“And they came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel. And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel.’…So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.”
Joshua 11:4-6, 23
Reflecting on this passage, these final days of battle in the time of Joshua, I was reminded of all he had faced leading up to this moment. Many battles won in the strength and sovereignty of God. Miracles displaying the Lord’s power. Commands spoken and consequences if they were not obeyed.
My mind was specifically drawn to the Israelite defeat at Ai in chapter 7. Unbeknownst to Joshua, one of the men had taken some of the plunder from Jericho which had been devoted to the Lord. Had Joshua consulted God about this next city they were facing to conquer, he likely would have been advised of this sin and taken care of it before the battle. But Joshua acted under the advice of the men sent to spy out the land, who saw it as easily won. The Israelite forces were defeated that day. Men were lost. Joshua despaired and cried out to the Lord, who told him to get up and take care of the sin in the midst of the camp. Joshua obeyed, and the Lord then led their army in victory over Ai.
In the following battles led by Joshua, we see the consultation of the Lord prior to any action. Joshua was set back on the path of righteousness, brought back to a place of faith and confidence in what the Lord was able to do, rather than trusting in the forces of his men. It is one instance in which we can see the leading of the Lord, as God prepares Joshua for what He is going to do to bring glory to His name in this promised land.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable in which a master entrusts part of his property to his servants. The amounts entrusted vary among them, and when the master returns they each return his money along with any additional they made through investment. For those who had wisely invested, he responded, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much” (Matthew 25:21).
Joshua displayed faithfulness to the Lord in little ways before he was called to great battles. As he served under Moses and sought the face of the Lord in the beginning of his leadership of Israel, he was brought to a place where he could go up against this vast army “in number like sand that is on the seashore.” Many kings had combined their armies to fight them. Knowing the victories of Israel, they gathered their forces hoping to ensure the decimation of the people of God. Yet Joshua did not hesitate. And it wasn’t because the Israelite army was equally vast or skilled. It was because the Lord their God was with them, and He told them not to fear because He would give the enemy into their hands.
Our God doesn’t call us into great battles without preparing us beforehand. Rather, as we face each challenge before us and show ourselves faithful, He brings us from strength to strength so that we are ready for all that He has in store. We will see His matchless power in ever-increasing glory as He brings us to greater levels of faith. In His great faithfulness, the Lord will bring us each step of the way, from the smallest of victories to the greatest, just as He did for Joshua and the rest of the Israelite army. Wherever you are along this path, know that the God of heaven is with you in power and might, and you will see His glory.