Armed for the Spiritual Battle

by | May 5, 2024 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Joshua 5

As a materialist culture we tend to believe that the material world is all that there is in the cosmos. We have grown so arrogant as to think that we can explain everything through our progressed knowledge and technology. Joshua 5 reminds us that God’s creative cosmos is so much more than just random atoms banging against each other. We are living in the mist of spiritual realm. Joshua and the people of God were not just called to fight a physical battle, but a spiritual battle with Jesus and the army of the Lord by their side. As Christians we have been marked as Christ’s own in baptism and given the gift of God’s grace for salvation. These are our protection and our chief weapons in the spiritual battle that is set before us for the salvation of souls. And through it all we have Jesus, the commander of the Lord’s army by our side.


Debbie do you mind turning on those lights so I can see it’s over there on that back there that’s what happens when I come in a little late uh and uh I didn’t forgot to turn on those lights and it reminds me that my eyes are getting older um and that that helped a lot thank you that’s great so we continue today in our series on uh the Book of Joshua that we’re uh that we’re working through during this time that we are here at Ocean Park Baptist before we uh head back to uh to our building into uh that place that the Lord is uh preparing for us uh and the title and the reason I chose Joshua just to to remind us is because in many ways what’s happening in the Book of Joshua is that God is preparing uh his people for the promised land not just it is the time of the conquest and we’re getting closer and closer to to some of that um but uh but really he’s preparing them in the conquest he’s preparing them to occupy the land because he’s preparing them to be what he had intended for them to be and what he intended them to be if we go way back to what he had spoken to Abraham is that you will be a blessing to the Nations that’s what what his intent for them is in the land itself as they occupy and take a possession of the land that he had promised them is that they will be a blessing to the Nations around them meaning that there will be a light of the one true God to reach the Nations those who were walking apart from him and so what I see happening as as we go through the Book of Joshua together is that God’s preparing us he’s preparing our hearts for the promis land the land that he has promised us in this new building so that when it’s time for us to go back and to take occupation of the land that that he has so Faithfully provided for us that we would be ready to live into what he’s called us to to be a blessing to our community to be a light for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we would have that kind of mission and so I believe in this time he’s preparing Our Hearts by what he’s revealing to us through uh the Book of Joshua and and we can see in what he’s doing in his people as he’s preparing them and so just a little bit of recap I’m not going to be able to do this for long because we’re going to have gone too far but uh in Joshua 1 uh we learned that we can walk in confidence full of courage and strength because we have been given the victory there are Lord Jesus Christ in Joshua 2 as Chuck preached he reminded us that we are all Rahab that was a popular one right uh that that we are all Rahab meaning that remember he he really uh challenged us with the fact that Rahab he said was a blessing to the church because it reminds us one that we are all Rahab uh and that and that we are to reach those uh Sinners for the gospel we should welcome Sinners into our midst as God’s preparing us to be a people uh who don’t just welcome righteous godly people because if we do that then none of us belong here but to welcome those who are lost that we would be a warm and welcoming community that welcomes them into a relationship with Jesus in Joshua 3 we were called to always follow the grace of Christ just as the Israelites were called to follow behind the Ark of the Covenant right uh to stay behind it by following the Covenant the Ark of the Covenant that God would lead them where they needed to go and that we saw that by following the grace of God he’s going to lead us where we need to go always following not trying to get out ahead of his grace in our lives and in Joshua 4 last week uh last week we heard uh that we need to be a people who always remember Jim preached that for us remembering God’s faithfulness remembering God’s provision remembering what God has done will always give us strength for what he’s calling us into it’ll fill our hearts with gratitude and strengthen us for the hard work that he might be calling us to in the future and today in Joshua 5 God’s preparing us by opening our eyes to the battle that’s in front of us he’s preparing us by opening our eyes to the battle that’s in front of us not a battle attle against people this isn’t a people battle that he’s called us to it’s not a battle against flesh and blood at all it’s as Paul wrote to the Ephesians in Ephesians 6 verse2 for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers against the authorities against the cosmic powers of our this over this present Darkness against the spiritual forces of evil and the heavenly places in fact you know if we look at the New Testament when the New Testament talks about war and battles it doesn’t ever communicate war and battle in relation to other people the old testament’s full of Wars against other people but in the New Testament and the New Covenant Wars and battles aren’t against other people it doesn’t use it in relation to people it it either uses those words concerning the inner battle that we have within ourselves as James 4:1 says your passions are at War within you or in 1 Peter 2:11 Peter says beloved I urge you to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul the battle that’s referred to in the New Testament isn’t external it’s the battle that’s internal within our own sinful nature the Flesh and war against the spirit of God who win is winning that b battle within us or we also hear battle and War as we just heard it in Ephesians 612 referring to the cosmic spiritual battle against the spiritual forces of evil or in 2 Corinthians 10:3 Paul said for though we walk in the flesh we are not waging a war according to the flesh but against spiritual strongholds the Bible’s clear God’s word from beginning to end from Genesis all the way to Revelation this is a cosmic spiritual battle that we are a part

