Welcome to our large look at our Lord Jesus and our little look at our Book of Joshua. As we come to study God’s word I remind you that there is one principle of Bible study and life that is indispensable and that is total reliance on the Holy Spirit. We thank God for the Holy Spirit giving us this book and now we need a revelation of the revelation and He delights to do it.
Matthew 22:29 and Jesus is talking to the Sadducees and they tried to trick the Lord Jesus and He makes this comment, “You are mistaken not understanding the scripture or the power of God.” There were two things; not understanding the scripture and they were denying the power of God. I took it away from the Sadducees and brought it to my own heart and I want to know what God said. I don’t want to make the error of the Sadducees, not knowing the scripture. I want to know the scripture. But then I also want to know the power. He gives us His word and then we need to trust Him to perform it. Let’s pray together that we’ll know the scripture and the power that goes with it.
Heavenly Father, thank You again that we can gather in this place and we thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit, the only One who searches the depths of God and who is the life of God and reveals unto us the things concerning Christ and our peace. We pray that we might receive Christ as you propose Him to us this morning and we ask you, Lord, to protect your people from anything that is not from you. Thank You in advance that you’ll over answer our request because we claim it in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus. Amen
We are beginning chapter 6 but I want to do a little review. We’ve just completed chapter 5, the first 5 chapters of the Book of Joshua, and we call those chapters “preparation”. For what? God is bringing His redeemed people into the land that pictures Christ; the land of milk and honey picturing Christ, the Life of milk and honey. Since the land pictures our inheritance, God was preparing them to go in and possess the land. So, in chapter 5, as we discussed, they’ve been finally prepared. They will forget some of that preparation, as we need to be ready over and over learn the same things time and time again.
They are ready now to enter the first conflict which is the Battle of Jericho. The Angel of the Lord, the Angel of the host of the Lord has appeared with a sword drawn in His hand and He’s already spelled out the details of this first battle. Just to refresh our minds, follow along please in chapter 6 verse 2, “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I’ve given Jericho into your hand with it’s king and it’s valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also, seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams horns before the ark. And then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times and the priests shall blow the trumpets and it shall be that when they make a long blast with the rams horn and you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout and then the walls of the city will fall down flat and the people will go by every man straight ahead.”
This is the first battle. We need to read it at first as a history. In other words, it’s literal. This really happened. We need to read it with the eyes of the flesh on the level of earth. But then we are also reading it as redemptive history. In other words, it’s true history but it’s telling redemption’s story. It’s a historical parable. We need to see deeper than the history; we want to see the Lord. On the level of earth we see a lot of human strategy.
Jericho was the principle stronghold of the Canaanites. It was a frontier city and was a powerful fortress. If you just picture north and south and in the middle; you’ve got the north and you’ve got the south and in the middle. There were armies in the north; altogether there were thirty one kings and armies in this land and they were divided up, so some of the armies were north and some were south and some were in the middle. When Israel attacked Jericho, that’s the middle, on the level of earth they actually drove a wedge right in the center dividing the fighting forces, so the forces in the north and the forces in the south were split. That was a good strategy on the level of earth. Of course, it has a spiritual history, as well.
The battle of Jericho was the first battle in the land. As the first battle in the land, the land that pictures Christ, our life in the Lord Jesus, I believe that first battle contains all the principles of spiritual warfare that are essential to our victory and our rest. You have all the eggs in one basket in this particular battle. The way God gave victory in this first battle is sort of the way He is going to give us victory throughout the entire Christian life. All of the essential principles of spiritual warfare are in this battle. God has fossilized them in this history. We call this the first mention in seed form; how to conquer, how to be victorious, how to overcome, how to dispossess the enemy and possess the land. We’ll see those great principles.
As far as first mention is concerned, I say this is their first battle in the land but it’s not their first battle. Their first battle out of the land was the battle of Rephadim when Moses lifted up his arms and Joshua was in the valley with the people and there God laid down the same principles that you see in Jericho but they were not as developed. It’s the same truth but now we’re going to have it more suggestive and more developed, until you come to the New Testament where it’s spelled out in great theological detail for us.
