Points Covered: Victorious living is a sermon based on Joshua 5 and 6. Five ways to have a victorious life based on the Israel’s victory over Jericho.
Introduction: We live in a culture that encourages people to chase after victorious living. People plan, strategize, and work hard for success. I agree on this to a certain level. Yes, we will need to plan and work hard. However, I also feel that there is a better way to victorious living. When we put the principles of this book into our lives, victorious living becomes a lifestyle.
Today we are going to see five keys of victorious living.
The Israelites have crossed over flooding Jordan and went up to Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. Now they are on the promised land, they just got to take possession of it. However, we find in Joshua 5 that God did not allow the Israelites to conquer Jericho right away.
In chapter five we see that before they can conquer others, they must first allow God to conquer them. They have to get some things right with Him before they can fight for Him. The same is true for us. We want to do something in life or we want to do something for God. God says, “Slow down. I want to make sure you’ve surrendered yourself to me.” Jericho was the first visible obstacle ahead of them but it was not the first thing that had to be dealt with. The outward never is. The biggest problem is always me and my will. Before Jericho could be taken care of, the hearts of the people had to be dealt with. We see four ways in which God made them submit to his will Joshua 5.
1. A submitted life.
Victorious living is the result of a submitted life. What was their submission in Joshua 5?
Joshua 5:2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.
Circumcision was the sign that they were God’s covenant people, first promised to Abraham in Genesis 17:11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.
Now after 40 years of wandering in the desert, the older generation had died but their sons had never been circumcised. It was critical that this happen according to Genesis 17:14 Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. This renewal was a reminder that God had not left them and that He would fulfill all His promises to them.
While every Jew understood the importance of this, it certainly didn’t seem to make for good military strategy! It would have made much more sense to do this when they were on other side of the Jordan. The procedure would certainly have incapacitated the men for a few days. Imagine what it would have been like for a soldier in the army of Israel who had probably been thinking through some military strategy. Now you’re laid up for a few days. You’ve crossed into enemy territory and are poised to march in and take the land. The Jordan River is roaring behind you so you have no escape route if your enemies come after you.
God’s people must learn that obedience always goes before victory. God’s essentially asking: “Do you really trust me? Do you believe I can protect you? Will you obey even when it seems outrageous to do so?” Everything about this seems designed to point out that God’s ways are not our ways.
The second step in submission is for them to trust God. Remember after the circumcision they celebrate the Passover. Joshua 5:10-12 10On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover.11The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. 12The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.
It had been about 39 years since they had observed this important reminder of how God had freed them from Egypt. God had delivered them through sacrifice, substitution and satisfaction of a perfect lamb’s life. The day after this Passover, they ate some of the produce of the land and the manna stopped. God was now going to provide for them from the land. He’s actually taking away something that they no longer need and giving them another opportunity to trust Him.
He does the same with us, doesn’t He? God sometimes takes away things dear to us and expects us to trust him. What has God taken from you recently? He wants you to trust Him more.
The third step God did in requiring submission is total surrender. The men are now circumcised and Passover has been celebrated. Joshua is ready to go, but God knows he’s not quite ready because Joshua’s will has not yet fully surrendered before Him.
As Joshua was near Jericho, likely scouting out the situation so he could come up with a strategy, he saw a man standing in front of him. Joshua 5:13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
Whatever the case, Joshua does what we tend to do. He wants the stranger to be on his side. The answer Joshua receives is jolting: Joshua 5:14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” It was the Lord Jesus Christ standing before Joshua. Is it wrong question to ask God whose side He is on? The right question is this: Am I on His side? We don’t recruit Him; He recruits us. Notice that He is a warrior with a sword drawn. We need to get out of the way, fall to our knees face down and surrender before this warrior.
Joshua’s will had to completely fall down and surrender before the walls would fall because the walls fall only after the will falls. God expects us total surrender before he takes over your life and makes it into a victorious one.
One more thought of surrender, sanctification. Joshua 5:15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. This brings back the memories of Moses’ encounter with God on the mountain in Exodus 3:5, Joshua is commanded in here to take of his sandals, for the place where he was standing was holy.
Joshua did so immediately. We must see God as holy. Exodus 20:20…the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning. Here’s the deal. If we don’t view God as holy, we won’t surrender our will to His will and we’ll sin at will as well.
The real battle of Jericho was fought right here and it was won when Joshua fell to the ground because the walls fall only after the will falls. Once Joshua has surrendered, Jericho’s surrender becomes imminent. Friend, what about you? Have you surrendered to God’s will? Are you living in covenant relationship with Him?
We come now to Joshua 6. This is a section of victory of one battle after another through Joshua 12.
Jericho was considered the greatest walled fortress of all time, and a militarily citadel unparalleled in those days. The city was built to withstand any invasion. The walls were anywhere from 30 to 60 feet high and from 12 to 45 feet thick, walls so thick that chariots could traverse atop them and that Rahab had her house there. From a human perspective it was considered an unconquerable city.
Joshua 6:1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. The residents of Jericho were petrified by the Israelites. The enemy is afraid of the people who submits to God.
This is a fulfillment of Exodus 23:27 I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.
Because of fear the people of Jericho were afraid. Archaeologists have discovered large jars of grain at Jericho which indicates that they were stocking up to withstand a long siege. The phrase “tightly shut up” also implies arrogant confidence that no one could harm them.
