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Preparing for Conquest

In a military conflict today, the soldiers of the United States are the gold standard in a battle. Why is this? Because the U.S. has a commitment to thorough preparation. As a result, our soldiers are among the most adaptable, the most disciplined, and most skilled military leaders of our time. The same soldiers can carry out a conventional attack, then be able to take action as a military policeman, then act as a guard, and do all of them well. Because there is a commitment to preparation, the soldier can thrive given most any mission.
Joshua and most of the nation of Israel had just crossed the Jordan River. Their crossing was unexpected and miraculous. As a result, their enemies were feeling confused, overwhelmed, and helpless. A military leader would say today that their "shock and awe" from God bringing them across the Jordan would enable them to be able to move quickly and win great victories. If they would strike quickly, they could have a great tactical advantage.
However, that is not what God has in mind. In fact, God quickly puts the brakes on their advance. In fact, it is at this exact time that God speaks to Joshua and tells him to stop their advance and circumcise all the males (Joshua 5:2). This is obviously going to not only stop them, but put them in danger for a few days. Why does God insist on this act at this time?
These folks had been wandering around the desert for forty years, eating manna and following God's provision. The reason for this is that when they had a chance to go into the Promised Land earlier, they did not trust God, but were fearful and some desired to return to Egypt, where they had been held in bondage for so many years. Circumcision was (again) a mark of faith on their part. especially in this situation. God says as a result of their faith in God here that the reproach of Egypt was "rolled away". We would say today that these Israelites had to get rid of their "baggage" that was going to hold them back otherwise. Many of us have baggage of past and present sins that can keep us from being effective today. Sin left unchecked, unforgiven, or unconfessed can cause us to be bogged down in our spiritual battles.
Once the circumcision had healed, God was then worshipped at the Passover (Joshua 5:10). Worship of God is an important part of our spiritual warfare. The nation had only had one observance of the Passover recorded during the forty years in the desert. This was a time to remember what God had done for them. Our ability to combat sin and stand for truth grows out of a trust in God. One of the ways we can grow our trust in God is by remembering how He has cared for us in the past. When the battles get tough, it is important to draw on the reservoir of God's goodness to sustain us in the times of trouble. Because God has taken care of them in the past, they can move forward in faith, knowing that God can help them in the future.
There was yet another step before these would be prepared for conquest. Throughout the forty years of wandering, God had fed the people with a unique food called manna. But after the Passover, God no longer sent manna. This was a sign that God was graduating them to a new level of maturity. They would no longer be spiritual "milk-drinkers", but would become spiritual "meat-eaters". Their concerns were to shift from daily survival to conquest. No longer would God provide the heavenly food, but they were going to have to go and conquer the enemy and take their land.
As an army and as individual soldiers, Israel was now better prepared to move forward in conquest. What is holding you back from being ready for conquest? Is it unconfessed sin? Maybe you have never really experienced true forgiveness from your sin and "baggage" that is available in Christ. Perhaps it is a lack of worshipping or trusting God. There is no time like the present to deal with these issues. Perhaps you need to take a step forward from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood. God can prepare you for battle personally with the tools He has given!

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