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Sunday February 3, 2019

posted Feb 3, 2019, 3:38 PM by Site Administrator



Joshua 6:1-27

Key Verse 6:20


When the trumpet sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.


In the previous passage, we learned about how God had prepared them before starting the conquest; after crossing the Jordan River, God commanded Joshua to circumcise the Israelites; He had them celebrate the Passover; and He helped Joshua to serve the conquest with reverence for God. Now everything was ready for the conquest. Jericho was tightly shut up, and no one went out and no one came in. They chose their best strategy. At this God told Joshua, See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. Even before starting the battle, God confirmed with Joshua that the victory was already given to him. How fun it is to fight the battle whose victory is guaranteed. Actually, this is the nature of the war we are engaged in as Christian soldiers. God already has confirmed with us that we will win the victory and eventually, the whole earth will be restored to its original status as the kingdom of God; we will live in the new heaven and the new earth, and God will live among us here on earth. That's how the world history will go. Surely, we belong to the winning team. Sometimes, we experience painful failures; sometimes, we are defeated; sometimes, we feel miserable. But still, we are not discouraged too much, because we know that eventually we win the war and reign with Jesus forever. 


In verses 3 through 5, God gave Joshua his special instruction about how they should attack and conquer this city, saying, 3March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4Have 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. 5When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in. The battle of Jericho was the first battle they fought in the conquest, and it was done completely by God's way; all other battles were done by Joshua's ideas and strategy, but this battle was done by God's instruction. God's instruction for this battle carries a significant meaning, showing all believers of how we must fight the Lord's battleand win


By the way, why did God give them this kind of instruction? He is the LORD Almighty. He could have helped them win the battle in many different ways. Maybe, He could say, Ok, everyone. At my signal, you shout all together; then, the wall of Jericho will collapse, and you go up, every man straight in. But instead, He had them march around the city once a day for six days, and seven laps on the seventh day. Why did he do so? Did he do so to see if they would obey him absolutely or not? Maybe, or maybe not! In the previous passage, we learned how God had prepared them for the battle: He had them circumcise themselves, which meant their heart’s complete determination to live for God; He had them keep the Passover to remember God’s amazing grace upon their life; He cut the food supply, as a result, they could not take anything casually at all – they could not relax because they didn’t have the next meal; they became dead serious and desperate; and there was no turning back for them either, because the River was flowing at flood stage again; the only way was to go, fight, destroy enemies and capture the land. In this way, God boosted up their fighting spirit – they became dead serious and desperate. That’s how God had prepared them for the conquest. This preparation shows that, even if He is Almighty and even if He was going to help them, God still needed them to have that kind of wholehearted and desperate spirit. God’s people must worship God in spirit and truth. Such people are the kind of worshipers God seeks. God can work with such people, and reveal His power and glory through them, because God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. All these preparations show us how we can developthat kind of desperate and wholehearted spirit; then, God can manifest his power and glory in and through us.


Now in this Jericho battle, the first battle in the conquest, with such preparation already done, God shows us how God’s people can win the victory by the power of God. 


First, “Carry the ark of the covenant and blow the trumpets of ram’s horns. In this instruction, there are two main items: the ark of the covenant and the seven trumpets of ram’s horns. God had them carry the ark during the whole campaign and protect it by placing the guard both in the front and rear. As we learned before, the ark of the covenant represents the word of God. The word of God is the mainweapon we have in fighting the Lord's battleThe Apostle Paul says, Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph 6:17) We must carry the word of God all the time. You have the sword of the Holy Spirit – the powerful weaponWhat should you do with it? Carry it all the time; use it, and protect it with your absolute submission to its authority. 


God also told them to have seven priests carry seven trumpets of ram's horn and blow them during the whole campaign. There are two types of trumpets in the Bible - trumpets of silver and trumpets of ram's horn. The silver trumpets sound high and powerful and were used to announce victory; when the Roman army won the victory and came back to Rome, they used the silver trumpets, while people threw flowers on the soldiers marching into the city. But the trumpets of ram's horn, called, shofar sounded low and deep. Such sound was not about victory, but about people’s earnest plea to God for help and mercy. The seven trumpets of ram’s horns refer to our prayer. During this entire military campaign, the seven priests blew the seven trumpets of ram’s horn continually, showing that in fighting the Lord’s battle, we must pray continuallyasking God for his mercy and help. So, in doing God’s work, have these two items all the time – study and teach the word of God diligently, and pray for God’s work unceasingly.

