Joshua 5:13-6:5; 20-21
OUR BATTLE WITH LIFE'S STRONGHOLDS
Intro: The ancient city of Jericho was a great walled
city. History tells us that it was surrounded by 2
massive stone walls. The outer wall was 6 feet
thick and 20 feet high. The inner wall was 12 feet
thick and 30 feet high. There was a 15 foot guarded
walkway between these two walls. From a military
standpoint, it was practically impenetrable. This
great walled city stood as an obstacle between the
people of Israel and them claiming all that God had for
them. Before they could go deeper into the land of
Canaan, Jericho had to fall first.
For us, this ancient city represents those things that
are entrenched and rooted in our lives that prevent us
from going on with God. Oh, we all have them!
Regardless of how pious you may want to think you are,
there are things embedded in your life that hinder your
walk with God. It may be some besetting sin that
prevents you from going deep in the things of God. It
may a root of bitterness and unforgiveness that stands
between you and God's best. It may be some old, bad
attitude that is holding you back. It could be something
from your past that you continue to struggle with to this
day. Whatever it is, it is a stronghold in your life and it
stands between you and God's best for your life.
Before you will ever receive all God has for you, that
stronghold must be torn down!
In this page from Israel's history, we uncover some
truths that help us as we fight the battle against our own
strongholds in our day. There are elements revealed
here that point us to the path of spiritual victory. Let's
spend some time in these verses this evening as we
thing about Our Battle With Life's Strongholds.
I. 5:13-15 INVOLVES CONFRONTATION
(Ill. As Joshua surveys the city of Jericho, he has a
strange encounter. However, this encounter would
change the course of events at Jericho.)
A. With The Person Of God - This individual that
Joshua meets outside the walls of Jericho
identifies Himself as "The Captain of the host
of the Lord." It is my humble opinion that this is
a Christophany. That is, it is a personal, pre-Bethlehem manifestation and appearance fo the
Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In other words,
Joshua came face to face with Jesus Christ!
For us, this pictures the matter of Salvation.
Before we can continue on to victory, we must
first commence the journey. And, the journey is
commenced at salvation. I wonder, have you
met the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He your Savior
this evening? Notice that I didn't ask if you were
a Baptist. There will be lots of Baptists in Hell!
I didn't ask if you were a church member. There
will be lots of those folks in Hell too. I didn't ask
if you have been baptized, or confirmed, or
conformed, or anything else. Lots of folks who
have passed through the religious traditions of
our churches will go to Hell when they leave this
world. My question was, and still is, are you
saved? Has there ever been a specific moment
in your life when you knew that you were a
sinner headed to Hell and that only Jesus could
save you. Do you remember the time when you
were saved by the power and grace of God. If it
has happened to you, you will know it! When
Someone the size of God gets in you, you will be
aware of it! Have you had a personal
confrontation with the Person of God?
(Ill. This is just a thought but notice that Joshua's
encounter with the Lord caused him to bow in
worship, v. 14. Did you see that? Your desire to
worship says a lot about your relationship to
God. Some have already decided that they
won't be able to make it tomorrow night. Did you
ask the Lord about that? Or, is it your decision?
You see, salvation will leave you worshiping, but
it will also leave you bowing, v. 14.)
B. With The Position Of God - Next, the Lord tells
Joshua that He is the Captain of the Lord's host.
That is, He is the One Who is always victorious.
He is the One Who is walking in victory even
before the battle is fought. In other words, He is
the One Who is in control of all situations. He is
merely reminding Joshua Who is really fighting
For us, this speaks of the great matter of our
Sanctification. That is, of our coming to the
place where we recognize that if there will ever
be any victories in our life, they will come about
because of His power and not our own. We
must understand that we are to yield to His
power in every area of our life and that we are to
trust Him to secure the victory for us in every
battle we fight. So then, sanctification is our
coming to the place where we dedicate our lives
to Him and trust Him to bring us to the place of
victory. Sanctification is us acknowledging Him
to be Lord in every area of our lives. Is that true
for you? Or, are there areas of your life that are
off limits to God? Real sanctification knows that
He is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all! It
knows that He must be given the Master key to
every area of life. Have you come to terms with
Who is really in control? Until you do, you can
forget about sustained victory, you might as well
get used to defeat.
