Overcoming Impossible Walls
Joshua 5:13 – 6:17
December 5-6, 2020
As we have been reading. Before he died, he commissioned Joshua to be the leader of Israel. They've crossed the Jordan. Now, they are about to face their first battle, an encounter with the city of Jericho. Here's the thing. They are about to face impossible walls. These walls are 7 feet thick and there's two of them and in and out of the wall, they're 15 to 20 feet high with towers greater than 28 feet. They're higher than these walls here.
Facing impossible walls is an important study because, frankly, there are many things that are so difficult obstacles that people face today. You might call them impossible walls. Financial troubles or marriage troubles or difficulties with children or burdens or troubles at work and on and on, strongholds. There are many strongholds in people's lives that God wants torn down in people.
What's interesting, the scripture tells us, is that these things happened to Israel for our example. Paul wrote this: that we should learn from their example by their lack of faith or disobedience or by their walking in faith. The illustration that the symbolism of our faith is seen in it also. When Israel was taken out of Egypt, it's a picture of our being saved out of the oppression and slavery of the world.
Crossing through the red sea is a picture of our baptism. In that time in the desert, it's a picture of a believer who believes in God but is immature. Who's walking in the flesh and they stay in the desert. Some people never come out of the desert. Some people never leave that condition. When they cross that Jordan and they enter into this land, it's a picture of the promises that God has for those who will walk in obedience and walk in the maturity of faith.
I. Overcomers Have Authority
God has promises that He wants you to walk in. After Israel crossed the Jordan, what's interesting is that the first thing they did was to circumcise the men and to celebrate Passover. These are symbolic of getting right with God. First thing, before they even encounter an enemy, they get right with God. It's a great spiritual significance for the believer who wants to become an overcomer.
They are now in the land that God promised, but there are challenges, there are obstacles, there are giants, there are mountains ahead. Indeed for the believer, there are many battles. The process of becoming victorious and mature it's a great story, a great lesson. Now, we're going to read this in two sections. The first section is at the end of Chapter 5 because Moses has this encounter that is absolutely amazing.
He sees a man. He's by Jericho and he sees a man standing there with his sword drawn, which itself is a message. What unfolds next is nothing short of amazing and filled with spiritual insight. Let's begin reading Chapter 5:13. "Now, it came about, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand.
Joshua went to him and he said, 'Are you for us or are you for our adversaries?' And the man said, 'No.'" Which I find a very interesting answer. "Are you for us or are you for our enemies?" "No." Rather indeed I come now as the captain of the host of the Lord." Would you consider for a moment this scene that's unfolding? He uses the Lord's name by name.
His name is Jehovah Yahweh. "I stand now as captain of the host of Jehovah." What does the host mean? It's the armies of heaven. What a scene. Joshua knew what to do. It says, "He fell on his face to the earth, and he bowed down, and he said to him, 'What has my lord to say to his servant?' The captain of the Lord's host said to Joshua, 'Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.' Joshua did so."
That scene immediately reminds you of when Moses was on Mount Sinai. He saw this bush that was a flame of fire and God spoke out of this fire and said to him-- Even his name was given to Moses and he then said, "Take the sandals from your feet. The place where you are standing is holy." Now, this is what I want us to look at first. It's really amazing.
They are about to encounter impossible obstacles, impossible walls, but he's going to show Joshua, and thus Israel, what it means to overcome, to be victorious in the face of it. It has to do with transforming them, starting with this point that still has to apply. We start with this: overcomers have authority. This is a spiritual lesson. It's a theme that runs through the Bible and many misunderstand it.
Overcomers have authority because life brings obstacles. You will face impossible walls, circumstances in life where you need God to move or it won't get done. That's what we mean. You will encounter that which if God doesn't do it, it won't get done. Impossible walls, strongholds. You will either be defeated by it or you will move forward in the victory that God intends. I'll tell you that's exactly what God wants; to become victorious in it.
There are so many spiritual principles. The book of Joshua is filled with the principles of overcoming, of trusting God to be your very present help in time of need, of taking down strongholds in your life. He begins with this picture of this captain of the host of Jehovah. The authority. When he says, "I'm captain of the host," there's an authority there. He's speaking now a great lesson.
A. Be under God’s authority -- well
We begin here to apply it. It can be personally applied this way: be under God's authority well. Be under God's authority well. He sees a man with a sword drawn, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" "Neither. I come as captain of the host of the Lord." In other words, the question is not whether God is for you or against you, the question is whether you are for Him. I was thinking of an illustration.
