Lessons from Jericho: Examine the Stronghold Closely

I have been getting a lot lately out of the story of the fall of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-6:27).  Not only has it been intellectually interesting, but the things God has been showing me have been strengthening to my own walk with him.  I had gotten lazy in the walk of holiness, and I realized a few weeks ago that a spiritual stronghold of the enemy had begun to take root in my heart.

In an earlier post, I brought up how the battle starts in recognizing that you are called to be holy to Jesus, separate from the world, set aside solely for his purposes.  It’s what he has called you to, and it’s where he intends to take you.

The next post, I brought up how God must be an integral part of your relation to this city.  If you want to see it go, you’ve got to look at it with God at your side or you’ll get overwhelmed and decide to give up.  Before you even go to battle, when you’re just sitting there looking at the stronghold, seek God’s advice, ask for his help, and follow his directions.

Today, I want to look at the deeply uncomfortable but absolutely vital next step…

3.  Examine the Stronghold Closely

Joshua 6:11-15 reads, “So he had the ark of the Lord taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp. Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while they continued to blow the trumpets. Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days. Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times.”

The army marches around the city a total of thirteen times. We all love the story of the thirteenth march, when the men shout the entire way around and the walls come crumbling down. We love that thirteenth march! It’d make a great movie.

But we often overlook the power of the twelve previous circuits around the city.

Twelve times, seven days, the men march around the city. They get an up-close and personal look at the impenetrable walls. They see their thickness; they see their strength. They march, armed to the teeth but never drawing a weapon. They march in silence, for seven days hearing nothing but the sound of trumpets and the taunts of the enemy hidden safely behind his unbreakable walls.

At the end of the twelfth march, they know every square inch of that wall, and they know just how strong it is. In fact, they know that it can’t be destroyed.

There is, of course, a lesson in this.

If you come to realize that the enemy has a stronghold in your life, you will probably be tempted to either (1) ignore it or (2) attack it right away. However, God would have you do the exact opposite: examine it closely and take your time to get to know just how strong this city is.

You see, God wants you to know how weak you really are, how helpless you really are, how desperate you really are, and he wants you to know how powerful the enemy really is and how permanent this stronghold really is. When you know these, then you will truly know God’s power in tearing down the walls, you will understand more deeply his mercy and compassion on you, and you will be more fully prepared to fight to keep this stronghold out of you permanently.

The men spent seven days examining the walls with God in their midst before they even once attacked. If you find a stronghold of sin in your life, take your time to get to know how deep and powerful it has become. Don’t run from it, trying to ignore the problem, and don’t just go attack it right away, but examine the walls.

Take an honest look at your failures, how you’ve given in time and time again and how the enemy isn’t at all afraid of your efforts to uproot him. Go over your own responsibility in opening the door to him. Take a good hard look at your failures, and be real about them. Don’t try to sugar-coat it or shy away from the truth. Just be real about the times you’ve made agreements with the enemy and allowed him to build a city in your heart. Take your time here because once the enemy stronghold is destroyed, he’s going to try to come back in exactly the same ways.

Besides looking at your weaknesses, ask God to show you the enemy’s strengths. Look at how much of your life he controls, from your thoughts to your desires to your words to your relationships to your actions. Be real about how many times you were more interested in the things this stronghold offered than in sitting still with Jesus. Be real about how much of your life is colored by this stronghold. Don’t shy away from making an honest assessment of the enemy’s strength in your life. You need to know how powerful he is, that you really are no match for him and don’t stand a chance on your own. If you don’t know this, you’ll be tempted to think the city really isn’t that big of a deal and doesn’t really need to be destroyed after all.

Further, honestly ask yourself if you’re prepared to see the whole city and all it contains destroyed. Check your heart to see if you’re ready to give it all up and never again get to enjoy its pleasures. Are you ready to change your habits, to give up your pleasures? Are you ready to lay down your rights for the sake of finding freedom and peace? Are you ready to lay aside even questionable things, things that maybe others can do but that have been issues for you? If you’re not ready to leave those fancy robes, bars of silver, and bits of gold (Joshua 7:21) behind, then you’re not ready to attack this stronghold, either. Take your time to check if you’re really ready to walk in righteousness.

In Joshua 6, the army took a week to study the walls. I think we would be wise to do similarly. Take time each day to study the stronghold. (Remember, though, that you’re not studying it on your own but with God in your midst!) Get to know how weak you are and how powerful the enemy is, and get to the place where you are certain you are ready to leave all the enemy’s pleasures behind.

Suppose you have become aware of a stronghold of sin in your life, some ongoing sin over which you just can’t seem to get victory. First, you need to know that God has made you for holiness. Second, bring God–in all his wisdom and power–into the midst of your difficulty. Third, take your time to really examine the stronghold and its power in your life. Fourth, which will be discussed later, declare your victory and watch the city crumble.

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