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Only the Lord can glorify the Lord. It’s all Him. Today we’re going to spend a little time on discussing the principle of victory, but it’s victory by faith. That’s different than the fight of faith. I would like to share this verse before we go to prayer. Lillian one time told me that this, she never had a life verse, but this would be the rest of her life verse. 2 Corinthians 4:16, but I’m also going to read 18, “Therefore, we do not lose heart, though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. We look not at the things that are seen, that the things that are not seen, for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.” We need that great reminder. Let’s commit our time to the Lord.
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your word, for putting in our hearts the precious Holy Spirit, that He might take Your written word and show us the Living word. Turn our eyes to Christ in a fresh way today. Thank You for Your heart and that You are always desiring to do it. We commit our session unto You, for all the will of God, and we thank You that we can claim this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Welcome again to our continuing look at our Lord Jesus which is so beautifully illustrated in the book of Exodus. The story of salvation in seed form. I take you back to the overview that we had on that handout sheet. That’s the overview of the last part, last half of the book of Exodus, from chapter 13:20 all the way to the end to chapter 40. We call that the “Blessed Outworkings of Redemption”. The first part of the book illustrated by the Passover, and we’ve been saved by power and blood, and tells about how God saves us. First He delivers us from Himself, and then He delivers us from Egyptian bondage. These are wonderful results that follow being saved by power and by blood. I pointed out six of them, and you can see on the sheet, the glory cloud is the picture and the principle is guidance. Because I’ve been saved by power and blood I can expect to be guided.
The picture is the song of Moses and the dance of Miriam. The principle is joy. Because I’ve been saved by power and blood God has written a song in my heart. He IS my song. The picture is the manna and the quail and the water out of the rock. The principle is provision. Because I’m saved by power and blood I can expect the Lord to provide all of my needs. Last week we introduced the next blessed outworking, the fourth blessed outworking of redemption which is victory. The picture is the war against Amalek at Rephidim. The principle is victory, and God wants us to be victorious Christians.
In this first war that Israel ever had with an enemy, the first time they were ever attacked by another nation, is in Exodus 17:8-16. There’s only nine verses and yet it contains there every principle of victory that you’ll find anywhere in the Bible; all in seed form. I think it would be helpful if I read a small portion of that record. Exodus 17:9-12, “So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses; hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.”
It’s a wonderful picture and easy to visualize. A mountain and a valley; a hill and a valley; a rod lifted up to God, pointing toward God in heaven, and then that rod coming down, giving way to the pull of the earth. Then the support by Aaron and Hur to prop up the arms of Moses so that they could have continual victory. Last week we began to look at some of the age abiding principles of victory that are fossilized and embedded in that wonderful redemptive history. So far we’ve looked at three principles. I’d like to share six. Let me review those first three and then we’ll move on.
The first is the most basic of all, and that is that victory is not a thing. It’s a Person. It has a name and His name is Jesus. Exodus 17:15, “Moses built an altar and named it ‘The Lord is my banner – Jehovah Nissi’.” 2 Chronicles 20:15, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” This is one of the most basic principles of victory; that the Lord is victory. I need the Lord. There’s no victory without Him. Because He’s the Victor you can’t have victory without the Victor. What they sang when they were delivered from the Red Sea is everlastingly true. Exodus 15:3, “The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name.”
I’m in for a discouraging Christian life until God teaches me that the battle is His, and it’s not mine. It was a dreadful thing in the book of Judges when the people saw the Angel of the Lord with the sword drawn, and then put it back in His sheath. It’s a terrible thing when God says, “You want to fight for yourself? Go to it, and see how that works out.” Of course, we know the answer to that. Revelation 19:11, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.” It’s the Lord.
Every time an enemy has gone against you, you’re a Christian, you better believe the enemy has not come against you. It’s come against the Christ that lives in your heart. The enemy does not attack you. He wages war against the Lord. Because, as Job discovered, the Lord has allowed us the privilege of being the battlefield on which God fights Satan. So, we are the battlefield. Every enemy I face is really not mine but the Lord’s.
