Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Honor Roll of Faith: Joshua

Full Transcript:

Open your Bibles this morning and turn to Hebrews 11:30 and then also turn to Joshua 6, because there is a context to this passage. Let’s pray as you are turning there. Lord God, I desire to preach today but I go weak and needy to my task. Yet Lord, I long for Your people that they might be edified by divine truth. Give me assistance, Lord, in my preaching. I lean upon Your Spirit and trust in Your presence. I ask Lord, that You would together teach us how to live by faith. I pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.

We have been looking at the Honor Roll of Faith in Hebrews 11 and I have been saying week after week that we have seen God’s faithful believing and putting their faith into action. Faith is an action word, it is not a word to sit and do nothing. Every day you wake up and you need to have faith. This is displayed to us by the honor roll of faith, what faith is and what faith does. But the truth is that everybody lives by faith.

The only difference between Christian and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith. The critical issue is what you believe or who you believe in. Telling people to live by faith is invalid if they have no understanding of the object of their faith. It means nothing. Faith has no validity without an object. Some of our faith objects are valid, some are not.

For instance, suppose you are driving a car and you see a green light. You would probably drive right through the intersection without taking a second thought that you just did that by faith. In other words, first you believed that the light was red in the opposite direction even though you did not see it. Secondly, you believed that you when the other driver saw the red light he or she would stop. That is a lot of faith. But if you did not believe it, you would not go through many intersections.

Most stoplight intersections have tended to be reliable or you would not be sitting here this morning. What tends to be reliable, we tend to trust. We tend to trust people or things that have proven to be reliable over a long period of time. For example, most people accept by faith the fixed order of the universe, primarily the solar system. You set your watch, plan your calendar, and schedule your day believing that the earth will continue to rotate on its axis and revolve around the sun at its current speed. If it did not do that, we would be in big trouble. So far the laws governing the physical universe have been the most trustworthy faith objects we have.

The God who created the world placed those objects there. But what happens when the objects of our faith proves to be unreliable? You may bear with it for awhile but finally you give up on it and say it is unreliable. It would be foolish to trust someone or something that has proven to be unreliable over and over again. The ultimate object of course is not the universe, but the Son Jesus Christ. It says in Hebrews 13:8 that:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

It also says in Numbers 23:19:

God is not a man, that He should lie.

If He said it then He will do it. The fact that God is immutable or unchangeable makes Him eminently trustworthy. God cannot change! Is that not good? God has to keep His word, He cannot go back on it. The eternal consistency of God is why we can have faith in Him and put our trust in Him every second of every day. Has not the writer of Hebrews given us sufficient evidence that Jesus Christ is the believer’s only legitimate object of faith? Hebrews already told us about our object of faith.

Jesus Christ is the final revelation, the Heir of all things. He is the Creator of the world. He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of His nature and upholds the universe by the Word of His power. He made purification for sin and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High. He is God enthroned forever with the scepter of righteousness. He is worshipped by angels and rules as an authority. His rule will have no end and His joy is above all things in the universe. He took on human flesh and was crowned with glory and honor because of His self sacrifice.

He is the founder of our salvation and was made perfect in obedience by His suffering. He destroyed the one who has the power of death, the devil. He delivered us from bondage of fear and He is merciful and is a thankful High Priest. He made propitiation for our sins. He is sympathetic because of our own trials and He knows our deepest needs. He never sinned and offered up loud cries of tears to God and God heard Him. He became the source of eternal salvation and upholds His priesthood by virtue of an indestructible life and He appears in the presence of God on our behalf. He will come a second time for those who eagerly await for Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! That is who He is! Can He not be trusted for our eternal salvation?!

When people struggle with their faith in God, it is not because their faith object has failed or is insufficient. It is because they do not have a true knowledge of God and His ways. Faith in God fails only when people have faulty understanding of the God of the Bible.

So write this somewhere down in your Bibles, or wherever you look regularly at Scripture. If you want your faith in God to increase, you must increase your knowledge of God! Your knowledge of God must come from God’s Word. Every time you hear the Word preached and you are listening and understanding, your knowledge is growing. Every time you have a Bible study, you are reading Scripture, you are doing a devotion, you are listening to a sermon, then you are growing in the knowledge of God. In the Word of God, is God’s Word and not man’s word.

