Forward by Obedience
In Joshua chapter 6 we find that everything was in readiness for the siege of Jericho. Joshua had met the Captain of the hosts of the Lord and merely awaited His instructions. The chapter begins, “Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.”
This was to be a land of rest for Israel, but at the same time it was a land of conflict. This is also true in our spiritual lives. Our spiritual rest results from spiritual conflict. This is paradoxical but it is true.
We note that first of all, there is the Christian in the world as Israel was in Egypt. The enemy in that situation is the world and this may result in conflict at times. In the second place there is the self-life; the life that lacks surrender which is comparable to the people in the desert. In this situation the enemy is self. There is a constant inner struggle against the self which wants to be exalted. The third stage, is the useful, productive, victorious life pictured in the people of Israel conquering and possessing the land of Canaan. There, the great enemy is no one else but Satan. Conflict in this case is unavoidable. But we need not be discouraged. Even our Lord found opposition but was victorious. If and when we move ahead in our spiritual Canaan, we will find opposition. There are many forces that will oppose us in any direction we wish to go.
In John 7:7, the Lord Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day: “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” The world doesn’t hate its own and Satan does not hate his own, but both the world and Satan hate Christ because He is against the evil in them.
Jesus said in John 15:18-19 concerning his disciples: “ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Over against this we have a wonderful assurance: “These things I have spoken to you, that in me ye might have peace” (John 16:33). Our rest and our peace are in Christ. The Lord Jesus went on to say, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
The situation confronting the Israelites was not that of a mere battle shaping up, but the beginning of a great campaign. A battle is a single engagement, but a campaign is a series of concerted operations directed toward a single objective. It is this spiritual campaign that gives unity to all the events and experiences of our lives. The purpose of all these things in our lives, whether we think of them as negatives or positives, is all for our good because God knows what our needs are. But this involves a campaign, not a single battle. It would be too bad if life’s issues were to be determined by a single fight that we might lose. Rather, it is a campaign where there may be some losses but where there will be also be a number of victories.
Jericho might have been a discouraging sight to the Israelites. It was completely closed to any entering or any leaving. Its walls may have seemed impassible. Yet God has showed His people that He had given it to them.
The victorious life is exactly the same. We can be assured of victory because our Captain, Jesus Christ, has already won the battle, defeated the enemy, and thus assures us of victory. Our Lord in His death overcame Satan; and in His resurrection and ascension He broke through the territory which Satan controls in the air around us. Then Christ entered into heaven itself, having conquered all foes.
The secret of victory for Israel lies in Joshua 6:2 where the Lord promises: “I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.” The conquest of Jericho was God’s undertaking. Our spiritual life is also God’s undertaking. We have this promise in Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Whether it is something within or something without, our sufficiency is in Christ, for we also have this promise in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Before Joshua goes to battle against the city of Jericho; he is reminded of the Lord’s promises to give Israel the victory. There were past promises (Joshua 2:9) and there were present promises (Joshua 6:2). The past promises reminded Joshua of what the Lord had said He would do long ago. The present promises reminded Joshua that the Lord had not changed His mind about the matter. God still intended to give Israel the victory in this matter.
We each have our Jericho or Ai that stands in the way of our ability to possess our possessions in Christ; virtual strongholds that impede our spiritual progress. It may be a weakness in our character, a physical infirmity, it may be indifference to spiritual things in general or to a specific area we are neglecting. It could be materialism or some life-dominating pattern. It may be a difficulty at one’s place of work, in the home, with a particular personality, or it may be a financial burden. Regardless of the nature of our Jericho, we must realize victory always comes through God’s plan of deliverance—never ours.
As we look at our strongholds today, we may think that we will never see them fall at our feet. May we ever remember that God will always keep His promises! He has promised us the victory, and the victory shall be ours. (1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:37). Whatever God has promised, He is well able to bring to pass. (Romans 4:21; Ephesians 3:20). He did not save you so that you could live your life held captive in some walled city. We have His past promises (Isaiah 43:2). We have His present promises (Hebrews 13:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Psalm 41:10).