Faithlife Sermons

Waiting for the Walls to Fall

Tread Boldly  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 2 views
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Welcome

Good Morning Everyone,
Welcome back to our Tread Boldly series, as we look at what it takes for God’s people to be where God wants them to be.
Over the past few weeks, we have learned that it is very possible to miss out on the good God has in store for us; we can decide to have it our way rather than His.
We’ve talked about how preparation is required for success, for failing to prepare in advance is almost a guarantee for failure.
We’ve talked about how we need to keep our eyes open to people God puts in our path; how we might find some unlikely allies.
We’ve talked about how our pursuit of God may be miraculous, risky, and amazing, but it doesn’t have to be drama filled.
We’ve also talked about the necessity of commitment and how being personally invested and identified with something is really the only way to experience the reward.

Main

Today, we will be in , looking at the very first conquest for the people of Israel; their hopes are finally becoming realities.

Two Mistakes with Jericho

A Kid’s Story

Now, is the story of Jericho, one of the more well known Biblical stories. Unfortunately, for many, it falls into the category of legend or myth. But make no mistake, Jericho was a real city with real walls that archaeologists have found collapsed. The story of Jericho is as historical as the storming of the beaches of Normandy.

An Atrocity

Which brings up a problem. When we just think of Jericho as a kids Bible story, we don’t have to consider the ugliness of the battle and the loss of life. So, before we really get into the heart of the message, I want to address something that is important to the rest of the whole book. And that is the destruction of the inhabitants of the land.
Deuteronomy 7:2 ESV
and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them.
Joshua 6:21 ESV
Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.
People have used passages like this to denounce God as a cruel god with no compassion for people who are not His own. They have used books like Joshua to call God genocidal and murderous.
[Richard Dawkins Quote]
And to be fair, we ought to wrestle the every lost life, especially in such a divided world.

My Personal Wrestling with This

I remember struggling with this myself; trying to align this view of God with what I knew of Him through Jesus. The two didn’t seem to line up.
Now, I am not going to take you through the whole journey, but I will let you in on what I discovered.

Unchanging God

First, God has not changed. The God that loved us so much that He gave His only son is the same God who led the nation of Israel.
James 1:17 ESV
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Malachi 3:6 ESV
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
Second, God is compassionate
Hebrews 13:8 ESV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Merciful God

Second, God is compassionate. We already saw that with Rahab. Throughout this passage about the destruction of Jericho, much of the text is devoted to protecting Rahab and her family. What we don’t see in these passages is the compassion and mercy God showed to many.
I’ll talk about why in a second, but for now, know that God’s love, mercy, and compassion extended to everyone. In the book of Joshua itself, we see people from outside Israel becoming a part of the community.
Joshua 8:33–35 ESV
And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
Joshua 8:33-

Why the Harsh Tone

So, that begs the question, “Why have such a harsh tone that could be misconstrued as uncompassionate or genocidal? Well, I have come to believe that the language of Joshua was intentionally directed to indicate a zero tolerance towards any outside influence on the worship of the one true God.
Leviticus
Leviticus 18:24–28 ESV
“Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.
This was the Promised Land. The focus of Joshua is the establishment purity of that land; hence, the language.
Think of it like this. As a Christian, we are called to be tolerant of the sin in our world. We live in a broken world. However, we are called to be intolerant of the sin within us. Although I may show grace towards the sin of others, I want to eradicate the sin within myself.
This is what I believe we have come to see throughout the book of Joshua.
[Transition]

Joshua 6

Unorthodox Story

One of the reasons for the misconceptions is that most people don’t know what else to do with the story. To be honest, the battle of Jericho is one of the most unorthodox military plans I have ever seen.
Joshua 6:3–5 ESV
You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”
I know Joshua trusted God, but imagine if anyone else made this suggestion you might think they are a little cookie.
So, what we have to do is ask God, “Why would God ask them to do it this way?” That is a good question.

