Stephen Caswell © 1999
Fighting Through Faith
Illustration Of A Small Boy's Faith
The story is told of small boy named Johnny who went out to where his dad was working under the house. His dad had been digging a hole in the ground all morning and it was now quite deep. Johnny could not see his dad at the bottom of the hole that was now about 8 feet deep. He asked his dad if he could come down to him. The dad said sure, if you jump into the hole, I will catch you. The boy heard his father's words but was a little bit scared. He said but what if you can't catch me dad, it's awfully dark. His dad replied you may not be able to see me, but I can see you. Son you know that I love you and wouldn't hurt you. Just trust me and jump into my arms. I know I can catch you safely. Johnny jumped and was caught safely.
Likewise when God revealed His plan to Joshua, it required faith and obedience on Israel's part. God promised to give them victory, but His plans defied human logic. Joshua 6:1 says: Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. This is what Joshua would have observed before he met the Divine Captain. The city of Jericho had shut its gates. Probably out of fear since Israel was camped nearby at Gilgal. But it also reveals the fact that Jericho was quite impregnable humanly speaking. It was securely locked up.
Last Sunday we observed how God appeared to Joshua at this time. The Captain of the Lord's army took charge of the situation and corrected Joshua's priorities. Joshua learned that His Divine Captain was Prepared, Preeminent and Pure. Joshua responded appropriately. He sought the Captains help. He worshipped, obeyed and reverenced Him. Today, we observe the details of Jericho's Destruction. The Heavenly Captain continues on from chapter 5:13 and reveals how to conquer the city. This passage reveals 3 things to us:
I. The Plan
II. The Procession
III. The Purpose
Firstly The Plan
Joshua 6:2-7 : And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD. And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.
Illustration From Hunt For The Red October
One of my favourite war movies is " Hunt for the Red October." It's a war movie where a Russian Submarine Commander Michael Ramius and his crew defect to America. Before he sailed he wrote a letter to the Russian Government detailing his intentions. As a result the Russian War Department initiated an intensive search to hunt him down and destroy the submarine. The Americans made contact with Ramius and were negotiating the details of the defection.
At this time, one of the Russian submarine captains also located him and fired a torpedo to sink the Red October. In response Ramius turned directly into the path of the incoming torpedo and therefore shortened the time to impact. The American captain was amazed at this seemingly foolish action. But was pleasantly surprised when the torpedo did no harm. By reducing the time to impact the torpedo did not have time to arm itself. What seemed to be a foolish strategy proved to be quite ingenious.
a. His Plan Seemed Foolish
Humanly speaking this was one of the most stupid plans ever to be devised. Who in their right mind would march around a fortified city? They had no battering ram, ladders to climb the walls, or catapults to throw stones into the city. What could they hope to accomplish by marching around the city for seven days? They were commanded to be silent. They couldn't talk or make any noise. They weren't even allowed to yell out at the people on the wall and try to frighten them. The only ones to make noise were the priests blowing their trumpets. God had promised them that the walls would fall down if they would obey. But how? It didn't seem logical. Couldn't the Lord just knock the walls down anyway? Why did they have to march 13 times in 7 days ?
Besides all this, they risked their lives. What if the people of Jerciho fired arrows at them from the wall? What if the warriors came out and attacked them, while they were spread out in a long file? At the very least the people of Jericho would laugh at them. They would think that they were mad! After all they were mighty men of valour. They had fought in many battles and were hardened warriors. This seemed like a ridiculous command. Who in their right mind would obey such a command? Wasn't their some better way to conquer Jericho?
