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Joshua 5:13-6:5; 20-21


Intro: The ancient city of Jericho was a great walled city. History tells us that it was surrounded by 2 massive stone walls. The outer wall was 6 feet thick and 20 feet high. The inner wall was 12 feet thick and 30 feet high. There was a 15 foot guarded walkway between these two walls. From a military standpoint, it was practically impenetrable. This great walled city stood as an obstacle between the people of Israel and them claiming all that God had for them. Before they could go deeper into the land of Canaan, Jericho had to fall first.

For us, this ancient city represents those things that are entrenched and rooted in our lives that prevent us from going on with God. Oh, we all have them! Regardless of how pious you may want to think you are, there are things embedded in your life that hinder your walk with God. It may be some besetting sin that prevents you from going deep in the things of God. It may a root of bitterness and unforgiveness that stands between you and God's best. It may be some old, bad attitude that is holding you back. It could be something from your past that you continue to struggle with to this day. Whatever it is, it is a stronghold in your life and it stands between you and God's best for your life. Before you will ever receive all God has for you, that stronghold must be torn down!

In this page from Israel's history, we uncover some truths that help us as we fight the battle against our own strongholds in our day. There are elements revealed here that point us to the path of spiritual victory. Let's spend some time in these verses this evening as we thing about Our Battle With Life's Strongholds.


(Ill. As Joshua surveys the city of Jericho, he has a strange encounter. However, this encounter would change the course of events at Jericho.)

A. With The Person Of God - This individual that Joshua meets outside the walls of Jericho identifies Himself as "The Captain of the host of the Lord." It is my humble opinion that this is a Christophany. That is, it is a personal, pre-Bethlehem manifestation and appearance fo the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In other words, Joshua came face to face with Jesus Christ!

For us, this pictures the matter of Salvation. Before we can continue on to victory, we must first commence the journey. And, the journey is commenced at salvation. I wonder, have you met the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He your Savior this evening? Notice that I didn't ask if you were a Baptist. There will be lots of Baptists in Hell! I didn't ask if you were a church member. There will be lots of those folks in Hell too. I didn't ask if you have been baptized, or confirmed, or conformed, or anything else. Lots of folks who have passed through the religious traditions of our churches will go to Hell when they leave this world. My question was, and still is, are you saved? Has there ever been a specific moment in your life when you knew that you were a sinner headed to Hell and that only Jesus could save you. Do you remember the time when you were saved by the power and grace of God. If it has happened to you, you will know it! When Someone the size of God gets in you, you will be aware of it! Have you had a personal confrontation with the Person of God?

(Ill. This is just a thought but notice that Joshua's encounter with the Lord caused him to bow in worship, v. 14. Did you see that? Your desire to worship says a lot about your relationship to God. Some have already decided that they won't be able to make it tomorrow night. Did you ask the Lord about that? Or, is it your decision? You see, salvation will leave you worshiping, but it will also leave you bowing, v. 14.)

B. With The Position Of God - Next, the Lord tells Joshua that He is the Captain of the Lord's host. That is, He is the One Who is always victorious. He is the One Who is walking in victory even before the battle is fought. In other words, He is the One Who is in control of all situations. He is merely reminding Joshua Who is really fighting the battle!

For us, this speaks of the great matter of our Sanctification. That is, of our coming to the place where we recognize that if there will ever be any victories in our life, they will come about because of His power and not our own. We must understand that we are to yield to His power in every area of our life and that we are to trust Him to secure the victory for us in every battle we fight. So then, sanctification is our coming to the place where we dedicate our lives to Him and trust Him to bring us to the place of victory. Sanctification is us acknowledging Him to be Lord in every area of our lives. Is that true for you? Or, are there areas of your life that are off limits to God? Real sanctification knows that He is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all! It knows that He must be given the Master key to every area of life. Have you come to terms with Who is really in control? Until you do, you can forget about sustained victory, you might as well get used to defeat.