Jericho in our study is the door, really, to this life of faith and rest in Christ Jesus. It’s important as we enter, to really pay attention to the principles here. The secret of victory is not a big long list. For our discussion today, here’s what I want to do; I want to present to you what I’m calling “the two secrets of victory”. They are actually keys. After I’m done showing you the two secrets, I’m going to prove to you there are not two. There’s only one but there’s a couple of ways to look at the same truth. It’s important to break it up so that when we see it, there is one great reality in possessing the land.
Before we get to that part, by way of review, chapter 5 of final victory and the three paradoxes, I’d like to show you how the battle of Jericho contains those three paradoxes and it also illustrates. So, I’ll just mention those and move along.
The first paradox was the circumcision; holiness. You don’t go into rest first. You go in to obey and to live a holy life. That is illustrated by “don’t touch things under the ban”. As they go into the land God says, “Make sure that you are separated.” Let me read the record in Joshua 6:17-18, “The city shall be under the ban, it and all that’s in it belongs to the Lord. Only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live because she hid the messengers we sent. But as for you, keep yourselves from the things under the ban, that you do not covet them. Take some of things under the ban and make the camp of Israel a curse and bring trouble on it. But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron, they are holy to the Lord. They shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”
Before they set one foot into the Promised Land they were warned that there would be many things enticing in the land of Canaan. They were to keep themselves separate. The word that we use is the “spoils” and God said, “In this first battle, don’t take any spoils from the victory. All the spoils belong to the Lord.” The spoils of war belong to the Lord because the spoils belong to the victor. Whose warfare was it? It wasn’t Israel’s war. It was God’s war, so God said that in the first war, “Don’t touch the spoils because it was illustrating that the spoils go to the victor and you are not the victor. I am the Victor.”
Once again that was the paradox of circumcision; separation from the flesh. “You are going into the land, be separate because it all belongs to the Lord. Obey and be separate.” As you go through the Bible and God begins to open the truth of separation, Israel has yet to learn what some Christians take years to learn. I’ll state it as a statement, but may God help you learn it. It took me years to begin to learn it, and that is that consecration does not consecrate; Jesus does. Listen carefully. People say, “I’ve got to live a separated life.” Separation does not separate. Jesus does. Dedication and rededication does not dedicate or rededicate. Jesus does and we need to understand that this whole idea of separation from the flesh is not our work. It’s God’s work.
This first command of handing off all the spoil is just to teach, right at the start, at the beginning, at the foundation, spoils belong to the Victor. But you know it’s God’s heart that He shares His victory. That’s God’s heart and you’ll see that as you go through Jericho. For example, in the first battle, “Don’t touch anything; everything is the Lord’s.” In the second battle chapter 8:1-2, “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of the war with you and arise and go up to Ai; see that I’ve given into your hand the King of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and it’s king. You shall take only its spoil and cattle as plunder for yourselves.’”
God said in the first battle, “Don’t take any spoil.” In the second battle He said, “You can have some and you can have the cattle.” Chapter 8:27, “Israel took only the cattle and the spoil of the city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the Lord which He commanded Joshua.” In the first battle, take nothing. In the next battle, take a little bit. And by the time you get to the end of the seven year war, listen to chapter 11:12-14, “And Joshua captured all of the cities of these kings and he struck them with the edge of the sword and utterly destroyed them, just as Moses, the servant of the Lord had commanded. However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone which Joshua burned. All the spoils of these cities and the cattle the sons of Israel took as their plunder. They struck every man with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed.”
