JOSHUA 5:13 - 6:27
We need to capture Van Buren. We're going to start by crossing over the river. Our leader has an excellent plan as to the logistics of that crossing. (Did you think it would be as simple as just crossing over a bridge?) We'll camp in the area around the first exit - just a little ways outside the city. Don't worry. We will be victorious. How do I know that? Because Our Leader has told me how to capture a city:
- KNOW who is the LEADER. The Leader has spoken to me and I am convinced He knows what He is doing. You know Him, too, or you wouldn't be here today. You need to know Him personally and intimately if we are to be successful.
- BELIEVE in the LEADER. We're not going to be using "ship-to-shore missiles" or "F-16 fighter planes" or anything that conventional. We're not even going to use "Patriot missiles" to protect us from incoming "Scud missiles." The weapons our Leader has told us to use are a bit unorthodox. But, I believe in our Leader and am ready to follow Him into battle.
- OBEY the LEADER. We are not going to fight this battle the way the world would fight this battle. We all know the world's reasoning is flawed. And we're not even going to use our own reasoning in this battle. We are following the LEADER and we are going to do it His way. If we fail to do it His way, we are doomed to fail.
How do I know this will work? Because it worked for Joshua and the Israelites in conquering Jericho. Look at the formula:
- Leader identified in Joshua 5:13-15. The first step is KNOWING WHO IS THE LEADER. Joshua approaches a warrior and the warrior identifies Himself as the "Commander of the Army of the Lord" or the "Lord of Hosts." And the mighty leader, Joshua, BOWS to the earth and WORSHIPS. In doing this, Joshua acknowledges that he, as mere mortal man, is NOT the commander of the Lord's Army. Joshua realizes that he is second in command. From Joshua's example we can surmise that when we know who the Leader is, we confess that we are second in command. The soldier who wants to fight the best must bow the lowest before the battle. There can be no victory for the Lord in public unless we experience worship of the Lord in private. We win battles by first going on our knees and on our faces before the Lord, acknowledging Him as our Commander.
- We must BELIEVE in the LEADER. Ancient Jericho (which, by the way, is probably the oldest continuously inhabited city still in existence today) has been the subject of numerous archaeology digs with different schools of thought on the old Canaanite site. One thought says the city had double walls at the time the Israelites approached around 1400 B.C., with an outer 6-foot thick wall and an inner one 12 feet thick, with a rubble-filled space of about 15' between them. But most authorities believe that inner wall had already been decommissioned and torn down by the time of the Israelite invasion - the new wall being built further out giving more room to the city and only the old foundation of that wall had been left giving the appearance later of having had a double wall. Nevertheless, it would take incredible might to breach such a wall.
Unbelief in the Leader would look at the BIG, THICK WALLS of Jericho and say "No Way," "Maybe with jet bombers and an aerial assault," or "What is the size and strength of our tank force and how decrepit is the wall?" When our belief wavers, or is not there at all, we see obstacles - those nasty things that take our focus off of the Leader and off of His goals. When we believe in the Leader we will use His weapons - no matter how absurd they may seem to us or the world.
We need to take Van Buren, but it is surrounded by walls. The walls are not 6 feet or 12 feet thick, but they might just as well be. The walls are just as formidable. The walls around Van Buren are multiple layers thick of false assurance, apathy, distrust and downright unbelief that there is a Leader to lead anyone. These are especially durable walls that call for special weapons to breach them. II Corinthians 10:3-4 "...But we do not wage war according to human standards. For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds." The most powerful and effective weapons of all are God's mighty weapons of PRAYER, FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, the HOLY SPIRIT, and GOD'S WORD. These weapons alone can fight the walls of human feeling reinforced by Satan that surround Van Buren. Don't be afraid to use these intangible weapons. They will work if we have a strong belief in the Leader and the strength of His power as mentioned in Ephesians 6:10 and if we dress like the Leader's warrior in verses 11-17:
Taking up the WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD
- BELT OF TRUTH
- BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
- FEET SHOD WITH THE EQUIPMENT OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
- SHIELD OF FAITH
- HELMET OF SALVATION
- SWORD OF THE SPIRIT WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD
The believing warrior will pray in the Spirit and keep alert with all perseverance and boldly go into battle proclaiming the mystery of the Gospel.
- The third step is OBEYING THE LEADER. The Leader has always required His warriors to do HIS WILL and to do it HIS WAY. That message is clear in this story of the Israelites' conquest of Jericho, and it is reiterated throughout the Bible. Isaiah 59:1-2 tells us that our iniquities (sin, disobedience) will separate us from God. No thing or person will separate us from God, but we can separate ourselves from God by choosing to disobey. In the conquest of Jericho, the loot was to be devoted to God and the animals and citizens slain. The Israelites manifested unity, cooperation and singleness of mind in the ranks. Nothing was done for personal glory, but for God's glory. God gave the Israelites total victory because they believed in Him and OBEYED Him.
To apply that to our conquest of Van Buren, if we follow the Leader's methods, HE will win the battle and HE will get the glory.
Perhaps that is why the Leader has told us to use such foolish weapons and methods to capture the enemy. II Timothy 2:4 tells us the aim of the soldier is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. When we use our own schemes and systems, we might get the glory, but the victory never lasts. It will require us to cooperate, work in unity and to have the singleness of mind to work toward the goal.
We go into this battle and war to have peace. John 16:33 says "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Christ will be our victor.
We "cross the Jordan" when we enter by faith into the victory experience of Romans 6 and 8. We are to walk and talk and take up arms to go to war by FAITH. It takes a knowledge of KNOWING THE LEADER, BELIEVING THE LEADER, and OBEYING THE LEADER to have a daily victory and the ultimate victory.
We need to take Van Buren. We also need to take Fort Smith and Greenwood, Alma and Mulberry. We, too, have walls to destroy and a land to conquer. In Matthew 28:19, the Great Commission, we are told that land is "all the world."
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Ladies Bible Class, Fall 1993
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