Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: When God intersects with your life, nothing stays the same. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You say, “There’s contention in my family. There are negative attitudes. There’s bitterness in my home. There’s anger in my house. And you’re telling me this is holy ground?”

God says, “Yes, because I’m here, and I’m holy, and that makes this place holy.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, October 1.

When I know a big day is ahead of me, I’m tempted to jump into tasks without spending time in prayer and God’s Word. But Joshua provides us with an important example.

Nancy will tell us about it in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 9): Defeating Your Jericho." 

Nancy: Some of you are familiar with the name Hudson Taylor. He was a missionary to China and one of my heroes of the faith. He was the founder of what was then called the China Inland Mission (now OMF), and he reminded his workers (this is back in the 1800s) that there were three approaches they could take to doing God’s work.

Number one: You can make the best plans you can and carry them out to the best of your ability.

Number two: Having carefully laid our plans and determined to carry them through, we may ask God to help us and to prosper us in connection with Him.

Number three (and, of course, this was the one he recommended): Begin with God. Ask His plans, and offer ourselves to Him to carry out His purposes.

Which do you find yourself doing in your season of life, in your place in life, as a woman in the workplace, as a single woman, as a married woman, as a mom, whatever season of life you may be in now? Do you just make your own plans and carry them out the best you can?

Or do you make your own plans carefully, determine you’re going to carry them through, and then say, “Oh, God, please, would You help me? Would You bless my plans that I’ve made here? I need You to help me carry this out.”

Or do you start with God, ask Him, “Lord, what are Your plans?

  • What are Your plans for our marriage?
  • What are Your plans for these children that You’ve given to us?
  • What are Your plans for me in this job?
  • How do You want to use my life? I’m available to be an instrument used by You to carry out Your purposes and Your plans.”

We’re in the book of Joshua, chapter 5. We started in the last session with an encounter that Joshua had with the commander of the Lord’s army, and we see that Joshua understood the importance of letting God be his commander.

Let me read the passage for those of you who may not have been with us in the last session. I want to pick up where we left off in this passage.

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" And he said, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come” (Josh. 5:13–14).

We saw in the last session that this man, who at first appeared to Joshua to be just a human warrior, turned out to be a divine messenger. It was probably an actual pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus, who is the commander not only of the armies of Israel, ultimately, but also of the angelic host of God in heaven.

This man had come to take over before the Israelites would have to go in and do battle against Jericho. So God has come to Joshua, reassuring him that the battle is not his; the battle is the Lord’s.

Now, we know the story of Jericho. We know all about the walls tumbling down. But Joshua hadn’t yet lived that story. He didn’t know how it was going to happen.

He’s standing outside Jericho, and he’s looking up at these huge walls, a double set of them forming a ring around the city. One of them was six feet wide, the other twelve feet wide. They were so wide that houses were actually built on top of the city wall. Remember, that’s where they found Rahab’s house.

So Joshua is realizing that his troops are not up to this. He has no idea how this is going to happen, but God has said it’s going to happen. And now God sends His commander of the Lord’s army to strengthen his faith and assure him that he is not alone, that this battle is not going to be fought by human effort but by divine intervention.

Today, I want us to look at Joshua’s response. This man has said to him, “I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” What does Joshua do? Look at verse 14: "And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped.” Joshua fell on his face. That’s a picture of humility.

He knows that he’s in the presence of deity, that this is not an ordinary man. This is not just another man, his equal, his peer or his subordinate. This is a man who is infinitely his superior. He fell on his face. It’s an expression of humility.

As I was thinking about this passage last night, there came to my mind a number of other verses where people, when they encountered the living Christ, fell on their faces in humility before Him.

In Ezekiel 1:2, Ezekiel says, “When I saw [the glory of the Lord], I fell on my face.”

In Daniel 10:9, Daniel says, “As I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face . . . with my face to the ground.”

Then you remember that incident in Luke 5:1–11 where Jesus found the disciples after they’d been fishing all night. They hadn’t caught anything, and Jesus said, “Let your nets out into the deep.” They did, and there was this great catch of fish.

Then it says in verse 8, “When Simon Peter saw it [this display of the power of God], he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’” There’s this response of humility.

