Chariots of Iron

Ever had an obstacle in your path that looked impossible to overcome? Ever doubt that you would ever beat that obstacle but someone around you had confidence that you could do it? In truth, no obstacle before us is too much for us if God wants us to overcome it. It will typically require us to trust Him by faith, but the point is that God can do the impossible. This was the message Joshua had for the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim (descendants of Joseph’s sons):

Then the sons of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me only one lot and one portion for an inheritance, since I am a numerous people whom the LORD has thus far blessed?”

Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up to the forest and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.”

The sons of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the valley land have chariots of iron, both those who are in Beth-shean and its towns and those who are in the valley of Jezreel.”

Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, saying, “You are a numerous people and have great power; you shall not have one lot only, but the hill country shall be yours. For though it is a forest, you shall clear it, and to its farthest borders it shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, even though they have chariots of iron and though they are strong.”
– Joshua 17:14-18, NASB

The tribe of Manasseh could not initially take some of the cities in the land allocated for it (Joshua 17:12-13). This is not all that surprising because the folks there were more advanced technically than the Israelites. The Israelites were a nomadic people and they weren’t well equipped and well-trained as far as warfare was concerned. Their successes had been because of God, not because of their prowess as a military power. And as a result, the sons of Joseph come to Joshua and basically say, “Hey, can you give us somewhere else? These guys are too much for us.”

Joshua doesn’t back down. Yes, the Canaanites had chariots of iron and were far advanced in warfare compared to the sons of Manasseh. But Joshua was the same guy who once saw these guys along with the other spies and came back and said, “God’s with us.These guys are done!” And he saw the consequences when 10 other guys took the opposite view and convinced the Israelites that the inhabitants of Canaan were too much for them. Of the adults, only Caleb and Joshua lived to see the day when they would step foot and establish their residence in Canaan. Forty years of wandering in the wilderness were the result of not trusting in God’s power. And that’s basically his message here. “Yes, guys, I understand these guys are tough. But these lands are yours and you will drive them out, despite their strength.” What Joshua didn’t say but implied was, “You will do this not because you are something great, but because the Lord our God is the Almighty and He will accomplish this for you.”

We need to remember that same charge. If there are obstacles in our path and we’re on the path God has directed us down, it doesn’t matter how big those obstacles are. We will overcome them. It may not be in our power, but that’s not important. What is important is that we do overcome those obstacles. And we will, if we trust in God and have faith in Him. He will overcome them for us or with us. We may be like shepherds carrying farm equipment fighting against an army with iron weapons and chariots, but none of that matters. For they don’t fight us. They fight God. And those obstacles don’t stop us because they don’t stop God. Are you facing some tough things in your life? Are you on the path God has called you to? Then don’t worry about the obstacles. Don’t look at them. Instead, look at the Father. Gaze upon Him and seek His guidance. He will show you how to beat the obstacles or He will batter them down Himself. That was Joseph’s message to the sons of Joseph. And that same message is God’s to us today.


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