua 7, verse 6: "Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord until evening, as did the elders of Israel; they all put dust on their heads". So, he's just grieving. I mean, he's found that there is sin in the camp. What does he do? He falls face down. He's tearing his clothes, and he's putting dust on his head. So were the elders. "'Oh, Lord God,' Joshua said, 'why did you even bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?'" Because he doesn't know exactly what's happened. "When the Canaanites and all who live in the land hear about this, they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. And what will that do about your great name"?
I just love this. I love this, 'cause he's just going like, "We have been defeated and with our defeat what will that do to your great name"? I just cannot wait for you to hear how the Lord answers him. "Stand up"! In some of your versions it says it this way, "Get up. "Get up. Why have you fallen facedown? Israel has sinned, and they violated my covenant that I appointed for you". You see, he's just saying like, "You know, get up. So somebody blew it. There is battles to be fought".
How many of us have quit because somebody blew it? And usually if I'm feeling like quitting 'cause somebody blew it, I put the mascara on who blew it that morning. You know what I'm saying? I saw that woman in the mirror that morning. That's gonna be the person I'm most likely gonna wanna quit over: the one I see in my own mirror. Over and over again calling 'em back to the battle, calling 'em back to the battle. "Yes, you blew it. Go back to battle. Yes, you did not realize there was sin in the camp. Go back to the battle. Go back to the battle. Go back to the battle". Whether you did it right or whether you realize you did it wrong and you have to start all over, you go back to the battle, because there is ground to be taken that you have been given.
I want you to see verses 2 and verses 7 of Joshua 10. Verses 2 and verses 7. We had not read 2 because I had paraphrased it for you, but it says, "So Adoni-zedek". This is the king of Jerusalem. Remember, this is before God's people took over Jerusalem. These were a pagan people. "So Adoni-zedek and his people were greatly alarmed because Gibeon was a large city like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were warriors". All its men were warriors. That's what the CSB says, but the NIV says, "All its men were good fighters". Good fighters. It's a wonderful term. It's "gibborim" in Hebrew, and it means mighty men. It means heroes, good fighters, but I want you to look down a little bit further in verse 7. In verse 7 it says, "So Joshua and all his troops, including all his best soldiers, came from Gilgal".
1 and 2 Timothy each talk about fighting the good fight of faith. Fight the good fight of faith. We are soldiers on the battlefield, but, you know, what occurs to me is that there are times that God doesn't just call upon us to fight the good fight. He says, "This one needs to be one of your best fights. This one, this one is gonna take your best fight, your best fight". Day in, day out fight the good fight, but every now and then, and I believe maybe for some of us in this room tonight, because I think maybe that's why he's got us here, is because for some of us we're in right now one of the fiercest battles of our life, and he's saying to us, "I don't want you to just fight a good fight. I'm calling upon you to make this one of your best fights. I wanna show you that you are one of my best fighters, but you don't know it. You don't know it until I put the sword of the Spirit in your right hand, the shield of faith in your left, and I put you on that battlefield in a fury against the darkness. You don't even know what you have got, but I will set you up for victory if it takes hanging the sun in the sky all day long so that you never fight in the dark".
What happens then? Started thinking about my own journey with God, and I thought what have been my hardest fights. And I've had so many. I've had so many. I think many of you are like me. That for whatever reason it's just kinda been one battle after another, and God has been faithful, and God has been good, and God is sovereign, and he knows what he's after. He knows how he wants to set us up for reliance on him, but I was thinking, when I look back over my years of ministry, that I don't think anything called for more of a battle than when I was writing "Breaking Free", because I'd been in such bondage and such brokenness, and he had set me free. And it about killed me.
I wish I could tell you now how long it took. I suppose a year, but I cannot tell you all the things that happened in that course of that year. I did not think that thing would ever get finished, ever, ever. The warfare was absolutely outrageous. I could tell you freaky things that happened to me that you probably would not believe. It was the harshest time, I suppose, I have ever been through, but here is what I know: I know that God and I partnered up for something that was absolutely impossible. Absolutely impossible. And here is the thing about us. Until he has brought us past what we know we are able to do, until he has called something out from us that we know could not possibly have been natural, then we just live with this whole whiny I-can't-itis. "I can't. I can't. Oh, I just can't. I can't do it. I can't".
We spend our entire lives whining, instead of him reminding us, "Have I not brought you through harder stuff than this"? Every time he says that to me, I'm like, "Yep". Never heard him out loud, but in my heart it's clear as a bell. "Have we not been through harder than this"? And I can always go back to those days and think, "Oh, yeah, we've been through something harder than this". This, sister, is meant to be one of your best battles.
When God calls something forth from you that you did not even know you had in you, you got gold tucked down in there. And he's gonna turn up the heat, and he's gonna bring that to the surface, and you are gonna shine. You are gonna shine in the light of God's glory, and you are gonna radiate his presence, and you're gonna become somebody that you did not even know you could be. You think that your best days are behind you, but your best days... I know this is hard to wrap your mind around, but try. Your best days are on the other side of your best fight. Get your fight back. Get that iron back in your blood, that calcium back in your bones, because you were born to be a fighter.