Tag Archives: intercessory prayer

15. Remembering the past: Lessons from Joshua

Joshua believed God’s promise, remembered God’s faithfulness, obeyed God’s orders, experienced God’s victory, and led the Israelite army under banner of God’s deliverance.

“The Lord is with us. Do not be afraid” (Numberrs 14:9).

Joshua Believed God’s Promise

How can I have the kind of faith that gets results? The story of Joshua in the Old Testament shows us a wonderful answer to that question.

When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country.

At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land…. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites.

–Numbers 13:17,25,27-33; 14:6-10

The Israelites were at Kadesh-Barnea, just 50 miles from the promised land. Moses sent twelve men to spy out the land. The land was magnificent, but the taking of it was impossible from a human viewpoint. Only Joshua and Caleb had the faith to believe that God could enable them to possess the land God had promised them. Had the Israelites believed God here, they could have been spared forty years of wandering in the wilderness!

Joshua’s Remembered God’s Faithfulness

Joshua was human just like you and I. What made Joshua different? Why did Joshua believe God could give them the land while almost everyone else trembled in fear? Joshua was different because Joshua remembered some things.

Joshua remembered God’s mighty deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Joshua remembered the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Joshua remembered how God departed the water so the Israelites could walk across on dry ground. Joshua remembered the Egyptian army drowning in the same water. Joshua remembered the manna that God provided each day.

Joshua remembered. While the rest of the people saw a situation that could not be overcome, Joshua remembered a God who could not be defeated. And Joshua’s mind must have gone back to the Israelites’ initial encounter with these huge warriors that lived in the land.

This initial encounter came not long after they crossed the river in flight from Pharaoh’s army. As slaves of the Egyptians, the Israelites had never been trained in warfare. God caused the Egyptians to give the Israelites food, clothes, cattle, gold, silver, weapons, and all they required before the Israelites fled from Pharaoh’s clutches, but the Israelites had never been taught to use the swords and shields they bore. As they wielded their armor, they were almost like children playing with toys.

Joshua Obeyed God’s Orders

Egypt had fought the Israelites’ battles before, because the Israelites were Egypt’s slaves. Now the Israelites must learn to fight for themselves. Surely God would give the Israelites a small battle at first, and gradually train them until they were capable of fighting a larger army. But this was not God’s plan. Here is the account of that initial encounter with the inhabitants of the land:

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.

–Exodus 17:8-15

Joshua Experienced God’s Victory

The Amalekite warriors were huge. Their army was vast and ruthless. All the heathen nations would reinforce the Amalekites to oppose Israel. What hope did Israel’s faltering, unskilled army have against the Amalekite army and all the heathen world?

Moses appointed Joshua to lead the Israelite army, and Moses himself stood on a hill and held holy hands up to God. Moses held high his rod. God had used Moses rod to perform miracles in the past. Moses’ rod represented God’s deliverance, and that deliverance was the banner of the Israelite army.

As long as Moses held high the banner of God’s deliverance, the Israelites were victorious. When the banner began to slip, the enemy prevailed.

Application

What hope do we as mothers have against the army of Satan as he marches against our children, pulling them into the clutches of a heathen world today?

After the battle was over, Moses built an altar and called it “Jehovah Nissi” in Hebrew, which means “The Lord is my banner.” We have the same banner today that Moses did. We have the same Lord.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

He is the same God who delivered Joshua and the Israelites from the Amalekites. We hold our hands high to him, and wave his banner of promise and victory.

Thought to Remember

Sometimes our hands get heavy. We cannot maintain the vigil. But our campaign of prayer has provided intercessory prayer partners who support us on either side. Our banner waves on.

Question for Discussion

  • How can I have the kind of faith that gets results? (part 1)

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

10. Offspring, in-laws, torches: Heritage of faith

Pass the torch of a spiritual heritage of faith. Intercede in prayer for future in-laws and offspring. Give adult married children the right to make mistakes, learn and grow together.

A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife (Genesis 2:24).

Interdependent Relationships

When a baby is inside its mother’s womb, that child is one flesh with its mother. At birth, the baby sucks into its lungs the first breath of air. The child experiences the first taste of independence. From that time on, the child is being prepared for that day when he or she will make decisions independently as an adult. At marriage, a person enters into an interdependent relationship, and becomes one flesh with another person again. This unit is established by God. It is sacred.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

From then on, when we deal with our child, we are dealing with part of a unit. Our child’s relationship with his or her marriage partner is more important than their relationship with us.

Indisputable Choices

In many situations, it may be best not to give advice unless our adult children seek it from us. When we see our adult children going astray we may wish to warn them, but certainly we should never nag. Most will not resent our occasional gentle advice given in a spirit of love, if we then back off. Our children must have room to learn from their own mistakes. We cannot smother them. Remember, we may not know all the facts. Our children receive input and advice from many sources, and ours is only one of those sources.

When our child (or our child’s marriage partner) comes to us for advice on how to handle problems with each other, we should not respond by putting down the other partner. Instead, our response should be, “How would Jesus handle this? What does God want you to do in this circumstance?” This is the most important consideration in any marriage. They cannot change their marriage partner. They can only change themselves. As we help our children search for God’s will for themselves in their marriage relationship, we are guiding them toward maturity.

Our married children have the right to make plans and decisions together with each other, apart from us or against our advice. They have the right to make mistakes. They have the right to be immature, and to learn and grow together.

Intercessory Prayer

Just as God planned and made each of us inside our mother’s womb (Psalm 139, below), he plans and makes the person who will be our child’s mate. When two individuals are joined in marriage, two unique personalities are merged into one unit.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

–Psalm 139:13-16

While we are raising our children, God is also preparing the child who will someday be knit together with our child in the union of marriage. What a privilege to pray for that child as we raise and pray for our own child and wait on God to bring his plan to pass! We don’t know who that child is, but our heavenly father knows. A mother carries a child inside her body for nine months, and she feels a special bond when that child finally arrives into the world. When a mother prays for her child’s mate during the growing up years of her child, she also feels a special bond when she finally meets this person for whom she has been praying. What a terrific way to start an in-law relationship!

Indestructible Love (Naomi)

Naomi had a right relationship with her daughters-in-law. That story starts like this:

Now Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.”

–Ruth 1:3-6,16-17

Naomi must have had many long talks with her daughters-in-law about life, and no doubt she revealed to them by word and action the God she served. The story of Ruth and Naomi is the classic example of the love that can exist between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. This love was made possible because Naomi led Ruth to know and love her God.

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her, and the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

–Ruth 4:13-17

Indelible Descendancy

The baby born to Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth was the grandfather of King David, the royal line through which Jesus was born. It all started with Naomi and her obedience to God.

Application

Down through the ages the story of God’s love must continue to be told. We are instructed to tell this story to our offspring as long as the earth shall stand.

“A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.”

“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.”

–Proverbs 13:2; Acts 2:39; Joel 1:3

Begin preparing a spiritual inheritance for your children today. Teach them their awesome responsibility to carry the torch to their offspring. What a shame it would be to leave our descendants an inheritance of this world’s wealth and fail to leave them the most important treasure of all. What a privilege to pray for those who come after us: that God would grant that none would be born unto us that will not choose to serve our God; and that each one who comes after us would light the torch for the next generation!

Ask God to lead you and determine to be obedient to his direction in rearing your children.

Thoughts to Remember

We have the privilege and responsibility to pray for our child’s future mate. Our children deserve the right to make and learn from their own mistakes. We have yet to see what God will do through our children, our sons and daughters-in-law, and our grandchildren, and great-grandchildren on down, if we will be obedient to God.

Question for Discussion

  • How should I prepare for (or deal with) daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren?

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted