Demolishing Strongholds

How to Defeat our Adversary



John Hoole – January 10, 2009






(Click on photos, charts and maps for larger version)




1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV


8       Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

9       Resist him, steadfast in the faith,…


For the past several lessons on Spiritual Warfare, we have looked at our adversary – the devil and his demons.  Today we begin looking at the spiritual posture we, as believers, should take in the battle.  And in this lesson we are going to take a close look at the battle for Jericho.


2 Corinthians 10:1-5 NIV


1       By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you — I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away!

2       I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.

3       For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

4       The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

5       We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.


I have begun our study today with this Passage about spiritual strongholds, because its theme describes what we will see in the Battle for Jericho.


And the battle for Jericho will give us an illustration to help us more fully understand spiritual warfare.


Joshua 5:13 – 6:27 NIV


5:      13     Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"

14     "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"

15     The commander of the Lord's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.

6:     1       Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

2       Then the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.

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."

6       So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, "Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it."

7       And he ordered the people, "Advance! March around the city, with the armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord."

8       When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord's covenant followed them.

9       The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding.

10     But Joshua had commanded the people, "Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!"

11     So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the people returned to camp and spent the night there.

12     Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord.

13     The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding.

14     So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

15     On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times.

16     The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!

17     The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.


20     When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.


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.

25     But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho — and she lives among the Israelites to this day.


Joshua is the book that pictures for us the victory of the kingdom of God.  Israel, having been set free from the tyranny of Egypt under the leadership of Moses was now under the leadership of Joshua.  And they were now approaching the land promised to Abraham some 400+ years earlier.


There are many places, practices and events in the Old Testament that serve as a “type” or “shadow.”


Colossians 2:17 tells us the Old Testament holy days and various practices, “are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is Christ.” 

Hebrews 10:1 adds that the Old Testament Law was “a shadow of the good things to come.”

Map of Jordan Valley and Dead Sea near Jericho 

Israel, under Joshua’s leadership, was about to enter the land promised to Israel.  But they had to possess that land by defeating all the enemies of God that were living in the land.


Joshua leads the Israelites across the Jordan River.  God had stopped the waters of the River, allowing the Israelites to cross on dry ground.  As they crossed, one man from each tribe had been selected to pick up a stone from the river bed.  Joshua 4:20 tells us Joshua sets up the 12 stones in the city of Gilgal.  These stones would serve as a reminder to later generations of what happened here.  Gilgal would serve as the main base of operations in the early days of the kingdom.  As for its location, Gilgal was located about 2 miles northeast of Jericho.  Gilgal was not occupied by any other people.  It appears that this became a city at this time and was named Gilgal by God.


There is a play on words, it appears, in Joshua 5:9 NKJV.


9       Then the Lord said to Joshua, "This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.


         The play on words is that the name, Gilgal, in Hebrew means, “Rolling or wheel.”  God tells them that on this day the reproach of Egypt had been rolled away.

 Map showing the crossing of the Jordan River by the Israelites

It was here that they stopped receiving manna from heaven.  They would now eat the fruit of their land.  All the blessings of being the covenant people of God were about to be poured out to them.  Except for one dynamic – the land was occupied with enemies!


If you are reading the book of Joshua, at this point you might become a little uncomfortable.  The main reason is because at this point in the book of Joshua, the conquest of the promised land is a military exercise that involves the destruction of the enemies.  That may feel uncomfortable if your image of God is simply one of love, of a father with a nice soft grey beard.  Some even distance themselves from these events, saying they were Old Testament times but no longer part of the Christian era.


Let me first take up the issue of bloodshed.  Yes, these stories sound severe.  No one in the city of Jericho is spared except Rahab and her family.  But, the fact of the matter is, the severity is part of the justice of God.  How do we know it is part of God’s justice?  Let’s go back to the time of Abraham.  In Genesis 15, God tells Abraham that his descendant would be stranger in a land for 400 years.


Genesis 15:13-21 NKJV


13     Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

14     And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

15     Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.

16     But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete."


Before continuing, notice that last phrase.  “For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”  God tells Abraham that He will judge the nation they are slaves to for 400 years.  And God will judge the inhabitants of the Promised Land when their iniquity was completed.  And as we continue reading, God expands that judgment to the neighbors of the Amorites.


18     On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates — 

19     the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites,

20     the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,

21     the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."


We now move forward more than 400 years to the time of Joshua.  The iniquity of these nations had fully matured.  Their sins had reached the full measure and they were not at all repentant.


