Joshua 9: Pretenders & Discernment

 

As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel. But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.”
(Joshua 9:1-6)

 

No sooner had the children of Israel revisited Mount Ebal and had God’s Word reiterated to them than pretenders from the world entered into the camp, coaxing them into an earthly covenant. So it goes with the children of God today.

As in the days of Joshua, these pretenders among the brethren still put themselves forward as having traveled far and having seen many things, and find need to make a show of their purported experience to make up for their utter lack of the fruit of truth and sincerity in them. They came in to the midst only for fear of man; for if they had feared God, they would have truly repented of their wicked hearts and been grafted in. But because they could not bear the Word of the Lord cutting open and exposing their hearts, they instead came in by another way: tempting God’s people to merely pity their estate and be impressed at their outward showing of humility.

The obedience of God’s children in love for one another is the key displaying the wisdom of God on the earth; but men of the earth demand their own unspiritual covenants with God’s people – and those who lack in vigilance make compromises with the world through a soulish love, at the expense of men’s souls. Comforting men in their Godless estate replaces calling them to repentance, and so the holy love of God is adulterated and lost to human sentiment: a hindrance to men being truly regenerated by the Spirit of God.

 

But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”
And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?”
They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth.

So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, “Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, ‘We are your servants.'” Come now, make a covenant with us. Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.”

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord.
And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

(Joshua 9:7-15)

 

This is how wolves are introduced to the flock, and tares to the wheat field. When the sheep are not listening to the Shepherd’s voice, they are drawn by another and become lost; and while the tillers of the field sleep, the enemy plants his own harvest. The particular deception here was one of a false servanthood: they put themselves forward as having a “servant’s heart,” and were even indeed willing to do many earthly-helpful activities among God’s people – but it was all for self-preservation so that they may remain as they are, still expecting God to accept their own sacrifice; for HE was not their treasure.

Now the Gibeonites in our own day have learned to become teachers, and teach God’s people in such a way that conveys the outward sacrifices of their insincerity to always automatically be accepted by God as true spiritual obedience, so that the falsehood of their ways eventually cannot easily be discerned by God’s children; and no longer does any man have the fortitude to cast them out. In such an atmosphere, the distinction between those who merely honor God with their lips and those who truly obey Him from a heart exposed by the Light of Christ becomes blurred as men draw teachers unto themselves who speak great swelling words that their itching carnal ears want to hear. Their goal is to appeal to the world and unite with it, rather than to lift up Jesus Christ, the divider of all men. Mixture between the kingdom of God and the causes of men rules the day. Caesar is expected to further God’s kingdom and propagate the tenants of the faith; and the kingdom of God which delivers men from the bondage of the world is lost to a gospel of earthly utility at the expense of transcendent heavenly truth, where distinguishing between what is spiritual and what is unsanctified becomes touted as “judgemental” and “unchristian”. In this “gospel”, dying to self becomes achievable through outward actions of showman’s humility rather than by the Holy Spirit’s sword of conviction, and the ego is applauded for outwardly sounding more humble than those faithful few who cry against this great evil.

But separation from the world and its causes unto God and His heavenly kingdom is not careless or selfish as these carnal men have declared: it is actually an all out declaration of spiritual war against Satan’s devices and will get you despised by all men. For they have been deceived by him into sympathizing with mere outward human justice in order to avoid submitting to God’s justice upon their own idolatrous hearts that they might be saved.

The apostle Paul spoke of the falsehood of deceivers who would permeate the landscape of the last days, saying of them,

“…always learning, but never being able to come to a full knowledge of truth. But in the way Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so also these withstand the truth, men having been corrupted in mind, found worthless as to the faith.”
(2 Timothy 3:7-8)

The two conjurers who opposed Moses appeared to perform many of the same signs as he did – so it is with the false spirit of a false gospel. The greatest counterfeit is the one which shares as much possible resemblance to what God’s people currently deem to be authentic; therefore these men also learn much after the words of respected teachers so that they may improve the effectiveness of their deception. Therefore, only those who instead walk with God and are taught by God Himself through His Word rather than only by men: only they can fully see through these deceivers and walk in true substance beyond that which pretenders can imitate.

