Walking with Joshua: The Difficulties of Faith, Series #16
Dear Visionary Leader:
God wants us to become members of the Hall of Fame of Faith. Membership is available to those walk by faith and not by sight. When God comes to measure our lives, He is going to say, “According unto your faith, be it unto you.” We will be summed up, not according to our fame, not according to our fortune, not according to our friends, not according to our feelings, not according to our fate, but according to our faith.
In Hebrews, chapter 11:30 we read, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about seven days.” Jericho lay before the children of Israel. God had promised the children of Israel a land that flowed with milk and honey; but between them and the fulfillment of God’s promise and God’s plan and God’s provision for their life was mighty Jericho.
As people of God, we still face obstacles that need to be removed. What does it mean to me personally? It means that through the Lord Jesus Christ and by faith I too can be victorious. Because in your life and in my life, the devil will see to it that there is some great obstacle that looms large and impossible between us and the plan of God and the will of God for our lives. I don’t know what your Jericho is. I don’t know whether it is some family problem or some financial problem. I don’t know whether it is an unhappy marriage, an unholy life, or an unhealthy body. I don’t know whether it’s some unfulfilled dreams or unrecognized potentiality, but I do know that you face problems.
And perhaps in these key problems are strategic forces of evil that stands between you and all that God would have you to be. We can overcome these obstacles by faith. Notice what we in Hebrews 11:30: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.” No other way, just simply by faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about 7 days. When God has a gigantic task to perform, it is the man or woman who has faith that gets the contract. Faith is the link that binds our nothingness to His almightiness. It is faith that gets the job done. God’s plan was to build the faith of His people one day at a time so they could see the walls of Jericho tumble down. That is what God does in our lives. He builds our faith one step at a time so we can live in continuous victory over this world and know the power of God in our heart and lives.
God has called us to conquer our Jerichos; He has called us win in this life. We can see the walls of sin come down if we will simply follow the three strategic stages found in Joshua 6.
WE NEED AN OBSERVATION OF THE CITY
Our cities, like Jericho, are filled with crime, corruption, and carnality. They are filled with sin, idolatry, and vile and wicked imaginations. Satan and his demonic spirits are walking our streets. He is out to steal, kill, and destroy.
If we are going to reach our cities with the Gospel and tell the men, women, boys, and girls about Jesus, we are going to need faith to pull down the strongholds of the enemy and spread the Good News to everyone that Jesus Christ is still the Savior of the world.
It is not someone else’s responsibility. The responsibility is ours to observe our cities. When was the last time you took a long, hard look at your city and asked, “God, what can I do to reach my city?”
In 1987 little Jessica McClure fell into a well. Scenes of her were broadcast continually on television and published in newspapers. Sometime after her rescue, little Jessica visited the President of the United States. No one rose up and said we were spending too much to save this little girl. Everyone was convinced that some way somehow, we had to save this child. Some things are more tragic than a child’s falling into a well. Many people are falling into hell. May God help us not only to observe our cities but also to get a burden for the lost. When was the last time we asked God to awaken us to the urgency and emergency of reaching dying men on their way to hell?
Joshua 6:1 tells us that the doors were closed. The enemy had literally shut every door. Why is it so hard for us to penetrate our schools and cities for God? The enemy is doing everything he can to lock the doors so no one will hear the good news of the gospel. However, if we have faith, it does not matter what the devil does. Faith can accomplish mighty exploits in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, our Jerichos represent the obstacles that are keeping us from entering God’s rest and experiencing God’s best. Even though it may appear that all doors are shut, our God has a plan for success.
WE NEED AN ORIENTATION OF CHRIST
We need to know God’s plan. After observation, we need orientation. After pinpointing the problem, we need to perceive God’s plan.
“The Lord said unto Joshua…” Every time you read the chapter Joshua, there is one phrase that is continually repeated: “The Lord said unto Joshua…” We saw it in chapters 1, 3, and 5: “The Lord said unto Joshua…” May we come back to the place where we hear the voice of God in our hearts, to the place of divine intervention where we are able to listen and do what God is calling us to do.