C. With The Power Of God - When Joshua meets
this man, there are a couple of things that are
strange about there meeting. First, there is the
Lord's answer to Joshua's challenge. Joshua
asked Him, "Are you for us or for them?" The
Lord answered, "No!" That's really strange!
Then, there is the matter of what the Lord tells
Joshua to do in verse 15. There he is told to
loose his shoe (singular) off his foot (singular).
Why just one? When Moses met the Lord at the
burning bush, he was told to remove both shoes,
Ex. 3:5. That sure is strange to me.
However, these two events speak to us about
the matter of Surrender. When Joshua asked
the Lord if He was for Israel or for Israel's
enemies, the Lord said, "No!" What the Lord is
saying is this, "Joshua, I didn't come to take
sides, I came to take over!" This is a call for
Joshua to surrender to the authority of the Lord
in the battle at Jericho. Joshua is made to
realize that God, not Joshua, is the power
behind the victory that will come. What a lesson
for the church! When will we ever learn that our
success and our victory are not a matter of our
power or ability? When will we understand that
this is about God and not us? God is saying to
this church this evening, "I am not here to take
sides, I am here to take over!" Will you do as
Joshua and bow to His authority? That is how
victory is won!
Then, there is the matter of the shoe. Why
did the Lord just ask for one shoe? The answer
lies in ancient custom. When a covenant was
made between two individuals, in which one
possessed power to keep the covenant and the
other didn't, the weaker individual handed the
other individual one of his shoes. It was his way
of saying, "I can't, but you can." This is seen in
the book of Ruth chapter 4 and verses 6-8. For
Joshua, this was a challenge for him to come to
the place where he could admit his own
weakness and inability to gain the victory. It was
a call for him to surrender to the Lord. For us,
we need to learn the truth that we can't, but He
can! There are some in this room and you have
been trying to fight your battles in your own
power. You keep getting whipped. Friend, you
need to draw off your shoe, hand it to God and
say, "Lord, I can't fight these battles, but you
can! I can't win the victories I need in my life,
but you can!" What I am saying is that we need
to come to the place of absolute surrender! To
that place where we and all we have are at the
feet of God. To the place where we are willing to
say, once for all, "I can't Lord, but You can!"
(Ill. Notice with me that Joshua is a warrior!
When he got down before the Lord, he placed
himself in a vulnerable position. He exposed his
neck. He placed himself in a position where he
could not use his own sword. He placed himself
in a position of extreme weakness. He was
totally yielded to the Lord! Have you ever come
to that place in your own life? Have you ever
come to the place where you placed yourself
and your sword on the ground before the Lord
and surrendered fully to His will for your life? If
not, you will have to if you will ever enjoy
absolute victory over all the strongholds in your
I. Involves Confrontation
II. 6:1-5 INVOLVES CONFIDENCE
(Ill. Another major step in the path toward spiritual
victory over the strongholds of life demands
confidence in the Lord. There are three areas in
which Joshua displayed confidence. These need to
be true concerning us as well.)
A. V.1-2 In God's Promises - Before Joshua goes
to battle against the city of Jericho, he is
reminded of the Lord's promises to give Israel
the victory. There were Past Promises - Josh.
2:9 and there were Present Promises - Josh.
6:2. The past promises reminded Joshua of
what the Lord had promised to do long ago.
Rahab had known about these promises for 40
years. The present promises reminded Joshua
that the Lord had not changed His mind about
the matter. God still intended to give Israel the
victory in this matter.
As we look at our strongholds this evening,
we may think that we will never see them fall at
our feet. However, may we ever remember that
God will always keep His promises! He has
promised us the victory, and the victory shall be
ours, 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:37.
Whatever God has promised, He is well able to
bring to pass, Rom. 4:21; Eph. 3:20. Therefore,
let us face our strongholds well assured in the
fact that God will do everything He has promised
us He will do!
B. V. 3-5a In God's Plan - On the surface, God's
plan for Israel's victory seems really strange.
After all, what was really required of Israel to
bring the walls of Jericho down? Nothing! When
you get right down to it, all they had to do was to
follow God's plan and the walls would fall down
flat. What was His plan? Seven priests bearing
seven trumpets were to walk before the ark. The
priests would blow the trumpets and the people
were to walk behind the ark, and the whole
parade was to walk around the city once a day
for 6 days. On the seventh day, they were to
walk around the city seven times and at the end
of the seventh time, they were to shout. When
this happened, the walls would fall down flat.
I think the lesson for us becomes clear when
we take the time to look closely at what the Lord
told them to do.
1. They were to take seven priests. Seven is
the biblical number of completion or fulness.
Priests are a picture of an advocate, or one
who stood between men and God. This is a
picture of a complete or perfect Advocate.
According to the Bible, the saints have a
perfect Advocate. His name is the Lord
Jesus Christ, 1 John 2:1. And, as we come
against the strongholds of life, He is making
intercession for us before the throne of God,
Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34.
2. They were to take seven ram's horn
trumpets. The ram was a picture of
Atonement. Remember when Abraham took
Isaac to the top of Moriah to put him to
death? It was a ram that provided the
atoning, redeeming price for Isaac. So, we
need a full or perfect atonement. I have
already touched on this tonight, but are you
sure you are saved? There will be no real,
lasting victory over the flesh and the world
until you have been saved by the grace of
God. When you become a partaker of God's
plan of salvation through the blood of Jesus,
you are given the power to enjoy victory over
and freedom from the power of sin in your
life, Rom. 6:1-14.
3. They were to take the ark of the covenant.
The ark represents the Lord Jesus Christ in
all of His fulness. In the ark was the golden
pot of manna, which speaks of His full
provisions. Aaron's budding rod was also in
there. This spoke of Christ's power and His
life. The tables of the Law were also there.
These remind us that He is the fulfillment of
the Law for you and me. The idea is this: in
Jesus we find all we need to wage the battle
against the strongholds in our lives. He gives
us all the provisions we need as we fight. He
has all power in heaven and in earth. He
gives us power to walk in newness of life. He
has freed us from the power and the
demands of the Law, setting us free to live
for the Father in power and victory.
4. They were simply to take these things and
walk with them around the city. God
promised them that the walls of Jericho
would fall down as a result! In other words,
all they had to do was have confidence in
God's plan, walk with the things He had given
them and they would enjoy the victory. He
wanted them to do nothing but to walk by
What a lesson for the church! The secret to
living the Christian life, enjoying victory over your
besetting sins and seeing your strongholds
brought down is this: you can't do it! You cannot
live the Christian life! You don't have to live it,
Jesus already has! As you yield to His plan, and
let Him live through you, you will enjoy His
victory, Gal. 2:20. All God wants you to do is to
stop trying and just rest in Him. He has already
won the victory. We win by doing nothing! By
merely being in Him and having absolute
confidence in His plan, we enjoy the victory that
only He can give.
C. V. 5b In God's Power - Israel was about to learn
the truth that victory was in the Lord and not in
themselves. They were about to participate in
the strangest victory in the annuls of history. For
them, victory would come about, not as the result
of trying, but as the result of merely trusting God.
(Ill. Aren't you tired of trying to live the Christian
life and failing? Then stop doing both! Just start
trusting! Rest in the finished work of Christ.
Realize that you have no one to please but God.
And, if you are in Jesus, He is already satisfied
with you! I am not advocating loose living. Far
from it! If you live God's way, you will be holier
than ever, you just won't have to work so hard to
enjoy it. He is the perfect Advocate. He is the
perfect Atonement. He is the fulfilment of the
Law for us. There is nothing left for us to do, but
to rest in the finished work of Jesus and enjoy
the trip to Heaven. Why do you think He said "It
is finished.", John 19:30? Because it is! Far
too many folks in church are always defeated
because they are trying to live up to some
standard that has been imposed on them by
men, when all they really have to do is rest,
Matt. 11:28-30. If we will learn to walk in what
Jesus has already done for us, then we will
receive the victories that He has prepared for us.
He has already done all the work. All that is left
for us to do is walk!)
I. Involves Confrontation
II. Involves Confidence
III. 6:6-21 INVOLVES CONQUEST
(Ill. These verses tell the thrilling story of the victory
Israel received at Jericho. Imagine what the people
inside the city must have thought! They received
the fulfilment of the Lord's promise to them. As they
did, there are a couple of truths here that I want to
mention quickly this evening.)
