At this time you may be seated and we’ll turn to the book of Joshua.
Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying (1:1),
Moses’ minister; it doesn’t mean that Joshua was Moses’ pastor. The word “minister” there actually is in its true meaning, which is “servant”. It is interesting how that somehow we’ve really sort of twisted the concept of a minister. So many men in the ministry today really don’t look at the ministry as servanthood, but they’re almost wanting people to serve them. “You know you ought to bring it to me because after all, I’m your minister.” That’s totally opposite of what the word minister really means. It means a servant.
Jesus said, “If any man would be chief among you, let him be the servant of all”(Mark 10:44). So a true minister is a man who is there not to be ministered to, but who is there to serve the needs of the people. So when it reads that he was Moses’ servant, or his minister, it means that he was Moses’ personal servant. He accompanied Moses, he helped Moses do the things, and Moses was, he was just his valet sort of, just his servant.
Now after the death of Moses, God elevated him from Moses servant, to the servant of all of the people of Israel. Faithful in the little things, now the Lord has entrusted into his hands even greater things. This is always the process of God. Jesus said, “Because thou hast always been faithful in little things, now I will make thee ruler over many” (Matthew 25:21). He said, “If I’ve entrusted to you the little things, and you haven’t been able to take care of them, how can I entrust you the things of the kingdom?” As the Lord encourages us to the faithfulness to our service, no matter what avenue of service He may call us to.
Many times we look with disdain on particular ministries within the body. We look with sort of envy or desirability on other ministries within the body. Men are prone many times to put greater honor on certain ministries. Actually, the particular ministry that I have within the body is one that people often look up to in an enviable kind of a way because it is a particular ministry that draws a lot of prominence because I stand before people. But it doesn’t really follow that my ministry is more important than your ministry within the body. There are some ministries that never cause any attention or notice to be drawn to them, which God has placed as some of the most vital and important ministries within the body.
There is that ministry of intercessory prayer. Rarely do you know who it is who has that ministry. Yet what an important ministry within the body. What great honor God places upon that ministry. What great rewards will that person have who has and is faithful to that ministry. I don’t know that they’ll have rows in heaven, I hope not. Because I’m afraid that I’ll have a back row because there is so much feedback to the ministry that I have. It’s so neat to have people like you who display and show so much love, and so much warmth, and so much kindness. I fear lest I often am getting all my rewards here, and they’ll be nothing left for me when I get up there. I’ll have to stand in the back on my tiptoes trying to see down to the front. Some of you people who have never been on the platform, never been in the public eye, you’ll be right down there on the front row, because you have been faithful to God in that ministry that He has called you to fulfill. Though it wasn’t one that caused a lot of attention to be drawn to you, but you were faithful in that to which God called you.
We need to get away from this concept of full-time ministry, looking at that, those who are on the Calvary Chapel staff are those who’ve been hired by some mission board are full-time ministers. You are, all of you called by God to be a full-time minister. Now Sears and Roebuck may pay your salary, or some other corporation, but you have been called of God to full time, serving the Lord. Whatever you’re doing in word or deed, you should be doing for the glory of God, and as unto the Lord. Knowing that from the Lord you are going to receive your reward. So we need to have the proper concept of the ministry, and especially those who do serve on any church staff. We need to get away from that idea that the minister is someone who is especially holy, or is someone above the others, because as a minister, I’m actually a servant. Can you imagine seeking to serve this many people? But yet that’s what God has called me to do. So Joshua was Moses’ minister, that is he was his personal valet or servant.
Now after the death of Moses, the Lord then spoke unto Joshua. His name is a very significant name. It was given to him by Moses, originally his mother called him “Hosea”, which means “salvation”. But Moses after he saw the quality and all in this man, called him “Joshua”, or “Yashua”, which is “Jehovah is”, or “Jehovah’s salvation”, or “Jehovah is salvation.” It is the same name as Jesus. This is in Hebrew “Yashua”, in Greek it is “Jesus”. So we find in Joshua a very interesting type of Jesus Christ, who, Joshua, led the people into the inheriting of the land.
Now Moses could only lead the people so far. Moses led them out of Egypt and to the border of the Promised Land, but Moses could not lead them in. Moses stands for the law. The law cannot lead you into the fullness of God’s blessings for your life. The law can lead you up to the border, but the law can’t take you in. So, Moses the representative of the law, could lead them up to the border of the Promised Land; he could not lead them into the Promised Land. It is necessary now that Moses lay down his leadership. Joshua takes up the leadership to lead them into the promises of God.