That brings me to Hebrews 11:30 where it says:

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.

You may have read that and passed over it without thinking about what it says. But it says tons about real faith. Joshua, Caleb, and the new generation of Israelites could not have fought the battles ahead of them if the object of faith was not God Himself. They cannot be wavering between God’s Way and the world’s way of beating the Jerichos of life. All of us will have them!

It was John Piper who said, “God is enough. God is good. He will take care of us and satisfy us. He will get us through. He is our Treasure and God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” That must be and is what God is doing in your life.

Joshua and the new generation of Israelites is the picture of going after the promise. God had brought the people to the edge of the Jordan river through forty years of wandering in the wilderness. They saw many funerals, in fact if you did the math there were probably several a day, maybe more.

All they did was keep burying people. God said that a certain group of people would not enter the promise land because of their sin against Him. God does not only keep the promise of doing good but also being holy, just, and of carrying out His wrath. The promised land was just on the other side for the people and they had to engage in battle. It was theirs but they had to fight for it!

In other words, they had to take their spiritual weapons that God had given them and step out in faith. Remember the last time I was in this passage? I ended with three things that we learned from Moses’ faith. The first is that we overcome difficulties by faith in God’s power. We overcome fear by faith in God’s presence. And we avoid God’s wrath for judgment by faith in God’s provision. The provision was the blood that was put over the doorpost, and when God saw the blood He passes over in judgment. And when someone comes to Christ and the blood is over them, then God’s justice and judgment will pass over. But not because of anything they or you can do! It is because of what Christ had done. It is all of grace that God gives you.

His Word points us to note with the purpose of implementation that it is the four indispensable actions that we find in Joshua 6. If our faith is going to be victorious, the indispensable components of obedience, focusing on our object of faith, reliance on God, and of course also praising God. Once God does something in your heart, you cannot be silent! You have to say something and shout it out! We are experiencing a little bit of Heaven before we get there and we are learning how to live in the presence of God before we get into His true presence with resurrected, new bodies. That is the hope we have and the promise we have from God. That is where we are going.

So here is the first thing. Look at Joshua 6 and notice the background it has for the passage we looked at earlier in Hebrews. When the writer of Hebrews mentions this passage, he is talking about obedience and how it is the evidence of faith.

How do you know someone believes? They obey God, His Word, and His provision in Jesus Christ. God can be and should be trusted. That is what real faith is. In Hebrews 11:30, the word after indicates that something proceeded the walls falling down. What was it? It was unflinching obedience and undaunted faith.

Remember it was by faith that the walls came down. This word undaunted by definition means not discouraged or not forced to abandon your purpose or your effort. It means not giving way to fear and furthermore not being deterred or afraid by the prospect of defeat, loss, or failure. Of course Biblically, it is because of the object of faith and that belief that God is able to do and promise what He would do. This is a good Word to describe the faith of God’s people. A faith that God’s people need to have today and this very moment.

We move through this world and confront many issues, problems, and difficulties, and yet even so the Israelites when faced with similar issues did not stop or quit. They kept believing God and obtained the victory. They saw the activity of faith as God’s people began to engage more and trusted God Himself. The principle stronghold of the land of Canaan was Jericho. Whether the walls of Jericho were very great or not was not really the important issue here. Although they probably were and most of the Israelites never even saw a fortified city, with walls around and soldiers posted on top of them. That was part of the protection of that city. So the first thing the Israelites come to is not a little old town, but a fortified, great one which God says for them to take down! How do they do that? With swords and sticks and a bunch of rough people?

The principle stronghold was right there, Jericho and how significant is the extent of Joshua’s and the people’s obedience to what God tells them to do in order for the walls to come tumbling down. If God’s people are going to have success in warfare, and if they are going to live by faith, they must trust Him at the point of His Word. We must be tested to see if we are battle ready. That test comes in how much faith we have that grows us.

If you look at Joshua 6:2, the first thing is that He believes in the promises of God:

The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.

There is a walled city and valid warriors in that city; the Israelites know very little about warfare and the city also has a king. In Joshua 6:3, it shows that they had to meditate on God’s Word:

You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days.

This is God’s plan, and the only thing we see here is that it is not logical. But He is asking Joshua and the people to think about what He is saying to do because He wants them to carry it out in detail. Also indirectly, the Word of God has been working on the inhabitants of Jericho. Their responses become evident in Joshua 6:1, which says:

Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in.

They were shutting up their city because they heard what happened to the other kings on the other side of the Jordan that Israel defeated, and they were afraid. Why would anyone be afraid of a bunch of rag-torn people from the wilderness if there is a clear distinction in military prowess and stability in fortification?

The reason is because of the promise that God gave way back when when God told Moses and Joshua to gather the people together and read the Word to them. They need to hear the Word for themselves in order to think about it and meditate on it. This is in Deuteronomy 11:25, where it says:

No man will be able to stand before you. The Lord your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set your foot as He has spoken to you.

In other words, God had already said that when they are up against the people He is going to strike fear in their hearts and prepare their hearts to be afraid of them. If fear sets in a warrior, they are already done for, and God did that very thing. Back in Joshua 2:24, it says:

And they said to Joshua, “Surely the Lord has given all the land into your hands. Moreover all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.”

In other words, these people were scared to death of Israel and because what they heard the God of Israel through His people on the other side of the Jordan. They were scared to death.

That means something! The people had to think in their mind that Jericho was before them and it was unable to be defeated by human ability. But God said He was going to do this, so we will have to trust Him. The people were ready to trust God, but there was another component in their warfare. It was the awareness of the perpetual presence of God. It says in Joshua 6:4:

Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.

That is a picture of trusting in the presence of God. The Lord gave explicit instructions to His people from whom He demanded implicit obedience. If they did not carry out God’s Word in God’s way, they would fail. The Lord gave Joshua strange commands in this passage of Scripture. He says in Joshua 6:3-4:

You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.

Here is the procession: we have the soldiers going out, the seven priests carrying seven ram’s horns, or shofars, which were instruments that trumpeted the presence of God or war. Then came the arc on the soldiers of the priests and the people, and lastly the rear guard came up. The order to proceed was once around the walled city each day, and then they were to maintain absolute silence as in Joshua 6:10, which says:

But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!

Here is a rag-tag group of wilderness people going around the city. Can you imagine what the soldiers on the wall would say? “Where in the world are these people coming from and why are they marching around the city?”

The priests intermittently blew the rams’ horns and on the seventh day, silence was maintained as they circled seven times. On the seventh day, the priests blew their trumpets on a long blast and then Joshua, in Joshua 6:5 & 10, commands them to shout!

That is God’s marching orders. Just place yourself in the shoes of these people. They were standing before a walled city that was very great when the first set of spies set out by Moses came out with a majority report. The report was evil because they failed to trust God’s Word and they came back and said that the city and soldiers were too strong.

It says in Numbers 13:28:

Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.

The faithless spies saw the very great walled city as unassailable. Here is a definite call to view things with the eye of the Spirit rather than the weak flesh. We have to contemplate this obstacle by faith and not by carnal reasons. It is paramount in our spiritual lives too because we are not going to win spiritual battles with carnal weapons. We will only win the battle against Satan, the flesh, and the world with spiritual weapons.

Those spiritual weapons are God’s Word, Presence, Power. That is why we trust Him, remember the definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

According to human reason, these instructions are not logical. Any military leader knows that a city like Jericho must be taken by force. The city walls are cleared by bombardment, they are scaled by ladders and ropes, the gates are destroyed by battering rams, troops are to be taken by the sword, and Israel is not equipped to do these at all. They are not equipped with the logic of these military implements. Yet Israel believed in God.

A good spiritual principle to glean here is that a life of faith is a life of obedience to God’s directions, even when they seem illogical. Even when you cannot bring them to a logical conclusion. Faith expressed in obedience to God’s Word is always the key to victory.

Each one of us will have our strongholds and walled cities to conquer. It may come in the form of tribulations, difficulties, hopes not met, disappointing people, bad health, financial worries, etc. For some it may be a difficult family situation or a complexing financial problem, for others it may be a dispositional weakness like indifference or materialism. Or maybe you are a workaholic and getting the dream is just a vicious cycle. Whatever it may be, the test will be conquered by faith when that person gives himself unreservedly to God. That is when He gets the victory.

