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The Captain of the Lord’s Host

By David A. DePra

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”  And he said, “Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him,  “What says my Lord unto his servant?”  And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou stand is holy.”  And Joshua did so.  (Josh. 5:13-15)

      After wandering in the wilderness for forty years, Israel had finally entered into the Promised Land.  They had crossed the Jordan, encamped at Gilgal, and all of their men were circumcised.  All of these things were necessary before taking possession of the land. 

     The Promised Land in the OT was a real place.  Historically, Israel did enter that land and did begin to take possession of it.  But history aside, the story represents the Christian experience.  The Promised Land, or inheritance, is a type or shadow of fullness in Christ.  It stands for all that God has for the believer IN CHRIST.  Thus, when we read this account, we are reading about the possibilities in the Christian life – the challenges, the victories, and the pitfalls.  We are also reading about the will of God and the path to certain victory.

 Crossing the Jordan

      It was by passing through the Jordan on dry land that Israel entered into the Promised Land.  This was a similar miracle to what happened at the Red Sea – but is not picturing the same spiritual Truth in the life of the Christiand.  At the Red Sea the Egyptians were destroyed – and Israel was thus delivered from OUT of Egypt.  At the Jordan, Israel entered INTO God’s purpose.  In between, they spent 40 years in the wilderness.

      Because of our false picture of God as being an angry, vengeful God, we easily miss the real purpose of the wilderness.  We usually think it was a punishment.  But in fact, it was the chastisement of a loving God intended to prepare Israel for everything that God had for them in the Promised Land.  In the wilderness, God dealt with the unbelief that was keeping Israel out of the land, and would have destroyed their ability to live in the land.  Only by going through the wilderness was Israel able to finally enter the land and be led of God into His purpose for them.

     Through the Red Sea, Israel had come out of Egypt.  But at the Jordan, we might say that Egypt was finally purged from out of Israel.  God called this purging a, “rolling away” of the reproach of Egypt from out of the hearts of Israel.  The place that designated this was Gilgal – the name means, “a rolling away.”   This was an inward work.  In short, the Jordan represented the leaving behind (the rolling off or away) of all the belonged to the old life – but not just circumstantially in an outward fashion.  The Jordan represented the basis of an entirely new, inward life – based upon faith.

      Christians need to see the meaning of new life in Christ.  It is NOT merely an improved version of the old life.  Neither is new life in Christ firstly a drastic change of OUTWARD circumstances.  Rather, new life in Christ is a different KIND of life – life that does not find its source or birth from the human race.  No.  Those born from above are a different order of human being – one who is born from above is born in Christ as a new man or new creation. 

      The new birth is the starting point in Christ.  But as Christ is revealed and formed IN the believer, we  become more and more governed by Jesus as Lord.  More and more we are able to live from out of Christ as our life.  This is what is represented by Israel taking possession of the land – in Christ we come into possession of all that God has for humanity.

       The crossing of the Jordan represents the end of the wilderness journey – a journey wherein people are brought to the end of themselves.  Once Israel crossed the Jordan they encamped at Gilgal.  The circumcision that occurred at Gilgal represents the sealing of what the wilderness accomplished – Gilgal is a type and shadow of the personal Cross.  No longer was Israel to live governed by their own interests.  Natural man would be shut out.  They would now live for God.

     There is a point in the Christian life where we are brought out of Egypt – we are saved by the Blood of the Lamb.  But most of us are still not ready to enter into the fullness of Christ.  We are too governed by natural, religious man, and self-will.  So we have to spend what is usually a long season in a wilderness.  But it is all unto freedom in Christ – if we will endure.  God is bringing us to the end of ourselves – even to the end of our religious self-righteousness – so that we can learn Christ and enter into the fullness of His purpose through Him.

 A New Warfare

      When Israel entered into the Promised Land they were no longer in the wilderness.  But they did not escape the possibilities of warfare.  In fact, they encountered it all the more.  If you will remember, the reason Israel had refused to enter the land 40 years prior was because of this new warfare they saw they would face.  Heathen tribes populated the land God had given to them.  God had told them He would not drive out those tribes – but that THEY must drive them out – in other words, God would only drive out the inhabitants THROUGH Israel. 

      Now, if there is one thing we need to see at this point it is this:  God never gave Israel the option of NOT driving out the inhabitants.  No.  In fact, part of the purpose of God in bringing them into the land was so that they would face this warfare -- it was through this continual warfare that God was going to do a work in His people.  In other words, every time that Israel encountered a new enemy they had to rely solely upon the Lord.  This reduced them and made them dependent – they would be able to grow in their faith and knowledge of God.  Or, to put it another way, in order to take possession of the land they had to allow God to take possession of them.  And in the end, God would have a people.  He would be Lord of all.

