Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses fourteen through twenty-eight of the eleventh chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find contained within it something that characterized the ministry of Jesus for tree and a half years. Within this passage of scripture you will find Jesus engaged in what was perhaps the single greatest work of spiritual warfare upon the earth that was ever witnessed or experienced. As you draw near to this portion of the gospel of Luke you will find Jesus yet again encountering one of the children of Israel suffering under the torment and oppression of a spirit of an unclean devil. Within these verses we find Jesus actively engaging the demonic and spiritual realm which had manifested itself publicly and openly during the days of His life upon the earth. If you study the words which describe the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that almost from the very beginning of His public ministry He found Himself conformity and coming face to face with all manner of unclean and evil spirits. What makes this even more intriguing is the fact that there were those times when the gospel authors wrote and recorded how Jesus confronted and drove out many unclean spirits and devils, while there were other times when they record very specific instances and occurrences where Jesus was forced to confront the demonic powers of darkness that were found to be present within and upon the earth. There were countless times when Jesus encountered many devils and unclean spirits all at once—particularly and especially when men and women brought those who suffered torment and oppression from and by these unclean spirits of devils and demons alike. Throughout the ministry of Jesus there were times when He would have to deal with life after life and person after person who was possessed and tormented by unclean spirits, while there were other times when He would confront them one at a time in certain lives of those whom He encountered.
The more I study the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ the more I can’t help but see and find a strong parallel between the life and ministry of Joshua in the Old Testament, and the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ in the New Testament. In fact, if you study the very name of Jesus, you will discover that it is in all reality the New Testament variation of the Old Testament figure known as Joshua who was anointed and appointed to be the successor of Moses. Joshua you will recall was one of only two of the twelve spies—the other beings Caleb—who entered into the land of Canaan to spy it out, and to bring back a report concerning what they saw. What’s so incredibly intriguing about the report which the ten spies brought back with them was that when they spoke of enemies much mightier than they, and when they spoke of giants being in the land, neither Joshua nor Caleb disagreed with the presence of enemies much greater than they in the land, nor even the presence of giants in the land. What marked and what separated Joshua together with Caleb from the other ten spies was that their hearts were filled with faith, trust and confidence in the power of God to help them overcome, drive out and defeat the enemies and giants within the land. Scripture will go on to reveal and point to the reality that Joshua was indeed the successor of Moses and would be anointed and appointed by the living God to not only lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, but also to lead them in battle against the enemies and giants which were present within the land. Joshua was given the monumental task and assignment of leading an entire generation of the children of Israel into the land of Canaan and to completely conquer and take possession of it by driving out and defeating the enemies and giants within the land. In fact, the entire book of Joshua is a book centered around and centered upon the battles of God against His enemies and against His adversaries, as Joshua would lead the children of Israel over the Jordan river and straight into the territory of the enemy. What is so unique about Moses and the Red Sea and Joshua and the Jordan River is that at the Red Sea the enemies were behind in the Egyptians who pursued them in the wilderness, while at the Jordan River the enemies and adversaries were before them. When Joshua led the children of Israel over the Jordan River there was absolutely no turning back once they had crossed, for the enemies which they heard about were no longer a thing of the future but a thing of the present.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be gripped and captivated with and by the fact that what we find and what we read in the Old Testament book of Joshua is a wonderful and powerful picture of that which is written and found in the New Testament gospels written by four different authors. That which is found in the Old Testament book of Joshua describes the conquest of the children of Israel and how they were led by Joshua over the Jordan River and into the land of Canaan where they would be responsible to not only confront, but also to conquer and drive out the enemies, nations, peoples and adversaries which were present within the land. The Old Testament book of Joshua is a book that describes the many conquests which Joshua led the children of Israel in after the entered into the land of Canaan and were forced to confront the enemies and adversaries which were first spoken unto Abraham when the Lord called him forth out of