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Let's Let The Walls Fall

Erwin W. Lutzer | January 23, 2000

Selected highlights from this sermon

How do you react when faced with an obstacle in your life? Most of us probably don’t react the way we should. 

In this message, Pastor Lutzer shows us how Joshua and the Israelites were able to defeat the city of Jericho using principles we all need to learn—primarily by having a complete reliance on God.

Without complaining, they patiently waited on God, and the victory was won through His power.

Let me begin today by asking you that question. What walls are there in your life that are preventing you from experiencing God? That’s the question. What walls have you built in your life? What walls have others built for you? What prison are you in today, emotionally and spiritually, that you can’t seem to get out of? Well, today our agenda is to lead the way out, to see the walls fall down, and to be able to understand some of God’s principles of seeing beyond those walls to Him.  
Last time I gave you a brief lesson in spiritual geography. Remember Egypt represents the world. Egypt represents bondage to the children of Israel. That’s where they were enslaved. And how do you get out of the bondage of Egypt? Well, you’re redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and you pass through the Red Sea. The desert represents unbelief. It’s redemption without the frills. It’s redemption without the joy. It’s that part of our lives where we go on with unending sand and gravel, where spiritually speaking, we are shriveled up and we don’t really experience God. That’s the desert. Now mind you, God takes care of people in the desert.  
Just last night I was speaking to someone who had been living in disobedience and is living with those consequences of disobedience. But she said, “Why is it that God is still taking care of me?” Well, God takes care of His people even when they are in the desert. But it’s not the place where God wants us to be. 
What does Canaan represent? Canaan represents not heaven. It is this life but it’s entering into the fullness of God. It is experiencing those battles, but thank God, winning some of them. And it’s beginning to enter into the promises that God has given. 
Now here’s the agenda for today. And thank you for being on board with me for it. What we’re going to do is to see from Joshua, chapter 6, and you can take your Bibles and turn to that passage of Scripture. We’re going to see how God enabled the Israelites to take Jericho, and then we’re going to go take our own Jericho’s. That’s the agenda. 
How does God do it? Well, first of all, I want you to know He always begins with a promise. And by the way, speaking of the walls that have to come down, I should say there are personal walls. I’ve already referred to that. You know, on the other side of those walls of Jericho there was the occult. Those people were into false religions, and some of you have been dabbling with the devil, and you find those strongholds in your life. There was false religion. There was occultism. There was immorality. All kinds of things. And it could well be that you’re facing your own private world today, that private wall that is keeping you. 
There is also such a thing as (What shall we say?) cultural walls. Today we speak still about racism and some of the divisions that we artificially make, and unscripturally make. And then there are also corporate walls. We’ll be talking about our own challenges as a church.  
But now how does God enable us to take down those walls? If you say, “Pastor Lutzer, if you can tell me today how those walls can collapse, it most assuredly will change my life,” well, I want you to know my intention whenever I preach is to change your life. It may not always happen, but that’s the intention, so we’re on the same page, aren’t we? 
Number one, God always begins with a promise. He begins with a promise. Chapter 6, verse 1: “Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.’” And you read it and you want to say, “It ain’t so.” God says it’s done, past tense. “I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” “What do you mean you’ve delivered Jericho into our hands? There is the city with its high walls. Here are we on the other side of the walls, and here is an enemy that is just waiting for an opportunity to zap us, and you’re saying that it’s a done deal?” God says, “Yes, it is.” I love it when God uses the past tense. 
Isaiah, writing about Jesus Christ, does not say, “He shall be wounded for our transgressions,” but “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. It is already completed.” That’s why Paul says in the book of Romans that God calls those things which are not as if they are. God says it’s done. 
Now, I want you to know that it’s a past tense promise. It’s a complete promise. He says, “Even the mighty men.” Just to make sure that this victory is going to be complete, God says, “The whole thing is a done deal.” 
