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Continuing the Adventure!

By Lawrence Wilkes

2202 2020-04-15

Well folks, I want to continue the journey…no, the adventure. Let's continue the adventure with God. Last time, we talked about Moses leading the people out of bondage and into the desert, into all kinds of expressions of God's love for them. They went through tough times in the desert places, but they went through miracles, as well. In fact, when you stop and think of it, I'm not sure that miracles happen unless there's a tough moment, a situation that brings about a miracle where God steps in with the people. And so we saw that last week and we were amazed how God entered into the lives of those people; guided them, directed them, gave them a cloud during the day so that they would have a covering from the heat of the sun in the desert, and at night, a pillar of fire to give them a focus area so that they would not get lost in the dark; they would know where they were as they followed that light.

And so God was with them giving them manna in the desert. Manna is God's blessing to the people when they cried for food. Every morning it was there. They asked for water and water came out of a rock. A miracle. You don't see that very often. And then they asked for meat and the quail came and they had meat on their tables.

God provides all of our needs in a marvelous, marvelous way.

So all through that journey, God was with them, performing miracles as each need arose. Now, as we enter into the book of Joshua in chapter one and on, we find that Joshua and the others are now on the shores of the Jordan River. And so there they all are; they've made it! Now, they just have to cross over and they're in the Promised Land. There they are, looking across when Moses, their great leader, died. And there they were, all of these people; he'd led them all this direction, all this way, and now Moses died. But, if you notice in the scriptures, there's not an awful lot made about it. It's just that this man who led the people passed on.

And now God provided yet another leader, and his name was Joshua. He's not a stranger to the scriptures because way back, when the ten spies were sent into the land to spy out the land, he was one of them. And he was one of a couple of them that came back with a good report. Do you recall? There were about ten spies; several of them said that there were giants in the land. There was fear in their hearts, and they were blocked by the fear of these giants - tall people.

Yet Joshua looked at this situation. He didn't see that. He focused on what there was. And what he said there was that the land is flowing with milk and honey. And the grapes were huge. They brought some back on a huge stick to show everyone what wonders this land had for them. Now they stood on the banks of the Jordan River about ready to enter over into the Promised Land. This was the major test. Was the man, Joshua, the leader that Moses had been? Sometimes we talk about a leader stepping aside and saying it's going to be a difficult thing for the next person to walk in the shoes of that man, but Joshua had his own shoes. He had his own sandals, and he took up the task. He was a man who walked by faith, not by sight. He was a man who had the sense of the adventure, of life with God, and so he walked by faith.

There they were, on the edge of the Jordan. Would God's blessings and power be upon Joshua as it had been upon Moses? The test came. They needed to cross that river and they needed to go across on dry land. And so God, through Joshua, performed that wonderful miracle where the rivers receded. I don't think any of us have ever seen that except on television. The waters receded and the people crossed over on dry ground. Wow, what a day to walk through the miracle, and to be part of the miracle of the moment. What a time that was as they skipped and jumped and danced across on dry ground. This time, the Egyptians were not behind them to try to kill them. No, they were there now in the Promised Land. What a place to be in. And so they rejoiced and they commemorated the moment by raising up a pillar of stones so that whenever anybody came along and asked what the stones meant, they could say that this was the place where God, through Joshua, was faithful to His people and performed a miracle, and the people of God walked across this river on dry ground. We need those moments, don't we? We need to look back and to thank God, and to commemorate, and remember the blessings of God. But now they looked forward, and do you know what was ahead of them? It was a city called Jericho. In those days, a walled city was a fortress, a fortified place, and it was very difficult to battle against or to take a city that had walls built around it. Now, these walls were not just made of some concrete brick that you might find on the edge of the highway or freeway. No, these were thick walls where people actually lived in caves carved into the walls; very thick. They tell us that Jericho was also built in such a way that the walls leaned slightly inward so that they were not inclined to fall out easily.

Now, these people, as many as there were, how were they going to take this walled city? It was a formidable, impregnable city that was ahead of them. Today, we could have tanks and we could just mow down the wall, no problem, but not in those days. They had, at best, some bows and arrows. They may have cut down a tree to make a battering ram, perhaps. But, it would take them a long time to try to take that city.

Finally, someone suggested that they just simply walk around it, then go ahead and move on into the land. But that was not wise because you would have other enemies ahead of you yet to conquer. You would have enemies ahead and you would have Jericho enemies behind. Not a good military plan to put yourself in that kind of jeopardy. No, Jericho had to go. It had to be taken. And how were they to do it?

If you're like me, when you face a problem, don't you come up with all kinds of solutions and you offer them to God? You tell Him, in other words, the way you want it done? Isn't that something? I still haven't learned that lesson. Time and time again, I go through all sorts of these different things. I pray, "Oh God, if You could just move this, and do that," and outline the plans. But, He never does it that way. He always does it better. It's always better than I could ever think of. And have you ever noticed that when He does move, His timing is not our timing. I want it now. And somehow or other, His timing is just a little different. But when God acts, it doesn't take care of just one little problem. Many problems, all of a sudden, are all touched and it's multifaceted in a marvelous way, and we stand back and say, "Oh God, You are awesome!"

