Are you old enough to remember the hymn that contains the line: “Each vict’ry will help you some other to win.”? Many find that to be true, while others don’t because all too often they find that the Lord helps them to resist some temptation and then, in an unguarded moment, they fall into it some time later.
That’s how it was with the Israelites upon entering Canaan. The Lord (not Joshua!) fought and won the Battle of Jericho when the walls came tumbling down; all Israel had to do was to march round the city, blow some trumpets, and shout! The next engagement was at Ai. The men sent to spy out the situation reported that only 3,000 men would be needed; it would be a walk-over. They could do it in their own strength, they reckoned, quite forgetting that it was not they who had defeated Jericho. The result was a thorough defeat not only because they fought in their own strength but chiefly because there was sin in the camp (Achan’s disobedience) which needed to be addressed. Graciously, God gave them a second chance and kept his promise that: “into your hand I will deliver the city” (Joshua 8:18). Two more conquests followed – at Makkedah and Libnah – and in both cases we are told that Joshua did “as he had done to the king of Jericho”. The experience at Jericho was their point of reference. Thereafter, however, each succeeding victory becomes the standard for the next: Joshua did at Lachish just as he had done to Libnah – then to Eglon where they did just has they had done to Lachish; then on to Hebron: just as at Eglon; then to Debir where it was as they did to Libnah and Hebron. Each victory was helping them to win the next. They are no longer referring back just to Jericho and Ai; they have more up-to-date, recent experiences of the Lord’s action on their behalf to encourage and strengthen and motivate them.
The book of Joshua attributes all these conquests to the power of God, though Joshua himself and the people were, of course, involved. But the Lord has the glory: “All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel”. Time and again we read of God giving or delivering Israel’s enemies into their hands. Their victories – and ours, over sin and temptation – are God’s gifts! Can you point to recent victories in your life of discipleship, and are you praising the Lord for them? Each victory will help you some other to win if you remember that that victory was the Lord’s active gift to you.
But the greatest victory was that which Christ won for us on the cross, a victory over sin and death here and now but also for all eternity. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (II Cor 9:15).
Your brother in Christ,