There’s another text in which the Lord says, “Regarding the enemy (I love this.) I have removed their protection from them.” In other words, they’ve got all these walls, and it looks as if it’s formidable, but God says, “I’ve removed their protection.” And when Jesus came and died on that cross according to the book of Colossians, He crushed principalities and powers, and I like to think of Jesus as having removed the devil’s protection from Him. He is vulnerable because of Christ. 
Now, I want you to notice a principle here that will change your life, and that is this. Whenever God asks us to do something, everything God asks us to do is based on what God has already done. He does something and says, “Because I have done something, because I have given you this promise, you now can do something.” We always want to do, do, do, and if we do it in our own strength you know what happens. So keep that in mind. 
You say, “Well, how can I have the faith to believe these promises?” That’s our big problem. And the answer is D. L. Moody—who I think his name is known to many of us here—D. L. Moody said on one occasion he prayed for faith and said, “Oh God, give me faith, give me faith, give me faith” and nothing was happening. And then he read in the book of Romans that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, and he began to read God’s Word, and God builds faith in our hearts. 
God always begins with a promise. Now it has to be a promise that applies to us. This is a totally different subject, but I need to throw it in at no extra cost. You know not every promise in the book is mine. You know, we used to sing that song. I don’t know, Dave, do you remember that song when you were growing up? 
Every promise in the book is mine. 
Every chapter, every verse, every line. 
That’s not true. All kinds of promises that God made to Abraham were not made to me. There are various promises that are made in context, but what we need is a promise, and once we find that promise that applies to us, and there are hundreds of those, then we can begin to say we’re finally ready now to take a second look at the walls that hem us in. 
All right, there’s the promise. Now there’s the procedure. You’ll notice that the Lord says (I’m picking it up in verse 3), “March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in the front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.” 
Now, what I’d like to do is to help us a little bit with the procedure, and it’s going to be the means to lead us to capture those walls that I talked about. The procedure is this. First of all, God says, “What I want you to do is to go around the city for six days, once each,” so that’s six times. But then He says, “On the seventh day, go seven times around the city.” I think that’s thirteen, isn’t it? Thirteen times. The Lord says, “I want you to march around this city.” 
But now, what is the procedure and how can that be applied to our walls? How can this be applied? You know, we say, “Well, what we need to do is to find some territory and march around it.” And many of us have gone to that lot over there that is known as the “bank lot” and we’ve stood on it, and we’ve prayed that it will be ours, and we are quite confident it will be. But actually I have to tell you that I did not lead a group of people marching around it. I have a pastor friend who, on two occasions, invited his entire congregation to march around a plot of land he wanted for the church, and I have to tell you that so far he hasn’t gotten any of them, and never will, as a matter of fact, because other things are built on that property, and he’s no longer the pastor there. So I guess there’s another lesson there, too, that I hadn’t thought of. 
What is the application? Let me give you the procedure. And this is a good time to take notes, just like Jerry Edmonds is doing right in front of me. You know because Jerry always sits behind me, I didn’t know that he’s taking notes furiously. He’s a good example. 
Number one, they marched around helplessly. They did not have swords as such. They had a few staves, a few pieces of wood they had picked up throughout the years. They did not have themselves walled cities. They lived in tents. Militarily they were totally helpless. They were naked in the presence of their enemies. It was not as if there was any possibility they could overcome the walls. In those days when they would take a city, they would use a battering ram. That’s a huge contraption that would throw stones at the walls, large stones. And as they kept doing that the walls would weaken and eventually the walls would collapse. Those of you who have been to Masada, and you’ve had that lecture on how Masada was eventually taken, that’s an idea as to how it happened. But these folks had none of that. No equipment. Nothing. 
Jehoshaphat, one day in the Old Testament, was facing an incredible enemy, and he had no resources. And this is what he prayed in 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, verse 12. He says “O our God...we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Wow. Helplessness. 
There’s nothing wrong with helplessness as long as it directs our eyes to God and we say, “I do not know what to do.” Today I speak to somebody and you’re in a situation in which you say, “I do not know what to do.” Well, Jehoshaphat was too in that situation. “But our eyes are on you. We’ve got these promises. We’re going to go on believing, no matter what.” 
