“So Joshua took the whole land,according to all that theLordhad spoken to Moses.And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israelaccording to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.” Joshua 11:23 ESV
Throughout the Old Testament there are stories of battles won by God and His people. The conquest of Joshua is an amazing description of battles won by God and those who trusted in Him. There is a verse that caught my attention when reading the later part of the book of Joshua. It is found in Joshua 11:23. The key part being at the end of the verse. “And the land had rest from war.” That phrase is appealing to me. Those seven words have my attention. Why you may ask… because when you have been through a long season of battles in your health, your family, and, as a pastor, your church, the word “rest” describes what my heart truly desires. I want the break, the green meadows, and the still water. Some may call this the spiritual vacation or getaway. When I looked more into this phrase, God brought a much more deeper meaning, and that is what I want to share with you.
Throughout our lives as believers, there never really is rest from the spiritual warfare that we live with. There is an enemy described by Jesus who wants to kill, steal, and destroy. Jesus also said that in this world there would be trouble. That is why it is good when you get the rest of the story with these two examples. When Jesus tells us the enemy we battle with is about destruction, He also goes on to say that He is about life and abundant, full life at that. The trouble we face in this world can be overcome when we understand that Jesus has overcome the world. This led me to the next discovery, or should I say nugget of truth the Lord spoke to me when meditating on what it means to rest from the troubles and attacks of spiritual warfare. I heard God say to my heart in that reassuring way through the perspective of the cross. “Jesus has won your battle on the cross and through His resurrection from the grave. But the real question is AB, has He won your heart?"
God was showing me where true rest is realized. It is manifested in peace when our hearts, our soul, and everything who we are puts our trust in the Lord. This is where true rest comes from. Think about Psalm 23:5. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Jesus said we would have trouble. He said there is an enemy who wants to destroy us. That is true. We cannot escape that or put our heads in the sand and say I have had enough. We have no time outs we can call. We have no safe places we can run to in order to protect our fragile egos. Life is hard, battles come, emotions are stirred. God says amid it all, there is a table. A table prepared by God to meet with us during the battles. This is where we come to rest. For Joshua, it was a place called Gilgal. That is where He was refreshed and renewed. It is where he got the next plan to fight the next battle to conquer the enemy. When he prayed, sought God, he won. When he didn’t pray, he didn’t win.
Our text is simply a quick review of the battles won and the outlook of the victory ahead with the distribution of land. Joshua fought and won, and the land rested from war. This is a picture of our inheritance. Rest comes when Jesus wins our hearts, not just our battles. This is where complete trust comes that no matter what enemy you face, you can be at rest knowing God is with you. Rest is mine when I do not worry about what could happen and simply live life large in knowing that God knows my future and by following Him, I will be prepared for it. My life is not on me trying to hold onto my life here and not die. My life is hidden with Christ, and no matter what happens to me, I live even though I die. Rest comes when trust is supernaturally given to me by my Heavenly Father who knows my anxious heart, and through His Word, breaks through. Rest comes when I change what my “go to” is. Instead of going to worry, fear and dread, I go to God, His Word, and His promises.
Jesus has won our battles. The question is, has He won your heart? Be honest with Him. Start there. When you do, he will lead you like He led Joshua. Your life will come to rest even though the storm is still here. Peace is found when God has our hearts. When He is Lord, nothing else is. It is then when we are at rest.