The Great Conquest

Title: The Great Conquest

Bible Book: Joshua 1 : 9-11

Author: J. Gerald Harris

Subject: Victory; Warfare, Christian; Christian Living; Spiritual Living



Last week we gave some consideration to what life is like in the wilderness - dull, insipid, painfully disappointing, depressing. It is my conviction that most of the people we consider the best Christians in our churches receive their mail in the wilderness. Some have moved in and out of the Promised Land. Most have never made it into the land that flows with milk and honey.

As we come to this message we draw back the curtain so that you can see the next generation of Israelites as they finally make it out of the wilderness. Their ancestors died in the wilderness, but they have now come to the brink of the Promised Land, approaching it from the east side of the Jordan River. There it is - stretched out like a wide green ribbon between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. The view is breath-taking. The land is a wealth of agricultural productivity. It's a land of bounty. It's a land of plenty - the Promised Land. Now, what is the significance of this land? What are we to learn as we consider the characteristics of this land that flows with milk and honey? First of all, in this land we see:

1. The Wealth of the Christian

The Promised Land is actually a symbol of the spirit-filled life. We have already seen the characteristics of Egypt and the wilderness. Now, let’s see the distinguishing landmarks of the Promised Land. As we look at the distinguishing characteristics of Canaan, it will help you to know where you are in your spiritual pilgrimage. The Promised Land represents a mature, balanced spiritual life – a life which enjoys the fullness of God’s blessings. You can know when you have arrived by testing your life for a wealth of blessing.

Now, God met the needs of the children of Israel while they wandered in the wilderness. God provided guidance, food and clothing. He performed some miracles on their behalf, but for those in the promised and, God does far more than merely meet their needs as wonderful as that is. Canaan is characterized by plenty.

Look in Deuteronomy 8, beginning in verse 7. Notice what it says: "for the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of the valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness. Thou shalt not lack anything in it..." look also in verse 13: "and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; . . ." you see, God gave them a land of multiplied blessings.

To enter the Promised Land is to enter into the fullness of your earthly spiritual inheritance. Your weeks will begin to abound with blessings of various and sundry proportions. Whereas God has gloriously delivered you from difficulties in the past, now miracles and blessings will become more of a daily event, especially as God uses you on behalf of others. You will begin to experience a deep, lasting, satisfaction and contentment in life.

In Egypt the spiritual life is a series of defeats and going nowhere. In the wilderness your spiritual life vacillates. You are up for a while and then you are down, but in the Promised Land, your life is characterized by a series of victories interrupted only by occasional defeat. Your life will attain a level of consistent joy and peace. God will finally "put it all together" for you.

Jack Taylor says that there is a difference in the church as it is the church as it ought to be. There is a difference in the wilderness Christian and the Promised Land Christian. Jack Taylor says that the difference is illustrated by a memory of his childhood. He said that he lived on a farm and for the first years of his life his family burned kerosene lamps for light. Then, he said, the day came when they installed an ingenious device called the wind charger. Now, wind charger is a strange little motor that sits on top of a tower with an airplane-like propeller. When the wind blows, the propeller turns to generate a measure of electrical power. Most of the time the electrical power that is generated by a “wind charger” will furnish a light that is just a little brighter than a kerosene lamp. Now, this kind of power is unsteady and depends on the velocity of the wind. If the wind is strong, the light has a bright glow. When the wind dies down there is only a flicker. Jack says that’s what they had and that was better than nothing, but it wasn’t much. “Then,” he said, “one day down the county line road they came with poles and wire for a new kind of power. When the poles were up and the lines were strung. There was a buzzing string of wires which carried through them 66,000 volts of electricity." Jack said that his dad took down the wind charger and put it away. He said, “We hooked into the 66,000 volt line and the power came through. How bright were the lights! And the light was steady whether or not the wind blew. What a difference!"

The wind charger reminds us of our attempts to get things done in the flesh. It reminds us of our wilderness experiences. The power comes and goes according to our habits, our moods and our temperaments. Enthusiasm rises and wanes. Business goes on – sometimes fast, sometimes slow. What we need to discover is the high voltage power of the Spirit-filled life. We need to get out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land where the resources and power of God are made available to us.

Cannan- that is where our inheritance becomes our possession. That is where we enter into the wealth of our Christian experience. Too many of us are living beneath our privileges-living in poverty when God promises us plenty.

But now as we think about the Promised Land, I not only want us to think about the wealth of the Christian but I want us also to think about:

II. The Walk of the Christian

The Promised Land is enemy-infested. Seven mighty nations occupy the land- the Hittites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites and the Canaanites. Each and every one of them is “greater and mightier” than Israel.

