13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” 14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” 15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told. 6:1 Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. 2 But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. 3 You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. 4 Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. 5 When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”
Before Joshua could face the giant of Jericho he had to first face his own fears and win the internal war being waged in his heart. In reality the battle begins long before the visible war is ever waged, and here in the life of Joshua we get to look at and learn how to win the war before the battle ever begins. The first thing that Joshua observed was the obvious obstacle that lay before him. The city of Jericho was a fierce fortress, with walls that towered over the terrain. What Joshua saw with his eyes was a giant of profound proportions, a physical impossibility. Jericho stood in the path of Gods promise, literally blocking the blessings of God. The truth is we all have some visible giant in our life, it could be an illness, or an attitude attacking the heart, it might be faith or a family crisis. But regardless of the origins of your particular giant it is real, towering and terrifying, and blocking the path, preventing us from believing in Gods promise. This is the visible war, yet as great as the visible giant of Jericho was it was not Joshua most pressing problem. It was the invisible war that Joshua first had to fight, the invisible and internal conflict that presents the greater challenge. In order to do this he had to overcome the problem of past failures. Joshua carried with him the miserable failure of Numbers 14:6-10, when Israel had refused to walk by faith and follow Joshua and Caleb into the Promised Land. Their formal leader Moses had to face his own failure, while Joshua had to wait and wonder for forty years because of the failure of others. One of the problems of past failures is that they affect our perception of our present problems. We tend to weigh our chances of winning the war against the way things went in the past. Our past failure poisons our perception of what is possible because we focus on the failure instead of the Father, a Father who not only has the power over our past and present but also our future. If we don’t give our past failures to God they will cripple us before the battle ever begins. In Philippians 3:12-13 Paul gives us a formula for dealing with past failure. First realize that we no one escapes failure, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected” Second leave the past in the past, learn to let go “forgetting those things which are behind” Third focus on the things you can do something about “reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Not only did Joshua have to deal with his past failure but he 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 according to what he thought or felt, no this was a fight of faith, a fight that ultimately belonged to the Father. Too many of us face the giants of our lives with our feelings instead of with faith. We respond based on what makes sense to us rather than what God says. Like Joshua we need to learn to do things the Lords way. Proverbs 14:12 reminds us that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” Do you trust God to handle the hurts of your life and the problems of your past and present? His plan is probably very different than yours, “His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9. This meant that Joshua had to put aside his own attitudes. He had done everything God told him to but had still ended up having to live with the consequences of his complaining countrymen. It would have been easy to develop a poor attitude toward his own people. We need to learn that life doesn’t revolve around what we feel is fair it revolves around the Father. Are you trying to make life revolve around what’s fair or the Father? How many times have you pass problems through your filter of what’s fair only to end up getting frustrated? At times we all need the attitude adjustment that only the Almighty can bring. Attitudes of anger will only alienate, they will never accomplish God’s purpose. It is Paul who again in the book of Philippians draws our attention toward our attitudes, giving us several steps to having success in the area of our attitudes. First spend your energy praising God not promoting the problem, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again Rejoice” Paul does not tell us to enjoy our problems, he says to rejoice in the Lord in the midst of our problems. Secondly, we are told to pray and petition our heavenly Father, tell Him all that is going on in our lives. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Third give yourself over to God’s perfect peace, let His presence rule both your heart and mind. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Fourth focus on the presence of God, stop dwelling on the difficulty and start dwelling on the Deity, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” Just like Joshua we face this twin battle, between the visible giants that we can see and the invisible hidden battle that wars within our heart. The key to winning the war before the battle begins lies in the person Joshua met that day. Not only did Joshua need to be observant to the battle before and in him but he had to be open to
- The Person of God
In order to get a proper perspective of the battle Joshua needed to focus on the person of God not the problem. Are you looking at things from your viewpoint or God’s vantage point? It is here as Joshua asks the powerful question: “are you for us or for our adversaries?” that he comes face to face with the power of God. We tend to spend most of our time talking about our problems and not nearly enough time seeking our Savior. Are you going to focus on your adversaries or the Almighty? Joshua came face to face with the Commander of the Army of the Lord? The Commander is none other than Christ, notice that He spoke the exact same words that God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:5 – “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” He allowed Himself to be worshiped, Angels never allow themselves to be worshiped, Revelation 22:8-9 and He is identified as the Lord 6:2. We need to stop focusing on our crisis and start focusing on Christ, the Captain of God’s army. He has promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20), that He will not leave us like orphans (John 14:18). One of our greatest resources for facing fear is an awareness of the power of God’s presence in our lives. Not only did Joshua need to be open to the person of God but also to:
- The Plans of God
When we become open to the person of God we are ready to be open to the plans of God. Like Joshua we will not be ready to hear the plan of God until we have submitted to the person of God. After coming face to face with Christ Joshua responded to the call to obey with his whole heart. So often we try to discover Gods plan apart from His person. What if you really were open to His person and His plan, how different would your life be? Are you going to focus on the problem or the promises of God? What past failures, preconceived ideas or personal attitudes that are poisoning do you need to give to God? Preparing for battle simply means spending time in the presence of God, listening to the plans of God.