Some people don’t like the obvious violence of these Old Testament stories.  Why totally destroy cities?  Why turn them into piles of rubble?  Why not enslave the inhabitants and make the city their own?  But when we think like that, we have not realized some fundamental truths.  Each one of these cities was regarded as a demonstration of the power of their idols.  If kings come to power and were able to build a well fortified city, their status was attributed to a spiritual power which they worshiped and which they believed had favored them.


So, when Israel came into the land, it was the One True God reclaiming the land that was rightfully His.  Thus, the Commander of the Lord’s Army was in charge – it was His battle.  It was the one true God cleaning all the offensive false gods off of his territory.  That is why Israel made no gain from this conquest.  The plunder, the city were all destroyed – everything belonged to the Lord.


What does this speak to us today?  When we come into God’s kingdom, we must rid ourselves from all parts of our former life that was an offense to God.  Our former world-view of unbelief must be discarded completely.  We are to put to death our former life.


Romans 6:5-6 NKJV


5       For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,

6       knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.


When we are saved, God takes up residence in us.  And He will not cohabit any place with the prince of darkness.  But our old life and old habits do not always die easily.  Ever since you moved out of the kingdom of Satan, he has been trying to get you back.  He will do anything to get you to stumble and fall.  And this battle is called “spiritual warfare.”


Let’s see what we can learn from the Battle for Jericho that will help us in our quest for spiritual victory.  I believe we can learn some strategies to help us today in our fight.  There are at least four themes we can learn from this battle about how God operates.


Ruins of ancient jerichoAs far as cities go, Jericho wasn’t a particularly big city.  Archeologists investigations have unearth what they believe are the city boundaries.  And they estimate the size of Jericho to not be much more than 8 acres in size.  And from what they have uncovered, it is in the shape of an oval.  But it was a well-fortified city.  They had built two walls around the city, separated by about 15 feet.


But, before the Israelites could fully enjoy the Promised Land, they had to engage in battle.  Like the Israelites, we too have to wage war against, and overcome, those Jerichos in our life.  Whatever stands in our way of entering into a fuller and deeper and richer experience of blessings, must be defeated and vanquished.


One of the martyrs from the early days of the Christian Church – John Chrysostom – who gave his life for the cause of the gospel in 407AD said: “You are but a poor soldier of Jesus Christ if you think you can overcome without fighting, and suppose that you can have the crown without the conflict.”


Now let’s see what we can learn from this battle to help us in our spiritual warfare.


1.      First – notice that Israel was battling from a position of victory.


God had already delivered them from the nation of Egypt.  At the Red Sea, the Egyptian army was essentially wiped out.  But remember that the battle with Egypt was also a spiritual battle.  It was a battle between the magicians and gods of Egypt and the God of Israel.  It was a battle between the demons behind pagan worship and the Almighty.  Israel was marching with this in their memory.


But not only was this memory in their minds.  The man that Joshua met in the Plains of Jericho made a very important statement.


Joshua 6:2 NKJV


2       And the Lord said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.”


Undoubtedly, this statement was a great source of strength and confidence to Joshua as he thought of the impending battle here.


As the Israelites traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land, their reputation preceded them.  What did God tell Moses nearly 40 years earlier, while they were at Mt. Sinai?


Exodus 23:23-27 NKJV


23     For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off.

24     You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.


27     "I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.”


God will send His fear ahead of the Israelites.  God says, “They will know about my work among you even before you arrive.”


In Joshua 2, while the Israelites were east of the Jordan River, Joshua sent two spies into the city of Jericho to assess it.  What did Rahab say to the spies, after she hid them on her roof.


Joshua 2:9-11 NKJV


9       and [Rahab] said to the men: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.

10     For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

11     And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”


The cities that populated the Promised Land were all trembling with fear of Israel and their God.  And by the time the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, Jericho was shut up tight.  None were allowed in or out of the city.


We also, as children of God and part of His Kingdom, also battle from a position of victory.  Jesus has already won the battle against Satan in His death and resurrection from the grave.  Our victory is already won.  But, like Israel, we still have to evict the enemy from God’s territory.


2.      Second – this story of the defeat of Jericho begins with meeting a man near the city.


Before the battle against Jericho began, it seems as though Joshua went on a personal reconnaissance mission to get a look at the city that he and his people were planning to attack.  It was while he was surveying the city, probably trying to assess the best strategy to adopt, that he suddenly found himself confronted by a man, a soldier.  And his sword was drawn as though ready to engage Joshua in a fight.


The first thing Joshua wanted to know was whether this man was for him or against him.  The reply was not what Joshua expected.  Let’s read about it.


