Scripture Text: Joshua 5.
Here’s the background
Moses has died. Israel has been in the wilderness for forty years eating manna and drinking water from the rock. Now Joshua has taken over. They are crossing the Jordan River. They’re getting close to the Promised Land, the land they had dreamed of — Israel, Canaanland, cities already built, vineyards already planted, gardens planted, towers built, walls built, cattle already on the hills. The Bible says milk and honey — the milk from the cows and the honey from the bees. It was just already prepared. All they had to do was go in and do battle, and God would give it as a gift.
They have crossed the Jordan River. They’re now facing their first battle, the battle of Jericho. If you Google it, it is the oldest city with inhabitants. They believe it is the oldest inhabited city. When we go to Israel on the trip in January, they’ll have signs: “oldest city in the world.”
So now they’re getting ready to battle against Jericho. The first battle they’ll do in the Promised Land. Joshua is now the general. Think he’s a little nervous? God said, “I’ll be with you.” He said, “No enemy will stand before you. You’ll have victory.” But it hasn’t happened yet.
Notice what happens here right before the battle.
Joshua 5:13: “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho…” This is before the battle. He’s walking up toward the city by himself.
“…that he lifted up his eyes and looked…”
You know what I believe he was doing? I believe he was praying. He was praying. Maybe he was kneeling. He had his eyes down, and then he lifted up his eyes. He looked up. Maybe you can see it differently as you look at the passage.
“…and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand…”
As Joshua comes close to the city, he sees a man with a sword in his hand, but the man doesn’t attack him. Joshua went unto him. He must have felt safe. The guy’s got a sword. Here’s my advice to you kids: If a guy in Napa walking down the street with a sword, don’t “go unto him” and say, “Hey, man! What time is it? You got a dollar I can borrow?”
“…and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?”
Who are you for? That ought to be our question as we make new friends and acquaintances. Who are you for? For God or the devil? Who are you for? Are you for me and my family, or are you against us? Are you for me making it for God or against me making it for God? He says, “Are you for us or our adversaries?”
Joshua 5:14: “And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come…”
What in the world is that? The host of the Lord is the unseen armies of God. Those are the ones when Elisha was surrounded, his servants told him, “Master, you’re surrounded by the enemy soldiers.” And Elisha said, “Open his eyes, Lord.” And he saw the hills covered with the angels of God. It’s talking about the same host that when Jesus was about to leave Gethsemane after He prayed and the enemy soldiers came. Simon Peter took his sword and whacked off Malchus’ ear! Jesus said, “Put your sword back up. I can call right now twelve legions — that’s 76,000 — twelve legions of angels to come and defend Me right now. Jesus was saying He is the captain of the host of the Lord. “I’ve got an army you cannot see. We do battles behind the scenes you cannot see.” I wonder who this “captain” was here in Joshua.
“…And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship…”
In Scripture, you’ll see sometimes people will fall at someone’s feet and worship. And if they’re a godly person, they’d always say, “Stand up. Stop worshipping me. I also am a man.” Simon Peter told people, “Stand up.” “I’m not God. Stand up,” Paul said. But here in Joshua, he is worshipping at this person’s feet, and the man does not tell him to stand up.
Joshua said, “…What saith my lord unto his servant?
Joshua 5:15 “And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot…” Same thing Moses was told. “…for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”
You say, “Pastor, who was this?” It was an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. See, Jesus has always been. He was born in a human body in Bethlehem, but He has always been. He’s God. In several places in the Old Testament when people were in dire straits or trouble or maybe a famous person was being born, Jesus showed up.
And so, Jesus is here. And guess when He shows up here? Right before a major battle. I just want to remind you as we get into this passage quickly:
The same Jesus is there for you before your major battles.
What battle are you facing right now? Is it financial? Is it health? Is it a subject at school? Is it a person at work? Is it a difficulty? Is it trouble coming — you see it coming over the horizon? Is it a storm you’re in right now? What battle are you facing right now? You’ll not go through it alone.
