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“Overcoming Life’s Immovable Obstacles”
Joshua 5:13-6:20
Every so often in life we run into the proverbial immovable object –
something or someone who is unyielding  job, new boss, family,
financial situation, health issues. We just can’t get past it – blocks our
progress. Barriers will come up - can stop us in our tracks. We can
shrink back in frustration, complain, get a lawyer, a divorce, undermine,
criticize, whine, gossip, or beat our head against the wall. Obstacles are
inevitable for Christians. Life is always a struggle for the believer. God’s
way is not the world’s way. As long as we live in the world we will have
conflict. Our faith is our only solution to the immovable obstacles of
life. Joshua 5:13-6:20 looks at how to overcome these situations. The
people are encamped on the plains of Jericho after having crossed the
Jordan. Now they run into the immovable object. We all have to face…
I. Life’s Strong Obstacles Joshua 6:1 Now Jericho was tightly shut up
because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. The
oldest city in the world. We need to understand; these walls were…
A. Formidable  massive, stone walls could accommodate 2
chariots, overwhelming, staggering to contemplate (circumstances).
B. Impenetrable  frontier town, heavily fortified, sealed tight as
a drum. No one went out and no one came in. (Relationships).
C. Unmovable  houses built into the walls. No way around and
no way to budge it – had to be faced (personal responsibilities). City
was virtually impregnable. From a human point of view an impossible
obstacle. In life we run into our own Jerichos. Something blocking
our way – stopping our progress in doing what God has called us to do.
What do we do? Whatever our natural response is you can be sure
God has something else in mind. Something we never would have
thought of  requires us to step out in faith according to God’s
strange strategies. Overcoming immovable objects always…
II. Begins with Worship vs.5:13-15 Joshua is walking alone near the
walls of the fortified city of Jericho wondering how his people can win the
battle. He is trying to figure out a strategy to overcome the high walls. He:
A. Get Alone with God 13Now 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?” “Friend or foe?” Whose side are you on?
“Neither,” he replied, (ball games) “but as commander of the
army of the LORD I have now come.” This was a “Christophany” an
appearance of Jesus before His incarnation. Then Joshua fell
facedown to the ground in reverence, the first step in overcoming
immovable objects in our lives is regular time alone with God. Not
just talking; God is not a waiter to take our orders; but listening
through the Bible and His still small voice speaking to us.
B. Be Open to God’s Direction 14…Then Joshua fell facedown
to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does
my Lord have for his servant?” Joshua realized that the Lord is
right here with us if we are open to Him. We can talk to Him. He has
promised never to leave us or forsake us. He is the Captain, the
Commander in Chief, the One who gives the orders and then gives us
enough strength to live one day at a time. Joshua realized his need
for divine guidance. When the Lord appeared he fell down and
worshipped. We need to humbly listen and then…
C. Be Prepared to Obey 15The commander of the LORD’s army
replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are
standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua knew who his leader
was  God Almighty. Joshua had learned to move beyond worship to
obedience. Obedience is the sign of whether or not one’s worship
is authentic. The rhythm of his life was to fall down, worship, listen
and then obey. Once the mind of God was indicated there was nothing
more for him to do than to obey. Pride can take over so easily. If we are
not humble we will fall on our face. We miss out on so many of God’s
blessings for us because we refuse to obey what His Word says. God
is our leader, and He goes with us into battle. We all need to fall on
our faces, acknowledging His holiness and supreme leadership and
determine to be obedient regardless. Then don’t be surprised by…
III. God’s Strange Strategies vs.6:2-20 God’s instructions; people were
to carry the Ark around the city. That’s it! Rather strange approach.
A. Requires Obedience 2Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I
have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its
fighting men. Huh? All he could see was a heavily fortified, imposing,
dangerous obstacle. 3March around the city once with all the armed
men. Do this for six days. 4Have 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. 5When
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.” Have you ever heard
of a crazier military strategy? It doesn’t make any sense  which is
the reason God came up with it. Demanded obedience; embarrassing
to Israel – “not how you do city conquering.” Complied exactly with
God’s instructions. God has a way of turning everything upside down.
God is teaching us to trust Him instead of using our own cleverness.
God minimizes human, prideful, self-confidence. They didn’t add
anything or leave anything out. They simply obeyed. Notice: seven
days, 7 priests, 7 trumpets, on 7th day seven times  symbol of the
Holy Spirit of God. God’s plan was for the people to do nothing more
than a few symbolic acts to show them and the Canaanites how
powerful He was. God has strange strategies for our Jerichos too.
We need to obey what God has told us: bless/curse, pray/abuse,
turn cheek, share the Gospel, honor God with resources, love
spouse, sexually pure, anger without sin  contrary to conventional
wisdom. Stop trying to come up with some clever rationalizations,
trying to prove that God’s teachings are out of date and He doesn’t
really know what is best. Following God’s strange strategies…
B. Requires Persistence 6So Joshua son of Nun called the
priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the
LORD and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” 7And
he ordered the people, “Advance! March around the city, with the
armed guard going ahead of the ark of the LORD.” 8When Joshua
had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven
trumpets before the LORD went forward, blowing their trumpets,
and the ark of the LORD’s covenant followed them. 9The armed
guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and
the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were
sounding. 10But Joshua had commanded the people, “Do not give
a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day
I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11So he had the ark of the LORD
carried around the city, circling it once. Then the people returned
to camp and spent the night there. 12Joshua got up early the next
morning and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13The seven
priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before
the ark of the LORD and blowing the trumpets. The armed men
went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the
LORD, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14So on the second day
they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They
did this for six days. Six days of the same thing. Appeared to be a
religious pilgrimage around the impregnable walls of Jericho. Holding
weapons but not using them, hearing the trumpets but not responding.
First day – exciting, 3rd day boring – imagine conversation. Looking
foolish in the eyes of the people of Jericho. We want to do something
quick & dramatic. God says: “Keep doing what I’ve told you to do.”
God doesn’t do things the way we do. We lose faith  block power.
The walls fell by faith - result of people marching around. Faith
always looks foolish in the eyes of the world. God’s strategy: II
Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage
war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the
weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to
demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every
pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and
we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The
real battle is not against our obstacles but in our mind. We tend to
argue with God. He encourages our honest prayers but in the final
analysis God knows what is best. We are better off saving the energy
spent fighting Him, trying to convince Him that we know better that He
does; and put that energy into obeying. Will we trust God and
continue to obey over the long haul? When we do we experience:
C. Success Through Radical Faith  Joshua obeyed and led
the people in obedience. 15On the seventh day, they got up at
daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same
manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times.
The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet
blast, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has
given you the city! 17The city and all that is in it are to be devoted
to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in
her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.
But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring
about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you
will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble
on it. 19All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron
are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury.” 20When the
trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the
trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so
every man charged straight in, and they took the city. Joshua
followed God’s strategy for battle but also the instructions the Lord
gave in the moment of victory. He gave safety to Rahab, honoring
the promise of the two spies. He ordered the people to keep
themselves from particular objects that were to be destroyed so as to
avoid trouble that would come upon them. He gathered all the silver,
gold and vessels of bronze and iron which would be sacred to the
Lord and which were to go into His treasury. 20When the trumpets
sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet,
when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every
man charged straight in, and they took the city. Walls fell! Obstacle
dealt with. Success through radical faith!
Question #1: “What is the Jericho or what are the Jerichos in your
life?” Make a list of those points at which you are most vulnerable. What
are the temptations? Points of spiritual warfare? Is it a struggle with
doubt? Is it a hard time taking God and His Word at face value? Is it a
struggle with an unforgiving spirit? Is it resentment and bitterness
towards some who has betrayed your trust? Is it the illness that is getting
the upper hand? Is it the loss of a loved one? Is it a struggle with an
addiction of some kind? Is it a struggle relationally with a partner or
child? Is it a struggle with emotions that are confusing? Is it a struggle
with the overbearing power of someone who is trying to control you?
Question #2: “Are you letting God conquer your Jerichos for you?” Is
He being allowed to wage the battle or are you doing it in your own
strength? Is it His strategy or yours? The story of Jericho reminds us
that God is in the business of giving victory to His obedient people
when we move beyond our own clever plans to a straightforward trust
and obedience. Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after
the people had marched around them for seven days. It was the Ark of
the Covenant representing the presence of the Lord, not human energy that
carried the day. It is when we admit our own vulnerability and let go of
it, turning it over to the Lord, that we have the spiritual empowerment
sufficient for the greatest Jericho the most immoveable object in our
lives. We need to be honest; we need to admit our area of weakness
and let go of it, allowing God to work in our lives, doing what He wills.
This will take patience: God works in unseen ways and sometimes victory
takes a little longer than we desire.
Question #3: Are you willing to follow God’s strategy, be obedient,
faithful, trust  even against the immovable obstacles in your life?
Will you step out in faith?