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#406 The Most Frequent Commandment in Scripture: "Fear Not!"

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2020 11:13 am

#406 The Most Frequent Commandment in Scripture: "Fear Not!"

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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May 22, 2020 11:13 am

For bonus material for the podcast, i like to include a series from my dear friend and former pastor in Nashville, TN.

Rev. Jim Bachmann's had a huge impact on me as a believer ...and as a caregiver. Many of the precepts I've learned have been through his sermons and our many conversations. Although Gracie and I moved to Southwest Montana, Jim and I talk regularly each week and he continues to provide tremendous counsel to me.

Jim is the pastor of Stephens Valley Church and you can enjoy their services online. https://stephensvalleychurch.com/

 

This message is about fear ...and trusting God when things simply don't make sense to us. Does that sound familiar to us as caregivers? 

FEAR is one of the 7 Caregiver Landmines that plague all of us as family caregivers. I believe this message will strengthen your heart as much as it did mine. 

 

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Call 866-WINASIA or to see chickens and other animals to donate, go to CritterCampaign.org. Hey, this is Peter Rosenberger, and one of the things I like to do on this podcast is feature bonus materials. Part of that is this sermon series I'm doing from my dear friend, Pastor Jim Bachman of Stevens Valley Church in Nashville, Tennessee. And Jim was my pastor for many, many years when we lived in Nashville, and we still stay in regular touch. And his sermons and his pastoral care for me has helped kind of form the foundation of a lot of what I do on this show and through this podcast and all the things I do with writing and so forth. And this particular message about trusting God when things look pretty frightening, the fear that we feel, I felt like would be very meaningful to you today.

So here's Pastor Jim Bachman. Let's turn to Joshua 8 now. Last week, we looked at the very unhappy seventh chapter of Joshua.

Today, it's a little happier news. As we look at the conquest of Ai. Israel, you remember, had great success initially in terms of invading the promised land, but stumbled badly when they tried to take Ai. There was sin in the camp. A man named Achan sinned against this holy God who had instructed that the people take nothing for themselves, but that the spoils of victory be devoted to the treasury of the Lord.

Achan thought he could sin secretly, and he took some gold and silver and a beautiful coat, and he discovered that there's no such thing as secret sin on earth. And interestingly, the Lord looked at Achan's sin as Israel's sin. One man sinned, but the Lord viewed it as the sin of the entire nation. And his anger burned against the entire nation, and therefore he withdrew his protection. And Israel, which should have had no trouble defeating Ai, a much smaller city than Jericho, was routed in battle.

Thirty-six of their soldiers or fighting men were killed, and Achan and his entire family executed. Point being, every sin's a big deal and necessitates a very big savior. A great savior who's able to take all of our sin upon himself and give us all of his righteousness instead. Father, we thank you for your word and pray that you will illumine us and warn us and teach us that apart from you we can do nothing. That we must depend upon you for all things at all times. So speak to us. May your spirit be our preacher this morning and lead us in the way everlasting for Christ's sake. Amen.

Joshua 8, And the Lord said to Joshua, Do not fear, and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, and go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its livestock you shall take as plunder for yourselves.

See, if Achan had only been patient, it would have worked out. Lay an ambush against the city behind it. So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai, and Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. And he commanded them, Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready.

And I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out against us just as before, we shall flee before them. And they will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city. For they will say, They are fleeing from us just as before. So we will flee before them. Then you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. And as soon as you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire. You shall do according to the word of the Lord.

See, I have commanded you. So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai to the west of Ai. But Joshua spent that night among the people.

Joshua arose early in the morning and mustered the people and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. And all the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and encamped on the north side of Ai with a ravine between them and Ai. He took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai to the west of the city.

So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city. But Joshua spent that night in the valley. And as soon as the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the men of the city, hurried and went out early to the appointed place toward the Arabah to meet Israel in battle.

But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. And Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua, they were drawn away from the city.

Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel. Then the Lord said to Joshua, stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand. And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire.

So when the men of Ai looked back, behold, the smoke of the city went up to heaven. And they had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side. And Israel struck them down until there was left none that survived or escaped. But the king of Ai they took alive and brought him near to Joshua. When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction.

Only the livestock and the spoil of that city, Israel, took as their plunder according to the word of the Lord that he commanded Joshua. So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins as it is to this day. And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening.

At sunset, Joshua commanded. They took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones which stands there to this day. All flesh is grass and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Amen. You think God is brutal?

It seems sort of brutal to me. One thing we have to remember is that the Israelites were instruments of God's judgment upon the Canaanites. When the Israelites went into slavery, God said they would remain there until the iniquity of the Amorites was full.

And that took 400 and some odd years. The Amorites are the Canaanites, pretty much a synonym. And so finally, at long last, the iniquity of the Amorites or Canaanites was full. And God sent his people as instruments of his judgment upon these wicked people. We can understand why Israel was perhaps a little skittish about invading Ai again. The memories of their previous route were no doubt still very fresh in their minds.

