Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: God called His people to defeat a city by encircling it for seven days. Nancy Leigh DeMoss takes us to that scene.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You can imagine the Children of Israel on day four: “We’ve done this walking-around‑the‑city thing. It’s not working. Nothing is happening. We look really foolish.”

We go back. We resort to our own plans if we don’t feel that God’s plan has “worked” right away. I talk with people who’ve said, “I’ve done it God’s way, and nothing has happened.” Well, do you know what the counsel is there? Keep doing it God’s way.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, October 2, 2014.

All of us have goals for the future, and all of us face obstacles that threaten those goals. Nancy will show us how to approach obstacles with God’s power and direction as she continues in the series "Lesson from the Life of Joshua (Part 9): Defeating Your Jericho." 

Nancy: How many of you can think of some area of your life where you are currently facing spiritual opposition, and you realize, “I’m in a spiritual battle”? It may be in relation to your marriage, your family, your church, your workplace, or some relationship. It may be a stronghold in your own life, a sin habit that’s stubborn and that you’re struggling to get victory over.

So within or without, how many would say, “I’m in some place where there’s a spiritual battle going on; there’s spiritual opposition I’m facing”? Okay, virtually every hand is up. And if your hand wasn’t up, it’s because I didn’t give you long enough to think about it—because we’re all in a spiritual battle. Ephesians 6 tells us that.

But as I ask that question, perhaps you’re thinking of people and situations that are strongholds—places of resistance, places of opposition—that you’re having to deal with at this point of your life.

We come today to Joshua chapter 6 and the encounter between the Children of Israel and the city of Jericho. Now, it’s a little hard to teach this story because everybody is so familiar with it. We think we all know it, and we tend to just skip over those passages and think, I’ve read that. I’ve seen that. I’ve done that. I’ve been there.

But it’s a wonderful thing to go back to the Scripture, to read these familiar passages over and over and over again, and to say, “Lord, give me fresh light. Give me fresh insight.” I trust that’s what He will do in our hearts today as we look at this account of when “the walls came tumbling down,” as we used to sing as children.

The city of Jericho was the first obstacle the Children of Israel faced as they began to take possession of the Promised Land. Jericho was an important city. They could not bypass it. It stood at the eastern border of the land, and it was at the entrance of a crossroads. There were roads that went from Jericho southward and northward.

So if they were going to go into the Promised Land, they had to go by Jericho. And if they went around Jericho—somehow managed to get around it but didn’t take it on—then they were going to have Jericho at their back, and they were going to be vulnerable. This was an important city that stood at the entrance to the Promised Land. They could not move forward without dealing with this city.

There may be in your life an issue that is a “Jericho.” Your “Jericho” may not be a person or a circumstance. It may be something in your own life that stands between you and your capacity to enjoy the full inheritance that God has for you as His child. It may be a “Jericho” within your own heart—of fear, of anger, of bitterness, of besetting sin. It may be an issue of sexual impurity. It may be an issue with your tongue.

Until God conquers that “Jericho” in your heart or in your life, you’re not going anywhere. You can’t go in and take possession of the rest of the land until you deal with that. That’s what Jericho was to the Children of Israel.

They couldn’t bypass it, but by the same token, Jericho was not an easy place to start. It wasn’t an easy first battle. It was a formidable challenge. Jericho was a military fortress. It was built on a hill, as we’ve seen, with a steep incline surrounded by a double ring of walls, one of them six feet wide, the other twelve feet wide. It was an imposing military fortress, no small challenge.

Verse 1 of Joshua chapter 6 tells us, “Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in.” Under normal circumstances, this was a major, impregnable city. But now that city had been tightly sealed off, walled off. It seemed impenetrable. Again I would say that this may be true of an area of your life. It seems like nothing can penetrate that area of your life. 

I love what one of the women said to me earlier today as we were talking privately between the recording sessions. She said, "There's been an area of weakness in my life for years. Maybe I'm going to have to live with this for all of my life. But as I'm been listening to Revive Our Hearts in recent months and studying your teaching, God has been dealing with the enemy in my life. God has been melting away this enemy. This week I realized that this enemy has been defeated. That enemy is gone."

She didn't tell me what it was. I'm kind of glad that she didn't because I can use my imagination. We all have different enemies, different fortresses in our hearts. They are things we've struggled to get victory over and not been able to. And yet, God intends to give us the land, to give us this spiritual inheritance. But we have to start with "Jericho."

So God reminded Joshua. Now, who is it speaking to Joshua in chapter 6, verse 2? It’s the same one who spoke to him, I believe, at the end of chapter 5. The commander of the Lord’s army is continuing to speak with Joshua, and he says, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.”

