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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #978

Commander of the Army
of the Lord
Part One

July 3, 2011

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 978 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Praise the Lord!

( congregational response ).

Good morning to everyone. Beautiful day…the Lord is good! Of course, the Lord is good whether it’s a beautiful day or not. But anyway, if you will turn to Joshua chapter 1, just beginning in Joshua. I think the seed thought came from something I read, but I believe the Lord has quickened some things and I’ll just trust Him to put His emphasis where He wants it. And something that I believe is very, very relevant to every one of our lives today beginning with mine.

But if you remember the history here…the Israelites had been brought under the leadership of Moses out of Egypt and out of bondage, but they had in the wilderness rebelled against God and were therefore basically consigned to wander in the wilderness until the generation that had rebelled had perished. Basically every man who had been of fighting age when they came out of Egypt, the Lord just waited ‘til they died and it was a period of 40 years.

And Moses himself was not allowed to go into the land. He had dishonored the Lord as you remember, at least on the one occasion. He was allowed to see it. He was still regarded in their history as the greatest of all the prophets ever sent to Israel, but he wasn’t allowed to take them in.

But now Joshua is leading the younger generation, and the Lord, of course, begins to encourage them and said, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” (NIV). And so He enumerates the boundaries of the land that He has promised.

And He says after that, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Now praise God, that’s a promise that I believe we know from the scriptures extends to every one of His covenant people, doesn’t it? And thank God for it. If we were alone in this world facing the darkness of this world, it wouldn’t be a good thing. But the Lord is with His people. And so He commands them to be strong and courageous, to not turn from the right or to the left hand from the Book of the Law.

This is really by way of preliminary…I just want to bring us up to a certain point in the account. And so basically Joshua orders the people, get ready. Three days from now we’re gonna cross the Jordan River. And, of course, he instructs the tribes…you know, certain of the tribes actually were allowed to settle on the east side of Jordan. They never actually went across and possessed part of that land. God gave them an inheritance on the east side of the Jordan. But the men who were part of those tribes were instructed to take their swords, every man of fighting age, and they were to go and fight with their brothers until they had conquered the parts that were allotted to them. And so there was a oneness, there was a wholeness where the people weren’t just each off doing their own thing. Hey, I’ve got mine and it’s up to you now. There was a sense of community. There was a sense of commitment to the whole. And so they did that.

And, of course, you know the story. At this point, Joshua sends out some spies and they enter into Jericho which was the near city. And they actually went into the house of a prostitute, also could have been an innkeeper, and who knows under that culture, it might have been one and the same thing. But anyway, the New Testament actually uses the word ‘harlot’ of this woman, and yet the word can mean an innkeeper. So whatever she was, she was part of the heathen culture there.

But somehow, she had a view of God. God had revealed Himself to this woman. And that should tell you something about the Lord. The Lord was just not giving a blanket condemnation to the people of the land there. He had given them an ultimatum. In fact, He had given them a space of 400 years, or however long it was, to repent. And the wickedness of the people had just reached a point where the kindest thing God could do for humanity was to judge them. And so that was the big picture of what God was actually doing. It wasn’t just to give people a piece of land. It was…there was a larger picture—more things going on here. But God had a merciful heart towards people that could be turned and could be brought to a faith in Him.

And it’s very interesting what she says to the spies when she actually hides them from the authorities. And she says in verse 8 of chapter 2, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you 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. 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. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

I mean, that’s a pretty good statement of faith. You don’t know those kinds of things without God being involved in revealing that kind of knowledge, because human beings don’t possess that without God taking the initiative. So here’s a merciful God reaching out to her. And so basically, remember the story how she instructs…she lets them out and tells them to go to the hills and wait for the pursuers that are looking for you to come back, and then you go on your way. But I want to make a covenant with you so that you’ll save my life. And they make a covenant…you hang the gold…what is it?

( congregational response ).

Scarlet…thank you. The scarlet cord out of your window and that would be a sign that this place is under protection. You bring all your family in there. If they’re in there, the blood is on our head if we do anything to you. If anybody goes out of the house, it’s on them. And so God did preserve this woman and her household and they became a part of Israel, didn’t they? You know from the history.

So anyway, that was a testimony when the spies came back to Joshua, the Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands. And so now they begin to make plans to go across the Jordan River and the orders for the people were to prepare themselves, but also the Ark of the Covenant was going to go before them. And part of the reason…part of what the Lord said to them in verse 4 of chapter 3 was, “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” How many of you know that that’s pretty much of picture of life?

( congregational response ).

We don’t much like that. We would love to just settle into a routine. You know, we all make noises at times about how boring this or that is, and maybe we’d like a little excitement in our lives. But when a little excitement comes, we’d like to go back to what was boring before. We don’t like change. We’d like to find a little nice little neat nest where we can feather it to suit ourselves. We’ve got everything in its place. Nothing bad happens. We’ve got God in His little compartment and every little thing is all just like we want it. That ain’t how it is and I think you all know that.

But there is something very deliberate about this, very characteristic of how God deals with His people. We are a pilgrim people. And the fact is, the way that God has called us to go is not a way that we know. We are always in a position of dependence upon God to show us the direction that He wants. And that’s big picture stuff with respect to churches, for example, but that is absolutely the truth with respect to our individual lives.

We do not know the way that God wishes to take us. And we live in a dangerous world. We live in a world where we need someone that knows the way, that knows how to call us out, that knows how to stir our nests so that we don’t get too overly comfortable…that knows how to move us in the right direction but then is right there to walk before us and with us and behind us to take us safely through.

We know the Devil uses the circumstances of life to try to destroy, but God uses them to shape His people for eternity. And we know that all things work together for those who are called of Him, called according to His purpose, those who love Him, we know from Romans 8:28. So anyway, this principle is embodied in this and we know we see it throughout scripture that God calls His people to a pilgrim life.

You see it in the life of Abraham. I mean, what was God’s call to Abraham. All he knew was to leave and go. And God was going to show him as he began to pick up his feet and go, God would show him where, and how, and what. And we don’t like that kind of…that level of uncertainty, but that is a measure of unbelief to the extent that that’s true. But Abraham was the model of faith in that he believed God. When God promised him something, he believed it. When God told him to do something, he did it. Right down to the point where he was actually instructed on the one occasion to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. And his confidence in God was so complete, so great that he was willing to do it…in his own mind, he had it figured out. Well I’m gonna kill him, but God’s gonna raise him from the dead. How many times have you figured out something and you thought you knew how it was gonna go.

( laughter ).

And God’s sitting up there chuckling. We have a God who is a whole lot bigger and smarter that we are.

( congregational amens ).

And it rarely works out the way we think. What a wise place it is just to come to a place of rest and confidence in Him, where we know He loves us, we know we can trust Him, we know He can take us through. And so, of course, Abraham was all set to plunge the knife and God stopped him and said, I see that you’re not gonna withhold anything from Me. And there was a renewal of the covenant and what testimony it has been to believers ever since…the faithfulness of God, and the level of trust, what real faith is.

People call all kinds of things faith. But I mean, faith is when you don’t know. Faith is when you can’t see, but you know that God does, and God sees, and God cares and He can be trusted, and He is to be trusted…not just in some vague theological sense, but in the real issues of life that you and I face this day. You know like the song was sung, “My life is in His hands”. That’s the only safe place I know. Boy, if it’s in my hands, I’m gonna make a mess of it, and so will you.

But anyway, you know how the Levites were instructed to go into the Jordan River and God was gonna do something to really show who was in charge, not just a testimony to His people, but a testimony to all the nations around about. And, of course, He picked the worst possible time from the natural standpoint, didn’t He. I mean, this was harvest time. You know, I even see the mercy of God in that, because it wasn’t but a few days, they went across the Jordan and the manna stopped. But what season was it? Harvest. They began to eat the fruit of the land that day that the manna stopped. So I’ll tell you, God has things under control. He knows all about the needs of His people. He was even concerned about what they were gonna eat all the way.

But anyway, the instruction was to go and put your foot in the Jordan, and the moment they did, all of a sudden way upstream the water stood in a heap and it says they went in on dry ground. Now I don’t how literally to take that. I know that it was solid anyway. Whatever it was, they could walk across it. That’s amazing to me that it was dry…I can see muddy, but dry? I mean, we serve a great God, don’t we?

But they walked out into the middle and they stood there and that entire nation, plus the 1000’s of warriors from these other tribes that were still gonna stay on the east, they all marched through and when they got done, he instructed them, go grab some stones, one from each tribe and bring them out as a testimony to what God as done here this day. And the moment they stepped out, whoosh, water came together. And I’ll tell you, what do you think the people on that side of the river thought when they heard about that? Can you imagine? How would you like to be one of those nations. You already heard what happened in Egypt. You heard what happened to these great kings on the east side of Jordan River. Now all of a sudden, you know they’re coming to get you, and they walk through a river and their God stops the water so they can walk through on dry ground. We’re toast, basically…

( laughing ).

…Is what they’d be saying. And it says, in fact it says at the end of chapter 4, “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.” So God knows how and why to do the things that He does. Praise God!

So anyway, there was another piece of business to take care of and that was the fact that they had not really walked in the covenant very well during these years in the wilderness and there was whole generation that had never really practiced the rite of circumcision of their children and so they had to stop and take care of that.

And I see that as something that I sense the Lord is trying to do in our own midst. Because the promises and the purposes of God have to do with a covenant people. We don’t walk in the old covenant. That was temporary. That was something God instituted for a time. We walk in the eternal covenant. But I’ll tell you, this is not something for church, and churchy people, and religion. This is…what God is doing in the earth always has to do with a covenant people. They know that they have been called out of a world of darkness. They know that they stand in right relationship to God because of the cross and blood that was shed there.

( congregational amens ).

They have not only put their faith in what He did, but they have owned Him as Lord, not just in name, but in practice, and there is a covenant that draws them together with others of like spirit and so that they become, in that sense, a unique people in the earth. There’s the people of the world, there’s God’s covenant people. Do you sense that in what God is doing in lives here?

( congregational amens ).

I’ll tell you, I pray that you’re a part of that. I pray that God will so make His covenant and His purposes real, that you won’t just see this as ‘church,’ something to do on Sunday and whatever else…just part of your life. But God has called us, as surely as He called Abraham, to a pilgrim life in this world. And I’ll tell you, it gets a whole lot better as we go along here, but anyway, there is a renewal of the covenant, and of course, they waited until there was some healing that took place.

But then it says in verse 10 of chapter 5, it says, “On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover.” Now again, this was very central to their worship. I mean, this marked the memorial of what God had done for them in Egypt. And you remember what happened there that God judged the Egyptians until finally there came the great judgment on the firstborn of all Egypt. But God gave them a covenant. You put the blood of a lamb on the doorpost and the lintel of your door, and I’ll tell you, the death angel who comes through won’t touch your house.

I don’t know how many people are aware of what’s going on in this world and where it’s headed. There is a judgment that is surely coming to this world. I mean, if God’s Word is true, this world is ripe for judgment. I am not a prophet. I’m not talking about anything…date setting and all that kind of stuff. But this world is ripe for judgment, regardless of whether it’s this afternoon or 1000 years from now. And I think it’s nearer to this afternoon than a 1000 years, personally. But anyway, I’ll tell you, we need to be in that covenant. We need to be those who have put our trust in the blood of the Lamb of God, not just the lambs that they used. That was just type of what was to come. But oh, there’s a safe place—there is a place that God will respect.

You know, you see it again in Rahab and the…what color was the cord? It was scarlet, wasn’t it? You could see the typology that God was establishing there. That was the mark of blood as far as she was concerned, and her faith in the God of Israel and God protected her. And I’ll tell you, there is a place in spite of all the fear and the uncertainty that marks this world, there is a place of utter peace and safety in Him. Whatever happens to this flesh, we are absolutely safe in His hands. Praise God! Praise God!

So anyway, they celebrated the Passover. So now you’ve got a people that have crossed over. They’re waiting, they’re getting ready, they know basically what the deal is. They’ve seen the power of God at work. They have renewed the covenant and now they stand ready. And so, now they’re near Jericho.

And the scripture doesn’t really elaborate on what was going on in Joshua’s mind, but can’t you just imagine, as he looked at the walls of that city…I mean, he’d seen what God had done, but he didn’t know what the plan was. And he said, God is with us. Praise God! But there’s those walls. And he knew that he was supposed to go in and conquer that place, but there were those walls. And he probably began in his mind to…how can we do this? Isn’t that the way we all do? Isn’t that the way we every one approach life?

( congregational amens ).

You begin to try to figure how you’re gonna tackle this as though, well, God’s brought us this far, but He’s expecting me to use my ingenuity to accomplish what it is that He’s set before me. You know, even the world says, if it’s to be, it’s up to me. It’s a very self-centered, self-driven kind of a philosophy. And certainly we need to be engaged in whatever we do, but boy, if we’re running our lives and we’re directing our own paths, we are headed for a pit—headed for trouble.

