Sunday, March 4, 2012

G.I. Josh: The Battle 兵隊ジョシュ: 戦い

Joshua 6:1-27 ヨシュア記 6:1-27
How does an army take a city? In history, we are told that there were certain strategies (戦略) for the downfall of a city. Surround it. Send messages to the leadership of your intent. Cut it off from any help from outside. Also, cut off any water supply or pollute the water supply. Fire upon the walls with projectiles. Fire the gates (set the gates on fire). Build ramps up to the walls. Throw things into the city via catapultsカタパルト: Trees, rocks, balls of flame, dead things (people, cattle, etc.). Shoot as many flaming arrows as possible into the city. Try and pick off the men on the walls. March up to the walls with as many people as possible-show them your armies. This could take 1-2.5 years. And the cost on both sides could be huge. You, the attacker, have to feed your own men so they would need to either bring food from the home country or find it in the surrounding country-side.
However, the people in the surrounded city would have already burnt or cut down or moved all the useful things into the city well before the enemies have arrived.  The leadership in the city would have sent out word to friendly forces for aid. They would have stock-piled food and other provisions for the oncoming battle.  They would have talked it over—can we hold out?  Can we last? Will help come in time to save us? Do we have the where-with-all to last and win? Or should we open our gates, and risk surrender? What will that mean to our population?
As for the people in Jericho, they were already really afraid. They had heard the stories of Israel’s successes with two other affiliated cities’ defeat. They knew of the power of this God, I AM, and what He did to the Egyptian nation.  They were scared.
Yet, they were also the principle city of that area.  The god of Jericho was well known and honored among the people of that land. They had their god to turn to and they must have done so. Yet they felt all was already lost.
You have heard the saying: A picture is worth 1,000 words? We are going to look at three basic pictures today—both real and unreal and it will tell our story. The photos of warfare and of defeat.  The photos of obedience and that of failure. The photos of a Great God who can save His People, Israel.

Photo One: The Walled City. 写真1
What they were up against?  Possibly, the city had two walls: one in front of the other. They had really high walls.  A city filled with very nervous population. City was the doorway to the land. They were ready for a long battle: shut up gates, people inside-no one coming and going, commerce at a stand still. 
Behind the scene was God who has told Joshua that the city was theirs to take.  “I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.” 主はヨシュアに言われた、「見よ、わたしはエリコと、その王および大勇士を、あなたの手にわたしている。」 Even 40 years before, this victory was predicted but at that time, the Hebrews were not willing to do the hard work of being obedient.  (It takes hard work to obey. Believing a promise without seeing the end is faith and that is hard to fake. Hard to build on when the heart is not in it.)  That was the problem with the older generation-40 years ago.  “We can’t do it!” “It is impossible!” 「無理だ」“Did you see the giants in the land? We are as grasshoppers to them!” “And the walled cities!...” Sure there was good soil and a plentiful harvest and the promise of God that it was to be taken but it is too hard!
What changed 40 years later?  The city was still there. The walls were still there. The enemy was still tall.  What changed was their heart.
Many times, we say the same thing.
We can’t do it! It is impossible! He expects us to do what? 主は私たちに何を期待している?
Trust Him with our children? 私たちの子供たちを主に任せよ?
Trust Him with our homes? 私たちの家庭を主に任せよ?
Trust Him with our riches? 私たちの富を主に任せよ?
Even when we ‘know’ He can supply all that we need, there might be a slight shadow of doubt…some small flicker of unbelief…not for me! I don’t deserve it.  I don’t merit this. I am not worthy.
   Last week we spoke a little about the self-talk we engage in.  It cuts us down and undermines our effectiveness.  Again, as we suggested last week, 2 Cor 10:5. A little crack in our armor of faith when we don’t hold onto the Word of God…which was set before us to hold onto.  Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” コリントの信徒への手紙二 / 10 5
Even with the walled city of Jericho?  Sure, why not! It was a principle city of that area.  The city was the pride of the inhabitance of Canaan.  But it was standing in the way of a God-thing for the Hebrew Children. 

Photo Two: God’s Way. 写真2神の道
Notice, there is no record of any discord this time around.  There were no words of doubt recorded. The people did the hard work of obedience. God said it to Joshua, he told the people and they went out to do God’s bidding. 
Read what they were to do…6:3~5 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”   3:あなたたち兵士は皆、町の周りを回りなさい。町を一周し、それを六日間続けなさい。4:七人の祭司は、それぞれ雄羊の角笛を携えて神の箱を先導しなさい。七日目には、町を七周し、祭司たちは角笛を吹き鳴らしなさい。5:彼らが雄羊の角笛を長く吹き鳴らし、その音があなたたちの耳に達したら、民は皆、鬨の声をあげなさい。町の城壁は崩れ落ちるから、民は、それぞれ、その場所から突入しなさい。」 
  God was specific as to what they were to do.  Do this and then this and then that. Period.  Is it that clear-cut, straightforward or precise for us when we are seeking God’s best? Not all the time.  Maybe never. God’s will seems to be a dark mysterious cloud and yet we are to obey? “God, what do you want me to do today?” “God, what do you want me to do today?” 神よ、今日私に何をお望みですか Good question but the answer is not any different from any other day. Not any different from during the time of Joshua.   “Honor My Name” 私の名を崇めよ “Do My Will” 御心を行え  Is it really that simple? No, it is hard work because we need to do His will by Faith and not by sight.  Sure the city of Jericho was very visible to these people.  They could see the high walls. They could hear the crowds of people inside with their war drums and cries. Right in front of them and it was in the way of taking the area called Canaan. (カナン) Could they go around it?  Maybe but it had to be taken because the Lord said to do so.   
 God’s Way. Not the way of man.  Not with Man’s devices.  Not with Man’s wisdom. We know that His ways are not our ways… We have heard and some have experienced of coming up to walls like Jericho.  Battles that need to be fought in His Power in His way and we might freak out and turn and run but the walled cities in our lives do not always look like walled cities. At time, it is the good that needs to be overrun for the Best. It is not always evil, just not the best for you as the Lord sees it.  We do not have the eyes of God…we can ask for them! God, let my heart be broken as Your heart is broken for the lost in my family. 私たちの祈り神よ、あなたの心が砕かれているように私の心も砕いてください。。。May I have the vision to see what Your plans are for this new adventure You have invited me to take on? As a Church, we have a role in bringing this Gospel message to others not yet believing the Message of God’s Love and direction. We might have our strategies and systems in place to do a bang-up job of it but if it is not His Way, it will fail.  Oh, it might have some success but in the long run, if it is not done in His Way, the walls will not come down.
What am I talking about? There is a great amount of talk right now about what to do in Tohoku as far as the spread of the Gospel is concerned.  Much has already been done to rebuild many communities but the truth is, some communities will never return.  Communities disappeared. The land has sunk and is now prone to flooding. There has been a lot of prayer going into what the Lord would do in those areas. Many church and mission groups are joining together to work at reaching that area for Christ. 
Other areas of Japan are being looked at this in the same way. By working together with other groups, the work is made ‘easier’ as many hands make the work light. Prayer groups have been deeply moved by what the Lord is showing them. In Nagano, there is a movement of Each Church plant a church.” おのおのの教会はひとつの教会を立ち上げる。The information I received was that the goal is 42 churches in 42 months! 
Up north, other plans are in place. It isn’t the work of one church or one mission group but the Body of Christ. The Power of God has been seen as people, one by one, family by family, have come to believe in the Savior. People without any concern for the things of God have now opened their hearts to His Love as the Gospel reaches them in ways that have never been in place before. Samaritans’ Purse has opened many hearts to the Saving Message of God by building and rebuilding homes that were destroyed by the Tsunami.  Concerned people have given help and much time to assist those in temporary housing. Hope is being reestablished in many hearts.
The Wall of NO HOPE is being brought down by action being done in God’s Way. Tohokuh as been one of the most un-churched areas in Japan.  Few church plants, even fewer missionaries. But, some groups have been working way before the 3/11 events. They have made inroads into the community and they are not looked upon as opportunist. (unprincipled resourceful people -便宜主義者)  They have joined with newer groups to help in the work. 
As when the 12 were fishing with Jesus and He tells them to turn their attention to the OTHER SIDE of the boat. Then there was a large catch and they called on the other fishermen to join them in the large haul. There was success and the nets did not break nor did the fishing boats capsize.  Done in God’ Way, the work is still hard yet the results are marvelous.  Many will be saved and the Church will be making disciples of many men, women and children. 
Ken Nishiono is looking for a team to work with to reach the effective areas in and around Fukushima.  The area below Sendai is not on many people’s radar for church planting. Many in that area were left to fend for themselves and not much aid has gone to them. Certainly, not as much damage as is seen in Ishinomaki or Kesanuma, yet people’s lives were changed for all time. A wall—to some, to high, impossible, but with God, in God’s Way…not a done deal but workable through a battle done in God’s Way. What can we do? Please ask God for direction. Let’s do whatever it is in His Way.

Photo Three: Devoted The City to God. 写真3: 神にささげられた都市
The Lord gave some detailed instructions to Joshua.  Later, the Lord sent some important detailed information to Jeremiah that has given many a sense of joy and relief.  Jeremiah 29:11-13エレミヤ 29:11-13states: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
Not your common command from HQ. No Blow them out of the water—don’t show any mercy! No you are not doing what I have sent you to do!  Shame on you!  Instead, God assures us of His continued concern and love.  He tells us that He will even listen to us if we pray.
As I said before, I am reading thru the Bible again and now reading in Job.  I read of Job’s questions that he addresses God with. They make his three friends very uncomfortable. “How dare you question God!” And yet, God is not offended.  He does not wipe Job off the face of the earth because Job asks some hard questions. Job understood much more than his friends did. God could take it.  It did not affect Him sitting on the Throne of Glory. Job’s questions did not shake God nor took Him by surprise.  Job knew his relationship was solid with his God.  He did not hear the conversation God had with Satan when God said: “Have you considered My servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  (Job 1:8 ヨブ1:8)
The plans God had for Job was that he’d go through some very hard times yet He knew Job’s heart! No matter what the evil one threw at him, God knew His Man. 神は主にある者を知っていた
I believe it was the same with Joshua 6. The things God told the Hebrews to do seemed harsh and they were but it was within the economy of God.  These people of Canaan were evil people. He knew their hearts as well and found them wanting.  It was time for judgment! There was one family He would save…a remnant. And the people knew what was expected of them.  Not only were they to destroy the city and kill everything living within the walls—they were not to take any of the spoils for themselves.  It all belonged to God. It was His to begin with and now, that it was being changed hands—so to speak—it was going to be His again. 
What does not belong to God?  What is it that was made that He did not make? Was the city His? The people in the city? The army of the Hebrews? The items in the city? Well, they all were because God made it clear that it was all HIS. Devoted to Him alone. Not just a tenth…a tithe as in Melchizedec, (the King of Salem, who’s story can be found in Genesis 14, Ps 110 and Hebrews 6.) The Psalmist writes that the whole world—in fact, the universe all belongs to Him.  In Leviticus 27:30レビ記 27:30, ‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD."
And what was so great about this event at Jericho, the people followed this command—but only one did not—and that brought such pain to the community of Faith.
How does one devote a city to God?  How did they? 6:  24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the LORD’s house.
And without giving away what happened next, some one person did not do what the Lord required.  He took things that belonged to the Lord—these devoted items—and he was guilty of the death of 36 of his people by the hands of the men from Ai. 
God was serious about the things He says. If He was just joking- why bother take what he says seriously? Did God ever joke around?  If He demands our worship—then we give Him our worship.  If He requires us to enter into a Holy Promise of commitment, then we had better do that and we’d better keep it!   If He wants us NOT to mess around in the gray areas of morality, we’d better get our lives set in line with His wishes. God is serious with His commands—again, they are not suggestions. We are to obey Him. Not out of fear because Love cast out fear.  And to Love God is to live in His Grace and Mercy.
That may be why the writer of Hebrews puts it this way: ヘブライ人への手紙 10:2224
Hebrews 10: 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Your Walk of Faith affects me as much as my Walk of Faith affects you. When I fall, you feel it.  When you succeed, I am to rejoice.  We sang last week, The God of This City.  It’s words echo in my head and heart as we look over this city of Tokorozawa—or over whatever city you live in.  He is the God of the City.  He has Great love for all who live here and He is calling them to Himself:
SONG: You're the God of this City. You're the King of these people, You're the Lord of this nation. You are!
You're the Light in this darkness. You're the Hope to the hopeless. You're the Peace to the restless. You are!
There is no one like our God  - There is no one like our God…
For greater things have yet to come - And greater things are still to be done in this City.  Greater thing have yet to come  -And greater things are still to be done in this City. For greater things have yet to come  - And greater things are still to be done in this City!  Greater things have yet to come - And greater things are still to be done here.

Photo finish: He is God of this city. He IS the God of our lives and the battle continues-His Way!