     Right here we see a principle.  We have no authority over any enemy of God – except to the extent that Jesus Christ has authority over us and in us.  Or, to say it another way, authority in Christ is the result of our dependence upon Him.  When we are weak in ourselves, and rely upon God, we are strong in the power of HIS might.  Thus, there is NO, “authority of the believer.”  There is no such THING as power that God gives us to do stuff for Him.  Rather, there is only Christ, who IS the power of God in us.  And unless Jesus is our personal Lord – which would mean the power of religious flesh is put aside under the Cross – He cannot and will not work through us.  Do we want to be a vessel for the victory of Jesus?  Then Jesus must have victory over us and in us.  That is absolute. 

      There is an irony here in the NT.  In Hebrews, for example, the Promised Land is called the Sabbath rest for the people of God.  But you will note that this did not mean that once Israel entered the land that they had rest from warfare.  No.  Warfare with the enemies of God did not cease.  But strife with God DID cease.  That is rest.  The peace of God is always the outcome of peace with God.  Get things settled between yourself and God – get it settled that it is HIS WILL and NOT YOURS – and the peace of God in Jesus Christ will come. 

       So when Israel entered the REST – entered the land --warfare BEGAN.  But this warfare was on a completely new basis.  Instead of fighting FOR victory, Israel now fought FROM victory.  They fought from FAITH – from the assurance that the victory was already theirs.  This was rest – the victory did not need to be won.  It WAS won. 

       Now note:  All of this goes back to the need to be absolutely dependent upon God.  I become dependent upon God by surrender and relinquishment to Him.  Once that is settled, then all that He has already won through Christ becomes mine – the victory of Christ and all that is IN Christ is mine.  To the extent that I stand on the ground of Christ, rather than upon my own righteousness, or my own power, I have victory.  But I do have to walk through life and take possession of it as I encounter each obstacle.  This will keep me pressed to God and dependent upon Christ. 

      Here we see why God allows us to encounter trials and spiritual forces that are beyond us.  He wants us to be pressed out of measure – as was the apostle Paul.  He wants us to realize that there is no way for us to handle our situation or the power of the enemy that might be involved.  This will give us the occasion to allow Him, “to do whatever it takes” – to do a work of the Cross – so that we are completely dependent upon Him.  But even though we will be utterly weak in ourselves, it is then that we will see, by experience, that Christ is the power of God.

      So we see that Israel rested by faith in God – but that this rest in God was actually the basis for warfare upon His enemies.  They rested in victory and fought from victory.  Victory was not dependent upon them.  It was dependent upon God – or to say it another way, it was dependent upon their faith in God.

     For the believer, rest in Christ is the basis for all victory in warfare.  It IS finished in Jesus Christ.  In Christ there is already ALL victory.  But you and I will never see this, let alone be able to live from the victory, until we come to the end of ourselves – until we get it settled that what is finished is GOD’s WILL unto HIS GLORY.  Not our will.  You and I will not enter into the fullness of Jesus Christ until we are brought to the place where He is all that we want, and are willing to settle for nothing less, no matter what it takes.  But what it will take is the work of the Cross.  But that will result in a life in Jesus Christ.

      Most professing believers want the will of God – or at least say they do.  We say we want the fullness of Jesus Christ.  But we don’t realize that natural man cannot receive the things of God, nor live in them.  So we unwittingly try to take God by the hand and lead Him into His own promises for us.  We try to drag God into the very Promised Land that He has given us.  So God puts us in a wilderness wherein we are reduced down to those who can do nothing but BELIEVE and depend upon God.

      Once God’s people STOP fighting God – stop trying to get God to keep His Word and do His will – and simply believe – we have entered His rest.  We have entered into rest WITH GOD.  But we have also entered into warfare against all that is NOT of God.  Get that:  If we entered into rest with God through Christ, we will enter into warfare with God against all that is NOT of Him.  This is certain.  It is fundamental to the Christian life.  Yet it is a warfare waged from an entirely different basis than before.  It is warfare that is waged, not to win victory, but from a stand IN victory.  It is not warfare to obtain Christ, but warfare to stand by faith in Christ.  It is not warfare waged FOR God.  It is a warfare waged BY God – even though it is waged through us.

      Can we see the Truth here?  God has a will and purpose FOR us – unto His own glory.  We must join HIM.  This is a matter of you and I fully giving ourselves over to God and joining Him in His will and purpose – no matter what it takes.  

 Standing in Christ

      In this day and age, with things like the Word of Faith heresy dominating Christian television, many believers are either blind to victory in Christ Jesus, or have become so turned off by these heresies that they ignore God’s purpose altogether.  But we must stop reacting to heretics and begin reacting and embracing the Lord. 

      The fact is, God has a will.  Do we believe that?  And if we believe that God has a will, do we believe that God desires to see His will brought to pass?  I mean, it only makes sense that if God has a will that He wants to see His will come to pass – otherwise it would not BE His will.  But once we accept all of this as the Truth – and the Bible tells us that it is the Truth – then we have to ask the question:  How does God primarily want to bring His will to pass in this age?

