- Sermon Notes
Intro– Unattainable territory
After experiencing great victory in crossing the Jordan River and stepping into the land God had promised, the Israelites face what seems an impossible challenge. That challenge was a city with walls that were too tall to overcome or climb, yet it would need to be conquered in order for the Israelites to enter into the heart of God’s Promised Land. Joshua was their leader and he had gotten them this far, but they still had a long way to go.
The Israelites were in between victory and greater victory, yet, they are camped on the plains of Jericho with the impossible walls in full view, the impending battle was no doubt, heavy on the mind of Joshua.
Perhaps you can relate to him. You have pursued walking by faith in Jesus, given Him your life and are in His promised land, yet, before you is a wall, a barrier, or an insurmountable difficulty. Whatever may be on the horizon this morning, I want to encourage you to lift up your eyes.
Psalm 121:1-2, I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Read Joshua 5:13-6:16
- Jericho was a fortified city, with not one, but two walls protecting the city. There was a retaining wall that was 12-15 feet high, with a wall on
top of that which was 20-26 feet high. From below the city walls looking up, it would be 35 to 40 feet high.
- In our lives, there are obstacles and walls we face personally that in our understanding are impossible to overcome.
- When those obstacles come and you face walls of various shapes and sizes, it is important to look to the Lord and place Him in the center of it all, lifting up your eyes to Him.
I. Draw Near
- With the walls of Jericho not far off, Joshua looks toward the walls of Jericho.
- The Israelites had wandered 40 years and had finally crossed over into the land they had waited for.
- While they had experienced the victory of crossing the Jordan River, they still needed the Lord to guide their steps.
Psalm 62:8, Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
- Where this nation stood was in uncertainty between victory and greater victory. They needed the Lord to make a way, again.
- As Joshua looks toward the impossible walls He sees a man of war standing in front of him.
Joshua 5:13, And behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”
- This man, with sword drawn is referred to as a Christophany or Theophany, which was an appearance of the Lord.
- Thought we know this to be true, in that moment, Joshua was unsure, and with his mind on the looming battle, seeing a man of war before him, he moves toward him, asking, “are you for us, or our adversaries?
- The Lord standing with sword drawn, ready for battle, answered Joshua, “no (neither), rather I indeed come as captain of the host of the Lord.”
- Are you for us, or for them? … “No, nay, neither.”
- While answering “no” doesn’t seem a proper answer to Joshua’s question, it highlights the fact that Joshua was not asking the proper question.
- The proper question wasn’t if the Lord was on Joshua’s side, rather, the proper question was if Joshua was on the Lord’s side.
- When we are facing trials, the question is not whether God is for us or against us; thequestion is whether we are for or with Him.
- In the pursuit of walking victoriously, it is important to understand that victorious living means we are on His side, this is the only side that matters.
Illus. Who is God rooting for? (superbowl)
- Often, we ask these types of questions when facing walls in our own life.
- Lord, are you for me or for them? Are you for me, or against me? Are you going to fight with me, or are you going to fight against me?
- When we come up against walls in our relationships, friendships, in our marriage or family, there is only one side we must pursue.
Illus. Whose side are you on?
James 4:8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
- Drawing near to Him will give true victory.
Matthew 6:10, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
- Once Joshua realizes that he is before the Lord and falls to his face, he asks the question: “What has my Lord to say to his servant?”
- Upon understanding that it is the Lord before Him, Joshua transitions from trying to find a way to do the impossible, to entrusting his next steps to the Lord.
- There was land to be conquered, but Joshua could not conquer it in his own strength, with his own plan; he needed the Lord’s strategy.
- Perhaps as you wonder what might come of walls you face, a plan has been, or is being put in place.
- Prior to proceeding, I encourage you to.
A. Let Jesus plot out your plan
- Joshua asked the question, “what has my Lord to say to His servant?” (Verse 14)
- Instead of hanging onto pride or our own strength, we have to bow down and ask the same question, “What do you want from me Lord? What do you have to say about this?”
- Far too often, when facing difficulties beyond our capabilities, this question is asked long after we have tried our own plan of attack. After we have given our own commentary and strategy.
- But coming before the Lord and allowing Him to plot out our plan should be our starting point in every circumstance.
Illus. How is it going?
- Upon recognizing the Lord, Joshua shifts from giving orders, to reporting for duty.
- We too can know He will lead us in victory as we lift up eyes to Him, and let Him plot out the plan.
Matthew 7:24-25, Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
Isaiah 55:9, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your way and my thoughts than your thoughts.
- Trusting in God’s wisdom means believing that our own plans are often what get us into trouble.
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Romans 11:33, Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
- Is there a plan of action you are hanging onto today? Are you willing to trust the Lord’s plan over your own?
- Joshua bowed down to the Lord and waited for His perfect plan…Here is what he was told.
Joshua 6:2-5, The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the 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; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It 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.”
- The plan being given, would not have made sense from a military intelligence standpoint. As Joshua was receiving this instruction, he would receive it in faith, knowing that it was the Lord who had made a way for them.
- These walls were impossible to bring down by anything that Joshua could come up with. But the Lord was going to make a way.
- God was asking Joshua to place his faith in Him.
Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
- “How straight?” Joshua might ask regarding the plan of attack… “Straight enough for every man to go straight ahead.”
- In addition to Joshua walking by faith, the people needed to follow the Lord’s plan as well. It was Joshua who would articulate that plan to them.
- He told them that they would walk around the city once per day for six days, and seven times on the seventh day. He instructed them to neither shout, nor let a word proceed from their mouths until he tells them to shout, then they were to shout.
- Here is what Joshua did not tell them…He did not tell them that the walls would fall down flat after the seventh time around on the seventh day.
- Surely Joshua would still need to walk by faith, but he had a specific promise to the specific situation…The others would walk around the walls of Jericho, not knowing the specific outcome to their specific situation, but knowing that God’s promises were in tact.
Deut. 31:8, The Lord is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.
Illus. Any progress?
2 Corinthians 5:7, For we walk by faith, not by sight.
B. Keep walking when it doesn’t seem to be working
Isaiah 41:13, For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’
- Greater faith on the way to victory means greater victory. Stand in faith.
Psalm 37:5, Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.
- They walked around the city 13 times patiently waiting for what God was going to do. They had to walk and wait, walk and wait, while keeping silent.
- Notice that he asked them to remain silent. Commit your way to the Lord, don’t give voice to any other, there is no commentary needed, just walk and wait.
- The walls they were walking around would no doubt seem bigger with each passing lap. More improbably, the plan more illogical, victory truly impossible.
- When it comes to our Lord, it’s not what you know, but Who you know, you know Him, lift up your eyes.
Hebrews 12:1-2, Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.