Joshua had to believe God in order to move forward. Apart from having faith in God’s Word and God’s promises, he would never have moved forward to surround Jericho. So when God says, “I have given Jericho into your hand,” Joshua has to believe that what God has said is true.

Let me ask you a question. As you think about that resistant area of your life—that besetting sin, that weakness, that thing you’ve not been able to get victory over—do you believe that the Lord can conquer that area of your life? You’ve got to exercise faith that God can conquer what you can’t.

You say, “I don’t know if I could ever tame this temper of mine”—or this tongue of mine, this food addiction, this pornography addiction, this sexual relationship, or whatever it is. “I just don’t think I can stop.”

The question is not, “Can you stop?” The question is, “Do you believe that God can bring down the walls of that "Jericho" in your life and give you victory?” Until you believe that—until you believe that God can grant you victory over the enemy—you’re probably going to live in defeat. You’re not going to tackle it. You’re not going to move forward until you believe that God can give you that city.

If Joshua had asked opinions of his senior advisors, his experienced military leaders, they probably would have said, “Here are some alternatives. Maybe what we need to do is build ramps up to the top of the walls. Or we can sit down here at the bottom of the walls outside the city. We can wait at the entrance of the city so they can’t come in and can’t go out. Ultimately, they’ll have to surrender or starve to death, but that could take months.”

But in this passage there’s no evidence that in this situation Joshua sought counsel from anything or anyone other than God. At this moment, it was the Word of God that was all he needed. The commander of the Lord’s army now gives him direction.

Beginning in verse 3 of chapter 6, God says to Joshua,

You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him (vv. 3-5).

I can guarantee you that that battle plan would not have been one that Joshua’s senior military advisors would have thought up on their own. That one came from God. It’s too unusual, too out-of-the-box. From a human perspective, nothing could have been more counterintuitive.

There is no way for people marching and blowing trumpets to bring down city walls. I mean, you don’t have to know a lot about physics to know that that’s not the way walls come down. But that is exactly what happened.

You already know how they did march around the city once a day for six days and then seven times on the seventh day. Then they shouted, and the walls came down. The whole account, with which most of us are pretty familiar, gives us some insights, I think, into conquering “Jerichos” in our life. Let me point out a few of those.

Number one, get your battle plan from the Lord. Get your direction from Him. He’s the commander of the army. And the Lord’s battle plan, which you will get from His Word—that’s where He’s given us the plan—may not be conventional. It may not seem to make sense.

But you’ve got to be willing to follow His plan as given to us in His Word, even if others think you’re crazy. Get your plan from the Lord. That means you have got to get into this book, the Word of God. That’s where you get your direction.

Number two, be quiet. You say, “Where does that come from?” Look at verse 10 of Joshua chapter 6. “Joshua commanded the people”—this is as they’re getting ready to march around the first day—“‘You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout.’” That was the seventh day, right? “‘Then you shall shout.’”

I’m just trying to imagine this. It’s not clear here whether it was just the army that was marching or if it was all the Children of Israel. I tend to think it was just the army. But that would have been scores of thousands of men. Can you imagine all those men, and all the people outside watching all this, saying, “We can’t talk for six days? We have to be quiet?”

Let me say that when you do spiritual battle, there’s a time to speak. There’s a time to shout. But there’s also a time to be quiet. There’s a time to say nothing, and I think that can be the toughest order to follow.

I read a quote by F.B. Meyer on the book of Joshua on this verse. He says, "That our voice should not be heard; that no word should proceed from our mouth; that we should utter our complaints to God alone, all this is foreign to our habits and tastes. We like to air our grievances; to talk over our ailments; to compare ourselves with others and to discuss the likeliest remedies." I thought, How true is that.

I mean, we’re women, right? We work things through by talking them through. So your husband comes in the door, and you want to talk about what’s been happening in your day. I’ve often said that I can deal with anything emotionally if I can talk about it.

Sometimes God gives us the opportunity to talk appropriately about how to get His perspective on things. But sometimes we just need to stop talking and be quiet. Don’t tell anybody. Hold it in your heart.

A woman shared with me recently that she was sharing how God just intervened in her marriage in a significant way. She had been carrying a burden for her husband. He was a commited believer, but there were some issues. She didn't understand what they were, but she had been carrying a burden for him for months, if not years.

She said, "I was so tempted to talk to my mother about it [and her mother is a godly woman], to talk to my sisters about it [and she's a talker]." She would have love to have done that, but she said, "Something prompted me to just be quiet and wait on the Lord. I thought I knew what the issue was."

Then she told me the details of the story. The reason for this whole issue in her husband's life had nothing to do with what she thought it was. She could have wasted hundreds of thousands of words—a lot of breath, a lot of energy, a lot of emotional turmoil—by talking through this issue with others. But all she did was talk to the Lord and wait. And as I spoke with her, God had just recently revealed to her husband what the issue was. It turns out it was a medical issue that was causing some of these other issues. He had been able to get help and had been able to have the issue dealt with. She said, "I'm so glad I didn't talk during that time."

