Preparation for Conflict
Promises and Power – Message 4
January 29, 2023
We continue our series, Promises and Power.
- When we trust in the promises of God, He provides the power to fulfill His
- Joshua 5:1; Psalm 105:8-11
A. The title to today’s message is Preparation for Conflict.
- God gave the Promised Land to His people, the descendants of Abraham, but
they had to engage in battle with the people living there to take
possession of it. (Psalm 105:8-11)
Now they must prepare for engaging in combat—and, like them, you may be
facing a confrontation of a different nature—so we must get ready, just as
Theme: Joshua 5:14 (NLT)—[Joshua asked] …“What do you want your servant to do?”
We begin at Joshua 5:1 (NLT)—
When all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite
kings who lived along the Mediterranean coast heard how the Lord had
dried up the Jordan River
[at flood stage]
so the people of Israel could cross, they lost heart and were paralyzed
with fear because of them.
[lost courage and will to fight (CEV)]
- This allowed God’s people to make…
B. Preparation for conflict (Joshua 5:2-15):
1. Renew relationship with God.
(Joshua 5:2-9. C/R: Genesis 17:7-14; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 2:11–12; Hebrews 13:6)
- Joshua 5:2-3 (NLT)—2 At that time [after crossing the
river] the Lord told Joshua, “Make flint knives [hard,
fine-grained quartz used in ritual practices] and circumcise this second generation of Israelites.” [natural
blade (not human-made) gave procedure an aura of purity. Metal blades not
used in construction of altars; Joshua 8:31]
So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the entire male population
of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth.
Circumcision, performed on males when eight days old, was a reminder of
God’s covenant with Israel. (Genesis 17:10–14)
Joshua 5:4-7 (NLT)—
Joshua had to circumcise them because all the men who were old enough
to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died in the wilderness. 5 Those who left Egypt had all been circumcised, but none of
those born after the Exodus, during the years in the wilderness, had
been circumcised. 6 The Israelites had traveled in the
wilderness for forty years until all the men who were old enough to
fight in battle when they left Egypt had died. For they had disobeyed
[38 years before at Kadesh Barnea, refused to believe God and enter the
land (Deuteronomy 2:14-15; Numbers 13–14), so all aged 20 and above died in
the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua]
and the Lord vowed He would not let them enter the land He had sworn to
give us—a land flowing with milk and honey.
So Joshua circumcised their sons—those who had grown up to take their
fathers’ places—for they had not been circumcised on the way to the
Circumcision was a sign of membership in the covenant community, given by
God to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:7-14); it meant they (and
their bodies) belonged God, were under obligation to obey Him and to never
use their bodies in sinful ways.
The mark of the covenant reminded Jews that they were a special people, a
separated people, a holy nation, who must maintain purity in their lives, culture,
Before engaging in battle for the Promised Land, the new generation needed
to renew their covenant relationship with the LORD.
They would need to rely on God for victory in combat, so they reconnected
They would also need a renewed relationship with God to resist the
temptation they would encounter in this pagan land with its idolatry and
immoral religious practices.
Circumcision, an outward procedure, did not change a person’s relationship
It symbolized, but did not, could not, cause a spiritual change within,
though the Jews came to think that, as long as they were circumcised, they
were right with God as His covenant people, so they could live however they
It is similar to people today who feel sure they’re saved and are going to
heaven because they’re baptized, confirmed, and participate regularly in
Galatians 6:15 (NLT)—
It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts
is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.
Joshua 5:8 (NLT)—
After all the males had been circumcised, they rested in the camp until
they were healed.
[Time was needed to recover from such a painful wound.]
This is a surprising strategy to prepare for battle, because this surgery
temporarily disabled all of the men, so none could fight, with enemies only
8 miles away in Jericho!
After demonstrating His power in stopping the flow of the Jordan River, God
tested the faith of His people by requiring all the men to be circumcised,
making themselves vulnerable to attack, depending on Him for protection.
(He already paralyzed them; 5:1.)
The safest place to be is in the will of God, following His plan, pursuing
His purpose, even in a threatening situation! (He took the Canaanite’s
courage and will to fight!)
Joshua 5:9 (NLT)—
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of
your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this
The shame of slavery in Egypt
was removed; I think this means that these people, who were God’s people,
had been enslaved for 400 years, then because of their fear, had not been
allowed to enter the Promised Land for 38 more years. (Numbers 13-14)
APP.: Are you preparing to face a challenge by renewing your relationship
Another part of preparation for conflict is to…
Remember God’s faithfulness.
(Joshua 5:10–12. C/R: Exodus 12:24-27; 16:35; Luke 22:7,14-15,19-20;
- Joshua 5:10 (NLT)—
While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho,
they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the
The laws concerning Passover required participants to be circumcised.
[PIC] Passover commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in
Egypt, following the final plague of death, when the firstborn sons and
firstborn male animals of every household in Egypt without blood on the
doorposts, would be killed. (Exodus 12:1–28)
After the deaths, Pharoah ordered the Israelites out of the land! (Exodus
Jesus is our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), who John the Baptist
referred to as The Lamb of God (John 1:29), Peter informed us that
God paid a ransom for our lives with the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God (1
Our sinless Savior died for our sins, so His blood was placed symbolically
to our hearts, so we escape judgment, death, and eternal separation from
As the first Passover marked the Hebrews’ release from Egyptian slavery, so
the death of Christ marks our release from the slavery of sin (Romans 8:2).
As the first Passover was to be held in remembrance as an annual feast, so
Christians are to memorialize the Lord’s death during Passover week when we
observe the Lord’s Supper.
Luke 22:7,14-15,19-20 (NLT)—
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread arrived, when the Passover lamb is
sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John ahead and said, “Go
and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together.” …
When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the
table. 15 Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this
Passover meal with you before My suffering begins. 16 For I
tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is
fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” …
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in
pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is My body, which is
given for you. Do this to remember Me.”
After supper He took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new
covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My
blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.”
[Remember God’s faithfulness, His grace on your life!]
Joshua 5:11-12 (NLT)—
The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain
harvested from the land. 12 No manna
[bread Yahweh provided for the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness;
appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it
was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the
crops of Canaan.
[food was plentiful in Canaan, Exodus 16:35]
This extraordinary means of provision was temporary, now they would
experience the miracle of regular harvests in the land of milk and honey.
[sheep milk and date honey]
God will provide all of your needs when you cannot obtain them through your
Philippians 4:19 (NLT)—
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from
His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
APP.: Do you reflect on past faithfulness of God to prepare you to face
An important part of preparation for conflict is to…
3. Realign with God’s purpose.
(Joshua 5:13–15. C/R: Proverbs 19:21; John 15:5; Ephesians 2:10)
- Joshua 5:13-15 (NLT)— 13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho [inspecting
the fortifications of the city]
, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in
hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
“Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”
At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence.
[Recognized as divine.]
“I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for
the place where you are standing is holy.”
[every place God reveals Himself] And Joshua did as he was told.
Some theologians think this is a preincarnate appearance of Jesus
Others: the person Jacob wrestled with at Peniel who dislocated his hip
(Genesis 32:22-30) and the fourth man in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach
and Abednego (Daniel 3:23-25).
This commander’s presence was a sign that God was the real military leader
The army of the Lord was an angelic host who assured victory if Israel was
The events of this passage are evidence that the battle is the LORD’s (Exodus 14:14); He will accomplish the
conquest; we must be sure we are on His side, not that He is on ours!
Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)— You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.
APP.: Are you sure you are on God’s side in the conflict you are facing?