Breaking through the walls

The walls of Jericho were demolished by the sound of the shofar and human throats shouting. This profound breakthrough occurred through the unlikely weapon of a ram’s horn. Centuries of idolatry and a formidable defense were shattered. A rag-tag “nation” of ex-slaves managed to pierce the walled city of Jericho. In an instructive blend of divine firepower and worshipful human obedience, thick walls were no longer a barrier.

In ancient times the walls that defended a city were thick. I’m looking at a photo’ of the walls around the city of Akko. Today it is a small city on the northern coast of Israel not far from the Lebanese border. But in days past it was a mighty fortress, a strategic Mediterranean port positioned on the route between Egypt and Syria. Napoleon tried to conquer her and could not.  He was bested by a salty old Turk named El-Jazzar, the Butcher. El-Jazzar’s defensive walls enclosed the city. They were 39 inches (one metre) thick and 33 feet (10 metres) high!

We are now facing these walls, not so much the physical ones as those in the spiritual realm. What will it take to break through with the love of Yeshua, to establish a Messianic congregation in a city steeped for millennia in idolatry and bloodshed? For that matter, what walls are blocking you from changing the spiritual complexion of your city? What fortress defies penetration in your pursuit of the will and calling of God on your life? I believe Joshua’s experience can help us.

The walls of Jericho stood, imposing, on the other side of the Jordan River.  Joshua had already seen the walled cities of Canaan forty years earlier as a spy. He well knew the perils of attempting to take the city of Jericho. His dialogue with God on the subject of crossing the Jordan and taking Jericho creates a valuable sequence we can now apply [1] to our personal preparation (Joshua) and [2] to our congregation or ministry team (Israel) if we are to break through the walls in our lives. The applications I see are printed in bold type.

Joshua’s personal process:

  1. After the death of Moses – For many it is a new season, requiring greater faith.
  2. Joshua, Moses’ assistant – We must be discipled, disciplined and submitted to God-appointed leadership as Joshua was.
  3. Arise, and go over this Jordan – We will have to leave our comfort zones.
  4. I am giving you this land … every place your foot touches – It is God who sovereignly grants access to your region, city or neighborhood. Residence = Inheritance.
  5. No man will be able to ‘get in your way’ for I will be with you … – God’s presence is what enables us to stand before the enemy.
  6. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land … – You will be opposed, but do not yield to fear and discouragement. Then others will enter the inheritance with you.
  7. Command the people, saying ‘Prepare provisions … for in 3 days you will cross over this Jordan to … possess the land.’ – It is time to prepare well, as God’s people in solidarity.

Israel’s Shared Sequence:

  1. Spies scoped out the city of Jericho. Know your territory. What are the strongholds in your city? Historical research, prayer walking, and local interviews will be helpful.
  2. They crossed the Jordan with priests in the lead, setting stones as memorial. Worship, Intercession and Thanksgiving precede breakthrough.
  3. The men were circumcised as soon as they arrived in the Land. Strongholds of fear, rejection, etc. in our own lives must be broken. A tender heart toward God is essential.
  4. The commander of the Lord’s army appeared to Joshua. Unless Yeshua is our Commander in Chief, and we have a revelation of His AUTHORITY we will not break through strongholds.
  5. The city was securely shut up and the Lord told Joshua to march around the city blowing shofars and carrying the Ark of the Covenant for six days.  The more resistant the walls of the city before us, the greater must be our dependence on God, our singular focus on His will and unity among us.
  6. The priests and armed men circled the city, blowing shofars, shouting on day seven. Simple obedience and persevering declaration of God’s purposes and greatness brings His power.
  7. The wall of the city fell flat and the Israelites took the city. Personal breakthroughs and city-transforming revival will come as in faith we follow the sequence God gives us.

A Confession

Not only in Akko, but in the Haifa Bay area we are operating in territory that has virtually never been touched by the Gospel. I’ve been wondering “How can I ever possibly break through to the people where I live?” At times I feel remote, disconnected, unable to touch them. It must be that God is drawing me to Himself. Out of my aching sense of inadequacy compared to the vast need of the tension-soaked faces around me, I can only turn to the Father of Mercy and appeal to Him.

I am asking God for heart surgery, to give me His intense love and persevering compassion for the region where I live. God is also deeply interested in the people where you live. You see them every day, driving to and from your neighborhood. They are next to you in the shopping mall. They are your fellow 10s, 100s or 1000s of employees on the job.

How to break strongholds? I’m no expert in spiritual warfare. Necessity is pushing me to read books and to dig into The Book. Yet in any army it is the responsibility of the Commander in Chief to make sure that his troops are prepared. So, I’m confident that Yeshua is equipping me, even as I experience moments of frustration and apparent failure.

Truthfully, I’m not super jazzed by warfare terminology. I was a “flower child” in the 60’s, a peace-love hippie who wanted nothing to do with war. I still find it hard to be as aggressive as I need to be to function in Israel.  But my personality and background are irrelevant in this issue. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that I am at war. I am not only under attack, but I am called to take territory back from the enemy. I will have to fight in order to fulfill God’s calling and commission. “We have been summoned to this battle by the Commander in Chief” as John Dawson says in Taking our Cities for God. The Battle is the Lord’s. The Earth is the Lord’s. Yeshua has called us as His disciples to withstand the enemy and to see the walls of unbelief and idolatry come down.

He said “I will build my congregation and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 21, 2019, and reposted with permission.