      Obviously, God can do anything He desires.  But the reality is, we see very little of God’s will brought to pass – we don’t see much of God’s will coming to pass EVEN IN HIS CHURCH.  Are we honest enough to admit this?  Well, if we are, then we might be willing to take it one step further:  Not only is there very little of God’s will being brought to pass in His church, but what we see is the opposite:  We see that which is contrary to God’s will.  In many cases, we see the will of the enemy.

      The reason for this gets back to what we saw about how God seeks to bring His will to pass:  Not just FOR people.  But through His people.  Therein is the problem – so many believers are not allowing God to do His will IN THEM.  And what is that will that God wants to do IN His people?  He wants to form Christ in us.  Only then can God work through us.  Yet so many are utterly blinded to this Truth – blinded by false teaching and even by their own unbelief.  The Body of Christ has a tremendous need to repent and begin LEARNING CHRIST!

      Once we understand this Truth – and understand that so many are completely blind to it -- it ought to clear up, not only why God doesn’t seem to be doing His will in His church today – but it also ought to bring some understanding to various passages in scripture.  For example, read Ephesians 6.  There you will read an exhortation to STAND and to WITHSTAND.  Have you ever wondered exactly what Paul is talking about?  Is he telling us to stand by faith in what we want God to do?  No.  Rather, he is telling us to stand by faith in the will of God for God’s will to come to pass.

     For those who know their Bible, and are acquainted with God’s purpose for Israel in the Promised Land, you cannot help but see that these exhortations to STAND in Ephesians 6 are exactly the same Truth.  Israel was to enter the land by faith.  As they did, they would encounter the enemy.  They were to drive out the enemy by putting their foot down and taking possession of the land upon which the enemy was encamped.  They were to STAND by faith – not in hope of winning the victory – but because they knew the victory was already won.  The victory simply needed to be lived out.  This is how we are to approach spiritual warfare.  It is a STAND IN VICTORY already accomplished in Christ against all that would contradict it.

      Now, again – God doesn’t need our help.  In fact, He already won the victory solely through Jesus Christ before any of us were born.  But God wants us to be a participant – a vessel – through which He can  execute His will.  This is what makes our STAND in His victory necessary.  We would not have to STAND and take possession otherwise.

      As stated, God exhorts us to STAND in His victory because doing so will make us all the more dependent upon Him, and will work His victory into us.  But then, on the basis of that, He wants us to enter into fellowship with Him in His will, in specific situations, and to join Him in His purpose.  God wants people who will settle for nothing less than His highest will – and who will allow God to do whatever it takes – including whatever it takes IN THEM – to bring His will to pass.  We can stand by faith for that – even when we are not entirely sure that we know the will of God.  We are standing with God – not for some THING.

      God has put His people here for a reason.  We are to be HIS WITNESSES – we are to be living evidence of the Risen Christ.  We are to be His bond slaves; ambassadors of Christ.  This never means we are ANYTHING – God can only use us if we are free of such self-delusion – but what it does mean is that we have Christ in us, and He must have an impact – first in us, and then through us.

      There have been many believers who have completely misunderstood spiritual warfare.  Many have thought to run around attacking the enemy in the name of the Lord, and some have appointed themselves as, “prayer warriors,” as if this is some official calling.  No.  The Word of God makes it clear that we are going to encounter the enemy, not because we go on a seek and destroy mission, but we are going to encounter the enemy simply because we are going on with Christ.  If you are growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, and moving forward in His purpose, you are going to encounter the enemy.  It is a guarantee.  And when you do, you don’t have the option of avoiding the issue, for God commands that we take possession of what He has given us in Christ and drive out the enemy.

      Believers are to STAND BY FAITH, by joining in spirit with the Lord for His will, His purpose, and His glory – no matter what it takes.  As mentioned, God doesn’t need us.  But He has ordained to do many things this way because He is preparing a people for the eternal ages.  Just as Israel was to enter the land and take possession – God did not drive out the inhabitants – so are we told we are given the keys of the kingdom.  This is about believers joining the Lord – not about believers trying to get the Lord to join them.  That is a big key.  And this is aptly illustrated when Joshua met the Captain of the Host of the Lord.

    Captain of the Host of the Lord

      The first place Israel had to conquer in the Promised Land was Jericho.  It was at that point that Joshua encountered, “The Captain of the host of the Lord.” 

    People have speculated as to the identity of the person named, “The Captain of the host of the Lord.”  But it is sufficient to say that he was probably an angel.  Regardless, he is clearly a messenger representing the power and purpose of God with regard to the Promised Land.  It was no accident that Joshua encountered this person after crossing the Jordan, but BEFORE any of the land was conquered.  Our consideration here is it’s meaning for Israel regarding the taking of Jericho, and the entire land, in the name of the Lord.