Trying to Make Sense of the Strategy

The mistake I often see is that people try to explain the logic of this strategy. They may talk about psychological warfare or something like that. However, that is both not in the text and not even an accurate understanding of warfare. If anything, the people of Jericho would have been thinking that the Israelites were fools as the days passed. A walled city would have weeks, if not months, or provisions stored up to withstand a siege. Yet, Israel wasn’t even really doing a siege. They left each day and went back to their own camp. The people of Jericho could have drawn water, and fed their livestock when they weren’t there.
No, the lesson of Jericho isn’t that marching around the barriers in your lives seven times and then shouting at them will make them come down. That is what happened here… but only here.

The Lessons of Joshua 6

Jericho teaches us lessons on three things: obedience, patience, and readiness.

Obedience

Think about it, God’s there is no way Joshua (on his own) would have come up with this plan on his own. God had never asked His people to conquer a city this way before, and He has never since.

Not Formulaic

The reality is quite interesting, but you will see if when I tell you. God is not a god of formulas. Of course, there are many things like faith, hope, and love that never change, but when it comes to His methods, He rarely gives us some method to follow for it, but rather treats every situation as unique.
I once heard a message that said it well:
Jesus healed one blind man by rubbing mud on his eyes and then another without mud. If he had done it the same way twice, we would have people who call themselves the mudites and the anti-mudites.
In the same way, there is no Jericho method of defeating enemy strongholds.

People like Formulaic

For some it would seem easier if God would have been a formulaic God. People like formulas. Just think of how many 7-step, 5-step, etc. books are out there, tackling issues from diets to becoming an effective person. It isn’t that they don’t work sometimes, but (here me) formulas are no replacement for listening to God.
I believe God doesn’t use formulas because He wants our obedience to Him to be through communication with Him rather than reliance on some formula.
This is the difference between practicing a religion and having a relationship with God.
Churches can be some of the guiltiest when it comes to placing their faith in a formula rather than God. I think of things like the Purpose-Driven model. It was a great thing. There was a lot to learn from the model. However, the model wasn’t and could never be a substitute for seeking God’s will for your church. And it isn’t just churches, the same is true for missions and service. Unfortunately, they are often driven more by fads than they are by faith.
I have one friend who leads a ministry to Haiti. He tells me of the feast or famine mentality to people’s involvement. Right now, helping in Haiti isn’t the cool thing.
Now, you have to understand, following a formula may feel like obedience, but it is not obedience to God. On several occasions, God would tell His people to stop following the formula and to actually follow Him.
[Point]
What the account of Jericho teaches us that obedience to God is a day by, moment by moment exercise.
You can’t depend on what you heard last week. Your relationship with God can’t be based on a past event.
I think the reason God is unpredictable is for the very reason that we have to always come back and ask Him for His direction in that moment. The people of Israel got in trouble several times for assuming something rather than asking God. The truth is that He wants the relationship. He wants us to walk with him moment by moment, rather than depend on something we talked about long ago.

Personal Conviction

This was particularly convicting for me. I know I can think I know what you want or need rather than listening in the moment, especially if it worked before. Yet, no one likes that. To be in true obedience to God means we seek and listen for His direction on a continuing basis.

Patience

Of course, that kind of obedience requires patience. You can’t run ahead.
It is unclear if Joshua told the people that the marching around the city for seven days. From the text it would appear that he would instruct them for that day only.
Joshua 6:10 ESV
But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.”
So, each day (for six days), the nation of Israel got all dressed up, lined up before and after the ark of the covenant and marched once around the city of Jericho. And after they had done that, they went back to their camp to spend the rest of the day and the night. We see that on the second day, they did the exact same thing as the first.

Zero Progress?