of but the truth is we live in a completely materialistic Society it’s what all of us have been raised and and grown up again uh everything has a natural explanation doesn’t it that’s what we’ve been taught that’s how we’ve been educated and so we think very rationally very materialistically uh and when we look at the Ancients usually are are we have this kind of snobbery about ourselves when we look back at them right that uh we see them as son of some kind of unevolved simpletons who ascribe spiritual meaning to everything that they can’t understand who worship the sun and the moon and the stars because they didn’t know that they were just planets the way that we do and so naturally we know they don’t have any power right we know better we’re smarter we’re far more

progressed we’re more sophisticated than that and in the process we’ve spung the the pendulum completely in the opposite direction yes you know CS Lewis in the screw tape letters I think said this that was incredibly helpful and he had this warning for us especially in our society this materialistic society today he says there are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the Devils meaning the spiritual forces of Darkness one error is to disbelieve and their exist istence meaning the materialist right to disbelieve in their existence the other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them they themselves meaning the evil the Devils the evil spirits are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same

Delight there’s a danger in our materialistic world and how we see the events that are happening around us and the mission to which we’ve been called but there’s a healthy biblical worldview that that’s between the two extremes one that acknowledges the spiritual reality of the cosmos but doesn’t become overly obsessive or or perverted by it one that that worships and glorifies the one true God of all creation and finds our security under his Sovereign Protection One that clings to the victory of Jesus Christ over all sin and death and the devil and prepares though for the spiritual battle by claiming God’s forgiving Grace and celebrating with joy the Salvation that we have in Christ and friends that’s what we see happening in Joshua Joshua chapter 5 there’s an awareness of the cosmic battle that they are caught up in that it’s a reality and they’re called to prepare for this spiritual battle that they’re about to undertake by claiming the forgiving grace of God and celebrating with joy what they have in their salvation with him that’s the way God’s preparing them for the spiritual Cosmic battle that they are about to undertake and this is I’m spending some extra time with this today because as we take these next steps to the actual conquest of the land we have to understand this bigger picture that’s happening this spiritual Cosmic battle that’s at play and so I want to walk us into this uh by looking at the text itself for a few minutes now uh for this evening we’re going to look at first verse one and then we’re going to skip to the end to verses 13 to 15 because the two book you know they they uh they really are the the the bookshelves or the what they call the book ends thank you the the book ends to to what’s happening in between and so uh let me read these again for

us as soon as all of the kings of the amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the Sea heard that the Lord had dried up the water Waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over their hearts melted and there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel so that’s how this passage this chapter begins now skip ahead to verses 13 to 15 when Joshua was by Jericho he lifted up his eyes and looked and behold a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand and Joshua went to him and said to him are you for us or are you for our adversaries and he said no but I am the commander of the army of the Lord now I have come and Joshua fell on his face to the Earth and worshiped and said to him what does my Lord say to his servant and the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua take off your sandals from your feet for the place where you are standing is is Holy and Joshua did so