But anyway, here’s Jericho, I mean here’s Joshua looking at Jericho, he’s within sight of the walls. He knows that this is the way God has brought them. He knows that he’s been told to be courageous and I can almost some of the young men, some of the military commanders coming up and saying, okay what’s the plan? And he didn’t have one. And he was just…and maybe some of them were ready to suggest plans. Well I heard about this battle over there, and this is how it was won and here’s…you know, we can adapt that plan. We can take this plan…we can put these plans together and we can come up with a way to get this job done. Come on, let’s go.

Does that sort of thing every happen? That’s kind of human nature, isn’t it? Man, we are looking for patterns. We are looking for formulas. We are looking for human reasoning, human ingenuity to get things done. And you know, they, I’m sure at this point, they knew, yeah, this is God’s plan, God’s promised this. He’s given us this land. But I have all ideas that their vision was a pretty limited one, as is ours far too often. They saw this in earthly terms. He’s angry with these wicked nations. He’s gonna give us their territory. He’s gonna bless us and life will be good. And that’s kind of the small picture that they, no doubt, had.

But look what happens right at this point, verse 13 of chapter 5. “Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.” Now I don’t know what Joshua thought of this man at that time. I’m sure he wondered, obviously he wondered, he asked…I don’t know if he knew this was a supernatural thing or not at this point, because he walks up to him and asks him a question. It wasn’t like, who are you, kind of thing. He walked up and, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

Now maybe he did see that this was obviously a warrior. This was somebody they needed to reckon to fit into the structure of what was going on. We know we’ve got an army and we know that they’ve got an army, and here’s somebody we don’t know about. Where does he stand, where does he fit into all of this?

But I’ll tell you, the answer to this question is not a small answer. It is not an unimportant, this is not one of those details that you just sort of gloss over and say, oh well, it doesn’t mean much. This is something that has relevance to your life and mine today in ways that we may never have thought about. So he asks him the question, “Are you for us or for our enemies? Neither, he replied.”

Neither. You know, our whole way of thinking sometimes is that if I’ll just be a good Christian, then God will be on my side. Think about that. Doesn’t that kind of permeate, or doesn’t that kind of trickle into our thinking? God’s gonna be on my side if I’m somebody…if I’m good, if I go to church, I do this, I do that, I’m a good boy or a good girl, He’ll be on my side.

Oh what a small view of what life is all about. Because generally, our view of being on my side is me and what happens to me, and my prospects and my circumstances in this world…I want God on my side. And of course, that means I want Him against everybody I don’t particularly like, everybody that’s against me, I’d like God to be against them. Go get them, God!

But oh I’ll tell you, we serve a God who is far above our little petty lives and squabbles in this world. He says, I’m not on your side, I’m not on their side. “But as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Joshua needed a different vision than just the earthly battle that he faced. He needed to see that there was something so much greater at stake, so much greater going on.

And God help me, God help every one of us to understand what’s going on here and what He’s saying. How much do we just want God to fix things in our lives? God I want this, I want You…what have I got to do to get You to give me what I want? I want to go this way, God. How can I make it okay? How can I get you to…can I pray enough, can I put enough in the offering, 1001 things where we’re basically trying to turn God into our servant and here comes the commander. He says, I’m not here to do your thing, I need you to be on My side.

Can you imagine a platoon leader in a battle, and some of you military people will have to indulge me here, because I know very little about what I’m talking about. But just imagine in principle, you’ve got this platoon leader and he’s out there and he’s seeing a need and he comes up with a plan to do something about it, and all of a sudden the General walks up. And maybe he’s been isolated and all of a sudden this General…and he wants to know, General are you on our side? Think how foolish that would sound in that context. Here’s my plan, General. I need you to come and support my plan.

What would the General say? Hey, I’m in charge. Your place is not to strategize, it’s not to come up with your ideas, it’s not to do anything except to come to me and say, what do I do? Tell me what to do? Show me the plan. I’ll tell you, there’s something so much larger than all of this. I mean, step back from this scene for a minute, and go back to the cosmic battle, if you will, between God and the kingdom of darkness. I don’t want to suggest that there’s any questionable-ness to the outcome, any uncertainty about the outcome. But there is a war. The war is not just the things that we see. There is an unseen battle.