This is the tenth message in a series called, Closures & New Beginnings; a series I began in January. Today I want to consider an issue that impacts directly upon our crossing over, entering into and possession of the promised inheritance. Based upon the Joshua record it should be clear that God does not want us to merely cross over into the promised inheritance but He wants us to possess that inheritance. It is one thing to be present within the inheritance, and quite another thing to be living out of that inheritance. This explains a great deal of what we see in the North American church.
The measure to which we possess and live out of the inheritance we have crossed over into is determined by a particular issue that is revealed in the second chapter of Joshua. That issue is our view of the enemy; how do you see your enemy? Today’s theme is: ‘How Big is Your Devil?’
I am not insensitive of the fact that our view of the enemy is greatly determined by our exposure to him within the context of various possible involvements. But it still remains that the real truth concerning our enemy is not based upon or determined by our personal experience. I do not look into my personal experience to discover the truth of the enemy; I look to the word and the Spirit. Everything I will ever need to know about my enemy is in this book and is revealed to me by the Holy Spirit as I need to know it.
This message is going to be highly scriptural. I will begin by reading two reports about the same enemy. These reports were made less than 40 years apart. They were made by two different generations. They were given under two different leaders. Here is the first: Num. 13: 25 – 33
I ask that you note the following: First they reported on the land itself; verse 27 “... it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” That fruit was a single cluster of grapes that required two men to carry on their shoulders.
Verse 28 begins with a troublesome word, ‘nevertheless.’ In the culture of our times it would read, “Yah but...” Understand the importance of this. If you back up to Abraham the one to whom this original promise of inheritance was given it is now about 500 years later. That means that for about 500 years the promise of this land has lived from generation to generation in the corporate/community life of these people. They had now been into that very land. They had seen and confirmed that it was exactly what God said it was. They were holding on their shoulders the physical evidence (the physical confirmation) of that 500 year old promise. And all of a sudden there’s a “Yah but.”
Notice what follows the “Yah but”; the focus moves away from the land flowing with milk and honey, away from the cluster of grapes (the physical confirmation) hanging right there in front of them; the focus moves entirely to the enemy.
Verse 31 is very revealing: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” The key word in this is the word ‘us’. They were making their comparison between the enemy and themselves when they should have been drawing their comparison between the enemy and their God. The issue regarding the enemy is not my might, my power, my strength; the issue is the might, the power and the strength of the Almighty God – the same God who made the promise. The enemy loves to turn your focus away from your God to yourself.
To see where this view of the enemy leads look at verse 32: So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land......saying, “The land ...is a land that devours its inhabitants...” Back in verse 27 it was a land flowing with milk and honey; suddenly it’s a bad land that devours its inhabitants. How they viewed their enemy was now colouring their view of the land itself. They were not merely questioning the promise of God; they were actually assaulting and insulting the promise of God.
The enemy is a master at presenting himself in such a way that we are reduced to doubt and unbelief regarding the very promise of God concerning our purpose, our destiny and our inheritance.
This whole downward spiral ends with this sad confession: vs.33 – “...and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” The only defining issue here was not how the enemy saw them but how they saw themselves. They projected their view of themselves onto their enemy. And I will prove to you from scripture that what they thought their enemy thought was the very opposite of what their enemy was really thinking.
Let’s jump ahead less than 40 years and look at a second report regarding those same enemies: Joshua 2: 8 – 11. In verse 9 we should note this phrase: “...the terror of you has fallen on us.” Forty years earlier the terror of the enemy had fallen upon Israel but now the terror of Israel has fallen upon the enemy.
It is my belief that the enemy was no less terrified 40 years earlier. The issue was not the state of the enemy; it was the state of Israel – how they saw themselves in relation to an exaggerated view of the enemy created by their own imaginations influenced by fearful unbelief.
For all who would enter and possess the promised inheritance the first thing we must know, understand and believe about the state of our enemy is that he is afraid us rather than we being afraid of him.
The second fact these Joshua spies found out is – and this is absolutely crucial – they discovered the basis of the enemy’s fear; why they were terrified of Israel. Note this with much care: your enemy knows your history. He may not know your future but he knows your past. What the church never once told me was how that knowledge impacts upon the state of the enemy. In fact the church failed to tell me the real truth concerning this. It told me I needed to fear the enemy because he knew my history and how to use that history to destroy my present and my future.
But what is the whole truth regarding what the enemy knows about our history? He knows much more than what he ever reveals. He reveals all the sins, the failings, the missed marks of our history. But according to the Joshua record there is something else he knows: “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.”
The apostle James wrote: You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. This explains the state of the enemy in Joshua 2. They knew that God was present in that community, that God was present in their story – in fact that their story was a God-story. The enemy knew God was on their side, fighting for them, delivering them, redeeming and saving them. The enemy knew God was protecting, directing and sustaining these people. The enemy knew – and this is vital – that the only explanation for the victorious experience of these people was the presence and power of the Sovereign, Almighty Lord God.
If we believed about ourselves what the enemy already knows to be true of us we would be far less fearful and would be living in greater possession of the promised inheritance.
Verse 11 is amazing: “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” What we need to know is not what the enemy tells us (because everything he speaks is a lie); we need to know the real truth concerning him. That truth is this: He knows our history, our true story. He knows the truth of the incredible presence of God in our story. And because of that fact alone he is the one riddled with fear and confusion.
Go to the end of the chapter (vs.24) and note the report the spies brought back: “Surely the Lord has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”
Look at how different this report was from the one 40 years earlier; essentially two facts: (1)The Lord has given us the land; (2) the state of the enemy is that he is breathless, spiritless, without courage and without strength. Thank you very much, that’s all we need to know.
So how big is your devil? If you believe what the enemy says about himself fear will prevent you from possessing and living out of the very inheritance you have come into.
Several men and women of God have experienced things like the brief testimony I will leave with you. C. H. Spurgeon – that excellent pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and great preacher of the word – awake one night and witnessed a physical manifestation of a demonic entity. In whatever form it was it was perched on the foot of his bed and was attempting to intimidate and strike fear in the man of God. Spurgeon raised himself up slightly, took stock of the situation and said, “Oh, it’s only you.” – laid back down and went to sleep.