Sun, Feb 24, 2019

Joshua 5:13-15 Whose Side Are You On?

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JOSHUA 5:13-15

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Joshua chapter 5 as we continue our study through the book of Joshua.

            As we have seen, the first five chapters of Joshua deal with entering into the land of Canaan, the Promise Land.

            Then, in Joshua chapters 6 through 21 the focus is conquering the land of Canaan or the Promise Land.

            And then, in Joshua chapters 22 through 24 the focus is on keeping the land of Canaan or the Promise Land.

            Make no mistake about it, the book of Joshua is a book on victorious Christian living or living that Spirit-filled life.

            You see, there are battles as we live out our faith just as there were battles in Canaan.

            And in those battles that we face, we will see victories and we will also see defeats, just as the children of Israel encountered.

            Now you may be thinking, “Hey, wait a minute! I thought this was about victorious Christian living and not defeat?”

            It is, but we also have to understand that we can place ourselves in situations where we miss out on those victories that God has for us because of sin, because of disobedience.

            And as we look at the stories here in Joshua, we will see that. They were victorious when they followed the Lord, obeyed His Word. And they were defeated when they did not follow the Lord, when they did not obey His Word, when they sinned!

            And keep in mind that they are now in the land of Canaan. They have crossed over the Jordan River and the base camp is going to be Gilgal!

            But before they begin their battle against Jericho, there were a few things that they first needed to do.

            First of all, here in Joshua chapter 5, we see A RENEWAL OF CIRCUMCISION. What was that all about?

            Remember, they had left their wilderness wanderings behind them, the flesh life, the carnal life and now they were living a life of the Spirit. And if you are going to do that then you must cut ties with that old life, that carnal life and to do that you must crucify the flesh, put it to death – CUT IT OUT!

            And I think we all understand this but putting it into practice each and every day is difficult. You see, if you are feeding the flesh, living for fleshly desires, then you are carnal! Not only carnal but the works of the flesh will be manifested in your life and that is not a good thing.

            And we do need to understand that this is not one battle or two battles or three battles, as I have said in our studies here in Joshua!

            This is a constant battle in our lives. That is why Paul makes this very important point as he tells us in Galatians 5:16, that we are to . . . Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

            Why go back to that which had you in bondage?

            Make no mistake about it, if you want to live that victorious Christian life, you must crucify the flesh, cut it out in a sense, and walk in the Spirit letting the Lord guide you and lead you in all that you do and say!

            It is as Paul said in Philippians 3:3, For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

            So the first thing they were to do as they prepared to do battle against the people of Jericho was A RENEWAL OF CIRCUMCISION, which they did. They obeyed the Lord.

            Then, interestingly enough, the next thing that they were to do as they prepared for battle, was the CELEBRATING OF PASSOVER!

            Keep in mind that Passover was first celebrated in Egypt as they placed the blood of the lamb on the doors of their homes so the angel of death would pass over their homes. And then they celebrated the Passover meal.

            This feast was again celebrated at Mount Sinai and then they neglected to celebrate it until they are in the Promise Land here in Joshua, some forty years later.

            And the idea here is that they were to, “Remember the Work!” and the reason for that is we have to understand that it is only through God that we can accomplish anything, even our salvation!

            And as we look back on the finished work of Christ, as we celebrate communion, a picture of the New Covenant, we understand that the same God who saved us will see us through anything we face in life and ultimately, He will bring us home to glory!

            And lastly, as they are preparing to do battle against Jericho, we see that the Manna stopped and now they were to gather the food from the land.

            They are in the Promise Land, the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, and the idea here is, THE APPROPRIATION OF THE LANDS PRODUCE!

            Mature Christians will dig into the Word of God, they will not be dependent upon others to keep feeding them.

            There is nothing wrong with learning from others, but we should be digging into the Word of God ourselves and see the food that God has for us as we take in His Word. It is exciting, and it is rewarding as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

            Also, as I have said, their base camp will be Gilgal, which means, “the place of rolling.”

            In other words, Gilgal is the place where you can say, “The Lord has rolled away the reproach of the world from me.”

            Now, if you want to stop wandering in the wilderness of compromise and carnality, you have to enter into that life of the Spirit by faith, you have to reckon that old man to be dead and buried!

