1. Application

The LORD Is Sovereign Even over His Enemies

Joshua 11:16–23 (ESV)

16 So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland

For us today, the reality of God’s sovereignty must help us to realize that there is no one operating outside of God’s control. People who oppose the church are not independent of God. They’re not living in another world where God’s power is weak and ineffective, as if God needs our permission in order to work in their lives. The devil himself is also limited by the freedom that God chooses to give him (Job 1:12). Yes, he is like a roaring lion, looking for an opportunity to devour someone (1 Peter 5:8). He wants to tempt us into sin, he wants us to doubt God’s promises and live in fear. But his power is limited by God. And through his Spirit, God has enabled us to resist temptation, to stand firm in the faith (1 Peter 5:9).

Practically, God’s sovereignty over his enemies should encourage us to keep witnessing and praying for those who are not part of God’s church. Even those people who seem to be the most antagonistic towards the Christian faith are still in God’s hands: that friend at school who always mocks Christians and misuses God’s name; that colleague who thinks you are a fool for wasting your time to meet with God’s people on a Sunday; that family member who has rejected the gospel and now lives with carefree abandon, unwilling to have anything to do with Jesus Christ. In each of these situations the Lord is still sovereign. He showed mercy to us; he can show mercy to them. Don’t let the actions and the words of others stop us from praying for them and witnessing to them. God uses our prayers and our confession to accomplish his plans. He can bring hard hearts to repentance.

A second application concerns our response to the powers and authorities in our society who are opposed to the kingdom of God. Think of the laws that promote the killing of unborn children or the business world’s captivity to the sexual revolution. Think of the pressure from sports team members and work colleagues to get drunk and join in immorality. Over the course of your life, you will be encouraged to take part in gambling, to turn a blind eye to corruption and to work on the Lord’s Day. But if we believe that the Lord is sovereign even over those forces and powers who oppose him, we can have the confidence to act with integrity in these situations. God cares for us. We don’t need to go along with the disobedience, corruption, and rebellion of others. By his grace, he can use us to bring a positive change in the workplace and in the lives of those with whom we spend our time.