You and I might have been reluctant to have a second run at it as well. So it is noteworthy that the very first thing God did was to conquer their fear. Verse 1, the Lord said to Joshua, do not fear and do not be dismayed, take all the fighting men with you and arise, go up to Ai, see I have given into your hand the king of Ai and his people, his city and his land.

The great Dr. Machin used to say, what we need is not good advice, but good news. And this was great news for Israel in the aftermath of that disaster. Attempt number one was such a failure, but God immediately addressed their fear and said, fear not, I have given you the king and his people and his land into your hand. The matter was settled.

They hadn't drawn a sword yet, but the matter was settled. Nor was this the first time that the Lord addressed the people's fear. Back in chapter 6, verse 2, before they ever went after Jericho, the Lord said to Joshua, see, I have given Jericho into your hand. As a matter of fact, back at the very beginning of the book, chapter 1, verse 3, the Lord does it again. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I have given to you. They hadn't seen the first Canaanite.

They hadn't even crossed the river yet. They hadn't drawn a sword yet, but the Lord said the matter settled. I've given it all to you. It's nice when the Lord does that.

Don't you wish He'd do that for you and me when we have things that worry us, things that frighten us? Maybe it's a medical test. Maybe it's a job interview. Maybe it's a prodigal child that we're losing sleep over. Maybe it's a sermon we have to give Sunday morning or listen to.

Thank you for that editorial comment. You know, preachers really try hard. They do. I know. Do you worry about the sermon? Well, you should. Because I know that you pray. That's good. Pray for the preacher.

That's good. But I know the preacher very well, and I know other preachers very well, and it'd be so nice if the Lord would come to us on Saturday night and say, Don't worry. There will be someone at church tomorrow.

There'll be a few people there, and you're not going to make a fool out of yourself, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But no matter how hard preachers seem to try, there's usually something that goes awry. You hear the story about the old, nearly retired minister living in the deep south, and he was sort of a country fellow and ultra conservative, and he decided to preach one morning on the evils of alcoholism, and he railed away for 30 minutes, and he said toward the end, he said, If I had all the beer in the world, I'd take it and throw it in the river. And if I had all the wine in the world, I'd take it and throw it in the river, too. And he got louder, and his face turned redder, and then he said, If I had all the whiskey in the world, I'd take it and throw it in the river, too.

And the veins were bulging in his neck. So he sat down, and he felt pretty good about that message, and thought the Lord was surely pleased with him until the song leader came to the podium and said, Our closing hymn is number 99, Shall We Gather at the River. We all have things we worry about, and it would be so nice if the Lord would reassure us. And you know what? He has.

He really has. All things work together for God, for God's people. What's the most frequent commandment in Scripture? Fear not.

Over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. We are told, Fear not. And why are we told that over and over again? Because we keep fearing over and over again and worrying. And the Lord we serve is one who says, Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.

All things work together for your good. Consider the lilies of the field. Consider the birds of the air. I feed them. I clothe them.

Are you not of much more value than they? And so before the ambush had ever been set and the trap had ever been laid, the Lord said, It's yours. I have given it to you.

The outcome is settled. He conquered their fear. Second, we see that he alone provides all that we need.

He alone provides all that we need. Verse 18. The Lord said to Joshua, Stretch out the javelin that's in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand. And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city.

Verse 26. Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction. Can you see Joshua, that hand outstretched and that javelin in his hand? This was a symbol of his and Israel's dependence upon the Lord. Because the horse is made ready for the battle, but victory rests with the Lord. It may remind you of another event in the Old Testament when Moses stretched out his hands and had the staff in his hand as Israel did battle with Amalek.

And you know that story. As long as Moses was able to keep his hands up, Israel prevailed in battle. How long can you keep your hands up? You get tired and Moses got tired and he dropped those hands.

When he dropped those hands, what happened? Amalek began to prevail. So who came to the rescue? Aaron and Hur came to the rescue, held up his hands. As long as they held his hands up until sunset, the Bible says. And that day, Israel overwhelmed Amalek. And if I'd been a casual observer, I think I know myself well enough to know, I would have said, Moses, what good is that staff in your hand doing?

What's that all about? We need you down here fighting with us. Get off your hill and drop the staff and grab a sword and come down here and fight with us.

And I probably would have said the same thing to Joshua. What good does the javelin do? And your outstretched hand, you need a sword.

We need your help. Come fight with us. I know if I had been in the army and was told to march around Jericho every day and then seven times on the seventh day, I'd have said, what good is that going to do? Those are walls. That's a fortified city.

We've got to get the walls down, Lord. This looks kind of silly. I was just marching and shouting and blowing trumpets. Don't you agree?