F.B. Meyer goes on to say, "It's only the still heart that can reflect the heaven of God's overarching care, or detect the least whisper of His voice through its quiet atmosphere, or know His full grace and power," a quiet heart. So get your battle plan from the Lord. Be quiet.

Number three, follow God’s direction. Get your direction from Him and then follow it. It’s one thing to know what we’re supposed to do, but it’s another thing to do what we know we’re supposed to do.

God gave Joshua explicit instructions for the battle of Jericho. Joshua communicated those instructions to the people, and the people did exactly what God had told them to do. It’s called obedience.

I think of that passage in 2 Kings chapter 5, when Naaman, who was the Syrian general, had leprosy (see vv 1-14). Do you remember how the King of Syria sent him to Elisha the prophet and said, “He’ll be able to help you”? And Elisha sent a message out to Naaman saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan River seven times, and you will be clean of your leprosy.”

God said to Joshua, “Walk around the city for seven days.” God said to Naaman, “Go and wash in the Jordan River seven times.”

Remember, Naaman didn’t like this idea initially. He got the instruction, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to follow it. So he says in 2 Kings,

Behold, I thought that he [the prophet Elisha] would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper (v. 11).

He’s saying, “I thought he’d do something more dramatic!” And then he says,

Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean? (v. 12).

Did I have to make this trip and go and wash in the dirty Jordan River in order to get rid of my leprosy? “Behold, I thought . . .” I thought God would do it that way. I thought this would be His plan.

We’re like Ford—always have a better idea. We need to get direction from God, and then we need to do what He has told us to do. God’s direction often goes against the grain of our natural human reasoning. It often does not make sense to us, humanly speaking. It’s often humbling. And sometimes it may feel like doing what God has said to do will make us look foolish.

God says, “Forgive those who sin against you. Be merciful. Be faithful to your wedding vow.” He talks to us about the process of confronting or dealing with a sinful brother. He says, “Don’t make provision for your flesh. Confess your sins to one another so you can pray for one another.”

The Scripture is chock full of instructions that God has given us for living out the Christian life. Some of those instructions are so counterintuitive. They run counter to the grain of what makes sense to us. Love your enemies? What kind of sense is that? Well, if you want the walls to come down, you’ve got to get God’s direction, be quiet when it’s time to be quiet, and then follow God’s direction.

And then here’s the last insight: keep following God’s direction, even when it doesn’t look like anything is happening. You know, I find sometimes that it’s not too hard to obey God at the beginning of an undertaking. We’re excited about what He’s going to do; there’s the novelty of it all. We’re going to see Him work.

But what about when you obey God, when you do what He’s told you to do in His Word, and the walls are still standing? They haven’t come tumbling down yet. Day one, day two, day three . . . I can imagine the Children of Israel on day four: “We’ve done this walking-around-the-city thing. It’s not working. Nothing is happening. We look really foolish.”

We’re tempted to give up and go back to trying our own plan. “I’ve been forgiving. I’ve been loving this man. I’ve been trying to deal with this child in a biblical way. I’ve done it God’s way.” We go back. We resort to our own plans if we don’t feel that God’s plan has “worked” right away.

And I talk with people who’ve said, “I’ve done it God’s way, and nothing has happened.” Well, do you know what the counsel is there? Keep doing it God’s way. Keep doing it. "But what if I have to do this all my life?" Then do it all your life. Keep doing what God has said to do.

Let me go back to the Syrian general Naaman, who was told to go dip in the Jordan River seven times. I can just picture him. He was an arrogant man; his leprosy was really just an outward expression of an internal heart issue of arrogance. God was trying to humble this man.

So God says, “Go and dip in the Jordan River seven times.” Now, that is not a known cure for leprosy, okay? This method had never cured leprosy before; it’s never cured it since. It was just the means that God chose at that moment to humble Naaman’s heart—in response to which God was going to cure him of his leprosy.

Imagine Naaman going to the Jordan River. He goes down one time, and nothing happens; he still has leprosy. He goes down a second time, and nothing happens; he still has leprosy. He goes down a third time. And you can just imagine him thinking, I knew this was not going to work. I knew this was a dumb idea.

How many times did he have to do it before he was healed? As many times as God said: seven times. How many times did the Children of Israel have to march around the walls of Jericho? How many days? Seven days before the walls fell.

Second Kings 5 tells us about Naaman. “So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (v. 14).

You say, “Well, if it were just seven times or seven days, maybe I could live with that.” But how many times did Jesus say we need to forgive? Seven times? Not seven times, Peter! Seventy times seven! (See Matt. 18:21-22.)