The second principle was closely related to that. The Lord’s the Victor. That’s the first principle. The second principle is that I must lay hold of the Victor by faith. We have that in fully developed form in 1 John 5:4, “This is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith.” The war with Amalek is a war of faith. Faith connects us. I showed you the Hebrew last time. There’s a hand that touches the throne. Faith engages God in the battle. It touches God and connects us to the Lord. It appropriates Him. Christ is the Victor and faith depends on Christ. I’m not going to develop it again, but notice verse 11 and how wonderfully that truth of faith was illustrated. “It came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” The rod was just a dead stick, representing Moses, representing me and you. There’s all kinds and sizes of dead sticks, but that’s all we are in ourselves. When we are pointed toward God in heaven we win. When the earth, gravity, the pull of this world takes our eyes off the Lord, then we lose. It went that way throughout that whole battle.
The battle in the valley was not decided in the valley. The battle in the valley was decided on the hill, and it was decided by faith. When that dead stick representing me and you and every Christian is pointing toward God in heaven we are already fighting a battle already won. Before we engage in the battle it’s already won. If you are not trusting the Lord, you’re fighting a battle already lost. You can’t win. It’s already lost before you even begin. That’s the second principle we looked at; the principle of faith.
1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Don’t forget that we’re not glorifying faith. Faith lays hold; it’s only as great as the object that it trusts in. If I put my faith in a rotten bridge I’m not going to be held up. If I put my faith in thin ice, I’m going down, not matter how much faith I had. But if I have little faith in a great God, I have enough. That’s why we can have faith the size of a mustard seed, because it’s not faith; it’s the object of our faith who is Christ.
We looked also at the third principle in victory illustrated by Aaron and Hur. Exodus 17:12, “But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.” I remind you that faith is helpless dependence. It’s trusting in the Lord. I’m just a dead stick. Faith is tiring. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not tiresome. It’s tiring. I need to be helplessly dependent on the Lord, but that includes helpless dependence on his children. I need you and you need me, and we need each other. Moses needed help to be helpless. He was on the hill exercising helpless dependence, and he got tired. The old earth pulled him down. These two brothers put a rock under him and propped his hands up in the direction of Jesus.
When we call for volunteers most of the time we’re calling for volunteers to go in the valley and fight. We need people to drive, and people to teach, and people to set up chairs, people to cook, and people to visit and people to write, and people to support. We need help in the valley, but I’ll tell you, we need help on the hill. If I’m going to trust Christ I need you to help me trust Christ. Blessed are those who are helpers of helpless dependence. As you come to know me and I come to know you, if you see that I’m taking my eyes off the Lord, please be so kind to put a rock under me, to prop me up in the direction of Christ, to remind me to trust the Lord again. We need each other. That was the next principle. It’s so easy to succumb to nature and be drawn to this old world. We need each to prop each other up in the direction of Christ. Those were the three principles we look at; Christ is the Victor, faith lays hold of Christ, and Christians help others to keep trusting in Christ. Do you see how basic and fundamental those principles are?
I told you last week that I wanted to share six principles and I’d like to continue that, but what I want to do first is revisit principles two and three; victory by faith and by others helping. I want to complete the picture of faith. We looked at the fight of faith. What I said is 100% accurate, but it’s not complete. I would like to give the complete picture now. Depending on Him, coming as a dead stick to the Lord, that’s the fight of faith. To use a worn out illustration, the other side of the coin. This coin has two sides, this coin of faith. One side is the fight of faith, and the other is the victory of faith. I’m calling attention to that, and you’ll see why in a moment, because the first part that we talked about last time is gaining the victory. How to gain the victory; by trusting Jesus. The other side of the coin is not as much as how to gain the victory, but how to interpret the victory once you’ve gained it. That victory needs to be interpreted. Since it’s a fight of faith, it has to be victory by faith.