But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men (Jannes & Jambres). You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
(2 Timothy 3:9-11)

The “form of Godliness” (2Tim 3:5) which these men display consists of the outward works of sacrificial devotion to man’s agendas; yet it is only the divinely empowered obedience to God of a transformed heart which alone produces steadfastness and unwavering obedient faith in the eternally unchanging Word of God. The pretender’s appeal is to man’s wisdom under the pretense of it being God’s Word, and to man’s emotion in the name of God’s Spirit. Only the Word of God and the Spirit of God are directly and specifically described in scripture as TRUTH; and they are the two witnesses of God which in these days of apostasy are being killed before the eyes of all men, who celebrate their death and persecute the faithful, even supposing themselves to being doing God Himself a favor.

Truth and has fallen in the streets of man’s city and is rejoiced over, for it has not been allowed to divide and conquer the hearts of those hearing. Even the children of Israel had just heard the Word of God preached to them on Mount Ebal; yet their leaders lacked mature discernment of the good from the evil, and all Israel would now suffer the ongoing consequences of allowing evildoers into their midst upon false pretenses. Nowhere were the Gibeonites required to give up their idols to serve the true and living God; but they were allowed in to partake of the blessings of God simply out of earthly convenience and worldly human pity. No repentance from dead works or faith in the God who saves was required; and thus many a soul was “loved” to damnation. This was also one of many occurrences setting the stage for God’s people to be drawn away to other gods even from within the camp, so that during times of great apostasy, the faithful remnant and the true prophets in their midst became the greatest outcasts at the hands of those who falsely claimed to love God.

And, indeed, all desiring to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
But evil men and pretenders will go forward to worse, leading astray and being led astray. But you keep on in what you learned and were assured of, knowing from whom you learned, and that from a babe you know the Holy Scriptures, those being able to make you wise to salvation through belief in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 3:12-15)

The earnestness of conviction in the pretender’s cause does not justify its propagation in the household of faith. Those who deceive others do so because they themselves are being willingly deceived. They must be warned as men whom the Lord desires to have mercy on; but as it pertains to the assembly of faith, if they continually refuse to stop teaching things contrary to the sound doctrine of Christ and His first apostles then they must be marked and avoided until they truly repent. Do not sware oaths to any man, lest you throw in your lot with an evildoer and be held to your oaths by God, who desires for you true liberty through death – death both to yourself and to all men – that you may live unto God and serve only HIM.

 

At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders.

But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.”
And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them. Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.”

They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you – so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.”
So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place that He should choose.

(Joshua 9:16-27)

 

In our day, many in God’s house have entrusted themselves to those who ought not to be in their midst, and have made covenants with them. Therefore, as God marks those who are His unto the preservation of their souls on the day of slaughter, let us rather choose the wisdom of the fountain of life – which is the fear of the LORD; and let us be sure that we have given ourselves over to be judged and slain and raised again to life anew by the Word of Christ unto the clear vision of His holiness. We will remain befallen with the growths of that which does not belong in the body and the absence of that which does belong, until mature discernment is obtained through the continual exercise of faith’s obedience both in and to the word.

Every scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be perfected, fully furnished for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Lord works in this day of separation to deliver unto life those who trust in Him, to try the substance of their faith so that it may result in praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged. But being judged, we are corrected by the Lord, that we not be condemned with the world.
(1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

Come Out, That You May Hold Fast

Brothers and sisters:

If you will stand for holiness and separate yourselves from this world and its demands upon God, then those who keep trying to preserve that which God shall soon destroy will call your behavior heartless and unchristian in their lack of understanding.

So be it. Those whose great concern is supposedly not to judge others have hated you and judged you unrighteously; for you are a holy temple of the Living God, who is jealous for that temple. And He will defend those who hold fast; but He will take no pleasure in the one who draws back in faithlessness. It is only the consecrated who enter His rest. It is only the obedient and steadfast in whom His word is proven.

As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

(Psalm 18:30)

Jesus’ call to not judge lest we be judged is a warning against unrighteous judgement, stressing that “with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured again to you.” But if our eye is single, and if that in which we do judge is free of hypocrisy (which is actually possible, as we are in fact called to this), then we being full of light do indeed see clearly to remove the speck in our brother’s eye. “For the spiritual man judges all things, yet is himself discerned by no one.”