In Joshua 5:13 we read:
“And it came to pass that when Joshua was by Jericho that he lifted up his eyes and looked. And behold there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand and Joshua went unto him and said unto him, Art thou for us or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay but as the captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and did worship and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto His servant? And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot for the place whereupon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”
While Joshua is looking at his problem, he becomes aware of a presence. There is somebody there near him. He knows not who it is. He pulls his sword instinctively and wheels around and he comes face to face with a man with a drawn sword. Joshua looks at him. He has never seen him before. Joshua asked him a question, “Are you for us or are you for them?”
The man said, No. Now can you imagine how frustrating that would be? Are you for us or are you for them? No. Now what did he say? He said in effect, I’m not for you and I’m not for them. I’m the captain of the Lord’s host. I haven’t come to take sides. I’ve come to take over.
You need to understand what this is all about. Who was this that Joshua met? It was the preincarnate Christ! He met the Lord Jesus Christ. Frequently, in Bible times before His incarnation the Lord Jesus visited this earth. He appeared as the angel of Jehovah, as the captain of the Lord’s host. Joshua is coming face to face with the Lord Jesus. When Joshua sees this, he puts down his sword, falls in the dust, and worships his Lord.
Joshua surrenders himself. He prostrates himself in the dust before this person and worships Him. This is where his faith starts to grow and build. Our faith grows and builds as we worship the Lord. In Hebrews 12:1-3, the writer of Hebrews is going to tell us to have faith is to be looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Joshua was doing that right here–he was looking unto Jesus and his faith begins to build in his heart and in his life.
Now we have a lot of people who are problem-conscious. They see the problem. They see the Jericho. Well, you need to take your eyes off Jericho and put them on Jesus. You see here is the way of faith. Don’t dwell on your problems. Dwell on your Lord. Be looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Catch a vision of Him. Worship Him. Bow before Him and you’ll find your faith growing. Learn to glance at your problems and to gaze at your Lord.
Faith never grows in the heart of rebels. Rebellion and faith are not in the same heart, in the same life. And you will never, never have faith until you bow before Him and say what Joshua said to the captain of the Lord’s Host–notice what he said. “What saith my Lord unto His servant?” Have you said that?
Have you said, Lord, what do you want me to do? I’ll do what You want me to do, I’ll be what You want me to be, I’ll say what You want me to say, I’ll give what You want me to give. Faith begins with the Lord, bowing before the Lord, taking the shoes off your feet so to speak, recognizing His holiness.
It is far more important to be on God’s side than it is to have God on your side. God’s not going to get on your side. You may say, “Well, I want the Lord on my side.” Well, forget it. Joshua said, Are you for us or for them? He said No. I’ve come to take over. Have you realized that? God wants to take over.
2. There was direct inspiration.
“The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.” God was telling Joshua that He had given him the merchants, the king, and the mighty men of valor.
It is God’s plan that we take back every facet of our cities to include the political and social arenas. He wants us to march into the center of our cities with faith for mighty exploits in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. There was definite instruction.
“You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”
If someone in a church business meeting were to stand and suggest God had revealed to him that everyone in the congregation should march around the city so many days and at the right moment they should blow the trumpets and shout loudly and that plan would work for winning the city for God, most churches would excommunicate them. But that was exactly God’s plan for taking the city of Jericho. God taught us that we do not take a city by force but by faith.
In the gold rush days of 1849, wagon trains heading west from Saint Joseph, Missouri, passed a sign which read, “Choose your rut carefully for you will be in it for a long time.” We need to make sure that we do not get into a rut of forms and rituals, that we do not just go to church and forget about our cities and the people who need the Lord. Good churches and good preachers can get into ruts. We must keep a fresh touch of God’s Spirit in our hearts, families, and churches. We need to observe our cities, and we need to have the orientation from Christ.
WE NEED THE OPERATION FOR CONQUEST
After pinpointing the problem and perceiving God’s plan, we must then practice God’s procedure. After God gives the Gilgal of revelation, He wants to give the Jericho of rejuvenation. After we have seen Jesus and laid our swords at His feet, we can then go and take a city with the Captain of the Lord of Hosts. We will see God’s plan for this operation of conquest. Let us make it our plan, heartbeat, and mindset.
“So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.’ 7Then he said to the people, ‘Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the Lord.’ And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them. 9The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 10But Joshua commanded the people, saying, ‘You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!'”
a. Joshua’s compliance. In verses 6-7, Joshua did what God told him to do. In earlier verses, he heard from God; now he heeded God. In the earlier verses, he received from God; now he responded to God. Likewise, we need to obey what we hear and do what God has called us to do. If we want victory, if we want to reach our cities, we must obey the Word of God.
b. Jews’ cooperation. For the first time in forty years, the Jews worked together. They did not bicker, complain, moan, or groan. When we live in Canaan, God’s people learn to work, serve, worship, and obey Him together. You can always tell whether someone is in Canaan or not by what comes from their lips. In verse 10, Joshua said to all the people, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!”
Why did he tell them that? He wanted to restrict their handicap. God was tired of their complaints. He said, “Quit murmuring and start marching; quit talking and start walking.” God wants His people to work, serve, worship, and witness together. Stopping the unnecessary talking was one of the hardest things for these people to do. God then recognized their helplessness in bringing down the walls of Jericho so they would depend on Him.
A story has been told of a group of monks in a particular monastery. The qualifications for serving were the restriction of being permitted to speak only two words every five years. After the first long period, everyone wondered what the newest monk would say. Finally, in a tempered tone they heard him say, “Food’s bad.” After five more years of silence, his two words were, “Work’s hard.” Before long, five more years had passed. Again, a crowd gathered to hear his next two words. The now not-so-young monk said in a determined voice, “I quit.”
Answer this question honestly: Do you complain about doing work for Jesus, saying the work is too hard or the costs are too great? I am so thankful a preacher was preaching the gospel when the Holy Spirit pricked my heart. I responded by going to the altar and giving my life to Christ. This is not the time to complain but to go in the name of Jesus and, with faith, take our cities for Christ.
2. The determination of faith.
11″So he had the ark of the Lord taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.” This is step one in our determination to take our cities for God.
a. We confirm our pledge.
The first time we go out, we are saying to the Lord we have heard His call and are confirming our pledge to Him. When we come to the altar, we are saying we are pledging to do what He has called us to do. They confirmed their pledge, but they also continued their plan.
b. We continue our plan. 12″Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 14Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days.”
It is not enough to say one time that we are going to serve God. Every morning we should get up with a renewed commitment to serve the Lord the best we know how. Every day we should be telling the people of our cities about Jesus. They confirmed their pledge, continued their plan, and completed their project.
c. We complete our project. 15″Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times.”
They kept doing what God told them to do until the job was finished. Our problem is that we go six times and then quit. It does not matter how we add it-if we have been out there six days, we have not fully obeyed God’s Word. God tells us to continue until our work is finished-we are not to stop. We are not to quit too early. We must keep on doing what God has called us to do until the job is finished.
One week before my wedding, my mother underwent serious surgery. I told her not to think of making the long journey. Of course, you know how mothers feel about these kinds of things. She insisted she would be present. From a wheelchair the next Saturday morning, she boarded an airplane for the flight to our wedding. We tried to insist on pushing her down the aisle in that wheelchair, but she would have none of that. She walked to her place in the second row. We told her she could be seated for the receiving line. Again, she was determined to stand throughout. She was there for the pictures and the reception. Nothing could keep her from attending and participating in our wedding.
We need to have that same kind of determination when taking our cities for the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be bad days. There will be obstacles. There will be tough times. But if we have faith in our hearts, we will keep on keeping on until our task is completed. The Bible tells us about the devotion of faith and the determination of faith, but notice the next step:
3. The declaration of faith.
16″At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout! For the Lordhas given you the city.'”
a. The anticipation of God’s performance. When they shouted that day, the walls were still standing. It was a shout of victory. They shouted because of the anticipation of God’s performance. They also shouted because of the association of God’s presence.
b. The association of God’s presence. Every time they circled the city, the Ark went around the city with them. God walked right with His people. When we know God is there, we can count on it. Victory is ours. When God is by our side, we have every reason to shout even though the walls may still be standing. We have every reason to shout because God will give us the cities we want to win. Even though there may be thousands in the area who do not know Christ as Savior and even though there are all kinds of sin, iniquity, crime, immorality, and perversion, God is still able to give us our cities.
c. The acclamation of God’s power. They shouted to the people of Jericho that the city would soon be theirs. Some may have mocked them from atop the walls, but the Jews did not let the jeers of Jericho rob them of the victory. The victory was an acclamation of God’s power. Their confession brought their possession! May we learn to confess that God’s Word said it and that settles it. We will take our cities in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Was Joshua being presumptuous to tell the people to shout and say that God had already given them the city when the walls were still standing? I think not. He only repeated what God had already said.