But here is the thing to note, at the end of days one, two, three, four, five, and six, they had made absolutely no progress towards conquering the city. If they had stopped on day six and said that this was a waste of time, they would have proven their point, for they would have nothing to show for their six days of marching.
So, I ask you, “Was God doing nothing during those six days?” No! He was at work. The six days were vital to His seven day plan.
The problem is that we don’t like the appearance of not going anywhere. We like feeling like we are making progress. We have a hard time trusting that God is at work if we aren’t seeing the progress to confirm that. And the truth is that often times we quit or get angry when we can’t see the progress we were hoping for and then feel justified because God didn’t deliver.

Self-Fulfilling Quitters

However, here me out on this. Often times He doesn’t deliver because we quit on day six instead of pushing through to day seven.

Biblical Patience

Listen to these passages about patience:
Psalm 27:14 ESV
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 37:7–9 ESV
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
Psalm 38:15 ESV
But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
Jude 21 ESV
keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
There are literally dozens and dozens of passages that speak to “waiting upon the Lord.” The Bible probably speaks to it so often because it is one of the hardest things for us to do.

God is Always at Work

Yet, Jericho shows us that God is at work, even when we can’t see it. If you have ever felt that God has forgotten or abandoned you, remember that He is always at work.
In a much more minor way, I feel that way right now. I know so many things that people are doing to move us forward as a church. However, you can’t really see them yet. They are coming; we just have to be patient.

Readiness

The Danger of Apathy

Now, there is a danger to patience, and it is that sometimes people confuse patience with apathy. They give up and stop caring about could be. They stop believing God will change anything and think they are just being patient. This passage speaks directly against that and demands that God’s people be ready when the time comes.
Apathy is basically patience with no expectations. God wants us to be patient with confidence that God is at work.
Joshua 6:15–16 ESV
On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city.
Joshua 6:15
Joshua 6:20 ESV
So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.
Joshua 6:20

Windows of Opportunity

In my very long life, I have learned that God provides us with windows of opportunities. It isn’t just about what He wants for us, but when He wants it for us.
Throughout Scripture, we see examples like Moses who wanted to make a difference but had to wait on God’s timing. Probably one of the most telling that relates to our story is when the Israelites rejected God’s Promised Land then later tried to take it themselves. The result was disastrous.
Numbers 14:39–42 ESV
When Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, the people mourned greatly. And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the Lord has promised, for we have sinned.” But Moses said, “Why now are you transgressing the command of the Lord, when that will not succeed? Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies.
Numbers 14:39-
The truth is that following God requires patience and readiness to go hand in hand. As we wait, we must be ready to respond. If we aren’t ready, then we aren’t really following God. If we aren’t patient, then we want Him to follow us.

I Onece Was Lost

One of my favorite books brought this point to life in the realm of evangelism. It spoke about how much of sharing our faith is about being loving people patiently. It isn’t something you can rush, and you really have to let the Spirit work in people. However, there comes a day, after having been patient, where a person opens up to possibilities, when they are genuinely looking for answers. In that moment, we can’t wait; we must respond.
“So there is a sort of urgency at this final threshold that is right and appropriate. A decision needs to be made. The ripeness of the fruit deserves our attention and urgency. Every farmer knows this: leave the fruit on the vine too long, and it will spoil”
Don Everts;Doug Schaupp. I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus (Kindle Locations 1016-1017). Kindle Edition.
The reality is that spiritual opportunities may only be available for a brief period. We must be ready to respond to them

Conclusion

Don Everts;Doug Schaupp. I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus (Kindle Locations 1016-1017). Kindle Edition.
And so here we are. Just like the Israelites, we have a lot ahead of us; many hills to take.

Our Destination and Our Character

Jericho reveals to us God’s methods are often more about what He wants us to be rather than what He wants us to do. That is probably the most amazing thing about God. When we think He wants us to take the Promised Land, He actually is shaping us to be the people of promise. It is not just about getting from point A to point B, but it is about how He is shaping us along the way. And often, the way He does things is to make us rely on Him, not ourselves.
As I have mentioned already,

Our Methods

Prayer, not Formulas
We May Use Tools, but we trust in the power of God
Patience that trusts we are moving
To Move through Windows of Opportunity
Related Media
Related Sermons