Welcome to the approach of our Lord Jesus through the book of Joshua. Before we go to prayer and apply the indispensable principle, total reliance on the Lord, I want to share a verse from Joshua 6:20 (we’ll look more closely at it next time), a portion of verse 20, “The people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell flat.” Now, you and I know that the wall did not fall flat because the people shouted with a great shout. The shout could not bring down the wall. Only the Lord could bring down the wall. He did it in response to their obedience. I was thinking about the word of God, and I’m not going to sit up here and scream and shout but maybe there are some walls that need to come down. No matter what I say, it’s not going to bring any walls down. But if the Lord is behind the shout, then God can do great things.
Let’s ask the Lord to be Himself and meet with us. Our Father we thank You so much for Your precious word and the indwelling Holy Spirit who lives in our heart. We pray that we might see Jesus in a fresh way today. We thank You for every part of Your word, and in a special way today, for Joshua 5. We pray that You would minister to us. In Jesus name. Amen.
When we left off in our discussion we were in the fifth chapter of Joshua and we called it “the final preparation”. What are they being prepared for? Just to remind you, they are being prepared to enter into the land which pictures our Lord Jesus; the land of promises, the land flowing with milk and honey, picturing the Lord Jesus, the life of milk and honey. It’s a picture of our union with Him. In the spiritual reality we need to be prepared to abide in Christ. You just don’t abide it Christ. God prepares you to abide in Christ. We were looking at chapter 5 in the redemptive history because God gives three final preparations that gets us ready to the life of abiding in the Lord Jesus. If we are ever going to face our “Jericho s” and our Ai’s and all the Canaanites in front of us and live in the land and live off the land, live in Christ and abide in Christ and live off of Him, then we need to be prepared.
I don’t want to take time to review everything because we are thirteen lessons deep in our study, but I do want to remind you and review these three paradoxes that are in chapter 5. The first is Joshua 5:1-10 and the story is the reinstitution of the circumcision followed immediately by the celebration of the Passover. The paradox is this; they planned to enter into the land of rest and they looked for peace and God stopped them short in their tracks and said, “If you are ever going to experience peace, you must first be prepared to experience holiness because peace is a byproduct of a holy life.
They were about to enter a sinful land. Let me give a little background on that. Here’s what God told father Abraham about the people that lived in that land. Genesis 15:13-16, “God said to Abraham, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.’” He’s talking about the bondage in Egypt. “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve and afterwards they’ll come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace and you will be buried in a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they’ll return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” The Amorites are another word for the Canaanites; “The iniquity for the Canaanites is not yet complete.”
In other words, God is being patient. He told Abraham that in four hundred years when the iniquity was complete, that God would judge that nation. That’s pretty patient, waiting four hundred years. The iniquity of the Canaanites, they were a very wicked nation but God was waiting for them to say their final “no”. He was waiting for full bloomed iniquity. They were immoral and they practice sodomy and other perversions and they were idolaters and they were cruel terrorists. But all that time God said, “Their iniquity is not yet full. I’ll wait and I’ll be patient. There is still hope; slight but there’s still hope.” And God promised when sin was full blown, when they had said their final “No”, that He would go in and judge them and that was four hundred years later.
The point I’m trying to make is that the land, sin is full blown. The iniquity is full. This is a wicked, wicked, wicked land. God has already told Moses, or told Israel through Moses, Deuteronomy 9:4, “Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord brought me in to possess the land. It is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. We just say, “Israel is going into the promised land.” At this point Israel is going into the sinful land, the land where the iniquity is full blown and is fully developed and it’s mature. Sin is bad enough when it’s suppressed, suppressed by law or by conscience. It’s bad enough then to resist sin but when there are no restraints at all, it’s time to hide and it’s time to run into a cave or get behind a rock or find a storm shelter because Israel is about to go into Canaan and according to God’s word, “sin is full blown”. They aren’t going in to rest and set up a hammock and set up a camp and just live a life of Riley. They are going into a sinful land.
The first record we have in Joshua of that land is Rahab the harlot. Praise God that she had a heart for the Lord and the Lord saved her. That’s our first look. The whole land was filled with harlots. The whole land was filled with adultery and perversion. There were lust arousing damsels on every corner and God’s people were going to go into that land. God knew what a cesspool, moral cesspool, that land was. God said, “Before you go in, you need to understand holiness.” And that’s why He gave circumcision. Circumcision is a picture; a little piece of flesh was separated from the body. That’s the paradox. Here is the full blown reality, spiritual reality. Colossians 2:11, “In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by the removal of the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.” You are going to go into the land but you need to be holy.