This wonderful verse in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “…we walk by faith, not by sight.” Why am I calling attention to that? It’s because when I’m trusting Christ I win, but now let’s look at that victory. I don’t want to look at it by sight. I’ve got to look at the victory by faith. It’s a fight of faith, and it’s also a victory of faith. Sometimes I can think I’ve trusted the Lord, and Amalek won. He didn’t win. If you are trusting the Lord He’ll never win. He cannot win, but sometimes we need to see that victory by faith. On the past Lord’s Day brother Jay, thank you for that reminder, but he asked me if I’d ever considered the fact that the rod that Moses held up pictured the cross. I know Jay well enough to know when he was talking about the cross he was talking about a principle of life. We’re called to carry the cross. Well, there’s two sides of the coin. One side is the fight of faith. The other side is the fight of victory. As I spread this out before the Lord and considered it, I have this conclusion with the light I have now. I don’t think the rod Moses held up pictured the cross, the fight of faith. But on the other hand, the victory of faith, I think that’s where the cross is; interpreting the victory. We’re going to look at it that way.
It’s important to treat this side of the coin, that victory is by faith, otherwise I won’t be safeguarded from misinterpreting the victory. Trusting Jesus does not mean that things will work out like I want them to work out. Trusting Jesus means things will work out like Jesus wants them to work out. That is not the same thing. May God give us light on this, because if you interpret the outcome by sight, then you’ll go right into condemnation. You’ll think, “I trusted the Lord to save this marriage, and it didn’t work.” “I trusted the Lord to keep me from going bankrupt. Why didn’t it work?” “I trusted the Lord to keep my child, my grandchild, my great grandchild from getting involved with that group, and they are very much involved. What happened?” You might then say, “It must be that I’m not trusting the Lord. I don’t have enough faith. If I had more faith, then the outcome would have been different. If I had enough faith, then the Lord would have delivered. If I had enough faith, then the Lord would have healed me. If I had enough faith, then He would have turned the tide. If I had enough faith, I’ve been trusting Him for a sound mind, and I’m going crazy. I’m losing my mind.” “I trusted the Lord to keep me from persecution, but it’s not happening. Why? Shame on me. I don’t have enough faith to have the victory.”
Brothers and sisters in the Lord, don’t believe that for a lonely moment. I need the faith to fight and trust Jesus, and then once I’ve trusted Christ I need to know that Amalek has been defeated, no matter what it looks like, no matter what the circumstances look like. I’m using that worn out illustration “two sides of the coin”. I want to focus on the victory side; victory by faith, and I’d like to give three illustrations before we continue with the Amalek story. I want to use Paul as an illustration, the Apostle Paul, and then I want to use the perfect illustration, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, and then I want to illustrate it by a parable that Jesus told. I’m going to give three illustrations of this. First I have to show you that the Apostle Paul was fighting the fight of faith, and had the victory.
2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.” Paul fought the fight of faith. Did he have victory? 2 Corinthians 2:14, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifest through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” Did you notice the superlatives in that passage? Always, in triumph, in every place, at all times, in every circumstance. That’s the kind of victory Paul enjoyed. Now, what did it look like to our natural eyes? Let me give you a couple of examples.
Philippians 1:12-14, “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord, because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” The record is in Acts. He was beaten, dragged across the street, he was thrown into a prison and he was put in chains. You look at the circumstances and you might say, “Amalek won.” Amalek did not win. He calls that, “The greater progress of the gospel.”
Do you realize that because he was in prison you can read the book of Philippians? He wrote that when he was in prison. And you can read the book of Ephesians. He wrote that when he was in prison. And you can read the book of Colossians and the book of Philemon. He wrote them while he was in prison. It was when he was in chains, beat up, that the jailor cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” You call the defeat, a win for Amalek? It was not. So, when Paul trusted the Lord he trusted the outcome. He looked at his circumstances with these eyes, and it looked like he lost, but he didn’t lose at all.
Listen again to another testimony of Paul. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” It looks like, because he’s afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, Amalek won the day. And yet, he said, “We are afflicted but we’re not crushed.” There’s my victory. I’m not crushed. I’m perplexed but I’m not despairing. He didn’t despair. He said we’re persecuted, but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed. He had victory in the inner man. That’s why I began the lesson with that wonderful verse, the outer man perishing and it looks like Amalek is winning. He’s not. The inner man is being renewed day by day; not crushed and not perplexed and not destroyed and not cast down. That’s victory.