But the one who judges those in whom God’s law is truly being fulfilled by the Spirit of life is speaking against the Law and judging the Law. And as long as such do not repent, they have sided themselves with the accuser and serve the purposes of Mystery Babylon, which we must remove ourselves from in order to remain in all the abundant mercies Christ. You cannot partake of two spirits. For Jesus has condemned us to righteousness and holiness, to remain unspotted from this world of iniquity.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up by your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to everlasting life.
(Jude 1:20-21, LITV)

There is no true functioning body of Christ where each member is not first able to stand alone with HIM. Unity in God is predicated upon separation unto God by the whole of the body. That which is not comprised of consecrated parts cannot be a functioning body.
We do not comfort men in the world, nor do we condescend the gospel of Christ into human terms; rather we call men out unto God who provides spiritual comfort to those whom the truth has first slain and regenerated into a kingdom that is not of this world. For those who belong to His kingdom are free to have confidence before Him, as nothing else need hold mastery over their soul.

And, indeed, all desiring to live Godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and pretenders will go forward to worse, leading astray and being lead astray. But you keep on in what you have learned and were assured of, knowing from whom you learned, and that from a babe you know the holy scriptures, those being able to make you wise to salvation through belief in Jesus Christ.
(2 Timothy 3:12-15, LITV)

The tares are becoming manifest to the ones being awakened; and they hope diligently for the coming harvest of separation. The slandered and misrepresented sheep of Christ’s fold who are grounded in the unchanging truth of His word are not ashamed even before His coming; for they know whom they have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to keep what they have committed unto Him until that Day (2Tim 1:12).

Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
(Daniel 12:10)

Whoever Exalts Himself…

In a day when the message of man’s church is to “rise up,” we truly need more than ever to humble ourselves before the Lord.
The working out of our salvation with fear and trembling is sustained by humbly yielding ourselves to God who desires to work IN us according to HIS good will and pleasure.

The second beast of Revelation 13 is one which looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. It is the very same voice of self-ascension “rising up out of the earth” (Rev 13:11) which beguiled Eve long ago.
If YOU are rising up of YOUR own volition, it is only the dragon who empowers you in any success. But those who humble themselves under the mighty hand of God will be exalted IN DUE TIME (1Pet 5:6).

The earth that the meek will inherit is the new one after HIS return – and He does not return for a self-asserting bride that has conquered the earth; but rather for a humble people who have at last allowed Him to fully conquer them!

We conquer the enemy by Christ’s victory in us, not by our own victory outside of us.

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they loved not their lives even unto death.
(Revelation 12:11 ESV)

This is the only true victory, and the only way that God’s people shall endure in the day of their greatest trial.

Revelation 13 – Warnings & Meditations

And I stood on the sand of the sea.
And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns,
and on his horns ten diadems, and on its heads names of blasphemy.

And they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast;
and they worshiped the beast, saying,
“Who is like the beast; who is able to make war with it?”

…And all those dwelling in the earth will worship it,
those of whom the names had not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb having been slain from the foundation of the world.
If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

(Revelation 13:1,4, 8-9)

Those who are finding no rest in God through Jesus Christ the sacrificial Lamb are ultimately found following after and rendering their worship to the spirit of this present evil age. Where the blood of the Lamb and the word of the testimony of His holy ones is not held up and walked in by faith to thwart the Devil’s onslaught of accusation and temptation, it becomes replaced by the carnal devices of man and flesh unto the enthroning of ourselves and our self-will. And in this arrogant self-deception, even the bringing about of the appearing of Christ’s kingdom becomes a work that we ourselves must accomplish through political means and social actions; rather than a bride being cleansed from all such worldly mixture by He who gave everything so that she might be made ready BY HIS OWN MEANS for His return.

The Spirit goes on to warn:
If anyone gathers captivity, into captivity he goes.
If anyone will kill by a sword, by a sword he must be killed.

Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
(Revelation 13:10)

Such is the landscape of today: where those in God’s house, who should be at peace in Him, enduring with patience and faith unto the day of salvation, are instead being seduced to seek and to give honor unto men that they might see their perceived image of heaven take shape upon the earth through the captivation of men’s agendas and by the sword of their own arms – not realizing that such is the very essence of the second beast…

And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth.
And it had two horns
like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon.
And it executes all the authority of the first beast before it.
And it causes that the earth and those dwelling in it should worship the first beast, of which was healed its deadly wound.

And it does great signs, that it even causes fire to come down
out of the heaven onto the earth before men.

(Revelation 13:11-13)

“…coming up out of the earth.
– This false spirituality, which seeks to build the kingdom of God rather than to receive it through meekness in due time: this is of the earth, not of Heaven. For His kingdom is not of this world; and its unveiling before all is not until HIS unveiling before all when all the kingdoms of the earth are judged. Until then, it is within those who follow the Lamb wherever HE may go.

And it executes all the authority of the first beast before it.
– The faithful should not distinguish between the evil of the world’s first beast, which rises out of the sea of all men, and the evil of the second beast which is born of a church that has become earthly. For its authority is equally carnal and its power equally satanic. Its venture to influence the world in its greatness is equally as blasphemous as the very world which it desires to take unto itself.

And it causes that the earth and those dwelling in it should worship the first beast, of which was healed its deadly wound.
– This wound being healed may very well speak of specific future or current events surrounding this first beast; but it is also at the very least a parable of the political and false religious outcome of a worldly ‘gospel:’ a gospel which declares righteous that which has not been cleansed by Christ’s blood, declares mended that which has not been healed by HIS wounds, and declares anointed that which heaven has not ordained. It is the call of the wicked one upon all men – and especially God’s people – to render spiritual honor and obedience to world powers, under the claim that such have suddenly been sanctified and anointed to have authority in the household of God – much as we see rampant today. The signs which wicked carnal men seek are conveniently being provided to them by devils who lead them further astray into their own worldly desire.

And it deceives those dwelling on the earth, because of the signs which were given to it to do before the beast, saying to those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the beast who has the wound of the sword, and lived.
And was given to it to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak, and might cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
And the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the slaves, it causes that they give to them all a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads, even so that not any could buy or sell, except the one having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name. Here is wisdom: Let the one having reason count the number of the beast,for it is the number of a man and its number is six hundred and sixty six.
(Revelation 13:14-18)

The image and mark and number of the beast is the image and mark and number of A MAN! The abomination which causes desolation is that very image being set up in God’s temple as the object of worship – for His children are that temple! Therefore it causes desolation because it is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, who upon being replaced by another cannot abide in it. And they are slain by the sword of the mouth of He who could have been Life to them, because they worshiped the image of that beast (Rev 19:20-21).

It is clearly Satan’s objective to cause God’s children to fall away into worshiping the creature rather than the Creator, to esteem themselves so that they esteem Him not, rejecting HIM ALONE from truly ruling over them.

“He was despised… and we esteemed HIM not…”

“He came unto His own, and His own received HIM not…”

The gospel of self-ascension and worldly-kingdom-building is preaching well today, and it will lead many astray into destruction. Deliverance from all evil is found only in slavery to Christ, who came to destroy the Devil’s work. Anyone not regenerated by the Spirit of Christ nor abiding in Him IS indeed the Devil’s handiwork, they themselves carrying it out even further; but praise be to God for the blood and cross of Christ, by which we die with Him so that we too may walk in the newness of HIS Life through the mighty work of His indwelling Spirit!

The Devil is not rebuked in our own names, but only glorified. Let only the Name above all Names be esteemed in the conduct of His people. All other names are flowing into the beast, and we must cut ourselves off from them in order to keep the faith of Jesus. The only mark we can afford to bear in this world is the mark of God, even the marks of Jesus Christ crucified; unto which end we have many sufferings yet to endure. We are supposed to be dead in the Lord, the only place of resting in the labors of His Spirit, by the obedience of faith. HE alone is our peace and our only rest. HE is our only strong tower against the enemy, and the Rock higher than I. Only HE is that which is truly good – all else is the path to self-seeking and blasphemy.