I want you to see God’s heart and get the big picture; it is “I am the Victor and all the spoil is mine but you are my inheritance and I want to share my spoil with you. Your responsibility is to understand that it’s all mine. Be separate that belongs to the Lord and when you learn that, I’ll begin to dribble out my spoil to you. So now you can have some and as you continue to learn, you can have more. In fully developed form, it’s Romans 8:32, “He did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all. How will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” He wants us to have all things. There is no peace outside of Christ. There is no joy outside of Christ. There is no strength outside of Christ. He wants you to have peace and victory and rest and strength and love and wisdom but not outside of Christ. He wants you to have Christ, that in Him you will find all of that spoil. He illustrates that by the spoil. As you go on in the Lord, He’ll just dump everything on you and you’ll be fully blessed. That was, of course, His heart.
The second paradox is also illustrated. It was when God stopped the miracle manna and when He stopped the infallible guidance by the cloud and put the ark into the hand of fallible men. God says, “I’ll still work miracles but they aren’t going to be so dramatic. From now on they are going to be supernaturally natural; providential. In other words, God is going to give victory but He’s not going to destroy the enemy like He did with Sodom and Gomorrah. Lightning isn’t going to come out of the sky and burn them up. You are involved and you have to be engaged. You are going to fight and you are going to have to take a sword. Keep it sharp. You are involved in this and then when it’s all done bow your head and say, “Thank You, Lord, You gave the victory and You are the One that conquered.” God said, “I’ll still do miracles but now I’m going to use your sweat and I’m going to use your energy and I’m going to use your skill,” and so on.
Notice in chapter 6:2-5, every detail was pointed out in advance. God gave His word. Imagine if Israel stopped there and said, “We have a word from God, the angel with the sword in His hand appeared to Joshua and we learned that the battle is not ours, that the battle belongs to the Lord. And just as He gave us the manna, we can trust Him to give us the Canaanites. We have His word. This is not out battle; it’s His battle. We’ll sit back and do nothing and wait for the angel with the sword in his hand to wipe out the Canaanites.”
You know that’s not how it happened and once again you see the paradox. God said, “I’ll give you the victory but it will be through you. They had the word and we read it, 2-6. God spelled out every detail but that word they had that spelled out victory, a clear word – you could have asked them at them at that time and they would have said, “The Bible said it, Jesus said it, and I believe it and that settles it and we’ve got the land.” But when did they actually get the land? The answer is when God used them. They had to march around the city and they had to be silent and they had to listen to the trumpet and they had to keep their eyes on the ark. That’s when they got the victory. They had the word of victory before they were engaged in the victory but they didn’t enjoy the victory. God had given them the recipe and praise God for good recipes, but they aren’t nourishing. You can’t eat a cookbook. You need a meal. God gave the recipe but then He served the meal and they marched around thirteen times and experienced the victory.
The paradox of the invisible army led by the Lord of Hosts is also demonstrated. They believed God. Joshua 6:7, “He said to the people, ‘Go forward and march around the city.’” It’s interesting that God said the same thing here that he said when they were crossing the Red Sea in Exodus 14:15, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the people, the sons of Israel, to go forward.’” That’s the first mention of the expression “go forward”. What did it take when they were at the Red Sea for them to go forward? The answer is it took a mighty miracle of God.
Now they are at Jericho and God said, “Go forward.” What would it take to go forward? The answer is that it took a mighty miracle of God. Christians talk about going forward in the Lord. What would it take to go forward in the Lord? Don’t doubt it; a mighty miracle of God. You are not going to advance one step without a mighty miracle of God. It’s one thing to believe that God has given me Jericho but it’s another thing to take it. It’s in that appropriation that victory is realized.
Don’t get me wrong; we need a clear word from God, the word of the Lord. When He gives it we say, “I believe.” Let me illustrate it from John 4, the story about the royal official of Herod’s court who came petitioning the Lord for the life of his son? Jesus said to him in John 4:50, “’Go your way. Your son lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.” All he had was a word and he believed. He didn’t go on emotion. God didn’t give any sign. There was no experience at that time. He went out walking, believing the word of the Lord. All he had was a naked word of the Lord. When he got home he received happy intelligence that at the very hour he was talking to Jesus his son was healed. John 4:53, “The father knew that it was at the hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives.’ And he himself believed and all his household.”
