The Fall of Jericho

Joshua014

Or, Victory By Sumbission

Joshua 6

Joshua was a great military strategist, but his first victory in taking the Promised Land came as a result, not of a clever plan on his part, but on simply obeying God.

If the first five chapters of the book of Joshua chronicle Israel’s preparations to inherit the Promised Land, then chapter 6 is all about possessing the Promised Land.  Israel had to learn some valuable lessons as they stood on the verge of taking Canaan:  Submission to God guarantees victory and sin always brings defeat.  When Israel submitted to God’s plan, they had success (chapter 6); but when sin was allowed to enter, they faced defeat (chapter 7).  Submitting to God’s plan means bringing ourselves into the will of God and acknowledging His lordship over us in both word and deed.  Christians are unstoppable and unconquerable when they walk in obedience to God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

1.  A doomed city

Israel had entered into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, and now he had to turn his attention to the main task of military conquest.  Israel had been given the Land as their inheritance, but they had a part to play in acquiring this blessing from the Lord.  Their task lay not in fighting battles, though battles would need to be fought.  Their part to play was in simply obeying God’s instructions for battle; victory was theirs if they followed His instructions.  Some people assume Israel had to win the battles in order to receive the blessing; this is not so.  According to God, they had already won the battles they were about to fight.  Victory for the Israelites was not in overcoming the armies of the enemy, but in simply trusting God.

Jericho, the great walled city of Canaan, had to be dealt with for it would forever pose a threat to the Israelites and it was a Canaanite stronghold.  It was not a huge city, but it was a highly fortified one, built on a mound and surrounded by walls so high and so thick that battering the wall by any means would have been totally ineffective as would have been trying to burn them.  Once the city gates were closed and locked, nobody could get in or get of Jericho.  But, Jericho was a doomed city.

It was under a curse of God, 6:17

And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein.  (KJV)

This was not a new plan of God, by the way.  In fact, Jericho’s death sentence had been passed over 40 years earlier in Exodus 23.  Back then, Jericho was strong and arrogant in their strength, ignorant of what lay ahead for them at the hands of God’s people.  Their fate was sealed even while they thought their magnificent city was inviolable.

The Bible declares unequivocally that the fate of unrepentant people will be the same as the fate of Jericho.  The death sentence has already been passed on all those who refuse to repent and live for God.  Romans 5:12—

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.

It was locked up tight, 6:1

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

The people of Jericho were scared to death, not of the Israelites, but of the God of the Israelites.  They were literally paralyzed with fear.  They shut themselves up against God.  They tried to cover themselves up as Adam and Eve tried in vain to first hide from God then cover their sins.  This is so characteristic of unrepentant human beings, who know their sinful state before a holy God, yet cling desperately to sins all the while trying to hide them by covering them up with a false righteousness.  As if anybody could hide anything from God or shut Him out!

It fell quickly, 6:20

…the wall collapsed…

The thing the Canaanites trusted in and depended on for their security failed in the face of something as seemingly insignificant as a trumpet blast!  What good was their safety and security if it was based on something that could not stand a trumpet blast?   This awesome wall, a masterpiece of human engineering and achievement, built with their own hands, designed to stave off the onslaught of even the mightiest, most numerous armies of man, was no match for God’s band.  What does God think of such marvels in which man places his confidence?

I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place.  (Isaiah 28:17)

Can any man, or nation for that matter, or leader of a nation, stop what God wants for His people?  Can any parliament or congress frustrate the plans of God?  Of course not.

2.  A weird assault:  faith’s victory

If we read Hebrews 11:30, we can understand exactly what happened at Jericho:

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.

It was not the vibration of millions of pairs of Israelite feet marching in unison that caused the walls of Jericho to fall.  It was faith, plain and simple.  The visible means of victory—marching around the wall—looked foolish to the Canaanite onlookers, as do the ways of God to the unsaved.  But it was their unwavering faith in God that brought victory of the Israelites, not their marching.   Here is what they were told do in manifesting their faith—

March around the city, verse 3

March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.

Encompassing the city was the measure of their faith, and these men must have had great faith as they marched around the city for six days.  Similarly, our faith must encompass the thing we desire or lack if we would possess it.  There is a curious story told in Matthew about two blind men who received their sight from Jesus.  Consider how strange the story begins—

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.   (Matthew 9:27—28)

How did these blind men follow Jesus when they couldn’t see Him to begin with?  The answer is, “with great difficulty!”  It must have surely looked strange as these two determined blind men stumbled along the desert roads, desperately trying to keep up with the One they knew could heal their pitiful condition.