Jesus shows up and he says, “Take your shoes off. You’re on Holy ground. You’re worshiping Me, and that’s the right thing to do.” I wonder why He was there with a sword. He said, “I’m here before the battle. I’ll be helping you, Joshua. It’s not going to be you who wins the battle. It will be Me Who wins the battle.” I’m so glad that God gives us His assurance. You’re not alone. You won’t have to do this all by yourself.
Now notice the instructions here in Joshua 6, and then we’ll give you the message here. Notice what it says.
Joshua 6:1: “Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.”
So, for six days they’re supposed to just walk around the city once and then come back to their tents. Kind of monotonous. And then notice it says in
Joshua 6:6: And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord. 7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the Lord. 8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets…”
Let’s look at 6:10 also:
“And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.”
Okay, so you have the picture. You know the story. I’m not going to belabor the point. They’re going to march around the city. They’ve got the priest; they’ve got the ark. The ark always symbolizes the presence of God. It was in the holy of holies. It had the two cherubims facing each other. Inside the ark were the ten commandments, Aaron’s rod that budded, and a pot of manna. Together they showed the power and the provisions and principles of God. They would carry that ark.
God’s presence is with them.
The priests were blowing the trumpets. They’ve got rams horns. They’re making all kinds of noise as they’re going around the city. No one spoke. Joshua said, “I don’t want anybody talking.” Why? It seemed like he wanted to build the suspense. The only voices the children of Israel heard were maybe the mocking cries from the wall around Jericho. But then we know those people’s hearts melted. They were fearful. That’s what Rahab told them. Rahab’s family is now in her little apartment. They’re just hoping for the end. They’re probably nervous, too. And now there is this great host — thousands of people marching around the city. Day one, two, three, four, five, six, and then the last day — seven times.
You say, “Pastor, why did God do it that way? What’s that got to do with the walls coming down? Why did he do that?” Here’s why:
The Bible says it is impossible to please God without faith.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
He was saying, “Do it My way and you’ll see what doesn’t make any sense.” “Why are we walking around the city? It’s not doing anything.” God says, “You don’t have to know why. You just need to know the what?”
God does not always explain Himself in Scripture.
Let me give you this verse just for a second: It says
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
That doesn’t make sense. I’d rather walk by sight, wouldn’t you?
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
How about this question: should we tithe if we’re in debt? The answer is yes. Well, that doesn’t make sense. You tithe by faith. Are you supposed to do good to your enemies? That’s what the Bible commands. Well, that doesn’t make sense. But you obey it by faith. There are a lot of times when this Book may not make sense to us, but God loves it when we trust Him and just do it by faith.
And So they’re marching around the walls, and the suspense is building. And then look down into Joshua 6:17. Here’s Joshua’s announcement before they march around the city the seventh time.
“And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” Joshua 6:17–19
You get it? He makes the announcement. He says, “For this first battle we’re doing, all the treasure goes to God. Don’t touch it. God gets the first treasure. It’s not your stuff. Don’t take the clothes. Don’t take the animals. Don’t take the gold. Don’t take the silver. This is the first city, and God gets all of His first.” Next week (or in a week or two) we’ll see what happens to that. You know the story.
Joshua 6:20: “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”
They end up rescuing Rahab. We are not going to go into all that this week.
The message tonight is this: The Lord says, “Make sure I get the gold and the silver from this city.” He says, he says, “Don’t touch it. It’s mine.” Here’s the message. What does putting Jesus first look like? What does putting Jesus first look like?
So, there’s Jesus right before the battle. He says, “Joshua, I’ll be there with you. Now, remember, I get the gold and the silver. You’ll get yours later. But it’s mine right now.”
We all want Jesus first in our life. Many times, we would say He is first. He’s number one. But practically, what does it look like?
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Hopewell Baptist Church is an Independent Baptist Church in Napa, California pastored by Mike Ray. It is Bible-based with a warm, friendly atmosphere. Hopewell is dedicated to bringing the water of life to the Napa Valley and beyond.