Theme: Spiritual Battles and Promised Victory
This week’s lessons teach us how Israel was going to achieve their victory over Jericho, and what things God wants from us as well.
So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. “At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.” So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
Now I want to apply what I said in this way, first of all to Christians. First, while this was a literal, historical battle, now I’m going to talk about spiritual battles. But don’t think that our spiritual battles are any less literal or historical. We face spiritual challenges that are just as real. We go up against a different form of walled cities, strongholds of that one who is God’s and our enemy, the devil. Sometimes these are in the world. There are great bastions of evil power in this world. Sometimes they’re in the church. Sometimes they are within our own hearts. God is in the business of tearing down those strongholds, and He uses us as His soldiers.
One temptation we have is to try to do it God’s way, but then when we find that the victory is delayed, we then abandon God’s methods and instead begin to use the methodology of this world. We foolishly think that the way to win the world’s battles is by the world’s methods. Many churches have done this, having forgotten, of course, that it’s not the world’s battles but God’s battles. These battles are actually spiritual battles, and thus only God’s methods will suffice. What are God’s methods? The Bible tells us that these methods are prayer, the Word of God, and our testimony.
The second application is to those who are not Christians. This is a story of God’s judgment. It’s a story of God’s literal, historical judgment against a wicked people. When the city was overrun, the people were destroyed. And there’s an analogy between both the victory that the Israelites experienced and the destruction that befell the inhabitants of Jericho. God is going to give victory in your life if you come to Him and find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. But if you refuse to surrender to Him, you will most certainly experience His judgment. Apart from that surrender, your heart is a walled city. You have erected the barriers in your life, you have manned the walls of your own rebellion, and you are determined above all else not to let God in because you regard your life as your city. You’re going to run it your way, and so long as you are able you are going to keep the Almighty God outside. What a foolish thing that is! Do you really think that you, a weak creature, are able to stand against the power of Almighty God?
You see, the day is coming when God is going to batter those walls down. And if you’ve not come to terms with Him, the end for you is going to be the destruction God describes in Scripture as the lake of fire. The Bible says in Psalm 2, “Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and you perish in your way.” That’s the conclusion of the story for you. Make terms with God now. Make terms as Rahab did. It is interesting that in this story that tells about the destruction of this great city with its massive walls, nevertheless, in the midst of the battle, Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, along with her family and all that belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho. She identified with Israel’s God. And Israel’s God, the God of the Lord Jesus Christ, preserved her in the day of destruction. She was no better or worse than you are. The offer of salvation that she heard is even clearer in your case. You know far more about it. Why should you perish in the day of God’s wrath when the opportunity of coming to God in faith is open before you now?
1. What are some spiritual battles taking place in the world today? What are some spiritual battles going on in the church today? What are some right ways and wrong ways in dealing with each?
2. From the lesson, what three things does the Bible tell us are God’s methods to do His work in His way? How does each one accomplish this?
Dr. Boice mentioned that there are great bastions of evil even in our own hearts. What areas do you need to fight against, and how can you seek to use God’s appointed methods to help you this week?