Now notice what Jesus said to them—

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”;  and their sight was restored.  (Matthew 9:29—30a)

He did not honor their difficult, almost impossible trek; but Jesus honored their faith in doing what they could to follow Jesus, no matter how it might have looked to anybody else.

It is in the march—the encompassing the walls—that faith is tried and tested.  When all you can see is a wall, it takes eyes of faith to see more.  When all you feel is human inability, you have no choice but to trust in the supernatural ability of God.

Blow the trumpets, 6:4

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.

This represents the means of faith.  The way faith works is far removed from how the natural mind thinks it should work!  Faith uses the simple.  Faith uses the seemingly weak things of God.  But in God’s hands, the foolish, weak, and simple become invincible weapons against the strongholds of the Devil.   The sling and stones of David would have been of no use to Saul because Saul had no faith.  David did and those insignificant stones brought down a giant.  The trumpet of the Word of God must be blown in faith if the victory over sin is to be won.  It was the priests who were to sound the trumpets.  It is the preachers of the Word of God who must still sound the clarion call of God’s Word moved and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Such preaching will cause the wall of sin around the human heart to crumble.

Carry the Ark, 6:6

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.”

Finally, we observe the object of faith.  The Ark was a symbol of God’s presence.   The Ark that had just dried up the Jordan River was in their midst again as they marched around the wall, blowing the trumpets.  Imagine the unbeatable confidence these Israelites must have had at this very moment.  Through the things that had been accomplished in faith, faith had been increased in the hearts of all the people.  Now, as they marched around the walled city, doing exactly what they were told to do, not one person was grumbling, complaining, or doubting.  The opposite was the case:  they were obeying, trusting, and expecting.   But note this:  Their faith was not in their blowing or marching or shouting.  But they had to do these things so the Ark would follow them.  Our faith, likewise, must be active, and we must continually look up to Him who promised He would be with us always.

Shouting of the people, 6:20

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.

The shouting was not the work of the priests, but of the people.  The priests did their part according to the instructions of God, now the people had to do their part.

If we have ever wondered why the Church of Jesus Christ in the 21st century experiences so few spiritual victories, it is because so few members expect them.  It is time for all members of the Body of Christ to join in the shout!  The preachers may be blowing the trumpets today, but so few members are shouting.  God will move in our midst and do great things in our congregations if the people “shout” to God; if they would do their part in faith even as their pastors do their parts in faith.

3.  One family spared:  a miracle of salvation

The account of this miracle in Joshua’s time went like this—

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.   (verse 25)

But if we turn over the Hebrews in the New Testament, we read a different account of this event in the full light of the Holy Spirit’s revelation—

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.  (Hebrews 11:31)

Notice three points:

She believed, Joshua 2:9—11.

Rahab demonstrated faith in the God of the Hebrews by hiding both the message and the messengers.  Her old beliefs and prejudices were cast aside when she heard and believed.  She, like the Israelites, did something that seemed foolish, and in her case, dangerous, in order to show her faith in God.

She obeyed, 2:21.

Her faith in God was justified in the sight of man by her works.  She hid the messengers and exposed the scarlet cord.  James 2:25 says this of Rahab’s faith—

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

By the scarlet cord, she would be justified or condemned.  There is the scarlet cord of redemption that comes between us and the judgment of God.  The crimson blood of Jesus either justifies those who claim it or condemns those to reject it.

She testified, 6:23.

So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.

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.

Rahab had convinced her family and they were saved.  She did not keep her faith to herself only.  She demonstrated here faith by persuading her family to her way of thinking.

Conclusion

This is all about faith; faith in the face of the world.  Jericho represents the world to the believer.  Like the walled city, the world poses a threat the believer; its influence is strong and it is a formidable foe.  Believers are easily caught up in worldly things, and our victory over the forces of the world depends totally on faith—

[F]or everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  (1 John 5:4)

We used to sing “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho,” but he really did not.  The Israelites did not fight at all.  All they did was obey God instructions.  God did the fighting.

Too many Christians today want to “fit the battle of Jericho” rather than simply obey God and trust God for victory.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd
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