These are the words that God spoke to Joshua and the people of Israel as they prepared to enter the Land of Canaan and enjoy the blessings that God had promised and planned for them. I want you to know this morning that God has blessing for you. God has outrageously wonderful benefits planned for those who follow Christ into the Promised Land of eternal life.
You know what some of those are – healing from every hurt, wound and affliction, the full expression of peace and justice for all people along with a total absence of evil and strife, the perfection of your own character so that the sin within you is completely vanquished and will never hold influence over you again, a family reunion with loved ones of faith and beyond that a joyful community with all of God’s children from throughout the ages, and of course a direct relationship with God Himself and never ceasing worship of Jesus, His Son and your Savior.
God has all that for you in eternity as you trust in Jesus. And we like that.
But I also want you to understand, God intends your life in the here and now to be good. God’s plan for your life includes fulfilling relationships that give you joy, the experience of God’s power and purpose growing within you and through you, and that leading to you having an increasing measure of impact and influence over others so that they, too, are blessed and give glory to God.
God says He has more blessing for you than you could ever ask for or imagine.
So if you aren’t experiencing that reality, what do you do about that?
Two weeks ago we started walking through and examining the Old Testament record of Joshua. This is the historical account of how God led His people into the Land that He had promised to give to the descendants of Abraham over 500 years before.
This week we have come to the place in the record where God tells His people to cross the Jordan River and begin to possess the Promised Land by going through Jericho. Let’s look at a map to give us a bearing:
Now Jericho was the major city state in eastern part of Canaan. And if you were going to move in to the whole land, it would make sense to go through that city and head west, dividing Canaan into north and south regions and gaining access to a major route that ran through the high country from top to bottom.
And that’s just what God led Joshua to do. In fact, there was such wisdom to this plan, that British Field Marshall Allenby duplicated this strategy when he liberated what was by that time called Palestine from the Turks during World War I.
What most people know about the city of Jericho was that it was surrounded by thick walls. The outer wall was made of stone and was 6 feet thick, and the inner one was made of mud bricks and measured 12 feet across. Between the two walls in places was an earthen slope, and in other places there were houses built, like the home of Rahab. All together the walls stood 3-4 stories high from the surround terrain. They were built to defend and repel any attack. So the city was considered unconquerable by conventional means. And it stood ominously between God’s people and the land of blessing that He had promised to them.
Now what Jericho and its walls represent for us today are the obstacles that stand between you and the blessing that God has planned for you to enjoy.
How do you respond when difficulties or situations seem to block you from what you know is good? When your marriage isn’t satisfying you, what do you do? When your finances are stretched and strained, what choices do you make? When you’re just not feeling happy or satisfied with some aspect of your life, how do you get beyond whatever is blocking you from moving forward and finding real joy and contentment?
Let’s talk about some Principles that we can learn from this account of the Battle of Jericho that will allow you to get in line with God’s will so that walls that never seem like they’re going to fall will come down and you can ultimately experience all the blessing that God has for you in this life and the next.
Principles to Bring Down the Walls
Consecration > Conquest
“When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’
‘Neither,’ he replied, ‘but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord have for His servant?”
“The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” – Joshua 5:13-15
Consecration comes before Conquest. You see, when God into any situation, He doesn’t come to take sides, but to take over! He doesn’t come to advance our desires, but to further His own purposes. So the first thing you have to settle when you think there’s some wall or obstacle in your life standing between you and your blessing, is what am I after here? My own desires or God’s glory?
Right before this encounter between Joshua and the commander of God’s angel armies, God had told Joshua to re-institute the practices of circumcision and Passover among the people. Because all the men who had left Egypt had been circumcised as a sign that they were set apart to God. And all the people had eaten and celebrated the Passover that last night before God had brought them out of Egypt.
Now God is reminding His people in these practices, you must be devoted to Him completely. Battles that are to be won are His, not yours. The whole reason God was taking His people into the Promised Land of Canaan was so that there He would build them into a kingdom that would display His glory and ultimately play a role in His great work of redemption. They would be blessed as He was glorified.
Why do you want to build a business or increase your income? Is it so you can demonstrate Godly principles to a lost world and resource God’s kingdom work and also bless your family and others?
Why do you want to have a strong, happy family? Is it so that your marriage will be a sign and example of the self-sacrificial love that Jesus has for His church and so your children will be raised to know and love God?
Why do you want to build good relationships and have friends that you can really count on? Is it so you can learn from each other and support and depend on each other and help each other grow more like Christ?