Ur of the Chaldeans. There would come a point in time when the Lord would speak to Abraham concerning the land into which He was bringing him and his ancestors and descendants, and although it would be a land that was following with milk and honey, it would be a land that would be filled with adversaries, enemies and nations which were much stronger and much mightier than they. What’s more, is that the enemies and adversaries which were found within the land of Canaan included giants who were the offspring of the giants who lived and dwelt within the days of Noah—giants which were the offspring of the sons of God entering in unto the daughters of men. When I read the four gospels written and found within the New Testament, I can’t help but get the strong and powerful sense that the words which we find in the Old Testament book of Joshua paint a powerful picture of a conquest that would take place in the land of Promise—a conquest and conflict that would ensue centuries later and with a new figure on the forefront and on the frontlines. In all reality, I am convinced that we see and what we find during the days of Jesus is in fact a wonderful and powerful picture of the reality that even centuries later the battle within the land of Canaan was not and had not been completed, for there was still a need to confront and drive out enemies and adversaries which were present within the land. In all reality, I am convinced that what we find during and within the days of Jesus is essentially something that could be a greater fulfillment of that which was written and found within the Old Testament book of Joshua. Whereas during the days of Joshua in the Old Testament the enemies and adversaries within the land were physical and natural and could be fought with swords, and spears, and bow and arrows, and shields, and the like, the enemies which were found during the days of Jesus the Christ could not be fought with the same weapons. In fact, to help illustrate this point even future, it is necessary that we examine two distinct passages found within the epistles of the apostle Paul. In the New Testament epistle unto the Ephesians, as well as the second New Testament epistle written unto the Corinthian saints we find the following words written by the apostle Paul:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).
“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: but I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:1-6).
With each of these passages found within the writings of the apostle Paul we are brought face to face with the fact that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul emphatically declares that though we walk after the flesh, we do not war after the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds in order that we might cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God. The apostle Paul readily acknowledged that although we live this life in the flesh and although we walk after and according to the flesh, we do not wage war after the flesh. What’s more, is the fact that the apostle Paul readily acknowledged that the battle(s) we face are not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the rulers of darkness, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. In all reality, this was perhaps one of the greatest lessons found within the garden of Gethsemane, for within the garden of Gethsemane, the apostle Peter thought they were fighting a battle and war against flesh and blood alone. In all reality, this is precisely why Peter drew his sword and used it to strike off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants. It was in the garden when Jesus emphatically declared that those who live by the sword will also die by the sword, and that the sword was not the answer to the conflict that was present before them. The apostle Paul emphatically wrote that our battle was not against flesh and blood, but rather it was against principalities, against rulers of the darkness of this present age, and against spiritual wickedness in high places, and yet this was not the case in the Old Testament days of Joshua, nor even during the days of Moses who led the children of Israel out of their slavery, bondage and oppression in the land of Egypt. For Moses towards the end of his life, and for Joshua within the land of Canaan we find the battle was indeed against flesh and blood, as Moses led the children of Israel in battle against Og king of bashan, and against Simon as well. Moses led the children of Israel against certain enemies which were found on the eastern side of the Jordan River, while Joshua led the children of Israel over the Jordan River, into the land of Canaan, and against nations, peoples, enemies, and adversaries which were might stronger and much mightier than they were. For Joshua and the children of Israel who were under his command the battle truly was against flesh and blood, for the enemies which were before them could be struck down with and by the sword, and could be defeated and overcome with the weapons of this world. Consider if you will the words which the Lord spoke unto Joshua after Moses His servant had died and gone the way of his fathers:
“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I share unto their fathers to give them. Only be though strong and very courageous, that thou majestic observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou majesty prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou majesty observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:1-9).
