TODAY’S READING: Joshua 12–15
Every generation has kings to conquer. This is not just because the task is unfinished or because some of our ancestors failed to obey. Both are true. It is also because we were made for battle. Yes, it’s true there is land yet to possess and land yet to conquer (Josh. 13:1–2). Yes, it’s true there are 7,000 unreached peoples who do not yet glorify the King. But there is more to conquest than completion of the task: We were created to be fulfilled when we work (fight/labor/struggle) for what is glorious. Fighting is part and parcel of winning. There is no fun in wins without fights.
The greatest inheritance we can give our children and disciples is the commission to fight for the glory of God in all the earth. If the inheritance we leave behind is a challenge and not a check, we will do more for the souls of those we love than if we left them a fortune. To leave a legacy that removes fight and invites corruption is no kindness at all. We were created to derive joy from battle, not from retreat. Rest is delicious when it is a reprieve from battle, not when it is a retreat. What makes rest rewarding is the call of battle that beckons from the other side. Rest is not an abdication from fighting; it is a pause so that we can fling ourselves into the fray with even more zest and joy. Our greatest inheritance is a call to arms, a call to fight for the eternal souls of unreached peoples—and that, because it will give God glory, and that, because in giving God glory we are most satisfied.
As a collective body, as the family of God, as the army of the Lord of hosts, we have been given a precious double inheritance. We have been given the summons to battle and we have been given the gift of God’s presence. Oh, how fortunate are the children of God—our inheritance is God and His fights! How blessed we are! As parents and grandparents, let us pass that blessing on, and not the corruptible inheritance of so much money our children and grandchildren forget how to battle. No! Let us pass on the inheritance of the presence of Jehovah and a delight in spiritual war. My friend Kelly Brown interprets Jesus saying, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword,” in this very light: Jesus came to go to war for souls. When things get tough on the gospel trail, Jesus doesn’t back down. He says, “Bring it! I came to do battle.” Game on! Let’s fight to the death, or better said, to the life.
Battle calls are not just for the young. Caleb was feisty when he was young and when he was 85 years old (14:10). His strength and appetite for war did not diminish as he aged (v. 11). Battle calls are not just for males. Caleb’s daughters were feisty in their own right (15:17–19). In fact, if you are a single man, the way to prove your manhood is to go on the warpath for the glory of God for the nations. Caleb’s feisty daughter’s hand in marriage was earned by a man who proved he could fight on the frontier (v. 16). Those men who dedicate themselves to fighting for God’s glory among the frontier peoples of earth will have no problem finding godly, feisty wives—the kind.
It should be self-evident that the militarism Jesus calls for is not physically coercive crusading, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. The physical wars in Joshua, played out in the middle of hostile nations, are pictures for us of the spiritual war we inherited and must embrace. We, too, fight among the nations, not for land and homes but for love and hearts. We fight for the glory of God among all peoples. And we all must fight. Grandmas can kneel next to grandkids and do battle for the Aringa of Uganda. Sons can join fathers and grandfathers as missionaries to the unreached. Mothers can teach daughters how to fight for all that is pure, so that all of life can be a winsome invitation to the nations to find sanctuary, meaning, fulfilment, and beauty in identifying with Jesus. Young and old, we have a beautiful inheritance—the God of all the nations. He is ours, and we most fully have Him when we fight for all the peoples He died for. Onward, Christian soldiers, onward as to war.