(Joshua 5:13 – 6:27 Written as if an officer in the Jewish army were saying this.)
Everyone knows that we men have an innate genetic ability that most women don’t have. It enables us to find our way from one place to another without having to ask for help. Occasionally we may choose to take a scenic route or travel in circles. That is always done by choice. We know where we are, as proven by the fact that we eventually get where we’re going. That isn’t true only in your day, it was true 3,500 years ago when I lived, too.
Some have said we wandered in the desert for 40 years because the men wouldn’t stop and ask for directions, but that’s not true! We DID ask for directions. Joshua asked for directions to defeat Jericho. I know. I was there. I was a soldier in Joshua’s army, an officer. I had some experience during the last years fighting invaders to protect my family, so Joshua made me an officer in our totally inexperienced army. I was experienced to warfare.
I guess you’ve realized that life in a series of one battles after another, haven’t you? Serving God isn’t not smooth and easy. It seems there is always some opposition. Oh there may be lulls in the conflict, but then the fight starts back up again. If that’s your experience, you’re on the right track! If you never have struggles something is wrong! Paul himself experienced this same thing (II Tim 4:6-7).
In my day they were physical battles, but in yours they are spiritual battles (Eph 6:12). We fought with muscle and sword. Your battles rage in your heart and soul. Satan used the flesh and the world to defeat us. Still, God is the victor. We can have victory, too, if we follow Him and fight in His strength. That’s what we did at Jericho.
Jericho was formidable, inaccessible. We had to defeat it to go ahead. The flooding Jordan was behind us and mountains were on each side of us. Jericho was a fortress for all living in the region. There was a double wall about 35’ wide and 30’ high with a dry moat outside. It looked impossible, especially to our army which had never fought a battle. We were totally untrained in warfare. Joshua did the right thing – he went to God for help.
I led a small group that went to protect him as he went nearer to Jericho, to think and plan. A siege would take many years. We had no equipment for a direct attack on such strong walls. What could we do? As we mulled over the options and eliminated each one, all of a sudden Someone appeared (Joshua 5:13). We didn’t realize it right away, but we soon discovered it was God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, before He came to earth to be known as Jesus. He said He wasn’t on our side or on our enemies side – just His own side (5:14). It was up to us to fight on God’s side, not to try and get God to fight on our side.
As we watched from a distance Joshua fell down in humble reverence (5:14-15). Later Joshua told us what this meant to him. He knew he wasn’t alone, and that’s important for a man and a leader to know (Heb 13:5). He realized he was second in command, taking orders from Someone greater, and that is very comforting for a man and a leader. Especially reassuring was the assertion that the battle was already won. Realizing that we don’t fight for victory, but that we fight from victory, is great encouragement (John 16:33). We knew every place where we set foot was ours, but setting foot in Jericho wouldn’t be easy! It was the PROMISED land, and we had to believe God’s promises that He would provide the way.
Provide He did – but what a crazy plan He came up with, nothing that any of us would ever advised Joshua to do. March around the city once a day for six days, then on the seventh go around seven time, blow the trumpets and shout, and when the walls fall in enter and kill everyone (Joshua 6:1-5). God’s ways are certainly different than man’s ways (Isa 55:8; Prov 14:12). They seem strange at the start – but they work!
What can I say but that we obeyed (6:6-14). It was hard for a soldier to endure the taunts of the people in Jericho and not make a sound, but this was God’s way of showing that He was doing it all and it wasn’t our strength or skill that brought victory (Ex 14:14; Ps 46:10-11). We fought, but He brought the victory. God will do it all, but I must show up and do my part (Heb 11:30).
The seventh day was when we would either win all or lose all. It still seemed strange. By the time we walked around seven times it was late and we were tired, NOT the time for an attack! Sometimes obeying God seems hard and strange, contrary to common sense. But you never go wrong when you obey God, when you fight your battles His way (6:15-21). He tells us to forgive those who purposely hurt us and don’t apologize. We are to love those who reject us. He says to turn to other cheek to those who use and take advantage of us. We are commanded to pray for those who plot us evil. In addition we are to share with the needy and not worry about the future. Forgive, love, serve, pray, they sound like strange directions to follow, but they, too work! They can’t be done in one’s own strength, but in God’s they bring victory over impossible odds.
When we obeyed God we ended up with one of the most famous military victories in history. The walls fell outward into the moat so we could easily enter. Only the section at Rahab’s house stood and they were rescued (6:22-27). God kept His promises to us, as He keeps His promises to you. God is full of grace and mercy. Obey Him. Don’t follow your own innate male (or female) sense of direction (Prov 14:12). His grace will sustain you.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)