            It is a commitment or recommitment to God to be Lord of your life!

            Now, the battle for Jericho is only a day away and Joshua is out looking over this great, fortified city. He is pondering how they are going to defeat this enemy. And maybe this adversity in his life was making him restless. Maybe he couldn’t sleep.

            How many of you have faced adversity, hardships, misfortunes in your life? Let’s be honest with ourselves on this one because trying to hide it is not going to help you.

            We all have faced adversity in our lives and some of you may be facing adversity right now. In fact, you may have been facing this adversity for a while now and you are overwhelmed. You just can’t go on any longer. It has the best of you and the more you try to fix it, the more you try to overcome it, the worse it is getting.

            Please do not give up and don’t give in. Let me share this with you to help you get a different perspective on things and then I will show you where we are going this morning here in Joshua, because I believe what Joshua faced and what he learned is something that can help us in the adversity we come across in our lives.

            We are told,

            A daughter complained to her father about how hard things were for her. “As soon as I solve one problem,” she said, “another one comes up. I’m tired of struggling.”

            Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen where he filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots; in the second, eggs; and in the last, ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

            The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After a while, he went over and turned off the burners. He fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He poured the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her he asked, “Darling, what do you see?”

            “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

            He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled, as she tasted its rich flavor.

            She asked, “What does it mean, Father?” He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

            The egg was fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside hardened.

            The ground coffee beans were unique, however. By being in the boiling water, they changed the water.

            He asked his daughter, “When adversity knocks on your door, which are you?”

- More Perfect Illustrations for Every Topic and Occasion

 

            Please understand that I am not downplaying what you are going through, not at all! But what I want you to see, whatever you surrender yourself to, will be manifested in your life.

            I have called this study, “Whose Side Are You On?”

            And I have broken down these verses here in Joshua chapter 5 like this,

            THE FEAR OF BATTLE – JOSHUA 5:13

            REFOCUSED FOR BATTLE – JOSHUA 5:14

            WORSHIP BRINGS VICTORY – JOSHUA 5:15

            So with that as our introduction, let’s begin reading in Joshua chapter 5, beginning in verse 13 and let’s see what the Lord has for us as we study through His Word and look at this topic, “Whose Side Are You On?”

 

JOSHUA 5

VERSE 13

            Keep in mind that the children of Israel are encamped in Gilgal and the city of Jericho was before them, not that far away. They could see it in the distance.

            And at this point Joshua and the children of Israel have not been given any instructions from the Lord on how to handle this battle, how they were going to defeat the people of Jericho.

            So he was restless. He was unsure of what to do. And thus, he goes for a walk to just relax, get his mind off of what was before them.

            And as he was walking, probably just daydreaming a little, maybe praying, seeking direction from the Lord, we don’t know. My guess is that Joshua was praying as he was leading these people and he did not want to lead them into a disaster.

            And as he is out on this walk, all of a sudden, he sees a Man with His sword drawn standing opposite of him.

            I don’t know about you but if that happened to me, the first thing I would be thinking of is this, “It is the enemy who has come into camp! Look, his sword is drawn, he is ready to fight!”

            I think that is what Joshua was thinking as well as he tells this Man, Are You for us or for our adversaries?
            I am sure that Joshua was preparing to go after this Man, but first, he wanted to see if he was really an enemy or just someone who was with them. That is an important question to have answered before he decided what to do!

            This first point that I want to deal with is this idea of THE FEAR OF BATTLE!

            Let’s face it, we all face these battles and sometimes, in these battles we face, we are chopping off the head of not our enemy, but one who is with us, one who is on our side!

            Think about marriage relationships, sometimes there are disagreements, sometimes there are fights and the big question we ask our spouse is, “Are you for me or against me?” We may not use those exact words, but in the battle, it is either my way or the highway. So, “Are you for me or against me?”

            That is not the question to be asked. If you are married, then you both should be for each other. You should be working with each other and not against each other!

            But let me take this a step further. Things are a mess in your life. Everywhere you turn it seems like another battle, another disaster.

            It is so bad, it is such a mess, things are so horrible, that now you turn against God!          

