2021-02-14

Charles Billingsley

Have you ever faced a situation or a crisis that seemed impossible to overcome?  Or have you ever stared at a problem that you just didn’t have the answer for or the ability to figure out?

It’s 1407 BC

Moses has just died.

Joshua is now the clear and chosen leader of Israel.  I imagine he was overwhelmed and probably full of anxiety and fear.

The weight of an entire nation is on his shoulders now.

He was originally names Hoshea, but at some point Moses changed his name to Joshua, which means YAHWEH Saves!  There are so many correlations between the Joshua of the old Testament, and Jesus our Savior.  In fact, Jesus is the greek form of the Hebrew name, Joshua.  And just like God used Joshua to bring his people into a promised Kingdom through physical warfare, Jesus would come to earth as God’s only begotten son to usher in a new Kingdom through Spiritual warfare….Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  And of course, just like Joshua experiences victory on the battlefield so that the people of Israel would have a home in the promised land, Jesus conquered sin, death, hell and the grave so we would have a home in heaven one day.

This book is the transition book that tells us the story of the Children of Israel moving from the wilderness to the promised land.

What was promised to Abraham over 440 years earlier is now being possessed by Joshua and a new generation.

The people have been in the wilderness for 40 years!

So in the book of Joshua we see that God has commissioned him with a two fold task.

1. To drive out the inhabitants of Canaan – this promised land.

2. To divide the land between the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

Joshua overview

Chapters 1-5 – Joshua and the people enter the land

Chapters 6-12 – Joshua conquers the land- starting with Jericho, moving upwards through the center, then the south and then the north.

Chapters 13-21 – Joshua divides the land among the 12 tribes

Chapters 22-24 – The children of Israel begin to function as a nation.

Joshua 1 – God commissions Joshua and gives him the command to take the promised Land

If there were a song that sums up the book of Joshua, it would be Great is Thy Faithfulness.

So as we look briefly at a few specific moments here in Joshua, we are going to talk about some important life lessons that we can draw from this book.  I believe there are dozens, but we only have time for a few.  So let’s look at it from two perspectives.  What we can expect from God, and What God expects from us.

What you can expect from God:

1. God always has a plan: 

Joshua 1:2 NKJV  – “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.

God’s plans are always perfect and they come with a guarantee…He is with us!   Nothing surprises God.  Nothing just occurs to God.  He is sovereign and He is always in control, and He always has a plan for your life and mine.  The issue is not whether or not God has a plan, it is whether or not we are going to follow it!   This is what happened with the children of Israel.  What was supposed to be an 11 day journey from Egypt to the promised land took 40 years!  Why? Because of the disobedience and sin of the people!  But it was NOT because God didn’t have a plan.

He made it so clear to them. But even in their disobedience, He still provided for them.

in fact,  Every day there was miracles.

Follow the pillar of cloud by day. Follow the pillar of fire by night.  If those move, you move.

Then there was the manna!  Every day.  Just enough.  It lasted for that day only.  Gave them the nourishment they needed in the desert!  They didn’t have to hunt, plant, grow, harvest….nothing.  It was waiting on the ground for them each morning.  Of course, everyday eating the same food must have gotten a little old.  And they complained non-stop about it.  They had to get creative…

bamanna bread for breakfast?

manna-cotti for dinner?

toast a little manna bread with some manna cheese on there…maybe add a little manna-aise?

I don’t know…but the fact is…it was there.  everyday.  And they survived.

It was an everyday miracle.  But the people got so used to it, they didn’t even think about it anymore.  So they become presumptuous and ungrateful.

You know can become the same way. We need to remember, that each and every day is a miracle in so many ways.   Just think about it.

 

Right this very moment, your heart is pumping about 1.5 gallons of blood through your body at about 100,000 beats per day.  Every minute it beats, it is pumping 5-6 quarts of blood through your blood vessels keeping you alive. And there are over 100,000 miles worth of blood vessels in your body…enough to circle the earth 4 times!!!

You have a DNA construct that is different than anybody else in the entire world that has ever been or ever will be!  You are totally unique.

All the while you are sitting here on planet earth that is being heated by a blazing ball of fire known as the sun. It is beaming light and heat to us from 93 millions away.  It takes the light 8.3 minutes to reach us… and we are just far away enough to where we don’t fry, and just close enough to where we don’t freeze.  All this while we are traveling through space at a speed of  67,000 mph around that sun.  While at the same time, spinning on an axis at the rate of 1,037 mph at the equator.  All of this is happening right now.  And you’re not in the middle of a miracle?   Come on!!!  We are in the middle of multiple miracles a day!

So the children of Israel have witnessed miracle after miracle. God has shown them time and time again that He has a plan for them.  All they have to do is believe and follow His commands.

Sin always disrupts God’s plan for your life. Run from sin and follow God’s plan.

