Sunday 24th January 2021
– Rev. Daniel Xi An Poon
To align and cross over, and to have victory upon victory, is the vision God has given to our church for 2021. To have a victorious life, we need to know how to align and cross over first. Most of the time we only care about the result, but the whole Bible tells us how important the process is, because the result has already been made clear, that is, Jesus has overcome this world. What we are doing on this earth is to commit to the unfinished business given by Jesus and glorify the Father through this process.
In this process, we know that we need to align with God, but we often fail to do so. This is because in addition to aligning with God and our authority, we also need to align with ourselves. Today, Rev. Daniel Poon used the story recorded in Joshua 8 to help us learn deeper about this concept.
Joshua 8 (Click the link to go to BibleGateway.com)
1. Do Not Be Afraid, Nor Be Dismayed
God talked to Joshua after they had failed their war with Ai (8:1) and witnessed how real God was (Joshua 7). They knew that the failure of the war with Ai was due to one person’s sin. Prior to that, Joshua did not have a real relationship with God as he just watched how God interacted with Moses. He only had all the knowledge about God but no real experience. After seeing all the things that had happened – from when the Israelites left Egypt, to sinning against God in the wilderness, to failing the war in the city of Ai, Joshua must have had fear in his heart. That is why God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed.” God knows Joshua very well, from the outside, he was the newly chosen leader for Israel, but inside, he had fear and felt frustrated, because he did not align with himself. God was helping Joshua to step into his position and align with himself, from inside to outside.
God reminded Joshua two things before the war. First, in Joshua 6:17-19, through Rahab’s words, God showed to Joshua at the beginning of the war that even this Canaanite woman believed God. He was reminding Joshua about his heart. Second, God reminded Joshua about the things that they were not allowed to do. From Joshua 7:21 we learn that Achan took away three things from the city of Jericho, which had been forbidden by God. Achan knew it was wrong to do so, because he hid them in his tent and buried them under the ground. He coveted the things that the Canaanites had because he was not satisfied with what God had given him. What truly aroused God’s anger was that this was not a problem of just one person, but of the whole Israel, including Joshua. Therefore, when God said to Joshua “Do not be afraid”, He was helping Joshua to step out of all these and align with himself.
God did this through His mercy. God had different instruction towards the city of Ai compared to Jericho (8:2). This is because God knew that Joshua was not prepared and the mission was quite difficult for him. When God allow things to change in our life, do not complain about this, or we may be taken over by the devil and fail to align with God and our authority. After the battle in Jericho, the Israelites found out that their relationship with God was not that close. Even their leader Joshua did not seek God first before attacking Ai. God knew all that Joshua was worrying about before the second attack to Ai, so He told him not to be afraid and allowed the Israelites to carry off the plunder and livestock after this war.
Therefore, to align with ourselves, we must first not to be afraid. Sometimes when we are given a difficult mission from God, we may fear and think that is for someone else. But do not let the enemy lie to us. God chooses us and understands all our weaknesses. He wants us to enter the promised land, so “do not be afraid, nor be dismayed”.
2. Align with Our Authority
A lot of time we keep a distance or draw a line with our authority, but here Joshua “lodged that night among the people”, because he wanted the people to be of one heart and he knew they needed him at that time. When we can’t align with ourselves, we live a double life with our inside different from our outside, because we have comprised with devil’s lie. We do not know who we truly are, but thank God – He gives us our authority to tell us the truth about ourselves. Are we ready to listen to the truth which may hurt our feelings? When we hear about the truth, do not run away but ask God and our authority why they have said so, and we need to have the courage to face the true self.
3. Put God at the Centre
V30-31: When Joshua had won the battle at Ai, he did something different to what he did after the battle at Jericho. He learned to give thanks to God, acknowledging that it was God being with them and leading them that had helped them win the battle. Just like what Abram did in Genesis 12:8, Joshua built his first altar at the same place to recognise that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is also his God, glorying His name and putting God at the centre.
V32-33: What Joshua did here was according to what God had instructed Moses for the people of Israel as recorded in Deuteronomy 11:29. Joshua fully committed to what God and Moses had told him to do, because he now knew that as a leader, he must put God at the centre, and follow everything God has told him.
V34-35: When Joshua read the words of the law, he was following Moses’ instructions as written in Deuteronomy 11:18-21. This change in Joshua was not too sudden or no reason, as he had learned from the battle with Ai, which is to put God at the centre, never living a double life.
We can also learn from Joshua’s story. When we live a double life, both we and the people following us will fail, because what goes through us will flow to others. We may be cheated by the devil and believe that it is too hard to follow all of God’s commandments. However, God has given us all the commandments for us to be strong in our relationship with Him (Deuteronomy 11:8), so that we know when God is with us, no one can be against us. Devils do not want to see us in this loving relationship with our heavenly Father, so they keep telling us not to align with God and our authority, making us compromise with a double life – being a Christian on Sunday, but doing all the silly things outside the church and trying to satisfy our own desires apart from God.
Once again, Rev. Daniel challenged us this morning to see the true life shown from God, and encouraged us not be afraid or dismayed when following God, to trust that God and our authority love us and be ready to hear the truth from them, and put God at the centre and follow every word of God in our life. Let us put our hope in God alone, and build a solid relationship with Him so that we can also align ourselves – from inside to outside!