      Joshua knew that Israel was directed to conquer Jericho.  Jericho was, in fact, representative of the entire Promised Land.  As a FIRST – “firsts” are often important as to foundational principle in the Word of God – we find that what was conveyed to Joshua regarding Jericho was the mind of God with regards to the conquering and taking possession of the ENTIRE Promised Land.

     Take note again:  The Promised Land represents, in type and shadow, the fullness of Christ; the full inheritance of the saints in Jesus Christ.  And the taking possession of Jericho is a template for how the believer is to overcome and take possession of what God has for us in Christ – over and against all that would hinder us.  This has application on a number of levels in our experience.  But the most important application is an inward application.  Jericho represents the flesh and natural man – fully in charge of a life.  The Captain of the host of the Lord represents the Spirit of Christ – leading Israel forward in God’s power and purpose to God’s own glory in the taking of that same ground for the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

 Whose Side is God On?

      The NT makes it clear that God is FOR us, and not against us, indeed, Paul states that, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  This is a wonderful promise.  But it is vital to see in what sense God means this to be understood.  Most assuredly, this does not mean that God is going to unconditionally hop aboard any plan and purpose we might have.  Indeed, we might even state that it does not mean that God is going to hop aboard any plan and purpose we might have FOR HIM, or IN HIS NAME.  God has not given us the right to decide.  He has not promised to commit Himself to something just because we have committed ourselves to it.

       We see this Truth clearly revealed in the exchange between Joshua and the Captain of the host of the Lord.  When Joshua saw this powerful messenger, he naturally asked, “Whose side are you on?”  Note the answer:  NEITHER.  Get that:  Neither.  The Captain of the host of the Lord was ONLY on the side of God – in other words, he announced to Joshua that he was there to captain the Lord’s purpose. 

      This is especially noteworthy because Joshua was, after all, about to lead Israel into THE WILL OF GOD.  The intention to conquer Jericho was not Joshua’s idea.  If it had been, we might easily grasp as to why this Captain of the Lord would not be with Joshua.  But Joshua was about to do with expressed will of God.  When he saw the angel – and he didn’t seem to recognize him at first as being from God – he naturally wanted to know whether he was for the enemies of Israel, or for Israel.  The angel told him:  “I am not on the side of your enemies.  But neither am I on your side.  I am here to Captain the purpose of the Lord.”

      Here we see a principle of Truth that we can apply to everything in the Christian life.  We can certainly apply it to matter of spiritual warfare.  But we must also apply it to what could be called the more routine issues.  And that principle is this:  The question is never whether God is, “on our side.”  Rather, the question is whether we are, “on His side.”

      God is not confused as to His plan and purpose – even for us individually.  He is not making things up as He goes along.  It is true that we may be confused, perplexed, and lacking in our understanding.  But God is not.  He knows exactly what He is doing and why.  Thus, we waste much time and energy by trying to inform God, and by trying to get Him to do this or that.  If we would see the Truth, we would instead seek His purpose and plan.  In short, instead of trying to get God to join us, we need to join Him.

      But again – Joshua was not doing anything contrary to the will of the Lord.  Thus, what we can take from this teaching is that even if we are doing the stated will of God, we must join God.  God will not join us.  God is in charge.  The spirit of religious flesh – even if we want to do the will of God – will ruin everything.  Even in the will of God this principle holds:  We must join God.  He will not join us.

      How many of us realize that it is possible for sincere Christian people to seek to do the will of God FOR HIM – thinking that this is what they are supposed to do – but to take ownership over God’s will and try to execute it under the power of natural man?  To try to do FOR GOD what only God can do?  To try to do all of the, “right things,” but to do them for personal reasons – along side of what we might say is the glory of God? 

      Note that the problem here is not necessarily the thing we are doing.  The problem is the spirit of ownership – even in the things of God.  The spirit of ownership is of the flesh.  It doesn’t matter how religious it is.  And if the flesh touches that which is of the Spirit, there will be corruption.  Read the account of what happened at Ai.  Right there is this illustrated.

      Of course, this is the danger in ministry.  To focus upon who I am, and my calling, and God’s use of me, and to run with that – thinking that God has committed Himself to me.  To assume that God will bless everything my hand touches, because I am, “an anointed one.”  To try to grab hold of, “power,” and use it.  But behind it all, there is a personal interest; a personal satisfaction – a confidence that is based in ME – a confidence that because of something about ME, God will back me up and support my work for HIM.  We may not use the words, or be all that conscious of our deceitful heart, but this is a exactly what is NOT the will of God, and it is something to which God will NOT commit Himself.

      Again -- the question is never what we are doing FOR the Lord.  Rather, the question is what God is doing. 

      When Israel crossed the Jordan, natural religious man was left behind in that symbolic burial.  When they encamped at Gilgal, this represented the Cross – God told them He was, “rolling off,” the reproach of Egypt.  And certainly when they were circumcised this once again brought back the fact that natural man was, “cut off” – had no place in the plan and purpose of God.  If Israel was to take possession of the land, it would be only because they had joined God and were fully given over to His purpose for His glory – and would accomplish this purpose by being completely dependent upon HIM.

