This week lead pastor Keith Welton uses the Battle of Jericho to show us the power of the Divine when we worship God as we were created to do. This sermon continues the series Promises Fulfilled, guiding us step-by-step through the book of Joshua.
Click here for the previous sermon in this series.
British rock band Coldplay believes in having a quiet moment before they step in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans. “Before we play live we have a little moment where we’re just quiet, and have a supportive group hug,” lead singer Chris Martin revealed. Furthermore, Martin has his own way of getting ready before a successful show: “For me, there are about 18 things I have to do before I can go out to perform—One is I have to brush my teeth before I go on stage, otherwise I just don’t feel smart enough.”
The Rolling Stones have plenty of strange requests on their touring rider, one of the band’s most bizarre requirements is a shepherd’s pie for guitarist Keith Richards. He loves the dish and will not go on stage unless he’s eaten one with an unbroken pie crust (he likes to break the crust himself). Richards once refused to perform when he discovered that the band’s security team ate his shepherd’s pie. He delayed the concert until a new one was made and served to him.
Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo and bassist Scott Shriner take a few minutes before every show to throw a Frisbee. “It helps warm up our hands, concentrate our minds, and get us in our own little world,
Before big games Notre Dame football players walk down a hallway and hit a sign that says “Play like a champion today.”
Battle of Jericho
Some people will take time to think through what they need to do. Visualize what they need to do, clear their mind of distractions. We are in the book of Joshua, and today studying the fall of Jericho. This has been anticipated for a while now.
We come to a climactic moment in the book of Joshua. The battle of Jericho. This has been coming for some time now. It is an impenetrable city. They have crossed the Jordan, and now it is in sight. Everything here has been building up to Jericho. He sent spies there. Joshua also had an encounter in Jericho 40 years earlier. God often meets us in the crossroads of life.
The first thing that happens in this is a bit of:
Joshua has an encounter with the Lord. Joshua looks up and sees a man with a drawn sword. Don’t draw a sword unless you are willing to use it.
Joshua confronts this man. Be strong and courageous. Joshua is probably old at this point. Some think around 80. He is strong. And he is courageous.
Are you for us or for our enemies? That is Joshua’s question. If you are against me then you better join me.
Revelation says the sexual immoral, adulterers, all that are outside the city of God. What else does it add in there? The cowardly. But Joshua is bold (Rev 21:8 CSB).
The reply is not what you would think. “No" (Josh. 5:13-14).
How often do we put the question to God, for me or for them? This is Joshua leading God’s people. Certainly he is for him???? No. I’m not for you. I’m not your servant. Doesn’t even answer his question. Confusing. Want more. But there is plenty here. Better get your mind right, Joshua. I am the commander. It's not about me being for you and your agenda. You need to be for me. Get your heart in line with me.
Joshua falls to the ground in worship.
What does he say? Doesn’t deny worship like other angels did in Revelation (22:9 CSB)
This commander of the army accepts worship. Even advises on how to do it. "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so (Josh. 5:15).
While you are worshiping me, go ahead and take off your sandals. Your feet are unclean. And Joshua does so. What would you do if a person said this to you? Playing football. While you are lying on the ground. Go ahead and take off your shoes. Give up. Surrender to me. Soldiers would never do that in battle. Shoes are essential component of battle. Can’t stand without solid footing. Joshua is no longer standing. In this moment his worship is most important.
This is the posture we are to have toward the Lord. We submit to his Lordship. If we fail to do that, then it doesn’t matter what else we do.
Often become more interested in guidance rather than the guide.
The battle of Jericho will be nothing more than an extended time of worship. This is what your life is to be. Do you worship God or do you resist him? Most essential thing you have. God doesn’t play. Each of us will stand before the Lord, the commander of the armies of God. Is God loving? Yes, but he is more holy, worthy, demanding than we can ever imagine.
God calls him to check his heart before he goes any further. Leader of God’s people.
The battle of Jericho is first and foremost an act of worship.
Joshua is an agent of judgment on this city.
What are we reading? How is the command to invade Canaan and wipe out all the resisters compatible with a loving God and the spirit of Jesus to love enemies?
"And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction" (Josh. 6:17 ESV).
"They completely destroyed everything in the city with the sword-- every man and woman, both young and old, and every ox, sheep, and donkey" (Josh. 6:21 CSB).
Implied in this is the men, women, and children. Everything that is there. How is that compatible with Jesus’s teaching?
Let’s look at an understanding of what is going on here, history of redemption:
But also remember, God said if you sin you will die. Anything other than complete obedience to God deserves his righteous judgment. Every one of us should fall on our knees for mercy.
Also foreshadows God judging the world in the age to come. This is not just an old Testament concept. Jesus said he would come back and judge the world. The book of Revelation is about the judgment of God coming on the world. Terrible things are promised to those who continue to reject God.
God judged the world for sin but saved Noah. Saved Noah through judgment of the world. The city of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah and avoided destruction. God even agreed to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if even 10 righteous people could be found (Gen. 18:32). They were not to be found; God destroyed the city.