the battle that is facing the Israelites is not just a battle against flesh and blood this is bigger this is part of God’s Cosmic battle against the forces of evil verse 13 the man who appears to Joshua with a drawn sword the commander of the Lord’s army he says but who is He Who is is this man well there’s a couple of options uh and I don’t know that we can definitively say any one of them and ultimately it doesn’t matter which of the options because the greater point is still the same I’ll make my argument for who I think it is uh number one is it an angel clearly the scriptures are very clear about uh the heavenly host of angels God’s Army and they’re Warriors so it could be an angel possibly but we you have to consider that in all other cases where it’s an angel a messenger of the Lord that appears uh and and people try to Bow Down and Worship they say no don’t worship get get up and here they’re not told Joshua was not told to get up he’s not discouraged from his worship uh it also doesn’t he also doesn’t answer Joshua’s question does he Joshua asks this question are you for us or are you for our adversaries he just says no well that’s comforting

no presumably because he knows that Josh was only seeing this as a battle right now against flesh and blood his eyes hasn’t haven’t been opened yet to the greater spiritual battle that is a foot the the second option is that this is God himself and there’s many commentators and Scholars who believe this is God maybe but but why answer I’m the command commander of the Lord’s army seems like you would just say that you know I am the Lord and I got my army with me uh so I’m not I’m not sure that’s the answer but the third option is this uh and I think the the best argument that can be made for the third one we find in Revelation The Book of Revelation chapter 19 uh verses

11-6 and and this is what we read in uh let me get to it

and 19 veres 11-6 then I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse the one sitting on it is called faithful and true and in righteousness he judges and makes War his eyes are like a flame of fire and on his head are many diadems and he has a name written that no one knows but himself he is clothed in a robe dipped in Blood and the name by which he is called is the word of God and the armies of Heaven arrayed in fine linen white and pure were following him on white horses from his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the Nations and he will rule them with a rod of iron he will tread The Wine Press of the fury of the wrath of God the almighty on his robe and on his thigh he has the name written king of kings and Lord of lords I don’t know who you think this is I think it’s Jesus But ultimately it doesn’t matter but I think I think the scriptures are pretty convicting about that the bigger point is that the commander of the Lord’s army is with Israel is with Joshua which means that the army of the Lord is with the Israelites

why and maybe before that what do you mean maybe shouldn’t presume that that we all just get that the Lord has an army right that God has an army the biblical record uh is clear of the battle in heaven Satan and and the Fallen Angels being cast down we see it in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 uh and Revelations 127 to9 it’s even and more pronounced uh and now here in Joshua 5 the Lord’s army commanded by Jesus is there with the Israelites to take the promised land why because this isn’t just a battle against flesh and blood this is a battle against the rulers against the authorities against the cosmic Powers over this present Darkness against uh the spiritual forces of evil in the Heavenly places as Paul told this to the to the Ephesians God’s Gift of the promised land to Israel it wasn’t just a reward for their good

behavior in fact their behavior was pretty

bad what was happening in the land of Canaan with the amorites the Canaanites the Hittites the jebusites the hivites the perizzites and the girgashites that we read about a couple weeks ago uh it wasn’t just people Behaving

Badly this is a culture and a people who were so perverted by the evil forces of Darkness that God had to take action against them lest their perversion should infect the rest of his creation and especially his chosen people any further and so what do we know about the amorites and the and the Canaanites well the Canaanites as a people group derived from Noah’s grandson Canaan that’s where they come in Genesis 9 says cursed be Canaan a servant of servants shall be shall he be to his brothers God had cursed him and because of his connection with the involvement of Noah’s sin and and the his Noah’s son’s involvement in that we’re not going to go there now that’s a whole another time so that’s where these Canaanite people have come from and then there’s the amorites well in Amos 2:9 we’re talk the the people the amorites are described as uh the heights of the Cedars meaning these are the Giants of the land remember the spies who went in and said there’s Giants that live there don’t go there well this is the amorites these are big people and they’re also believed to be derived from Canaan this kind of one big people group that’s now separated uh later though we do know that uh in Samuel uh that under Saul that the the amorites had made peace with and a treaty with the people of Israel and Saul violated that peace and God brought famine upon the Israelites and so there’s some Redemption actually we see in the future for the amorites both these people groups worshiped a a Pantheon of gods and Idols a and chief among all of them were the fertility rights the female goddesses uh human women were believed to have had sex with the gods there was cultic uh prostitution was widespread this is where the Ashera the goddess of the canites comes from uh she was believed to be the wife of L which is the the chief god of the Canaanites but did you catch that L it’s the same root for what Elohim it’s the same root for the name of God because what’s happening here we’re getting a picture of what’s happening in this land that’s caused God to go to this this extreme Cosmic battle against this area because it’s a perversion of the truth that’s the evil that’s happening here it takes a bit of the truth that God has revealed what’s good and right and it’s perverted it the priest of the Ashera they had a reputation for for prostitution and homosexuality the baale that we hear about forever right uh was a Canaanite god that impressed ated a hepher and sired a young bull God and so the people we have records of practice beastiality I know this is graphic stuff but we got to understand what was going on there to understand the cosmic battle that’s about to take place and it’s troubling it’s not an easy thing to grasp when we get into it Leviticus 1822 to 27 makes prostitut tion and beastiality and homosexuality a violation of God’s good plan for Humanity so again we see an intentional perversion of what God has said is good and right in his order these gods and their practices are the perversion of God and his goodness and righteousness but perhaps the worst of all is what we know was happening in in the land of the Canaanites the archaeological record uh in these Canaanite sites which later became the Phoenicians same same people group there’s that what has been found are large fields of infant burials and what they know and they’ve come to know is the practice of the fertility Cults they demanded that the firstborn be sacrifice because they belonged to God the gods would reward the parents then was the idea by granting them uh many children and great success and fruitfulness in their

lives God required the first fruits of the

Harvest so we see again an intentional Canaanite practice of the perversion of what God had declared was good and right there’s always some truth to the lie you know who know who operates that way

Satan takes a bit of the truth and perverts it into a lie that sounds better to our ears this isn’t just the work of a wicked people this is the work of De demons who are bent on perverting the truth of God and destroying those who have been created in the image of God they weren’t just we look back at them when we think they were just worshiping wood idols and they were just simpleton people guys it is far more perverse than that these are demons fallen angels that were so persuasive because this wasn’t a materialistic people they don’t operate the same way now because we’re we’re so materialistic they can operate in the shadows and we don’t think they exist here they they operated in the open they made the people to think that the sun had

power these are the Demonic forces of evil that God is fighting against just as Joshua and he’s calling us to fight against just as Joshua and Israel fight against the people God’s Army is there to fight against the Demonic forces of evil well back to the the verse one uh when they heard meaning the Kings those rulers those authorities heard that what God had done through for Joshua over the Jordan for the people of Israel were told their hearts melted and there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel the rulers and Authority saw what the one true God had done and they lost their will physically their will to fight was gone and perhaps even bigger were told there was no longer any spirit in them meaning when they saw what God could do and was doing for the people of Israel the confidence in their perverted gods and demonic spirits were crushed were

crushed now this the time to strike right now is the time everything’s on Israel’s side God has set this thing up perfect we’ve got like 2 million Israelites who are Marching into the promised land uh with Jericho in their sights uh this is the time their hearts have melted their soul is their spirit is dead uh this is the time to strike