     When Joshua met this Captain of the host of the Lord it was sealed:  God was there to move in HIS purpose.  Israel was to join Him.  This would, of course, bring to pass every promise He had made to them.  They would be blessed.  But it would be the LORD’S doing for them.  It would not be their doing for the Lord.

 Overcoming as a Believer

      There are many situations, spiritual and physical, in the life of the believer, which are simply NOT God’s highest will.  They may be the result of our own ignorance, unbelief, or sin.  Or they may be the fault of others.  Perhaps the cause is unknown – simply circumstances.  Or maybe the cause is actually the enemy.  But we know they are not the will of God, not simply by spiritual discernment, but by the clear words of scripture.  How does a person respond to such issues?

      One approach is to resign yourself to them, saying, “Well, since this is the way things are, it must be the will of God.”  No.  Imagine if Israel had taken that approach to the Promised Land.  They would have said,
“Well, we know God promised us this land, but these tribes are in possession of it.  I guess that is a sign from God that He doesn’t want to give it to us right now.”  If this had been their reasoning, they would not have driven out a single inhabitant.  But we see the opposite.  From the day Israel entered the land they were commanded by God to move forward and taken possession.  There was never any command by God to accept things as they were – in fact, whenever Israel did do that, God told them they were in unbelief.

      Another approach is passivity.  You could say, “I know that things are not right, but I will do nothing.  God will get around to it.  If God wants this thing fixed, He will fix it.”  This might SOUND right – and there is a grain of Truth in it, because it must be the Lord who does these things.  But again – we don’t see Israel doing nothing, and just sitting there until God drove out the tribes.  No.  In fact, God said that He would NOT drive out the inhabitants for them – but that He would do it through them.

      Now, you see, right there it is:  God won’t do it FOR us.  But as we have seen -- we can’t do it FOR Him.  So there is the answer:  God wants to do it THROUGH us.  But then the question is:  How does God make that possible?

      This is an important question because there are thousands of Christian people who THINK God is doing all kinds of things THROUGH them – but He isn’t.  But there are many others who are afraid to move a muscle lest they make that mistake.  How does God get us to the place where He can actually do His will and accomplish His purpose THROUGH us?

     We have already answered:  Through the personal Cross.  The Cross is there all through these beginning episodes in Joshua.  But what exactly does that mean?  Well, again, God had to bring Israel – and He must bring us – to the place where we have been set free from our personal agenda in the things of God.  As noted earlier -- we have to get to where we want ONLY the glory of God; the will of God; and the purpose of God.  We have to truly desire that God would do WHATEVER IT TAKES to not only get us to this place in our heart, but to actually do WHATEVER IT TAKES to bring it to pass.

      The work of the Cross is aptly illustrated in circumcision.  The Adam race – natural man – is cut off.  The ability for the Adam race to, “reproduce himself,” in anything – to make THAT OLD LIFE the governing life – this is all severed.  Through the work of the Cross the power of natural, religious man, is not only broken – but we actually desire that it be broken.  It is one thing to capitulate to the power of the Cross because we feel we don’t have a choice.  It is another to voluntarily pick up the cross and desire that all of our earthly motives in even the work of God go the way of death.

     Can we see that if God gets us to the place where our personal interests, and our motives, and desires in a matter are fully under Jesus as Lord – and to where we truly want ONLY His will and His glory – can we see that God can accomplish anything through such people?  Sure.  Because then if God brings to pass His full will we won’t take possession of it and ruin it, or ruin and us.  A big reason why God cannot bring much blessing in the Body of Christ today is because we are not a people who are under Jesus as Lord – we are not those who can be, “trusted,” with much blessing.  It would be our undoing.

      It is a principle of Truth:  God can accomplish anything He wants through a crucified people.  But God won’t accomplish anything He wants through an uncrucified people.  You can write that down and bank on it.

     So instead of always asking God to do this, or do that, for us – we need to ask God to do a work IN US.  We need a heart that is SINGLE to the purpose of God.  We need to join God in His purposes – in our own life, and in the life of others.  If we would be thus committed to God – be on HIS side – then overcoming would happen.  We could move forward and take possession, and it would not be US DOING FOR GOD – but it would be God doing through us.

      But once again the Truth of the Cross – the Truth of Christ in us – is hidden from so many.  So all we know is to try to do for God, or to try to get God to do for us.  This isn’t what the Bible teaches.  God has a will and He wants to accomplish it FIRST in people, and on the basis of that -- through people.   That purpose is Christ.


     Once it was settled that Israel was joining the Lord in HIS purpose, Joshua led them to take Jericho.  Jericho is representative of God’s mind for the whole land – how Jericho was taken is how every place should have been taken.  And how was it taken?  Without a shot fired.  Israel simply believed and celebrated what they knew was going to be the outcome.  And God did it.

