READ: Joshua 10-12, Psalm 68, Luke 24, 2 Corinthians 8
The Labor of Surprise. “Joshua came upon them suddenly having marched all night” (Joshua 10:9). Sudden victories are set up by intense labor behind the scenes – often for prolonged periods. In order to be positioned for surprising success, Joshua and his army had to march through the night. We cannot expect victory without labor. No battle is won in our sleep. Battles are won only if we are willing to put in the hard nights’ work of long marches, to fight tired. Just as we should not expect victories to come to us without labor, we should recognize that other’s “sudden” victories are possible because of their (or often their predecessor’s) long travail.
The Primary Warrior. It is easy to think that our labor determines our victory. While it is true that Joshua and company marched all night and swung their swords around in the trenches, it is equally true that the Lord routed (v. 10), the Lord delivered (v. 12), and the Lord fought (v. 14) for them. In the end an act of God (hailstones) killed more than those wielding swords. We participate in our battles in the sense that the Lord is the primary warrior. We are not the center of our own wars. God does the heavy fighting. We go into battle confident that God is on our side, and it is imperative that we emerge in victory just as assured that it was God who won the battle for us.
The United Enemy. The more forces that combine against you – the better it is. In Joshua 11:5, multiple kings gather together, united to fight against the people of God. We tend to be overwhelmed by one enemy; God has a habit of combining enemies for us to fight. This is a blessing in disguise. We should rejoice and take courage when enemies combine and multiply; it saves us time as God will defeat them all at once. Joshua did conquer city by city, but at times God brought all the enemies together that Joshua might decisively strike a wider blow. The more forces that combine against us – the better it is. God will both save us time and glorify Himself by overcoming combined enemy attacks.
The Time to Attack. There rarely is a bad time to go on offense. Attacking when the enemy does not expect it never hurts the overall cause. General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War in the United States distinguished himself from other Union generals as he would often attack immediately after a setback or stalemate. He was not necessarily smarter than other generals, but he was certainly braver. The devil does not expect us to witness when under interrogation. Demons do not expect us to praise Jesus when they intrude. The coercive forces of government and ideology do not expect us to bless and serve when they are oppressing. Evil does not expect us to stand firm when sick, abused, attacked, or maligned. When we are the most under pressure – it is a pristine opportunity to attack. Praise, blessing, witness, singing, magnifying Jesus, thanks, boldness, hope…when these are done despite the advances of the enemy, the powers of evil are stunned into powerlessness.