In Numbers 13, God told Moses to send into the promised land 12 spies..one from each tribe.  But when they returned after 40 days, only two gave a good report.  The other ten were scared to death and in turn freaked all the people out.  As a result, God punished them for their lack of faith. One year for every day they were gone spying on the land. (Numbers 14)   Further more, God told them only two people from the entire population…over 2,000,000 would actually live to see the promised land….Joshua and Caleb..the two spies that gave the positive report.

Sin and disobedience disrupted God’s plan for the Israelites.  And it will disrupt God’s plan for your life, as well.  

But one thing you can always expect from God…He has a plan.

2. God uses people you may never expect.  (Rahab)

Are there any people who have entered your life in an unexpected way and God ended up using them big time to bless you?  or speak wisdom into you?   I have a very long list of those individuals.  And ultimately, it’s these kinds of relationships that will cause you to one day look back and be able to connect the dots along your journey and help you see the faithful hand of God working and weaving His perfect will for your life.

In Joshua 2, Joshua sends out two spies to check out Jericho before they attacked it.  He’s doing a reconnaissance mission to see what all they can expect when they encounter the first major obstacle to taking the promised land.

And in the process, these spies meet someone who ends up helping them.

This “chance” encounter with Rahab, we will see, had eternal significance for all of us.

Joshua 2:1 Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.”

So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there.

Now for these two spies to “lodge” there actually made a lot of sense.  No, there weren’t there for promiscuous reasons…they went there because it would have been a place frequented by foreigners and so they would not easily be noticed.

So Rahab takes them in and hides them once she knows who they are.

Very likely was thrown into the profession at a very young age.  Canaanite culture.

And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, “Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.”

So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.”

Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.” (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate.

Did she lie?  yes.  And God, in no way condones lying.  Rahab lied in this case, but all we have here is God recording that fact that she lied.  She’s a pagan.  She’s got no problem with doing bad things.

Has no concept or knowledge of the laws of God at this point. So yes, she lies and it does save these two spies…but it doesn’t mean that lying is ok.  God could have easily saved the spies in some other way.  But this is what happened, there is a record of her doing so, and it turns out that it was a “very present help in time of trouble.”   But you won’t find anywhere in scripture that God says its ok to lie.  This is just what she did.

Rahab  does do wrong when she falsely declares that the messengers were gone.  But there is a perfect will of God and then there is a permissive will of God.   On the whole, it was the perfect will of God that the spies should be delivered, but he did not approve of saving their life by falsehood.

But the Bible mentions Rahab several more times in the New Testament , and we discover that she becomes a very key figure in the history of the world.  And each time she is mentioned, she is called a harlot.  But she is commended for her faith.

How would you like to be so known for your past sins and everybody attaches it to your name?   There’s goes Larry the liar.  Or there goes Martha the Murderer.  Oh here’s Theodore the thief.

She believed in the God of Israel. And God honored the cry of her heart.  By faith she believed and she became a pillar of faith.  She had a pagan name.  Lived in a pagan land.  Had pagan parents.  She was a gentile.   And now….because of her faith….She is an example to all us. And she even makes the hall of faith in Hebrews!

Hebrews 11:30 – By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

James 2:25   Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

And God used this unexpected lady of the night to save the spies and bless them in an unexpected way.

And in return, she asks them to bless her by saving her family when the time comes for them to take the city.

12 Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the Lord, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

22 They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. 23 So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us.”

Remember in your journey, that sometimes God will bring people into your life that you never could have imagined or expected…and He will use them to speak truth into your life, be a blessing to your life, and who knows…maybe even save your life.  Every encounter really does matter.  And don’t forget, God very likely wants to use you in that way in someone else’s life, as well.  

3. God uses ways that you would never expect  

Joshua 3 – They cross the Jordan river – just like the Red Sea, God parts the waters.  New generation, new miracle, new place.

this time God said put your feet in the water, and then it divided.

Joshua 4 – The stones of remembrance

Joshua 5 – consecration before the Lord, massive circumcision, they observe the passover, then the eat from the land and God stops the manna because they were now in a land where they could gather their own food.   Joshua encounters the Commander of the army of the Lord.  (Christafani)

Joshua 6:1 Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.

It’s not a huge city, but it’s an incredibly fortified city.  Only about 1200 people lived there, but thousands more had made their way there to find refuge from the Israelite army.

Joshua had an army of 40,000.

How could they break through these walls?

they couldn’t starve them out.  Harvest had just taken place.  There was fresh water springs inside the city, so they had plenty of food and water.  No one came in, and no one left.

Jericho:  Canaan’s most fortified city. Very intimidating and powerful city.  Highly strategic location.  Impregnable walls.