Now there have been given unto us exceeding rich and precious promises. God has a life for you that is a super rich abundant life in Jesus Christ. It isn’t God’s will that you be on a spiritual roller coaster, that you be a yo-yo in your spiritual experience. It is God’s desire that you enter into the full, rich life that He has for you in Jesus Christ, that you enjoy that life of victory in Christ. But the law can’t lead you into that. Only Jesus Christ can lead you in. So where Moses had to leave off, Joshua took up, for the law led them as far as it could. Now the new relationship is going to be one of faith. They’re going to have to begin by stepping out in faith, coming into this land that God had promised.
Now their conquest of Canaan is typical of the Christians entering into the life of victory that God has for us, as we are conquering over the giants of the flesh that have been entrenched so long in our lives, as we enter into that glorious victory in and through Jesus Christ, that the Lord has for us. Now, it is interesting that Joshua could only lead them so far. He led them into the conquering of the land but he never brought them into a rest. That is something that was reserved for Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews the contrast is made of how that Joshua led them in but could not bring them to the place of rest; that is a work that was reserved for the finished work of Jesus Christ. And once Christ made the work of salvation complete through His death upon the cross, then He has brought us now into the rest where we rest our salvation, our eternal life in that finished work of Jesus. We have that neat rest in the Lord. So Jesus has done for us that which Joshua could not do. He brought them only into the land, not into the rest, but Jesus has brought us into a glorious rest. So you get into some of the typology and it makes a very fascinating study.
Now God spoke to Joshua and the words of the Lord were actually words of encouragement. Commanding Joshua now to take up where Moses left off, and for him to lead the people the children of Israel. The beautiful promise in verse three where God said,
Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses (1:3).
Now I like that because this is stepping in and laying claim to that which is already yours. Notice it’s in the past tense, “Every place you put your sole, I have already given to you.” Now God has already given to you a glorious, full, rich life of victory. All you have to do is go in and take it by faith, go in. “Wherever you put the sole of your foot”, the Lord said, “I have given to you”. You can go in and begin to lay claim to the blessings of God, to the promises of God. Let us beware lest God having given us the promise that we would fail to receive it, or enter into it. It is important that we begin to lay claim to those victories over the flesh life that God has promised to give to us. “Every place you put the sole of your foot, I have given to you.”
From the wilderness from Lebanon even to the great river, Euphrates (1:4),
Now the tragic thing is that they didn’t put their sole all the way. So God says, “It’s all yours, every place you put your sole of your foot down, I’ve given it to you.” They only went so far and then they quit. They never did go over the river Euphrates. They never did take all that God had given to them.
Now it is also tragically true that so many times we fail to take all that God has given to us. We fail to enter fully into that life of victory in Jesus Christ. We hesitate, or we become as they did, satisfied, “That’s all we need.” We become more or less complacent in our spiritual growth. We just hit a plateau and we say, “Oh praise the Lord. This is wonderful.” We don’t press on any further.
So when God tells them the area that is theirs, it is sad that they never did take all of the area that was theirs. They never did fully possess their possessions: that which God gave to them. That is why the Scriptures are constantly exhorting us. “Let us go on, let us go on into the completeness, into the fullness.” God has so much for you. God wants to do so much for you. If you’ll just press in by faith, lay claim, take it, it’s yours.
Now the Lord is encouraging him.
No man will be able to stand against you: as I was with Moses, so I’m going to be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people you’re going to divide this inheritance, the land. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do all that is written according to the law (1:5-7),
Now the encouragement for Joshua as God promises His presence, His power. Then as God again tells him the conditions upon which he will experience that presence and power of God.
Be careful that you observe to do the whole law: don’t turn, don’t deviate from it to the right, or to the left. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for thus thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt have good success (1:7-8).
Now God is saying, “Look keep the law, don’t deviate from it, for it is by this observing it day and night, meditating in it, thus thou shalt make thy way prosperous, thus you will have good success.”
As we turn to the first Psalm, we read, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law does he meditate both day and night, he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in his season, his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper”(Psalm 1:1-3). People looking for prosperity, people who are looking for success, God has given you the rules. Meditate in it, observe it, and thus shalt thou make thy way prosperous, for these are the rules to prosperity. These are the rules to success. So the conditions upon which he can know the power, the presence, the victory.
So Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the land, and command the people, saying, Prepare your food; for within three days you’re going to pass over this Jordan, and go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God gives to you to possess. And to the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, he said, [All right now, you promised Moses you were going to go in and help us, and he reminded them of their promise, told them now to leave their wives and so forth, and to get their fighting men together so that they might cross with them, and take this land that God had promised unto them]; Until the Lord has given [verse fifteen] your brothers rest, as he has given you, and they have possessed the land which the Lord your God has given to them: then you will return and enjoy this land. And they answered Joshua, saying, All that you command us we will do, for whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. And as we hearkened unto Moses, so will we hearken unto you (1:10-17).
Now chapter two, Joshua sent out two men to spy out the land, actually to spy out Jericho, because Jericho was the first city that they were going to come to. Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was one of the first; it was the first city that they came to once they crossed the Jordan River.
So these two spies came to Jericho, and they went into the house of a harlot’s house, whose name was Rahab, and they had received them into her house (2:1).
She shared with them how everybody was afraid of them. For they had heard how that God was with them, and how that God had stopped or parted the Red Sea so that they could come through. They heard how that they had destroyed the strong kings Sihon and Og. Thus, the fear of them had come upon all the inhabitants of the land.
Now someone came to the king of Jordan or Jericho, and he told him that there were two spies from Israel who would come into the city of Jericho. They had gone into the house of Rahab. So he said to Rahab, and she said, “Oh, well last night about the time it got dark just before they closed the gates, these men slipped out. Maybe if you hurry you can catch them.” In reality she was drying flax up on her roof, and she hid them under the flax. So the king sent out men down towards the Jordan River to find these spies.
After they were gone out, she told them, “The king knows you’re here and I know that God is going to give you this city and I want you to spare me, and my family. So the spies said, All right, we’ll make a covenant with you.
Now she lived right on the wall of this city, and she let them down over the wall with a scarlet cord or a rope.
They said, When we take the city, you leave this scarlet rope out, and everyone who is within the house will be saved. If any of your family goes out into the streets, then they’re taking their lives into their own hands, they’ll be slain with the rest of the people. But in order that they might be spared and be saved, they’ve got to stay in the house (2:18-20).
So you let this scarlet rope down so that we’ll know the house, and when we take this city, we’ll spare all of your family that has gathered in the house.
Of course, there is a beautiful picture really of our place in Christ Jesus, the safety that we have abiding in Him. Those that are within Christ are safe no matter what comes. Abiding in Christ I have that safety. Outside of Him, I have nothing, I’m an open prey, but within Christ that beautiful safety that is ours.
So these spies made this covenant with her. And she said, Look when you get down from here,
you flee to the mountains (2:22).
Now the mountains are right behind Jericho, they’re actually the opposite direction from Jordan, but she said, “They’re going to look for you and you wait there in the mountains until they come back into the city, and then scat on down, cross the Jordan and get back to your people.” So they went up into the mountains just above Jericho there, and waited for the men to come back from their futile search, and then they made it on back. And they told Joshua all that Rahab had told them of the fear that had come upon the inhabitants of the land and how that the Lord had delivered them into their hands.
It is interesting to me that as we read the genealogy of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, that there are a few women that are listed in the genealogy. I can think of three offhand. One is a prostitute, Rahab. She’s actually listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The other is Ruth, a Moabitess; and the third was Bathsheba, David’s wife that he took by illicit kind of ways. Interesting that three such women should be chosen by God to be in the lineage of His Son. But yet to me there is a beauty to it, because Jesus came to identify with sinful man, that He might take upon Himself man’s guilt and sin and die in his place. So rather than coming from some pure, royal, blue blood lineage, we find very common, sinful people listed in the line of Jesus Christ.
As we get into chapter three,
Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and they came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and they lodged there before they passed over. And they commanded the people, and he said, Now when you see the ark of the covenant moving out, you stay behind it two thousand cubits: [Which is about a half mile that they were to stay behind the ark, maybe two-thirds of a mile back from the ark of the covenant.] and the Levites were to bear the ark of the covenant before the people. And then he said, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. And Joshua spoke to the priests, and he said, Take the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. The Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so will I be with thee. And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of the Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan. And Joshua said to the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God. And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and he will without fail drive out from before you the inhabitants of the land. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passes before you into Jordan. Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. And so it came to pass that the people removed their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people: And as thy bare the ark and they were come to Jordan, the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan at this time overflowed all its banks during the time of the harvest.) And the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon a heap very far from the city Adam, which is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all Israelites passed over (3:1-17).
So even as God parted the Red Sea, now God stopped the Jordan River in flood season so that they were able to pass over. Now the interesting thing to me about this is when they came to the Red Sea, Moses stretched forth his rod and the Red Sea was parted. They went through on dry land, but with the Jordan the Lord is now testing their faith and developing their faith. He let the priests get their feet wet. Walking right into the edge of the river, getting their feet in the water, stepping out now really in faith. That wasn’t easy I’m sure. I imagine that even Joshua himself had some anxious moments, as he saw those guys starting to wade into the water. “Now, Lord that’s what You said.”
But this is coming into a new relationship with God, that relationship with faith, which is so very important for every one of us to really develop in that full relationship with God, it has to be that relationship of faith. God is bringing them now into a new relationship of faith. Before they sought, before they stepped in, they saw the sea parted, but now God is letting them take one step further and saying, “Go ahead and step out before you see any evidence, before you see any signs, go ahead and step out in faith. Get your feet wet.” So here is a new relationship, an exciting relationship to be sure as they stepped into the water, and as they did God caused the waters to cease flowing. God threw up a dam, and the waters of Jordan ceased, and the people all passed over.
Now they were commanded to take these stones out of the bottom of the Jordan River, where the priests were standing holding the Ark of the Covenant. When they came up on the other side, they were to put these stones in a heap. And Joshua commands them there in chapter four,
That this may be a sign among you that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What do you mean by these stones? You shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever. And so the children of Israel did as Joshua commanded (4:6-8),
It is interesting to me that God is desiring that His power, and His truth is transmitted to our children. That they not forget what God has done for us. It is sad and it is tragic that very few revivals ever go into a second generation.
Now I don’t know if you know it or not, but we are experiencing here a marvelous revival. What God is doing in our midst is a spiritual phenomena that the whole world is looking at and talking about, because of God’s marvelous work in our midst. There is a real move of God’s Holy Spirit. God’s raising up a whole new element of people, you might say. There are now over a hundred and fifty formal fellowships that have sort of sprung out of Calvary Chapel, plus hundreds of other informal fellowships that are developing.
One sociologist that was studying this whole thing that is happening said, “If the Lord doesn’t come in the 1980s”, he said, “at the rate things are going I anticipate that there will be ten thousand Calvary Chapels across the United States.” God is working in a very beautiful way. We have had the excitement and the thrill of seeing God work. When you consider that we’re only fourteen years old, and you look at what God has done. We just stand in amazement and in awe. But unfortunately there have been other moves of the Spirit like this in the history of the church that are marvelous. The people are there, they enjoy it, but rarely do they ever carry into a second generation. Because you see as we grow, it will be necessary to more or less begin to formalize things. To establish sort of codes and rules, and the minute you start putting the fences around it, then you’re restricting that work that God wants to do.
When I die some fool will want to raise a memorial to Chuck Smith. We’ll have a Chuck Smith gymnasium or something, you know. Oh God forbid. This should remain a memorial to Jesus Christ for what He has done never a memorial to any man. God keep us from that memorial state. Nobody needs to remember me; we need to remember the work that God has done. The monument wasn’t built for Joshua, the monument was built so that the children would say, “Hey what’s that pile of stones daddy?
“Those stones were once on the bottom of the Jordan River, and when we walked through, we picked up these stones out of the river. That’s because God stopped the river so that we could come through. That’s the kind of a God we serve.” It was to remind them of the work of God.
Oh, that we will always keep that in the forefront of our minds, that the work that we see is not a work of man nor is it to the credit of any man. The work is to the glory of God. Let’s keep our memorials unto the Lord for the work that He has wrought.
Now God seeks, actually, that we would pass on to our children His truths, His glory, His power. His method for doing this is by creating questions in the minds of the children. You ever wonder why a child is so inquisitive? That’s been placed there by the Spirit. The purpose of that inquisitive mind of the child is that he may learn, teach him. Let your memorials be memorials that will allow you the opportunity to share the work of God, and the power of God. It is marvelous that we remember what God has done, but it is also important that we relate to our children who did not have the privilege of seeing that work that we saw, the work that God has wrought by His Holy Spirit.
So these stones were to create questions in the minds of the children, to give them the opportunity to share with their children the glorious power of God.
So Joshua [verse nine] set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests that bare the ark of the covenant stood: they’re there to this day (4:9).
Now it’d be fun—They set up two memorials. They took stones and set them in a pile in the Jordan River, and then they also set a pile up on a bank. It’d be fun to get some scuba gear, since they were there to that day, to see if the stones are still there in the Jordan River that Joshua set up.
Now the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, till every one was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak to the people, all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over. And so it came to pass, when the people were clean passed over, the ark of the Lord passed over the priests, in the presence of the people. All the children of Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, about forty thousand of those two tribes prepared for war. On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life. And the Lord spoke unto Joshua, saying, Command the priests that they bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan. And when they were come up from the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up to the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and overflowed their banks, as they did before. And the people came out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, they encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. [So it is actually just four days prior to the Feast of Passover.] And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, Joshua pitched in Gilgal. And he spoke to the children of Israel, saying, When your children will ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What do these stones mean? Then let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land (4:10-22).
So the memorial by which they could share with their children the work of God.
Now in chapter five we read where all of the adult males were at this point circumcised. It was a rite that they did not follow while they were in the wilderness. So that those who were born in the wilderness, now were men, did not go through the rite of circumcision. But now that they are to enter into the land, the circumcision was always a type of the cutting away of the heart after the flesh. God wanted a people whose heart was after the Spirit. So it was a symbolic act. God said, “Circumcise your hearts”(Deuteronomy 30:6). In other words, cut away from your heart that longing or desiring after the flesh.
Paul in the book of Romans speaks of the error of the Jews in observing a rite without the reality. Though they’d gone through the rite of circumcision, yet their hearts were after fleshly things; thus, there was an inconsistency there. Now that they’re going to enter into this new relationship with God, coming into the land, because it is to typify a new relation after the Spirit, which is that new relationship that God wants to bring you into; a life of victory over the flesh.
So it was necessary that they go through the rite of circumcision, and all, of the adult males be circumcised in order that they might cut away the flesh; and thus, signify the fact that they were going to walk after the Spirit and a heart after God. So as I said, it was not done in the wilderness and so it was done after they entered into the land. The first thing was this circumcision in order that they might again declare themselves a people unto God, to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
And so God said, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off of you. Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal (5:9-10),
Which means a rolling, because God there rolled away that reproach of Egypt, which is a type of the flesh, and the life after the flesh. They longed for the flesh pots of Egypt. Egypt always is symbolic of living after the flesh and lusting after the flesh.
So Israel encamped in Gilgal, they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho (5:10).
So this is the first Passover in the Promised Land. They came in just four days beforehand, circumcised themselves, and now are beginning this new relationship with God observing the Passover now in the new land.
And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the Passover, the unleavened cakes, the parched corn in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year (5:11-12).
So again, coming in now to a new diet. The life of the Spirit is a life of variety. It’s a life of excitement. It really is thrilling to walk after the Spirit and live after the Spirit. You never know what God has planned for you today. It’s just an exciting life, a life of variety. I never lack for excitement. Walking after the Spirit is the most exciting experience in the world. So they are leaving now the old manna, that monotonous kind of a diet, and now going to begin to eat of the fruits of the land that God has promised as they come into now the land of Canaan.
I love verses thirteen through fifteen.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and he looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said to him, Are you for us, or for our enemies? And he said, Not for your enemies; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place where you stand is holy. And Joshua did so (5:13-15).
Here Joshua met Jesus, Jesus the Captain of the Lord’s host. You see, if it were an angel then He would’ve refused his worship. John several times in the book of Revelation tried to worship the angel, and he said, “Stand up worship the Lord.” The Lord said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only.” Therefore the Captain of the Lord’s host is none other than Jesus who is standing there ready to lead him into the land of promise. “As the Captain of the Lord’s host have I come.” Joshua fell on his knees, his face, and said, “What do you want me to do Lord?” Much like Paul the apostle. “Lord, what will You have me to do?”
Now here is a true picture of leadership. The finest leader is the man who is lead. The finest ruler is a man who is ruled. God chose Joshua for a leader to rule over the people of Israel because Joshua was ruled over by the Lord; the proper chain of command. No man is fit to rule who is not ruled. That’s the tragedy of history where we have had despots upon the throne. These autocratic, despotic rulers who did not feel a responsibility to anybody else, but became the final authority within themselves, they became tyrants. The people always suffer under the rule of such people. But those who have a consciousness of the fact that they are ruled, those who have submitted themselves to His throne, are able to reign upon their thrones. But you’ve got to have that chain of command.
When the centurion came to Jesus and sought that Jesus would heal his daughter who was very sick, Jesus said, “I will come to your house.”
He said, “Oh no Lord, that isn’t necessary. I’m not worthy that you should come to my house. For you see, I understand authority, I also am a man of authority having under me, men.” “I am also a man”, he said, “under authority, having under me men.” He sees the chain. “I’m a man who is under authority, but I have under me men.” He recognized the position of Jesus. Having submitted to the Father, a man under authority, yet having authority himself.
So I can say to one man, “Do this”, and he’ll do it, to another, “do that”, and he does it. I have authority, but I’m under authority. “I know that You have authority, and all You have to do is speak the word, and my servant will be healed.” God said, “All right. That’s far out. I haven’t seen this kind of faith among the Israelites.” A man who recognized what true authority is. Oh, that we would realize that we don’t have any right to rule unless we ourselves are ruled.
So Joshua, the leader over the people and yet being led. “What do you want me to do Lord?” The real heart of a servant. So the Lord didn’t have much for him to do, “Just take your shoes off. The ground where you’re standing is holy.” So much as the Lord spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, the command to remove his sandals, so also to Joshua. So as the Captain of the Lord’s host, to lead the people of God into the conquest of the land.
So in chapter six we begin the conquering of the land. The method by which they took Jericho was very fascinating indeed.