            Don’t think that can’t happen? It can, and it does!
            I read a post from Facebook a few weeks back from a man whose life was in the toilet bowl you might say. He used more colorful words than that, but I won’t repeat them. And he was angry at God, he was angry at God’s people because of all these battles he was facing.

            He truly believed God was against him and thus, he was turning against God, fighting against God, thinking he could win this battle.

            And I am not even sure he was a Christian, just by what he was saying. If he was, wow!

            If he was not a Christian, those things that were happening in his life were there to draw him to the Lord, not push him away. And he needed to come to the end of himself before he would look up and I guess he is not there yet!

            If he is a Christian, God was using those things in his life to draw him closer to Him. God never gives to us more than we can handle.

            Let me clarify that. He will never give to us more than He can handle and that is the key. We will never find victory, peace, joy outside of Him.

            Yes, sin does bring fun, good times but it is short-lived, and, in the end, there is bondage to that which we have given ourselves into.

            But in Jesus, we have that peace, we have that joy, we have that victory because the world can never give this to us, but Jesus can and does!

            So all these things that come upon our lives can draw us away from God if we let them. Or, they can draw us closer to God, if we let them! It truly is our choice.

            Difficulties, tragedies, tough times will come our way, that is not the issue. What we do with them is truly the issue.

            Remember what Joshua said to this Man who had his sword drawn? Are You for us or for our adversaries?

            Let’s see how this Man answers this question because it is very important, and it is very interesting to me.     

VERSE 14

            I have called this section, REFOCUSED FOR BATTLE!

            The reason that is important is that we can let things distract us from what God wants to do. And then, with that distraction comes discouragement, doubt, depression, and we just drop out!

            That is what Paul is saying in Colossians 3:1-4, get refocused! He wrote, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

            When we start to focus on all the things that are happening in our lives, as we look at these things through our physical eyes, we are overwhelmed and discouraged and this and that!

            But Paul is saying get refocused. Focus on the Lord, look at life through spiritual eyes. In other words, God is in control, He will see us through. Allow the Word of God to comfort, to encourage you, to give you the correct perspective of things.

            And the bottom line is this. No matter how difficult things may get, When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. What a precious promise that is to us. No matter how bad it is on earth, we will be with Jesus one day and that will never end. We will be taken to glory one day, and it does not get any better than that!

            Now, back here in Joshua 5:14, listen again to the response of this Man with His sword drawn to the question of Joshua, Are You for us or for our adversaries? He said, No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.

            The response of this Man is strange. He tells Joshua, “NO!” 

            That makes no sense. “Are you for me or against me?” and He says, “NO!” That is not the proper response to the question.

            You see, the problem is that the question that Joshua was asking this man was wrong. It is not the right question to ask. What do I mean by that?

            You see, this is no ordinary Man, but it is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus or a Christophany.

            I will deal with why I believe that this is the Lord here and once again when we look at Joshua 5:15.

            First of all, that term, army of the LORD is speaking of God’s angelic army and it is sometimes called the host of heaven. He is the Commander of the armies of heaven!

            In Psalm 103:19-21 we are told, The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

            Obviously we see the Lord as the One who is in charge of the angels of heaven and they go forth obeying His Word, doing His will for Him!

            Now some think this Man spoken of here, with his sword drawn, in Joshua 5:13 is either Michael or Gabriel, powerful angels. But I disagree with that.

            How can I be so certain that this is not speaking of Michael or Gabriel?

            Because we are told that once this man spoke, . . . Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, an said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’

            So this can’t be some powerful angelic being because Joshua falls down to worship Him and this person does not come against Joshua for doing this. And we will talk more about that when we get to Joshua 5:15, but just keep in mind that God alone is to be worshiped!

            Now, let’s get back to this response that the Lord said to Joshua regarding the question that Joshua asked Him, Are You for us or for our adversaries? And the Lord said back to Joshua, No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.

            Do you see what the Lord is saying to Joshua? He is asking Joshua if he was for Him or against Him?

            And that is the real question for each of us in the battles that we face. Are we for Him or against Him! And what a great question this is for each of us to answer.

            You see, it is not, “Lord, I am going to do this, are you with me?” 

            No, it is truly like this, “Here is what the Lord is going to do, are you with Him?”

            It is not about my will or your will being done, my plans or your plans, but it is about the Lord and are we going to follow Him, are we for Him or against Him in our actions?

