Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sermon--8/19/07--Jericho: The Rescue

This week's message took an interesting turn for me, one that I had never considered nor heard to my knowledge. Usually, when I hear sermons on Jericho it's about the Victory, the Conquest, the Judgment or the Obedience of the Israelites. All those are fine and appropriate, but this week I was once again reminded of the heart of God and His love for His people, the lengths He is willing to go to free us, and the role He has called His people to play in rescuing those He loves. This perspective may be new to you. It was for me.

Jericho—The Rescue

Right now as we are worshipping this morning, there is a great Rescue mission going on in Utah where six miners have been trapped underground. Some have already given their lives to get them out. Other rescue missions are going on in Peru, will be in Jamaica, China and other places. Rescue is an ongoing and sadly necessary part of this world.

Stories and footage of Rescue attempts and successes make for good reading, make the News. Believe it or not, but the concept of Rescue figures in to the Life of Joshua & the Battle at Jericho.

Last week, Joshua met a man outside of Jericho that taught him that God has a Vision for Victory and was prepared & willing to fight for it. Joshua also learned that God is willing to Share the Vision for Victory but that in sharing, He expects you and me to be involved in fulfilling that vision.

And one of the tasks that God has for us is tearing down walls because we are surrounded by them.

We Are Surrounded by Walls—Joshua 6:1

Joshua and the Israelites were facing a great barrier. People were locked up inside and afraid to come out. But the walls of Jericho were not the first walls ever built.

You see the first wall built by Adam & Eve- the wall and barrier that they put up was not a physical one, it was not a stone wall, but a spiritual one. You can see it in the way they hid themselves from each other and from God—Genesis 3:7-9—

It set up a barrier between each other to the point they covered themselves, to where just a few moments later, they were blaming each other for their problems.

God had put them together, given them to each other and their sin had put up a wall between them—a wall that would make life difficult for every marriage ever since.

This kind of wall creates distrust, creates blame, creates fear, creates abuse, creates manipulation, creates divorce,

But the greatest wall that was put up—was between them and God. Suddenly their Creator, who made the Garden for them, who loved them, gave them the responsibility to represent Him on this earth—suddenly God’s very presence sent them running for cover.

There was a barrier between them and God that was not supposed to be there. And as a result—we are afraid—as a result of this wall there is death, idolatry, murder, envy, war, lying—everything conceivably wrong in this world is the direct result of this wall.

The Great Wall is not in China—the Great Wall is Between You, Me and God. Ultimately, the greatest wallbuilder is Sin—sin isolates, it separates, it keeps out, it locks in. This wall makes Jericho look like Legos or Lincoln Logs.

Sin Builds the Wall—Unbelief strengthens it. Resistance to the Gospel and the Love of God thickens it.

Indifference, apathy, idolatry, selfishness, greed among many others are Bricks that make the Wall even taller.

Now let me ask you—how many walls are around you? More than you thought. Do you have a wall in your life? A part of you that you don’t want to give over to God? Are there walls that have been built up here in Macomb that people try to hide behind that separates them from God and from true fellowship with others?

As Individuals, as a Community—there are plenty of walls right here in Macomb.

Community Walls

Individual Walls

They keep us isolated, they keep us distant from each other—emotionally, spiritually, they keep us afraid and alone. These walls that we build up brick by brick are prisons.

Let me ask you—is God content to let these walls stand? Is God content to let us remain imprisoned, walled up behind a prison of our own making?

NO! He is not content..

God Wants to Tear Down Walls

God’s desire is that all the walls that separate us from Him, all the walls that separate us from each other—all the sin that causes pain, distance, and isolation be torn down.

His desire is to Rescue us from behind the Walls of Sin and from the Kingdom of Darkness.

