Summary: Before Joshua can go into battle the Lord has to cut away the flesh, provide new life, new food, and show who the real boss is. Before we can have victory in Christ we must go through the same thing.
It was December of 1980. I found myself freshly graduated from college; a bachelor’s degree tucked under my arm and the world before me. I felt prepared and ready to face the challenges of the world after enduring my four years of college midterms and finals.
The Lord led me to my first job in an interesting way, and I soon found myself moving from my home state of California to Oregon and a city called Medford, to work as a TV reporter for KTVL-TV.
I was confident and ready for any assignment, or so I thought. Let’s just say that my introduction to my new career was anything but easy. I remember my first weekend working as a reporter with a new thing called video tape. For some reason the editing machine wasn’t operating correctly, but how was I to know that? Every time I went to make an edit, the machine would back up 5 seconds before my edit point and mess everything up. I was so late with my story that the anchor had to actually apologize on the air saying "I promise, Tom Fuller actually exists and his story is coming!" I was mortified and that was but the first of many lessons I learned in becoming a "real" reporter.
For us as Christians sometimes we get saved, or spend some time as a believer and feel we are ready to face any challenge. We have salvation tucked under our arm and a Bible to boot and "look out Satan ’cause here I come!" Then we set out to do "great things for God" and end up falling flat on our faces. We can just imagine the angels kind of chuckling and apologizing for our ineptitude.
So what happens? We try to do things in the spirit, while still acting in and relying on the flesh. Joshua faces the same thing as he brings the children of Israel across the Jordan and now faces their first adversary: Jericho. Before God can use them, He has to break them, feed them, and show them who is really in control. We too learn valuable lessons in beginning a life of victory in Christ.
When God moves, the enemy cowers. It wasn’t the Israelis that scared the kings of Canaan, it was God did for them. Our enemy is not afraid of you, he is afraid of what God can do through you. But we need to realize that although the enemy, the flesh, and the world put up a good looking front, inside they cower with fear. It helps to know that when you face them on the battlefield of your life.
Verses 2 - 9
Why had they not circumcised the next generation? Perhaps out of fear or neglect. We also found that in Moses’ case in Exodus 4. On his way back to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from Pharaoh, God was going to kill Moses unless he circumcised his boys. Now here, as Israel moves out to take the Promised Land, God will not let them move forward unless they are circumcised.
Circumcision was a sign, a mark that someone belonged to Yahweh. The New Testament counterpart is baptism.
Colossians 2:11-12 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism , in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Notice what Paul says: it is "putting off the body of the flesh." That is the principal I want to share here from Joshua. The Lord opens the way for them to step out in victory. They take that step across the Jordan saying "yes Lord, I will do what you ask and I want what you have for me." But before they can go on, God must put away the flesh; make them weak so He can be strong.
For us as we seek to live the victorious Christian life - as we hear God’s call, obey His voice and step forward, wanting His victory, and even as we know that our enemies cower when they think of what God can do - we too must become weak that He becomes strong - and that happens as we put away the flesh.
The biggest enemy of the victorious Christian life is the flesh. The flesh, that old nature, will drag us down and drag us away. It drags us down in that sin and the world will hold us back from obeying God and being transformed by Him into a useful vessel.
Galatians 5:16-24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ESV