God had already given this through Moses, Deuteronomy 30:6, “Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” There is no possibility that God’s redeemed people… And if you want to know what they were like, think of yourself. You are God’s redeemed people and you would not survive a day or an hour in a sinful land without the grace of God. We need to be separated and that’s why immediately following that circumcision, Josh 5:10, “While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal, they observed Passover on the evening of the 14th day of the month on the deserts of the plains of Jericho.” When they heard about holiness they said, “Praise God for the blood. Praise God for the lamb. Praise God for the sacrifice, the substitute who died in our place. He took away the foreskins, not of our body, but the foreskins of our heart. He is the One that circumcised our heart, so we could love the Lord our God with all our heart, in an environment of iniquity and defeat.” That was the first paradox.
The second is from Joshua 5:11-12, “On the day after the Passover on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land; unleavened cakes, parched grain and the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.” This paradox is the record of God replacing a continual miracle of provision for the providential provision, working the land of Canaan. We added to that paradox not only the ceasing of the manna but the cloud went away, the cloud that guided them for forty years with infallible guidance. Now God says, “Instead of manna and miracles, don’t expect miracles in this land of Jesus, you’ll have His miracles but He’ll work through you and through your hand and your sweat, providentially. Don’t expect infallible guidance.” They thought, “Well, when we’re in the land of disobedience and unbelief He gave us miracles, how much more now that we’re abiding in Christ?” God said, “No, it’s less because I will call you to a life of faith and not sight; less overt miracles. And now you will walk by faith and now you will follow the ark instead of the cloud.”
The ark is a throne in the shape of a throne, an oriental throne and it’s a picture of King Jesus. “Now you’ll follow King Jesus. And I’m going to put the ark in the hand of fallible men. Before you had infallible guidance when you followed the cloud, but in the land you are going to have to learn personally to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, personally to be under His authority and Kingship. I want you to follow the ark. Don’t follow the men who carry the ark because they might lead you in a bad way.” The history shows that is exactly what happened. God says, “This is the paradox; you are expecting now that you are more attuned to the Lord that there are more miracles; it’s less miracles. You are expecting clearer guidance. No, you’ve got to bow before the Kingship of Christ and it’s going to take a lot more of your serious seeking to find the will of God.”
That brings us to the final paradox in chapter 5 and bring us to our new material. Let me read again the record of the appearance of the Lord’s host to Joshua with the sword in his hand, 5:13, “It came about when Joshua was by Jericho that he lifted up his eyes and looked and behold a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversary?’ And he said, ‘No. Rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and bowed down and said to him, ‘What has my Lord to say to His servant?’ And the captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.”
Last week I brought you right up to the final paradox but at that time I didn’t tell you what that paradox was and I’m sure you all know through your study this past week what that paradox is. Let me review this much. Last week I gave you the technical background of this revelation. In other words, Joshua thought he saw a man. But he’s more than a man. Joshua thought he saw an angel. But he’s more than an angel. This is a theophany and more than a theophany. It’s a cristophany. He saw Jesus. This angel, this man with the sword in his hand is the Lord Jesus in His preincarnate appearance; one of His many that He makes in the Old Testament.
So Jesus, whose name is Joshua, meets Jesus. The second thing I emphasized was his response. When he discovered he was standing before God, then he asked this question; chapter 5:13, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” And that moment was the moment of epiphany when the answer was such a strange answer. Joshua 5:14, “And he said, ‘No. I’m not on your side and I’m not on their side.’” And then as I quoted Major Ian Thomas last week and I’ll quote him again, he said in his words describing this, “The angel said to Joshua, ‘I’m not on your side and I’m not on their side. I haven’t come to take sides. I’ve come to take over.’” When Joshua knew that, he bowed low before the Lord and he took off his shoes. He knew that he was standing before the Lord. He takes off his military sandals and, in effect, says, “I surrender the command to you.”
Joshua now learns that the captain of the Lord’s host is somehow in charge. Here’s where we ended up last week, in 2 Chronicles 20:15, “Thus said the Lord, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” That is the big principle; the battle is not yours but God’s. He’s going to learn it here and he’s going to learn it again and again. You know that truth and you are going to learn it again and again; the battle is not yours, but God’s. He’s going to teach us that over and over and over.