C. With The Power Of God - When Joshua meets this man, there are a couple of things that are strange about there meeting. First, there is the Lord's answer to Joshua's challenge. Joshua asked Him, "Are you for us or for them?" The Lord answered, "No!" That's really strange! Then, there is the matter of what the Lord tells Joshua to do in verse 15. There he is told to loose his shoe (singular) off his foot (singular). Why just one? When Moses met the Lord at the burning bush, he was told to remove both shoes, Ex. 3:5. That sure is strange to me.

However, these two events speak to us about the matter of Surrender. When Joshua asked the Lord if He was for Israel or for Israel's enemies, the Lord said, "No!" What the Lord is saying is this, "Joshua, I didn't come to take sides, I came to take over!" This is a call for Joshua to surrender to the authority of the Lord in the battle at Jericho. Joshua is made to realize that God, not Joshua, is the power behind the victory that will come. What a lesson for the church! When will we ever learn that our success and our victory are not a matter of our power or ability? When will we understand that this is about God and not us? God is saying to this church this evening, "I am not here to take sides, I am here to take over!" Will you do as Joshua and bow to His authority? That is how victory is won!

Then, there is the matter of the shoe. Why did the Lord just ask for one shoe? The answer lies in ancient custom. When a covenant was made between two individuals, in which one possessed power to keep the covenant and the other didn't, the weaker individual handed the other individual one of his shoes. It was his way of saying, "I can't, but you can." This is seen in the book of Ruth chapter 4 and verses 6-8. For Joshua, this was a challenge for him to come to the place where he could admit his own weakness and inability to gain the victory. It was a call for him to surrender to the Lord. For us, we need to learn the truth that we can't, but He can! There are some in this room and you have been trying to fight your battles in your own power. You keep getting whipped. Friend, you need to draw off your shoe, hand it to God and say, "Lord, I can't fight these battles, but you can! I can't win the victories I need in my life, but you can!" What I am saying is that we need to come to the place of absolute surrender! To that place where we and all we have are at the feet of God. To the place where we are willing to say, once for all, "I can't Lord, but You can!"

(Ill. Notice with me that Joshua is a warrior! When he got down before the Lord, he placed himself in a vulnerable position. He exposed his neck. He placed himself in a position where he could not use his own sword. He placed himself in a position of extreme weakness. He was totally yielded to the Lord! Have you ever come to that place in your own life? Have you ever come to the place where you placed yourself and your sword on the ground before the Lord and surrendered fully to His will for your life? If not, you will have to if you will ever enjoy absolute victory over all the strongholds in your life.)
I. Involves Confrontation


(Ill. Another major step in the path toward spiritual victory over the strongholds of life demands confidence in the Lord. There are three areas in which Joshua displayed confidence. These need to be true concerning us as well.)

A. V.1-2 In God's Promises - Before Joshua goes to battle against the city of Jericho, he is reminded of the Lord's promises to give Israel the victory. There were Past Promises - Josh. 2:9 and there were Present Promises - Josh. 6:2. The past promises reminded Joshua of what the Lord had promised to do long ago. Rahab had known about these promises for 40 years. The present promises reminded Joshua that the Lord had not changed His mind about the matter. God still intended to give Israel the victory in this matter.

As we look at our strongholds this evening, we may think that we will never see them fall at our feet. However, may we ever remember that God will always keep His promises! He has promised us the victory, and the victory shall be ours, 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:37. Whatever God has promised, He is well able to bring to pass, Rom. 4:21; Eph. 3:20. Therefore, let us face our strongholds well assured in the fact that God will do everything He has promised us He will do!

B. V. 3-5a In God's Plan - On the surface, God's plan for Israel's victory seems really strange. After all, what was really required of Israel to bring the walls of Jericho down? Nothing! When you get right down to it, all they had to do was to follow God's plan and the walls would fall down flat. What was His plan? Seven priests bearing seven trumpets were to walk before the ark. The priests would blow the trumpets and the people were to walk behind the ark, and the whole parade was to walk around the city once a day for 6 days. On the seventh day, they were to walk around the city seven times and at the end of the seventh time, they were to shout. When this happened, the walls would fall down flat. Strange!