Faith’s evidence is obedience. And obedience in a very real sense is a weapon for a believer. The walls come down because God’s Word was obeyed. Something impossible happened because God’s Word was obeyed!

A second thing right there in Joshua 6 is faith focus, an indispensable sense of God’s presence. We need that today! We must believe the promise of God’s special presence among His people. God is with us here today!

If God somehow allowed us to see what is unseen, you may have angels sitting next to you. You may see things that you would never believe. God’s presence is here and when we go out to work or school, God’s presence is there too! The presence of God is in believers by the Spirit of God! That is an essential element of faith.

When you are facing the Jerichos of life, God does not leave you. He says that He is going to fight with and for you and be present among you. In Joshua 6:6-8 it says:

So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the Lord.” And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them.

In other words, the ark of the covenant was the most important piece of furniture in the wilderness tabernacle because it was the meeting place between God and man. It was the picture in someone’s mind of not just seeing the ark, but also the presence of God among them. The ark signifies God the awe of God. In the container of the ark was the testimony of God, the law of Moses. And God’s faithfulness was in there, the manna of the wilderness was put in there to show that God provides for His people.

The overall picture is that God is here! If God is here, then do of whom do we have to be afraid of, because of who He is? The Lord was considered all over Scripture to be enthroned between the cherubim. We read about that this morning. In the middle of the cherubim was the mercy seat and the blood that was poured over so the relationship between God and the people can be maintained by the blood sacrifice. That was very important for people to know that God was among them.

At times the ark was called the ark of God, but it was always the visible sign that the invisible was dwelling in the midst of His people. Faith’s focus is on the presence of God. Believers who live by faith and the promise of God’s special presence among them are the ones who win the victory that they are going to overcome. In fact, God thought this to be so important that this is what He did for Joshua, similar to what He did for Moses. Here is this faithful guy all these years and who was second in command to Moses. Moses talked to God face to face and maybe Joshua was squeamish about what was ahead of them and God did something for him. Look at Joshua 5:13-14:

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”

What is God doing there? This is what is known as a theophany, Jesus Christ being present in the Old Testament. Joshua immediately knew it was not just an angel because he responded by bowing to the ground and the angel did not tell him to get up. It is just like what happened with Moses and the burning bush. God told Moses his name and Moses fell on his face before God. God responded to him by saying for him to take his sandals off because where he is standing is holy ground. He tells Moses He is not like man, that He keeps His promises. He says, “I am present with you, I am for you. I will fight for you and win your battles. I will take you into my presence someday.” Every Christian has to know that or we cannot live by faith. That is where we must be. Look at Joshua 5:15:

The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua knew he was standing in the presence of God, you better believe it. But also notice the stance the angel of the Lord takes. He has his sword out and drawn. He is saying to Joshua that He will win for him, and not to be afraid of the people, the fortified cities, the giants, or things that are bigger than him. He just needs to bask in His presence and obey God and His Word!

That is exactly what increases our faith. A knowledge of what God promised, what God will do, and what God can do! That is what faith is. I need it, you need it, and this is for every day. And it is beyond salvific faith.

The priests’ horns sounded constantly to herald the presence of warfare and God among them. It was God’s presence encircling Jericho for seven days. Faith always has to do with God. He is the object of our faith and His Word is the ruler and regulator of our faith.

A life of faith is a life that is constantly aware of God’s presence and is focused on Him. Do you live like that? Do you live with the thought every moment of every day that God is present with you? He knows every thought you are thinking, do you live in the light of understanding that truth? That God is holy and what we think and do, He sees.

God is a God of compassion, kindness, and long suffering but also of justice. He will hold you responsible for everything but He has also made provision through Christ Jesus through His sacrifice. He becomes the substitute for sinners. He dies in your place, takes the wrath of God and satisfies the justice of God so you can be set free.

He fights those battles on the cross that you and I could never fight and win. He does it all. When He does that, I know His presence is with me every single second of the day. Our eyes of faith need to be open to realize the spiritual presence of our God, even in our own church so that we would never be the same. We often fail at this point, and we take our eyes off of the Lord to place on some other resource, person, scheme, thing in order to find answers to accomplish our mission to overcome our problems instead of basking in the presence of God and figuring out His will from His Word. We always miss it and then we get discouraged, depressed, and we stay there.