A. V. 6-15 Involved Determination - As has
already been said, they simply did it God's way.
They might have been tempted to fight. After all,
the people of Jericho were terrified of the
Israelites! Yet, they just walked! That is all God
said to do! When you do it God's way, there will
always be victory! When will the church ever
learn this? It isn't about new means and
methods! We don't need a new Bible our a new
kind of service. In our personal life, we will try
this devotional method seeking His power. Or,
this kind of prayer emphasis to get on fire for
God. Maybe the prayer of Jabez is the answer!
Then, after a few days or weeks, we fizzle out
and it's business as usual in our lives or in the
church. Maybe we need to have this fellow in to
preach revival. After all, those folks down the
road had him and everything changed! Then,
when the preacher is gone, after a few days, we
are the same way we were before! No! We do
not need all these things! All we need to do is
patiently do it God's way. When it doesn't make
sense, just walk. When others quit, just walk.
When some want to fight, just walk. When some
come up with a new method, just walk. You see,
obtaining the victory is His concern, obedience to
Him is ours!
B. V. 16-20 Involved Dedication - Israel walked
around that city 6 days. When they did what
happened to the walls of the city? Nothing!
When they walked around that city six times on
the seventh day, what happened? Nothing!
Absolutely nothing! Why? Because the number
six in the Bible is the number of man, Rev.
13:18. Man can try has hard as he pleases in
his own power and he will never obtain the
victory! But, when they marched around that
wall the seventh time and shouted, the wall fell
down flat! You see, seven is the number of
completion, or of God's fulness. Israel kept
going in their dedication until they passed from
the realm of their own power, into the realm of
the power of God! After marching around that
city seven times, they would have been too
pooped to fight anyway! When they came to the
place where they couldn't, but knew He could, a
miracle took place and the stronghold fell down
flat! That's the point of them shouting before the
wall fell down! They were praising God for the
victory by faith, even before it could be seen with
the eyes! That is what faith is all about, Heb.
11:1. That kind of faith honors the Lord!
For us, let us remember that victory over our
strongholds will come when we get to that place
where it is totally out of our hands and in His
alone! When we get away from the realm of our
ability and move into the realm of what God can
do in our lives, then we will see all what God can
bring to pass in a life wholly dedicated to Him!
C. V. 21 Involved Death - After the walls fell down,
the Israelites went into Jericho and killed
everything that lives, with the exception of
Rahab and her family, v. 22-25. Does this seem
extreme to you? God knew that if the people of
Jericho were allowed to live, they would
influence the people of Israel away from Him.
So, when the walls of that stronghold came
down, everyone in the city had to die.
My friends, when you come to the place
where you can identify the strongholds that are
in your life, and God, by His power brings those
things down for you. You must rise up and make
sure that every trace of those things is forever
eradicated from your life! Whatever it takes,
there are some here tonight that need to bring
some stronghold or another to this altar and out
it to death! Some things must not be allowed to
live! If we defeat them today and don't do away
with the root of the problem, that stronghold will
rebuild itself in our lives and be stronger than
ever. Next time, it will harder to bring down!
Think about it, the problem with Jericho wasn't
the city! The problem with Jericho was the
people in the city. They hated God and all He
stood for and they had to perish! So, whatever
it takes to root out the strongholds in your life, I
challenge you to do it tonight! God will enable
you to see those things put to death forever!
Conc: What is it that is keeping you from going forward
with God? Is it lust? Is it hatred? Is it envy? Is it
unforgiveness? Is it a bitter, critical spirit? Whatever it
is, that stronghold needs to be conquered right now.
Will you bring it to the Lord and defeat it His way?
Some of you are trying so hard. I invite you to come
to Jesus, lay down you sword, hand Him your shoe and
say, "Lord, I can do it, but you can." He will change
your life. He will enable you to live for His glory.
Some here have never had that first confrontation
with the Lord. You are not saved. If you died tonight,
you would be lost and you would go to Hell. It doesn't
have to be that way! If you will come to Jesus Christ,
He will receive you and save you!
Whatever the nature of the strongholds in your life
may be, there is help and hope in the Person of Jesus
tonight. But, only if you will come to Him.