Three major digs of jericho sight.  And most scholars, for many years…almost 100 years, believed that the story of Jericho was made up.  Not historically accurate.  But all that was proven wrong, and now because of technology and more recent discoveries, the Bible has once again proven itself to be absolutely true and accurate to the smallest of details.

Kathleen Kenyon’s famous dig concluded that Jericho had been destroyed around 1550 BC by the Egyptians…many years prior to Joshua.

She also discovered  that the city had been burned.

However, a new archeological analysis of all the date reveals that the destruction of Jericho actually took place somewhere around 1400 BC…exactly the time of Joshua’s crossing into the land of Canaan.

The walls were a combinations of a 15 foot stacked stone retaining wall with another mud brick wall on top of the retaining wall that was 6 feet thick and 20-26 feet high.    And then above that about 15 feet further in, was another wall that loomed another 30-40 feet.

There were houses built between the walls in some places, which is where Rahab’s house would have been.

 

Digs found jars of grain – still full

water supply had not been cut off

Only 9 acres big…so it was only about a 30 minute walk around the city.

You can imagine how they must have felt looking at these massive walls…and yet see what the Lord says:

And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

So then Joshua tells the people what the Lord has told him.

This is NOT your normal battle plan.  Not what you would expect!

Then they get ready to do it, and Joshua tells the people this:

10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”

Maybe Joshua told them this because he was sick and tired of hearing their complaints for 40 years and somehow he knew that after just a day or two they’d be complaining about this different sort of warfare.

So he tells them to just hush!

So they have complete silence.

They have their shofars

And They have the Ark of the covenant.

THE ARK contained 3 ITEMS

THE VESSEL OF MANNA

THE BUDDING STICK

THE BROKEN TABLETS

ALL THREE ITEMS REPRESENTED MAJOR FAILURES OF THE PEOPLE OF THE ISRAEL.   BUT THE TOP OF THE BOX WAS COVERED BY THE MERCY SEAT.

All of the failures of Israel under the Mercy Seat of God – and the Ark represented the presence of God.  So while they carried around the ark – they were carrying reminders of their failures….that had been forgiven by the mercies of God and that were covered by the grace of God .   And His presence was ALWAYS WITH THEM.  Their failures, God’s provision and God’s presence.

The Ark was an ever present reminder of the children of Israel’s desperate need for God’s presence and God’s mercy!!

And that’s exactly what the cross represents for you and me!!!

So as you walk around this city or your home…you may walk with the ever constant reminders of your past failures…but don’t forget that as a child of God , those past failures are under the seat of His mercy and that you are constantly in His presence!!!!!

And so on the first day….they got up early and they go around the city.  And they are back home within the hour.

And they do this again…for 6 days straight.

Every trip around the city…the walls weren’t getting weaker, but their faith was getting stronger.

15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. 16 And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! 17 Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

Walls crumbled from the top forming a natural ramp into the city

Archeological evidence supporting all this

22 But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” 23 And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel.

Wait….if the walls all fell, how did Rahab’s house stay in tact?  

in another dig in 1907 by a german party, they discovered one portion of the north end of the wall still in tact. And there were houses connected to the wall!   this is where Rahab would have lived!

24 But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her  father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Scarlet Chord – 

      Reminds us of the scarlet blood of the lamb – passover

scarlet chord hung from the window is what saved her and her entire family.

Do you see?  There is a scarlet cord that runs throughout scripture and ends at the cross of Christ!

And it is the scarlet blood of Jesus that saves our soul.

Can you imagine what Rahab must have been feeling those six days they marched around the city walls.  I would bet she had the whole family in there from day one not knowing God’s plan for the battle.  And then on that 7th day when the walls began to crumble…by faith she stayed put and trusted the word of the spies and trusted in the God of Israel.

And then the shout of the warriors and those walls began to crumble

you can just imagine the intensity of the moment.  But she held onto the hope of the scarlet cord in that window and because of that she was saved.

And isn’t is just like God to place a prostitute in the middle of such a momentous occasion for the nation of Israel?  oh but wait….there’s more……..Rahab ends up settling into a new life and eventually starts a family of her own when she married a prince of the tribe of Judah named Salmon.   It is believed by many that Salmon was one of the two spies that saved her and her family!!  And in a perfect Valentine’s love story…they end up getting married!

1 chronicles 2:51 – Salmon was the Father of Bethlehem. He built the city where the Savior was born!!   Rahab was a huge part of building the city of Bethlehem!!

And we then see, in Matthew Chapter 1, that she would actually end up being the great great grandmother of King David, and even more importantly, in the lineage of the very son of God…Jesus.

Matthew 1:5-6 (CSB)

Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab,

Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth,

Obed fathered Jesse,

and Jesse fathered King David.