We read when Jesus first talked to him, he believed. But now his son is alive and the Bible says, “He believed and his whole house.” What is the difference between the first belief and the second belief? He’s already believed. He believed the word of God. And then he saw it happen. Let me just say it this way, he believed with a capital “B”. Once it takes place you really believe. Hebrew 11:30, “Israel believed that they were going to have Jericho. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.” They believed it but after they marched around, after the walls fell down, ask them then, “Do you believe?” They’d say, “I believe now.”
As I sit before you I speak with great assurance, I will die and go to heaven. I know that. You say, “How do you know.” I have a word; I have the word of the Lord and I’m trusting in the Person of Jesus and the work He did shedding His blood for me. I know I’m going to heaven. I believe. But if you are there before I am, you better put your glorified hands over your glorified ears because when I get there and pinch myself and see that it’s true, I believe it now but when I get there, I believe. And I’m going to shout it all over heaven. You believe because He said so but once you experience it, then you really believe.
We believe God is going to get us through the hard time because He said so but once He gets you through the hard time, you say, “Wow, I really believe!” I know God is going to provide but then when that mailbox miracle comes or some other provision, you say, “Wow!” And sometimes we’re amazed that He’s done it. We just say, “Now I believe.” We believe He’s faithful and He’s not going to fail us. We know He is the there. But then in the day of trouble when we’re able to go into His presence and hide beneath His wings, we say, “Now I believe. He’s promised to empty me and fill me. He’s promised to guard me and to guide me. He’s promised to strengthen me and to cleanse and to comfort me and to reveal to me His pleasure and His will. But when He does it, that’s when we believe. That’s the illustration that the paradox is. He’s going to do it but He’s going to do it through you.
Holiness was illustrated by “don’t touch the spoils”, His providential miracle was illustrated by engaging the invisible army. You know the wall didn’t come down because they marched around it. The wall became down, not because they shouted, but because God, His invisible host, took it down.
With that as introduction, let me give you two secrets of victory. In other words, that first battle teaches us how to enter the land and enjoy victory in Christ. Let me give you this curve ball. I’m going to give you two secrets of victory, but for a reason that I hope comes clear at the end, I’m going to give you the second reason first. That’s important. I’ll give you the second reason first and then the first reason and then, Lord helping me, we’ll bring it together and show you that it’s all the same thing.
The second secret of victory, illustrated by the taking of Jericho is this. If you haven’t experienced it, trust me, you will. It’s this; God will arrange things in your life so that we recognize our absolute inadequacy, our weakness, our helplessness, our frailty, our inability to do anything spiritual in our own strength. Nobody will really experience the fullness of the Lord who puts any trust in themselves and self-confidence.
I want to show you several things that show how humanly impossible it was for Israel to take Jericho and to take the whole land. First of all, the very nature of Palestine; it’s a land of hills and valleys. I think that illustrates how impossible it was. With the natural division in the land, it was easy to defend and hard to conquer. It’s hard to dislodge any enemy who is entrenched on high ground. And that’s what they were facing. They had to go into an entrenched enemy.
2 Samuel 5, in those days Jerusalem was called Jabus and the Jebusites were in charge of Jerusalem and David was going to go up in the name of the Lord and conquer Jerusalem. The Jebusites began to laugh and to mock and said, “Well, we don’t need our soldiers for this battle. We’re going to protect our walls with crippled people and blind people because that’s all we need is the crippled and the blind for this host of the Lord to come in. We don’t need regular soldiers.” Well, that was the whole land of Palestine, not just Jericho. These children of Israel were not equipped to take this land. Add to the nature, the geography of the land, the nature of the Canaanites; these were terrorists. They were killers and trained in war. That’s all they did. They ate war for breakfast and for lunch and for tea and for supper. The thirty one tribal kings were going after one another all the time and they are still doing that, by the way.