We see the same thing in Revelation 1:17, when the apostle John has this vision of the resurrected, ascended, reigning Christ in heaven. He has this vision, and he says, “When I saw him, I fell at His feet as though dead.”

Listen, when people in Scripture encountered the living God, they responded in a variety of ways, but they never got bored. They never just stood there. When they encountered Christ, they had to humble themselves, and often they physically fell on their faces before Him as an expression of humility. So it says, “Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped” (Josh. 5:14). He worshiped.

Worship is a human response to divine revelation. Joshua has encountered this revelation of Christ Himself, and his natural response is to worship. It’s our appropriate response to the revelation of who God is and what He has done.

The commander receives Joshua’s worship, which is another evidence that this messenger was God Himself. A created angel would not have received the worship.

You find other times in Scripture when someone tries to worship an angel, and he says, “Don’t worship me. Worship God.” This was God. He received the worship.

Then, having fallen on his face and worshiped the commander, Joshua says, “What does my lord say to his servant?”

What does my Lord say to His servant? As we encounter the living Christ in His Word and in our walk with Him, what is the appropriate response?

Humility, worship, and then saying, “What do You want me to do? What does my Lord say to His servant? Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”

In that question, “What does my lord say to his servant?” I see a heart attitude of submission. Joshua recognizes this man as his superior. He says, “My lord.” He recognizes his own subordinate position.

Now, Joshua was a “big man on campus” when it came to the Israelites. He was the commander of the Israelite army.

But when he gets in the presence of God, he realizes, “I’m nothing. I am Your servant.” He sees himself as being a man under authority.

As we recognize who God is and who we are by comparison, we take that posture. We say, “Oh, Lord, You are the commander. I am under Your authority. You are the Lord. You are my Lord. I am Your servant.” It’s a heart response of submission.

Then I see Joshua being teachable. “What does my lord say to his servant?” He’s listening. He’s ready for instructions, which, by the way, the commander is going to give to him in the very next chapter (chapter 6), when He tells him how to go in and take Jericho.

He’s saying, in effect, “You’re in charge here. Tell me what to do. What’s the game plan? I’m listening. I’m ready to obey Your instructions.”

Joshua is saying, in effect, “I want to sign up now for Your army. You’re the commander of the army of the Lord—that’s the army I want to be in. I want to be under Your leadership.”

Joshua is a leader, but he says, “I’m willing to follow. I’m willing to serve. I want to follow the real Leader. I’m not going to be independent in this battle. I’m not going to be self-sufficient. I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, I’ve got hundreds of thousands of soldiers here. We can take Jericho.’ I’m going to recognize my dependence and my need for Your instructions and Your leadership and Your intervention.”

Let me just say, ladies, that when we engage in spiritual warfare and in the struggles we face against evil in this world—the evil in our own hearts, the evil in our relationships, the evil in our homes, the evil in our culture—as we do spiritual warfare, we’ve got to take orders from our commander. We’ve got to find out what is His battle plan.

What is His direction? Look to Him for the direction, and always be saying, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Where do you get that? In God’s Word. He’s given us His direction.

Ladies, we’ve got to be women of the Word if we’re going to make it in this battle. “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

As you open your Bible in your quiet time in the morning and you go into the Lord’s presence, that’s what you need to be asking: “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Say it from the posture of being on your face in humility and worship before Him.

"You are God. You are Lord. There is none like You." I may have a position here. I may be the director of this ministry, but I'm not the commander of the Lord's army. He is the only captain and commander.

  • Don’t tell God how you think you need to raise those children.
  • Don’t tell God what you think needs to happen in your church.
  • Don’t tell God how you think that ministry ought to be run.
  • Don't tell God what you think you ought to do in that workplace or what you think your boss ought to do in that workplace.

Go to the commander. Go to the captain, and say,

  • Lord, I am Yours.
  • My marriage is Yours.
  • My workplace is Yours.
  • My children are Yours.
  • My family is Yours.
  • My circumstances are Yours.
  • What does my Lord say to His servant?

And then listen. Ask what He wants you to do, and then wait for His answer, even as Joshua did.

It’s interesting, Joshua has apparently asked the commander for direction, but the first direction the commander gives has nothing to do with Jericho directly. He doesn’t say, “Here’s the game plan.” That’s coming, but He tells him something else first.