And a third angel followed them, saying in a great voice,
If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead,
or in his hand, he also shall drink of the wine of the anger of God which has been mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb.

And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever.
And those worshiping the beast and its image have no rest night and day,
even if anyone receives the mark of its name.

Here is the patience of the saints;
here are
the ones keeping the commands of God,
and the faith of Jesus.

And I heard a voice out of Heaven saying to me,
Write: Blessed are the dead, the ones dying in the Lord from now.‘”
Yes, says the Spirit, “they shall rest from their labors,
and their works follow with them.

(Revelation 14:9-13)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God, and not from us; in every way being troubled, but not having been hemmed in; having been perplexed, but not utterly at a loss; being persecuted, but not having been forsaken; being thrown down, but not having been destroyed; always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus in the body, that also the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.
For we who live are always being delivered up to death on account of Jesus, that also the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh…
(2 Corinthians 4:7-11)

I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, the One loving me and giving Himself over on my behalf.
(Galatians 2:20)

“Come to Me, all those laboring and being burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

– Brendan

Readiness & Fruitfulness

And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf,
He went to see if He could find anything on it.
When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves,
for it was not the season for figs.
And He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”
And his disciples heard it.
…As they passed by in the morning,
they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.
(Mark 11:13-14, 20)

The season of the world does not determine the fruit of the Spirit.
True fruit borne unto God is that which HIS call and HIS Life at work within us produces. The working out of our salvation with fear and trembling is the yielding to HE who works within us to will and to do according to HIS good pleasure. The fruit which God recognizes and is pleased to savor is the fruit of HIS Spirit. It is in view of His abundant mercies that we offer ourselves living sacrifices upon the altar of our death; that HIS Life might be manifested in us, who by faith and patience inherit the promise of the word of Life which renews our mind and restores our soul day by day.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season…
(Psalm 1:1-3)

The Living God is not interested in what human metrics or men’s traditions regard as fruitful or useful; but rather the hidden man of the heart, which bursts forth in springs of Living Water from beyond what the vessel itself could ever provide. Our ability to bear fruit depends not upon busying ourselves with what men commonly perceive as “spiritual activities;” but depends rather upon the readiness of a heart that is single towards God and His manifold purposes.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
preach the word; be READY in season and out of season…
(2 Timothy 4:1-2)

The fig tree which Jesus cursed was required by Him to be ready even out of season in order for it to bear fruit in HIS season. The seasons of the Lord’s trees are determined by the calling of the Lord Himself. They do not conform to the patterns of this world’s seasons; for they wait upon the Shepherds voice alone, being driven by the wind of His Spirit, which “blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8) Trees that only bear fruit in accordance to the wisdom of this age are not bearing God’s fruit. True Life begins in and is sustained by the Word of Life. True fruit is borne only by the means of the Fruit Bearer Himself, whose kingdom is not of this world, but is rather found within whomever His Spirit finds a conduit to flow.

As men go to and fro throughout the earth, looking to bolster “my ministry,” “my calling,” “my inheritance;” the eyes of the LORD meanwhile go to and fro throughout the whole earth looking to strengthen the heart that is pure before HIM, so that HE might minister through those to whom He has first ministered.

“…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, the eyes of your mind having been enlightened, for you to know what is the hope of HIS calling, and what the riches of the glory of HIS inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of HIS power toward us, the ones believing according to the working of HIS mighty strength…”
(Ephesians 1:17-19)

The key to fruitfulness in His season is readiness both “in and out of season” – and what we are ready for is determined by what our hearts are set to meditate upon. “Readiness” is the descriptor of the gospel of peace being manifest in our footsteps (Eph 6:15) – therefore our peace with God in His gospel must be our innermost meditation should our steps become truly stable and ready to bear His fruit in His season. We wait upon the Lord with all diligence, even as one waits upon the command of a king eho loves them. We as a royal priesthood minister unto Him as He ministers unto us; for a sweet savor before His throne is the object of true ministry. To wait upon the Lord is most simply to be in constant communion with Him – this is why those who wait upon the Lord are renewed in strength. It is by abiding faith in His power that we as the branches of His vine bear fruit.