So, don’t be intimidated by the size of your walls, because you see, walls can intimidate, but not in the presence of Almighty God. Big walls, small god. Big God, small walls.  
First, they did it helplessly. Secondly, they did it patiently. Seven days—and around the walls they had to go. Those first six days—and I can imagine afterwards in the campfire kids would say, “Now, of what value was that? What possible good could come out of us going around the city? The walls are just as strong, just as high. We haven’t seen any enemies being slain. Why should we bother doing this again?” Well God had said, “You do it thirteen times.” 
You know, I may be speaking to somebody here today—Sometimes, by the way, in counseling what happens is somebody says, “Now, here’s my problem. This is what I’m doing.” And they’re doing the right thing. And they’re still not experiencing the deliverance they seek. And sometimes the only answer is you have to keep doing what you’re doing because who knows but maybe you have gone around your personal Jericho twelve times. Don’t give up now because who knows what will happen on the thirteenth time? Don’t give up. Keep doing it. If you’re doing the right thing, keep doing the right thing. They had to do it patiently—seven times around Jericho, thirteen times in all. 
They did it silently. Now, this is picked up in verse 10: “But Joshua had commanded the people, ‘Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!’” Notice he goes progressively. No war cry, do not raise your voice, do not say a word, not a mumbling word, until I tell you to. Why? I think for a couple of reasons. First of all, he wanted to keep them focused. Someone has suggested maybe it was because the people, if they had been talking and whispering, would have murmured among themselves. Some of them would have said, “Well, you know, this is just ridiculous,” and pretty soon you know that nest of criticism could have taken hold of people, and fear could have been engendered from one person to another, and the whole company demoralized. So Joshua says, “When you’re going around say nothing. Be quiet.” Of course, you know that can happen today, too, can’t it, when you have people who murmur? Sometimes it’s possible to take what happened on Sunday and to destroy it on Monday if people murmur, and that spreads throughout the camp. 
So God says, “I want you to do it silently.” He says, “I want you to go around the wall (important now) unitedly.” This was not to be Joshua’s victory. This was not to be the victory of one person. Now, God could have spoken the word. The Man with the sword drawn in His hand, as we noticed last time, could have spoken the word, the walls could have collapsed without them going around at all. And of course, God could have given the victory to Joshua. 
Listen to me very carefully. There are few battles you fight in life that can be fought alone. Some, but few. There are some of you who are facing personal walls you will never get around, over, or through until somebody comes alongside, and you begin to pray together, and you begin to yield together. Even though we’ve got the promises, God says to apply the promises there must be a sense of unity and togetherness. In fact, there’s a verse in Colossians that says if you want to enter into all of the inheritance you have in Christ (I’m paraphrasing now.), your hearts must be knit together in love. You can’t do it alone. Now that’s true personally for those walls we want to scale. You can’t do it alone. 
Some of you are in a pit, and you can’t dig yourself out of the pit alone. We can’t do what we as a church want to do unless we do it unitedly, but here’s the point. God will make sure we will not do this unless we do it together. But number two, even if it were possible, I wouldn’t want it to happen that way. I wouldn’t have wanted, if I would’ve been Joshua, to say, “Well, you know, why should everybody go around the walls? Why don’t we have just a few people go around the walls, and they could sort of represent everybody else? Let Joshua and the mighty men do it.” No, let the women and children be involved, and let everybody be involved because remember there are few things that can be done personally or corporately that can be done alone. Maybe there are some, but there aren’t many, so they did it unitedly. Helplessly, patiently, silently, unitedly. Dare I say, thank God, triumphantly? 
Now we pick it up in verse 20. And of course they went around the walls. “When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” And, of course, if you read, you’ll notice they spared Rahab as they had promised her. And they destroyed a lot of good things in Jericho that the people would have loved to have. God says, “No looting, no taking. Take the silver and gold to the Lord’s treasury, but everything else, destroy it, and destroy all the people.” 