These enemy nations have walled cities, complete with towers, huge gates and citadels. They are fortified strongholds with massive arsenals of bows and arrows, swords and daggers, plus special weapons like the steel edged Canaanite battle ax. They have chariots of iron. Look at Deuteronomy 1:28. Look at the concern expressed among the Israelites. “Wither shall we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, the people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.” Now, the Anakim were the giants.

So, how is Israel going to take possession of the land? Well, you won’t believe the instruction they received. The book of Joshua opens with it. Their success in taking the land was based upon …their walk. Look at Joshua 1:2-3. Notice what God says. He says, “Moses, my servant is dead: now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” Do you see that? They were limited only by the ground they covered.

The New Testament speaks of a “walk in the spirit” that guarantees victory over the flesh. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” You are limited only by your walk.

You see, according to 2 Corinthians 5:7, the spiritual life is a walk of faith. You must simply exercise faith to place one foot before the other and continue on, trusting God for everything. You can have all of God. You have the faith of appropriate, and the more you appropriate the more faith enlarges. You simply walk, taking each step in dependence upon him, appropriating his strength-one step at a time. We need to learn how to possess our possessions.

Dr. Russell H. Conwell in “Acres Of Diamonds” tells about a man who was ambitious to possess an oil field. He sold his poor little farm for $835, went to a state where oil was known to be, invested his money and lost it. The man who bought his farm while watering his horses one day at a stream which ran through the farm noticed a greasy-like scum on the surface of the water. This led to an examination. A well was bored. Oil, in abundance was found. Millions of dollars came to the owner.

The former owner had a clear title to the farm with a cast reservoir of oil beneath its surface but he did not possess it. He had not gone down deep enough. It takes digging, marching, walking, working, praying to possess our possessions.

Here is another example. It took place in North Carolina. A boy was left an orphan along with his sisters who were older than he was. One day he gave his heart to Christ. There was an irresistible tug pulling at his heart strings. It was the call to preach. Neither he nor his sisters had any money. Undaunted, he announced to them that he was going to wake forest college. They were happy but they did not see how he could go.

He said, “I did not even have a trunk, but I did not need one for I had nothing to go in a trunk. I did not worry about that."

The day came for him to start to college. All his possession (except for a call to preach, faith in God, an insatiable hunger for an education and an undaunted purpose to preach) were tied up in bandana handkerchief. He said goodbye to his sisters and started out to walk to college. He said, "When I went over the hill out of sight of the old home, a terrible sense of loneliness and homesickness seized me. I turned around, slipped back and peeped over the hill. My sisters were in the yard, standing on tiptoe. Looking in the direction I had gone and I said, “I will go on and do my best."

Upon arriving at college this young man was told that he could not go through college without some money. He went down to the village and bought an ax on credit. That night he appeared before the faculty and said, “I am here to get an education. I have not money, but I ask for no aid except the privilege to work. I offer myself to chop your wood.” They turned their wood over to him and soon he had more wood than he could say grace over.

Five years later he graduated. He became one the leading preachers in his state in that day. He was elected to the presidency of a college after he was 50 years old. As he left that little farm home that day, he went out to possess his un-possessed possessions.

A major difficulty with so many is we are too complacently satisfied with too little. We are like the discoverers of Chesapeake Bay. They thought it was the Atlantic Ocean.

The spitirual realm is full of un-possessed possessions. How poorly we live. How spiritually poverty-stricken we are. We must walk by faith in the spirit to possess our possessions.

But as we think about the Promised Land, I not only want us to think about the wealth of the Christian and the walk of the Christian, I want to think about:


III. The Warfare of the Christian

Of course, Joshua is in charge now. He is the captain of the hosts of Israel. He sent two men, not twelve, to spy out the land. When these two spies got to Jericho they found the city to be an impenetrable fortress. But in Jericho they met a woman, a harlot named Rahab, who gave them some amazing information. Look at Joshua 2. Beginning in verse 9: "And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man. Because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

You see, the spies made the startling discovery that already for forty years the inhabitants of Canaan had been a defeated foe. They had conceded victory to Israel from the day that they had heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for them as they made their exit out of Egypt. Their hearts had melted and there was no more courage in any of them. They had become convinced that the God of Israel was God in heaven above and in earth beneath - that he was as competent to get his people in Canaan as he was competent to get his people out of Israel. The only thing that had amazed them was that Israel had taken so long to get what God had given. The spies discovered that for forty years in the wilderness Israel had been fighting a battle already lost instead of enjoying in Canaan a victory already won.

