06(Joshua 05,13-15) Facing the Challenge
Joshua was out looking the situation over, getting ready for the conquest of the land. Now can you imagine how Joshua must have felt? He was following a very great leader, Moses. “Moses my servant is dead, now arise and conquer the land.”
He was following a GREAT LEADER and he was facing a new generation. Joshua had grown up with the old generation, he a Caleb were the only 2 allowed to survive. But here was a whole new generation of people, a new generation, with a new leader, facing a new challenge and THAT.....IS....NOT.....EASY!
I’m sure that Joshua had human feelings like all of us do. What if? What if? Oh, I know he was a man of faith, but sometimes faith and feeling can conflict. I know that Joshua was a GREAT man of faith. But he was also a human being.
Joshua knew that his biggest problem was not the PAST and trying to live up to Moses achievements. His biggest problem was not BEFORE him, conquering the land. God had given them promise about that. IT WAS WITHIN HIM.
And by the way, when we are defeated on the outside, it is because first of all we’ve been defeated on the inside. We win the battle before the war starts or we lose the battle before the war starts. And God wanted to make sure that before this battle began, Joshua had the victory---and that is why Jesus came to see him. YOU SEE.....PUBLIC VICTORIES ARE WON IN PRIVATE. You may not realize that, but it is true.
The most important part of your life is the part only God sees. The people didn’t see this event take place. Just as it was with Jacob, and Jacob was left alone. And that wrestling match all night long.. .ALONE.. ..It determine the course of his public afterward. Nobody saw David kill the lion and the bear. He did that ALONE, but it prepared him to fight the giant.
And you liable to think to yourself, well, it’s really important when I’m standing in front of the Sunday school class, or behind the pulpit, or seated at an instrument. They are important places. But the most important part of your life is THE PART ONLY GOD SEES. When you and God meet alone and God gives you victory.
Joshua made 4 very encouraging discoveries when he went through this crisis experience. And I think if you and I would lay hold of these same discoveries it might help us when we face some crisis experiences. There is someone here today who is so glad to be here, because you are away from the battlefield. Oh, you have had a rough time. There are problems to solve, there are people to help and when you came this morning it was as though God had said, “Look—you’ll have to come home again, you can’t run away. You can’t do like Jonah. But when you come back you’re going to be better equipped to face your Jericho. And if you will lay hold of these 4 discoveries, that Joshua made, you can face your Jericho.
DISCOVERY #1. JOSHUA DISCOVERED HE WASN’T ALONE! You say, “well, he had several million Jews working with him. Fighting with him.” No..No....I’m not talking about that. Have you ever considered the loneliness of leadership? I remember when I first started going to church I’d sit there and say of those preachers, “They’ve got it made!” Now, I’m beginning to understand some of the loneliness of leadership.
A leader has to make decisions that have far reaching consciences. If I were on my own, just doing my own thing. Going where I want to go and preaching were I want to preach, it would be a relatively simple thing. But every decision I make involves other people. And it has far reaching results. The loneliness of leadership. But, you say, “You are surrounded by people. There are people praying for you.” That’s right! And you have council and this is good, thank God for that. But as the late Harry Truman, our president had on his desk---“the buck stops here”.
Mr. Truman use to say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And sometimes we can’t stand the heat. And here is Joshua looking at his army and saying, “These people have put their lives in my hands. Here are families, here are children.” Joshua is the man who is going to give them a place to live. Water to drink. Food to eat. Here is Joshua with the future of a nation in his hand. But that’s not all—that’s not all. One day a Savior would be born in Bethlehem and somebody has to capture Bethlehem. One day a Savior would minister in the Holy Lands, but somebody has to prepare the Holy Land.
Here’s Joshua helping God fulfill His plan of redemption. That is a big undertaking. The loneliness of leadership. And yet, Joshua discovered he wasn’t alone.
Now he knew he would not be alone, because, back in chapter 1 God had promised to be with him. Let’s look at that. Joshua chapter 1, “Now after the death of Moses everything fell apart and came to a halt.” That’s the way some of you think. If ever we had a different pastor, that would be the end of our church. NO IT WOULDN’T. Jesus said, “I will build My church”. What does God do? He finds somebody else to keep His work going.
God has promised that He would be with us. “Lo, I am with you always, or at least till it gets rough”. If your Bible says that you better get a new Bible. “Lo, I am with you always, even till the end of the age.”
It is one thing to read my Bible that God is with me, and it is another to experience it. You say, “I don’t think God is with me the way He was with Joshua?” I think He is. I read in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” The Gospel of Matthew begins, “Call His name Immanuel, God with us.” That’s the way it begins. And then it ends with our previous verse, “Lo, I am with you always, even till the end of the age.”
So, between Immanuel, God with us and Lo, I am with you always, we have the assurance that in every circumstance of life, the Lord is with us. Joshua discovered he was not alone.
The devil wants you to feel alone. In fact, when you are going through a crisis experience, one of the worse things you can do is to isolate yourself from God’s people. That’s what Elijah did. Be careful, when the devil comes to you and says, “You’re all alone. Your friends don’t care, your pastor doesn’t care about you. God doesn’t care about you, you are all alone.” That’s when you are the target for every kind of assault.
Discovery #1 was that he discovered he was not alone. Someday when you get discouraged and think that you are all alone, read the life of another great man who conquered cities. Joshua conquered cities in judgment, the Apostle Paul conquered cities in redemption. Joshua came and declared war, Paul would show up and declare peace.