Second, March around the city. God's direction for their specific action was to march around the city. It was the action of specifying the target. Say, “March around the city.” Specify the target. They were going to pioneer all the cities in Canaan, but it did not mean that they would try to capture them all at the same time. Right then, their target was Jericho, very specific and concrete. Circling the city must have taken at least two hours; it was not easy; especially, on the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times, spending at least 14 hours, sweating, and pouring their energy wholeheartedly. As they spent their time and energy for the city like this, what they desired had become utmost clear - they wanted this city, Jericho, and by obeying God's instruction, they were asking God to give them that city. They were like sharks; when sharks find their prey, they circle around the target. Serving God’s work does not mean that today you serve homeless people, and tomorrow, you go to a hospital to serve the patients there, and after that, you go to Tijuana in Mexico for a short term mission work. The apostle Paul says, Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. (1 Cor 9:26) God, knowing all his children, calls them to their specific mission: some for homeless people, some for mission work in other countries. And God wants all of them to focus and concentrate on their own specific target. Our mission target is college campuses – we aim on our campus, pour out our time and energy to establish God’s kingdom on our campus. We need to lock in this target in our heart’s and soul’s computer system until it is completely engraved in us - until the school becomes our heart's real desire. How can we lock in our target? March around the city; aim on it - go fishing, serve sheep there. Still, not enough in your heart? Then, do it on the next day again. Still, not enough? Then, do it continually for six days. As you do this day after day spending more time and energy, a real desire for the school begins to rise in your heart; then, as that desire rises and grows in you, on the seventh day, circle around the campus seven laps, showing your complete decisiveness in doing this mission. Through the action of marching around the campus seven times on the seventh day by pouring out all our energy and strength for it, we show God our heart's real desire – we mean it - we claim that this school is what we really desire. The number seven is a complete number – your obedience to God’s will, your desire and struggle to conquer God’s mission field is completeThen, once the target is really locked in in your heart’s and soul’s computer system, then, launch a missile – shout, claiming God’s victory, and the missile can’t miss the target. This is how God’s people can advance God’s kingdom into enemies’ territory. Without this practical efforts, people just vaguely hope; they are just day-dreaming.


Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is being sure of what we hope for. In order for faith to be concrete, there should be two things – 1) what you hope for: you must have something you really want—that’s the beginning of having faith; what do you want? What do you want God to do for you? 2) being sure of what you hope for: complete assurance that what you hope for will come true. When we have these two in our hearts firmly, we can say we have faith. How can we have these two so that we can have real faith? That’s what God’s instruction for Jericho battle talks about – when you march around the city in obedience to God’s will, when your obedience to God’s instruction is complete, you can have these two. As you obey God’s instruction, marching around the city once a day for six days, and seven times on the seventh day, you come to have what you really want – your complete obedience to this instruction, your wholehearted struggle to march around the city seven times on the seventh day proves that that’s what you want. As your obedience to God is being complete, you come to possess such complete assurance, absolute confidence in your heart. Jesus says, I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Mt 17:20) With this faith, you give a loud shout, claiming God’s victory, and whatever you ask in Jesus’ name will be given to you.


Some people, with vague wish, try to serve God’s work; it is like marching around the city one time. But when they experience refusals, failures, and difficulties, they give up. It is like the Israel people after marching around the city one time, seeing that nothing happens, even no cracks on the wall, give up, saying, It does not work. Some people try a little more, two laps or three laps, but give up, because their hearts are not fully determined to serve God’s work to the end – they need to circumcise their hearts; they need to consecrate themselves to God. Some people just march around the city once in a while and they do so continually, not just for seven days, but for years; they stop for a while, and when they feel bored, they try again. Nothing happens because they are not decisive; probably, it is because even if they do not capture the city, their mission target, they have the means to survive in the world – maybe, their successful career or their happy family already has become the meaning and purpose of their life; they are already comforted, so they are not desperate to God; they need to cross the Jordan River; they need to be wholehearted in serving God’s work – remember that, for this, God cut his food supply for them. 


Specify your target and lock it in by marching around the city continually; engrave the shape and the character of the land, your target, in your heart’s and soul’s computer system firmly so that wherever you go, whatever you do, whether you sleep or eat, you never forget God’s mission target for you; instead, you carry it in your heart and life all the time – it becomes your heart’s desire; it becomes what you think of all the time; it becomes the bone and flesh of what you are about; it is what you talk about and pursue all the time. Then, it will be given to you, and your life will be very fruitful, glorious and meaningful. You will fulfill God’s mission upon your life and you will be satisfied. Your life will bring glory to God. March around the city seven times on the seventh day; lock in your target, and shout, claiming God’s victory.