The problem of a God of love. What if someone steals your car, beats you up, molests, lies. Your friend looks on that person and says, “I love you and you are fine just the way you are,” to slight the wrongs you have suffered. That God would not be just, and a lack of justice is not an expression of love. God is more loving than we could ever imagine. His love burns way hotter, and he promises to defend those he loves. Love makes you stand up for justice. Love holds people accountable.
God is just to bring his wrath on people. In fact, his wrath is necessary in a fallen world. It is what gives you hope that evil will be removed and not coddled. God will remove evil in order to establish his kingdom on Earth. The unique thing in this passage is, here, God calls his people to execute his judgment.
This calls for:
Divine Action, Devotion
Joshua is obedient to God. The key point is that God’s people, all people, the greatest thing they can do, is not to fight other nations but to be obedient to God. This is what Adam and Eve failed at. It’s the greatest thing to be faithful with. It’s not about their own agendas and effort, not finding meaning in themselves, gaining a seven figure income, but it is about being faithful to God.
Militarily their plan makes no sense. March around the city each day and do nothing. Seventh day, march seven times and blow a trumpet and the city will fall. How would you like to deliver that plan to the troops??
God’s goal is not to get us to our goal in the most expedient manner possible. God’s goal is that we worship him. That we stay devoted to him.
*A people who obey God and believe his promises are a people who worship God.
This passage highlights Joshua’s obedience and devotion to God. He doesn't fight the battle of Jericho; God does.
God brings destruction on Jericho. With the blasts of the priests’ shofars, the walls come crumbling down. Did this really happen?
Scripture clearly treats it as historical. Prove it! Difficult to prove it did. Difficult to prove it didn’t. Large site is probably a few football fields long. Much disputed archaeology. There is a burn site from the late bronze age that occurred in the spring because of the presence of grains that would have been harvested in spring. We just do’'t know. Nothing in this world that will eliminate the necessity of faith. We live by faith. This history is anchored in a couple things. God said this would happen, Genesis 15:16. Also say whoever rebuilds this city will do so at the cost of his own son, that happened
Our world rejects creation of the world by God, yet accepts the theory of evolution on blind faith, never seen life spontaneously occur. Now rejects the basics of male and female despite a history contrary to this. What we are seeing now is made clearer than ever, the triumph of ideology over scientific methodology. This was evident in COVID and continues to be more evident today.
Salvation through Judgment
At the blast of the trumpet, The city of Jericho falls, with all of its people, except for a few. Rahab and her family are saved. The Israelites honor the promise they made to her. A prostitute and her family are saved. Ironic. While this shows the judgment that is coming, it also shows the salvation that is found by those who fight to take hold of it. I use “fight” because Rahab was not apathetic, indifferent, or reluctant. She heard about the coming judgment and did everything she could to be found in it. This shows how powerful the grace of God is to those who turn to him. She will be a part of God’s people.
Reminds us that God’s people must turn to him in true faith and repentance, and for those who do so there is redemption.
Rahab acts with great boldness. She saves her life, casts aside her way of life, her house, her people, her job. Gains salvation for herself and for her entire family. She is an example of a true follower of the Lord, as much as Joshua is. Her actions are in accord with what God is doing.
Evil is judged. Those who cry for mercy are saved. God is honored.
Application for Us
We must submit to Jesus as Lord. Trust that he is able to deliver us. We must be obedient to the mission he gives to us.
The mission is first and foremost of worship. If we do not worship, there is no mission. Everything else hinges on this. If we are worshiping him, faithfulness will follow. Don’t tell him no and try to do things your own way.
Jesus does not call his church to fight military battles but to engage in spiritual warfare. The good news is proclaimed and the love of Christ displayed to others. We must respond to the warning God gives to us. Don't keep going your own way. Judgment is coming. Must escape it by turning to him in faith and allegiance.
The weapons we fight with, the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We proclaim the gospel as the power of God to salvation for all people. We pray.
Make disciples of all nations… baptizing… and teaching them….
Gather as the church. When you read the New Testament, the church is not a building, but a community of God’s people focused on the things of God. One of the reasons so little is happening today is because Christians invest so little into the church. People have the world’s view of the church rather than God’s.
Commitment to Jesus is a commitment to his people.
Have we postured our hearts in complete devotion to Jesus?
Coming up on summer. Pray about people God is calling you to. Go grab coffee and get to know them. Do it with someone inside the church and outside the church.
What are you praying for? What concerns you? Is it your own comforts or is it the salvation of souls? Many people have a hard time with the Bible’s teaching on judgment, there is an even harder time for people who believe this and yet they have no concern for people experiencing that judgment. If God answered your prayers, would eternity be any different?
- Believe God’s judgment and salvation
- Pray for people.
- Move toward people.
- Go deeper with them: what are their hopes, fears?
- Jesus is the answer to all the things wrong in the world.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.