Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Defeating the Enemies Within (Joshua 14)

Josh 14:15-15:1, 14-19 Then the land had rest from war. The allotment for the tribe of Judah, clan by clan, extended down to the territory of Edom, to the Desert of Zin in the extreme south.... And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the descendants of Anak. And he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir. Now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. And Caleb said, "Whoever strikes Kiriath-sepher and captures it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife." And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife. When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she got off her donkey, and Caleb said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water." And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

Israel has finally received her possessions. She has received what was promised and "the land had rest from war." In fact, every tribe was allotted their inheritance as described in Joshua 15-19. Nevertheless, the end of war is not the end of the battles. We read that Caleb was still driving out the inhabitants of Debir with help from Othniel who captured Debir. Othniel was later to become Israel's first judge after Joshua has died (Judges 3:9).

The spiritual lessons for us here are:

(1) The War is Over ("Then the land had rest from war"): Joshua has completed his mission - he has conquered the land and the war is over. The twelve tribes received their allotments of land. They have inherited the land that God has promised their Abraham 400 years earlier. Joshua is a type of Christ (in fact, the name "Jesus" is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name "Joshua"). Christ has similarly defeated the devil at the Cross and has received from God the "promise of the Father": "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Eph. 1:3). We have inherited the spiritual riches of God in Christ. We have rest from our war with the kingdom of darkness because Jesus has triumphed over Satan, the prince of darkness.

(2) The Battles are On-going ("And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the descendants of Anak."): While the land is firmly in the hand of Israel, nevertheless the enemies still dwell within the land. Caleb and Othniel had to engage the Anakites and the inhabitants of Debir. Just as Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, not every believer has complete victory over the enemies within: viz., sinful addictions and habits, sicknesses, demonic influences, etc. that continually dog their walk with God from within.

The enemies are no more external but internal. Paul calls this enemy the "flesh." We have to deal with the flesh on a daily basis, because it is the flesh that triggers the inner battles that every believer experiences within: "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these" (Gal 5:16-21, ESV)

(3)  Asking is the Way to Victory ("When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field."): The way of victory in the Christian life is not fight the flesh but to ask for power to defeat the flesh, viz., the Holy Spirit. Caleb's wife, Achsah, demonstrated feminine wisdom on how to possess our possessions: she asked her husband Othniel to ask Caleb. But like many blurr males who often find it difficult to ask for anything (especially, directions!), Othniel did not ask Caleb for the field. So Achsah like all practical females took it upon herself to ask her father: "Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water." And she received what she asked for!

Paul puts it this way: "Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." The "springs of water" that Achsah received is a type of the Holy Spirit who is the "waters of life." We are to drink daily of the Spirit to overcome the downward pull of the flesh. We can't get rid of the flesh -- it is embedded within our human nature. But we can walk by the Spirit and overcome the desires of the flesh. Someone compares this to aerodynamics. While we cannot remove gravity, we can defeat it by riding on the winds by applying the power of air-lift to get us soaring upward against downward pull of gravity.

Let's not deny the reality of the flesh. But let's not be defeated by it either. We have the springs of life, the Holy Spirit. Let's ask for it today and everyday!

Father, grant us Your Spirit to defeat the desires of the flesh. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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