There are three “cities” within us that God wants to take in order. I am using cities as the metaphore because it was taught to me through the book of Joshua, and the accounts of the first three cities in the “promised” land, and the battles around each.
Each city had a specific attack aimed against it–or a specific spirit over it. And each city needed to be taken in a particular order. The reason the order of transformation matters is that it is the order that God has chosen to reveal His Own nature in. the three first conquered cities were: Jericho, which represents intimacy, which is the foundation of all other victories; Ai, which represents friendship, and is the strength of true spirit-linked community; and Gibeon, which represents the beginning of one’s life work or job–this is where our labour outside of ourselves come or our “jobs”. You see that if we build our lives or identities in any other order, we get lost.
For instance, if we place our identities in our jobs, and haven’t built our “marital” intimacy first (this is firstly our marriage with God!), then we get lost. Or if we place our trust in our friendships first we also get lost, and entangled in co-dependencies of every flavour! So the order matters.
First is Jericho, the city of intimacy. Everything begins with our learning to be intimate with God. All the rest flows from this fountain. This is symbolized by marriage, and is why our marriages are the first and foremost concern far above our friends or jobs. Now look at what was over Jericho.
Joshua sent two spies into this city, and where did they stay–in the house of prostitution! The ways of prostitution were over that city of intimacy; and this is always the case. The ways of prostitution are to take things that are not ours–to buy false intimacy, and in doing so make false covenants. We all need intimacy, and God wants to give it to us; but when we TAKE it or buy it–as with literal prostitution or pornography, we violate the very nature of intimacy.
Now you see that the ways of prostitution are always aimed against true intimacy. The enemy is always trying to offer partial intimacy, and draw us into contracts with it. He knows the laws of investment–if we buy, with money or our talents or gifts in order to have a partial intimacy, we enter confusion and internal division.
But what I want to shine light on here is that the ways of prostitution are always aimed at the city of true intimacy, and that this is the first and most important city of God within us. This is why we must fight for our marriages, and keep out or clear away the ways of prostitution from them.
You will see on a collective level as well, that the church has moved in the ways of prostitution with the world, and has moved into much false intimacy, and this is the reason that He is restoring this area first. Intimacy is the first city because it the very heart of God!
The next city is Ai, which represents friendship. Here the enemy wants us to move from the soul and form our own friendships using our own means, rather than to wait on God to knit the people He chooses to give us. So you see in the story, that Joshua prematurely attacked Ai, and made a mess, then later came back and took it properly! The need for fellowship with a true circle of friends is basic, and God given–but we must wait and actually allow God to form our friendships!
This second city requires great trust, and the enemy will try to get us to use our gifts or talents to win friends and approval, and make links with those God is not giving us. So again, we make up our own circles, or house groups, which are not spirit-led, and we end up with flimsy networks made by man. These are soul built, so will not hold when the storms come!
The third city is our lifework, and is the only city where the enemy gathered all his forces and attacked first. This is because it is “an important city, bigger than Ai”. This is the city where we start taking lands outside of ourselves, and where we join Jesus in his labours and sufferings. The enemy is threatened by this, and so gathers and goes on the offensive. You will see, that Joshua ends up pursuing the enemy in this battle. The enemy had attacked them before there was unity, for he knew that together, moving from the force of the circle of friends, resting on the foundation of marital intimacy, he had no chance.
These three cities reveal the order in which God takes land within our lives; and they also reveal the specific attacks the enemy has aimed at each. We need to clear land and occupy it in order: intimacy, friendships, and then jobs or lifework. When we move in any other order, we betray His Way of revealing Himself.