Sunday, November 20, 2011

Preparation For Victory (Joshua 5 & 6)

1.  INTRODUCTION:

The children of Israel have crossed over Jordan. Finally they are in the Promised Land, a land where the inhabitants had heard of the miracle of the parting of the river. These people were quaking in fear, for they now knew about the existence of the powerful God of the Israelites, “Their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites” (5:1).


In all likelihood the generals said, “Joshua, they are terrified and on the run. This is a good time to crush them.” But this tactic was not in God’s plan. Canaan was “a prepared place for a prepared people.” Certain preparations were necessary. First things first! In order to succeed in their conquest.



2.  ISRAEL HAD TO MAKE SPIRITUAL PREPARATION:

2.1.  The men were circumcised:

They had to get their obedience up-to-date through circumcision, for this was an uncircumcised generation born in the desert (5:2-8).



2.1.1.   Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Ref. Gen.17:1-14):

God desired for these Israelites to be involved in a re-affirmation and confirmation of the covenant He had entered into with their father, Abraham.





2.1.2.   Circumcision was more than something physical:

Moses preached about heart circumcision. The prophets would speak of lips and ears being circumcised. The Sanhedrin were referred to as “stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears!” (Acts 7:51). In other words, circumcision was an outward operation, but it required a corresponding inward work.



2.1.3.   The operation of circumcision was a risk:

The operation of circumcision in the camp physically incapacitated Joshua’s for a few days, putting them at risk so close to an enemy city. Genesis 34 demonstrates the point. But circumcision had to take place First things first!



       2.2.  They worshiped God:

They celebrates Passover (Ref. 5.10). Can’t you hear the generals sitting around the camp-fire talking to Joshua? “Sir, we are all circumcised and healed; what next?” “Well, now we are going to celebrate Passover,” replies Joshua.



Can you see the generals glancing at each other and saying with their eyes, “Has Joshua lost his mind? There the terrified enemy lies, ready for the picking, and what does Joshua do? He says, “We are going to have surgery! And now we are all healed up, and he says that we are going to have a feast!”



Can’t you imagine what this must have looked like to the people of Jericho? From the top of city walls, the spies observed the camp through their binoculars and exclaimed, “Sir, you won’t believe this! Do you know what they are doing now? They are having a picnic! A couple of million people eating lamb and corn!”



Of course, in feasting they were remembering what God had done for them in Egypt. It is never inappropriate or foolish to worship God in any place, anytime, and any situation. Jesus had to teach this lesson to Martha when she objected to Mary worshiping at His feet. The Israelites prepared themselves by worshiping God.



3. ISRAEL HAD TO MAKE BATTLE PREPARATION:

3.1. Man’s approach would gain what men can do:

Undoubtedly Joshua and his generals spent a great deal of time coming up with battle strategies, “Men, get out the war manual we brought from Egypt. Let’s talk about the three- point attack strategy in Chapter 4. Let’s have the special mole forces tunnel under the side wall and slip a few of them in the night before. Then the next day we’ll hit them from the front with several battering rams. While the enemy is focused on the front, we will have 200 men sneak up behind and scale the wall with ladders.”



Military strategists must have engaged in considerable discussion concerning how to approach the city of Jericho. However,



3.2.  God’s approach would gain  what God can do:

Joshua went for a walk to think. Suddenly a man appeared before him with a drawn sword. “Who goes there? Are you one of ours, or an enemy?” said Joshua. The stranger replied, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come” (vv.13-14).



In excitement Joshua could have unrolled his blue-prints in the sand and explained his three-point plan of attack. But God made it clear that He had a different plan and approach. God’s plan involved marching around the city walls for seven days and seven times on the seventh day. Upon blowing trumpets and shouting, the walls were to come down (6:2-5). Joshua surrendered to God’s plan and received it in awe and reverence.



This is a beautiful picture. The man who appeared before Joshua came as one equipped to meet his need, as a warrior with sword in hand. Joshua’s need was for a military victory. When we have a need, God comes to us to show himself uniquely able to meet our need.



4. ISRAEL HAD TO MAKE VICTORY PREPARATION:

4.1. Notice the reaction of Jericho:

A spy comes running into Jericho’s Pentagon and breathlessly reports, “General, I have just been in the camp of Israel. I got close enough to the tent of their high command to hear their talk! You are not going to believe this, sir, but they have the craziest war plan! They are going to march around our walls for a week, carrying a box. Then they are going to shout. They actually believe that the resulting vibration will collapse our 10-foot-thick walls! I couldn’t believe my ears!”



4.2. Notice the faith of the Israelites:

Joshua gives the order, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it…Advance! March around the city” (6:6-7). The Israelites obeyed. In all likelihood they felt odd about silently marching around Jericho day after day, but they acted in harmony with God’s plan.



4.3. God’s people obey Him in faith:

4.3.1. 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!” (v.10). when did they shout? Before or after the walls came down? Before! My natural inclination would have been to shout after the walls came tumbling down!



4.3.2. Earlier when these people stepped into the Jordan River to cross over, did they take that step before or after the water parted? Before! It was an obedient step taken in faith.



4.3.3. When God promised century-old Abraham a son, long after Sarah’s menopause, did he believe God that it would happen before or after the birth of that child? Before!



Robert Moffat had been a missionary in Africa for a number of years without seeing a single convert when a friend left the field to visit England. Before his departure, Moffat asked him to return with a Communion set. “A Communion set?” replied Moffat’s friend, “What need do you have of it without converts?”



Moffat replied, “There will be converts by the time the Communion set arrives!” and there were! God’s people are a people of active faith. They see God’s command as God’s enablement!



4.3.4. We can obey God in faith, for He is faithful to His word:

Just as God said, when the trumpets sounded and the Israelites shouted, the great walls of Jericho collapsed (v.20). The promise made to Rahab was kept. When Jericho was destroyed, she along with her family was spared (vv.22-25). God’s promise to be with Joshua, made when he replaced Moses, was also kept. Chapter 6 ends with these words, “So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.” (v.27).



     5.  CONCLUSION:

The God of Joshua and the children of Israel is also our God, a great and faithful God. And we, too, can enter into a covenant relationship with Him! Do you believe that God can do the impossible? He will do it for you if you will allow Him in His own way. Is there a river in your life that you can’t seem to cross? A mountain that seems too high and insurmountable? Talk to the One who specializes in things thought impossible. He is listening to you.








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