            But what about me? Is the Lord for me or against me? That is not the question, like I have said.

            First of all, if you are a believer, if you have repented of your sins and asked Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life, then God is for you!

            How can I be so sure? That is really simple. It is because the Bible tells me so and I believe what the Bible says. And I not only believe it, but I then must apply that to my life or take what the Bible says and live it!

            In Psalm 56:8-11 we are told, You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

            What God wants us to see and understand is that He is for us. And as you read through this Psalm you can clearly see that come shining through.

            God knows what we are going through – OUR WANDERINGS!

            He knows the pain we endure – HE PUTS OUR TEARS INTO HIS BOTTLE!

            He hears our hearts cry and He respond’s – WE CRY TO HIM AND THE ENEMIES TURN AWAY!

            We can know and trust what the Lord has told us because - WE TRUST IN HIS WORD!

            And the result of that is confidence – I WILL NOT BE AFRAID – MAN CAN’T TOUCH ME!

            In other words, God is for me and no one can be against me and win! I am not saying it will be easy, but this I know, He will see me through each and every difficult situation that I am facing, and I just need to trust in Him!

            Do we see this in the New Testament, that God is for us? You bet we do! Remember what we are told in Romans 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

            Please understand that in the Greek it is not “if”, it is not that maybe God is for us and then again, maybe He is not.

            No, Paul is saying, Since God is for us. He is the one who is for us and there is no other conclusion that you can come to?

            In regard to this, Newell wrote, “Our weak hearts, prone to legalism and unbelief, receive these words with great difficulty: God is for us . . .They have failed Him; but He is for them. They are ignorant; but He is for them. They have not yet brought forth much fruit; but He is for them.” How wonderful, how true that is and yet, we let doubt come in and we think God is against us, He does not love us. That is not true.

            Again, why wouldn’t we listen to the Lord? It is amazing how many times we don’t, we don’t trust Him, and we trust the words of man instead. Have you ever listened to some of the things that men and women have said, it is really foolish and yet, we listen to them?

            Let me show you what I mean. We are told,

            If you could live forever, would you, and why?
            I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever.

Miss Alabama, in the 1994 Miss USA pageant

 

            Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean . . . I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.

Mariah Carey

 

            Smoking kills. If you are killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life

Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign.

 

            Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, D.C.

 

            I have opinions, strong ones, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with them.

George Bush

 

            We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees.

Jason Kidd, upon his drafting to the Dallas Mavericks

 

            I’m not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president.

Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents

 

            The police are not here to create disorder. They’re here to preserve disorder.

Former Chicago mayor Daley during the infamous 1968 Democratic Party convention

 

            Traditionally, most of Australia’s imports come from overseas.

Former Australian cabinet minister Keppel Enderbery

 

            Half this game is ninety percent mental.

Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark

 

            They’re multi-purpose. Not only do they put the clips on, but they take them off.

Pratt & Whitney spokesperson explaining why the company charged the Air Force nearly $1,000 for an ordinary pair of pliers

           

             The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It’s only the people who make them unsafe.

Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor of Philadelphia

 

            The president has kept all of the promises he intended to keep.

Clinton aide George Stephanopolous speaking on Larry King Live

 

            After finding no qualified candidates for the position of principal, the school board is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of David Steele to the post.

Philip Streifer, Superintendent of Schools, Barrington, Rhode Island

 

            Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.

Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina

 

            If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there’ll be a record.

Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman

 

            We don’t necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people.

Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor

 

            Isn’t it better to trust in what the Lord has said than what man has said? Of course it is because the promises of God are certain, they are true and what man says may come to pass, and it may not. It may be helpful, it may not be!

            You see, what side are you on?

            There are only two sides. One side is living in rebellion against God; being at war with God.

            The other side has come to the saving faith through the shed blood of Christ applied to their lives by faith. They have asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior and they are cleansed, and they are on the Lord’s side, they are no longer fighting against God, at war against God!

            And once you have made that commitment, you are saved. It is a work of God at the start, in the middle and at the very end and thus, Since God is for us, who can be against us?

            And look at Romans 8:35-39 if you think that God’s love for you can ever be taken away, it can ever diminish!

            We are told, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            When he speaks of nothing separating us from the love of Christ, He is speaking of this love relationship we have with Christ that began at the moment we got saved. Thus, Paul is using this phrase, the love of Christ as a synonym for salvation; he is speaking about believers and how that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!

            Now think about what is going on here in Joshua chapter 5. Yes, Joshua was the leader, and the military leader over the children of Israel, but Jesus is the Commander of the Lord’s army, over the angelic hosts, over all!

            And what I want you to notice is what the Lord instructs Joshua to do in Joshua 5:15, it is very interesting as they are preparing for battle against Jericho. Look at what we are told.

 

VERSE 15

            This last verse focuses on – WORSHIP BRINGS VICTORY! And you will see how that is played out here.

            First of all, and we have talked about this a little already, that this man is none other than a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.

            And I am certain about this for two reasons.

            First of all, notice what verse 15 says, Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.  These are similar words that were spoken in Exodus 3:5-6 at the burning bush.

            And, in John 8:58 Jesus said, . . . ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ 

            In other words, He is the voice from the burning bush back in Exodus and thus, this is Jesus here in Joshua chapter 5!

            And here’s the thing, and the Jews struggle with this man here in Joshua chapter 5 because God appears as a man or if they say this is just a man, why is this holy ground and why is Joshua worshiping Him? 

            If this was just a man Joshua would not do that and the only reason the ground is holy is because God was there! And, of course, we are not to worship man or even angels.

            Two important points showing us this must be the Lord, Joshua worship’s Him and it is holy ground!

            Let me show you that we are to worship the Lord only, not angels or any other created thing.

            In Revelation 19:10, as an angel is speaking to John, we are told, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ 

            And, in Revelation 22:8-9 we are also told, Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.’ 

            Thus, only God is to be worshiped and where God is, as I have said, is holy, which tells me very clearly that this is an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ!

            And another important issue pointing to Jesus is that He appears with His sword drawn and we see this another time, in Revelation 19 when He comes back to destroy those who are in rebellion against Him!

            Now I want to take a minute to talk about worship because, in the church today, we have lost sight of what worship is all about!

            Instead of it being focused upon God it is focused upon us and it is all external, there is no real internal aspect to it!

            One writer put it like this,

            Many years ago, I went to a wealthy suburban church that had sermon titles such as “What Would Jesus Say to Bart Simpson?” and that, for its youth day, had its teenagers stream down the aisles dressed like inner-city gang members as they rapped out the opening “hymn,” with the appropriate ganglike hand gestures.

            More recently, I attended a church that showed hilarious homemade video clips to season the sermonette.

            I have also heard about a church that hands out free popcorn as you enter the “sanctuary,” and another where everyone bounces around a beach ball during the “worship” band’s performance.

            Although these examples are perhaps extreme, they show a growing trend. Today, as our churches overflow with folksy entertainment and raw “authenticity,” we live in one of the most sacrilegious and blasphemous church cultures in the history of Christianity. No joke.

- The Pastor’s Book, R. Kent Hughes, p. 32

 

            And I realize that many don’t think this is a big problem in the church, but it is! Listen carefully to what this recent article had to say about our worship and what our churches look like and sound like.

            We are told,

            As I entered the dark room with flashing bright colourful lights that were cutting through the darkness like lightning bolts, I instantly questioned whether I had entered the doors of a church or had stepped into a nightclub.

            The loud music and the immediate comment by a friend that ‘it’s like we’re at a party’ only helped to emphasize my thoughts. Clearly I wasn’t used to such visual drama at a church service or maybe it was just my age beginning to show.

            Arising confusion on whether one is in a church, nightclub or party may signal the need to reflect on whether the church has lost the plot. I recently watched an interview with a mega church member who was attracted to the church because there was music and they thought it was like a party. They weren’t really going there to get a connection with God but to just have fun. What gave them hope was this ‘sensation of happiness’.

            Sometimes I get the impression that the church is trying so hard to make the gospel attractive to this generation, that they have turned it into a marketing scheme that people can buy into. So much time is spent trying to appeal to the masses that the church ends up forgetting who they really are and what the church is really about. What started as a desire to glorify God and make Him known now appears to have been placed on the back burner.

            When one enters a church, should they really be trying to figure out whether they’re in a church or at a social party? Is this what God intended for the church and a place of worship?

            Entertainment and “feel good theology” appears to be the trend in churches today but I believe this was never meant to be the church’s prime directive. It is the church’s responsibility to demonstrate to Christians and non-Christians alike that what we do isn’t about entertainment but is all about worshipping God in spirit and in truth [John chapter 4 verse 24].

            If we were to take away all the lights, computer graphics, pounding music, and all the things we use to create an “ambience”, would people still come to church? Or do people heavily rely on these things to be able to worship God? Furthermore, do we attend church to worship God or do we simply attend church because it makes us feel good?

            . . . We need to be honest about our intentions and know who it is we’re lifting our hands up to. Continually remembering that the very essence of worship is not found in these tools, but is found in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is Him that our praise should be directed to.

            Otherwise we may be guilty of breeding a form of Christians that are in it for pleasure and not true salvation. Self-pleasing and not God pleasing. As soon as it no longer feels good, they abandon the faith.

            - https://www.christiantoday.com/article/is-this-a-church-or-a-nightclub/130244.htm

 

            The Lord told Joshua, Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.

            Our worship must be in reverence to our Lord. It is all about Him. And how we worship Him will tell if we truly honor Him as Almighty God or if He is just another one of the boy’s you might say!

            And not only are we to reverence Him, honor Him, respect Him, take our shoes off before Him because He is holy and if He is with us, and He is, then all around us is holy ground, but we also must worship Him according to the Scriptures and not apart from them!

            Worship is so important, and I will show you what I mean in a minute.

            What I want you to see now is that before this battle and in the midst of this battle against Jericho, and after the battle of Jericho, the Lord was with Joshua and the Children of Israel.

            It is fulfilling the promise that God made to Joshua, No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. . . . Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:5, 9.

            And so God is making good on His promise to be with Joshua as He had been with Moses. And He is with us as well!

            So if God is with us wherever we go then wherever we go we should be honoring the Lord and remembering that our lives should be holy for this is holy ground around us!

            Now let’s think about this. The Lord meets with Joshua here and you would think He would be discussing the battle plan against Jericho with Joshua. But that is not what He is doing, not yet.

            First, the focus is on worship. Now you may be thinking that this is crazy, worship, we need battle plans! But worship is so important. Let me show you what I mean.

            In II Chronicles chapter 20 we see that Jehoshaphat is the King of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And he was a godly King, not perfect, but he did love the Lord.

            And we are told in II Chronicles 20:1-4, It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar’ (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

            Keep in mind that Jehoshaphat brought spiritual reform to the nation. He brought the people back to God and brought civil order to the nation.

            And now we see three nations rise up against the Southern Kingdom of Judah. 

            These nations were; the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Edomites, and they were all blood relatives of Israel, of the Jewish people. 

            Now these three nations gathered together at Hazazon Tamar, which was located around the western shores of the Dead Sea, not far from Qumran.

            How is King Jehoshaphat going to respond to this situation that is before him? Last time he was in battle he lost the war against the Syrians and almost was killed! 

            But this time we see that he brought this before the Lord. Yes, Jehoshaphat was fearful, that is a normal human response.

            But now he takes it to where it needs to be, the Lord for He alone can help in this situation!

            You see, fear is not wrong; it is how we respond to that fear. You can let it incapacitate you or it can drive you to your knees and bring it before God so you know what you should do!

            So, to me, this is a good fear.

            We all need to experience this for it truly gets us to re-focus our lives back on the Lord.  Jehoshaphat set his face to seek the Lord and called for a national fast.

            In regard to what Jehoshaphat did, Selman wrote, “His attitude is summed up by the word ‘seek’, which occurs twice in Hebrew though it is variously translated. . . . This is a key word in Jehoshaphat’s reign, where it has the basic sense of ‘worship’, but also means to discover God’s will. It shows that Jehoshaphat has a higher trust in God than in his military resources.”

            You see, if you are going to put your trust in man, put your trust in your own might, in your resources, you will be in trouble. You will remain fearful and unable to accomplish what God has.

            And listen to part of the King’s prayer, O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You. II Chronicles 20:12.

            I like the way that Spurgeon saw this situation that they were in and where their eyes were focused. He wrote, “They said, ‘Our eyes are upon thee.’ What did they mean by that? They meant, ‘Lord, if help does come, it must come from thee. We are looking to thee for it. It cannot come from anywhere else, so we look to thee. But we believe it will come, men will not look for that which they know will not come. We feel sure it will come, but we do not know how, so we are looking; we do not know when, but we are looking. We do not know what thou wouldest have us to do, but as the servant looks to her mistress, so are we looking to thee, Lord. Lord, we are looking.’”

            May we have that perspective in life, no matter what we are going through!

            And this is the battle plan that the Lord had given them through the prophet. They were going to put the worship people out in front in this battle and then the army. Did they not like the worship team?

            It would seem so, but that is not the case. Remember God inhabits the praises of His people.

            And yes, the army was behind them, which tells me they expected a battle, that God had His part and they were ready for their part.

            But again, it was the worship team, you might say, that led the army into battle. 

            They were to go into this battle with praise and worship and see the salvation that the Lord would bring them. Now we would call that a foolish military plan, but God used it to bring about a great victory.

            Listen to what took place in II Chronicles 20:20-24, So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.’ And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: ‘Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.’ Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

            Look at what just happened. As they came upon the enemy with praise, God put the enemy into confusion and they killed each other, none were left. 

            Why is that? Because the enemy, the Devil and his demons, hate the praise of God and it throws them into confusion. They can’t understand how we can praise the Lord in the midst of difficulty.

            And yet, how often, instead of praise we complain and that is just where the enemy wants us. He wants us weak and defeated because we have taken our eyes of the Lord, we are missing the salvation that He wants to bring to a situation and then we wonder why we are not seeing the victories in our life.

            It is because we are not putting our faith in the Lord and we are complaining instead of praise and worship of the Lord! God does not inhabit the complaints of His people, but the praises of His people!

            It is as Spurgeon said, “They worshipped, but why did they do it? They were not delivered. No, but they were sure they were going to be delivered. Their enemies were not dead. No, they were all alive, but they were sure they would be dead, so they had worship, and their devotion rose from trustful and grateful hearts.”

            May we learn to do that, just trust what God’s Word has to say and worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness!

            And I want you to also see what our worship of the Lord and the victories that He gives to us does with those who witness these things in our lives. We are told in II Chronicles 20:29, And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.

            And truly that is what we are seeing here in Joshua, the worship of the Lord and then their victory against Jericho.

            You see, and think about this, who is going to fight the battle of Jericho? 

            Many would say Joshua as the song goes, the BATTLE OF JERICHO.

            Part of this song goes like this, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho, Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, And the walls come tumblin’ down.” 

            That is not true, for it was the Lord Jesus that fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumblin’ down! The children of Israel worshiped the Lord, that was their part, obedience to Him!

            And folks, the same is true in our own lives. We can try to tear down the walls around us in our own strength, but it will never be accomplished unless we let the Commander of the LORD’s army fight for us, bringing down those walls. That is where the victory is found!

            Our part is to not remain IN THE FEAR OF THE BATTLE but see it for what it is and how we can’t accomplish this victory on our own.

            In other words, GET REFOCUSED FOR THE BATTLE!

            And then we need to understand that WORSHIP BRINGS US TO VICTORY – THE WORSHIP OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!

            As one writer summed this up for us, as he wrote,

            Why did Jesus come to Israel at this strategic time?

            He had come to instruct Joshua in the plan to capture Jericho. Joshua will carry out a plan in the following chapter that is so improbable it could only have been initiated at the direct command of God.

            Most of all, He had come to conquer Israel – before Israel could conquer anything else in the promised land, they had to be conquered by God – and Joshua’s total submission shows that they are conquered by Him. This is the missing element in a life of victory for many Christians; they have not been, and are not continually being, conquered by God.

- David Guzik

 

            We all want to walk that walk of faith and have those victories in our Christian life, but are we willing to submit our lives to the Lord and let Him show us how we are to walk, the victory that He has for us? We need to, and we need to do that, not with complaining, but with the worship of Him! And as you worship the Lord, see the salvation that He will bring to the situations you are facing!

            So, the question is, “WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?” May we be with the Lord!

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