“The commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy’” (Josh. 5:15).

Joshua says, “What does my lord say to his servant?” and the commander says, “You want to know what you’re supposed to do next? Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy.”

Does that conversation sound like another one you remember before Joshua’s time, with his predecessor Moses? Exodus chapter 3, the burning bush in the Midian desert—you remember this? God appears to Moses as he is out there minding his own business, tending his sheep, never having a clue that he is going to used as the deliverer of God's people out of Egypt, out of slavery.

He looks up and there is this bush burning and it is not consumed. He realizes that the presence of God is in the bush. He listens. And says, "Take off your shoes. The ground where you are standing is holy."

I believe that’s an expression of humility. It is in Joshua’s heart, and God is telling him, “Here’s how you express the humility. Here’s the outward expression of your inward heart attitude.” It’s an expression of reverence, of respect.

You think of men taking off their hats when they come into a church building or to pray, and I’m always moved to see that because it’s a sign of respect. It’s a sign of reverence. We do it in the presence of God (or we ought to) to show respect in the presence of God.

God is saying, “Take off your shoes. Remove all defilement, because this is a holy place.”

His shoes had touched the dust of the earth, and God is saying, “Remove anything that is not clean. Just stand barefooted, vulnerable before Me, because this is a holy place.”

Now, it made Joshua vulnerable to take off his shoes standing outside this heavily fortified city of Jericho. He’s a soldier. Soldiers don’t go out barefoot.

He needed those shoes. He needed to be prepared, but he was willing to be vulnerable because he knew that One far greater than he was defending him.

The commander said, “The place where you are standing is holy.” Where was Joshua standing? We read this in verse 13. He was right outside Jericho.

Was Jericho a holy place? Jericho was a wicked city. That’s why God was about to destroy it. It was a pagan, rebellious city that had shaken its fist in God’s face for generations. It was a wicked place, pagan territory.

I want to tell you, if God is with you, wherever you are becomes a holy place. I want to tell you that God is not only with you; if you’re a child of God, He is in you by His Holy Spirit. Wherever God takes you becomes holy ground.

You say, “I work in this pagan work place. I go to this school where there are no believers. People ridicule me for my faith. People are crude and crass and violent and vile and sexually immoral.”

That’s the world we live in, isn’t it? God says, “I’m in you, and the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

You say, “There’s contention in my family. There are negative attitudes. There’s bitterness in my home. There’s anger in my house. And you’re telling me this is holy ground?” God says, “Yes, because I’m here, and I’m holy, and that makes this place holy.”

When you’re tempted to give in to the assaults of evil around you, remember: God in you is holy, and that makes the place where you are holy. When you go into that place—as you go to that Jericho, to that pagan territory—you are going in and with and surrounded by the presence of God, and that makes it holy.

God says, “Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy,” and verse 15 tells us, “And Joshua did so.”

Simple. God says, “Do it.” Here we see Joshua, once again, doing exactly what God says. That little phrase just shows his heart for obedience, and it expresses faith.

Now, what are the key take-aways from this passage we’ve been looking at the last couple of sessions? First of all, worship before warfare. We’re heading into the battle of Jericho here, but why does God take this time out to give Joshua this encounter? Because he needs to worship before he goes into battle.

Before going into battle, we have to get God’s direction. We need to worship Him. We need to encounter Him. We need to meet the Lord before we go out to do battle.

This is apparently a private meeting that Joshua has with the Lord, and I’m reminded that every day as we leave our houses, we’re going out into battle. Before we do, we need to have had a private meeting with the commander of the Lord’s army, and through His Word you can have that meeting every day of your life before you go out to face the enemy.

You say, “Who’s the enemy?” The world is the enemy. Your flesh is the enemy. Satan is the enemy, and all the things they inspire.

They’re all the enemy, and you’re doing battle with them every day. Before you do, open your Scripture and get the commander of the Lord of hosts to speak to you. Encounter Him.

This passage tells us that we are dependent on Christ, the commander, the captain of the Lord’s army. We’re dependent on Him. Only through Him can we win the victories that need to be won.

His heavenly hosts are with Him. He leads this great angelic army, and therefore, if He is with us and those angelic hosts are with Him, we have those angelic armies with us.