We learn that truth that the battle is not yours but God’s but that’s not the paradox that he’s teaching them to prepare them to enter into the land. Because in my heart I believe this final preparation is so strategically important, I’m going to ask your patience as I lay it out because I want us to be as clear as the noon day sun on this last preparation. It is so vital as you abide in Christ to see what is saying in this passage. We’ll begin to look at that now.
The key to understanding the paradox is the title of the Lord. This expression in Joshua 5:14, “I indeed come now as the captain of the host of the Lord.” That title “the captain of the host of the Lord.” You remember that he is the captain but he’s also the Lord, Jehovah. The captain of the host of the captain of the Lord. He says, “I want to tell you about my host.” The paradox is in that title. Let me take the title apart and sort of back into the truth. First I want to talk about the host of the Lord and then I want to back up and talk about the captain of the host of the Lord and show how that is a preparation for abiding in our dear Lord Jesus Christ. After we are clear on that expression, I pray it will make a lot of sense.
I’m going to give you the general approach. The Bible uses “the host of the Lord” in three different ways. We are going to home in on one of those. The sun, moon, stars, creation, the galaxy are called “the host of the Lord” in the Bible. Genesis 2:1, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed and all their hosts.” So, as you go through the Old Testament, not once, twice or a dozen times but many more times you’ll see the heathen worshipping the host of heaven. What that means is that they are worshipping the sun, the moon and the stars and looking at the creature rather than the creator.
In that connection I love Psalm 147:4, “He counts the number of stars. He gives names to all of them.” I don’t know how many trillion stars there are in the galaxies but God has named every one. Isaiah 40:26, is the same thing, that He gives names to the stars, but He adds this in verse 26, “Not one of them is missing.” What that is saying is that there is not a star that dies in any galaxy in this whole universe that God is not controlling and is aware that he died. He watches the star fall and He watches the sparrow fall and He watches kingdoms fall and He watches individuals fall; He is the Lord of the host of the heavens.
The second way the word “host” is used is describing God’s people. For example. This is only one mention but it’s throughout the Bible. Exodus 7:4, “When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I’ll lay my hand on Egypt and bring out my hosts, my people, the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgment.” Sometimes His hosts are His people and their armies. So, He is the Lord of the armies of heaven and earth. Sometimes it’s the creation and sometimes it’s His people but the most emphasized use of that expression “Lord of host” is not “Lord of creation” or not “Lord of His people” but angels. He is the Lord of hosts and the angelic host. Psalm 103:21, “Bless the Lord all ye hosts who serve Him, doing His will.” Psalm 148:2, “Praise Him all His angels. Praise Him all His hosts.” The hosts referred to in Joshua 5 are not stars or people. They are the Lord’s hosts, the angels.
In order to get the principle into your heart I want to give you some idea of how large this host is. We just say, “The host of the Lord, the angels.” Galatians 3:19 tells us that when God gave the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments, He wasn’t alone. “Why the law, then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator.” What does that mean, “Having been ordained through angels?” God did not just hand Moses Ten Commandments. He handed His angels Ten Commandments; the angels handed it to Moses.
You might say, “Well, how many angels were there on Mt. Sinai?” Well, we learn in Psalm 68:17, “The chariots of God are myriads.” The word “myriad” is thousands; thousands upon thousands. The Lord is among them at Sinai in holiness. The word “myriad” is ten thousand and because it’s plural, it’s more than one ten thousand. King James says that the chariots of God are twenty thousand. So, they just say, “Two times ten thousand.” But putting an “s” on a plural could be many times more. We’ll just say, “How many angels?” “Well, on Mt. Sinai, it was a minimum of twenty thousand.” Remember when Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherd in the field, Luke 2:13, “Suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased.’” We don’t have a number there. We just have the word “multitude”. I don’t know how big a multitude is but I promise you it’s a lot.
Do you remember when Jesus was becoming sin for us in Gethsemane where He began to become sin? Matthew 26:53, “Do you not think I cannot appeal to My Father and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels.” A “Legion” has to do with the Roman army and it’s six thousand. He said, “There are twelve legions.” The math is seventy two thousand angels. Jesus was in Gethsemane and He said that there were seventy two thousand angels just waiting, kneeling over the battlement of heaven, waiting for Me to beckon them, and to call them and they would immediately come and destroy Rome and all of its soldiers. “I have angels waiting to serve Me.” And at that time He refused the angels but God saw that He needed one angel, not to save Him, but to strengthen Him. That’s another story all its own.