right but apparently God had a different idea apparently God had two things that he wanted to do through them in this incredibly strategic moment for attacking first of all he called them to to be circumcised and secondly they celebrated the Passover meal both of which are completely contrary to our way of thinking of what would have made the most sense right uh God calls all the sons of Israel to be circumcised well what what happens when I mean there’s a reason for that but but just think of it strategically from a human standpoint when you know not you know when you’re called to be uh circumcised just the the I’m not going to describe it um but you know think of the recovery time can you because you you’re probably a baby right um so you don’t know the recovery time but it’s at least two weeks of of of laid up so they’re here ready to strike here this huge Army has come uh they’ve caught them their their hearts have melted their will is gone their their Spirit has been defeated it’s the time to attack and God says here no I’m just going to totally make you vulnerable to attack

and leave you here wounded and weak for a couple weeks just hang out here doesn’t make sense does it well it does make sense if you take the cosmic battle that is taking place this isn’t just a war against flesh and blood this is a cosmic battle and these are God’s people and they have to be marked by the Covenant as his own people that he is their God that he is their people the Covenant that he made with Abraham and this new generation that had come up had not been circumcised yet and it had to take place a spiritual Army God’s Own Army to wipe out the spiritual forces of evil that were living in the promised land that God had promised to Abraham but more importantly than that in verse n what has God declare to them that he’s done through this circumcision today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you in other words they needed to experience the Forgiveness of sins that cleansing that wash and clean uh from their past sin and rebellion in order to to face a spiritual battle they needed that coverage that forgiveness that grace of God at work in their lives the second thing God did was or we see Happening Here is that they celebrated the Passover meal again this isn’t a short process it’s not like they just decided to you know go home run to the grocery store and make a feast this is probably a week in the making to get everything ready to go it’s a lengthy process to prepare but the reason why this was important because what he was teaching them is in a spiritual battle that you’re facing one the Forgiveness of your sins my grace is of the utmost import and the second is this you should always celebrate my gracious provision in your lives what I have done for you in the past in other words you the Passover meal yes there’s times of somber reflection and Remembrance but it’s a celebration of joy of what God has done of his gracious provision in their lives and so what he’s telling them is to be armed with in other words for the spiritual battle that’s ahead of you be armed with my grace and be armed with the joy of your salvation those are the things that you need and so God called them to prepare for this spiritual battle in this way friends we continue to face the spiritual battles today not by defeating people I know we want to fight the culture of War by by making people the enemy ideas are the enemy falsehood deceits lies perversions of the truth yes those are the enemy but people are not in fact when the scriptures talk about how we engage with people it doesn’t talk about defeating them in the New Testament it talks about winning them it talks about rescuing people out of the spiritual darkness of their sin and the power of Satan in this world and winning them to the gospel and through Joshua 5 he’s calling us to prepare by claiming the grace of his forgiveness in our lives and celebrating the joy that we have in our salvation because all the work of Satan and his minions is thwarted by the grace of God and the joy of our Salvation in him as Paul wrote in Romans 5 therefore since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God that’s what we need to prepare for the spiritual battle that’s before us because most of all Joshua 5 Points us to the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over sin and death and the devil the truth is we and Jo we and Joshua 5 are not the Israelites as we’d like to picture ourselves probably we’re really the Canaanites and the amorites we’ve perverted the goodness of God we twist his righteousness we seek our own Glory our our own vanity we look for success and faithfulness by sacrificing what in our lives whatever we must to get ahead but Jesus the son of God willingly sacrificed himself for us that by faith in his death and Resurrection we might have the abundance of life in him the Forgiveness of our sins the the true Joy of Salvation Ephesians 6 has some great teaching on the weapons that we need to arm ourselves with for the spiritual battle but for us today what we’re being prepared for for the spiritual battle from Joshua 5 is by claiming the grace of God who has rolled away the reproach of our sin before God through our Lord Jesus

Christ and Let us laugh at the Devil and all of the Fallen Angels by rejoicing and the Salvation that we have in him through the victory that has been won for us once and for all by our Lord Jesus Christ so that we will be ready for the mission of the rescuing of souls that stands before us in Jesus the commander of the Lord’s army is standing with us thanks be to God Amen

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