What is a prostitute doing in the list of the genealogy of Christ??   Same thing that Abraham the liar, Jacob the thief, Judah the fornicator, Tamar the deceiver and David the adulterer are doing…just being everyday sinners that God chose to use in miraculous and powerful ways.   And if he can use these people…don’t you think He might be able to use you??  Yes He can!!!  And maybe He has strategically placed you around a Rahab or two who desperately needs to hear the good news of Jesus in their life!  Maybe you are the Scarlet Cord of the redeeming power of the gospel to them!  in other words…you are the only Jesus they may ever see.

There is a scarlet cord that runs throughout history…..it’s a cord of redemption.  Its the cord of grace.  And that scarlet cord

is the blood of Jesus! It was his blood and his sacrifice that gives us the hope that we have in our hearts.

When the walls are crumbling around you…hold on to the scarlet cord.

 

When you are overcome with fear or facing what seems like an insurmountable problem….hold on to that scarlet cord

when you are alone and afraid and darkness is all around you….hold on to that scarlet cord…it is the hope of Jesus!

God has a plan!

God uses unexpected people!

God uses unexpected ways!

And one more thing you can expect from God….

4. The battle is already won – 

Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you.

John 16: 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

What God expects from you:

1. Be Strong and Courageous

They have no weapons of war.  They are armed with a shofar, the Ark of the Covenant, and their voices.  And they are walking around the city, totally exposed to arrows and flying objects and attack.   Take possession of the city, because it was part of His plan…and they knew it.  It was His Blessing to them. But they had to be strong and Courageous…not weak and consumed by fear.

Three times in Joshua 1, God tells him to be Strong and Courageous.

“The God of Christianity is not comfort or security…it is freedom. And Freedom is often found in the most uncomfortable and insecure places.   Jesus did not come from heaven to earth to die on a cross and rise again from the dead to make us comfortable and secure.  He came to make us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness so that we can go in and possess the promises that He has for us.”  – Christine Caine

God was making the people of Israel dangerous for His glory.  So dangerous that the enemies “melted before them.”

Please remember this!  You have nothing to fear.  You are in the Lord’s army.  You are on the winning side.  There is no power, no person, and no principality that can overcome you because you are an overcomer under the blood of the Lamb!  And times may be difficult and times may be inconvenient, but never ever forget… If God be for us, who can be against us!?

Be Strong and Courageous for God is on your side.  You have nothing and no one to fear.

2. Stay Faithful to His Word

Joshua1:7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may [a]prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Stay faithful to His word!

 

3. Stay in the Battle

This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Your Christian life should be marked by what Eugene Peterson calls  a “long obedience in the same direction.”

“The circumstances you are asking God to change may be the very circumstances He is using to change you.”   – Batterson

Don’t flee. Don’t falter.  Stand strong.  And don’t doubt.

“Don’t waste your walls” – Let whatever it is you are facing grow your faith.  Every long lap around that situation is making you stronger, building your testimony.  What is God trying to teach you in this battle?

One thing is for sure.  Every person in this room and every person watching this is facing some sort of battle that the rest of us don’t know anything about.  To you I say, Be strong and courageous, stay faithful, stay in this battle…..and know that God is with you.  Never doubt that.

the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

“Doubt dies unborn if it’s never spoken.” – Caine

We breed doubt and insecurity with our negative words.  did you know that over 80% of our thoughts are negative? No wonder over half of the population is dealing with depression.    Stop spewing doubt over your world with negative thoughts and words.

End the fear.  End the doubt.  End the negativity.

We are ALL flawed, but we can ALSO all be faithful.  Make sure you get up every morning, put the armor of the Lord on (Ephesians 6) and jump head first into the Battle.   You are in the Lord’s army…and He wants to use you to impact your family and this community for His glory!

Stay in the Battle…can you imagine if the Israelites would have gotten discouraged and quit circling the city after the 6th day?  They would have missed out on all God planned for them!  So don’t quit….never never quit!!

4. Trust and Obey   

You could sum up the entire instruction of the Bible  in those two words:  Trust and Obey.

“Work like it depends on you, and pray like it depends on God.” – Batterson

Trust God’s plan

Obey HIs word.

Leave the results to Him

And remember…..The Battle is already won!

You can count on it.  You can expect this from God.  What did he tell Joshua?

1:3 “Every place that the soul of your foot will tread upon I HAVE given you. 

6:2 “See, I have given Jericho into your hand…. 

And when you get to the end of your journey, my prayer is that we will all be like Joshua, who at 110 years old finished strong.  He stayed faithful.  He stayed in the battle until his last breath.  And He was able to declare until life itself left his lungs:

Joshua 24:15 “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

When you get to the end of yourself you will find that you are just at the beginning of who God is.  We worship the God of the impossible.

Where there is no way, He will make a way!

So when it seems there is no way around the wall or over the wall or under the wall….trust the God of the impossible.  He will make a way!

The Battle Belongs to the Lord!

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