b. His Plan Sought Faith
God' plan called for faith and obedience. The people of Israel must again trust the Lord to keep His promises. Even if they didn't know how He would do it. When they crossed the Jordan River they had to step out in faith. Now God commanded them to do it again! The Divine Captain promised that the walls would fall down if they obeyed His commands. The word LORD is used 16 times in this chapter. God was very much involved in the conflict. In verse 2 God said that He had already given Jerciho into their hands. He had already accomplished the victory. Israel just had to take the city. The outcome was settled. God's plan was so simple. But how could it work? It was to easy. However Joshua believed God and obeyed it precisely! He took God at His word and followed this most unlikely battle plan. Psalm 20:7 says: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
God rarely tells us all the details of His plans for us. He tells us the first step or two and expects us to step out in faith. When we do he reveals the next phase of His plan. This was what happened when we went to Bible College. We did not know how we could make it through 3 years of college financially. But we believed God and stepped out in faith and the Lord provided. Whenever I bawked at God's will he brought me back to the same place. If we do not obey His word in faith, He cannot take us on further, or bless us. Are you holding back from God's call on your life today? Has God challenged you about salvation and you are resisting His call? Can I encourage you to receive Him today! He is Faithful and will save you. God's plans for us require faith:
Secondly we see: The Procession
The next 8 verses give us greater detail of the plan and its implementation. Joshua 6:8-16: And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, You shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall you shout. So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.
And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
Joshua was given exact details of what to do. He must follow the plan exactly. The procession of people marching around Jericho was very orderly. The marching order of those involved is most interesting. God gave Joshua the order for the procession.
Illustration Of Taking Antibiotics
Some of the Flu Viruses you catch are very hard to shake off and the only way to get rid of them is to take antibiotics. When the Doctor prescribes them he gives specific instructions for you to follow. Usually they have to be taken with food. Sometimes they tell you not to eat sugar for the course of the tablets. He also stresses the fact that we are to finish the course. Even when we start to feel better we must finish the entire course of tablets or we will have a relapse. In the same way Joshua had to follow God's instructions exactly. He had to complete the course over 7 days. Only then would he be victorious.
a. The Armed Men
The women and children stayed at the camp. Only the armed soldiers were to march around the city. The armed soldiers formed two groups. The first group lead the procession around Jericho. The second group were to follow the ark and act as a rear guard. These soldiers were to be absolutely silent and say nothing at all, even if the people of Jericho taunted them. This they did for seven days. The first soldiers probably returned as the rearguard left each day.
b. The Ark of the Lord
The ark represented God's visible presence with the people. The ark is mentioned 11 times in this chapter and plays a central role in the conquest of Jericho. The ark was carried by the priests that had been assigned this task. It was preceded by seven priests who blew their trumpets continually. The Lord's presence was manifested to all through the ark. It is referred to as the ark of the Lord, speaking of His presence. The ark of the covenant, speaking of His faithfulness to the Covenant. And the ark. God was visibly involved in the conflict.
But the Lord's presence was also announced through the seven trumpets. Trumpets were often used to proclaim the arrival of a king. The fanfare announced His arrival so that the people could respond to him appropriately. Trumpets were used to proclaim God's presence at solemn feasts as mentioned in Numbers 10:10. When the Lord gave the ten Commandments at Mount Sinai trumpets sounded on the mountain, signifying God's presence. Trumpets were used in war to sound the advance of the soldiers. I believe all these aspects are relevant here. But the focus of it is God's involvement in the conquest.
c. The Advance
Following God's Plan Joshua ordered the Procession to encompass the city for seven days. Then on the seventh day they marched around seven times. Seven priests blew seven trumpets continually. The number seven is used fourteen times in Joshua chapter 6. This is very significant. Seven is used in the Bible to convey perfection or completion. After Israel had marched around Jerciho for seven days God worked miraculously. On the seventh day they marched around seven times. All this time the soldiers kept quiet. All this time only the trumpets proclaiming God's presence spoke. God Himself gave the city of Jerciho to Israel. He was the only one that could bring the walls down. Now He responded to their faith!
d. The Announcement
Israel had followed God's plan completely. Now God gave them the city. Joshua 6:16 says: And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. God had given them the city and the people shouted because of the victory that God alone had accomplished. This was a victory shout acknowledging God's work! He alone had caused the walls to fall down. Some people think that by marching around so many times the foundations of Jericho were weakened. Then when the people shouted this set up sound waves that brought down the weakened structure. I am not convinced about this. Some feel that an earthquake was the cause. This is possible, but God overruled in it. We know that the wall on which Rahab's house was built was unaffected. To me this is just as amazing as the wall's collapse.
