A) Our Need for God’s Power
– A Life Commentary –
Success has everything to do with accomplishing God’s will.
For only by seeking and doing His will can we discover and fulfill our life’s purpose. And only by doing His will can we bring glory to His Name and blessing to our lives.
“Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in” (Joshua 6:1).
Three key lessons on taking down strongholds. Without these key lessons found in the Book of Joshua, we will never find success. The battle of Jericho might just sound like a fantastic story, but it provides for us one of the key lessons on battling with sin. It give us the knowledge of how God is alive and desires to lead us into victory over the very things that will enslave our lives.
A) Our Need for God’s Power (6:1)
The first thing we must observe is that the city was shut tight. What they mean is that the city gates were shut. There were two walls that surrounded Jericho which made it virtually impregnable. There were two common ways to attack such fortified cities in the past.
(1) Starve them out.
The first way which took a long time was to starve them out. In these cases the armies would surround the city and make sure no food or water would go in or out. The Inhabitants of Jericho were prepared for such an attack. They just reaped their grain harvest (Joshua 3:15) and they had a large spring that supplied them water inside the city.
(2) Costly military attack.
The other form of attack was to launch a huge military offensive by storming the gates and climbing the walls. Of course they would lose a lot of men this way. I remember going by ancient city walls. They seem silly in our day with planes and missiles but back then it made them virtually indestructible. Let’s look at why this was the case with Jericho.
Archaeological note: Some of us have heard that the remains of Jericho prove no such demise as described in the scriptures. There is a reason behind this rumor. In the 1950s an archaeologist, Kathleen Kenyon, from England did some careful research on the ruins of Jericho. Unfortunately she concluded, “The excavation of Jericho, therefore, has thrown no light on the walls of Jericho of which the destruction is so vividly described in the Book of Joshua.”1
She basically said what they discovered did not match what we read in the Bible. Some people say that this does not matter. It is true it does not matter what she says, but the historicity of the events described in the scriptures are very important. Christians, do not be scared by what you hear. Go behind the scenes and you will discover in time the truth of God’s Word. If this is a made up story, then the lesson for us to learn is that God or at least His ability to help us is all made up. In other words, you need to get through on your own. This is the philosophy of the humanists. But they live in a pretend world of victory because they are enslaved to their lusts.
Actually with further excavation and careful examination of Kenyon’s research, we find that the description in the Bible do perfectly match what we find in the ruins. The point is that God is alive and ready to move with us when we seek to do His will. He alone can bring us into true freedom. Let’s look at the wall Jericho had established. From the ground looking up to the top the wall stood about six stories high.
The mound upon which the city was built was exactly as the scripture stated. Upon careful examination of the same site, we find the wall had two parts. “The retaining wall was some 12–15 feet high. On top of that was a mudbrick wall six feet thick and about 20–26 feet high. At the crest of the embankment was a similar mudbrick wall whose base was roughly 46 feet above the ground level outside the retaining wall (see diagram).”2
Be careful. There is a lot of false information going around that people use to dislodge our faith. Sometimes they are purposeful but sometimes it is because they conclude things on false assumptions. If we trusted Kenyon’s conclusion, we would give up our trust in the scripture’s accuracy. But we only need to wait a few decades find the reports of other archaeologists to see Kenyon’s inappropriate conclusions. Her observations were correct but not her conclusions as an Italian team later discovered in 1997.
Aspiration – we can do all!
In our idealistic youth we think we can conquer all. But then we do not learn to lean on God’s wisdom and make foolish life decisions. We feel the effects of failure and defeat. They weigh so heavily on us that we cannot bear their burden. We want to give up. The suicide rate for young people is high. These individuals have discovered the impossibility of overcoming certain problems in their lives on their own. Oh that they might hear how God gave victory at Jericho! But this is not a recent problem. I was just reading John Wesley’s journal of how one person was on the way to committing suicide in 1747.
1747 “Monday, 28.– I talked with one who, a little time before, was so overwhelmed with affliction that she went out one night to put an end to it all by throwing herself into the New River. (The Journal of John Wesley, p. 151).
Defeat – we can't do anything!
Most people pretend that they are doing well when they are in fact doing very poorly. Some buy things with money that they do not have just to show off. Others will talk about parties and fun while their marriage and family are in shambles. Don’t be deceived by people’s pretend lives. Many people are like this woman walking to the New River. They have silently given up hope. They might not be at the point of taking their lives but they certainly are on the way.
Those who have studied this generation find it to be best described as a despairing generation. Even though financially they are most well off, they are also most without hope. They do not know what life could be like and even if they can touch their deep down aspirations of what they truly want, they do not believe it is possible to reach those goals. They resort to drugs, career, odd pursuits, sports, betting, and clubs to distract them from what is missing in life. Life and its pure joys are like a city with shut gates. Impenetrable. Unconquerable. They would not even think of attacking Jericho. Once people see their goals frustrated, they give up hope for attaining the greater things of life. And life for many become a living death march.
Application: What about your life? What is God’s plan for your life? Are you finding His joy and peace? What are the main obstacles between you and what God wants for you? Do you wear a smile in your heart?
For many of us, it is difficult to face these problems. Some of our obstacles are from the past. They hurt so much. We have fought them alone and failed. We have hidden the fights, abuse, sins and loneliness away in a closet. We never want to face them again. We believe that we are better off by trying to forget them. The problem is that they like ghosts follow us wherever we go.
Some of our struggles are in trying to get where we want to go. We have these aspirations but do not know how to reach them. Many of you are young and so without the taste of defeat you believe you can attain those things. You cannot do it without God. Some are trying to be good when they are not good. Some people try to find hope in a quiet church service. But sin smolders away in our hearts and irritating smoke of sadness, debt, broken relationships sting our eyes. There might even be some sin, some addiction, some fear that threatens to destroy our happiness. Others are trying to find help to insolvable problems like a career without the right degree, finding a spouse, etc.
But God is calling us to face these problems. Where was the first place that God led the Israelites? He led them to fight a strong and ancient walled city? Our only hope is to do things God’s ways. We might be scared with what God will do, but anything is better than what you have. God always brings wonderful things into your lives through His power. But if you hide from these problems, they will plague you for life.
If the Israelites did not face Jericho, the Book of Joshua would have had a very different end, a very sad one just like many of our lives. Instead of being a record of what can be done if we live by faith in the living God, God’s people would hang their heads in shame as many do today. If the churches are failing, it is not because God is not alive but because we have lost courage to trust Him to battle our sins. If our families are being destroyed, it is not because God has not spoken, but because we do not believe God’s ways are best and are infatuated with the ill advise of the world. We do not show greatness by hiding our problems but by confronting them. We need to be like take up the advise that God gave to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” Praise God for Jerichos! Let Him lead us to victory against the shut gates not matter how strong they are.
But once you face the problems, the real fears arise. “How can I overcome this problem!” “I am going to fail.” “I can never do it!” Fortunately, we see an answer for these fears in our second lesson.
=> Next B) Our Discovery of God’s Solution (Joshua 6:2-5)