GOD’S PLAN FOR VICTORY
Reading: Joshua 5v13 to 6v20
Text: Joshua 6v2 3 words:- ….the Lord spoke….
There are many places in the Bible where we can see God’s plan for victory in action. One of the best is Joshua’s account of the conquering of Jericho and the way he (Joshua) followed God’s plan to the letter.
What is victory?
Success? Measured against what standard? One person’s great success might be seen by another as massive failure! Depends on what you’re aiming for and how you look at things. The cross – the big failure of a godly man or the resounding eternal victory of the Son of God and for the God of all creation?
Wealth? Compared with who or what? Malawi materially poor yet spiritually vastly richer than we may ever experience here in the west!
Happiness? Fleeting or lasting or eternal?
Job 20v5 – The mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the Godless lasts but for a moment.
Prov 14v13 – Even in laughter, the heart may ache and joy may end in grief.
Isaiah 12v3 – With joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation.
Romans 14v17 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Victory can be illusory: The Olympic athlete (Javelin or Long Jumper?) Years of training, the moment truth, world record broken, victory and elation; the next contestant stood up, prepared, and threw two inches longer.
Victory for the first only for the moment, then ultimately failure to take the victor’s gold.
Victory not always in visible or tangible results, nor in popularity or a following of crowds of people.
When Jesus was condemned scripture says “all the disciples deserted him and fled.” (Matt 26v56)
At the end of Paul’s ministry he recorded that “everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me.” (2Tim 1v15)
So we cannot measure physical or spiritual victories by human standards; we have to learn God’s standards and methods.
In the unfolding of God’s plan to Joshua for the capture of that seemingly impregnable highly fortified major city of Jericho, we find five fundamental steps. We do well to take heed of each one and follow them all to the letter into victory in everything we do.
You and I MUST know and understand that “the Lord said” “Then the Lord said to Joshua; ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.” Then God gave detailed instructions to be followed without any variance no matter what.
Five fundamental principles
- Listen to the Word of the Lord.
- Learn the Will of the Lord.
- Love the Way of the Lord.
- Live out the Wishes of the Lord.
- Look/wait for the Victory of the Lord.
1 LISTEN TO THE WORD OF THE LORD
Jericho stood in the way of progress into the Promised Land. Jericho was the most formidable obstacle to the people of God; looked like an impassable barrier. Jericho was strategically sited directly in the valley they had to pass through.
There was no way around, it had to be taken if the Israelites were to proceed forward.
Of course, Joshua, all his leaders and commanders would know the fearsome reputation of Jericho. Naturally they met to work out strategies for battle and fall back plans if things went wrong. They probably did all the things that people would naturally do when deciding how to gain a victory over a massive problem.
Probably Joshua, the military leaders and the people felt they were against impossible odds, maybe some were already looking defeat in the face before they even got to Jericho itself.
We sometimes do that too! We see the difficulties, we lack confidence in God and Satan laughs and says “Impossible, don’t even think about trying! Give up the idea and remain in your safe little comfort zone!.”
If Joshua had listened to that kind of self-talk, Israel would have gone back to the desert and completely missed the blessings of God in the Promised Land. Their loss would have been their fault.
All the natural battle plans, fears of defeat, empty bravado, or whatever, on the part of God’s people had no place in God’s plans for victory for His people. They were His people, it was His pathway they were following, and it was God’s victory that would be enacted, not man’s.
As Joshua approached Jericho; he must have begun to realise the enormity of the battle he and the people would face. Even worse, right in the middle of his path stood a mighty man with drawn sword.
Finished before they started? Not so with Joshua. He challenged this seemingly premature obstacle. He did not immediately assume the drawn sword was an obstacle but he sought to discover the man’s real identity and purpose.
Do you challenge your obstacles, or simply turn away from them defeated before you even begin? What if Joshua had turned aside and thought “Well its over before we even get there!”? What would he and the whole nation of Israel have missed? – The Word of The Lord.
Joshua didn’t back off, but went up to the mighty man with sword drawn ready for the fight; he asked directly: “Are you for us or for our enemies?” Did he fear a wrong answer? Maybe. But he got a totally different answer to anything he expected. The man answered Joshua revealing he was Captain of the Host of the Lord.
Some people seen in this man with the sword an Old Testament appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ – not going into that today. But Joshua recognised the Divine mission of this Commander of the Army of the Lord. He prostrated himself before this Divine presence and asked “What saith my Lord to his servant?”
Here was holy ground right before the place of conflict! Here was God’s presence manifest to His servant Joshua. Here was a mighty revelation of God’s presence and victory right in the face of seeming impossible difficulty. Joshua had come to a place of surrender to the Lord, with a listening heart and spirit, and on that holy ground in a reverent heart GOD SPOKE!
And the Lord said to Joshua: THE LORD SAID!
What did He say. Not: “You will win this one” Not: “Just go through the motions and watch me move” Not: Sit back, abandon all common sense and let Me take it over for you”
No The Lord spoke and said: I have delivered Jericho into your hands ….. Ah! Joshua and the people still had to fight the battle, there was no miraculous deliverance; but the outcome was already assured before they even started.
Joshua had to ask in humility and reverence: “What saith my Lord unto His servant” Then The Lord said………..and spoke His instructions and plans for that obstacle!
Are you truly seeking the Lord in your difficulties with humble heart and reverent spirit?
Are you open to hear what He has to say to you, even if it’s not how you thought he would speak?
Maybe He’s saying something contrary to your preconceived ideas and plans.
Take a lesson from Joshua and Jericho. Listen to the Word of the Lord.
It probably won’t be awe inspiring until you look back later, but it will be either in His Word (the Bible) or be in complete agreement with what God has given in the Bible.
2 LEARN THE WILL OF THE LORD
As The Lord spoke to Joshua, God revealed His will to him. What was His will? What He had already told them repeatedly: to cross over the Jordan and possess the Promised Land, which involved conquering Jericho! He had already said it and God does not change just because there’s a humanly perceived obstacle. Isn’t God mightier than even the greatest obstacle? He’s mightier even over death bringing from that seemingly ultimate defeat the victory of resurrection and eternal life!
His will was one of conquering according to His detailed instructions.
His will was one of unquestioning trust and obedience of His people.
His will was one of no compromises.
As the people were to follow God’s battle plan, not the plans or battle wisdom of mankind, so they were to put to death or utterly destroy all that stood against God and His people.
There was to be no taking a little bit of Jericho into the Promised Land; no friendships with the enemies of God: no lingering in the place of opposition.
All that opposed God was to be utterly destroyed. Wiped from the face of the earth. God had judged Jericho for the evil and ungodly things that went on and the ungodly people that lived there.
God was about to enact the full force of His judgement upon that obstacle to His will and to His people.
As you can learn later when Achan tried to take something of Jericho with Him; the same judgement of destruction fell on him too. (Joshua Ch7)
It’s our responsibility to seek the Word of the Lord, to Listen to what God says; through it to learn the will of the Lord and to obey it! God didn’t move alone to conquer and destroy Jericho, He graciously used His people to achieve His will. He did not depend on them but He used them; and He will use you!
It is your responsibility to learn the will of the Lord and to seek Him until you do learn it; for your life; for this church; for the church nation-wide and world-wide; for this nation. If you will enquire earnestly and reverently of the Lord, and be ready to receive His word; then you will begin to know the true will of the Lord and not be distracted by imaginations, unreliable feelings and hunches, or your own wisdom in a situation.
God has stated His will clearly in His word and we must heed the Word, learn His will and follow His Way at all times, even in perplexing circumstances and ways we might not fully understand.
3 LOVE THE WAY OF THE LORD
The way of the Lord is often a way which seems contrary to our own plans and our logical understanding. Here The Lord is telling Joshua and the people to do something which by human wisdom appears totally ineffective and a way which could open them to all kinds of attack from behind those massive city walls, let alone ridicule from everyone.
The military way would be to assemble the heavy artillery; massive catapults flinging huge rocks at the walls and skilled archers to take out the troops on the battlements above. The Israelite forces would shelter behind earth mounds and any natural defence available. They’d attempt to pick off the men of Jericho, one by one with arrows and stones in slings. They would by night set fire to the wooden gates of Jericho and use battering rams to break them down. It would be conquest by force of numbers and “firepower” and the strongest and cleverest side would win.
Why would marching round the walls have any effect except ridicule from the people of Jericho who would find it all very amusing and stupid. Maybe the Israelites felt the same.
But The Lord said!
Who would they obey?
Self, bow to the ridicule of others,
Or do what God told them?
Did they love the Way of the Lord or were they doubtful of it?
Did they follow it by instruction and human command or through simple trust and love of God’s word and His ways.
They’d seen many mighty miracles before so really there were no grounds to doubt God’s word this time. But in the reality of the situation to follow God’s way without question or doubt must have been a huge test of their love and trust in God.
Their lives were literally on the line for God if they followed His way; and the Israelites were doomed if they followed their own ways.
Did they march once round the walls for 6 consecutive days? You bet they did! What a comical and pathetic sight they must have looked from the tops of the walls. Maybe the men of Jericho had pity on them and spared their lives by not bothering to shoot their arrows? But those men of Jericho should have feared; for God was against them and for His people. What a difference that makes.
The revealed word of the Lord was the Israelites’ only way to victory, and was the only way of destruction for that mighty city of Jericho. Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit (The ways) of God!
Joshua followed it; the people followed Joshua’s lead and the promised victory was secured only through their obedience.
Whatever our intuition tells us; it is only by loving the ways of God that any of us can gain the victory over the enemy, circumstances or adversaries. It probably won’t be the way of human power or wisdom or force; but it will be through the Power of God and the Wisdom of God and the love of His ways by you and by me. It all comes about by hearing His word; learning His will, and Loving His ways more than our own.
4 LIVE THE WORD OF THE LORD
It’s no good hearing the Word of God, acknowledging it, and believing it; we have to actualy do it or live it out for real.
ILLUS the sermon finished; but not yet done in the hearts of the people.
Doing involves obedience and total trust. It’s easy to hear, a little more difficult to listen, and far harder to do something about it!
Will we argue or try to rationalise what God says to us?
Will we attempt to adapt God’s plan to suit our own comfort or understanding?
Will we try to excuse ourselves by believing we aren’t cut out for what He is asking us to do?
Gideon tried that one and God saw to it that he obeyed regardless.
Jonah tried to change God’s plan; but God had His way ultimately even with Jonah.
When the doubters came along as certainly they did to Joshua; He could quote the word of the Lord with certainty and stand upon it as fact and truth. Will you?
In every congregation (but not this one of course?) there is one special family. They are the “Ahbutters”. Please don’t be an “Ahbutter” concerning the Word of God. Take it; learn it; love it; live it; and ultimately experience the Victory of God in your life; in this church and in this world.
Perhaps Joshua declared to the people “The Lord said it; I believe it; that settles it.” Declare it to yourself today and every day whatever doubts you might have in things around you. “the Lord said” His word IS settled in heaven, so who are we to argue with it or doubt it.
5 LOOK FOR THE VICTORY OF THE LORD
God rarely tells us HOW the victory will come; we only see it when it happens. So it was with Jericho. That massive fortified city, built on the sediment of a river bed in that valley leading from the Dead Sea; although no one knew at the time; it was like the house built on sand. it stood firm and secure for years and years. But when God shook it, the whole thing fell.
No amount of pounding by rocks and battering rams, or force of military might of that day would bring those walls down, not even make a small gap in them. But when God shook that place they had no foundation to withstand the power of God. We can speculate whether it was an earthquake or some other natural thing; but the Bible doesn’t say. It only says that at God’s predetermined time, the Israelites were to give the victory shout, and the walls would come down instantly; the city would be given entirely into their hands.
God foretold of the victory well in advance; the people heard the word, believed the word, learned God’s will in that difficult situation, trusted in God’s way; did exactly what God said. Their part was simply to obey and do what they were told. The power. the victory and the glory were all God’s.
Knowing God’s plan; Joshua was there looking for the victory of the Lord. At the appointed moment when God said it should be done – and not before or a moment later- Joshua commanded the victory shout be given. Perfect timing in a perfect plan by a perfect commander. Truly the commander of the army of the Lord was present in that situation; unseen by the ordinary people but there with Joshua to ensure that God’s plans would come to pass exactly as God predicted.
Joshua did all the Lord said for him to do; in exactly the way God decreed; at the precise time God had told him; and in the purposes of God the victory was given from God Himself.
- Don’t try to take control of situations yourself; but seek the word of the Lord.
- Don’t try to anticipate how God will bring about His purposes.
- Don’t try to manipulate God’s word to suit yourself.
- Don’t try to bring the victory or any other achievement or resolution of a problem through your own understanding and ability.
Joshua had much military might to hurl against Jericho; but if God was not in that, then it would all be in vain.
This morning; whatever situation you find yourself in; including our seeking God’s plans for this church and His will thereafter:- Remember God’s five point plan for victory as exemplified in the life of Joshua and the destruction of Jericho:-
- Listen to the Word of God
- Learn the Will of God
- Love the Ways of God
- Live the Wishes of God
- Look for the Victory of God.