The Lord said to Joshua, I have given to you the city of Jericho, and its king, and his mighty men. Now you’re to encircle the city, all of your men of war. You’re to walk around the city once, and you’re to do this for six days. And the seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and on the seventh day ye shall circle the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. It will come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. And so Joshua called the priests, told them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord. And he said to the people, Pass on, and encircle the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the Lord. And so it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of the rams’ horns passed on before the Lord, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them. And Joshua commanded the people, You’re not to shout or make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day that I bid you to shout; then shout (6:2-8,10).
So I could imagine that those that were in the city of Jericho began to get a little quizzical after a few days. Here is his army that is coming to take their city. Here are seven guys going around with these rams’ horns and behind it these other fellows are carrying this box between the staves. Then all of the army just walking around, not saying a word then going back home. Every day here these guys are out there pacing around for six days. Then the seventh day back again early in the morning, “Woke us up this morning.” After the seventh time around on the seventh day, then the long blast with the trumpets, and the people began to shout, and as they did, the walls of Jericho fell.
Now this is a very unlikely story, but it’s true. You should have no problem with it if your God is big enough. So God brought down the walls of Jericho, and the city was taken by Joshua and the children of Israel.
Now they were commanded that they were not to take any of the spoil of Jericho to themselves. This is the first city in the land that they are conquering. Any gold or silver or brass or iron that is there is given unto the Lord. It goes into the Lord’s treasury. This is the firstfruits; the firstfruit always belongs to God. So they weren’t to take any treasures of the city to themselves.
So the walls fell, the city was conquered. Joshua, there in verse twenty-six pronounced an interesting prophecy and curse.
Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the Lord, that rises up and builds this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son he will set up the gates of it (6:26).
Now how did Joshua know that? It didn’t happen for several hundred years, but you will read in first Kings, the sixteenth chapter, and the thirty-fourth verse where the king decided to rebuild the city of Jericho, and they started building it in the time of his firstborn son. Then when his youngest son was born, they set the gate of the city of Jericho. The prophecy here of Joshua was literally fulfilled. The man was cursed also, so the whole prophecy was fulfilled.
Now in chapter seven we read that,
The children of Israel committed a trespass against the Lord in the [holy thing, or in the] accursed thing: [rather] for Achan took of the accursed thing: [That is he took some of the spoil that they said was to go only to God, and he took it for himself.] and God’s anger was kindled against the children of Israel (7:1).
So Moses sent some men up to look over Bethel and Ai. Now Jordan is down in the plains. Jericho is down in the plains of Jordan. It’s quite a climb up the valley from Jericho to Bethel, and Ai. Actually when you’re in Jericho you’re about twelve hundred feet below sea level. When you get up to Bethel, you’re about twenty-eight hundred feet above sea level. There is this valley that goes up, a very beautiful valley, that goes up from Jericho up to Bethel. It was the natural route. So the men went up and they looked and Ai, and they came back to Joshua. They said, “Joshua there’s no need of sending the whole army, just give us two or three thousand men, and we’ll take Ai.”
So Joshua sent a regiment up to take the men of Ai. The men of Ai came out against them and they began to flee, and the men of Ai pursued them and thirty-six of them were slain. They came running back to camp. Joshua fell on his face before the Lord, down in verse seven, and he prayed, tore his clothes, fell to the earth on his face.
And Joshua said, Alas, [That’s a term that means, “we’ve had it”, kind of a thing, “Alas”,] O Lord, why have you brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and we had stayed on the other side of Jordan. O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turns their backs before their enemies. When the Canaanites hear of this, they shall encircle us, and cut off our name from the earth: and what will you do to your great name? And the Lord said to Joshua, Stand up, why are you lying on your face (7:7-10)?
I like this. It’s like when Moses was lying on his face when they had found themselves trapped between Pihahiroth and Zephon, and the Red sea in front of them, and the Egyptian army had cut off their retreat route. Moses cried out unto the Lord, “We’re trapped.” The Lord said, “Wherefore thou criest unto me?” “Well who else am I going to cry to? You’re the one that led me down here.” The Lord said, “Stretch forth your hand.” In other words, “Hey, now’s not the time to pray, time to move.” There comes a time to move, and there’s a time to pray. True. But then there’s a time to get up and start moving. “And Moses, this isn’t the time to pray, this is the time to move.”
Now with Joshua, here he is laying out the whole lament. “Lord, what are You doing to us? What are we going to do turning our backs to the enemies? Boy, when this word gets around, they’re all going to come down, we’re going to get wiped out. We’d have been better off if we’d stayed on the other side. Lord, what are You doing?” The Lord said, “Stand up. Why are you crying unto me?” Then the Lord revealed to him that there was sin in the camp.
They have transgressed God’s covenant for they have taken unto themselves of the treasure from Jericho (7:11).
Now as we make a spiritual analogy here, and I think it is important that we do it. You see spiritually now we are entering into a new dimension of relationship with God, the life and the walk of the Spirit. Now God hasn’t promised that it’s going to be all victory. There are battles. There are giants in the land. Your flesh has been deeply entrenched for a long, long time.
Now they conquered over the first obstacle because they followed the instructions of the Lord implicitly. But having gained the first victory, a danger arose, that was this business of self-confidence. “Lord we don’t need Your help with Ai. We now know what the process of victory is. We’re flushed with victory. God has just delivered this strong city into our hands. Ai, it isn’t nearly as big as Jericho. If we can conquer Jericho then Ai will be nothing. Lord, we don’t need You on this one. We can handle this one on our own. Joshua don’t send the whole army, just a couple thousand of us. We’ll go up and take that thing for you.”
How many times, when God has given us a victory over some major issue of our flesh, we get flushed with victory? And with a feeling of confidence, and we think, “Oh my, I’ve got it, I’ve arrived. I don’t need help anymore. I can handle this little area. This is nothing, Lord, you know. I’ll be able to manage this one, no problem God.” I go out on my own without first seeking God. God says, “Stand up. Why are you crying unto Me?” Had he prayed first, he wouldn’t have been in the predicament he was in.
Now that is often true of our lives. If we had only prayed beforehand, we would have never been in the mess. So many times we are crying unto the Lord saying, “Lord, why?” He says, “Hey, why are you crying unto Me? Where were you before you started the thing? I didn’t tell you to go there. I didn’t command you to get into that mess. I’m not the one that directed you there. You went there on your own.” Self-confidence, I think, “Lord, I can manage this. I can handle this. I don’t need Your help.” Man, that’s when the enemy always just gives me a real trumping. Beware of that kind of self-confidence, and know that you can’t conquer the least of the areas of your flesh without divine guidance and help. Sorry about that, but you’re just as weak as I am when it comes to dealing with the flesh. We’ve got to have the help of the Lord in every area of our lives if we are going to know victory over the flesh.
Now the reason why that is so is because God doesn’t want you to become a proud fool, and to go around boasting of how you conquered over your appetite. Or you conquered over this, or that, or the other, and start laying heavy trips on us, and becoming sort of pharisaical against us, saying, “Well, I used to have that problem too, but I just did this, and that and the other, and anybody can do it if they really set their mind to it, you know.” That kind of bologna, and you start putting down everybody else like “If you were only as good as I am, then you could make it.” So God lets us realize how hopelessly and helplessly we are lost without His help. So that when the victory comes, all I can say is, “Oh thank You, Lord. You did it.”
I tried everything, everything to get rid of my temper. You don’t know how hard I tried. I hated it. I hated myself whenever I would lose my temper. But one day God took it away. For a long time I was trying to control my temper because that’s what my mother told me. “Son, control yourself.” I tried, and there were times when I was relatively successful, building up a real head of steam inside, but keeping it capped. But then sometimes that cap didn’t work, and then when I blew, I really blew because there was so much pressure inside at that point, that you know, then you really go wild. You just tear everything up. Then you feel miserable and horrible. “Oh no. Why did I do that?” Just going through the whole thing.
One day God took it away. It was no longer a process of controlling my temper. I didn’t have a temper. I didn’t realize that He had taken it away for several years. One day something happened that would’ve really triggered me with a tremendous outburst, and there was no outburst. There was no steam, there was no anger, and I realized God had taken that vile, horrible temper away. “Oh praise the Lord.”
So I don’t have any little formulas of success, on how to control your temper. I tried them all and they didn’t work. But I have discovered that what I couldn’t do for myself, the Lord was able to do for me when I came to the end of myself. When I despaired of myself, when I knew that I couldn’t do it, and I cried out in desperation, “God help me. I can’t do it.”
Now so often we think that, “Oh, that’s the end of the road when I have to call upon God when I can’t do it”. Oh how tragic that you would get to that point. No. How blessed, because that final cry of despair is often the prelude for the first cry of victory. When God brings you to the absolute end and despairing of yourself, and you know that there is no way you can do it and you give up. Then is when God has the opportunity to step in and begin His work, because He’s taking you one point beyond yourself. That’s always a great point to be. “God it can’t be done unless You do it.” So that then when He goes ahead and does it, I then don’t play the fool and take the glory as though I did it.