I read one commentary that said that the Hittites in the land of Canaan rivaled Egypt for supremacy in the power of the whole world. Israel knew almost nothing about war. They had a couple of victories on the east of the Jordan just before they went in but they were an agricultural people. They knew about cows and sheep and turtle doves. They didn’t know about going against these giants, these warriors. They had been wandering around for forty years, so even though they had a little bit of conflict, they were not prepared for war.
The nature of the land was against them and their agricultural background was against them and add to that what archaeologists have uncovered about the walls of Jericho in that time, if we can believe them. I’ve read several different accounts and tried to pull together what I thought were the most common agreement. This is not in your Bible but this is what they say about the walls of Jericho at that time. We’re told that the walls of Jericho were double walls. It wasn’t just a single wall. The outer wall was six feet thick and the inner wall was twelve feet thick. In between the inner and outer wall was an area of about fifteen feet which means there is a thirty three feet distance just covering the walls. According to the archaeologists, the walls were about thirty feet high.
Try to picture that; thirty feet high and six feet thick and fifteen feet between them and twelve feet thick. I tell you that to show that God’s people, these pilgrims, are not equipped to take Jericho. The first thing we read about Jericho is chapter 6:1, “Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel. No one came in and no one went out.” According to Rahab, they had a testimony of the Lord and they were terrified and worried. These enemies were worried. The city was shut up tight; nothing coming in and nothing going out and they had huge gates and they were locked. Everything was under tight security; an impregnable fortress.
God was showing His people how impossible this was. The land makes it impossible, the violence of the enemy makes it impossible, the size of these walls make it impossible and add to that chapter 5:2, “At that time the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.’” Don’t read that la, la, la. Circumcision weakened them. They were to go to war and they were already in enemy territory and their camp was within five miles of Jericho and honestly, if you are about to go to war against a foe like this, it’s a time to be alert and to be strong and to be on your guard. You’ve got to be on your toes. What does God do? He incapacitates the fighting forces. Think of it; He disables the army in the presence of the enemy. On the level of earth, there couldn’t be a more unmilitary act than circumcising the soldiers just before they had to march around the city.
Remember in Genesis chapter 34, Levi and Judah, their sister had been raped and they got very angry and this city, so they had a plot, “We’ll not hurt you for doing that terrible thing if you become one of us. So, all of you get circumcised.” They agreed to it. The Bible said that it was about three days later that they didn’t have strength to lift up a sword and defend themselves. Two men went in and destroyed the whole city. I’m just trying to illustrate this. What God did according to Leviticus 12, you were to be eight days old when you were circumcised. God put every soldier in the place of a baby eight days old, in order to illustrate this childlikeness. You are going to take the land? You better believe the lay of the land is against you. You are going to take the land? You better believe the skill and the hate of the enemy is against you. You are going to take the land? You’ve got to believe these walls are against you. And now the circumcision and you are in the place of a baby eight days old.
You would think that would be enough but God said, “You still don’t know how weak you are. Joshua 6:3, “You’ll march around the city, all the men of war, circling the city once. You shall do so for six days and on the seventh day they rose early in the morning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times, only on that day they marched the city seven times.”
Look at the divine strategy, “March around the city once a day for six days and the last day seven times.” That march did at least two things for God’s people. Number one: it gave them thirteen looks at the wall; thirteen large looks at the impossibility of the situation. By marching around the city like that it also put the enemy on guard. At first they were terrified but this is not a surprise attack. They are marching around for thirteen days. They aren’t striking the enemy when the enemy has its head turned. Right in the open, thirteen trips around, I’m certain they knew as never before how outnumbered they were and how impossible this thing was. I’ll tell you, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is humbling, as it was for them, to look our problem, our nature, our heart, right in the eye and confess how inadequate we are to deal with this thing.