The host of the Lord is, at least, seventy two thousand. But actually we have another reference and this one is in Revelation 5:11&12, John the apostle was given a vision of God upon the throne and angels around the throne, “I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne and living creatures and elders and a number of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’” “Myriads of myriads.” A myriad is ten thousand. Then thousand times ten thousand and thousands and thousands. Did you ever do the math? Ten thousand times ten thousand? That’s one hundred million. One hundred million and thousands and thousands.
We say, “The Lord of hosts.” How many hosts and how many angels. A hundred million plus thousands of thousands and unnumbered amounts. We don’t know how many there are. When our Lord Jesus was born, God gave a command to all the angels in heaven. Here’s what He said, Hebrews 1:6, “When He again brings the firstborn into the world,” (that’s Bethlehem), “He says, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him.” Isn’t that something? I don’t know if there is more than a hundred million or how many there is but every last one of them at Bethlehem bowed down and worshipped that baby. That is a tremendous… If you want a Christmas message, there is a Christmas message. This is a tremendous truth.
I just want you to get a feel for this word “hosts”, this “angelic hosts”. No matter how many there are, every one of them was created individually. They don’t procreate. Angels don’t have angels. There is no baby angel. He made each one, one at a time, or I guess He could have made many at a time, but He made each one individually. We know from the Bible, and I don’t want to get to deep into this, however many there are, one third of them fell away. So now you’ve got good angels and bad angels. What is one third of a hundred million? I don’t know. I don’t know how many there are. I think there are more than a hundred million. I think there are unnumbered hosts and one third of them fell away. For our study I’m going to focus on the captain of the Lord of the good hosts, the good angels. It’s a study all its own to see the other group that fell away, the God of this world and his emissaries, the demons and what affect they have on the world and what affect they have on the church and what affect they have on the family and what affect they have on an individual Christian. That’s a study all its own. We get a hint of it in Ephesians 6:12, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers and the powers and against the world forces of darkness and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.” That passage suggests the conflict and its an interesting study.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the good angels are under the command of the captain but the bad angels are under the command of Satan. That is not the case. Both the good angels and every demon of hell is under the command of the captain of the Lord’s host who has the sword in his hand. God is sovereign and we read about the enemy hosts but in order to touch Job or his family or his body or the weather or the enemy, the evil one had to get permission from God. To sift Peter, they had to come and get permission from the Lord. They can’t go into a pig without permission. You remember that Bible story. Good and bad angels are under the command of this captain. We’ll see that in another connection but for this study we’re going to focus on the good angels. Perhaps another time and another study we can look into the other.
This is about God the Son identifying Himself to Joshua as the captain of more than a hundred million angelic hosts, those who did not leave their first estate. So, what is the paradox? So far we still haven’t touched the paradox. The captain of the Lord’s host contains what this paradox is. Look again at Joshua 5:13, Joshua’s first look was, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” As we suggested in our discussion last week, Joshua has two things in his mind, “There are only two options; you are for us or you are for them.” There’s not third option. You are on our side or you are on their side. There’s not other possibility. And then the angel was asked in verse 14 if he was on their side, and he said, “No.” “Are you on their side?” “No. Joshua, there’s another army that you don’t know anything about. There’s an army that you don’t see. You think there is just two armies; yours and theirs but I’m here to tell you,” and this is the puzzling paradox, ‘”that there is another army that you can’t see.”
This is so important that I want to stop here and give a couple of illustrations so that we get the power of what Joshua is learning. My first illustration is from Genesis 32. Jacob is running from Esau. Jacob had ripped him off and stole the birthright and stole the blessing and for twenty years Jacob had been running and Esau had been pursuing him and the last thing we heard about Esau was, “I’m going to kill him. I’m going to kill my brother.” Now after twenty years there is word, “Jacob, guess what? Esau is coming and there is four hundred guys with him.”
We read a strange verse and God did not explain it. The rest of scripture will unravel it but at this point all we read is Genesis 32:1, “Now Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him.” What happened? I would have loved to be there. This last week I was speaking to the Chinese men and I used some idioms that they aren’t used to. They don’t have any idea about “I’m all thumbs”, and my interpreter looked at me with questioning, “What are you talking about?” I made this comment, too, “I wish I was a fly on the wall.” He dropped his jaw then, too. What did that mean?
I don’t know what this is. I wish I was a fly on a tree there to see the angels of God meeting Jacob but we know that it so powerfully affected him in verse 2, “Jacob, when he saw them, said, ‘This is God’s camp.’ And he named that place Mahanaim.” In other words, “two camps”. That’s what that word means, “two camps”. Jacob had one camp and all of a sudden he said, “Uh-oh, there is something I didn’t know. I thought there was only one camp of here but there are two camps.”
Let me give another illustration. I think this one is a little more simple and clearer. 2 Kings and once again the enemy is out to get God’s child. The enemy is coming after Elisha and they want to capture Elisha. Elisha was camping in his tent just outside the city, he and his servant together, 2 Kings 6:15, “And when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’” And I’m sure the servant said, “Alright, let’s count them; there’s you and there’s me. Those with us? Are you kidding?” “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” That was new. He had never seen that. All he saw was an army coming and two men and they are dead. Elisha said, “No, I see something you don’t see. I see an army you don’t see. Lord, open his eyes that he sees what I see.”
When did Elisha start seeing that army? It’s in the same book, 2 Kings 2, “When Elijah was caught up in heaven and Elijah said, ‘You keep looking at me. If you want to see and have a second blessing and if you want the blessing of the firstborn, the double blessing..’ and all of a sudden he saw and he said, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel!’ And he never stopped seeing that. All the time, that is what he saw when Elijah was caught up and that’s what he sees now. He’s resting and he’s at ease because he sees it. Then he prays for his child, his servant, and says, “Do not fear. More are with us than who are with them. Verse 17, “’Oh Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ The Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw and behold, a mountain was full of horses and chariots.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is what Joshua saw that day as he was ready to face Jericho and go into conflict. There are not two options; the enemy and us. There are three options; there is me and my hosts, there’s the enemy and then there’s the Lord’s host. Let me home in a little closer on the paradox. In our first look we saw the captain of the Lord’s host as the one who didn’t come to take sides but to take over. Let me clarify that because that’s not 100% true. I’m going to put words in the mouth of the Lord as if He said this. He’s saying, “Joshua, that’s not why I revealed Myself as the captain of the Lord’s host with my sword in my hand. I actually haven’t come to take over your army. Your army is still intact and they are going into battle and it’s going to be bloody and they are going to fight for seven years. I’m not going to take over. They are in there in the battle. Actually, I appreciate that you took off your shoes and that you bowed down before me and that you were willing to surrender your army to me and you said, ‘What would you have me to do,’ and that’s a proper response for anyone who sees Me, to fall on their face and be barefoot before Me and be humble and under My authority. But, Joshua, you aren’t getting the paradox. You see, you are still the commander and they are still the army and I’m not taking over. I’m not taking over at all. I am captain of a great army but not yours. You will still lead your army. I’m the captain of the Lord’s host. I have hundreds of millions of angels at My command. You are in charge. You take your army and what you don’t see behind the scenes; I’m the captain and I will be commanding My hosts. You won’t see it but I’ll be commanding them. There is a spiritual army in the heaven lies under the command of King Jesus.” Oh, if we could get that in our heart. “I’m not on your side and I’m not on their side. I’m on God’s side and I fight for His cause, His name, His reputation, His honor, His glory and here is the paradox, if you and your army will line up on God’s side, I’ll fight for you. My question is ‘Whose side are you on?’ If you are on God’s side, then God will fight for you.
2 Chronicles 15:2, “The Lord is with you when you are with Him.” Isn’t that a great verse? “Behind the scenes in the invisible world I’ll command my hosts and you will experience victory. You need to understand that, Joshua. This is your final preparation. You are going in the land. If all you see is them, you’ll be overwhelmed because they are stronger than you and they are more powerful and they are trained in killing and murder and violence. One of the armies is evil. They are demons; the god of this world, forces that control the earth. They have tremendous power. They hate the Lord and they hate the people of the Lord. They blind the world and they corrupt people. They have influences in this world. The other army is My army. I’m the captain of the angels of the Lord and while you lead your army, I’m going to be leading mine.”
I need to clarify one possible conflict in this good angels/bad angels. Look at nations like North Korea and Iran and Russia and the United States and sometimes we say, “I appreciate your army up there but it looks like you are losing and it looks like they are winning and it looks like the enemy, the devil, is winning in many cases.” Is there a heavenly conflict between good and bad angels? The answer is yes. Do God’s good angels ever lose? The answer is no. They never lose. “How do explain? It sure looks like they are losing. It looks like the enemy is winning.”
Here is what is going on. The captain of the Lord’s host, when a country or a church or an individual or a family lines up with God, His angels fight on their side. When they go against God, He doesn’t lose. He commands His hosts to stop fighting. Let that sink in. Do you see what is happening? He does not lose. He commands His hosts, not to protect and not to fight. It looks like losing. The angel of the Lord puts His sword in His sheath and I promise you that when the captain of the Lord’s host commands His angels to stop fighting for you and your family, you are not going to make out too well. And He gives permission then to the other side, the enemy host, to reign and to do their terrible things.