2 Corinthians 4:10-11, this is to the point the victory by faith, where the cross is, “Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,” that’s the cross. Why? “So that the life of Jesus may be manifest in our body. We who are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus sake so that the life of Jesus may be manifest in our mortal flesh.” The cross is not dying to self. That took place two thousand years ago. That’s done. It’s not dying to self. This is giving Jesus permission to live in me. When he lived on the earth in His first body He went to the cross to save others. He has a new body now, and so He has come to live in His new body, and it’s the same Jesus. He’s going to go to the cross again to save others. That’s what he recognized. We call it, “Everything is redemptive.” When I’m trusting Christ everything is redemptive. What comes into my life is Jesus, and I’m carrying His cross. It’s Jesus using my situation in the best possible way to manifest Himself so that others can come and trust Him.
This is not, “I’ve trusted Christ and this is the outcome I want.” I trust Christ, and I want His outcome. I want what He has in mind. Paul prayed, “Thy will be done.” He didn’t dictate to the Lord. I can’t give you a verse on this, but I’m pretty sure Paul would never ask God to provide a building. I don’t think he would ever ask God to be healed of a disease. I don’t think he would ever ask God to send him money. I don’t think he would ever ask God to give him a sign, a dream, a vision, or a voice. He did not live that way. His eyes were on Christ. His real testimony is in 2 Corinthians 11, “I am in danger every day. I received a hundred and ninety five whippings. I was beaten. I was stoned. I was ship wrecked. I was robbed. I had sleepless nights. I was hungry. I was thirsty. I was exposed to the weather.” It sounds like Amalek is beating up on this guy, but the exact opposite is true. It was redemptive. Paul fought the good fight of faith, and then he interpreted the victory by faith and not by sight. He knew he was a winner, because he was trusting Christ and God had arranged and engineered things in his life to best manifest Himself to others.
That’s Paul’s illustration. The Lord Jesus is the perfect illustration. There’s no doubt that He trusted His Father, “I always do what pleases Him. His will is My meat and My drink.” But if you look at His life, especially at the end, didn’t it look like Amalek won? He was arrested and falsely accused and condemned, and beaten and was mocked and mistreated, nailed to a cross, buried in a tomb. That looks like He didn’t win. But we know the truth. I like the way Colossians words it Colossians 2:14&15, “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through it.” Through what? That’s through the cross. The demons were dancing in glee around the cross. By the resurrection He triumphed over them. If ever there is a picture of “it doesn’t look like He’s winning” it’s the cross, until by God’s grace He came back alive and conquered death, hell, the wrath of God and every enemy. Nothing was more redemptive than the cross, and nothing appears to these eyes more like defeat than the cross. When He cried out, “It is finished,” that was not the groan of some dissolving nature. That was the shout of victory. It’s over and done and finished!
Let me give one final illustration. Paul certainly illustrates victory by faith, and the cross of Christ illustrates victory by faith, but let me give you a parable Jesus told, and I’m referring to John 15, the parable of the vine and the branches. John 15:5, “I’m the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” In the context, it’s nothing that can be called “fruit”. You can do a lot apart from Him, but nothing that is fruit. The branch has one responsibility, and that is to draw life from the vine, and that’s it. That’s all the branch has to do, and there is only one gospel duty for every Christian; draw life from Christ. That’s it. Over, done, period, through.
The branch has no business turning it’s head from the vine to see if it’s bearing fruit. It’s not the branch’s business to bear fruit. That’s the work of the vine. The vine is the One in charge of the fruit, and the very moment the branch looks to see if there is fruit, in that moment that branch begins to wilt, and is going to die. John 15:2, “Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” To the branch, if it were a person, could pray, “Oh, Lord, I want to draw life from You. Give me life and give me fruit,” and then all of a sudden here comes the husbandman with the loping shears and clips it off. That’s sharp and it hurts, and the branch could say, “I must not be trusting the Lord, because I just got wiped out with this sharp knife, these pruning shears.” But the reality is who is He pruning? Notice verse 15:2, “Every branch that bears fruit.” It’s not the one not bearing. It’s the one bearing fruit that He prunes to bring forth more fruit. It’s the fruit bearing branch that has the privilege of being continually cut back to the vine, so that it might bear more fruit. Don’t look at the pruning as if Amalek is winning. He is not winning, and he can’t win. You know when you are trusting the Lord. We don’t have to make a deal of that. If you are, and have given it to the Lord in reality, you are winning, no matter what comes into your life.