I know we are studying redemptive history and there are Canaanites out there. Let me tell you and I’ll tell you from my own life, there are also Canaanites in here, big ones, strong ones, and mighty ones and the Canaanites in here have unfeathered ambitions and the Canaanites here are full of lust and passion and self-indulgence and impatience and anger and hate and bitterness and irritability and pride and everything you can think of, and I can’t deal with these Canaanites and neither can you. God is showing them the impossibility.
Someday God will, or He has already done it, bring you eye to eye with who you are. I’ll tell you, it’s humbling and you realize like that song, “The Battle of New Orleans?” “Old Ironsides said we could take them by surprise, if we didn’t fire muskets until we looked them in the eyes.” Well, take a good look at your heart. We need to trust the Lord unreservedly but that will not happen unless we learn to mistrust ourselves unreservedly. God is in the process of teaching them, “Don’t trust the flesh.” Proverbs says, “He that trusts his own heart is a fool.” Don’t be a fool. God makes us face impossibility of the task before us.
The march around the city had another contribution. It not only gave them thirteen big looks at the wall but it was also designed to wear them to a frazzle. Think about this. It’s tough enough for recently circumcised soldiers to march around thirteen times; commentators are differed on how long it took to go once around the city. Some say that it takes one hour to go around the city. The most I read was three hours and a few said two hours. Just think of it, no matter what. If it’s two hours, on the last day they had to march fourteen hours. If it’s one hour, they had to march around seven hours on that last day. They would have been tuckered out. It was designed to wear them out. The whole thing is set up by God.
I’m not a hiker but I wouldn’t want to hike for seven or eight hours. Can you imagine that? What do you want to do after a long walk like that? I’d want to take a nap. I want to take a nap after I get the mail. These kids have the IPhones and all these gadgets and I’m listening to my grandchildren, “There’s an app for that.” Well, I like to slur my words, “I have a nap for that!” I have a nap for everything.
You would think that after
being worn out like that, that God would be done.
You’ve seen the area and you’ve seen the violence of these people and you’ve seen the size of the wall and you are marching and are circumcised like little babies marching around and you’ve got all these looks and now you are tired from marching for thirteen hours; that’s just the beginning! Now God says, “Attack!”
Don’t forget that the war didn’t start until after all of that. Now you know they are out of energy and this wasn’t an ordinary city. This is Jericho. Jericho is one of the lowest places on the earth. The lowest place, of course, is the Dead Sea; 1,292 feet below the level of the sea, almost 1300 feet below sea level. Jericho is right above that. They didn’t just march around. This was hot and it was in the heat of the day. It’s one thing to walk seven hours but to walk seven hours in the heat of the day and many of them in full military garb… All of that was before the real battle even started. Don’t be surprised, dear friends in Christ, if God exhausts you and makes you so weak that there is no possibility of putting confidence in the flesh. You’ve got to see how impossible it is for you to do anything. So, God shows them their inadequacy until they are physically done and emotionally spent and then He’s going to show His victory.
We’re going to add something else to that. After marching around in the heat of the day and God says, “Attack!” remember those walls? They came tumbling down. Now there is rubble to climb over. We read this la, la, la. How much rubble do you think that those walls that tall, thirty feet, and now they’ve got to climb over that in battle array and ready to go to war? It would have been tough enough fighting the enemy on level ground but to climb over all of that rubble at ground zero, I’m just trying to illustrate for you one of the secrets of entering into the land called “Jesus”, the land of rest. You’ve got to see how weak you are. I do hope that God has taught you that secret; it’s not in you and it’s not in me and we’re no match for the enemy. The weapons of our warfare of certainly carnal. They are mighty through God. They are spiritual.
That’s the second principle of victory; to get a good look at yourself and face who you are. I know that in my flesh dwells no good thing. What is the first secret of victory? It’s the exact opposite. I can’t do it but He can. Exactly so! That’s the secret of victory. We can’t repeat that truth enough. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the battle is not yours; it’s His. The battle is not mine; it belong to Him.