In the seven year war, let me illustrate. How many soldiers were killed from God’s side, the people of God? The answer is thirty six in seven years. Joshua 7:5, “And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.” Thirty six guys died in a seven year war against thirty one armies. That’s amazing! There is a natural explanation. I’ll tell you why they died. It’s because the sword of Ai and his soldiers killed them. No, that’s not why they died.
Chapter 7:11, “Israel has sinned and they have transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. They’ve taken away some of the things under the ban. They have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst.” God stopped fighting. That’s why they died. It wasn’t that Ai became so powerful. They died because they stopped seeking the Lord.
In Deuteronomy Moses had already prophesied this and already told them, Deuteronomy 32:29, “Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future! How could one chase a thousand,” (that’s one enemy, chase a thousand of God’s people), “and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock has sold them, and the Lord had given them up?” That’s the only way you lose, if God’s army stops fighting for you. That’s the only way I lose. The devil didn’t win. The people sinned and God’s angels were commanded by the captain to stop fighting for them and they were on their own; good luck with that. If you are on your own, you lose. If I’m on my own, I lose.
Here’s a positive illustration and next week we’ll begin the actual battle of Jericho. We actually started the story today with that prayer but we know the story. They marched all around the wall and they followed all of God’s commands and the walls came tumbling down. They were on God’s side. Do you think marching around the wall, no matter what the International Bible Encyclopedia says how the cadence and making the ground vibrate and all of that foolishness, do you think the men marching around the wall and the trumpet blasts and the people shouting brought down the wall? I’ll tell you what brought down the wall; God commanded His invisible army and when they were for the Lord, the Lord was for them. Our victory is because behind the scenes there is an invisible army under the command of King Jesus and hundreds of millions of angels on God’s side, and when you are on God’s side, pull out all the stops and believe this with all your heart, they are on your side.
Psalm 91:11, “He’ll give His angels charge concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” We need to know that. This is one of those principles that not many Christians pay attention to. They don’t know it and if they know it, sometimes they forget it. Two more things and then we’re finished.
How many of the angels of the Lord’s hosts are fighting for you this minute? A squadron? How many? Listen to Hebrews 1:14, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out rendering service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” People talk about, “I have a guardian angel.” I know some people who name their guardian angel. The Bible doesn’t say that you have a guardian angel but the Bible does say that all the hosts of heaven are your guardian angels. You don’t have one. I wouldn’t be surprised if the very angel that rolled away from the tomb of Jesus has already ministered to you many times. We don’t begin to know and we have to pray with Elisha, “Lord, open our eyes. Greater is Him in you and greater are those with us than those who are in the world.”
I don’t have time to develop it now but I want to give you one more thing. In the balance of scripture, just to get the whole truth, there are two times and only two times when God will command His angels not to fight for you. One is sin; rebellion. If you don’t want to follow the Lord, you are on your own. That’s clear and I could show scripture after scripture to prove it. The other is when for God’s eternal purposes, He has some redemptive reason, like Job. He told His servants not to fight for Job. Like Joseph. It wasn’t because he sinned. That’s not why God told His angels not to fight. But then he said at the end, “You sold me; God sent me. You meant evil; God meant good.” So, for those two reasons, God will command His angels not to fight.
When you get out of fellowship with God and don’t want to abide in Christ, you are on your own. The second time is if God has some redemptive purpose that He wants to carry out, sometimes His angels step aside and the Lord gives permission to sift Peter, the Lord gives permission for the enemy to do his thing. It will all turn around. That’s what he did at the cross. He gave permission to be crucified and then turned it around for victory.
You see the paradox. There are not two armies. The paradox is that there are three and the captain of the Lord’s host all around you are angels, at every moment and they are watching over you to guard you in all your ways. Let me read this verse and then we’ll close, Psalm 91:9-11, “You made the Lord my refuge, even the most high your dwelling place. No evil shall befall you nor will any plague come near your tent, for He will give His angels charge concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
Father, thank You and open our eyes as you opened the servant of Elisha’s eyes, as You opened Joshua’s eyes. We pray that we might know the One we bow before, the One we surrender to is the captain of the Lord’s hosts. We know we still have our own responsibilities and our own duties and we have to face temptation and we have to face the enemy and deal with unreasonable people and are still in the battle but thank You for that invisible army that always gives us victory. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen