- Sermon Notes
Until the Walls Fall
This morning we are going to open up to Joshua chapter 5. Here we see Joshua, who had taken over for Moses and was given great promises that the Lord would be with him. The Lord made a way for Joshua to lead the Israelites out of the wilderness and into the promised land. They crossed the Jordan river by standing in it as they saw the Lord stop it up and they all crossed over.
The Israelites had seen the Lord make a way. They had experienced His provision of manna in the wilderness, in a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night the Lord led them in the wilderness; for 40 years in the wilderness, they were led by God, their clothes and shoes did not even wear out (Deut. 29:5). But now they are in the promised land. They ate produce in the land, and the next day, the manna from heaven ceased.
They had crossed the Jordan river and seen great victory, after they all crossed on dry land, the Lord told Joshua to have twelve men from each tribe of Israel and take up memorial stones out of the middle of the Jordan and lay them down in the place they would initially set up camp in the promised land. The stones were memorial stones, reminders of what the Lord did, in stopping up the river and making a way for the people to cross over and into the promised land.
So, they set up the stones and set up camp after entering the land of promise, but they are immediate faced with a problem, that is, a city that was near impossible to defeat, a city called Jericho.
The city of Jericho was a city surrounded by walls that were too tall, too deep, and too steep for them to get through. It 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.
The title of the message this morning is: until the walls fall. In it, we will gain insights and instruction into what to do in in our live when it comes to the various walls we face. For Israel, their walls had a name, the city of Jericho. While the walls were quite daunting, they weren’t the first set of walls they had faced. Forty years earlier they were up against walls of a different name, the walls in that day were associated with Egypt, then a difficulty called the Red Sea, a forty-year dry and weary wilderness journey, and an overwhelming Jordan river that they needed to pass through but was overflowing. Now they face some new and very real walls, but there was something the Lord was going to show them in those days, that is important for us today.
While the challenges often change in your life and mine, I want you to point you to what we know from Philippians 2:9, that no matter the current names of the challenges and walls we may face, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has the “name that is above every other name,” and Hebrews 13:8 tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and for all eternity.
The Israelites were in the land of promise and faced with problems. It is the land they had longed for, the land they had looked to, and land they had been called to, but they are face with a problem. They had begun to walk by faith but now they are headed toward impossible walls.
What the Lord did at Jericho, is important for us all. Because many of us have received the promise of eternal life, many have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, we have answered the call and are walking according to His plan, but still we are faced with some walls that are too tall. We understand we have victory eternally, but the reality of that victory is difficult to realize and see.
1 John 5:4, For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
And this morning, we will see the Israelites overcome through faith in the Lord’s instruction…walking according to His will and words until the walls fall! In the face of whatever you face, it is faith in Jesus Christ, the name above every name that you can place your faith in, turst in Him with your all until the walls in your life fall. Jesus said that there would be troubles, or tribulation in the world, but to be of good cheer, He has overcome the world!
- Keep Jesus as Your Captain
Joshua 5:13-15, Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, he raised his eyes and looked, 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 enemies?” He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” And the captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
- With Jericho not far off, Joshua looks in that direction. And with the city surrounded by its walls, no doubt he was looking toward his greatest challenge yet, the walls of Jericho.
- The walls were just a short distance away and easy to see. The city was an obstacle that had been coming closer by the day. Joshua was well aware of Jericho and had been for many days. In fact, prior to their crossing the Jordan river, Joshua sent out two spies to check out the land they were headed to, and he specifically asked for them to check out Jericho (Joshua 2:1).
- It was an obvious obstacle, a front of mind foe. I picture Joshua, on the plains of Jericho, going over his maps, trying to put a plan in place, to set up a strategy.
- As Joshua lifts his eyes toward the impossible walls, He sees a man of war standing in front of him.
- The One standing before him has His sword drawn. Surely, sword drawn meant that the man who stood before him was ready for battle.
- Joshua asks Him a question, are you for us, or for our enemies? Are you with us, or against us? Identify yourself!
- The question was an important one. If the man with sword drawn was with Joshua, then he was not in the proper position, he would need to get back with the rest of army and had gone astray.
- If the man was on the other team, Joshua would need to draw his own sword and begin a battle right then and there.
- But the response Joshua receives is unexpected. Joshua asks “Are you with us or our enemies?” and the man answers “no” (NASB), “nay” (KJV), “neither” (NIV), “rather I indeed come as captain of the host of the Lord.”
- Realizing who was in front of him, Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my Lord to say to his servant?”
- It was right then that Joshua realized who this man was, it was the Lord…The captain of the army of the Lord.
- This Captain that happened to be in front of Joshua with sword drawn and ready for battle, is understood by biblical scholars as a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. This appearance is known as a Christophany, or Theophany…It was the Lord standing before him.
- Joshua recognized that the Lord is before him and he bows down and worships Him, he responds, “what does my Lord have to say to His servant?
- Focused on the walls of Jericho, Joshua did not immediately recognize who was before him with sword drawn…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.
- For Joshua, it was the wrong question because he had already been given God’s promise. God had told him He would go before him, and here, with sword drawn, He was true to His word.
Deuteronomy 31:8, The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Joshua 1:3, 5-6, I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses…No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
- While Joshua had been given God’s promises, the walls he was facing and knew he would be headed into were higher than he had ever come up against.
- In light of the fight ahead, Joshua finds himself uncertain of just who is in front of him, just who is standing before him with sword drawn.
- Joshua was told that it was the Lord Himself who would go before Him, but his eyes were fixed on what He thought was his battle to fight.
- The fact that the walls were higher did not invalidate anything the Lord said prior, quite the contrary, when our walls are higher, it is an opportunity for God’s promises to be validated, not voided. But we have to put and keep and keep on keeping our faith and trust in Him.
- When we are facing trials, the question is not whether God is for us or against us; the question is whether we are for and with Him.
- When walls ahead are too tall, we too can get so focused on them that we forget the One who goes before us, forget the Word he has given, and seek to become the captain of our situation.
- We ask these same questions when we see tall walls in our lives…. “Lord, are you with me, or against me? Are you on my side, or are you on their side? Are you on the red team, or the blue team?” And isn’t it so often that the answer to such questions are “no, nay, neither,” I am the Lord, get on my side!
Isaiah 40:8, The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
- We, like Joshua, must change from giving order, to reporting for duty.
- Like Joshua, we must bow down before the Lord, humble ourselves and ask the question, “What has my Lord to say to his servant?”
- Not only this, when the Lord answers, when He gives His Word, our opportunity is to not just set Jesus as the Captain, but to keep Jesus as our Captain.
1 Corinthians 4:1, This is the way any person is to regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
- We are servants of Christ, the word there is under-rowers, we are under rowers of Christ, Jesus is the captain…He says go…we row!
- In bowing down before the Lord, Joshua shows a submission to the plan the Lord would lay out next.
- Pursue His Plan, Even When You Don’t Understand
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.”
- Can you imagine Joshua leaning in to receive the battle plan? The Lord tells Joshua, “I have given Jericho into your hand, here is the battle plan…”
- Get the men of war, get seven priests to carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark, have them circle the city once a day for 6 days, then on the seventh day, march around the city seven times, and the priests will blow the trumpets, the people will shout, and perhaps Joshua is thinking, okay, then it’s on, then we attack!?
- But the Lord reveals to him that the walls will fall flat, the Lord will bring about the victory and the people will go straight into the city.
- This was the plan.
- The Lord doesn’t tell Joshua to have the armed soldiers charge at them, He doesn’t detail out their perfect position, He doesn’t detail out how to climb the walls or overcome them personally or encourage them to act now with great urgency.
- No, He actually puts them in a position where it would seem they could be taken out, walking around the walls of Jericho. The men of Jericho could stand on the walls and use what they had to take out those below.
- Jericho was around 9 acres; it would take about 30 minutes for the people to walk around it each morning. They were to walk around it, head back to camp and then wait each day.
- The plan did not make sense militarily, it was going to be powerful spiritually. It was going to deepen the confidence, faith and trust the people of Israel had in the Lord. But the plan would appear as if they were being set up for failure.
- But Joshua had heard the word of the Lord, “I have given Jericho into your hand,” and he was willing to report for duty, and he was willing to do whatever the Lord told him to do.
- In verses 2 to 5, Joshua is given the instructions, and then in verses 6 to 10, Joshua gives the instructions to the people.
Joshua 6:6-10, So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and have seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark of the Lord.” Then he said to the people, “Go forward and march around the city, and the armed men shall go on ahead of 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. And the armed men went ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard, nor let a word proceed from your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!”
- This is the picture, there is a small group of armed men in front, then seven priests carrying seven trumpets of rams horns, followed by the ark of the covenant of the Lord which was a wooden box overlaid with gold, that had the stone tablets of the ten commandments inside and represented God’s presence among His people. Then a rear guard, which was more armed people.
- First Joshua heard the plan, then the people hear the plan and from a human standpoint, it would seem that the Israelites were about to be given in the hands of Jericho.
- Joshua and the Israelites were following the Lord’s instruction. They don’t have much of an army, they don’t have great military strategy, but they have the Lord’s presence, His instructions, and that is the only strategy they needed.
- This is important for you and for me, but the plan did not make sense, yet the people still went.
- There are many times that we wait to go according to the instructions the Lord gives until things start to make sense to us, so that we don’t look foolish, so we aren’t mocked by the world.
- But the reality for those of us in Christ is, we are His followers, and if we are following Him, we must pursue His plan, even when we don’t understand.
- Those in Jericho may have looked upon the Israelites march around the city each day as foolishness, but the Lord looked at their march around the city as faithfulness to the words He has spoken…They were going to see a victory.
1 Corinthians 2:14, But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
III. Trust That He Will Make a Way
Joshua 6:12-16, Now Joshua got up early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. Then the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went ahead of them, and the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while they continued to blow the trumpets. So the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did the same for six days. Then on the seventh day they got up early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same way seven times; only on that day did they march around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.
- We know the story, there it is, the Lord gave them the city. In verse 20, just as the Lord had previously told Joshua, a loud blast of the trumpets, a loud shout came about, and the walls fell down flat. The people went straight ahead to victory in the city of Jericho, the Lord had made the way beyond what was believed to be impossible walls.
- They had walked around the city 13 times. It would have taken about 30 minutes to march around it based on its size. Three and a half hours of marching, three and a half hours of blowing on the rams’ horns, and now the victory.
- Here we see what happen after the final lap. But I want to look again at what was happening before that.
- I want to look at laps one through 12 again for a moment, because if you are facing a wall that has yet to fall today, you might be somewhere in there.
- Until the wall fell after lap 13, it seems there was some information that was missing amongst the people.
- In verses 2 to 5, Joshua had not only been given the marching orders, but he was also told that after the seventh time around the city, on the seventh day, there would be the long blast of the trumpet, the great shout, the walls falling down, and the straight path to victory in that city.
- Joshua was given these words, but Joshua does not seem to share all of the information he was given.
- He tells them how they will march, he tells them to remain silent until he tells them to shout, but he doesn’t tell them how many times they will march, when they will shout, or how the victory would come about.
- 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 improbable, the plan more illogical, victory truly impossible.
- But as they followed the Lord’s instruction daily, walking faithfully, the Lord made a way for victory, and the walls came tumbling down!
Illus. Any progress?
Proverbs 3:5-6, 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.
13Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, he raised his eyes and looked, 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 enemies?” 14He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15And the captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.