So, I look to Christ as the fight of faith, but then I need to interpret the victory as a victory of faith. Everything in my life and yours is redemptive when you are looking to the Lord. I’m trying to clarify that so you are not beating yourself over the head when things don’t work out the way you think they should. You trusted the Lord and this and that didn’t happen. God’s plan is to reveal Christ, and He’ll reveal it, and He knows the best way. It’s a wonderful forward step, brothers and sisters, in a heart knowledge of God when He dawns on you the meaning of redemptive living. May God teach us redemptive living! This is often what is referred to as the cross.
The cross is me giving permission to the Lord to allow in my life whatever He knows will best manifest Him to others. That’s redemptive living. It’s one thing to submit to the will of God. Sometimes when God brings something into our life and we have to come to the place where we surrender, we accept it, we acquiesce, that’s one thing. Submission to the will of God, it is something entirely different when I choose the will of God. That’s better than submitting. Submitting, sometimes we don’t have a choice. He brings something into our life and we don’t like it, but we come to the place where we say, “Alright, Lord, you know best. I give it to you.” That’s one thing, but to choose the will of God, to court pruning, and not just accepting, but to ask for it, to desire to not only submit to His will, but to choose His will. “I want in my life.” That’s what makes the Christian life exciting. I want whatever God knows will best manifest Him. I choose it. When it comes, I don’t have to go through a big battle and mental gymnastics and finally submit to it. No. Every moment is exciting.
I wake up giddy. What in the world is God up to today? I can’t wait for it, no matter what it is. It thrills me. That’s redemptive living, and that’s how Paul lived, and that’s how Christ lived and that’s how He’s inviting us to live. Don’t measure your victory by your circumstances. You have victory in the inner man, in the heart, knowing that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord, to those called according to His purposes. Psalm 98:1, “O sing to the Lord a new song. For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.” The Lord is the Victor, faith lays hold of the Lord, and now I need you and you need me to help us continue to trust the Lord, two sides of the coin; the fight of faith and the victory of faith.
Let me give you the fourth principle of victory illustrated. Exodus 17:8, “Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.” I want to call attention to the expression “fought against Israel”. You can look at the record and say that he’s fighting against Moses, against Aaron and against Hur and fighting against Joshua. His tactics were to knock off the stragglers. So, he’s against the individual. But not primarily so. He attacks the body. He attacks the church. Amalek attacks the entire body. It’s a war against all Christians.
Some have looked at this and seen as if the two parts were two different teaching. One is teaching faith, and that’s on the hill, and one is teaching works, and that’s down in the valley. So, you’ve got faith up there and works. So, Moses, Aaron and Hur is faith, and down here in the valley where there’s the real battle and conflict with the enemy, that’s works. Some have looked at it as if they are two separate things, but God is giving us one picture, and not two pictures. There’s a wonderful relationship between the rod of Moses and the sword of Joshua. Some believe that some people are called to the hills to trust God. Others are called to the valley to engage the enemy in conflict. You fight, and I’ll pray. Or the other way around; you pray and I’ll fight. The truth is every Christian is called to the hill and every Christian is called to the valley at the same time. It’s one picture and not two. Trust God and fight. You’ve got to do both. It’s not just someone up there and they’ve given their lives to be reclusive and hermits and pray all the day long. God hasn’t called us to that. He’s called us to trust the Lord and live redemptively. James 2:26, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
Let me ask these simple questions. If the wind does not blow, is it wind? If the sun doesn’t shine is it the sun? If fire doesn’t burn is it fire? If faith doesn’t work is it faith? Faith without works is dead. It’s not faith. Real faith works. Galatians 5:6, “In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” Faith works. Others have taken the hill and valley and say God’s sovereignty, that’s the hill, and God does it all, and then man’s responsibility. The fact that only God can do it, that’s a Bible truth. The fact that I must be involved, that’s also a Bible truth. I love 1 Corinthians 15:10 in that regard, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” It’s me, but it’s not me; it’s Him. Any view of God’s sovereignty that tones down man’s responsibility is wrong. Any view of man’s responsibility that tones down God’s sovereignty is also wrong. Only the Lord can put those two things together.
