Jericho: a lesson in trust

Posted: January 30, 2009 in Joshua

Joshua 5-6, “Jericho: a lesson in trust”
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Introduction:
Everything’s set for the beginning of the conquest… God has commissioned Joshua & told him not to fear… He took a step of faith & sent spies to the land, and they got a great report of how Jericho feared what was coming… God miraculously dried up the Jordan River & brought them over dry ground – somewhat duplicating the parting of the Red Sea & symbolizing their new walk in the Spirit… Israel took up memorial stones from the riverbed to remember God provision & care over them for the future… Now all that’s left is to fight the battle.

Joshua 5 (NKJV)
1 So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.

A. You bet their hearts melted! They had already heard how God had delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt & the parting of the Red Sea, and according to Rahab, their hearts had melted then & had no more courage (2:11). You can only imagine what the Canaanites would have been thinking when God virtually duplicated the miracle at the Jordan River…
__a. When God’s people are walking in the will of God & with God, the world can’t help but take notice…
__b. What does it say about the state of the church today that the world DOESN’T take notice?
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2 At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 4 And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. 5 For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised. 6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD—to whom the LORD swore that He would not show them the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.”

A. The need to get circumcised again…not that they had to do it twice – but anyone who wasn’t circumcised needed to be. Those coming out of Egypt (under 20 at the time of the rebellion) had already been through it – the men who had been born during the 40 year wilderness time had not.

B. Why circumcision? It was a sign of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 17), and God was about to fulfill the Abrahamic promise…everyone participating in the benefits of the promise needed to be a part of the covenant.
__a. Spiritually speaking, circumcision is a symbol of cutting away the flesh – separating oneself from the world & unto God. What physically took place on their body was to spiritually take place on their hearts (Deut 10:16) & that inward circumcision was the sign of a true Jew (Rom 2:29).

C. Keep the typology in mind. Israel has crossed the Jordan in a picture of being baptized in/filled with the Holy Spirit… Now they’re sanctifying themselves unto the Lord & away from fleshly things. That’s exactly what we need to be doing as Christians, as well. It’s not hard to find Christians (I’ve been one myself) who fall on their face before God – are filled with the Holy Spirit anew for power – and then turn back to old habits almost overnight, and then wonder what happened when they fail or fall into temptation. If we’re going to walk with the Lord in victory over sin, we need to cast off the flesh & be removed from it. (Writing of baptism…) Romans 6:11-13 (11) Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (13) And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. [] When we present ourselves to those old habits & sinful things – we’re engaging in those things that we should have died to. So through the power of the Spirit, we reckon ourselves dead & crucify our flesh…
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7 Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. 8 So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. 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.

A. “Gilgal” = “rolling”. This was where they had set up the memorial stones.

B. What did circumcision have to do with Egypt? During their time of wandering, the people apparently didn’t keep up with the covenant of circumcision – even though Moses had commanded it (Lev 12:3). It was as if even though they were free, they still behaved as slaves (evidenced through their constant complaining about how ‘good’ it was in Egypt). The circumcision was a demonstration that they did not belong to Egypt; they belonged to God…

C. Keep in mind that just the act of circumcision was a declaration of their trust in God. With every fighting male newly circumcised, they were completely vulnerable to attack during the time of healing & thus completely dependent upon the Lord for protection.
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10 Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. 11 And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. 12 Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.

A. About Passover… (Walvoord & Zuck) “Without circumcision they would have been unqualified to participate in this important event (Ex. 12:43-44, 48). Interestingly the nation arrived across the Jordan just in time to celebrate the Passover on the 14th day of the month (Ex. 12:2, 6). God’s timing is always precise!” What better miracle to be reminded of prior to going to battle against the Canaanites than the Passover? That was the night God purchased their freedom out of Egypt & reaffirmed His promise of a new home…
__a. What do we need to continually remember? Our purchased freedom & salvation in Christ. And we do that through our own Passover celebration: Communion…the body…the blood…pictures of our salvation…
__b. The gospel is not just something given to the unbeliever – it’s for the believer as well! We need to constantly be reminded that our sins have been paid for – that there’s forgiveness at the cross – that we belong to Christ Jesus – that one day we’ll see Him face-to-face. Every day we wake up and walk with Jesus is another day we can be thankful for our salvation – that we now have peace with God. The way we know that God is equipping us for our day-to-day battle against sin is because we’ve been bought with the blood of His Son to begin with. We can rely on His promises regarding sanctification because we’re reminded of His promises & work in our justification. And that’s what Israel was doing…

B. No more manna – a miraculous stop in the same manner of its miraculous provision… Did this mean God stopped providing for Israel? No – He was just providing in different ways. Before, He provided through the manna; now He was providing through the Promised Land.
__a. Be careful not to miss His provision because we were looking for it in a specific way…
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13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15 Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