Back in 1872, some church leaders in England were considering and praying and desiring to see a revival. They were going to plan this revival. One of the pastors in this planning group said, "If we want a revival, then we need D. L. Moody." Someone said, "No, D. L. Moody is an American. We really should bring a British person." "No, no. I'm telling you, if we want revival, we need D. L. Moody."
They started to debate amongst them. "Why do we need D. L. Moody?" "I'm telling you, if you want a revival, we need D. L. Moody." Finally, somebody says, "Why do we need D. L. Moody? What is it? Does D. L. Moody have a monopoly on God?" "No," a young pastor responded, "but God, has a monopoly on him." That's the very point there. To become an overcomer, to kick down strongholds, it begins there. God will have a monopoly on you.
I love this verse, 2 Chronicles 16:9. Do you have life verses, by the way, like your favoritest life verses? This is one of mine. I love 2 Chronicles 16:9. "The eyes of the Lord search to and fro throughout the whole earth in order to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfectly His." Is that not a powerful word? The eyes of the Lord are searching to and fro in order to show himself strong in behalf of those.
He wants to show himself strong in your life in behalf of those whose hearts are perfectly His. It's a powerful understanding for those who want to take down strongholds in their lives. James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." If God has a monopoly on you, you have a relationship with the captain of the host of the Lord.
What does it mean to have a relationship with the captain of the host of the Lord? Because we're speaking of some authority. The key is to come under that authority of God well. As I tell you, there are many chafe at authority, something that they learn when they were young and they never grew out of it. Actually, they didn't learn it. They were born in it.
It's the nature of man that's born into them to chafe against authorities like, "Don't tell me what to do. Nobody tells me what to do." They just chafe. To be well-content under the authority of the Lord is a life lesson. It's a lesson for life to be under that authority well. Reminds me of when Stephen in the early days of the church was arrested and had to give an account of himself to the Council of Jewish leaders.
He gave this speech, you had to read the whole of it in Acts 7. The culmination of this speech is found in Acts 7:1. He's speaking, again, very boldly. He's speaking to these Jewish leaders. Listen to what he says, "You men are stiff-necked, you're uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit.
You are doing just as your fathers did. You men are stiff-necked. Oh, resisting the Holy Spirit. How many resist the Holy Spirit? What a powerful word: stiff-necked. You know what stiff-necked means? Means you're stiff in the neck, because the neck is where you would bow. Those with stiff-necks will not do it. I love the picture of a relationship between the Father and the Son.
The father who places his hand on the neck of his son. When we were raising our boys, I found that to be a very convenient place to put your hand. You can tell the relationship between the father and the son by how the son reacts to that hand. Because there are those when the father puts a hand on the neck, there are some sons who would say, "That's my dad. See that strong hand? That's my dad."
They're just proud of the dad. They love their dad. It's like, "Oh, yes, that's my dad. Put your hand on my neck, it feels right. That's good. You have authority in my life. You can put your hand on my neck. That's my dad." In contrast to those who would say, "Nobody tells me, I am the captain of my soul. I am the master of my own destiny." That is a life lesson. To come under the authority of God well is to have authority.
See to become an overcomer, to take down stronghold by the authority of God. We must understand this principle. I'll give you an illustration because it comes to us out of the New Testament, where this Roman Gentile centurion came to Jesus with a request to heal his servant. Jesus said to him, "I will come, I will heal him." Listen to what the centurion said. The centuries answer reveals that he understands something that many people do not understand.
The Roman centurion and said, "Sir, I am unworthy for you to come under my roof. You need only to say the word and my servant will be healed." In other words, "I know, Sir, that you have authority. I know, Sir, that you have the authority of God in you. You only need to say the word and my servant will be healed." Then he gives his understanding. This is Matthew 8:9-10.
He explains his understanding. "For I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and I say to this one, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and I say to this one, ‘Do this,’ and he does it." He understands authority. Yes, because I am under authority, I have authority. I can say to this one, "Go," and he goes, and I say this one, "Come," and he comes and I say to this one, "Do it," and he does it.
Jesus marveled, and he said to those that were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in history." Oh, that's amazing. Then he said to the man, "It will be done for you." What a great story, life lesson. Here's another lesson that comes out of Joshua 5. Overcomers, those who take down strongholds, overcomers are teachable.
B. Overcomers are teachable
You'll notice verse 14 when he has this encounter with the captain of the host of Jehovah, he falls on his face and then he says, "What has my Lord to say to his servant? What do you have to say? Speak it." Here is the leader of the nation of Israel, face-to-face with the captain of the host of the Lord. He responds with complete humility, and he's ready to hear whatever God says.
Now, this is a great principle for those who want to be victorious, to have impossible walls taken down, strongholds taken out of their lives. It's a picture of our relationship to God.
It's a picture of prayer. Instead of coming to God to direct the Lord in what we may think we want or need, come with a heart to listen. Speak, Lord, maybe we need to change. Maybe God wants to do something in you.
Maybe God wants to show a transformation, something that he wants to touch. To be spiritually victorious, we need that teachable heart that knows this: that God's ways are better than our ways and that what God has for us is best. It's like, "You're right. I need your wisdom. I need you to direct my steps. Speak." I was thinking of an illustration.
It's like a teenager because teenagers struggle with this point. There's a teenager that comes to the point where he realizes. His eyes are open and he realizes that the best thing he could do is to trust the judgment of his parents. Then he says, "What does my parents say to his servant?" It could happen. It could happen. Not likely, but it could happen, but there's the perspective.
Even when Jesus came to his father, he came with the heart of submission and complete trust. On the night he was arrested, he prayed this prayer, Luke 22:42. "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Not my will, but yours be done. Trusting in God's wisdom means believing and understanding that our ways are oftentimes what get people into trouble.
Our ways are what get people in trouble. God's ways are higher than our ways. We need you to speak into our lives as our ways will get us in trouble. It's like Proverbs 14:12. "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is this the way of death." There is a way which seems right, but its end is the way of death. Have you ever done something really dumb and then look back on it later and say, "What in the world was I thinking?"
Anybody else want to add their witness other than me? You look back, you did something really dumb. Then you say, "What was I thinking?" What you were thinking at the time when you thought it, when you thought it, you thought that what you were doing was the right thing. That's why you did it. Then when you look back on it, you realize, "What was I thinking?"
Because it wasn't the right thing. It's landed me into all this trouble. Therefore, the lesson to take hold of is when you are thinking of doing something, that is the time when you say to the Lord, "It seems to me this is right, but I need you to speak to it. I need you to speak to my heart. I need you to direct my steps. For your ways are higher than my ways. Your thoughts are greater than mine." It's like Romans 11:33, "Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments. How unfathomable are His ways."
C. Remove the pride of life
Then notice this out of Joshua 5. To become an overcomer, take down strongholds, remove the pride of life. When Joshua asked what the captain of the host of Jehovah had to say, he responded, "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you're standing is holy." He's in the presence of God and appearance of Christ in the Old Testament, if the author knew we would say. He needed to treat God as holy by humbling himself in the sight of the Lord.
"Remove the sandals from your feet." We wear shoes, then shoes, there's something about shoes that adds strength, makes you feel stronger when you're wearing solid shoes. I love working outside, and I got my favorite boots. When you got your boots on, it makes the man feels virile. Amen. Like, "[roars] Here are my boots. I can climb this hill. I can take that. I can move this. I've got my boots." These boots are made for walking. These make you feel virile. "Take them off, " he says.
It's a picture of setting aside self-reliance and self-trust. Remove those sandals and put your feet on that which God created. Set aside self-reliance, self-trust, self-will. Because if you think you're going to take down strongholds by self-will, you're gravely mistaken. It’s self-will that got you into the trouble. It's that reliance on God that's the key.
Moses is an example. Moses was not allowed to lead the people across that Jordan. God explained to him, this is out of Deuteronomy 32. God explains to Moses why he's not going to bring this people across the Jordan because God said, "You broke faith with me." What's an interesting phrase. "You broke faith with me." That's a really interesting phrase.
"When? "You broke faith with me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah, Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Sin, because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel. You did not treat me as holy." What does that mean? It means that give weight to God's word. It has authority. It has weight. Why did it happen? I'll remind you of the story.
Israel was in the desert, there was no water, they were grumbling. They were complaining against Moses. Moses became very angry at this. God said to Moses, "I want to give water to these people. Here's what you're going to do. You stand before the people with your stuff in your hand, but you're going to speak, just speak to this rock, and water will come forth."
Moses was angry. He stood up in front of the people and he said, "Listen up, you rebels. Shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" Instead of speaking to it, he took his stuff and he struck it twice. "You broke faith with me. You did not treat me as holy." I tell you, there's a life lesson here. To treat God as holy is to put weight to His words.
When you face impossible walls, you will be defeated. If you rely on your own strength, your own ways, your own self-will. It’s good to stay in a place of humble submission and keep pride from getting in the way. Oh, how many times people said, "It was pride. It was pride that got in the way." If I did the show of hands, I'm telling you, there will be a lot of hands that would be raised who understand exactly this point. It was pride that kept me.
