VICTORY OVER CHALLENGES
A Pastoral Message by Pastor Marlon Almonte from the Sunday Worship Service on 3 February 2013
JOSHUA 5:13- 6:5; Heb 11:30
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.”
Celebration is an enjoyable activity cause by an important event, success or victory. Nobody celebrate without anything to celebrate. We celebrate because there are good things happen in our lives.
We fulfill our dreams, we finish our course, we accomplish our mission, we reached our goal, and we overcome all the challenges in life. Having said all of these, I am certain that victory happen first before celebration. First, we need victory in all our battles in life and celebration is just automatically follows.
But the question is how do we achieve victory over all the challenges in our life?
The above text tell us the summary of the whole story in old testament times how God gave his people a reason to celebrate.
In the book of Joshua, Israel had a good reason to rejoice because after forty years of wandering in the desert, now the land that God promised to them is in their hand. They won the battle in one of the most important city in the Jordan valley. Capturing the strongest fortress in all the land of Canaan was not that easy with probably had fortified walls up to 25 feet high and 20 feet thick, with the soldiers standing guard on top of the walls could see for miles. Jericho was a symbol of military power and strength, the Canaanites considered it invincible.
But how Israel conquered this indestructible city? How Jericho fall into their hand?
What are the keys to break the high and thick walls of Jericho?
Today I would like to share with you the 3 important principles Joshua and Israel applied to conquer the city. As we begin to understand these 3 principles, my prayer is that we can apply this principle to break the walls of our own personal Jericho.
The first principle to break the wall of our own personal Jericho is to…
1. LET THE LORD BE IN CHARGE. (JOSHUA 5:13-15) 13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
After receiving the report of the two spies (Joshua 2:23-24), readying the troops, and crossing the Jordan, Joshua sought to ready himself. He went out to survey the landscape around Jericho, perhaps to make a battle plan. It was there that he was surprised when all of a sudden a man appeared to him with a sword in his hand. (V13). He asked the man if he were a friend or a foe. V13 continues with, “And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” V14, “ So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” His response was not what Joshua expected he said, “Neither.”
We need to understand that when God enter to the situation he does not come to take sides…. he comes to take control. We are not ask if God is on our side, but determine that whether we are on God’s side. The more suitable question is, “Are we on the Lord’s side or against Him?” if we are on God’s side, let him control our life, let him be in charge of our life.
- IF GOD IS IN CHARGE OF OUR LIFE, THEN SUBMISSION SHOULD BE OUR FIRST REACTION. “Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence.” Here is the statement were Joshua recognized the sovereignty of our Lord in his life. If you let God take control your life that means you are willing to give up your personal interest and ambition. Jesus said to his follower “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”(Mark 8:34)
- IF GOD IS IN CHARGE OF OUR LIFE, THEN OUR ACTION IS GUIDED BY HIS INSTRUCTIONS. “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” because Joshua recognized the Lord sovereignty in his life, he is more than willing to listen and obey for his command. When you make the word of God a compass in your own journey of life, your find meaning of life and satisfaction. Before claiming the land that God promised to them, God told Joshua, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Josh 1:8
The psalmist says in Ps 119:105“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
- IF GOD IS IN CHARGE OF OUR LIFE, THAT MEAN WE CHOOSE THE LIFE OF CONSECRATION. 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 so. When we decided to let God maneuver our life he required us a clean life. For as long as you are inside the fence of God you are obliged to remove anything that is unclean. Personal motives, unclean lips, polluted mind or filthy life has no business in the kingdom of God.
I Peter 1:15 say “ But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”
The second principle we need to learn is…
2. DO NOT QUESTION GOD’S IMPRACTICABLE METHODS. (JOSHUA 6:2-5) Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”
From military point of view these strategies was ridiculous and does not going to work. Marching around the city once each day for seven days, making a lot of noise and waiting for the walls to collapse certainly cannot be found in any of the military manuals and it doesn’t have any relation to the event.
In ancient warfare such cities were either taken by assault or surrounded and the people starved into submission. Its invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunneling. Each of these methods of assault took weeks or months, and it will cost lot of casualties.
Joshua was skillful fighter, a man who knows what it’s like in the battle (Ex.17)
He has been exploring the land for years even before Moses was still alive. Because of his experienced, perhaps he would have known strategies how to conquer the land but he choose to listen and follow God’s instruction because he knew when God take over the situation he can expect victory.
There are numerous of occasion in the bible when God take over the situation, giving instruction to people though it seems illogical or impractical and people listen and follow it works!
God promised Abraham and Sarah an offspring in their old age, they believed and its works! (Gen.15, 18)
When Jesus asked peter the fishermen to let down the nets again though he came from whole night fishing and haven’t caught anything he listen and follow and the result is overflowing joy. (Luke 5:4-11)
When Jesus spit on the ground to make a mud with his own saliva to put in the eyes of the blind to bring back his vision, its sound ridiculous but its work!
“When we follow God’s instruction it should not be base on logical reason but faith because the mind of God is way beyond our comprehension or our intellectual ability.
According to Isa 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.”
1 Cor. 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
And last but not the least principles we need to learn is…
3. DON’T QUIT FOLLOWING HIS INSTRUCTIONS EVEN IF IT IS DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. (JOSHUA 6:6-20)
According to “Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary,” Jericho lies about 13 kilometers (8 miles) northwest of the site where the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea, some 8 kilometers (5 miles) west of the Jordan. Since it is approximately 244 meters (800 feet) below sea level, Jericho has a climate that is tropical and at times is very hot.
With the intense heat of the sun and with strategies seems illogical the most tempting feeling are irritation, impatient and begin to doubt whether they are doing right or not but we learned that these negative reaction didn’t happen to Israel, they were determined to comply on what God has instructed to them, they sacrifice their time and energy to complete the task even it seems nonsense and has no relation to the event.
The reason many people don’t succeed and overcome their own personal wall of Jericho or they don’t achieve victory over their personal battle and struggle was not because they didn’t do it but they just simply stopped their conquest of their personal Jericho. We may have been doing the right things, but we simply stop doing them.
According to Hebrew 10:36 “you need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
God has prepared a better future and abundant life that satisfy our soul. In Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” There numerous promises of God to claim in his word but the question are, “do you believed in these promises? Are you willing to submit to God and leave your comfort Zone let him control of your life? Are willing to obey his command without hesitation even people think its nonsense? Are you willing to continue and endure hardship living under his will even it seems you’re just wasting your time. If you answer positively this entire question, then your faith in God will give you success on your own personal Jericho and you will have all the reason to celebrate because God has done marvelous things in you life.