In fact, when you come to the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua you will find a list of all the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun. The entire twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua is one that is designated solely to the tremendous and remarkable conquest of the Promised Land, as Joshua faithfully and skillfully led the children of Israel against the enemies and adversaries within the land in order that they might conquer, defeat and overthrow them. In fact, the only real defeat and loss the children of Israel suffered and experience was in connection to Ai, and that was only in direct response to the disobedience of one man—Achan—who saw items which he coveted, and would eventually steal and hide underneath his tent. Aside from the incident with Achan and his family which resulted in a defeat and loss of the children of Israel, the children of Israel knew only victory over their enemies, over their adversaries, and over nations and peoples might stronger and much mightier than they were. What I so love about the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua is that it is essentially a testimonial chapter that describes the tremendous conquest and victory which Joshua led the children of Israel in upon their entrance into the land of Canaan. When forced to confront their enemies and adversaries with sword and spear, bow and arrow and shield, the children of Israel not only overcame their enemies, but also defeated and drove them forth from the land. When you think about and consider the conquest of the land of Canaan, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that it was a conquest against flesh and blood using earthly, natural and temporal weapons. The battles which were fought in the land of Canaan were battles that were fought against very real enemies which could be struck down with and by the sword, and could be killed, destroyed and driven out of the land. What I love about the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua is that it was precluded by even greater words of conquest and battle in the eleventh chapter. In fact, when you read and study the words which were written and found in the eleventh chapter, you will find a tremendous testimony concerning the great victory which Joshua and the children of Israel experienced within the land of Canaan. Consider if you will the words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua beginning with the sixth verse:
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them. And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire. And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms. And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroy them: there was not any left to breath: and he burnt Hazor with fire. And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded. But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn. And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breath. As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the lands of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same; even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was another a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses. And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountain, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities. There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, in Ashdod, there remained. So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war” (Joshua 11:6-23).
I absolutely love what we read and what we find in the Old Testament book of Joshua, for I am convinced that what we find in this Old Testament book is in fact a powerful picture of a conquest that would still take place in the New Testament during the days of Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus stepped on to the scene and entered into the picture, there was a great conflict that opened up and ensued within the land—one that was reminiscent of the ancient battles which were fought against flesh and blood by Joshua and the children of Israel. Instead of it being Joshua and the children of Israel engaging themselves in warfare, conflict and battle against flesh and blood, it was Jesus, it was the twelve disciples or apostles, it was the seventy other who were appointed by Jesus Himself, and it was those others whom James and John sought to rebuke who were casting out devils in the name of Jesus, yet did not walk with and follow them. In the Old Testament, and for Joshua and the children of Israel the battle was truly against flesh and blood, and could be fought with temporal, natural and earthly weapons. This was not so for Jesus, the disciples, the other seventy, and even for those others who also cast out devils in Jesus’ name, for the battle during these days was not against flesh and blood, nor could it be fought with earthly, natural and temporal weapons. In all reality, I would dare say that Jesus who was also the Christ and the Son of the living God was the New Testament version of Joshua—one who would not only save men from their sins, and from the dominion of sin and death, but would also directly confront principalities, spiritual wickedness, rulers of darkness, spirits of unclean devils, demons, and evil spirits alike. One of the greatest characteristics of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ was His willingness to directly confront the enemies and adversaries which were present within the land, and those who tormented and oppressed men, women and children. In fact, the four gospels are replete with example after example of those whom Jesus encountered who were tormented and oppressed by unclean and evil spirits. In fact, when I read and study the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written by the gospel authors, I find at least eight different encounters Jesus had with specific devils, demons, evil spirits, and the spirits of unclean devils. With that being said, there were specific references within these gospel where we find Jesus directly confronting multiple devils and unclean spirits at once. Consider if you will certain of these references found within the New Testament gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and how Jesus directly confronted many demons and devils all at once:
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatics, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them. And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan” (Matthew 4:23-25).
“…And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto Him all that were diseased, and all them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And He healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew Him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with Him followed after Him. And when they had found Him, they said unto Him, All men seek for thee. And He said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils” (Mark 1:29-39).
“…When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick: that it mighty be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16-17).