Don't you think those people of Israel were all gathering around in bunches over their coffee or tea or hot goats milk, all sitting around saying, "You know, this is what we ought to do. We should do this, and we should do that, and we should tell Joshua how to lead this thing and get this military operation under way." And Joshua, as you read into chapter 5 of the book of Joshua, came alongside the people, listening to their wrangling, all of their talking, all of their suggestions. Then, he needed some quiet time. And he went out, no doubt, to look at that walled city and wonder, "How do we do this? What are we going to do to get through this problem?" It's at that time that he seems to be looking down at the ground, and then looks up, and suddenly there in front of him is a man with his sword drawn. That's a little threatening, don't you think? A man was standing there with his sword drawn. Joshua could have lost his head in that situation. No one knew for sure what was going on. The man is standing there with his sword and Joshua says to him, "Are you for us or are you for our enemy? Whose side are you on?"

The most surprising answer comes back.

Isn't it interesting, folks, you and I, we're like this. We always want to choose sides. If you don't agree with me, then you're on that side. And if you come my way, you're on my side. But we always want to choose sides and divide things up that way.

The man with the sword, however, puts that stuff aside and says, "Neither. I'm not on your side, and I'm not on the enemies' side. But, as captain of the host of the Lord, the Army of God, have I now come."

Now the question is, are you on the Lord's side? Do you see the difference how that all changes now? It's not a matter of whose side God is on, the question is: Are you on the Lord's side? At that point, Joshua immediately recognizes this is none other than God in the flesh. In theology, we call it a theophany where God appears and it's not clear whether it's the Father or the Son, and so they just call it a theophany. However, this appears to be the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. It's called a Christophany, where Jesus appears before the incarnation, and there He is. Joshua, recognizing this man is representing God Almighty, immediately falls down on his face to the ground. Sometimes you and I have to get down to earth before God can lift us up and make us move on into higher things. There he is, down on his face to the earth, and he's in an attitude of worship. The man says to him, "Take your shoe off your foot for the place where on you stand is Holy Ground." And that confirms, for that was what was said when the voice came from the burning bush and spoke to Moses those many, many years ago. The voice from that bush that was not consumed by fire said, "Moses, take off the shoes from your feet for the place where-on you stand is Holy Ground." And so Joshua did that and had a time of worship.

I think sometimes, my friends, that when we come to the walled cities of our lives - and they do come – when there are difficult times, when something must change or be resolved and it doesn't happen even though we try and try but it doesn't happen – it is then that we need to back off and remember whose side we're on and choose Him, and stand with Him.

So Joshua chose that day to stand with the Lord. It became obvious that day who was going to win the battle. It wasn't going to be the people of Israel; it was going to be the army of the hosts of the Lord led by their captain. Wow. Can you imagine the relief and the release that came into Joshua's heart once he knew that God was in control?

I think, my friend, that you and I put ourselves through an awful lot of stress unnecessarily. We worry about things, we try to manipulate something, we try to twist it and turn it to make it fit and to make it do what we want it to do. When we come to those kinds of moments, what we need to do, my friends, is one thing: Worship God. Worship God and recognize whose side you're on and that's what Joshua did.

From Joshua chapter six on, you find that God gives the plan of attack. He's going to involve the people but in a very minimal way because God is going to perform the miracle. And God comes out with a plan that I dare say not any person on earth would have ever thought of because it almost seemed ridiculous.

God says to Joshua, "Tell the people to gather together and you get the priests to blow the ram horns."

Normally in the scriptures, we find that the ram horn is used in religious services, and the silver horn is used in military exercises. So it's interesting that this is not perceived as a military exercise, but rather a religious exercise that God is taking them through. Whatever it is, God tells him to take seven priests with the seven ram horns and start leading the people, and there's a succession in how this should go - a processional. They must walk around the city of Jericho, blow these horns, and that's it. They marched one time around every day for six days. You may be wondering the same thing that the Israelites were wondering: What on earth is this accomplishing? Isn't this a bit silly?

But the people obeyed because, through the wilderness journeys, they had learned one thing: Obey God. Trust and obey, for there's no other way. God will lead and guide. And so they did. And for six days they did this exercise.

Imagine the people inside the city of Jericho hearing these horns blasting as the procession went all the way around the whole city each day. I bet you at first they laughed and probably thought, "Oh they're blowing their horns; they can't do anything else because our city is impregnable. They can't do another thing but to blow their own horn."

Then the seventh day came, and on that seventh day, they blew those horns again. By this time, the people had marched around seven times. Then Joshua tells them, "Now, shout and the Lord will give us the city." And so they shouted and the miracle happened. The walls came down and Jericho was defeated that day by the host of God's army.

I believe, my friends, that when we give our problems to Him and simply focus ourselves on the worship of God, not on the problems, but on worshipping God, it changes our focus. It puts us into a positive, possibility-thinking mode that takes away the threat and the fear of the problem. Do you see the difference?

Right now, you're probably thinking of some impossible thing that's in your heart and your life. All right, now turn and worship God. Worship Him. Who is He? He's a God of miracles, He's the God of grace, He's the God of wonder. We could go on forever with the wondrous names of God, describing who He is. He's all of it. So why would you focus on the problem? Focus on God and He will deliver the walled cities in your life.

Joshua, at one point, said to the people of God, "Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Amen.

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