There are a couple of illustrations in the Jericho story. The first one we have already mentioned and that’s Joshua 6:19, that the spoils belong to the victor and He’s the Vicitor and He gets the spoils. The land, no matter what it looks like, was a gift to be received and it was not a possession won by war, by conquering. God gave them the land. Joshua 6:2, “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand with its king and valiant warriors. Praise the God of glory and praise the Lord of hosts.’”
The second thing that shows it’s God’s battle and not man is this wonderful emphasis on the ark. Joshua 6:4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13…, “the ark, the ark, the ark, the ark, the ark,” over and over again it mentions the ark. Why all this emphasis on the ark? Remember that the ark as we discussed, was in the shape of a king’s throne, an oriental king and it’s a picture of King Jesus. You might say, “Well, the people were marching around the city.” Yes, but so was King Jesus. He’s in the ark. That’s the picture of the invisible King. Jericho was not conquered because the children of Israel marched around it, but it was surrounded by King Jesus.
In ordinary circumstances the ark would have been carried in the middle of the camp. You see that in the wilderness. There were six tribes in the front of it and the ark in the middle and then six tribes on the other side. But in this battle the armed men went first and you’ve got to remember they were five hundred thousand men. This is not a single file. There are seven priests and seven ram horns. These aren’t the fancy silver trumpets that you read about in Numbers. These are crude rams’ horns. They weren’t playing a gospel song going around. This was not music. This is a loud moan. This is a lugubrious howl; a rams’ horns. Then came the ark of God followed by the rear guard and the rest of the people.
Get this in your mind. We forget, I don’t know how big the city was, but they not only circled the city, they encircled the city. They were all around the city and that’s why one of the strategies when the walls came tumbling down, they attacked them from every side. It wasn’t just like breaking through a hole in the wall. The whole thing came down and they attacked them on every side. Try to get this in your mind’s eye, six days they marched around the city; once every day and then the last day, seven days. They were told to be quiet; absolute silence. We’ll look at that in another connection. They were told to be absolutely silent. You’ve got a parade and nobody is talking. Everything is silent except one band and it’s the rams’ horns; seven priests, seven rams’ horns and all around the city they were blasting them.
Of course, when we watched a parade and took our kids, there would be a band playing and we’d look where such and such high school was, if the only sound is the rams’ horn, where are you going to look? The answer is, “Where the band is playing,” and they were announcing the ark. The band was playing and all eyes were on the ark. That’s the message of going around Jericho; that all eyes are on the ark.
Before I leave this point, I want to stop for a moment and ask you not to speak out loud (we’re all different), I want you to think of the biggest problem in your life right now. Whatever it is; family, health, finances, relationships, children, grandchildren, whatever it is, some responsibility or some duty that the Lord has called you to do, and when you look at yourself, be honest, doesn’t it seem insurmountable? It’s too big. I don’t know what problem you thought of but I don’t think it could match up to the illustration of Jericho and what they were facing that day and what God did and what He wants to do for you. They were not adequate, but I’ll say what the rams’ horns said, brothers and sisters in Christ, “All eyes on the ark. Look to King Jesus.” The victory is His and the spoils is His. The battle is His.
When I introduced the text to you I told you I was going to show you how it’s really one. I can’t do it, He can. What makes that one? And I think the answer is in Hebrews 11:30, “By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” Faith brings it together. By faith I know that I can’t do it. And by faith I know He can do it. Faith makes that one truth. It’s two sides of the same coin.
I told you I gave you the second first because I wanted to call attention to this. I say to look at your weakness. And the answer is that you can’t until you see the Lord. You see the Lord first and then you see who you are. Isaiah saw the Lord and then he said, “I am undone.” I know a lot of Christians, and that’s why I’m emphasizing this, that are into introspection and looking inside the heart and it becomes so morbid to look inside the heart. In my heart dwells no good thing. If God showed you everything that is in your heart before you saw Jesus, it would kill you. It’s hard enough when you are seeing the Lord to be exposed and to see what is in there but you’ve got to see the Lord first.