This is the discovery you will make when you decide to walk by faith and obey the first principles - the discovery that you have been defrauding yourself maybe 10, 20. 30, 40, 50 years of a victory that Christ won over 1,900 years ago - when He rose again from the dead that he might live his life in you.

So after the spies reported to Joshua, he gathered all the people around. He wanted them to know that a new chapter was being opened in the history of Israel, and that life for them could never be the same again. Notice what he said in Joshua 3:10, "and Joshua said, “Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you. And that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites and the Jebusites." In so many words Joshua said, "You have been living for 40 years in the wilderness as though your God were dead, but you are going to live from now on knowing that your God is alive."

You know I fear that we live as though God were dead. Back when I was in college, Tom Altizer came out with his "God is dead theory." Old Tom Altizer made the headlines and everybody was taking potshots at him because he was so presumptuous to announce the death of God. But you know there is something worse than the theory and that is the practice of the theory. I say that the Church of Jesus Christ needs above everything else to rediscover the fact that God is alive and to act as though he were. Think about this for a moment. Suppose that God were to die today. Would it really make any difference in the way you live your Christian life tomorrow? Would it make the slightest amount of difference next Sunday in our services of worship if God were to die today? Or would it be business as usual? Would anybody know if nobody told them or would the whole machinery grind on with the people in the pew and the preacher in the pulpit and the anthems from the choir? Are we doing anything that would cease to function if God were dead?

So the report came back that the enemy was already defeated. Israel could go into battle in the strength of knowing that the battle was already won. But that did not mean that they could pick up the spoils of victory uncontested. Now let me tell you what happens to these folks who get in the Promised Land. They are having warfare. You see there is not much warfare in the wilderness. I mean, who wants the wilderness? You’ve got it uncontested. Who wants it? Hot! Barren! Fruitless! No produce! You can have it; there is no warfare out there.

I run into Christians every day and they say, “Warfare? What’s that? I don’t know what you are talking about. I’m not having any warfare. I’m not fighting any battles.”

You want to know why? Friend, if you are a believer today and not having any trouble, I’ll tell you exactly what wrong. You are in the wilderness. You’ve missed God 200 miles, because if you are anywhere near the Promised Land, there is hell to pay. That ought to help some of you. It will hurt some of you, but it will help some of you. I know what some of you are saying. You are saying, preacher I thought you said that the Promised Land was a land of wealth. Now you are saying it is a land of warfare. I don't understand."

I said to begin with that the greatest blessings of God are seldom given uncontested. The devil will really put up a fight to rob you of the blessings that God wants you to experience. The devil will put up a great fight to keep you from entering into the wealth that God has prepared for you.

Let me kind of give you a personal testimony. I really believe that God is up to something in my life, or perhaps in the life of our church. One of the reasons that I believe that is because of some of the stuff that I've been experiencing lately. The battles that I've been going through are probably minor compared to some of the things that you have had to endure. But at least they are significant enough to lead me to think that God is up to something. We've had unexpected expenses. We've had automobiles to break down. I've been dealing with discouragement. I've been battling insomnia - haven't really slept very much for weeks. And look, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about any of that. I am just saying that I believe that because of these things, God is about to do something and the devil has already begun to contend for what God is about to do. In order for the Christian to really enjoy his wealth spiritually, he’s going to have to engage in warfare spiritually. I mean, it’s like, “No pain, no gain; no cross, no crown, no spiritual warfare, no spiritual wealth.”

Now, I have found this out. If you are going on with God. There are some serious spiritual adjustments that you are constantly having to make. The Apostle Paul, in speaking about this warfare, urged us to develop holy action. Every time you gain new ground in the Promised Land, Satan will counter attack. It will be all you can do to stand your ground. Paul talks about this warfare in Eephsians 6. In verse 10 he says, “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” Then in verse 11, he says, “Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Then in verse 13 he says, “Where fore take unto you the whole armor of God that he may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand.” So, be prepared! Stand your ground!

Now, I want to tell you what happened after seven years of warfare and after seven years of the children of Israel possessing their possessions. In Joshua 11:16 we read these words: “So Joshua took all that land, the hills and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain and the mountain of Israel. And the valley or the same;..." And then look at verse 23 of Joshua 11. This is what it says, “Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes, and the land rested from war.”


Well, where are you, dear brother? Dear sister? Are you in Egypt? Are you in the land of sin are you in the land of the unredeemed? The land of the lost? Or are you in the wilderness? You are a Christian, but you vacillate. You are hot and then cold - mostly lukewarm. You are not really possessing your possessions. Or have you arrived in the land of promise? Have you entered into Canaan? Are you enjoying the wealth of the spirit-filled life?


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