God has proven His desire to rescue throughout the Bible—He rescued His people from bondage in Egypt, He went into a wicked and depraved city and rescued Lot and his daughters. He rescued Isaac by providing a ram caught in the thicket. He repeatedly rescued Gomer from a life of prostitution, both Peter and Paul were rescued from prison, even sending an earthquake to tear down the walls

Most of all, He demonstrated it by Invading the Earth in the Person of Jesus in order to make a way to demolish the stronghold of sin and death. He is all about RESCUE and tearing down the wall that separates us. Colossians 1:13-14-- For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Part of the Vision and role of the People of God is to Tear Down Walls—

READ 6:3-5--“The walls of the city will collapse”—vs. 5

The walls will collapse—so the people of Israel can begin the conquest of the Promised Land—so they can get a foothold, even so they could be instruments of judgment in the hands of God for a people that for the 400 years Israel had been slaves in Egypt they had rejected God reaching out to them and that their sin had now reached full measure (Genesis 15:16).

But I want you to consider that something even more was going on in the tearing down of Jericho’s walls. I want you to see it as a Rescue Mission.

Back in ch. 5:13-14—Joshua met the Commander of the Army of the Lord—He was already looking over the city, His sword was drawn and He was ready for Battle. I am convinced that this was a Christophany—an appearance of Jesus in bodily form before the incarnation—in part because the worship that Joshua gave Him was received.

There was something unique hanging on that wall that would have drawn attention. Walking around that wall, Joshua, the people, and this appearance of Jesus would have seen the scarlet signal hanging from one of the windows.

Joshua 2:14-15, 17-18

Standing there, seeing that Red Cord hanging in the window—part of the deal that Rahab negotiated for saving the life of the spies—Jesus—the Alpha and Omega would know—inside that window—was one of His own— who became a part of the nation of Israel—who married an Israelite man named Salmon of the tribe of Judah and who had a descendant named Boaz who then married Ruth.

Rahab became the Great-Great Grandmother of King David. Which makes Rahab one of Jesus’ own distant relations who’s name is listed in Matthew 1:5

What you and I don’t realize is that behind these walls that are all around us is someone that God loves and wants to bring into His Kingdom. Even though they may be surrounded by depravity—God wants to rescue them.

Rare Treasures Live Behind the Walls—22-25—Rahab was a rare treasure in God’s eyes. Rahab needed rescued from behind a great wall that was between her and the people of God.

God was not just interested in the bringing down of the walls of a city, He was interested in what was behind the walls. He was not just interested in getting the people started on their road to conquest. He was deliberately in pursuit of Rahab. He was fighting for her. This woman was a part of His plan. And God was willing to tear down some serious walls to Rescue her—to save her.

He did that for Rahab—and if you are in Christ, if you have put your faith in Him, He has done the same for you.

God had to tear down some serious walls to rescue me from the Kingdom of Darkness and bring me into the Kingdom of Light. He used some good people along the way to do it.

Who in Macomb is God in pursuit of? Who is He trying to Rescue? There are so many that have walls that built up that God wants to tear down.

Walls built by indifference, pride, wealth, intellect, fear.

God wants you to be a part of tearing down those walls—God wants you to be a part of His Rescue Mission.

When you share the truth of the love and forgiveness of Christ—when you share of the reality of sin and how it separates us from God—you are a part of God’s Rescue Mission—Evangelism is a Rescue Mission—it may not make it on the news, or in newspaper headlines—but I guarantee—God knows, He notices. Rescues here on earth from the kingdom of darkness are celebrated throughout the heavens.

Walls all over Macomb need to come down so that the ones God is pursuing can enter into His bride and become a valuable part of the people of God.

At Jericho, God was fighting for His people, but He was also fighting for Rahab to Rescue her.

Do you remember how God fought for you? Do you realize how important and vital your part in rescuing people God loves is? It’s not something you can quit on or give up on—The Israelites couldn’t know Victory if they quit on the second day of marching around the city. They couldn’t have known victory if on Day 7 they stopped at 4 times around.

There are walls all around us that God wants to bring down. No one said Evangelism is easy, or comfortable, but because there are rare treasures behind those walls it is worth it. If we want victory—we must have a great desire to Rescue—Because He fought and died for us.

Do you know that God is fighting for you right now?

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