Now many people read this and they say, “I can’t take it in. I mean, what kind of a vicious God is this?” So much so that the older liberals used to think there were two Gods, the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Well, you know several months ago I preached on the topic of whether God is more tolerant than He used to be, and we showed conclusively that the same God in the Old Testament is the God of the New, and furthermore, the judgments of the New Testament are far more severe than the judgments of the Old Testament. All you have to do is to read the book of Revelation to realize that. 
What was God saying in this context? This now is from my heart to yours as everything is. Sin is contagious. It’s contagious. It spreads like disease. It spreads like the flu. You begin to have contact with these false gods over here, you begin to compromise with these people who were exceedingly evil, into every imaginable form of sexual perversion, into occultism, and the whole bit. God says, “I want you to destroy the enemy because there can be some things in which there can be no compromise.” It’s hard, but you read the book of Revelation and you discover judgments. Now, of course, the children, we believe, in this context, would have gone to heaven. But the simple fact is God is saying, “You cannot compromise with sin.” You know, I don’t know about you but whenever I try—I always think to myself, “Well, I can compromise with this”—and what God keeps telling me and showing me conclusively is that it’s impossible. 
I read some time ago of a man who bought a house, and the owner said, “I’ll sell the whole thing to you but I want to keep one nail, the outside nail.” And he said, “Well, you know, let him keep the nail.” Well, what that man began to do, the previous owner, was he began to hang some decaying meat on that nail so the owner now couldn’t touch it because, after all, the nail belonged to the other man. Eventually, as the story goes, the owner had to give up his ownership. It’s amazing how sin grows, and God is saying, “This is serious stuff—occultism, immorality. Deal with these people severely,” as a judgment. 
What are the great lessons we have to learn today? First of all, our basic battle is always spiritual. It is really spiritual. You know, it would be easy to say, “Well, you know, this was a real battle between two armies.” Oh, give me a break. I mean where were the armies among the Israelites? Sure, they had men of war and everything like that, but they were woefully unequipped. That wasn’t really the issue. The issue wasn’t really the strength of Jericho, which was a very strong city, and archeologists tell us that in those days the Canaanites, I believe, already had iron, which meant that as they made various equipment and various weapons, they were far ahead of the Israelites who had almost nothing. But that wasn’t really the issue. The issue was two invisible armies at war here. And remember last time where the Captain of the host of the Lord comes to Joshua. And Joshua says, “Art Thou for us or for our adversaries?” And he said, “I have not come to take sides. I have come to take over.” And he says, “I am the Captain of the host of the Lord. I can speak the word and God’s armies go out.” 
Is it not the Apostle Paul who said we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and things present, and things to come? All of those things—I mean there is, as we’ve often pointed out, a spiritual counterpart to the battles that take place here on earth, so that our own struggle with sin oftentimes is reinforced by the enemy. We remain responsible but he is there to bind us and to condemn us and to hold us. Our battle with faith is a spiritual battle. When all we can see is our own walls without seeing what God has provided for us, our basic battles are always spiritual. 
Let me give you a second observation. Our victory depends on our focus. Now one thing you will find when you—You don’t have to live too long in this life. I’m looking in your eyes. Most of you have lived along enough to discover this. There are some people, and some of you live with people like this, and you work with them—They are “wall watchers.” Wall watchers love to talk about the height of the walls. They have measured the width and the height. They know (Catch this now.) the weight of the walls. Bless them, they know the age of the walls. They know how deep the foundations go. They know who put that wall into the ground. They’ve done a chemical analysis of the bricks that hold that wall. They are wall watchers, bound with walls that hem them in. 
Now, there’s nothing wrong with looking at the walls, but here’s what you have to do. You have to just glance at the walls, but you have to gaze at God. What a difference that is. What a difference when you can see beyond the wall to God. It changes everything. 