      Again – the warfare that Israel encountered at Jericho was not Israel’s idea.  Rather, it was the inevitable result of taking possession of what God had given them for His glory.  If you want to come into the fullness of Christ you are going to meet the enemy. 

     But you will note:  There was no resignation by Israel to the status quo.  There was no passivity.  But neither was there as storming of the city, thinking they could do that because God was with them.  No.  They believed – and despite the fact that they did have to wait – their faith was not passive.  It was an active standing and a putting down of their foot on the authority of God’s promise.

      There is never a time that a Christian is supposed to be passive.  Even when we have to wait, and despite the fact that we can do nothing from out of ourselves, we can take an active INWARD stand by faith – refusing to settle for less than God’s full will.  We continue to be joined to the Lord in His purpose – through prayer and oneness.  It must have seemed silly to parade around Jericho.  It must have seemed to be for nothing.  But it was done by faith – knowing that God would have His full will.

      Can you imagine how silly Israel must have felt marching around Jericho for seven days – with NOTHING happening?  Yet something WAS happening.  They were believing and standing by faith – indeed, we might say they were celebrating the finished victory.  Their faith was not passive or in resignation.  They were certain the wall of Jericho would fall.

      The problem today is that so many people are trying to duplicate this same thing – but on matters that are NOT God’s will – and often WITHOUT any work of the Cross.  They are trying to conquer a Jericho thorough religious flesh.  Rather than join the Lord in His purpose, we think that we are supposed to pray that God would join us.  No.  Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness coming to the end of themselves.  That was a background.  God was able to work through them to take this territory because He had taken territory IN THEM.

      You watch Christian TV today and you will hear such terms as, “the authority of the believer.”  This is applied to finance, health, family problems, etc.  But there is no such term in the Bible.  There is no authority of the believer.  There is only Jesus as Lord.  Bring Him into any situation and what will happen is GOD’S WILL.  Not our will for God.  Not what we think is best.  But God’s will.  But when we say, “Bring Jesus into any situation,” we mean IN PEOPLE.  That is where it must begin.

      As mentioned earlier, Jericho represents the totality of the land – and the means by which it was conquered represents God’s highest will.  Israel believed God and lived in that faith – even when it seemed foolish and without results.  They did not resign and they were not passive – but neither did they rush ahead thinking that they were given some power in themselves to do God’s will for Him.  No.  In type and shadow, they brought the presence of Jesus Christ – typified by the ark of the covenant – to the situation and took an inward stand by faith.  The will of God was done.

 Business as Usual

      From the time Israel entered the land, they were commanded to take possession.  It was not an option.  But in order to take possession of the land, they had to confront and drive out the enemy.  Thus, warfare was not something that came to them.  No.  They deliberately took the warfare to the enemy – but not as a thing unto itself.  They proactively took warfare to the enemy because it was the only way in which they could take possession of what God had given them.  This was God’s will.

      So it is with those who are in Christ.  Christians are not supposed to walk around looking for the enemy and to be trying to use some power we think that we have to make matters right.  No.  Rather, we are to walk in Christ.  But that walk in Christ is going to bring us into a greater and deeper knowledge of Him.  This will bring us into areas, and into situations, that we would not encounter otherwise.  But it will likewise bring us into conflict with forces that oppose the life of Christ.  In those cases, we are not to be passive, resigned to the status quo, or content to make a treaty with the enemy.  We are to drive out the enemy.

      How?  By naming it and claiming it?  No.  By, “speaking victory?”  Go ahead and try.  By claiming some, “authority of the believer,” and rebuking demons, disease, and whatever we think is of the enemy?  Again, go ahead and try it.  It won’t work.  It never does.  No.  The only way in which we can take possession is if Jesus Christ – pictured by the ark of the covenant that led the march around Jericho -- is brought into contact with the problem at hand.  He alone is the resurrection and the life – and therefore, in Him alone is all victory. 

     Now, of course, the question becomes as to how we bring in Jesus Christ.  Well, is Jesus Christ IN YOU?  If He is in you, then the question becomes, “Does Christ have possession of YOU?”  You see, it is futile to try to take possession of anything in the name of Christ if Christ does not have possession of US – if Christ is not Lord of us.

      This is a fact whether we are talking about taking possession of part of our inward life, or whether we are talking about something or someone, “out here” – an area other than inside of our own makeup.  If I have not lost my self into the hands of Jesus Christ -- fully relinquished myself to Him no matter what it takes – then I am wasting my time.  For example, let’s consider addiction, or some other sinful habit – I would submit that even if our sin happens to be something like self-righteousness that it is habitual.  Sin is habitual.  Period.  But how could we possibly expect to overcome such sin, and take possession of that part of our self for God, if we have not relinquished the old life in which that sin is rooted to Jesus Christ?  Think about it.  Am I saying to God, “I want to be free of this specific sin, but I am not going to relinquish the life in which this sin is rooted and finds its power.”?  Or, to bring in the enemy, are we to say to God, “I want to drive out the enemy in the name of Jesus, but I am not going to relinquish into the hands of Jesus the old life which is the very ground of the enemy.” 