Hebrews 11:30 says: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. The Lord responded to the people's faith! The Procession around Jericho emphasised Israel's obedience to God's unusual plan. They exercised great faith in the Lord. But God alone brought the walls down. God did all of this for a reason. Joshua had further instructions to follow. God's plans require complete Obedience. We come to our last point.
Thirdly we see The Purpose
Joshua 6:17-19 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
a. Devoted to Destruction
God doomed the city of Jericho and it's people to destruction. He gave specific instructions regarding the spoils of Jerciho. When Israel went into the city they could not keep any of the spoils. The word doom, curse and consecrate all carry a similar meaning. They all come from the same Hebrew word herem which means to devote for God alone. This involved being set apart for destruction or for use in the tabernacle. Israel could not take any spoils from the conquest of Jerciho. The contents of Jericho were to be given to the Lord as the first fruits of the land. Just as the first fruits of a crop given to the Lord pointed to more crops to come, so the conquest of Jerciho signalled that Israel would receive all of Canaan from Him. After the walls fell down the people went into the city from the place they were standing at.
Joshua devoted all to God:
1. The City - He burned it with fire. He cursed anyone rebuilding the city. v17, 24, 26
2. The Civilians - He slew them all with the sword, women and children alike. v 17, 21
3. The Cattle - He slew all the livestock. Oxen, sheep and donkeys. v 21
4. The Consecrated Things - He put all silver, gold, bronze & iron into the treasury. v 19
God's judgement fell on the Canaanite's for their wickedness. He had prophesied this to Abraham 400 years earlier. If you feel the Israelites are cruel for killing the children, then blame the Lord He told them to do it. He had given them four hundred years to repent. The Canaanites practiced infant sacrifice, putting them into the fire. They were brutal and filled the land with violence. They were immoral celebrating fertility feasts . God could not allow such wickedness to continue. If Israel allowed them to live and dwelt amongst them they would fall into the same sins. Sin has a way of spreading and would have corrupted God's people. Israel must not allow any of these wicked people to dwell amongst them.
b. Devoted to Deliverance
But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it. So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.
But God spared Rahab because of her faith. Rahab and her family were delivered from destruction because she had placed her faith in God. The assistance she gave the spies proved that her faith was genuine. Hebrews 11:31 says: By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. Not only that she preserved her future descendants. God saves all who place their faith in Him. Rahab was blessed for her faith. The reason her family was placed outside the camp is that they were unclean. They had to be purified according to the law before they could enter the camp.
The Seventh Trumpet Brings Future Judgement
Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
A day of future judgement awaits people on this earth. God has patiently given people time to repent. His perfect plan for everyone is that they might be saved. He desires that none should perish. Have you accepted His plan of salvation? If you haven't can I encourage you to accept Him as your saviour today. Those who reject His Son will suffer His judgement like the people of Jericho did. Rahab was saved through her faith in God. May I encourage you to seek God's mercy like she did and be saved today. He will not turn you away. In fact you will share the eternal kingdom that He ushers in. These are the only two options. Judgement or Salvation. What will you choose?
God has a purpose in all of His plans. He has some goal that he wants to achieve through them. He doesn't have to tell us why He wants us to do something. We need to obey Him and trust Him. He knows best. Romans 8:28 -30 says: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. God's Plans always have a Purpose in mind!
God Has a Plan for our lives. He wants to deliver us from the wrath to come. He is able to save all who come to Him in faith. But He will not force us to obey Him. He asks that we obey Him from love and respect for who He is. Will you be obedient to the Lord's plans for you?
God has a Purpose for our life. He wants to conform us to the image of His Son. Are you allowing God to fulfil His purpose for you life? Have you stepped out in faith even if it seems impossible?
If we want to know God's blessings, then we must trust Him and obey His plans for us. Will you trust him this year? Will you step out in faith? I pray that we all will serve the Lord more faithfully!
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
If you would like to talk more about salvation or God's purpose for your life can I ask you to talk to me after the service.