It’s like Mary and Martha. I’ve heard some people say, “We don’t need Martha in the church. We should have all Mary’s.” No, we need Martha. If we need Mary, we need Martha. We need the hill and we need the valley. I need Moses and I need Joshua and we need each other. It’s a single picture. The enemy is against the body, and I think a misunderstanding of that has cause a great deal of harm. Some people actually think, “I’ve just got to trust the Lord. It’s unscriptural and unspiritual to have confrontation. I don’t want to confront anybody. I don’t want to resist the devil, and I don’t want to take a stand for righteousness. It’s going to cost too much. I don’t want to be involved in a program. I’m not a legalist. I don’t want to get involved in programs. I don’t want to discipline anybody. God will take care of it. I don’t want to stand up against error.” That’s not God’s teaching. That’s valley ministry. I have to trust the Lord and deal with my problems. I’ve got to trust the Lord and confront the enemy and take a rugged stand. We do both. May I encourage you to trust Jesus and lock your door. Trust Jesus and put on your seat belt. Trust Jesus and take your medicine. Trust Jesus, and don’t neglect the gathering of the saints together. Reckon yourselves dead to sin and stop sinning. Do you see what I’m saying? We need both. We’re Moses, we’re Aaron, we’re Hur, we’re Joshua, we’re the foot soldiers; it’s all one picture. With a rod in one hand and a sword in the other let’s live redemptively in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Trust Jesus and fight.
The fifth principle of victory, and we’ll wrap up with this. Exodus 17:14, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’” There are actually two principles in this passage and we’ll look at the next one next time, but I’ll take this one now. I told you last week that in the Bible this is the first mention of writing. Before this there was no mention of anybody writing. He said, “Write this as a memorial and recite it to Joshua.” I think this is a very interesting time in the wisdom of the Lord to introduce a journal, a diary. Write it down, write what down? This victory we just had with Amalek; write it down, and recite it to Joshua. You know Joshua is going to become God’s instrument in the Promised Land to lead them into victory. The Promised Land is another picture of our Lord Jesus. There’s a seven year war about to take place and Joshua will be the commander in chief in that seven year war. There are going to be a lot of swords drawn and a lot of blood shed in the taking of Canaan.
According to chapter 12:23, there were thirty one enemies, kings that Joshua had to go up against. Thirty one kings and thirty one armies. God expected Joshua to remember the victory at Rephidim all through his life; that the battle is the Lord’s and that it’s appropriated by faith, that we need one another to support one another to trust the Lord. Now he’s face to face in real battle in the land. Let’s see if he remembered what God said to write it down and recite it to him. We looked a little at this when we did our study of Joshua. Joshua was all about the battle plan; all about the valley.
Joshua 7:2, “Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, ‘Go up and spy out the land.’ So the men went up and spied out Ai.” He said, “We have a battle plan. Go check them out. Spy them out and see how many men they have.” The intelligence came back. Joshua 7:3, “They returned to Joshua and said to him, ‘ Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few.” In other words, “This is a little battle. You can handle it. There’s only a couple of thousand of them. Don’t weary the whole army.” They didn’t say this in so many words, but their actions said it, “We don’t need to trust God in this battle.” That’s what they were saying, “We needed God at Jericho because that was a big battle, but this is a little one. We don’t need Him for this. We can handle this one.”
Exodus 7:4, “So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai.” They were defeated. Joshua didn’t review what was written in the book forty years before. There was a great heart searching that day. I won’t get into the whole thing. The Lord led the people to repentance, there was sin in the camp, etc. After they repented they had to face Ai again. Joshua 8:1, they got this word from the Lord, “Now the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.” But this battle was different. Thirty one kings. They went one way and we read the record. But in this battle God said, “Joshua, I want to read you something that I want to remind you of.” He digs up the book that was written forty years ago and He said, “You need to be reminded.” He gives Joshua a special assignment.