Now God wants the glory for the victories in your life. God gave them a glorious victory at Jericho. They thought, “We got it made. Don’t send the whole army, we’ll just go up.” They got whipped, came running back to Joshua. God said, “Don’t cry unto Me there’s sin in the camp. If everything was all right within the camp, you would’ve had the victory. But there’s sin in the camp.” They had taken of the accursed thing. So they called off the tribes, had the tribes come by, and God chose the tribe of Judah. They had the families of Judah come by, and God chose this particular family out of the tribes of Judah. Then God had the families to pass by, and God then picked out from the family, this fellow by the name of Achan from the family of the Zarhites.
and Zabdi was taken: And he brought out his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken (7:17-18).
Now if you were Achan, how would you feel if all the tribes passed by, and then they say, “The tribe of Judah”, you think, “Oh, I wonder.” Then they have all the families of Judah pass by, and they choose this family, the Zarhites. You think, “Uh oh getting closer.” Then they have all the families of the Zarhites pass by, and they choose then your own household. Then it comes right down to you.
And Joshua said to Achan, My son, [I love the way that Joshua deals with him in tenderness, course he dealt pretty firmly in a little bit, but gives him a chance to repent at least, “And Joshua said unto Achan, My son,”] give, I pray thee, glory to Jehovah the God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what have you done; don’t try to hide it from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and I’ve done this: And when I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, I coveted them, and I took them; behold, they are hid in the earth in the middle of my tent, the silver is under it. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and all the children of Israel, and they laid them out before the Lord (7:19-23).
So Achan was guilty of stealing, this belonged to God. It was to be given to the Lord all of the spoil of Jericho. But this man coveted, he saw this beautiful Babylonish garment. He saw this silver and gold, and he coveted these things, and took them and hid them in his tent figuring no one would know, no one would see. But his sin was costly, it cost the lives of thirty-two, thirty-six of the men of Israel, who fell before the men of Ai.
Lot of times a person thinks that he, that his sin only bothers me. “My sin it may hurt me, but it only hurts me”, kind of bit. No sir. Your sin has a bad effect on others. So Achan and his family were brought forth, and Achan was stoned for his sin.
Then they went back to Ai, now this time under the direction of the Lord. Joshua sent part of the army around the other side of the city to hide in ambush. And then he said, “We’ll come to the city like before and attack it with a frontal attack, and then we’ll pretend like we are retreating as before. We’ll start running and let them chase us. And after they’ve all come out and chase after us, then you fellows come from your hiding places and take the city.”
So Joshua sent some of his troops around behind the city to lie in wait. And so in the morning, he with his troops came up to the gates of the city, and the king came out against them with his men. And Joshua and his men began to retreat. And the king called all of the men out to pursue them, “Let’s wipe them out this time”. And they began to pursue Joshua and his men. And they began to run back towards Jericho, and then after all of the men were drawn out of the city, Joshua raised his spear, and the men were hiding in wait. When they saw the signal, they came swooping upon the city that was devoid of men. And they set the city afire, and as soon as they saw the smoke from the city rising, then Joshua and his men stood firm and they started to fight, and these fellows turned around. And they saw the city in flames and their heart was gone, no more heart to fight. And the men of Ai, and the city of Ai, and Bethel were then taken by Joshua and by his troops. Guided now by the Lord, they are successful.
Doing it and trying to do it by their own ingenuity they failed, by their own abilities. But now directed by God they experienced the victory.
So they came then to Mount Ebal, they moved on through. Now we’re on about the middle of the land. Mount Gerezim and Mount Ebal, and there as they were commanded to do “When you come into the land you’re to stand there in the valley, you’re to read the law of the Lord to the people.
And verse thirty-four,
Afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. And there was not a word that Moses commanded, which Joshua did not read before all the congregation of Israel, with the woman, and the little ones, the strangers that were conversant among them (8:34-35).
So they told them the conditions by which they would be blessed of God, the conditions that would bring the curse of God. The conditions by which they could be established in the land, the conditions by which they would be driven from the land. The blessings, the cursings all conditional upon their obedience to the commandment of the Lord.
So we get next week into chapter nine. Shall we stand? May the Lord be with you and bless you, give you a good day tomorrow. May He strengthen you by His hand. May your life just really stand out as a unique, beautiful example for Jesus Christ. God keep you from the accursed thing, that could spoil your witness and your testimony. May you enter into a new dimension of relationship with Him, walking after the Spirit, experiencing more and more of the neat joys of the victory of Christ within your life, as He gives you victory in those areas where you have been struggling so long in vain. May you begin to really enter into the glorious victory through the power of God’s Spirit. May the Lord be with you and give you and your family just a very special, beautiful day as you celebrate God’s love, and the gift of God’s love, Jesus Christ. We love you, and we thank God for the privilege of serving you, representing Him, feeding you in the knowledge of Him. What a joy. What a blessing, what a privilege.