Christians love to search one another and they like to pick and find out. May God help you to know that, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart.” Let God search you and not other Christians. Let the Lord search your heart because He will not show you your heart until you are ready and then He’ll give the grace to face that and to repent and to move on. Little by little we learn how impossible it is for us and how possible it is for Him.
I want to end on a practical note. I’m going to give three illustrations of faith that makes it one. I don’t have time now, so I’ll give one now and then I’ll have a couple of other illustrations. Here’s the first; faith looks away from it’s own inadequacy and faith looks to the Lord Who is sufficient and Who is adequate. It looks to Him in unconditional obedience by the grace of God.
From the natural viewpoint, God’s method of taking Jericho, and I want to be reverent, but it’s sounds stupid to the nth degree. Suppose someone had been on the walls of Jericho looking down and seeing the people march around, and they march around a day in silence and then they go to their camp and the next day they come back and they march around and they did that for all those days and then the last day thirteen times around. At first the enemy was terrified but remember what Pharaoh said when they were going to the Red Sea? Pharaoh said, “They are wandering aimlessly in the wilderness. They are lost in the wilderness.” I can imagine these people would say something like this, “Look at the people of God. They are just going in circles.”
Have you ever felt like you were going just going in circles? I have. Let me tell you that when they are God’s circles, you are getting places. When they are His circles, they have direction. It seems like you are just going in circles but everything is redemptive and there’s a right way to go in circles and there is a wrong way to go in circles. I can’t dictate to you exactly what God is going to do in your life and I appreciate it if you don’t dictate to me what God is going to do in my life. But I tell you this and I think for certain, if it’s really the Lord, there were always be something in His guidance that looks foolish to the world. That’s probably a principle that you’ll find throughout the whole scripture.
Faith obeys God no matter how silly it sounds. Don’t be discouraged if it looks like you are just running around in circles. You are going forward in the Lord Jesus. All eyes on the ark! Some people are going to think you are stupid. That’s for sure! They are going to think you are stupid because you are getting walked on all over and they say, “That is dumb and stupid,” because you don’t retaliate. That sounds dumb to them and stupid because you are being honest at a cost for you. They are going to say that you are stupid because you gather with God’s people and sing songs of praise to God. And you are stupid for being generous and giving away wonderful provision. They are going to think you are stupid because you don’t stand up for your rights and on and on it goes because you don’t except their methods and their philosophy and their humanism and so on.
When you know that God is calling you to do something, by His grace do it, no matter how stupid it is or how many people stand against you, obey the Lord. Faith obeys the Lord. You say, “Yes, but if I do that, boy, my reputation is down the drain.” That’s exactly right! It’s not about your reputation or mind. It’s His reputation and His name and His honor and it’s His glory. So, don’t be afraid and go in circles. On the level of earth I’d much rather have that angel of the Lord with the sword in his hand leading the way. But He said, “No, you’ve got to engage. In order to engage you’ve got to obey and in order to obey you’ve got to go in circles and it looks like you aren’t going to win.”
Let me close with this. Here is the principle and bringing it to one; I can’t. The next principle isn’t that He can. No. I can’t, He won’t but in union with me He will. Do you see? I can’t at all by myself. He won’t do it by Himself. But in union with you He’ll take you forward and the walls of Jericho will come tumbling down. I don’t know who your Canaanites are but the Lord can take care of your Canaanites.
Father, thank You for Your word. Again we have to admit that it’s not what we think it is, but everything that You’ve inspired it to mean. That’s what we’re asking You to work in our hearts. Deliver us from not trusting You. Forgive us for trusting ourselves. Teach us that in us is nothing good but that the victory is yours and the spoils belong to you. Yours is the glory and Yours is the Kingdom and power and the glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.