You say, “Oh, right. I’m on—whatever it is—490 coming up here, and then I can quit forgiving.” No, that’s not the point. You missed it. The point is that you keep forgiving. You keep forgiving. You keep forgiving.

Don’t just obey God. Keep obeying God.

There may be a situation in your life where you’ve tried to obey God, but it doesn’t look like anything is happening. Your husband is not changing. Your children aren’t changing. Your boss isn’t changing. Your church isn’t changing. God’s not acting as quickly as you had hoped or thought He would. God’s not acting in the way that you thought He would.

Let me remind you: He’s God, and you’re not. So don’t give up. Don’t go looking for another plan. Don’t start to lean on the arm of your own flesh. Don’t take matters into your own hands, saying, “I think I’ve got a better plan.” Don’t give up.

In God’s time and in God’s way, the walls will come down. They will. But persevere.

As a conclusion to these thoughts, if you’re a child of God, you are a part of His army, and you’re in a spiritual battle. We’ve talked about that over the last few sessions. We know that the enemy has established strongholds in our culture and in our circumstances around us. In us there are strongholds from our past, from habit patterns we have.

Some of those strongholds are well-fortified. It doesn’t seem like they could ever be conquered, like they could ever fall. But we’re told that God wants to take possession. He wants every part of us to be under His reign and rule. He wants every part of this world.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof” (Ps. 24:1 KJV). All belongs to Him. One day there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and He will rule bodily, physically, over this whole world, over this whole universe.

But how? How is it going to happen? How can we move in and take possession of the “Jerichos” in our lives and in our culture? By faith, by prayerful dependence on Him, by following the directions He has given us in His Word.

It’s easy for us to look at our situation and think, We need some new program in this church. We need some new strategy. We need some new method.

I want to say  that as we face the wickedness in the culture, the evangelical church has been tempted to abandon the weapons and the resources that God has given us and that have been used by the church for generations.

Whatever happened to dependence on the Holy Spirit? Whatever happened to the power of the preaching of God’s Word? The battle will not be won in this day and age by creativity, innovation, some novel approach, some new kind of church.

It’s the old-fashioned things. I’m not talking about which songs we sing and using flannelgraphs instead of Power Point. I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit of God, on the preached Word of God, lifting up the cross, lifting up the name of Christ. That’s where the power comes from. That’s what God responds to.

The battle will be won by prayer, by faith, by dependence on the Holy Spirit, and by faithful proclamation of the Word of God. “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4).

And then just this closing word. If you are not a child of God, or if you are holding on to some area of your life where you want to be in control—if you’re resisting His reign or His rule in any area of your life—your heart may be walled up like Jericho. You’ve built a fortress in there.

Maybe you’re not a child of God. Maybe you’ve never repented of your sin and placed your faith in Jesus Christ, and your heart is walled up tightly like Jericho, tightly closed off. You won’t let anybody in, including God, to rule.

You need to know—and the story of Jericho reminds us—that you cannot hold out against God and His angelic heavenly hosts forever. He will win. He will win. And as all those in Jericho perished except for Rahab and her family, so all those who resist God will one day perish under His hand of righteous judgment. That’s the lesson of Jericho.

So surrender to Him. That’s what Rahab did. We talked about her in an earlier part of the series. She surrendered, she believed, and she was spared. You can surrender today, repent, believe the gospel and be saved.

Leslie: I think each of us needs to ask, “Am I trying to keep God out of any part of my life?” Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us why attempts to put up walls and keep God away will never work. Over the last several years, hearing convicting messages like that one from Nancy has made my life richer and my walk with God stronger.

How about you? What do you appreciate about Revive Our Hearts? This program is made possible because listeners just like you donate. This month, when you support the ministry with a gift of any size, we’ll say "thanks" by sending you the 2015 Revive Our Hearts Wall Calendar: Peace in the Storm.

None of us know what storms may come in the months ahead, but the quotes in this calendar will focus your mind on the truth of God’s goodness. And these quotes will encourage you when you need it. The quotes come from Nancy Leigh DeMoss, along with friends who have spoken at the True Woman Conference, such as: Priscilla Shirer, Joni Eareckson Tada, Janet Parshall, and many more.

Last year, we commissioned artist Timothy Botts to create the artwork for the Revive Our Hearts calendar. Listeners loved that calendar so much that we asked him to interpret these quote this year. Through his calligraphy and artwork, he makes these quotes come alive. Ask for the “Peace in the Storm” wall calendar when you call 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com and you’ll be able to request the calendar.

If you were God, how often would you show mercy to disobedient children? Tomorrow we’ll explore God’s ability to show both compassion and judgment. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts!

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Many of the insights in this program were gleaned from James Montgomery Boice’s Joshua: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2006).

 

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