This principle is illustrated in Hebrews 13:5-6. Notice two phrases. At the end of verse 5 the Bible says, “For He Himself has said…,” and in verse 6 we read, “so that we confidently say…” Did you see that? God said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” What the Hebrew writer said was: God has said it; now I am willing to say it. God has already said our cities are ours. God has already said we can reach our cities in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. If God has said it, why do we not go ahead and say it?
The Jews shouted victory because they knew that even though the walls still stood, God had already given them the victory. That is faith. Confession is faith turned inside out. It is when we take God literally at His Word. God had said to Joshua, “The city is yours”, so Joshua stood in front of the multitude and repeated, “The city is ours. Go ahead and shout because the city is ours.” I believe if God has promised it, we can say it. If God has said victory is ours, I believe we can say victory is ours.
4. The demonstration of faith.
20″So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.”
When the trumpet sounded and the people shouted, the walls collapsed and the people marched into the city and did a mighty work in the name of Jehovah God. Our faith will also be increased as we walk into the cities of our world. Every Christian ought to experience the demonstration of faith in their own personal lives. Faith will be increased, and we will say what God has said. We will see the walls of sin and evil crumble and fall. God has said we are to reach our world, so why do we not take God at His Word?
We were all amazed when we saw the walls of communism fall in Eastern Europe on November 9, 1989. The communists had sealed off East Berlin with a concrete wall along the east/west boundary in 1961. The city of West Berlin had become the main escape route from bondage to freedom. During those days, the East German police had orders to kill anyone who tried to go over the wall. For nearly thirty years the Berlin Wall divided the west from the east, freedom from oppression.
God specializes in tearing down walls of sin and separation. The walls around our cities are not physical but spiritual. Mighty is He who is able to pull down all the strongholds of the enemy of our souls. When we have faith, it will be demonstrated and the walls will be pulled down. We will see victory in our churches and in our lives. The Bible tells us about the demonstration of faith; we will now look at the delegation of faith.
5. The delegation of faith.
After the walls of Jericho fell, there was a faithful commission given to the two men who had spied out the city before its fall.
a. There was a faithful commission. 22″Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.'”
These men found Rahab and her family. Theirs was a faithful commission in the midst of all that happened in the battle. The Lord has commissioned us to go into our world-into our cities-to save the lost, the perishing, and the dying in the midst of pain and judgment. We are called to go into this world and reap people who need to know Christ as Savior and Lord.
b. There was a fiery consumption. 24″They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord.”
The entire city was destroyed. Not one stone was left on top of another. Likewise, judgment is coming, and we must reach the people of our communities before it is too late. We must tell people about Christ before they are lost for eternity.
c. There was a family conversion. 25″However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”
Rahab the prostitute went from the house of shame to the hall of fame. She became the great-great-grandmother of King David, a member of the lineage of Christ the Lord. Just as God reached down and saved Rahab, so He can also save our families, friends, and the people of our cities.
It is not through force but through faith that we will see all of our family members come to know Christ as Savior and Lord. Through faith, we will see walls torn down in the hearts of people so they can come to know Jesus as Savior.
Some years ago, a prostitute lay dying in a hospital in Brazil from the diseases of her lifestyle. Though weak and near death, she looked up from her bed and prayed, “Jesus, if you can forgive my sins and heal my body, I will do my best to tell others about You.” In that moment of faith and repentance, a very sinful woman was suddenly forgiven and healed. After leaving the hospital, she kept her promise by telling others what Jesus had done for her. In time, she led more than 300 people to Jesus, and they gathered regularly to hear more from this woman about God. She soon met the leaders of the Assemblies of God in her area and asked for a pastor to be sent to minister to her group of converts. That congregation grew very large and also started many other churches in an effort to reach the people of their cities for Christ.
Like the Jews did in Jericho, she moved into the city and claimed lives for the kingdom. At Jericho, a trumpet sounded followed by a shout that ushered in judgment. It may not be much longer before we hear another trumpet and a shout-not of people but of an angel from Heaven-and then the judgment. The Church hopes that Jesus will come soon; but until He does, we must be believers of faith who are about the business of trying to reach the people of our cities for God.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking