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A story is told from the Korean War of the Baker Company, which found itself surrounded by enemy forces. For several hours headquarters had tried to communicate with Baker Company, with no response. Finally, a faint signal was received. Straining to hear each word, a corpsman asked, “Baker Company, do you read me?”
There was a static in the response, but finally he heard these words, “This is Baker Company.”
“What is your situation?”
The voice from Baker Company said, “The enemy is on the east of us. The enemy is to the west of us. The enemy is to the south of us. And the enemy is to the north of us.” Then, after a brief pause, came the words, “And we are not going to let them escape this time.”
That’s the spirit.
Do you ever feel that way – as though the enemy is on the east and the west the north and the south? If so, you are not alone. In the book of Joshua, we find the Israelites entering the new land God had promised to them. But in doing so, they faced many conflicts with their enemies, the Canaanites.
Why would God include a book like this in the pages of Scripture? Why do we need to know about the conquests – and sometimes the defeats – of the Israeli army? The apostle Paul, speaking of the Israelites, wrote, “These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did.”
God didn’t deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt so they could simply wander around in the wilderness. He wanted them to go into the Promised Land. And after spending 40 years in the wilderness, it was time for them to enter the land God had promised them. All the original whiners were now gone, and their children had taken their place. Moses also had died, and God put Joshua in charge to lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan. But there was a problem, an obstacle to their entry into the Promised Land. It was called the Jordan River.
The Jordan River was far from a sleepy little country stream. It was a mighty, rushing, raging river. There was no way to cross it. But God showed Joshua that he was to lead the Israelites across. There was a difference between the Jordan River and the Red Sea. When the Israelites crossed over the Red Sea, the waters parted, and they went over on dry ground. Then the waters closed again on the pursuing Egyptian army. In the case of the Jordan River, however, the waters did not part. They had to go into the water first. The priests led the way, bearing on their shoulders the Ark of the Covenant, that physical symbol of the presence of God. I am sure they were a little nervous as they took those first steps. But God was essentially saying, “Get your feet wet.” And as soon as they took that step of faith, the waters parted and they crossed through.
After getting everyone to the other side, Joshua was understandably nervous about the mighty obstacle of a city before him called Jericho. Then a mysterious visitor suddenly appeared, a strapping, strong soldier. Joshua asked whose side he was on – Israel’s side or the enemy’s side? The soldier told him, “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”
Joshua immediately realized this mysterious soldier was none other than the Lord himself.
I find it interesting that to Joshua, a soldier, God appeared as a soldier. It was something Joshua could relate to. God was getting him ready for the great battle that was to ensue, because Joshua still had to face off with the inhabitants of the land at Jericho.
Joshua was waiting for the battle plan, and Joshua was a practical guy. He was a military general, accustomed to having a plan, a strategy. God had a novel plan in mind to bring down the mighty Jericho. It was to march around the city once daily for six consecutive days. Then on the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times while the priests blew their horns. Finally, when the priests gave one, long blast on their horns, the people were to start shouting, and the walls of the city would collapse. Then they were to capture the city.
Does it ever seem to you as though God is messing with your mind a little? God seems to go out of his way to use our weakness to show his strength. He will employ unusual tactics and strategies so that we will look to him for the answer.
Think about Israel getting up every day and marching around the massive city of Jericho. As they looked up at those walls, they must have loomed larger and larger with the passing time.
We all have our Jerichos in life, so to speak, problems that loom large. Sometimes God will allow us to see how big our problems are so we will recognize that we can’t handle them on our own. The greatest difficulty for many is to get to the place where they are prepared to admit that the whole thing is simply too big for them and the power of the enemy is too great. And if this Jericho is going to fall somehow, God and only God must bring it about. When you get to the end of yourself, you get to the beginning of God.
God doesn’t want you wandering around with a half-hearted commitment to him. He wants you to enter into all that he has prepared for you. Sometimes that is not such an easy thing to do. There are a lot of challenges we face each and every day. There are a lot of temptations in our path. Sometimes we may feel as though we are under siege from all sides. But our war is a spiritual battle. And it is a battle of either winning or losing, of being a victim or a victor, of being an overcomer or overcome.
Are you marching around a Jericho right now – an insurmountable obstacle? Are you facing an unsolvable problem? That is your Jericho. So look to God.