Discovery #2. HE DISCOVERED THAT HE WAS 2nd IN COMMAND. That must have been a revolting development. Second in Command. I like Joshua’s attitude, he sees this soldier standing there with a sword, it’s the Lord Jesus. HE ALWAYS COMES TO US IN THE WAY WE NEED HIM. The Lord Jesus didn’t come to Joshua as a pilgrim, or as a fisherman, or as a carpenter. He came as a soldier. THAT’S WHAT JOSHUA NEEDED. And Joshua sees this soldier and he’s not at all afraid, courageously he steps up and says, “Whose side are you on?”
I like a person like that. You are either in or out. You’re not on the fence. You are either with the Lord Jesus or against the Lord Jesus. You are either gathering or scattering.
I know there are some issues in life that are various shades of gray but when it comes to allegiance, you are either loyal or disloyal. There was no place in Joshua’s campaign for neutrality. And there is no place today in our campaign, for neutrality. Who’s on the Lord’s side, who will serve the King? And the Soldier answered, “you are mistaken. I did not come to take sides, I came to take over!”
You know, it is a great day in the life of a person when he discovers he is 2nd in command. We are not first in command.
Now Joshua had everything going for him. If I was going to pick someone to conquer the land, I would have chosen Joshua. Born in Egyptian slavery, he knew the meaning of suffering. He had seen the miracles in Egypt. He’d crossed the Red Sea. He had walked by faith 40 years – he had seen a whole generation of doubters die. Here is Joshua, experienced, Moses minister. Got his start carrying Moses’ brief case for him. Then he got promoted and became the captain of the army.
Joshua had everything going for him, he had faith and patience, experience. But you know what? But all of that would have been useless had he not done what he did that night. He fell before the Lord Jesus and said, “Alright, I’m second in command”.
Every father is 2nd in command. Every mother is 2nd in command. Every pastor is 2nd in command. Every Christian leader is 2nd in command.
A great tragedy takes place when a person thinks he is 1st in command. They did fight the battle of Jericho and they did win. But the next battle they fought JOSHUA WAS IN COMMAND. And the spies came and said, “you know Ai is not a very big place, it’s just a little bump in the road, it is so small that Howard Johnson only has one flavor.” The zip code is a fraction. It’s just a little place. Let’s just send a few people down there to wipe them out.”
Joshua got first in command and Oh, my. They lost battle. Then he found out he better be 2nd in command. I know how he feels. I know that whenever I take over and I run something, it’ll run, but it won’t run right. He realized he was 2nd in command and the first order Jesus gave him was to take off his shoes. What a thing to say to a general. Our Lord said, “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greatest.” If I can’t trust you to bring back 10 cents change, when I send you to the store....I can’t trust you with a million dollars.
If you are not faithful with the ministry God has given you, He won’t give you more. “Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”
3rd – HE DISCOVERED THAT HE WAS ON HOLY GROUND. “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place on which thy standest is holy.” I wouldn’t thought that. I mean, this is Canaan Land. God described Canaan Land and the people in it. It was a filthy place, a godless place. Immoral, idolatry, ignorant. For many years God had held back His judgment on this crowd. All these ITES. The Ammorites, the Hitites, the Jubusites. God had seen all of this filth.
Now Israel crosses the river. Israel comes into the land and God says, “You are standing on holy ground.” He discovered he was on holy ground. Do you know what that means? Wherever God calls you IS HOLY GROUND, no matter what you may see. Everything is holy ground if God is there.
You walk into a hospital room where people are complaining and swearing....when you walk in as God’s ambassador, it’s holy ground. That means wherever we go to fight God’s battles, we better go in a spirit of worship. Did you ever notice in your Bible that worship and warfare are linked together. You cannot separate worship & warfare. Let me give you a verse to think about. Ps. 149:6, which says, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth and a 2 edged sword in their hand.” Now that’s a great verse. And the rest of the Psalm says, “To execute vengeance upon the enemy.” Now wait a minute. The 1st half of the verse, WORSHIP---the last half of the verse, WARFARE.
Do you know why we are failing before the enemy in our warfare, it’s because we are failing before God in our worship. We are using all kinds of weapons to try to defeat the enemy--- the greatest weapon we have is WORSHIP. When you have the high praises of God in your mouth and a 2 edged sword in your hand, you get victory. We don’t do that today.
FOURTHLY, HE DISCOVERED HE HAD ALREADY WON THE BATTLE. You see chapter 6 continues, “Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel and non came out and non came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, see, I have given into thy hands Jericho and its king and the mighty men of valour and ye shall encompass all the city...” Then He goes on and gives the plan for conquering the city. Notice those statements, I HAVE---YOU SHALL --- I have, you shall. I have already given you the victory.
WE DON’T FIGHT FOR VICTORY, WE FIGHT FROM VICTORY. “Be of good cheer,” said Jesus. He’s on His way to the cross now. He has just told Peter, you are going to deny Me, He has just told them there is a trader in the crowd. You are all going to forsake me and flee away. And, He said, “in the world you are going to have tribulation.” THAT’S GOOD NEWS? “In the world you are going to have tribulation, be of good cheer---I HAVE OVER COME THE WORLD. And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. And faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” And so, that’s why Joshua said, “What do you have to say to me...you speak the word, I’ll hear it by faith and faith will release power----and the Lord Jesus said, “here’s the plan”.