There is a story about two men, very gravely ill, sharing a room in a hospital. One man flat on his back. The other also flat on his back next to a window, but able to perch himself up about an hour a day in the afternoon when they were able to do some medical tests and attention that was given to him. And the man next to the window would prop himself up and talk to the other man who was lying flat, and would tell him what he saw. Oh, he would tell stories about little girls walking along in their pretty dresses. And here’s a little boy with his puppy. And he would talk about the beauty of the lake. In fact, he said so beautifully these descriptions that the man who was lying down lived for that moment when he’d be able to hear about what was going on outside.  
Sometimes it was even a softball game, or how a little child was saved from drowning in the lake. Well, time went on and the man next to the window died. They took his body quietly away. The man, lying there flat on his back in his loneliness wanted desperately to be next to the window, so when it was decent he asked if he could be moved. And they said yes, and they tucked him in and they left him. And then desperate for some news and some sights from the outside he raised himself up on one elbow, and then the other to try to look out that window. And finally he was able to look out, and discovered that that window was up against a blank wall. 
You know, there are some people who can see beyond the walls. There are some people who are hemmed in and they can see beyond the walls. They can see God, and they say, “This wall is formidable, but it is not big enough or strong enough for God,” and you begin to see through the walls to God. 
British Columbia, a lovely, lovely province in a very lovely, lovely country. There was a prison built where no one tried to get out of, but when it was torn down so that they could build a new one, the workmen discovered something very interesting. It was not built of concrete. It was built of wall board, but the wall board mimicked concrete. It looked like concrete. The prisoners could have broken out. There was no question about that, but nobody ever tried. Do your walls today seem so strong, so deep, so filled with concrete that you can neither see God nor see the possibility that if you were to push in faith, the walls might collapse so you could be free? 
In World War II, a young soldier took his bride to California. She was terribly lonely in all that heat, sitting there in all that loneliness. And she wrote to her mother and she said, “Mother, I’m just too lonely.” Her mother wrote back two lines. “Two men sit in prison bars. One sees mud, the other stars.” 
It all depends. You can see whatever you want to see. If you are a wall lover, and that’s all you see, then keep loving and hugging that wall. But if you can see beyond that, and you can see God, suddenly His glory and His honor and the possibilities of what God can do, wells up within our hearts, and we say, “Oh God, this wall is no match for you and your promises.” March straight ahead and take the city. 
Let us pray. 
Our Father, we want to thank you today for your grace. We thank you for the power of God. We thank you for the promise from your Word that you are the one who will slay our enemies. We thank you, Father, that you call us to holiness as the basis upon which we will be able to win our battles. We thank you, Father, that you call us to radical commitment, to a new obedience. And oh, Father, we know why some of our walls don’t come down. We have not yet come to the end of self-will and self-manipulation. We have not yet come, Father, to the end of ourselves to be helpless. We have not yet come, Father, to the point where we have learned patience and contentment, and the need for others. 
Oh, Father, today, individually and as a church, may the walls fall down, prisons of our own making, prisons made for us. We pray that as a church grant us a vision that is as big as you are, Lord. We ask. Do it. 
And now before I close in prayer, what is it that you need to say to God today? What wall came to your mind that God wants to see demolished? Would you just talk to God if He has talked to you? And you tell Him whatever you think you should tell Him. 
And if you’re here and you’ve never trusted Christ as Savior, though I did not explicitly proclaim the gospel today, I do want you to know that Jesus died for sinners. And if you’ve come here today with a weight of sin and restlessness, it is through Christ that you find peace and forgiveness. You can even believe on Him now and say, “Lord Jesus, I come to receive you as my own.” That is the doorway to God. That’s the connection. It is because of Christ. 
Grant, oh Father, today, great faith in the lives of all who have listened so that we may see great victories. And at the end of the day, we promise, with your help, you and you alone will receive the credit, in Jesus’ name, Amen. 
Editor’s Note: In this transcript, the verbatim intelligent transcription process simplifies and enhances spoken content by eliminating redundant words, unnecessary sounds, fixing grammar errors, and clarifying meaning while preserving the author’s original intent. All Scripture quotes are according to the biblical text, not as they were originally spoken. 

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