ThirdWith all the armed men. God also specified that all the armed men should participate in this battle. When Israel had exodus from Egypt, 603,550 men, 20 years old or more, were counted. But all of them except Joshua and Caleb died in the desert due to their unbelief and disobedience to God. Now the new generation rose and were serving in the army, and they were counted 601,730 men. God commanded Joshua that all these soldiers must participate in this campaign. There were many experienced soldiers; but at the same time, there were many newbies who were just recruited; but all of them should participate in this campaign so that they would fight for the Lord together in one mind and heart. God commanded them to serve this conquest all together with the same purpose and vision, with the same struggle of following God's instruction as one army. This oneness in God’s army is very important. When this unity, this oneness is found among God's people, all of them, pursuing the same target, God does his mighty work in and through them. Jesus emphasizes the effectiveness of this oneness, saying, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. (Mt 18:18,19) This is what the Christian church is about. As the church, we are one army, pursuing the same target, having the same struggle. In fighting the Lord's battle, we fight together - one for all, and all for one! If some people fight for the Lord, but others relax and do not participate, it’s very discouraging. The influence is already bad. Jesus says, He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. (Lk 11:23) That’s why we must pursue the same goal with all others together. Not only experienced and mature shepherds, but also newly growing young disciples! Not only those who have great understanding of the entire Bible, but also new disciples who just recently studied Genesis! Not only those who can serve even 40 Bible studies a week, but also those who can serve 4 Bible studies! We fight all together for God's kingdom work in one mind and heart! This is the secret of winning the victory in serving God’s work.


Fourth, Seven days’ march, and on the seventh day seven times. In this whole instruction, the word, seven is repeated continually. Seven days’ march, seven priests blowing the seven trumpets of ram’s horn, and on the seventh day, marching around the city seven times. The number seven means completion. Often, at the beginning of the semester, we see many Christian churches or other Christian organizations on the campus; they want to do God’s work on the campus. College campus is very desirable mission field for any church – indeed a land flowing milk and honey. But in the middle of the semester or one semester later, or one year later, we don’t see them on the campus any longer. Why? Because, as they encountered some difficulties and obstacles, as they see that students are busy with their school work, or that students are not so interested in spiritual things, or that students are so proud and pleasure-seeking, they give up. Simply they do not complete the seven laps, due to some difficulties and challenges, thus showing that they are not the ones who really want it. 


But some other people remain, keep doing what God asked them to do on the campus, despite such rejections, failures and losses. Why? Because that’s what they really want – they accepted it as God’s will for them, and they are absolute about establishing God’s kingdom on their campuses. Despite such failures, losses and even pains, they keep struggling to do God’s work on their campuses. So, what happens? Still, nothing happens. So what do they do? They become more desperate, crying and crying asking God for help all the more. They do all they can do, even more, using every flying minute – no longer they go to school when they have time; instead, they make time and use every flying minute to do God’s work. As they seek God’s kingdom work on the campus this way, their hearts and minds are really given to God’s purpose. When you serve God’s work this way, when you are so wholehearted and desperate, you become different people: Your words are different - no longer naïve people, but zealous and spirit-filled people – when you say to your sheepYou must repent, your words carry real authority; when you say to your sheep, Come to our worship service, students follow. Your attitude is different; your spirit is different. Think about the Israelite soldiers, struggling to complete the seven laps, spending about 14 hours, pouring out their time and energy. That’s the struggle we need to make in obedience to God’s calling


When your obedience to God’s calling is completewhen your obedience to God’s instruction is complete, there, you become a different people – the ones who serve God in spirit, the ones who serve God wholeheartedlySuch people are the kind of worshipers God seeks, because they follow Him wholeheartedly like Joshua and Caleb – they are the living and God is pleased to be known as the God of such people, the God of the living. God happily reveals his power and his glory through them. When you mean business, God means business as well. At that time, whatever you ask in Jesus’ name will be given to you. This is Jesus’ promise. In fighting the Lord's battle, our prayer must be complete! In fighting the Lord's battle, we must carry the word of God all the time and our reliance on the word of God should be complete! In fighting the Lord's battle, our obedience to God's instruction should be complete! Then, we come to experience the wall of Jericho collapsing in front of us.


As you struggle to complete the seven laps, you may not see any sign – no dent or cracks on the wall. Yet, no evidence does not mean that what you do is not effective. Actually, real things are going on in the spiritual world both in God’s camp and in the enemy’s camp. As your obedience to God’s will goes on, God’s army is advancing – God is arranging things such as preparing his sheep to come to your school and miraculously leading them to you. And in the enemies’ campdemons are in big commotion, gathering together and discussing about your case in complete dismay, saying, This guy does not stop; he keeps doing it. What shall we do? The only thing is that such things are not visible yet. When you march around the city continually, at the right time, things will begin to be visible in the physical realm. You simply need to complete the seven laps.


