Summary: When you face your Jericho, remember Who is in charge, maintain your relationship with Him, be prepared for surprises, and be strong and courageous.
Up Against Jericho Josh. 5:13-15
INTRO.: This story is the beginning of Joshua’s leadership of Israel. You remember meeting Joshua in the 13th chapter of Numbers when he was among the 12 spies sent into the Promised Land and one of only two who came back with a positive report.
He was Moses’ aide through the long trek in the desert. He was the one Moses sent to lead in battle. He was on the mountain when Moses received the Law. Joshua was a great man in Israel second only to Moses and he had accomplished many great things.
Now, he faces his greatest challenge. He must lead Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land. They have endured forty years in the desert. They have crossed the Jordan river. Now, they must make a place for themselves in their future homeland. Jericho is their first objective. Jericho is a fortified city populated by powerful people who have had plenty of time to prepare for the conflict. His task is a formidable one. And he is in his eighties! READ TEXT.
Don’t we all face a Jericho once in a while? A challenge we have never faced before and one that seems far beyond us? Perhaps it’s a family breakup, a massive health problem, the loss of a job, or some other financial disaster. Maybe it’s a death in the family or a catastrophic illness. If you haven’t been "up against Jericho" it is just you haven’t lived long enough.
Let’s see how Joshua handled his Jericho and maybe we can find some clues about how to deal with ours.
I. First, remember Who is in charge:
A. Joshua was near Jericho, no doubt gathering more intelligence for the battle, when a man with a drawn sword confronts him.
1. His sword was drawn, yet he didn’t attack. Joshua felt safe in approaching him.
2. Joshua’s question was normal and might be expected.
3. The answer was unexpected. It was a multiple choice question. The answer was "No." then an explanation.
B. When the mysterious man answered, it became obvious God was speaking.
1. Joshua fell to his face and worshiped. The man accepted his worship. Angels don’t want to be worshiped.
2. The Commander said, "this is holy ground" just as God had said to Moses at the burning bush.
3. We know Jesus was alive and active long before Bethlehem. Most Bible scholars believe this was a preincarnate appearance of The Word.
C. We need to remember when we come up against our Jericho, God is in charge.
1. He knows better than we know what we are up against.
2. He wants to help because He loves us.
3. We don’t need to ask, "Is God on our side?" instead, ask "Am I on God’s side?"
II. Maintain your relationship with God:
A. Notice what God commanded before the attack: v. 2, 10
1. Bear in mind, this was a perfect time to attack. The enemy was terrified. V. 1
2. Instead, God commands circumcision in order to renew the covenant with those born in the desert.
3. Then the Passover is observed. Another reminder of their covenant with God. This all seems like a useless delay.
B. Have you ever noticed how some Christians react when they face their Jericho?
1. If someone in the family died, we can’t expect them in Church until after the funeral.
2. If there is a divorce, they are sometimes too embarrassed to come to worship.
3. If the house burns down are they in worship or out sifting through the ashes?
4. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but so often we Christians do just the opposite of what we should.
5. When you face your Jericho, don’t neglect prayer and worship. God can help.
III. Be prepared for surprises: God doesn’t always do things just like we would.
A. Consider the surprising way He led Israel in battle: Josh. 6
1. The walled center of the city covered 7 acres. The double wall was thirty feet high. Two walls were fifteen feet apart. Outer wall was 6 ft. thick, the inner one 12 feet thick. It was three stories high. Walls were linked together by houses built on the top. It was impervious to assault with the weapons Israel had. - Halley’s Bible Handbook.
2. The walls could not be destroyed by marching, blowing horns, and shouting. What a strange plan of battle.
3. Surprise! God’s way worked. The battle was won.
B. We can’t "second guess" God:
1. We serve a God full of pleasant surprises. Eph. 3:20
2. He can conquer our Jerichos if we will let Him have His way.
3. We have all experienced times when our problems were impossible to overcome but we can look back and see God’s hand at work. He is always there.