Each of these passages of Scripture points to the tremendous fact that while Jesus was engaged in public ministry within and upon the earth, there were specific times when those who were possessed, tormented and oppressed by demons, devils and unclean spirits alike were brought before and unto Him, and when He confronted multiple spirits and devils alike. If you read the four gospels which were written by the gospel authors and writers you will find it written that there were specific times when Jesus cast out many devils within and throughout a single day, as men and women brought unto Him all those who had been tormented and oppressed with such spirits and devils. With that being said, however, there were other times when Jesus encountered specific individuals within and throughout His public ministry—individuals who were tormented, oppressed and possessed by evil spirits and devils alike. The passage before us within the eleventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke is one such passage, for within this passage we find Jesus casting out a devil which was dumb. It was this particular devil which so tormented and oppressed a certain individual that it took away his speech, thus causing him to be mute. What’s so incredible about this passage of Scripture is that when it came to pass that the devil was gone out of this one, the dumb spake and the people wondered. I have to admit that I absolutely love passages like this, for not only do they reveal the tremendous reality that Jesus has authority over demons, devils and unclean spirits alike, but Jesus has the ability to restore that which was stripped, robbed, and stolen from men and women. This particular individual was robbed of his speech, and so long as they were tormented and oppressed by this devil, they remained mute, dumb and unable to speak. What’s more, is that within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus making a bold and emphatic declaration to those present on this day who dared declare that Jesus cast out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. In response to the words which were spoken unto Him concerning casting out devils, Jesus emphatically and boldly declared that “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.” What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to ask if Satan be divided against himself, how then shall his k indomitable stand? Taking this a step further, Jesus would go on to declare that His casting out of devils would be by the finger or Spirit of God, and that the work which He was doing was ordained, appointed, and anointed by the Father and accomplished through the Spirit. Furthermore, Jesus would go on to indirectly make a powerful statement and declaration that one who was stronger was present among them. Consider if you will the words which are found in this particular chapter beginning with the twenty-first verse:
“When a strong man armed keepers his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is going out of a man, he walkathons through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:21-26).
I absolutely love these words which were spoken by Jesus, for with these words He was making an emphatic and powerful statement and declaration—namely, that although there were “strong men” so to speak in the devils and unclean spirits, there was one stronger than they who had entered into the picture and come on to the scene. Perhaps this is what was so great about the conquest of the children of Israel within the land of Canaan, for although there were strong nations, although there were strong people, although there were strong giants with fortified walls and cities, and although they had all manner of weapon at their disposal, when Joshua and the children of Israel entered into the land there was one stronger than all of them combined. What I so love about the Old Testament book of Joshua is essentially the same thing that I love about the New Testament gospels, for both demonstrate the tremendous and wonderful that there was one stronger who had entered into the picture and into their midst. Once Joshua and the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River, there was essentially a new sheriff in town, and one who was stronger and mightier than they. Once Joshua and the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, it was a statement and declaration that there was one who was stronger who had entered into the picture, and one whose might was greater and more powerful than anything they had or could throw at them. Similarly, once Jesus Himself “crossed the Jordan River”—emerged from the waters of baptism to fulfill all righteousness, it was a statement and declaration that one who was stronger was present within the land. Just as Joshua and the children of Israel crossing over the Jordan River was a statement that one stronger than the enemies and adversaries within he land was present among them, so also when Jesus crossed over the Jordan River and came through it, there was a declaration in the spiritual realm that there was one stronger than they who were present within the land. Despite the fact that the evil spirits, the devils and demons alike were present within the land, and despite the fact that they were strong and armed with great armor and weapons, there was one who was stronger than they, and one who could and would strip them of their armor and their weapons. Oh I absolutely love what the apostle Paul wrote in his epistle unto the Colossians saints—words which I present unto you at this moment to describe just what Jesus did when He came to the earth and walked among men. I leave you with these words as a statement and declaration that one who was stronger did in fact enter into the picture, and one who was stronger did in fact disarm principalities, rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in high places, unclean spirits, demons and devils alike. I leave you with these words in order that we might recognize that there is one who is stronger among us—one who has the authority and power to disarm enemies and adversaries alike, strip them of their armor, and even strip them of their enemies:
“For in Him dwellth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And the are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:10-15).