Theme: God’s ways work
Verse: Luke 6:27-28- “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
They were here. In the Promised Land, the land God had given them.
It had taken forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Moses was dead.
Now it was up to him to come up with a plan to take over the land.
Sweat trickled down Joshua’s forehead. He couldn’t do it. He wasn’t strong enough. He wasn’t brave enough. He wasn’t smart enough. He was scared to death.
First, they would have to conquer the mighty city of Jericho. He looked at the stone walls glistening in the sunlight that seemed as tall as a mountain. The two spies he had sent told him the walls around the city were six feet thick and made of three tiers up the hillside equaling between thirty-two and forty-one feet high (about the height of a four-story building).
Their puny swords would not make a dent. They had no great weapons of war to bombard the walls. They had no ladders high enough to climb over.
It was impossible.
The people of Jericho had locked the gates. No one could go in or out. They had water and food in there to last a long time. They would not be able to starve them out.
How, then, could they take the city? God had told them to utterly destroy everyone because they were so terribly wicked. But how could he carry out God’s plan if he couldn’t get inside?
It was impossible.
Oh, Lord, show me what to do.
He walked in the shadow of the wall, wrestling with one idea after another. Nothing worked.
Suddenly a man stood before him with a drawn sword.
Joshua halted, his heart pounding. Who was this? The enemy? Would he kill him?
“Are you for us or for our enemies?” he asked.
“Neither,” the man said. “I have come as commander of the Lord’s army.”
Who was this man? God Himself? An angel? He fell to the ground and bowed his head. If this man was the commander of the Lord’s army, Joshua wouldn’t have to come up with the battle plan. God would do it.
“What does my Lord want to say to His servant?” Joshua asked.
“Take off your sandals. You are standing on holy ground.”
Joshua hurriedly untied his sandals.
“Look, I have handed over Jericho to you. Have your soldiers and seven priests with seven trumpets and the Ark of the Covenant march around the city once each day for six days. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times with the priests blowing their trumpets. When there is a loud trumpet blast, have the people shout. Then the city wall will collapse, and you can advance in.”
Joshua was stunned. This was the battle plan? Not fighting but marching around the city? How could this possibly work?
But God was in charge now. It would work.
The day arrived. Seven priests blew on their rams’ horn trumpets and stood in front of the Ark of the Covenant which was a big gold box with carrying poles. Inside were the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, a jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff—reminders of how God had provided for them in the wilderness. More importantly, the Ark symbolized God’s presence going with them.
While the trumpets blew, the soldiers positioned themselves in front of the priests and behind the ark.
Joshua told everyone, “Do not talk or shout. Be absolutely quiet.”
Then they marched around the city of Jericho.
People watched from the top of the wall. They probably think we’re crazy, Joshua thought.
He did feel rather silly, but he knew God’s plan would work.
When they were done, they returned to camp for the night.
Early the next morning, they marched around the city a second time. They did that for days three, four, five, and six.
On the seventh day, they started at dawn. This time they didn’t walk around once. No, they walked around seven times with the priests blowing the trumpets.
After they finished, Joshua commanded, “Now shout! For the Lord has given you the city.”
The army roared.
They watched in amazement as the walls shook and teetered. Then BOOM! Down they crashed. Dust rose like a cloud.
Joshua raised his arm. “Go!”
His army swarmed into the city and completely destroyed everything except the silver, gold, bronze, and iron which God told them to bring to the Lord’s house.
The only people spared were Rahab and her family because Rahab had helped the Israelite spies escape.
So, who caused the walls to fall down? Joshua or God? (Discussion)
God, of course.
Sometimes God asks us to do things that seem really strange. Who would think the mighty walls of Jericho could fall down just with marching, shouting, and trumpets?
But God’s ways work.
For instance, if someone is really mean to you, most people would try to get even.
But that’s not what God says to do. Listen to Luke 6:27-28-
“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
What are we supposed to do to someone who is mean to us? (Discussion)
1. Love them
2. Do good to them
3. Bless them
4. Pray for them
Is it even possible to do that? Let’s see how Phil handled a similar situation in this story.
Phil and Ashley Story:
Phil stepped up to the plate for the neighborhood baseball game. He practiced several swings with his bat. He was ready.
The pitcher threw the ball. Closer and closer it came. THWACK!
It was a solid hit. He took off for first base as the ball flew.
“Go,” the first baseman yelled.
He ran to second base. “Go,” the second baseman yelled.
He ran to third base. “Go,” the third baseman yelled.
Phil slid into home plate before the catcher caught the ball.
A home run! His first ever. They’d won 7-6.
“Way to go, Phil.” His teammates high-fived him. Phil grinned.
Suddenly a hand snatched the cap off his head. He spun around. It was Darren, a player from the losing team.
Phil reached for his cap. “Hey, give it back.”
Instead, Darren threw it to the ground and crushed it with his foot. “That’s what I think of you, Mr. Hotshot.”
Everyone watched in stunned silence. Phil knew they expected him to fight back. He wanted to, but what kind of testimony would that be? Instead, he said, “You can keep the hat if you want.”
As he walked away, his teammates attacked Darren. He didn’t stay to watch.
Footsteps ran behind him. Pete, a guy on his team, caught up with him. “Why did you do that?” he asked. “Why were you so nice to him? Why didn’t you fight back?”
Here was an opportunity to be a light for Jesus. “Jesus wanted me to forgive him, not fight.”
Pete frowned. “What does Jesus have to do with it?”
“Everything. I’ve asked Jesus to come into my life, and I want to please Him in all I do.”
Pete’s eyebrows lifted. “You’re weird, Phil. Nice, but different.”
Phil grinned. Nice and different?
Score one for Jesus.
How was Phil a light for Jesus? (He didn’t fight, but forgave him.)
Phil did things God’s way. People may think you’re weird, but that’s okay because God’s ways work.