Remember the psalm we read where David god depressed. But once he started thinking again about God, He rescued him! He started to see things through God’s eyes and God’s plan for him. This is a very essential component that you must believe about the presence of God every day of your life.

There is a third component, of faith-reliance, of waiting on God. Look at Joshua 6:14:

Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days.

Could you imagine doing this? They had to show restraint and not resort to fleshly ingenuity or weaponry for six days. They waited with restraint in verse 10, they waited without grumbling in verse 15, so the walls of Jericho did not fall right away. The had no immediate results that what they were doing would even win a battle. The only thing they could do is wait and trust in their God.

Brethren, is it not in the waiting that we get the most discouraged? That is where we lose it all! They were also anticipating in verse 20 what God would do! They could not wait to express their assurance on God where it tells us they are anticipating God coming through on His promises.

In other words they are marching around the city wondering what God is going to do! God says to them that He is going to win the battle, but He did not tell them how! The could not wait to express their assurance, they fully trusted the Lord for what would take place.

The last component of faith is God’s power. I have to believe that God is able to do what He says He is going to do. He has the wherewithal to accomplish everything He says. Hebrews 1:3 says:

[He] upholds all things by the word of His power.

How is He able to do that?! I do not know! But He does it! And every day I experience it! That is what He does regularly. When God some day allows the nuclear glue to come apart, as it says in 2 Peter 3:10, it will just come apart because God says so. He is the Creator God, the powerful God, the God who when you trust Him does impossible and miraculous things.

Look at Joshua 6:16:

At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.”

They were also to separate everything that was God’s for Him, and everything else they were to kill. This is hard for some people to take but the reason why God tells His people to go in and kill everything is because they were idolators. They did every sin imaginable that you can think of on earth without shame. A holy God cannot have that. God has to hold His judgment upon them. Look at Joshua 6:17-20:

“The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the Lord; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.

To fall down means the walls fell in their place. Probably six foot thick rock walls fell down. How? Because God can say the word “disintegrate” and the walls will go down immediately. Let us look at what happened further in Joshua 6:21:

They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

Why? Because God said that He is holy and wants the place to be rid of sin and be burned to the ground. These are some of the important components included in a faith that is successful in conquest and battle. So then the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, can be unquestionably obeyed. He can be trusted as permanently present with us. He can be absolutely relied upon, and emphatically shouted about and praise for His unending faithfulness to His people.

By faith, the walls of Jericho fell in their place only after the people had circled the city for seven days and trusted in God’s presence, in His promises, and in His power. That is how we win and grow in faith, because all the trust was in God. I pray that for you and myself. The only way I can grow in faith today is if the knowledge I have of God increases all the time. We cannot be fooling around now or sitting out. We have to give ourselves to God’s Word to know and understand what it says! We have to put it into practice. God is not going to allow you to know all these things about Him and just do nothing! He is going to allow you to come to the place where you stand up in front of the Jericho in your life. Those walls and sinful habits are going to come down. We need to be made right with God, but not on our own. It has to be based on the battle that God fought for us on the cross, which is the greatest battle that anyone could fight.

Go to Him and ask Him to forgive you. Ask Him to give you a broken heart over your sin. Call on Him as your Lord and Savior because He came to seek and to save that which is lost. Believe me, once you become a believer, God never leaves you! You may leave Him but He does not leave you. That is a promise that we have in the Word of God. God is going to take us through this life, through our troubles and trials right into His presence.

Let us pray. Lord, thank You this morning or Your people and Your Word. I just ask You that You would take the Word of God and bolster our faith with it, and strengthen us in Christ Jesus. Use it to help us know that You will never leave us or forsake us. You are God like no other and You keep Your promises and do not lie to us. Thank You, Lord, and I pray that You would bring those who do not know You to faith in Christ and strengthen those who are already in Christ so they become strong soldiers in the battles of life. I pray that in each one, we would win them not by carnal weapons, but in Christ Jesus. Thank You, Lord, we praise You for all that You have done here. In Christ I ask You, Amen.