      When Israel crossed the Jordan, it symbolized the leaving behind of the old natural man in Adam.  No longer would that natural man, which includes sin, but also SELF – no longer would natural man be the power behind what they did – not even behind what they did FOR GOD.  No.  All of that was buried and left behind in the Jordan – as symbolized by the stones they left in that river.  The flesh was cut off – as typified by circumcision at Gilgal – the natural life was cut off as the means by which they would live.  It was only then, with the forty years as a background, that they were able to take possession. 

      Now, I think that many of us have misapprehended what it means to lose our lives into the hands of Jesus Christ – so that we might find Him as our life.  Many of us continue to think that this is limited to obvious sin.  Or if we have seen a little more, we limit it to sin and to some of the more obvious examples of selfishness.  But we need to open our eyes further.  To lose our lives to Jesus Christ means that we must, first of all, come into the total loss of self-righteousness before God.  We have to be shown the Truth and rejoice over it:  There is not a shred of righteousness in us.  In fact, we are reprobate without Christ.  This is necessary because not only is it THE TRUTH – but until we see we are nothing, we are not going to fully depend upon God.  We will still think that our prayers are what do it, or that there is something in us that God admires, such that He has chosen to use us.  No.  This is about God’s glory and His purpose.  We are simply privileged to fellowship with Him in it.

     That is one thing.  But in addition, we have to lose all of our PERSONAL INTEREST – maybe the better term would be PERSONAL AGENDA – in the things of God.  What does that mean?  Well, it doesn’t mean we don’t care, or don’t feel, or that things don’t affect us.  Of course they do.  But our personal interests or agenda does not govern us.  Jesus Christ as Lord governs us.   This means that we are absolutely committed to God’s will, and we will not settle for less.  We are committed to God’s will even if it is NOT our will, or is NOT what we might have thought was best.  In short, we are taking possession, yet NOT for ourselves, but for God.  This is a fact even though we will certainly benefit spiritually.

      The point here is that God cannot use those who have a personal agenda.  I have to lose my personal interests and agenda into the hands of Jesus Christ.  Then God may use me – because I won’t ruin what He is doing by putting my hand to it.  And I won’t be ruined.  I will be able to be used solely for the glory of God.

      Now, of course, it takes a miracle to accomplish this in a person.  It cannot be accomplished by you and I trying to purge ourselves of self-interest.  No.  God must bring that cross.  But in the end, being set free of all personal interest in what God is doing is the ONLY POSSIBLE OUTCOME if we see and embrace Jesus Christ.

       Now, again, if you examine that, you are seeing that God must first take possession of us if we are to take possession and live in what He has in Jesus Christ.  Christ cannot live in and through us if He has no ground in us.  But once Christ does have possession of us then when we encounter the enemy, it will actually be Christ in us encountering the many strongholds of the enemy.  And we will not be in the way.  We will not be involved for some personal gain or interest.

      In reading the Bible, you cannot escape the fact that spiritual warfare is a continual, “business as usual,” fact for the believer.  The more we go on with God, and the greater we enter into the fullness of Christ, the more there will be spiritual conflict.  Indeed, if there is no spiritual conflict we might worry.  It is simply not possible to take possession of inheritance in Christ without encountering the enemy because at the start that enemy has possession of that inheritance.  Warfare is necessary, indeed, commanded.

 The Presence of Jesus

      I am reminded of the time when the apostles – nine of them – tried to cast out the demon from a young man.  They could not.  The other three apostles were with Jesus on the mount where He was transfigured.  When Jesus came down with those three, the nine asked Him why they could not cast out the demon.  This was interesting because it was after the time that Jesus had previously given them authority to go out and cast out demons, and they had come back rejoicing that they had done so.  So what was the problem in this instance?

      We can surely understand the perplexity of the apostles and why they would have expected this demon to obey them – they had prior success in the name of Jesus, and in the OT sometimes God did give people power to do things.  But this was different because Jesus was teaching them for a ministry that was yet to come.  They could not do, in the name of Jesus, what they did before in the name of Jesus.  Why?

      I think that the key word here is, WE.”  Why could WE not cast it out?”  It would seem that the apostles had assumed that they held some official office – that the power to cast out demons was somehow vested in them – as if it were power as a THING that was given to them to use in the name of Jesus.  We find evidence of this attitude all through the gospels.  In other words, this was about THEM being able to cast out a demon.  After all, Jesus had chosen them and they did it before.