Moms, as you go into that home, as there are grandchildren perhaps growing up in a non-Christian home; as you go in that secular workplace; as you go out into this secular world, you a going with Christ. Christ goes in you, and with Him is the heavenly host, that angel army. that He commands and that He has at His beck and call. We're dependent on Him.

There is satanic authority behind the forces of wickedness in this world today. Do you recognize that? Sometimes we want to yell at people doing wicked things, but we're yelling at the wrong person. Behind all that wickedness in politics, in education, in media, in entertainment, and in our own little homes and communities, behind it all is Satan who is the author of sin and rebellion.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:3–4,

For though we walk in the flesh we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

You can’t fight spiritual enemies by fleshly means. You can’t use human reasoning, whining, cajoling, writing letters, marching in the streets.

There’s nothing wrong, at appropriate times, with doing those things, but that’s not how we win spiritual battles. Striving, planning, scheming, manipulating—we cannot overthrow the forces of wickedness in this world. They are far greater than we.

Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The implication is, “With Me, you can do anything that is My will to do.”

William Gurnall is one of my favorite devotional writers from the Puritan era, and in his book The Christian and Complete Armor, he says,

The strength of an earthly general lies in his troops—he flies upon their wings. [If their feathers get clipped or their necks broken, he is helpless.] But in the army of saints, the strength of the whole host lies in the Lord of hosts. God can overcome His enemies without help from anyone, but His saints cannot so much as defend the smallest outpost without His strong arm.

It’s true. God can overcome His enemies without our help any day. He doesn’t need us in this battle.

He chooses to let us be in the battle with Him, but He doesn’t need us. He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s in charge. But we as His saints cannot defend the smallest outpost without His strong arm.

Then we’re reminded that our commander cannot lose. The captain of the Lord’s army cannot be defeated. That means, if we are following Him, if we are in His army, our victory is sure.

The captain of the Lord’s host always goes before His army. Even when we cannot see Him and we can’t see the heavenly hosts in that army, they are present.

Charles Wesley wrote that hymn that we usually sing at Easter. One of the stanzas read:

Soar we now where Christ has led, hallujah.
Following our exalted Head, hallujah.
("Christ the Lord Is Risen Today")

That's what we are doing with the resurrection power of Christ, in the ascension power of Christ: soaring where He has led, following our exalted Head. Then our victory is sure.

Regardless of your circumstances, regardless of the battle you may be facing, by faith you can link arms with the omnipotence of the heavenly hosts and the commander, the captain who is at their head.

I love those word of Martin Luther:

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be; Christ Jesus, it is He.
Lord Sabboth His name, from age to age the same.
And He must win the battle.
 
("A Mighty Fortress Is Our God")

When we come to the last book of the Bible, we’re given one more glimpse of the captain, the commander of the Lord’s army. Let me read it to you, from Revelation 19:11–16.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. . . . He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is the Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

He's the Savior of His people. He's the sovereign Lord of the universe. He is the One who is coming to judge the nations, to rule over all the earth. That day is coming when every knee will  bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is indeed the Lord, the captain of the Lord of host, and He shall reign forever and ever. Amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us the value of spending time alone worshiping the Lord. The tasks on your list can wait, and you’ll be more effective attacking them after you’ve gotten God’s direction and His power. That message is part of the series, “Lessons From the Life of Joshua Part 9: Defeating Your Jericho.”

We’re able to bring you messages like this one thanks to listeners who support Revive Our Hearts financially. And when you make a donation of any amount here in October, we’ll say thanks by sending you a one-of-a-kind calendar. This is the 2015 Revive Our Hearts Wall Calendar: Peace in the Storm.

We know 2015 is likely to bring some storms to all of our lives. Month by month, this calendar will encourage you. You’ll read quotes from Nancy Leigh DeMoss and from friends who have spoken at the True Woman Conference, such as: Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Kassian, Priscilla Shirer, Janet Parshall and more. And again this year, Timothy Botts has illustrated this calendar with his unique calligraphy and artwork.

We’ll send you this one-of-a kind calendar when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Ask for the “Peace in the Storm Calendar” when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Is it fair for God to judge an entire city at once? Next week we’ll explore God’s justice and mercy while observing the walls of Jericho fall.

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

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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