I think the lesson for us becomes clear when we take the time to look closely at what the Lord told them to do.

1. They were to take seven priests. Seven is the biblical number of completion or fulness. Priests are a picture of an advocate, or one who stood between men and God. This is a picture of a complete or perfect Advocate. According to the Bible, the saints have a perfect Advocate. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 John 2:1. And, as we come against the strongholds of life, He is making intercession for us before the throne of God, Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34.

2. They were to take seven ram's horn trumpets. The ram was a picture of Atonement. Remember when Abraham took Isaac to the top of Moriah to put him to death? It was a ram that provided the atoning, redeeming price for Isaac. So, we need a full or perfect atonement. I have already touched on this tonight, but are you sure you are saved? There will be no real, lasting victory over the flesh and the world until you have been saved by the grace of God. When you become a partaker of God's plan of salvation through the blood of Jesus, you are given the power to enjoy victory over and freedom from the power of sin in your life, Rom. 6:1-14.

3. They were to take the ark of the covenant. The ark represents the Lord Jesus Christ in all of His fulness. In the ark was the golden pot of manna, which speaks of His full provisions. Aaron's budding rod was also in there. This spoke of Christ's power and His life. The tables of the Law were also there. These remind us that He is the fulfillment of the Law for you and me. The idea is this: in Jesus we find all we need to wage the battle against the strongholds in our lives. He gives us all the provisions we need as we fight. He has all power in heaven and in earth. He gives us power to walk in newness of life. He has freed us from the power and the demands of the Law, setting us free to live for the Father in power and victory.

4. They were simply to take these things and walk with them around the city. God promised them that the walls of Jericho would fall down as a result! In other words, all they had to do was have confidence in God's plan, walk with the things He had given them and they would enjoy the victory. He wanted them to do nothing but to walk by faith!

What a lesson for the church! The secret to living the Christian life, enjoying victory over your besetting sins and seeing your strongholds brought down is this: you can't do it! You cannot live the Christian life! You don't have to live it, Jesus already has! As you yield to His plan, and let Him live through you, you will enjoy His victory, Gal. 2:20. All God wants you to do is to stop trying and just rest in Him. He has already won the victory. We win by doing nothing! By merely being in Him and having absolute confidence in His plan, we enjoy the victory that only He can give.

C. V. 5b In God's Power - Israel was about to learn the truth that victory was in the Lord and not in themselves. They were about to participate in the strangest victory in the annuls of history. For them, victory would come about, not as the result of trying, but as the result of merely trusting God.

(Ill. Aren't you tired of trying to live the Christian life and failing? Then stop doing both! Just start trusting! Rest in the finished work of Christ. Realize that you have no one to please but God. And, if you are in Jesus, He is already satisfied with you! I am not advocating loose living. Far from it! If you live God's way, you will be holier than ever, you just won't have to work so hard to enjoy it. He is the perfect Advocate. He is the perfect Atonement. He is the fulfilment of the Law for us. There is nothing left for us to do, but to rest in the finished work of Jesus and enjoy the trip to Heaven. Why do you think He said "It is finished.", John 19:30? Because it is! Far too many folks in church are always defeated because they are trying to live up to some standard that has been imposed on them by men, when all they really have to do is rest, Matt. 11:28-30. If we will learn to walk in what Jesus has already done for us, then we will receive the victories that He has prepared for us. He has already done all the work. All that is left for us to do is walk!)

I. Involves Confrontation

II. Involves Confidence


(Ill. These verses tell the thrilling story of the victory Israel received at Jericho. Imagine what the people inside the city must have thought! They received the fulfilment of the Lord's promise to them. As they did, there are a couple of truths here that I want to mention quickly this evening.)