      Well, in this case, Jesus was putting a stop to this kind of thinking.  Ask:  What was the difference between the apostles trying to cast out the demon before Jesus arrived, and Jesus easily casting out the demon?  Simple:  The presence of Jesus.  And this is what Jesus was getting at when He gave them the reason why they could not cast it out:  He said, “This kind does not come out except by prayer.”  (The reference to fasting is NOT in the original and older manuscripts in any of the gospels that record this event.)  What does prayer have to do with it?

      Well, don’t think of prayer as pronouncing the right words, or of going through some religious ritual.  No.  Prayer – even if it is unspoken -- brings us into fellowship with God.  It is a conscious relinquishment of ourselves to God.  In real, spiritual prayer, we are shut out – our natural man and any trust in ourselves – and we are fully relinquished over to God.  Thus, when we truly enter into prayer, we join with God, and thus, He enters into the situation through us. 

      If you insist on the idea of fasting, then in that sense, we are denying our flesh and natural man, “food,” in the situation, and are there solely for the glory of God.   But either way, Jesus was telling them that they have no power to simply go out in His name and do anything.  They have NO power.  They must be in fellowship with Christ.  And if they are, then Christ is the power of God and His name has an impact for God.

      We must be clear on one thing here if we are clear on nothing else:  Through prayer we unite or join with the Lord for HIS purpose, HIS way, and unto HIS glory.  Prayer is NOT a matter of asking God to join us, not even in what we want to do FOR HIM.  If this is still about us, or about what we can do, or about any of the interests of man, we are not in the Truth. 

      We are going to encounter the enemy with each step we take in Christ.  We have no hope on our own.  But if through prayer and by faith, we leave ourselves behind, and join the Lord for His will and His glory, the victory has to happen because in Christ it is already finished – and Christ is IN US.  Thus, God’s victory will come.  We might have to parade around Jericho for what seems like forever and unto no good end.  We might see our own strength wear out – it needs to.  But in the end, God has brought us into this.  And it is because He wants His victory.

      If Christ is IN the believer, then the presence of Christ is going to be in conflict with all that is NOT of God – both in the believer and outside of that believer.  We will, as a course of living, encounter such situations.  But if you read scripture, you cannot find any evidence that God is content with, passive about, or resigned to the fact that enemy has possession of much.  Indeed, we might ask as to how Jesus Christ could come into contact with situations that oppose God and there not be SOME impact?

      I’m not suggesting that Christian people are to go out looking for trouble.  You won’t have to.  If you are growing in Christ, you are already a target.  If you are walking with Christ, and have, “crossed the Jordan,” you are already in a land filled with enemies you were completely unaware existed before.  Just try to walk even one step in the victory of Jesus Christ and you will encounter opposition – and it will start within your own makeup.  It may also manifest in an outward fashion.  But the point is, the VERY INHERITANCE that God has given to us freely in Jesus Christ is presently occupied by the enemy.  Note that – the very inheritance.  Thus, how can we enter into much of that inheritance at all without encountering the enemy?  We cannot.  And when we encounter the enemy what are we to do?  We are to put our foot down and take possession and take a stand by faith – not in our own strength – but rather, to be strong in HIS might.  God has given this to us.  It is finished.  Now we are to march around it 13 times if necessary unto no fruit – but in the end Christ will be Lord.

      I want to repeat this again so that it be as clear as a bell:  The very inheritance that is found in Jesus Christ is, to begin with, occupied by the enemy.  Thus, if we are to take it, and live in it, we will encounter the enemy.  God has ordained that we must take possession of it by standing by faith upon the Christ that has already won this inheritance for us.

      So what we see is that it is not possible to move forward in Jesus Christ without encountering the enemy.  It isn’t so much that God says to attack the enemy.  No.  He says to move forward in Christ – the need to drive out the enemy is simply necessarily if we are to do that. 

      But we must get back to the Captain of the host of the Lord.  God is not going to, “be on our side.”  We must, “be on God’s side.”  But in order to do this, we have to relinquish any, “side,” we might have – we have to fully lose our selves, our agenda, and our personal strength.  We have to fully rely upon Christ – and be in the things solely for His glory and interests.  If we come to that place, God can do most anything through us.

       In taking the land, Israel was essentially bringing that land under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  But how could they do this, let alone live in that land as God’s people, unless they, themselves, were under the Lordship of Jesus Christ?  (You will note that every time Israel compromised with the Lord they were defeated.)  The same question remains today.  We do not take the land simply to possess for ourselves.  That is secondary.  The first priority is that all things are to be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  But we must be first in line.  God is not going to populate His kingdom with a people that do not have His kingdom within.  You cannot rule with Christ if Christ does not rule you.  These things are absolute. 

      The question is never whether God is on our side.  It is whether we are on His side.  Much dealing in the Christian life is intended to get us to stop trying to get God on our side, but rather, to get us fully on His side.  But not just through concession.  God desires those who voluntarily want His will – no matter what it takes – and will let Him carry them into taking possession of the same.  It is simply not possible for us to desire this more than God desires it for us.

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