Chapter 7 – The Battle Begins

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Note: The below notes are not a full manuscript, but rather the original notes used in preaching the sermon.

Chapter 7

God’s strength, not ours, gives us victory


A barracks full of weapons does not win the war. Fighting is all about organization, whether it be a big battle, boxing match, or playground bully, there is always a format, a fashion, cheer leaders and a referee. Put two men in a boxing ring without rules or leadership, and they will walk out with more than a split lip and bruised pride. Throw a bunch of soldiers on a field with little more instruction than a sign that says “Enemy that way” and the skirmish will not be a success. It doesn’t matter how big your gun is if you don’t know how to fire it and which way to point. The strength of an army is defined by the strength of their leader.

Every battle has a plan, every nation a war room. Men and women sit around a table, scheming the best tactical advantage. Joshua has taken leadership of the Israelite nation. He has a heavy load to carry, one that caused Moses’ heart to cry out beneath its weight. It is going to take a strong leader and special plan to keep this band of wanderers together. God tells Joshua, and he tells the people what tactics they are to use.

Joshua 1:8-9

8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Follow the battle plan. Don’t go rogue. Listen to the commander, and you will succeed.

Joshua as New Leader (Ch. 1-5)

Kingdom of Priest

  • Send spies

  • Rahab hides them from the king… AND this is why!

Joshua 2:9-11

I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

  • Rahab proclaims faith in YHWH

    • B/c of stories from the past

  • Rahab shows fealty to YHWH as if he has already conquered

  • Remembering Egypt and Pharaoh

    Ex. 9:16 – “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

  • Through the example of God with his ppl, other nations are coming to believe.

    Abraham – Gen. 12:2 – “”I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. And all the people’s of the Earth will be blessed through you”

Commander of God’s Army

  • Whose name was great? Joshua?

    • Who is the leader?

Joshua 5:13-14

Joshua looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

  • The question is, Joshua, are you for God.

    • It is not Israel vs. Canaan but God’s battle plan

Jericho (God’s Faithfulness) vs. Ai (Isreal’s Failure)

Battle of Jericho – God in the lead

  • God as commander exemplified through battle plans

    • Cross the Jordan -> circumcision

      1. Remind them of the covenant (God with them, and them following him)

      2. Physically at the mercy of enemies b/c of circumcision

        • Choose to be in great pain when at the foot of enemies

  • Jericho battle plans (from angel [commander of the LORD’s army])

    • Ark of Covenant – Proclamation of God’s presence

      Joshua 6:8-9

      8 When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. 9 The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark.

      • Ark at centre of camp

    • Trumpets – Proclaimation of God’s direction

      Joshua 6:9-10

      All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10 But Joshua had commanded the army, “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!”

    • No battle cry b/c it is not their battle, but the LORD’s

      • Instead they proclaim God’s presence with them – trumpets

      Numbers 10:2 – “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out.”

      1. … for gathering in the presence of God (calling together around the tabernacle)

      2. … for when the camp sets out (led by the pillar of cloud/fire [YHWH])

Numbers 10:8-9

8 “The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. 9 When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies

  • Ask Joshua what he was thinking following such a crazy battle plan, his reply would have been simple: “I am following the orders of my commander.”

  • The devoted things – God’s victory, not theirs

    • God gets the spoils of war

      Joshua 6:18-19

      … keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”

    • Any leader, after winning, takes the spoils. They are for God, not the ppl, because God won the battle.

Battle of Ai – Sin of Achan = Pride

  • Achan ascribed the victory to himself, taking some of the spoils of the land.

Joshua 7:1-5

But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.

Israel defeated at Ai because of this Sin

  • They didn’t ascribe the victory to God -> sin

Joshua 7:11

Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.

  • Do we sin when we don’t recognize God’s presence with us?

    • Victory in Jesus! (over the giants)

    • Defeat in self-reliance

      • Physical or Emotional


Why a Loving God would Annihilate the natives of Canaan

Corruption of the People

The Canaanites were morally corrupt.

  • Sex with everybody!

    • Incest!

    • Dad, mom, sister, niece, nephew, aunt, daughter-in-law, neighbours wife, homosexual sex, animals

  • Sacrificed their children to their gods as a form of worship!