Joshua 8:18, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.’ So Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city.” I want you to understand what is happening here. Forty years ago Moses held the rod toward God in heaven; that dead stick. And now they’re in a battle and Joshua had forgotten to trust the Lord. So, He says, “Now you take your javelin.” What’s a javelin? It’s just another dead stick. “You take your javelin and you point it over the enemy toward God in heaven.” Joshua 8:26, “For Joshua did not withdraw his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.” If you read the record, it was all day long until the sun went down. Once again God is reenacting the victory at Rephidim. And now Joshua is not on the fight. He just has to stand there with a stick pointed toward God and toward heaven.
“Write it down. Recite it to Joshua.” Here’s the principle, because we are a forgetful people. Brother and sisters in Christ, the principles of victory do not change through the years; ten, twenty, thirty, forty years. It’s so easy to forget that I need Jesus, and so easy to forget that you need Christ. They trusted Christ for Jericho, but then they thought they could handle Ai. I am not prepared to lose my Lillian and I’m not prepared to lose my keys. I need Christ for everything; big things, little things. If I don’t remember that, the Lord will allow defeat in my life; Amalek, so that I remember and I’ll have to come and trust Him.
Lessons God has taught us years ago need to be quickened. You come to the Bible and you learn a new truth. That’s called revelation. When you learn a new depth of an old truth, that’s called revelation. But when God revives an old truth, that’s called quickening; that’s called revival. God quickens us to the old truth. I want revelation and new truth, and I want a deeper revelation of old truths, but sometimes I just need to remember the old truths. Our fellowship at Family Ministries we break bread to remember the Lord every week. We do that every week. He said, “Do it in remembrance of Me.” Why would He say “in remembrance”? It’s because I forget. Something that great, how is it possible that I could forget?
There were people in Peter’s day, you can read about it in 2 Peter 1, who had become cold and weary in well doing, and had become lazy, and became loose in their moral practices and they neglected to be kind to one another. Peter had an explanation for that. 2 Peter 1:9, “He who lacks these qualities is blind or short sighted, having forgotten that they were purified from their sins.” How could you forget that you’ve been forgiven? How could I forget Jan. 29, 1958 when the Lord accepted me as His own personal child? How can I forget? And yet I do. It’s a precious thing to know that God knows that we are forgetful persons. He gives us two commands; record it and recite it. The book of remembrance is just a picture. Brothers and sisters in Christ, has He delivered you? Record it in your heart, and then recite and remind yourself over and over, and keep repeating it and keep telling others about it.
Peter was ready to die in his last epistle, and here is what he said. If anyone ever had a checkered experience in the life of Christ, it was dear old Peter; all the stuff Peter had and had to remember. Here is his testimony on his dying bed. 2 Peter 1:12&13, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right as long as I’m in this earthly dwelling to stir you up by way of reminder.” So, I’ve claimed his testimony. As long as I am in this body I consider it a privilege to remind you to trust the Lord. All who come to my study at any time are going to hear me tell you that it’s Christ; look to Christ. I don’t get tired of reminding you to stir up your mind by way of remembrance, even though you know it. You’ve got to hear it again. Do me a favor, keep reminding me, especially these days. I’m forgetting more and more. Every day I’m forgetting. I’m eating her pills and she’s eating my pills.
I said there were two principles. One is to write a book of remembrance. What’s in the book of remembrance? “I will blot out every memory.” Isn’t that a strange thing to put in a book of remembrance? God says, “There are some things you’ve got to remember, and there are some things you need to forget.” That’s the last principle. We’ll look at that next time.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your precious word. Thank You for meeting us where we are. You know our lives, our hungers, our capacities and You know what is going on in our lives. Teach us how to live redemptively. Thank You for the privilege of living out Your sacrificial life in us and through us for the sake of those You came to save. Lord, we praise You for this, and I pray You take all these principles of victory and write them indelibly into our lives and our hearts. We are a forgetful people, Lord. Help us remember. In Jesus name we pray. Amen