Am I the only one that would think that way? When the priests were told to take the Ark of the Covenant and step in the watery banks of the flooding Jordan River, I'd say, what good is that going to do? Those priests looked mighty silly doing that. Time and again the Lord asked us to do things that looked sort of silly. Remember when the Israelites were bitten by serpents in the wilderness? The Lord said, if you want to be healed, lift this bronze serpent up on a pole. Look to the pole, you'll be healed.

And that's what they had to do. Isn't anything sillier in the eyes of the world than to look at a man on a cross to be saved from our sins? That's the very point, isn't it? We look to the Lord alone. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. Jesus said, apart from him we can do nothing, whether it's marching seven times around a city or taking an ark into the flooding waters or shouting and blowing trumpets or holding a javelin or holding a staff. We do what the Lord tells us to do. We trust and we obey and we look to him for salvation because there's salvation in no other name given among men under heaven. Lifting high the cross in the eyes of the world is utter foolishness.

Preaching the cross, Paul said, it is utter foolishness. The faith comes by hearing, hearing the word of God. This was a magnificent strategy, by the way, that the Lord laid out, this ambush, this trap, if you will. There is no military general that can compare to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, right? Amen. But as genius as the strategy was, it would not have worked had not the people of God depended totally upon the Lord and hence the symbol of Joshua with that outstretched javelin. Point being, with the Lord's help, the mighty walls of Jericho can come crashing down and without the Lord's help, little Ai could rout and did rout the people of God. With the Lord's help, mountains can be moved.

Without the Lord's help, depending upon ourselves, we can succumb to the slightest temptations. The Lord conquered their fear. The Lord proved once again that He alone is all that they need, all that we need. And third and last, the Lord defeats our enemies.

No great surprise here. Verse 25, all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. No one was spared.

They took no prisoners, except for the king, but he was just a temporary prisoner. Verse 28, so Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. Total victory. Can you imagine the dismay on the faces of the Aiites as they pursued Israel? What were they thinking? You know, they had to be thinking, we've got them this time.

We got 36 last time, and we're going to get all of them this time. They're already on the run into the wilderness, and they pursued in hot pursuit, brimming with confidence. But there's that little verse, but they did not know.

And can you imagine the dismay on their faces when they probably first smelled the smoke and then turned to look and saw their town going up in smoke? But it was too late then. The ambush had been set, the trap had been laid, and victory belonged to the Lord. Overconfidence can be fatal. Spiritual overconfidence can be deadly. You who stand, Paul says, take heed lest you fall. This story reminds me of another monumental day in human history when the demonic world and all the principalities and powers must have thrown a great party because the King of Kings and Lord of Lords was dead.

Do you remember how C.S. Lewis describes it so magnificently, fictionally, but still magnificent? The passion and death of the Lord and the jubilation of the demonic world. The fool has come, bind him fast, cried the wicked witch. Four hags, grinning and leering, made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found he made no resistance at all. The others, evil dwarfs and apes, rushed in to help them and between them they rolled the huge lion over on his back and tied all four paws together, shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave. Let him first be shaved, said the witch, and another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward.

Snip, snip, snip went the shears and masses of curling gold began to fall to the ground. Why, he's only a great cat, after all, cried one. Is this what we've been afraid of, said another, and they surged around the great lion, jeering at him, saying things like, How many mice have you caught today, cat?

Would you like a little saucer of milk, cat? The lion was muzzled and then killed, and then the witch said to her cowardly followers, Follow me, it will not take us long to crush the human vermin and the traitors now that the great fool, the great cat, lies dead. But they were badly overconfident, weren't they? Because what Lewis called the deeper magic from before the dawn of time, that was just an ambush. The day of the Lord came upon them like a thief in the night, just like it did for Ai. Lewis powerfully speculates their reactions to the resurrection when he writes, as if he were one of them, he says, What screams of rage and anger were heard everywhere in our kingdom below? How totally helpless we felt at that moment we were outmaneuvered.

Never in a million years could we have imagined that the enemy would really love those pitiful humans enough to go through with it. Why should they be of such worth to him? The day of the Lord came like a thief in the night for Ai. It came like a thief in the night for the rich fool who built those big barns and said, Relax.

So overconfident. Eat, drink, and be merry. That night his soul was required of him. The Lord conquers our fears. The Lord proves time and again that he alone is all we need.

We can't do it without him. And the Lord is the one who defeats our enemies. Praise his name. Father, thank you for the gospel.

Thank you for defeating the evil forces that would ambush us if they could. Teach us that apart from you we are utterly helpless. Make us watchful and vigilant. Always prepared that we would be ready for the day of the Lord. Pray, Father, that you would hasten that day when we shall see him as he is, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess his lordship, and when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the seas. Hasten that day through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-23 17:47:37 / 2024-01-23 17:57:26 / 10

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