Summary: Joshua had a giant called Jericho to face but first he had to win the war in his own heart. There were two things that had to happen for Joshua to win that war before the battle began.
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:13-15)
Alvin C. York was an unlikely man to become the most famous soldier of World War One. York felt his Christian faith barred him from killing anyone, even in war. After being drafted, York went home on a ten day leave and considered the Scriptures a Christian captain had shared with him. Finally, in a crisis of faith, God showed York he could obey God and defend the helpless in Europe at the same time. He wrote, “As I prayed there alone … I knowed He was there. He understood I didn’t want to be a fighter or a killing man … He took pity on me and gave me the assurance I needed … It was His will and that was enough for me.” Sgt.York had to win the war in his own heart before he could fight the battles that lay ahead of him in the trenches of France.
Joshua faced an even greater battle than Alvin York. He had a giant called Jericho to face but first he had to win the war in his own heart. There were two things that had to happen for Joshua to win that war before the battle began.
I. OBSERVATION (JOSHUA 5:13A)
A. The Visible Battle
The first things Joshua observed was a visible battle that lay before him. The city of Jericho was a walled city. The walls towered from six to eight stories high and were several yards thick. Inside were well-armed and fiercely warlike people. What Joshua saw with his eyes was indeed a giant of immense proportions.
Everyone has some kind of visible giant in their life. It may be sickness, attitudes of the heart, people who will not change, family issues, or many other things. Whatever that giant is for you it is real and stands right there in front of you.
B. The Invisible War
As great as the visible giant of Jericho was it was not Joshua’s real problem. It was the invisible war that he had to first fight in his own heart that was the real challenge. Joshua needed to get a handle on several things to win that invisible war. First, he had to overcome the challenge of past failures. Joshua brought to that moment all of his past experiences with him. He must have remembered again the miserable failure of Numbers 14:6-10 when Israel had refused to follow he and Caleb into the Promised Land. Moses had to wait forty years to defeat his giant because of his own failure. Joshua had to wait forty years to defeat his giant because of the failure of others. In both cases, past failures must have haunted them as they faced their present giants. Our failures in the past have to be given to God or they will cripple us in the present! Paul gave us a formula for dealing with past failures in Philippians chapter three:
·Realize that no one escapes failure of some kind (v.12) - Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected.
·Leave the past where it is – in the past (v.13) – forgetting those things which are behind.
·Focus on those things you can do something about (v.13) - reaching forward to those things which are ahead.
Joshua also had to overcome his own preconceived notions of how the battle should be fought. Joshua was not going to be able to fight this enemy with his own notions of how to fight. He would have to do things God’s way (Joshua 6:1-5). Too many of us approach the issues of life with our own notions. It is hard to remember that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). God often has to remind us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). God probably has a very different way of handling the giants in your life than you would imagine on your own.
Along with past failures and preconceived notions, Joshua had to put aside his own personal attitudes. Joshua could have developed a pretty bad attitude over the previous forty years of his life. He had done everything God told him to and still ended up with a bunch of complainers and doubters for forty years in the wilderness. He needed to make sure his attitude was not tainted by such experiences.