If you want to be an overcomer, to take down strongholds, then pride must be taken away. Joshua 6, let's read the next story because it's a very important story to apply to our lives. We read it from Joshua 6:1, "Now, Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel. In other words, the gate are closed so that no one would go out or come in. The Lord said to Joshua, 'See, I have given Jericho into your hand with its king and valiant warriors.'"
Notice the past tense. "I give this to you as a promise, now you must walk in it. You will march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You will do this for six days. Also, seven priests carrying seven trumpets of ram's horns before the ark." The ark, remember is a picture of the very presence of God in their midst.
"On the seventh day, you shall march around the city seven times, and the priest shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make that long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people will shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall flat and the people will go up every man straight ahead."
Joshua, the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, 'Now take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests carry the seven trumpets of ram's horns before the Ark of the Lord.' Then he said to the people, 'Now go forward and march around the city and let the armed men go on before the Ark of the Lord.'
It was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of ram's horns before the Lord went forward and blew the trumpets; and the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord followed them. The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets.
Joshua then commanded the people, 'You will not shout, you will not let your voice be heard, you will not let a word proceed from your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout, and then you will shout." Remember, the psychological warfare was a very important part of warfare at the time. This is a most unusual direction.
It was very typical in a besiegement such as this that the men on the ground below would be calling up insults, psychological warfare, casting insults up, "Your God is like nothing. You people, we will do this to your own." Insults to strike fear in their hearts. Psychological warfare. Strike fear, curse at them. This was normal. This was the normal thing because surely they're doing it from up there.
Casting insults one against the other. Joshua says, "No, you will not let a word proceed from your mouth. Not a word." There are times in life when not speaking a word is the best thing you can do. No, you will wait.
II. Walls are God’s Specialty
Now, here's what I want us to see out of this story. First of all this: walls are God's specialty. These walls are real. This city could hold out for months under this besiegement. It was harvest time that already loaded this city. Much grain, water.
These walls are impossible to bring down by anything that Joshua can do, but with God, these walls are coming down. Walls are what keep people from spiritual victory. There are walls within people's lives that seem impossible strongholds, walls and relationship, walls that were whatever the case may be, strongholds. God takes down strongholds. Alcohol is a stronghold in people's lives.
I'm telling you, I have seen many where God has overcome and that stronghold has been defeated. I can tell you many who have had the stronghold of drugs in their lives. God takes down that stronghold. Anger is a stronghold. Pornography is a stronghold. God is the one who can take down strongholds in people's lives. It's God who does it, it's not self-will. Therefore, the application is powerful. Let the walls in your heart come down first.
"See, I have given Jericho into your hands." God has decided these walls are coming down. Is still like a promise to Joshua, "Now, walk in it." Now, would you notice what led up to this moment? Because this is the moment of decision. This is the moment of God casting down walls, of taking down strongholds. What led up to it? What led up to it was Moses giving a message of revival.
Deuteronomy is a message of revival. He gave Israel some of the greatest words God's ever spoken. "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength." Some of the greatest words God ever spoke. Revival. Then when they crossed the Jordan, the first thing they did was to renew their covenant with God.
A. Let the walls in your heart come down first
At one point, Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." Consecrate yourselves, that means get your heart right. Get your heart right, get right with God, for He's going to do wonders because it's God's power by which strongholds are defeated. It's God's strength by which strongholds are taken down.
Notice 2nd Peter 1:3-4. I love these verses. "It's His divine power that has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness." That's just a great word. It is His divine power. It’s not self-will, self-strength, self-determination, self-reliance. "It's the divine power that has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence for by these," notice this, "for buy these, He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises so that by them, you may become partakers of the divine nature."
What an insight. It's the divine nature in you. It's God's presence in you. It's His presence in your life that makes the difference. Having escaped the corruption that's in the world by lust, and I'll tell you there's a lot of out in the world. This is a messed up world. Does anybody agree with me? There's a lot of ways this world will mess you up. Having escaped the corruption that's in the world by lust, having become partakers of the divine nature, it's His nature in you.
2nd Corinthians 2:14, "Thanks be to God who always leaves us in triumph." You don't have to be defeated, you don't have to have these strongholds remaining in your life, God can take them down, but it's God who does it. We are transformed, and He says even we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. He'll even give you a better way to think.
Many walls can come down right there. Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, be transformed by the renewing of your mind." In other words, you be transformed and let God tear down the walls in your heart and then you watch, and then you watch. He'll bring down the walls that are before you.
Here's an illustration. Marriages are transformed when those in the marriage are transformed. Not until marriages are transformed when those in the marriage are transformed, because when you are changed, God can use you as an agent of change. When you are transformed, God can use you as an agent to transform. Here's an illustration. Many of you know the story of Corrie ten Boom, and all that she suffered in the prison camps in World War II.
Many years afterwards, she was speaking at a church or something and a man came up to her afterward. A man came up to her and held that his hand like this. She recognized him immediately. He was one of the guards. One of the guards stood in front of her with his hand outstretched. He said, "I need to ask if you could forgive me. Please forgive me."
She said, "I stood there and I looked at him with his hand stretched out to me. It took everything within me to reach out my hand, but I knew it was what God wanted me to do. With everything I have, I reached out and I took hold of that hand." She said, "The moment I took hold of his hand, something washed over me. Something washed over me. It was glorious."
Then she says, "I looked in there he was, stood there crying." God is the one who transforms. Let God do something in you, and then you watch, then you watch as He will transform that obstacle that is before you. Then I want to say this, through these troubles, through these obstacles, faith is strengthened through troubles. God is asking Joshua to place their faith in Him to bring down this wall, even though the way He's going to do it is not exactly a military strategy.
There's no battering rams, there's no scaling ladders, there's no grappling hooks, but here's the really the question. Why use Israel at all? Why didn't God just have them step back? "Step back and I'm going to do a Sodom and Gomorrah thing. You watch." Why didn't He just do that? In other words, why does God allow life to be difficult? Why can't it be easy? Why can't He just say, "Step back and I will do it all? Watch me now as I bring this down."
No. No, you're going to walk in it. No, you're going to walk in it, but this wall is not coming down unless I'm in it with you. No, you're going to walk in this thing. You're going to walk in this thing, but these walls are not coming down unless I'm there with you in it. Because trusting God and walking with God increases faith. No, you're going to walk in this thing. You're going to walk in this thing, but this stronghold is not coming down unless I'm with you in it.
B. Faith is strengthened through troubles
Greater faith is what we need to be victorious for there are many more obstacles before us. There are mountains ahead, there are giants. John 16:33 is one of my favorite verses. "These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace." In the world, you will have tribulation but take courage," man; I have overcome the world," or 1st James 1:2-3, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance."
C. Those who wait on the Lord gain strength
God does it, God uses it. He do something with it in your life. Then lastly, this and we'll close. Those who wait on the Lord will gain strength from the waiting. Here's God's plan. They are to walk around the city each day, once each day for six days. On the seventh, they are to walk around seven times but never saying a word. Walk and wait. Walk and wait. Patiently walking. Not saying a word.
All the while the enemy shouting insults. Keep walking, steadfast enduring with patience. 1st James 1:4, "Let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing." God will do something. See, oftentimes people, they want instant everything today. Instant everything, including spiritual maturity, but it doesn't come that way.
It comes from steadfast walking, just walking and waiting, and being patient. Oftentimes, if God doesn't do what they think that God ought to do just the way they think that God ought to do, and then just when they think that God ought to do it, then they become impatient with God. No, the scripture says, Isaiah 40:29-31. "No, it is He who gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, it is He who increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired, even vigorous young men will stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not tired, they will walk and not faint, for those who wait in the Lord will gain new strength. Don't be impatient, keep walking, steadfastly, enduring, patiently waiting. For those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. God says, "You walk in this and I'll walk with you, and then these strongholds are coming down." Father, thank you for your grace on our lives. You are so amazing. Your steadfast love, your heart, your desire, God I pray for everyone in this room now that we would take hold of these great truths and walk by them, live by them, so that strongholds would come down and people's lives.
That we would walk in that victory that you have for us and to have those promises that we can stand on. Church today, how many would say to the Lord, "I believe that you are able to take down the stronghold. I believe that you are able. I will walk. I will be steadfast and I will believe that you can take down the stronghold in my life"? Would you say that to the Lord by just raising your hand? Raise your hand to the Lord.
I believe you are able to take this stronghold out of my life. You are able to do this. I will walk but God, I know that you'll walk with me in it. That the victory will come because I walked through it with you. Do it, Lord. I believe. I believe. Father thank you for everyone who says yes and amen, who walks in the promises of God. We honor you and thank you. We give you praise, we give you glory. In Jesus name and everyone say, let's give the Lord thanks, let's give him praise and honor. Amen.