Joshua 5:13-15 NIV


13     Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"

14     "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"

15     The commander of the Lord's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.


Immediately, Joshua realized he was in the presence of no mere man.  He falls prostrate in reverence before God himself in Human form.  This is what in theology is known as a theophany – or Christophany -  an Old Testament appearance of the second person of the Godhead before He came as a babe in a manger.


There are three reasons for believing this was Jesus Christ standing before Joshua.


1.      This Captain of the Lord’s host spoke the exact same words God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:5.


                   “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”


2.      This Captain allowed Himself to be worshiped.


If this man was an angel of the Lord, he would have told Joshua not to worship him.  The angels of God never accept worship.  One example of this disallowance is found in Revelation 22:8-9.


3.      This man is Jesus, because He is identified as the LORD in Joshua 6:2.


“Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands…”       The word translated LORD, is Yahweh (Jehovah).


What can we learn for fighting our battles against the enemy.  The battle strategy must start with a meeting with our Savior.  We will never win in our own strength – we must hear what He says to us.






Yes, the greatest need for our battle is to know of the presence of Christ.  That will prevent us from giving up.


3.      Third – they trumpeted God’s presence.


Most of us know this story from hearing it told when we were really young.  We have heard and sang the spiritual, “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.”  We know Joshua was directed by God to march around the city.  First in the march was a battalion of soldiers, followed by priest blowing trumpets, follow by the Ark of the Covenant, following by more soldiers and then the people shuffling quietly.


They were to encircle the city once each day for 6 days.  Then they were to go around the city 7 times on the seventh day.  After the seventh time around, the trumpets would sound a long blast, and the people were to shout.  If they followed God’s plan, then the walls would fall down.


Photo of Israelites marching around the walls of JerichoThis has got to be the strangest attack plan in the history of warfare.  But then again, Israel is not fighting with human weapons, they are fighting with spiritual weapons to pull down a stronghold.  The battle was between the true God and idols – the moon gods of Jericho.  That is why the Ark of the Covenant was significant.  The ark always represented the presence of the Lord.  And He was to be taken with them as they circled the city.  And we, today, cannot expect to win our battles without the Lord with us.


There is one other key that I would like to highlight in this perfect march around the city.  That is the trumpets.  If you were to do a concordance search on the word, trumpet, in the Scriptures, you would find that trumpets proclaim the presence of God and his kingdom.  In Psalm 47:5 NKJV, we read: God has gone up with a shout, The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.


Over and over again, in both the Old and New Testaments, trumpets are used to announce the coming kingdom of God and the impending judgment to follow upon His enemies.  This was exactly the case at the battle of Jericho.  They carried the Ark, and blew their trumpets continuously as they circled the city.  The trumpets proclaimed to the idols of the city that one far more powerful had come to take over the Promised Land.


4.      Fourth – The Israelites were acting in a contrary manner.


Notice Israel’s posture.  They were acting in a contrary manner to what is expected in a battle.  Now that may sound abstract, so let me give it some flesh.


Jericho was shut up.  Certainly on the top of its walls, it had all the protection that their army could muster.  They probably had stationed their archers, had the boiling oil and stone ready to fight.  And they were prepared for Israel to fight their strategy with a similar strategy, that is, with archers, battering rams, and whatever other weapon they had.


But notice what Israel does – in obedience to the commandments of God.  Rather than getting their adrenaline pumping, positioning their weapons to attack, this army of Israel shuffles around the city in their sandals.


With the battle strategy used by Israel, all of Jericho’s tools of warfare are useless.  How do you fight a nation when all they are doing is shuffling around day after day.  The spirit in which the Israelites acted was contrary to the spirit of defense and warfare that the people of Jericho were ready for.  Where Jericho was depending on its moon gods and its walls, Israel was depending on the Lord Almighty to do the battle.  There is a reason I say that Israel was acting with a contrary spirit.  Let’s return to a Passage I read to you at the beginning of this lesson.


2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV


4       The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.


This Passage is speaking to us, in our day, in our battles.  We are not to fight this battle the way the world might fight.  On the contrary, our weapons have divine power to demolish the strongholds of the enemy.




What can we take from this lesson?


1.      We must always understand that we fight on the foundation of a victory already won!  What we have and are able to enjoy in the realm of the Spirit is based on the glorious fact that the Son of God came in the flesh, invaded this demon-infested world, and wrought the victory through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.


2.      Secondly, our victory can only be realized when we meet our Lord at the place where the battle is to be engaged.


3.      Like the Israelites and the Ark of the Covenant, we must ensure that God’s presence is with us not only before the battle, but in the battle.


4.      The weapons at our disposal are contrary to what we would normally think.  They are not carnal, but mighty through God to the bringing down of the enemy’s strongholds.


1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV


57     But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.