Windows, Ascension, and Sacred Processions

by | May 12, 2024 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Joshua 6

While Joshua 6 tells the literal event of Israel’s conquest of the city of Jericho in the Promised Land, it also represents a metaphor for all followers of Jesus Christ. As followers of Jesus Christ we all face shut off people who are often hostile to receiving the Gospel. But Joshua 6 reminds us that even in the midst of shut doors, God always opens windows of opportunities for us to share with others the hope we have in Jesus. Where might those window’s of opportunity be? Come and listen as we invite the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to see them.

Transcript

So today we have uh one of those special days where uh where all these major themes converge obviously today’s uh Mother’s Day as i’ I’ve mentioned already uh but to those Anglo uh files Among Us uh then you would know that this is also so the Feast of the Ascension uh a major Feast Day in the Anglican Church uh but it’s uh you know so there is there’s a lot going on because on top of all that we’re also in Joshua 6 so which way do I go here I I I don’t I don’t really know well I do know and I’m uh you know mothers I I I’ve kind of given you the front end of uh of celebrating you and thanking you at the beginning so we’re going to move on to Joshua 6 and I’m even going to uh I’m even going to uh to harmonize it with the Ascension somehow uh and so uh pray for me as we as we go on um well we’re continuing in our series as we walk through uh the Book of Joshua and preparing for the promised land as the Lord prepares our hearts as he’s uh preparing his people to occupy the land that they would be a blessing to the Nations and and he’s in this process of preparing them for that time well they will fully take possession that they would trust him uh and Obey him and follow him uh and what he wants for them last week in Joshua 5 we looked at the the spiritual battle the reality of it that was taking place and that uh the depth the the perversion of God’s word that we saw uh at work uh in Jericho and what we know that was going on there and the temple prostitution and the infant sacrifice and the Demonic forces of evil that were even being worshiped there among the people of Jericho that this was a deeply spiritual battle uh that was at work here uh God had been patient with these people with the amorites and the Canaanites we’re told in Genesis 15 as God told Abram there uh he told him this is the land I’m going to give to you and to your I mean to your descendants they will occupy this land but then he said 700 years this was 700 years prior to uh to what he’s what’s going to what’s happening now in Jericho because he said then in Genesis 15 that the iniquity of the amorites is not yet complete so there was still time in other words you know God God was waiting his judgment was not yet to be rendered uh but now 700 years later we’ve got what’s going on here in Joshua 6 and his judgment will come through his holy Army Army accompanied by the commander of the Lord’s army that we we heard last week and his hosts of heavenly Angels last week we talked about how uh God prepared his people for this spiritual battle uh in two specific ways he he he prepared them by renewing the outward sign of the Covenant that he had made with Abraham and calling this new generation to be circumcised uh that the that they would would now have the mark of the Covenant they’d be marked as his own people as they went into this spiritual battle and they they celebrated to prepare for the spiritual battle they celebrated the joy uh of in the Passover land for the first time in the promised land so how God prepares us for the spiritual battle is with his grace and with the celebration of the joy that we have in our Salvation how we’re marked as Christ’s own through faith in him and through baptism we’re prepared for the spiritual battle that’s before us and so today we step fully into the battle itself the physical and the spiritual battle we know that’s going on behind the physical battle and it all begins with shut doors it all begins with shut doors hear these words in uh as we begin in verse one says now Jericho was shut up up inside and outside because of the people of Israel none went out and none came in so Jericho’s shut up the gates are shut they’re shut both inside and outside and so what this is telling us is this isn’t just a physical shutting of the the doors of the gate certainly that’s happening uh but this is something much deeper there’s a full and complete rejection rejection of uh of the people of Jericho to receive the god of the Israelites they’re completely shut off to that being a possibility uh that act of shutting it forms that physical barrier uh that Israel has to the movement that that God has called them to the mission to take possession of the land so there’s a physical barrier that exists there but there’s also it represents the spiritual barrier the spirit spiritual barrier between God and the people of Jericho they’ve shut themselves down they’ve shut their hearts to receiving him because that’s what God ultimately wants what God ultimately wants is for them to to turn return to him and to repent and to receive forgiveness but they have closed their hearts the city is shut up both inside and out this presents a problem to the mission these closed do doors physically and spiritually because it’s closed hearts that the citizens of Jericho have to the Lord so this OB obstacle stands in the way of of the mission and so what is what’s going to happen to resolve this incredible obstacle that is before them in verse two we’re told this and the Lord said to Joshua see I have given Jericho into your hands with its king and Mighty Men of Valor what God’s telling to telling Joshua here before it all even begins is that the victory over Jericho is already been given it’s the gift of God God’s giving the gift to them over the Kings and the Mighty Warriors of Jericho I have delivered it’s that uh that perfect form of the verb meaning the victory’s already been won before you even go in I’m telling you you don’t need to worry victory has been achieved it’s been assured for you over the Kings and the Warriors there’s only one obstacle that remains left it’s the walls the walls are the thing that remains what about these pesky walls how are they going to be overcome and verse three to five we’re told how that will happen he said you’re going to March around the city all the men of War going around the city once thus shall you do for Six Days Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams horns before the Ark on the seventh day you shall March around the city seven times and the priest shall blow the trumpets and when they make a long blast with the Ram’s Horn when you hear the sound of the trumpet then all the people shall Shout with a great shout and the walls of the city will fall flat and the people shall go up everyone straight before him so how is the wall going to be overcome this final barrier between the people being able to fulfill the mission that God’s called them to well it’s going to be a ceremony a ceremony is going to overcome that last obstacle the walls of Jericho you know this passage it convinces me that God was an Anglican he loves ceremony he loves processions uh and this is the procession of all processions right uh God God was an Anglican uh the the procession though was made up of Warriors and Priests and the Ark of the Covenant himself meaning God and His Mercy Seat ruling over the people all going around the walls God’s leadership for military action we see the Rams horns that are used to prepare the people for war and for this sacred possession they’re about to take on and the shout used to to Proclaim Victory and it’s used throughout the the old Old Testament and then they March around the city why March around the city well we we see in Psalm 48 verse 12 and also in 2 Kings 6:14 that marching around the the walls of the city of Jerusalem uh and they marched around to observe uh and to inspect and admire the walls of of Jerusalem the those that would come to visit the city those that would uh uh come on pilgrimage and so in Joshua 6 this March around is is God’s way of making this ceremonial inspection of the cities of the defenses of Jericho it’s a dramatic statement also that the the Hostile uh intentions that the Israelites have over Jericho and then we’re given the SE sday period it’s very strange isn’t it it’s all so so SYM what what in the world does that mean well I think it corresponds to the the Feast of unleavened bread because it was during that seven-day Feast that no leevan was to be eaten by God’s people for seven days as a a sign of Israel’s consecration to the Lord and it remembered the season of Israel uh when they set forth from Egypt and they witnessed the defeat of the Lord’s army so remember they celebrated the Passover in the L promised land just the last thing we read and now they’re to March around over these seven days corresponding with that Feast of unleavened bread of God reminding them just as I delivered you your your ancestors from from Egypt and defeated their army so I’m going to defeat Jericho on on your behalf so the ceremony of the Ark it creates this sacred procession into the promised land this beautiful Anglican procession um and even though the people participate they’re called to participate in it this is God’s Divine work that’s going to remove that last obstacle from the people from their movement into the inheritance that God has promised them God’s going to provide it he’s going to provide the way God’s Divine will will continue to guide and to direct them and to provide for them and what they need and then verses 6 to 15 and verse 20 we’re told all the uh the activity that God had told us about we can uh you know came to be and the blowing of the trumpets and the marching around the spectacular I mean just imagine the sight and the sounds that would have been heard in this incredible ceremony that happened over these seven days and then in verses 16 to 19th we get to that seventh day and into verse 21 and here we do need to spend a moment because I don’t think it would be right just to P pass over it because Joshua introduces uh a controversial and maybe troubling to to many of us idea and a concept and that’s the concept of what’s known as the ban B an and the ban is a devotion of something to the Lord a devotion of something to the Lord for his exclusive use meanings for him alone uh and it appears in Deuteronomy chapter 20 verses uh 16 to 18 uh and this is what Deuteronomy says 16 to 18 but in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance you shall save alive nothing that breathes but you shall devote them to complete destruction the Hittites the amorites the Canaanites the perizzites the hivites and the jebusites as the Lord your God has commanded that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods and so you sin against the Lord your God and so Joshua in uh in in being true to God’s word and what God had revealed in Deuteronomy uh he he that’s the order that he gives and the reason is so that the inhabitants of the land will not teach the people of Israel their practices they’re detestable practices abominable we heard the word practices that we talked about last week I encourage you to go back and listen to that to understand so this is a time that that everything is being devoted to the Lord everything in Jericho is devoted devoted to the Lord and this is important that we talk about it because we can’t shy away from it we can’t just say that this well this was just a metaphor in some way uh this really happened and God did it and so how can a good god do something like this it’s troubling Joshua placed all of Jericho under the ban in according in accordance with Deuteronomy 20 for the living creatures they were devoted to death for the valuable possessions they were devoted to the house of God and for the rest the buildings and everything else destruction by

fire it’s it’s hard isn’t it it’s hard it’s hard to to handle although the the ban meant total Destruction for Jericho it it does not mean that there could not have that God could not turn and have mercy nor is it something that’s Universal this is important this isn’t a universal decree by God that all peoples all Heathen nations are to be destroyed this is a very specific call that God makes against these people that he had spent 700 years waiting on and I believe in hopes of them turning and repenting and returning to the Lord but these these sins that were so egregious and the spiritual demonic forces that were so prevalent and perverting the truth of God they had to be dealt with once and for all but the ban is only one of God’s plans for the nation it’s not all of them it’s not Universal elsewhere it’s clear that the Nations have a choice even when their wickedness had reached a point go back to what I said earlier about Genesis 15 right it’s 700 years God gave them time he was hoping for their repentance waiting on it and we see in other places in scriptures where other nations can repent and they can find forgiveness and mercy from God look at Jonah 4 and Nineveh right Jonah doesn’t want to go Jonah says who these people don’t deserve your forgiveness but God declares that he he is going to have forgiveness on them they’re going to hear his word and they’re going to turn so what’s happening Happening Here we can’t take in some Universal way that God deals with with unbelievers with Sinners with foreign Nations it’s very specific this isn’t death to all infidels this is a specific Judgment of God that he has upon this region for a specific reason that we have to trust him about but there’s one exception isn’t there to all of this there’s one exception in verses 22 to 23 in verse 22 and 23 we’re told this but to the two men who had spied out the land Joshua said go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there a woman the woman and all who belonged to her as you swore to her 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 so the the exception to the ban and to God’s judgment into Deuteronomy 20 is Rahab and her family now was this in

violation of of

Deuteronomy no I don’t think so at all I don’t think it’s a violation I think what this means is that those who ceased to be Canaanite and devoted themselves to the god of Israel they’re already devoted to God so the ban meaning the things devoted to God they’ve already been devoted to God they’ve been devoted to God for salvation not for Destruction because all in the end are either devoted to God in Salvation or they’re devoted to God in

destruction and then in verse 24 the rescue of Rahab it was ad important by the way it was as important to the writer of Joshua as was the destruction of Jericho if you look at the amount of words that were used to describe both they’re almost uh identical uh so the rescue is equally as important as the destruction of Jericho itself itself but those who tend to critique Joshua 6 and take exception with a God who would uh who would bring such judgment don’t tend to look at the mercy at all do they and that’s certainly the the work of the devil and the spiritual forces of evil who who always want us to look at did God really say they want us to look at the prohibition and not God’s incredible permission they want us to look at at all of the the judgment and not as an incredible Act of mercy of God that was displayed and rescu in this prostitute and then finally in verse 26- 27 we have the curse the totality of God’s judgment against Jericho that uh devoted to God by complete destruction and the city was to remain that way forever forever God is serious about this judgment against Jericho it was that bad in fact in First Kings 1634 those words of that curse came true as uh hell of bethl uh loses his sons when he rebuilds Jericho in the 9th century eventually we see God’s judgment even against his own people in the destruction of Jerusalem is a punishment for his people worshiping other gods and betraying him and prostituting themselves out to the the gods the

Demons of the Canaanite people people so what what are the the applications for this for for us how can we how can we draw this into our own lives as God is preparing us for the promised land what does this what does this mean for us well I think there’s a three things in particular and the first one is this this concept that we see at work in in Jericho about shut up Hearts shut up hearts and in two ways shut up hearts are an obstacle to the Gospel Mission that we been called to to be proclaiming Jesus the gospel to a desperately lost world that needs him first of all the Israelites in Jericho as we saw were shut up inside and out they were shut up physically but Also spiritually they were shut up from receiving the god of the Israelites they saw the mighty works of God and what he had done but they couldn’t receive him and they wouldn’t receive him and so they shut themselves up spiritually you always we look at the lost people around

us how many of them have shut up their hearts to receiving the Lord in their lives not open to hearing about Jesus sometimes even being hostile towards us when we try to share it can be disheartening it can be discouraging especially when it’s our own f family you know I know many of us have children grandchildren maybe parents who’ve shut themselves up at this time to being able to hear or receive the Gospel and it’s heartbreaking and there’s lots of reasons for it some of them are rational maybe they they experienced abuse in their lives maybe they’ve seen just all the the the abuse in the church es and the the greed and they’ve said forget it but some of it’s totally

irrational maybe some people like the people of Jericho have seen the mighty works of God but they still won’t or just cannot believe in Jesus because remember and we have to remember this it’s a spiritual battle that we’re fighting it’s not against flesh and bl blood so what does that tell us it tells us that we need need to be praying we need to be giving this to the Lord because God is far more

patient than we are he waited 700 years to render his judgment those people that right now in your lives that you’re heartbroken over who have seemingly shut their hearts up to receiving Jesus Don’t stop believing that the Lord can break down those walls in their lives that he is merciful slow to anger abounding and steadfast love and that the Holy Spirit can break those walls down in their lives but the second obstacle is

this and it’s a great danger that we face in the church and that is that we can shut our own Hearts to the lost that we can find ourselves shutting up our own gates for those people who were lost riding them off as maybe being too far gone or being uh good only for the Judgment of God maybe they’re just too woke maybe they’re just too Progressive maybe they’re just too liberal maybe they’re just too

selfish when we close ourself off to lost people when we Harden our hearts against them no matter how no matter how far lost they may be in any given moment it means that we’ve closed ourselves off to the grace of

God we’ve closed ourselves off to Jesus the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 and searching for the one we forgotten that we too were lost but found only by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit who opened our eyes who broke down the walls of our own hearts that we might received the grace of God and his son Jesus Christ and the real danger is this in Romans 2:5 Paul says but because of your heart and in and impenitent heart you are stirring up wrath for yourself on the day of Wrath when God’s judgment will be revealed there is a grave danger for us when we close shut down our own Hearts to lost people the gates were shut the people inside and out were shut up against God but God provided One open window of opportunity in that wall he opened one window of opportunity that ball that window was the window of a prostitute named Rahab if you’ll remember when we read when when Chuck preached on Rahab a couple couple of weeks ago do you remember where her uh her home was it was in the wall and she had a window and what was she what did she do she opened that window up to let the spies out to protect them that window was a window up of opportunity and she was the only one in all of Jericho who was willing to receive the god of Israel she was the only one who was open to the rescue that was available to her she saw the mighty works of God that’s what she told the spies we’ve all heard about what God’s done for you as people and we’re and we’re and we’re shaking in our boots as what what they what she said but she’s the only one who knew her own need and was willing to receive the Salvation that was offered to her and by our standards she was far too gone she was far too gone she was promiscuous she was sinful she was absolutely detestable to the truth of God none of us would have would invite her to dinner would we none of us but it was Rahab who was saved Rahab who became the the mother of Boaz Rahab who part of Jesus’s genealogical line and in Hebrews 11: 30-31 we’re told by faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days and by Faith Rahab The Prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies Rahab had the faith to believe that God could save her the one who seemed too far gone where are the windows where are the windows that God is opening for his gospel in our lives the people where are the people who who know their own Brokenness the Sinners who are longing and craving the grace and the Forgiveness of God in their lives we need to stop bemoaning our culture and people and the younger generation and all the things that we like to complain about and start looking for the open windows for the gospel that are before us we need to pray that God would open our hearts and our eyes that we may see those open windows and we might welcome those people in and share with them the gospel the second application is this that Jesus Reigns as Victor I told you I was going to work in the Ascension God has already given his people Victory we were told that right he’s already given them the gift of Victory even before the battle began we face shut walls we Face obstacles they’re all around us whether it’s people events situations people maybe who are hostile to us tragic events in our lives maybe it’s unwanted illnesses maybe it’s family Brokenness maybe it’s work or or financial struggles but through it all we know through the gospel that Jesus Reigns as Victor overall because he has ascended to the right hand of the father and according to Peter in Acts 2 and that great Pentecost sermon that Peter gave he said this Jesus God raised up and that we all are witnesses being therefore exalted at the right hand of God he’s ascended to the right hand of God and is seated at the right hand of God Paul wrote in 8 and in Romans 8:34 that he is interceding there for us and then Paul wrote to the Ephesians uh in chapter 1 ver 21 that he is seated there far above all Rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named not only in this age but also in the age to come so no matter what that means is that no matter what obstacle you’re facing the commander of the Lord’s army Jesus is with you he is with you from the mighty seat of all power and all authority how is that for the ascensions because he ascended he is seated there and he is with us we’ve already been been given the gift of victory over every obstacle through the finished work of our ascended Savior Jesus and finally the third application is this just like the Conquering of Jericho took a sacred Anglican procession reaching lost people for Christ that is a sacred procession

meaning Jesus is the one who is leading the way we get to participate and in that mystical place somewhere between the will and purposes of God and the and the will of man but it’s God who goes before us in Jesus it’s the Holy Spirit who breaks down the walls and all obstacles to Faith and the people that we called to reach and to proclaim the gospel to all we have to do is to follow Jesus by faith that’s all he called us to do friends Jesus faced one obstacle after another one closed heart after another hostile Authority after hostile Authority but through them allall Jesus was always looking for the open window and where did did he find those open Windows he found them with the Sinners he found them with the prostitutes and he found them with the tax

collectors it was there that Jesus found Open Hearts ready to receive him it’s there that Jesus found you and

me not among the saints he found us among the Sinners and rescued us

friends let us rejoice Jesus is victorious in his death and his resurrection and in his Ascension and where he reigns over everything and everyone every power and authority and Dominion in heaven and on Earth and if he is for us who or what can possibly stand against us thanks be to God Amen

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