Summary: 11th in long series on Joshua. This speaks of conquering our own obstacles (like Jericho), even though sometimes God’s commands seem foolish or wasteful.
Joshua 6:1-27 – Overcoming Obstacles
There is a story told of ancient times. Once upon a time, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but no one did anything about getting the big stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
The peasant learned what many others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition. Spiritual obstacles are in fact an opportunity to excel in faith.
The nation of Israel was faced with an obstacle. They had just crossed the Jordan River, a huge obstacle in itself. But now they were faced with a new thing. A great walled city called Jericho. Archaeology tells us that this city actually had 2 walls. The outer wall was 6’ thick, there was a 15’ space, and then the inner wall was 12’ thick. Both walls were about 30’ high. This was a real obstacle. Let’s read 6:1-27.
Now, from this angle, we can see the beginning of the thing and the end of the thing. We can see it in a way that the Israelites couldn’t: we see how it turned out. I hope that through this study, we will be able to grow in our confidence of God helping us with our obstacles, whatever they may be.
Maybe our obstacle is a sin, a habit that we know we shouldn’t have, but can’t seem to conquer. Maybe our obstacle is a family problem needing some divine intervention. Maybe our obstacle is financial. Maybe our obstacle is a sense of lostness, a speedbump in our journey of faith that keeps us from going very far for very long. Whatever the obstacle, I hope that God will help us through His word to overcome it.
The 1st truth about obstacles I see from this passage is: 1) Be prepared to fight. The Lord told His people to get ready to rumble. I’m sure they would rather have just ignored the city, or run from it, or pretended it didn’t exist. But God said there was a battle they needed to fight.
Many of the problems we face come from the battle we live in. Ephesians tells us we are in a battle, whether we choose to accept it or not. That’s why ministry families – well, any family – breaks up. That’s why churches split. That’s why families corrode. That’s why so much of what we do is like an uphill climb. It’s because we are in a battle. We are in a fight.
And God tells us to wear armor. Truth, righteousness, and peace are what we wear. Faith, prayer and the Word are what we fight with. But the point is, we have a battle to fight. And we need to be prepared. We need to recognize when Satan, the enemy, is trying to divert us from the main thing. We need to be aware of his schemes and tactics. So, when obstacles arrive at our doorsteps, we need to get prepared to work at them.
But, the 2nd truth about obstacles that I see in this passage is this: 2) Understand that the battle is in God’s hands. So, yes, the Israelites had a battle to fight. Yes, they were not passive-resistant in the process. They had a part to play. But, the good news is, the battle was not won with the army. It was won by the Lord. Joshua 4:13 says the Israelite army was 40,000 strong. That’s a decent-sized army. So, picture 20,000 in the front, followed by 7 priests blowing horns, followed by the priests carrying the ark. Then, add another 20,000 armed men. But the point is, the day was won not by the army, even though God told them to be prepared. God won the day.
I find that funny, actually. God told them to be prepared to fight, but in the end God won the fight. I think of the old hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” which says, “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing.” That is, we can fight and fight, but if God didn’t help us, then all or fighting wouldn’t lead to victory. If it were not for God’s intervention, none of us would stand a chance of winning.