A. Who was the “Man”? Jesus! Some have suggested this could have been an angel, but Joshua’s behavior makes that impossible. Angels in Revelation make it a point not to receive worship – yet the “Man” standing before Joshua said nothing about it. This was nothing less than a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ…
__a. This wasn’t as uncommon as we might think. Sometimes we get the false impression that Jesus just suddenly appeared on the scene in Matthew – but Jesus had been appearing in the Scriptures throughout the OT. Jesus walked before Adam & Eve in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8) – Jesus had supper with Abraham & shared the news of the judgment of Sodom (Gen 18) – Jesus wrestled with Jacob & crippled him (Gen 32) – Jesus showed His glory to Moses (Ex 34) – and the list goes on & on. This shouldn’t be surprising to us… The whole Bible message is about Christ & the salvation available in Him – it only makes sense that we see His bodily appearance throughout the Scriptures.

B. Whose side is Jesus on? God’s! We ought not expect for God to be on our side because we’re not the one in control…God is. We want to be on God’s side…

C. Jesus has many roles as the Christ… One of them is as the “Commander of the army of the LORD”. His 1st incarnation was as a meek servant that wouldn’t break a bruised reed; His 2nd coming will be with power & war. Even in His meekness, the Lord Jesus was never weak. At one moment, He’d pick up a child & encourage them to come to Him – or show compassion to a leper & touch the untouchable. The next moment, He’d be flipping over tables in the temple & blasting the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. This is not a weak Man!
__a. As much as I appreciate people’s affection for Warner Sallman’s famous portrait of Christ, it’s left many people with the idea that Jesus is a weak, doe-eyed wisp of a man. But that’s not the picture that the NT paints of Him at all! Revelation 1:14-17 (14) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; (15) His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; (16) He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. (17) And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. [] This is the Commander of the army of the Lord! This is Who we worship! Is He loving? Yes. Is He meek? Absolutely. But He’s also infinitely powerful, invested with all authority in heaven & on earth, and is coming back to judge!

D. BTW – what made the ground holy? God was standing on it. 🙂 This was basically Joshua’s burning bush experience. God had told Joshua that He’d be with Joshua just as He was with Moses (1:5) – and this was further proof.
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Joshua 6 (NKJV)
1 Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.

A. Completely secure and sealed off. Jericho apparently had a multi-tiered wall system, which made it incredibly resistant to attack. [PIC]
B. Why was it “shut up”? Because of Israel – they knew that God was on the way…
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2 And the LORD said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

A. Victory is already certain. Note the past tense in vs 2…

B. In what manner does God desire to show the victory? A strange one! Take the army & march around the city once per day for 6 days – the whole time having 7 priests blowing the shofar while carrying the ark. On the 7th day, do the whole thing 7 times – sound one long trumpet blast & have everyone shout. At that point, the wall is going to fall & the people were to rush inside to do battle. Strange? Yes…but it’s the very word and command of God. If that’s what He says to do, then the people need to trust God & do it.
__a. Bottom line, that’s exactly the issue: trust. Over & over again leading up to this point, God has emphasized that HE was the reason that the Hebrews were going to get the land; it wasn’t going to be due to their might (they were weak), nor their righteousness (they had none), nor their skills (what skills?) – it was going to be solely due to the grace of God. He had provided for them on a daily basis with the manna & now He was going to provide for them in a military battle. Now it was time to put shoe leather to their theology & actually trust God when it counted. (They didn’t exactly have a good track record on this…) …
__b. Do we trust God & His word? Really trust Him? God today hasn’t changed since the day He knocked the walls of Jericho down – yet sometimes we pray in the hypothetical (“God, if it’s possible… God, if you can…”). Of course He can…He’s God! The real question is whether or not it’s His will – and often we know exactly what the will of the Lord is when we read the Scriptures; we simply need to trust Him.
__c. It’s been said that if you locked a new convert inside a room with a Bible & didn’t give him any other books on theology, it would be absolutely certain that he’d come out believing that God works in supernatural ways through His word & the gifts…there’s simply no indication given that God ever stopped working that way. So why do we pray as if He had? Take God at His word!
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6 Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” 7 And he said to the people, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the LORD.”

A. Why does the ark go forward? It symbolizes the presence of God. God Himself was the One fighting the battle – He was the commander of the Lord’s army.

B. The rams’ horns were similar…these weren’t military bugles; they were the priests’ trumpets used in religious ceremonies. This was another symbol that the battle was a religious battle. They also symbolized the provision of God… (Abraham & Isaac)…
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8 So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. 9 The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets.