FifthDo not say a word. Look at verses 6 and 7. At God’s instruction, Joshua said to the priests, Take up the ark of the covenant and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it. And he ordered the people, Advance! March around the city, with the armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord. He also issued one more instruction for them. Look at verse 10. Let’s read this verse together:


But Joshua had commanded the people, Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then, shout!


It seemed that Joshua understood the principle of God’s instruction very well. The soldiers’ hearts must be committed to the Lord’s battle. They must be serious and sincere in serving God’s purpose; they needed to build up a real zealous spirit so that God could work in and through them. And engaging in easy and casual talking fellowship with one another can be the worst enemy for the soldiers in the Lord’s battle. Think about how the whole army would be, if, during the march, the soldiers were chit-chatting with one anotherother all the way, chewing gums, talking and laughing – such an army would not look like God’s army; instead, it will look so silly, undisciplined and insincere – such an army cannot do anything. 2 Timothy 2:16 reads: Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. So, Joshua commanded them not to say a word during this entire military campaign. 


Sixth, Keep away from the devoted things. So, all the soldiers marched around the city of Jericho, following the ark of the covenant carried by the priests, while the seven priests kept blowing the seven trumpets. No one made any noise, but only the seven trumpets sounded. BoowoooBoowoooo It was an awesome scene. About 600,000 soldiers whose hearts and minds were completely determined to serve God, marched around the city so silently, while their enemies were watching them intently. As they obeyed God’s command and marched around the city day after day, what they desired had become clear; at first, they might wish that, if the city of Jericho was given them, it would be really good; but as they practically marched around the city day after day, as they spent more time for it, their desire for the city became more concrete; the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times, maybe, at least spending 14 hours, sweating a lot, pouring out all their strength for it. Through this kind of struggle, it became utmost clear that what they really wanted was this city - in this way, they locked in the city in their soul's computer system. 


Meanwhile the people of Jericho were terrified as they saw the entire army of Israel marched around their city silently. At first, they thought that the battle was going to start soon. But the Israel people never raised a war cry, nor shoot an arrow to them. Think about how the people of Jericho felt day after day as they saw the entire army of Israel marching around their city silently. It was really a scary scene. Even though the Israel people did not do anything, the people of Jericho were already terrified, and they already melted in fear. On the seventh day, as the Israel people marched around the city continually, one time, two times, three times, four times, and finally, seven times, the people of Jericho were completely terrified; maybe, their nerve broke down, and some people went crazy, pulling their hair hysterically and screaming. As their obedience to God was complete, the Israel people already won the battle. In their eyes, the wall of Jericho already collapsed. After completing the seven laps on the seventh day, Joshua gave them his order to shout, but at the same time, he issued two orders. One was about Rahab and her family - since she had stood on God's side, and hid the spies Joshua sent, Joshua ordered them that Rahab and her family should be spared. The other order was in regard to the city and all the things in it. He said, The city and all that is in it must be devoted to the LORD... (17). Let's read verses 18 and 19 together:


18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.


Now Joshua understood the purpose of the battle - it was for the LORD, and all things in the city must be given to God. He was not fighting the battle for Israel or for himself, but for God alone. He warned them not to take anything from the city or from this battle, because everything belonged to the LORD. This is the principle of all our struggles. As we serve God's kingdom work, willing to lose our life for Him and his gospel, He is very concerned about our well-being, our happiness and our names that He exalts us highly even with good titles and positions, so that we may receive honor and respect and fame, even worldwide. But it does not mean that we should seek those things in fighting the LORD's battle. We must remember that this battle is for the Lord, not for our benefits such as titles or positions. All good things must go into His treasury - all the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury. 


At Joshua's command, they shouted all together, claiming God's victory with full confidence. Then, as they believed, the wall of Jericho collapsed. All people went up, straight in, and took the city. All of people in Jericho were killed, except Rahab and her family, because she had hidden the spies sent by Joshua. The Israel people burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 


In the year 2019, let’s do God’s work with the word of God and prayer. Let’s do God’s work all together, not just only those who have time, but all together. Let’s go to campus, day in and day out, until we really engrave it in our hearts so that we can really desire for it. When we do so, nothing will hinder us; nothing can stand against us. And at our battle cry, at our decisive prayer, the wall will collapse, and souls will be saved, and we will establish God’s kingdom there with many dedicated disciples.


One Word:March Around The City With The Ark, Blow The Trumpets, And The Wall Of Jericho Will Collapse.