Obedience Is The Key To Victory
1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
Overcoming when Overwhelmed
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by what God has asked you to do? Does it feel like God has placed you in front of Mount Everest with a plastic spoon in your hand and tells you to move the mountain? This is by design. If we could do things in our own strength, how would God be glorified? He wouldn’t – everyone who saw would say, “Wow – what talent!” rather than “That could only have been accomplished through the power of the Lord God Almighty!” Joshua must have felt the same way.
Let’s set the stage: The Israelites, after forty years of wandering in the desert, have just successfully crossed the Jordan during FLOOD STAGE on dry land. God began the Exodus with a parting of the waters, and ended it with another parting of the waters. Moses is now with the Lord, and Joshua has called the nation of Israel to be circumcised and dedicated to God. Joshua is now facing his first battle; here was one of his first tests in leadership. And the people of Israel are at Jericho, one of the most fortified and defensible cities they had ever seen. The walls were insurmountable. They might as well have been made from armor-plated concrete for all the good it would do for the Israelites to try to overcome.
But God (always notice the “but God” in any spiritual victory…) had already prepared the city to be conquered. They had heard that God had dried up the Jordan, just as He did to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of Pharaoh. And knowing this – that God was for the Israelites and against them – their hearts melted, and they no longer had the strength and conviction to defeat the people of God. If God is against you, how can you prevail? You cannot.
Then, the commander of the army of the Lord appears, sword drawn. Joshua questions the man, who announces himself. Then, the Lord makes a statement to Joshua:
See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.
From the perspective of God, who sees everything from the end to the beginning, the victory has already been accomplished. In God’s mind, it has already occurred. There is finality in it, because God DOES know the future, and sees it as it is, rather than as we see it (with uncertainty). We are bound by time and space; God created both of these things, and is outside of them, with an eternal perspective. Meanwhile, the city wall still stands, and the fortified city still stands.
He then gives Joshua some very specific and, in the eyes of the world, what would appear to be idiotic instructions – to march around the city for six days, then on the seventh day to march around it seven times, blow the trumpets, and shout. So, have you ever shouted at an inanimate object before in anger? Did anything change with it after you shouted, “Stupid car!” or “Worthless dishwasher!” or ? If so, you are one of the rare people! It may help us to vent our anger and frustration, but typically does nothing to improve our situation. In the eyes of men, overcoming this city would have been nearly impossible. It would only be through the hand and power of God that the city would be conquered. Especially by just walking around it, blowing trumpets, and shouting.
And, when we are given instructions that don’t make sense to us, this is our crisis of faith: do we follow in obedience, or look at our circumstances. It is only when we are submitted to and obedient to the instructions of God that we will overcome. It is then, and only then, that God will give us victory in our impossible situation, bringing glory to Himself, and showing the world that the Lord God Almighty, YHWH, is the only one true God, and is to be feared, worshiped, and obeyed.
In obedience to His word, He brings about victory and supernaturally displays His sovereignty over all creation. He is able to make the wind and waves obey Him; Every living creature is at His beck and call; time itself is in His hands, and the Sun, Moon, and stars obey his every command. By His command, man has been brought forth in life, and the dead have risen. Bushes ignite in flames but are not consumed. His faithful have been thrown into the fiery furnace and returned without even the smell of fire on them. Lions mouths were shut and opened at His command. Death itself was conquered through the obedience of His One and Only Son. Nothing is impossible for God, and victory comes to the obedient.
Remember that taking a fortified city at that time came with great risks. If you got too close to the walls, archers would turn you into a pincushion. If you managed to get past the barrage of arrows, you would them be subject to a couple of different attacks. Once you got up against the wall, they would often pour boiling oil or tar on you. They may then fire some flaming arrows down at you, and you would burst into flame. That will generally ruin your day. In addition, they would often hurl stones at you. From a sufficient height, a stone the size of a basket ball could effectively crush you. There were great dangers in venturing this close to the city’s fortifications. Yet that is what God told them to do. Obedience to God always yields reward.
And when we are obedient to God – regardless of how silly, insulting, embarrassing, or impossible the command that we have been given – God reaches out with power, strength and provision, and causes the mountains to move, the Earth to shake, and His glory and power are revealed to all so that God may not be made out to be a liar, but instead keeps His word in complete and total faithfulness.
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
In this particular case, the Israelites did exactly what God had told them to do. And in return for their faithful obedience, the walls of Jericho fell, and the Israelites were victorious.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I being obedient to the known will of God in faith?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, throughout Your holy word, You have shown us Your character, and even sent Your One and only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear witness to the truth. For if we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father. Your character is perfect, and You are not a liar. You will faithfully carry out all that You have said that You would. You have shown me time and time again in Your word where You have been faithful when we show up in faith and obedience. Help me, Father, to overcome the giant that taunts me, and threatens me, and causes my heart to melt in fear. Give me the strength to meet all resistance with the knowledge and faith that You are faithful, Lord God, and nothing is impossible for You. Help me to do all that You have commanded me to do, and give me clear direction so that I can be faithful and obedient to You. This I ask in the precious and holy name of Jesus, Amen.