A. V. 6-15 Involved Determination - As has already been said, they simply did it God's way. They might have been tempted to fight. After all, the people of Jericho were terrified of the Israelites! Yet, they just walked! That is all God said to do! When you do it God's way, there will always be victory! When will the church ever learn this? It isn't about new means and methods! We don't need a new Bible our a new kind of service. In our personal life, we will try this devotional method seeking His power. Or, this kind of prayer emphasis to get on fire for God. Maybe the prayer of Jabez is the answer! Then, after a few days or weeks, we fizzle out and it's business as usual in our lives or in the church. Maybe we need to have this fellow in to preach revival. After all, those folks down the road had him and everything changed! Then, when the preacher is gone, after a few days, we are the same way we were before! No! We do not need all these things! All we need to do is patiently do it God's way. When it doesn't make sense, just walk. When others quit, just walk. When some want to fight, just walk. When some come up with a new method, just walk. You see, obtaining the victory is His concern, obedience to Him is ours!

B. V. 16-20 Involved Dedication - Israel walked around that city 6 days. When they did what happened to the walls of the city? Nothing! When they walked around that city six times on the seventh day, what happened? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Why? Because the number six in the Bible is the number of man, Rev. 13:18. Man can try has hard as he pleases in his own power and he will never obtain the victory! But, when they marched around that wall the seventh time and shouted, the wall fell down flat! You see, seven is the number of completion, or of God's fulness. Israel kept going in their dedication until they passed from the realm of their own power, into the realm of the power of God! After marching around that city seven times, they would have been too pooped to fight anyway! When they came to the place where they couldn't, but knew He could, a miracle took place and the stronghold fell down flat! That's the point of them shouting before the wall fell down! They were praising God for the victory by faith, even before it could be seen with the eyes! That is what faith is all about, Heb. 11:1. That kind of faith honors the Lord!

For us, let us remember that victory over our strongholds will come when we get to that place where it is totally out of our hands and in His alone! When we get away from the realm of our ability and move into the realm of what God can do in our lives, then we will see all what God can bring to pass in a life wholly dedicated to Him!

C. V. 21 Involved Death - After the walls fell down, the Israelites went into Jericho and killed everything that lives, with the exception of Rahab and her family, v. 22-25. Does this seem extreme to you? God knew that if the people of Jericho were allowed to live, they would influence the people of Israel away from Him. So, when the walls of that stronghold came down, everyone in the city had to die.

My friends, when you come to the place where you can identify the strongholds that are in your life, and God, by His power brings those things down for you. You must rise up and make sure that every trace of those things is forever eradicated from your life! Whatever it takes, there are some here tonight that need to bring some stronghold or another to this altar and out it to death! Some things must not be allowed to live! If we defeat them today and don't do away with the root of the problem, that stronghold will rebuild itself in our lives and be stronger than ever. Next time, it will harder to bring down! Think about it, the problem with Jericho wasn't the city! The problem with Jericho was the people in the city. They hated God and all He stood for and they had to perish! So, whatever it takes to root out the strongholds in your life, I challenge you to do it tonight! God will enable you to see those things put to death forever!

Conc: What is it that is keeping you from going forward with God? Is it lust? Is it hatred? Is it envy? Is it unforgiveness? Is it a bitter, critical spirit? Whatever it is, that stronghold needs to be conquered right now. Will you bring it to the Lord and defeat it His way?

Some of you are trying so hard. I invite you to come to Jesus, lay down you sword, hand Him your shoe and say, "Lord, I can do it, but you can." He will change your life. He will enable you to live for His glory.

Some here have never had that first confrontation with the Lord. You are not saved. If you died tonight, you would be lost and you would go to Hell. It doesn't have to be that way! If you will come to Jesus Christ, He will receive you and save you!

Whatever the nature of the strongholds in your life may be, there is help and hope in the Person of Jesus tonight. But, only if you will come to Him.

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