– Brendan

Joshua 8 – Part 1: Our Authority & the Enemy’s Blindness

And Jehovah said to Joshua,
“Do not fear, nor be afraid. Take all the people of war with you,
and rise up, go up to Ai. Behold, I have given the king of Ai, and his people,
and his city, and his land into your hand.
And you shall do to Ai and to its king as you have done to Jericho and its king. Only, its spoil and its cattle you shall take for yourselves. Set yourself an ambush for the city behind it.”
(Joshua 8:1-2)

“Behold, I have given… into YOUR hand…”
“Set YOURSELF an ambush…”
 
The walls of Jericho were conquered not by the hand of any man; but by the overcoming faith of the people in their Captain.

But having been delivered from the great stronghold, they were now expected to walk in THEIR authority from heaven to continue their conquest. Jericho was handed to them without any requirement but the first steps and proclamation of newborn faith; but the taking of Ai required a walk of both holiness and meekness. This was initially failed by the man who stole the things devoted to destruction (Joshua 7), which brought grief and delay upon the whole camp of Israel; and that man was purged from their midst. The putting off of idolatry is the putting on of authority in the Spirit.

And this authority is that of the pierced hands; for pride brings the loss of authority in God’s kingdom, just as the Devil was opposed and cast out. Pride is the root and substance of all idolatry. But the method of Christ’s victory was through death and humiliation at the hands of all the fury of the adversary; for the enemy is blinded by his own vanity, so as not to discern the mystery of Godliness. The greatest warriors in the army of the Lord are the meek, for the enemy cannot comprehend the mind of Christ, “who subsisting in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even the death of a cross.Because of this also God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and ones under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

And Joshua sent them away, and they went to the ambush,
and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west of Ai.
And Joshua remained that night in the midst of the people.
And Joshua rose early in the morning and called up the people,
and they went up, he and the elders of Israel in the sight of the people of Ai.
And all the people of war with him went up and drew near,
and came before the city. And they camped on the north of Ai,
and the valley was between him and Ai.
And he took about five thousand men and set them as an ambush
between Bethel and Ai, on the west of the city.
And they set the people, all the camp on the north of the city;
and its rear on the west of the city.
And Joshua went into the middle of the valley on that night.

And it happened, when the king of Ai saw,
the men of the city rose early and hurried to go out to meet Israel in battle,
he and all his people at the appointed time before the plain.
He did not know that an ambush was against him behind the city.
And Joshua and all Israel were stricken before them,
and they fled the way of the wilderness.
And all the people in the city were called to chase them.
And they pursued Joshua, and were drawn away out of the city.
And there was not a man left in Ai and Bethel who had not gone out after Israel. And they left the city open, and chased Israel.

(Joshua 8:9-17)

The Lord set Joshua and the people in a place which to their enemy made them appear vulnerable and open for attack; but his brashness was the very mechanism of his downfall. Joshua took the way of apparent defeat in order to lay hold of victory for his people. This is a wonderful picture of the cross, upon which Christ Jesus took the fall for His people’s deliverance, enduring the scorn and temptation of the Devil; but being the spotless Lamb of God, He was raised from the dead. And having emptied the gates of hell upon Himself to their own exposure, He now holds every key to their final demise. For it is HIS authority by which the gates of hell (the council and strategy of the enemy) cannot overcome those who remain in HIM. For what He has bound and loosed in heaven is bound and loosed on earth by those who give themselves over to walking obediently by faith in what they see the Father doing.

And Jehovah said to Joshua,
“Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai. For I will give it into your hand.”
And Joshua stretched out the javelin in his hand toward the city.
And the ambush rose up quickly out of their place,
and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand,
and entered the city, and took it.
And they hastened and burned the city with fire.
And the men of Ai looked behind them, and saw; and, behold!
The smoke of the city had gone up into the sky.
And there was no power in them to flee here or there.
And the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers.

And Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city,
and that the smoke of the city had gone up.
And they turned back and struck the men of Ai.
And the others came out from the city to meet them.
And they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that.
And they struck them until not was left to them a survivor, not one that escaped.
And they caught the king of Ai and brought him alive to Joshua.

…And Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Only, Israel seized for themselves the livestock, and the plunder of the city, according to the word of Jehovah which He commanded Joshua.