Consecration comes before Conquest. God’s purposes come before your desires. But the great thing is those two can track together. Remember God says to us in His Word through King David in the Psalms, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
If you want to see the walls come down that are keeping you from experiencing a greater measure of God’s blessing in your life, make sure you are dedicated to Him above all else. Your heart must be His. Commit yourself completely to God and His kingdom, and then you’ll be ready for the goodness of God.
Principles to Bring Down the Walls
Faith > This World’s Wisdom
“When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding.”
“But Joshua had commanded the people, ‘Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!’ So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the people returned to camp and spend the night there.” – Joshua 6:8-11
You know what the plan was to bring down the walls of Jericho. God told the people to march around the walls. The priests were to blow trumpets. And the people were to be completely silent and not say a word.
That was not a conventional battle plan at all. One of the more acceptable options was to build siege ramps to get the fighting men up and over the walls. Of course that would take a long time.
The other strategy to defeat Jericho would have been to do nothing initially. Just surround the city, dig in, and starve its defenders into submission. Again, that would require months.
God’s plan didn’t make any sense to those who didn’t believe. I can imagine that first day when the Israelites began to blow their horns and march around Jericho, the Canaanites were probably very tense. What was the strategy? When was the attack coming? But as the days passed by, the people of Jericho had to be thinking that the Israelites were dolts. They probably called down insults and threw things at the people marched around.
Why did Joshua and the Israelites employ such a seemingly ridiculous strategy?
Faith. Faith that God was in charge and that He would deliver on His promises. They had seen God at work. He had provided manna for them to eat daily for 40 years. As they came to Jericho, the Israelites had to cross the Jordan River, and Joshua records that God had divided the waters for the people to pass just as He had done at the Red Sea 40 years before.
When God gave the instructions for the march, He told the priests to blow ram’s horns. That was an interesting choice. Because the normal practice at that time was to blow silver horns for battle. Ram’s horns were used for celebration. So what was God saying to the people? This was not a declaration of war. It was a celebration of victory!
Faith is what makes you live by Godly principles even when those around you don’t. Consider others more important than yourself. Bless those who curse you. Forgive the one who sins against you 70 times 7. Remember the 7th Day by keeping it holy. Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Give God the first 10% of your income.
This world’s wisdom says that you have to look out for yourself. There is no God, or if He does exist, He doesn’t expect anything from you. God has no standards, no morality, no holiness. You can do what’s right in your own eyes.
But God says, when you live according to this world’s wisdom, you are a fool. Everything you think you are gaining will be lost.
God says in His word that “the just”, those who have believed God and received forgiveness for their sins, they will live by faith. That means you believe God when He says if you will honor and obey Him, He will grant you more blessing than you could have ever asked for or imagined.
If you want the walls between you and the full measure of God’s blessing to fall, you’ve got to live by the Principle of Faith.
Principles to Bring Down the Walls
Steadfastness > Instant Gratification
“The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord. So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.”
“On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city in the same manner, except on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, ‘Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!”
“When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound, the wall collapsed. So every man charged straight in, and they took the city.” – Joshua 6:12-16, 20
The significant point here is that the Israelites didn’t know the full battle plan. God had told Joshua, but he didn’t reveal it to all the people. Every day for 6 days, he just told them to make the half-mile march around the city without saying a word. So every day they went back to their camp, seemingly no closer to defeating Jericho and living in the Promised Land.
What would have happened if the people had given up?
How many marriages end because a husband or wife gives up on finding happiness God’s way?
How many times do Christians become hesitant to share their faith or don’t share a word of truth because people didn’t respond well the last time or the last several times?
Has there ever been a time that God called you to a task or a ministry or to obedience in some area of His Word, and you made a good start, but after a couple of laps around the wall when you didn’t see the results you wanted, so you gave up?
In the New Testament book of Hebrews chapter 11, God inspires the author to compile a list of faith heroes from Israel’s history. The story of the people marching around Jericho is included.
And here’s the conclusion of that passage:
“These were all commended for their faith. They were still obeying when they died, even though they had not yet received the things promised. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 11:39; 12:1
I know we all face walls and obstacles in our lives that seem to keep us from the fullness of God’s blessing. How are you going to respond to that?
God teaches us – with Consecration, Faith and Steadfastness, all that He has promised is coming.
Salvation from Sin,
And every good gift.
This you can know. God is committed. God is faithful. God is steadfast.
He intends to bring you into His family through you receiving Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
Will you follow Him into the Promised Land?
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