Leviticus 18:24-25

24 Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled.25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.

The people in this land chose to turn away from God and do horrible things

  • God is judging their corruption, and using the Israelite army to do it.

Deuteronomy 9:4-5

It is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations

Grace vs. Genocide

God of love? Mercy? Grace?

  • Nowhere in the Bible is judgement present without grace

  • God’s grace was available to the Canaanites

    • Rahab

    • Gibeonite treaty (b/c of their fear of YHWH)

  • They had many opportunities to receive God’s grace

    • Abraham – 600 years of grace before judgement

Gen. 15:16

In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.

    • The place was already corrupt at that time, but he extended grace

    • (Israelite wandering can also be seen as an act of grace)

  • The Israelites were instructed to pursue peace over battle

    Deuteronomy 20:10-12

    10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labour and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city.

  • Jericho – given 7 more days to repent

    • They witnessed the Jordan Sea spectacle AND were given one final chance to receive the grace of God

Judgement is always hard, but it is God’s judgement, not ours

  • The point is not that we can wipe ppl out who we feel are morally corrupt

    • Judgement is up to God

      • We have the charge of extending his love and grace, giving ppl as many chances to accept God’s grace before the Final Judgement

Much more to say (and we will discuss it further at Dessert & Discussion)…

The Point:

  1. God’s love and grace outweighs his judgement

  2. Our role is to extend grace and love, leaving judgement to God

Whom Will You Serve? (Ch. 23-24)

We are an extension of God’s arm on this earth

  • Extension of his love and grace

  • BUT it’s a choice to live that way


Why should we choose God?

  • B/c His strength can beat down the giants in our lives

Joshua 21:43-45

43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

When times get tough, God is tougher. His promises wade through Red Sea waters and over the Jordan. They tumble walls of ancient cities and grant us victory in this life. Yes, sometimes we must fight. This life isn’t always easy. It’s filled with skirmishes to get dressed on Monday morning, battles of the heart, conversations that feel like warfare. Doctor’s notes don’t look like peace treaties in this battle with our body, and the Devil brings our souls dangerously close to destruction. What are we to do when the walls of Jericho rise before us?

We have a choice. Turn away in fear? Cover ourselves in the ashes of defeat? Wallow in misery? OR fear God, walk in his ways, and stand strong and courageous. Follow our Commander into the battlefield of this life and receive the rest on every side He wants for us, or serve the God’s of this world. Sex. Money. Power. Prestige. The bigger the house, the smaller the home. In the pursuit of loose change, we might lose our heart. If power is your god, what do you have in times of weakness but empty hands?

Joshua, travelled with the Israelites through many battle. He walked with God, followed his commander, and conquered more in his short campaign than the people would in years to come. Now, he is old, about to return to dust, feels it falling with his hair, flaking with his skin, and fading with his heart. He, just like Moses before him, wants to reminds the people to be faithful in a world of faithless perversion and pursuit of power.

Joshua 24:14-15

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshipped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Choose person power or divine love. Choose the glitter of gold or the embrace of grace. Choose to die in sin or live in peace. Jesus says the same thing to his disciples…

Mark 8:34-36

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?


The world today isn’t much different than that in Canaan land: full of lust, pride, greed, malice, murder. We hang Christ in mutiny on the Cross and say, “what have you ever done for me?” spitting in his face. How easily we fall into sin. How we forget that following in his footsteps is what got to the mountaintops and carried us through the murky mire.

We can only possess the abundance of this life if we choose Christ, follow in the work of his ways. If he calls us to walk around the walls in our lives while everyone laughs. If he tells us to give him our money, because victory in this life is his. What are the abundant fruits of this land? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, and self-control. AND the fruit tastes so much better if we can just put our feet up and know the victory is sure.

So choose, this day, whom you will serve? The gods of the world around us and receive the fruit of sex, money, power, pain, loss, rejection, and destruction. OR YHWH who is the God of Heaven and of Earth, the LORD who gives us rest. Not one of all the His good promises fails; every one is fulfilled. Let us choose God’s strength that wins the victory.

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