(Joshua 8:18-23, 26-27)

The boldness to walk in overcoming faith is a boldness unfamiliar with pride which is held in meekness. Walking in the authority of Christ is knowing of the Father’s will without the restraints of our own will and drawing the power of that heavenly kingdom to earth by stepping out upon what can only be presently seen by eyes of singleness toward HIS purposes and hearts longing for HIS appearing. This requires the present knowing of His actual will: not as a distant and general unknown, but rather as a clear vision of His desire for today into which we step and speak that it might be so, for He has decreed it. It is OUR faith which overcomes this Devil’s world (1Jn 5:4), that upon the gallows meant for his intended victim, he himself might hang, even as Haman did (Esther 7:10).

And Joshua burned Ai, and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.
And he hanged the king of Ai on the tree until evening time.
And at sundown Joshua commanded, and they took his dead body down from the tree, and threw it into the opening of the gate of the city;
and raised over it a great heap of stones until this day.

(Joshua 8:28-29)

The hidden wisdom of God in Christ Jesus is unto the demise of His enemies by the manifestation of HIS authority and power through those in whom He dwells.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, having been hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
which none of the rulers of this age has known.
For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory…
(1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

…the mystery having been hidden from the ages and from the generations,
but now was revealed to His saints; to whom God willed to make known
what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations,
who is Christ in you, the hope of glory…
(Colossians 1:26-27)

…and to bring to light all, what is the fellowship of the mystery having been hidden from eternity in God, the One creating all things through Jesus Christ;
so that now, to the rulers and to the authorities in the heavenlies,
the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church,
according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through HIS faith.
(Ephesians 3:9-12)

And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom.
And whatever you bind on earth shall occur, having been bound in heaven.
And whatever you loose on earth shall be, having been loosed in heaven.
(Matthew 16:19 LITV)

– Brendan

Joshua 6 -Part 2: The Zeal Of His House

And it happened at the seventh time the priests blew with the rams’ horns. And Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For Jehovah has given you the city. And the city shall be devoted to Jehovah, it and all that are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you shall certainly keep clear of the cursed things, that you not become accursed by taking from the cursed things, and shall make the camp of Israel become accursed, and trouble it. And all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, they are holy to Jehovah; they shall come into the treasury of Jehovah.”
(Joshua 6:16-19)

The only ground which God will continue entrusting to His people is that which they keep holy unto Him. What has been gained in the passing of former things must be kept by the obedience of faith in the newness of the Spirit. In all that God has freely given, He requires that we continue striving to lay hold of its fullness by submission to Him; for this allows Him to sanctify us fully that we may be kept blameless even as we keep ourselves blameless (Php 3:12, 1Thess 5:22-23).

Now Jericho was still standing before the people even after they had passed from death unto Life through the baptism of the Jordan: a fortress of the enemy’s defiance against what God had begun to work in His people. But God would have that work brought to completion. The stronghold of Jericho must be brought down should the people of God get any further into the land and drive out even more enemies. To lay hold of its treasures or compromise with its idols would be to fall away from the holy commandment delivered; but to be laying hold of what awaits us in God’s promise is to be forsaking what still calls us back to the world, for there is no crown until the cross is suffered. The troublers of Israel are not those who cry for God’s people to be holy as He is holy; but rather those whose cowardly disobedience and hypocrisy prevents that cry from being clearly heard and seen as righteous.

And the people shouted, and blew with the ram’s horns, and it happened, when the people heard the sound of the ram’s horn, the people shouted a great shout. And the wall fell under it; and the people went up into the city, each man in front of him; and they captured the city. And they destroyed all that was in the city, from man even to woman, from young even to aged, and to ox, and sheep, and ass, by the mouth of the sword.
(Joshua 6:20-21)

