In this earthly life, none of us are exempt from struggle. Many of us have gone through financial stresses and job loss in the past. Many others go through disabilities or have experienced the loss of a loved one. Yet others suffer from addiction.
Struggle is part and parcel of life in a fallen world, whether we are Christian or not. It was something that Solomon, the wisest among all men, recognized.
In fact, Christ Himself was not exempted from suffering during His time on earth, and He did not hide this fact of life from us. In John 16:33, He told His disciples very clearly that in this world there will be trouble. But He did not let that statement stand alone. With that clear-cut statement, He gave another; this time, a counsel to take heart for He has overcome the world.
Struggle only becomes a real problem when we allow them to develop into strongholds. This can take many forms; bitterness, greed, lust, obsession, and so on. How does a person who has become a child of God tear down life’s stronghold? The overriding principle and big idea is that we need to look at our problems the way God sees them and not the way we do. The first step in overcoming strongholds therefore is to do it in God’s way not ours.
Recently, a message was shared by Pr Michael Ngui concerning this topic, taking the text from Joshua 5:13- 6:5. This is the famous passage where God’s instructions concerning the taking of the city of Jericho were handed down by the commander of the Lord’s army to Joshua. Jericho was significant because it was the first city the Israelites had to take in order to lay claim to the Promised Land.
God had promised them a new identity and a new destiny, a bond that He had held true to from the time of Abraham. The Israelite army had already crossed the river Jordan at this time, and they had a renewed covenant signifying that as a people, they belonged to Jehovah. Now the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership were at a threshold, yet Jericho was not an easy city to take.
Jericho was a double-walled city, very commanding, and located very strategically. The Israelites had no siege engines or experience in siege warfare while the soldiers of Jericho had their walls and could easily fight from them. The city seemed impossible to take.
Pr Michael shared that the city of Jericho is a potent example of a stronghold. The power of a stronghold is reflected in its very appellation itself. It is a grip that affects everything else in a person’s life. Very often it seems to have a control over people’s life, impossible to overcome. Yet as the story of Jericho testified, what is impossible with human strength is entirely possible with God.
The very first thing that we need to contemplate is our stance in life. In our consumer-oriented society, many of us usually want God to be on our side. It echoes in the way we pray; not ‘Thy will be done’ but ‘please answer our prayers’. In order to overcome strongholds, we need to remember that God is sovereign not us. Therefore, a truly victorious life can only result from a Christ-centered Christian life, not a self-directed life, or even a self-directed Christian life. Instead of God being on our side, we need to be on God’s side.
This may seem despotic to some on the surface but it is a reminder to all of us that in times of struggle we need to come back to God. Many counsel in the Bible remind us of this [“My Yoke is Easy” (Matthew 11:30); “Not By Might But By The Spirit of God” (Zechariah 4:6); “Come To Me All You Who Are Weary” (Matthew 11:28); “Call To Me And I Will Answer” (Jeremiah 33:3); “My Strength Is Made Manifest In Your Weaknesses” (2 Corinthians 12:9)].
Joshua knew the challenge Jericho posed but he also knew that God was the commander of His army. Worried about the test that was before him, he was reminded that God towers above everything he could have faced. Falling facedown, he surrendered the throne of his life in worship. He recognized that God is King. In Romans 8, Paul wrote, if God could give His only Son to reconcile us, how much would He hold back from us? Facing strongholds, we need to surrender to God in an act of worship and in recognition of who He is.
In that act of worship was also intrinsically tied an act of faith. The directions that the commander of the Lord’s army handed down were not conventional ones. It was alien from traditional concepts of siege warfare. Joshua could not make sense of what he had received but he did not question. God is not bound by conventional methods. He knew that the instructions given by God could only be right and it was all that mattered. He obeyed without questioning.
The third thing to note is that the walls of Jericho stood strong for seven days while the Israelites were marching around it. This is the third principle we are to take hold of. We overcome when we don’t quit obeying. Many of us quit halfway before our prayers are answered. This is also fundamentally an act of persistent obedient faith which is pleasing to God.
Pr Michael imparted that while strongholds can take many forms, the greatest of all strongholds is sin. It is impossible for men to defeat sin but Christ has overcome sin for us. As a child of God, we are to receive this victory handed to us with faith. It is not easy to tear down strongholds but we overcome when we recognize our strongholds and ask God to help us to do it. What assurance do we have of this?
We have three things; we overcome when we are on God’s side because He is always with us. We overcome when we obey God in faith, even when things make no sense, because nothing is impossible with God. And we overcome when we don’t quit obeying, even when nothing seems to come out of it, because we know that God rewards persistent faith.
NOTE: This is an adaptation of the impartation that the writer received from the speaker’s message. It has not been vetted by the speaker or the church.
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