Keep in mind that because of what God first did inside Joshua in the previous chapter, these outward steps in victorious living are secondary.
2. Be Aware.
Victorious living comes from the awareness of our position in Christ. We move from victory to victory. Joshua 6:2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.
When Joshua and his people looked at the city they were to see it as already defeated. Likewise, in our lives, we must see that the victory is already ours as stated in 1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Illustration: Suppose someone gives me a cheque of Rs. 1 Lakh. I have that money with me but I will not enjoy the benefits unless I put it into my account. Likewise, Joshua and his people were told that the victory had been won but until they acted on it, the victory would not have been theirs.
However, we must always understand that our victory has been won for us and we need to appropriate it.
3. Be Consistent.
We need to be consistent in what we do for victorious living. Consistency leads to a victorious life. God was teaching Israel consistency here. Joshua 6:3-5 3March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
While this probably seemed silly and not very strategic to the armed men, they chose to obey anyway. Look at the excruciating detail and the need for daily repetition. Sometimes God just wants us to keep doing what we’re doing, day in and day out; as long as we’re being consistent.
See the order in the parade lineup: The armed men were out front, followed by seven priests with seven trumpets. Next the Ark of the Covenant, followed by the rear guard of troops. The trumpets were to keep sounding while this processional marched around the city once a day for six days. Commentators estimate that this trip around the city took from 30 minutes to an hour each day.
On the seventh day, they got up early and marched around seven times. After hearing the long blast they people were to give a loud shout. This would have taken up to 14 hours.
This was a very unusual strategy but it just asked them to be consistent in their faith to God. Hebrews 6:12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Be consistent in what you do for the Lord. It maybe your prayers, devotion or separation. It maybe your giving and the people who are seeing you are mocking you. Be consistent. God will honor you for it.
God could have wiped out Jericho immediately but he chose to wait a week. They walked around a total of 13 times in 7 days and nothing happened. The walls just stood there, mocking them. My guess is that the enemies were ridiculing them as well. I wonder if the Israelites felt like they were just going in circles and not getting anywhere. The had to trust God and be consistent.
Abraham was given the promise of a son and had to wait 25 years for Isaac to be born. If you’ve been waiting, hang in there. Don’t despair.. Keep walking. Be consistent.
4. Quietness and trust.
God wants us to be quiet and confident. Joshua 6:10 But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!”
God didn’t want them to do any bad talking while they walked around the walls nor did he want them to complain or murmur about how silly this all was. Their parents were well-known for being complainers out in the desert and it’s as if God doesn’t want to give them the opportunity to make this same mistake. By keeping quiet, they also couldn’t discourage each other by sharing their fears. Quietness and trust leads to victorious living.
James 3:2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God.
Interestingly, this psalm was written when Jerusalem was under attack. You maybe under attack, you maybe be going through a tough time, God is tell you to be quiet and trust him.
One Sunday a teacher asked his Sunday School class this question: “Who broke down the walls of Jericho?” One young boy quickly responded, “It wasn’t me, sir!” Joshua would have answered the same way. It was God at work and it was faith that accomplished it.
Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.
God wants us to move out by faith and then He does His work. They shouted before the walls got wobbly. It’s interesting that Joshua’s name is not used at all in Hebrews 11. The other heroes of faith are listed like this: “By faith Moses…by faith Isaac…by faith Jacob…by faith Abel.” The emphasis here is that God wiped out the walls and He did it when the people put their faith in Him. All the glory is His, as it should be.
There’s a difference between faith and fact. A minister once tried to demonstrate the difference by saying to the congregation: “It’s a fact that you are sitting in pews. It’s a fact that I’m standing behind this pulpit. But it’s only by faith that I believe that you are listening to me.” Friends, if God said it; I believe it and that settles it.
The Israelites got it right in chapter 6 because they moved out by faith but in chapter 7 they focus on the facts and they get it all wrong. After spying out the next city to conquer, they were filled with pride and overconfidence: “Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there” Trusting in their own strength, the Israelites were routed and their courage melted. Not only did they neglect to consult the Lord, they lost because a man named Achan sinned by deliberately disobeying God’s clear commands which caused God’s anger “to burn against Israel”. We must be constantly on guard against overconfidence and be vigilant to make sure we deal with “sin in the camp.”
I heard about an enthusiastic preacher who was exhorting his congregation to become more active and to get moving: “Brothers and sisters, what this church needs is the energy to get up and walk.” One of the members shouted out: “Let her walk brother, let her walk.” The preacher, feeling energized now, said a bit louder: “But we cannot be satisfied with walking, we’ve got to pick up speed and run.” The same member chimed in: “Let her run preacher, let her run!” The pastor was really into the message now and declared: “Running is not enough either. One of these days the church has got to fly!” The same member replied, “Let her fly preacher, let her fly.” The preacher then said, “But if this church is going to fly, we’re all going to have to work harder and give more.” To which the member said with little enthusiasm: “Let her walk brother, let her walk.”
Friends, it’s time to not just think about thinking about making a decision. It’s time to put feet to our faith. I close with two questions.
Will you right now, to the best of your ability, fully surrender to the Lord? The battle is not always against other things but is often with ourselves. It might involve giving or forgiving. The walls fall only after the will falls.
What’s your Jericho today? What insurmountable obstacle are you facing? Will you trust God enough to do something that feels and looks foolish? Will you take the risk?