A. Joshua doesn’t hesitate in commanding the people to do what the Lord commanded. He had been around long enough to know what would happen if they disobeyed…

B. Beyond the understanding the consequences of disobedience, Joshua also understood that he was a man under authority. (As a military man, he knew that better than most!) He may have had the responsibility for leading Israel, but ultimately he answered to God Almighty – his job wasn’t to debate the commands of the Lord; it was to carry them out.
__a. Obedience is important….. 1 Samuel 15:22 So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. [] Notice the obedience here wasn’t for the salvation of the people; it was to experience victory in the land God had given them. Likewise for us. We don’t obey God in order to earn our salvation; we obey God in order to experience the victorious life He has for us in Christ. Like any loving Father, He doesn’t desire His children to continually be in sin & failure – He desires for us to live in blessed communion with Him.
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10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”

A. First silence; then a shout. In the 1st 6 days, the people were to be silent among the sounding of the trumpets & probably enduring the taunts & jeers of those in Jericho looking down on them. They weren’t to respond – at that point, they were to be silent & simply wait on the Lord’s timing. On the 7th day, they were to let loose a shout!

B. Why the shout?
__a. It was a shout of faith: They didn’t have catapaults or battering rams; they simply had faith that God was going to do as He promised.
__b. It was a shout of victory: God had already delivered Jericho into the hands of Israel; it was just that Jericho didn’t yet know it.
__c. It was a shout of Christ: Considering the number of times that Jesus is called the “logos” of God & the fact that Jesus had Himself appeared to Joshua, affirming that He would personally lead the battle, it’s hard to escape the imagery of Christ Himself being pictured in that shout – immediately delivering the death blow to the city. Very similar to how John saw Christ in His 2nd coming (Rev 19:11-16), riding in victory with a sword coming out of His mouth…
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11 So he had the ark of the LORD circle the city, going around it once. Then they came into the camp and lodged in the camp. 12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 Then seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually and blew with the trumpets. And the armed men went before them. But the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did six days. 15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times.

A. Followed the instructions perfectly…
B. Note they marched on the Sabbath Day. Were they breaking the 4th Commandment? No…they weren’t working; God was. This whole event was a demonstration of the power of God to deliver Israel into the land. And that was the whole point of the Sabbath…to show that God was delivering us into His rest…
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16 And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city! 17 Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.”

A. The city was doomed… The people were doomed… Rahab was spared…

B. The gold, silver & other metal items belong to the Lord… [Firstfruits…] Keep this in mind for next week. When they don’t completely follow through with this, they get into trouble at Ai.
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20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

A. Man, woman, child, and animal were destroyed in the siege. Was this right? Yes… God is God; we’re not…
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22 But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” 23 And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. 24 But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25 And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

A. What happened to Rahab? She went on to be the great-great-grandmother of David…
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26 Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” 27 So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout all the country.

A. The city was cursed! (1 Kings 16:34)
B. The word spread…the rest of the countryside was fearful of the God of Israel too – which makes next week’s failure all the more tragic.

Conclusion:
What a way to begin the conquest! You couldn’t ask for a more successful 1st outing. What this should have done was emphasize that the Lord was the one fighting the battles for Israel & all they needed to do was to continue trusting in Him, and they’d see victory. They didn’t quite learn the lesson – as we’ll see in Ch 7-8.

But it was an immense victory! Israel came up against overwhelming odds & experienced an overwhelming triumph. Why? Because the Lord Himself was the One fighting their battles. Israel didn’t do a thing except to trust God and walk in obedience with His word.

We’re no different today. We experience overwhelming odds in our battle against sin. Every time we turn on the TV, there’s sexual imagery. Every time we read the newspapers, we’re bombarded with temptations of power & ego. We can’t drive down a highway, turn on a radio, or walk in a store without seeing temptation to materialism. Every where we look there’s another temptation to sin – and even though we’re freed from the slavery that sin brought, we are engaged in a constant battle against it.

Here’s the good news: our battle isn’t against flesh & blood, but against powers & principalities – and although we are face overwhelming odds, we serve an Overcoming Savior. Jesus has given us everything we need to experience victory over sin – He’s empowered us by the Holy Spirit – we’ve been given the word of God – now we need to walk in victory. The question facing us is the same question that faced Israel: are we going to trust God at His word?
* He promises a way of escape from temptation – do we look for it?
* He promises peace that passes understanding when we pray – do we bring our needs to the feet of Christ?
* He’s promised us power to be filled with the Spirit – do we ask?

The greatest victory Joshua & Israel will experience in the promised land come as a result of simply trusting the word & promise of God. May we do the same & walk in victory.

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