Where is such zeal of the Lord’s house today? Who will take upon themselves the armory of the Lord and draw the Sword against the foe of His inheritance? Let not a single ruler of the enemy, nor the heads of its houses; let not those who might bear more of its wicked children, nor the wicked children it has already borne; let not one of its wisemen, nor its beasts of burden – let not one unholy thing be left to roam free which perpetuates the works of the devil in the land of the living! If we are a temple of the Living God, then may the Lord Jesus Himself be allowed to turn the tables in His house! It will only cost us what should have already been counted as loss for Him. The authority of Christ is with those who obey Him, and His power is boundless toward those rejoicing in the fellowship of His sufferings. For the first order of our holy warfare is dying to the flesh so that His Life may abound in us;and where there is no longer a mixture of two natures there is complete victory. The Spirit wages war against the fleshly nature if the old man still lives; for in the flesh dwells no good thing, but only evil things dwell therein. The warfare of the heart must be won utterly by the Spirit of God should the Lion of Judah rise up in His people and remain forever. There can only ever be one master served, and this is the day of choosing.

And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the house of the woman, the harlot, and bring the woman out from there, and all whom she has, as you have sworn to her.” And the young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brothers, and all whom she had; yea, they brought all her family, and set them outside the camp of Israel.
(Joshua 6:22-23)

The great enemy of all holiness is mixture. All things that are to remain in God’s house must stop conforming to the world that they might be transformed and become a vessel for honor. Rahab and her household were brought outside the camp of Israel, which is the place of sanctification and of offerings for sin. For she who was plucked from the midst of the enemy’s lair also had need to bear the reproach of Christ outside the camp so that she might enter into His rest. And she was saved with Israel that day, for she did not consider herself to have a continuing city on earth, but instead sought the holy city that is coming (Heb 13:12-14, Rev 21). And so she was honored, being mentioned and recorded as a member of HIS house, even a citizen of Zion, the city of God (Ps 87, Matt 1:5).

And they burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only they gave the silver and the gold, and the vessels of bronze, and of iron, to the treasury of the house of Jehovah. And Joshua kept alive Rahab the harlot, and the house of her father, and all whom she had. And she lives in the midst of Israel to this day. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
(Joshua 6:24-25)

Only fire conducts an assured purge. Our God is He whose answer is by fire. The Spirit, the water, and the blood are the ingredients of rebirth, renewing, and cleansing; but purifying fire signals the very presence of God and is the blazing witness of heaven. Up to this point, the people had the witness of the Spirit, the water, and the blood – which are the witnesses on earth. But these three are together a witness to that which is in heaven: “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit” (1Jn 5). Now these three, which are the Father, Son, and Spirit, are supposed to be our three baptisms: one with water in the Son, one of our spirit in the Holy Spirit, and one of fire, for God our Father is a consuming fire. Now the fire of the Father before His throne is ready to descend upon a ready altar: an altar begotten of the Spirit of Truth, drenched in the waters of repentance, ready for the bloody sacrifice of ourselves, even as the Lamb who has already prepared this very way before us.

The fire consumes all that it is allowed to engulf. Therefore, let ALL the things which are an offense to God be offered for His burning that they may never again hinder His work in His people! And if the Lord Himself is indeed present and known, and if His power and authority is indeed clearly seen and walked in, then woe to those who have truly walked in all such things and yet turned utterly back to walk after the treasures of Egypt and its ways!

For it is impossible for those being once enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and becoming sharers of the Holy Spirit, and tasting the good Word of God, and the works of power of a coming age, then falling away – it is impossible for them again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame.
(Hebrews 6:4-6)

After the Jordan was crossed, it returned flowing into the Dead Sea, along with any who would dare attempting to cross it back the other way. If the foundation was truly laid, it cannot be laid again. If what God teuly built upon it has been destroyed by us, the same things cannot again be built. There are those who will be saved on the last day only as through fire (1Cor 3:11-15). It is far better to have His fire already burning and purging us today then to wait until the last day without assurance. There are indeed few today who have very much to fall away from; but let that not be an excuse for bearing no further responsibility. Those who purposely avoid having much to lose spiritually have already buried their talent and will still receive nothing. Let us instead obey the upward call, for therein is true grace to continue with strength and most assuredly obtain the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

And at that time Joshua adjured, saying, “Cursed be the man who rises up before the face of Jehovah and builds this city of Jericho. He shall lay its foundation in his first-born, and he shall set up its doors in his youngest son.” And Jehovah was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
(Joshua 6:26-27)

– Brendan