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The Walls of Jericho

The Walls of Jericho

I am so excited about doing this Bible study with you!  It is a part of Biblical history that has actually been verified by major evacuations done in modern times. Not that I needed it to be verified; but I love it when skeptics are handed solid evidence that God is capable to do whatever He wants!  I love it when God proves to everyone that He is God, the Great I AM!  I love this verse from John 20:29:  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  But I’m getting way ahead of myself!

Comparing the Israel army with the fortified city of Jericho is like comparing David, the shepherd boy, to Goliath, the giant.  There just wasn’t any way Israel would be able to conquer the city on their own.  Jericho’s walls were probably 20 feet high and as thick as eight feet.  They would have sufficient food and water to allow them to withstand a siege for months.  Guards on the walls would be ready to shoot arrows,  pour hot oil or dump huge boulders on enemy warriors that tried to scale the walls or punch it with a battering ram.

Joshua’s faith was evident when he followed God’s instructions without any questions!  It took faith for God’s people to do what Joshua told them to do without question!  “And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. 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.  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.   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.”  (Joshua 6:2-5)

That was it!  The Lord’s unusual battle plan was so impossible in the world’s eyes that when Jericho did fall, God alone would get the credit!   All they were to do was walk around the city once every day for six days.  It was a little over half a mile around the city, so it didn’t take very long to walk around it.  Joshua had lined up the people the way God had told him. First were the soldiers, followed by the seven priests with the ram horns, followed by the ark of the covenant (God in the midst of His people) followed by more soldiers.  I can  almost imagine the guards on the walls laughing at the sight.  Might have been a nervous laugh, as they were all very much aware of what “their God” had already done for the Israelites!  The city of Jericho might have even been plenty terrified of what could happen!

Joshua had instructed the people not to make any noise or to say anything while they were marching around the city!  And they did this faithfully every morning for six days.  Then on the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times. “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!  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. “  (Joshua 6:16-17, remember Joshua 2:12 for Rahab)

“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. 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.”  (Joshua 6:20-21)

One lesson that isn’t so obvious is Joshua did not tell the people what they were to do or what to expect.  They received their instructions one day at a time, and they obeyed one day at a time, one step at a time! They left everything else up to their God!  That is all He still asks of us!  One step at a time!!

Joshua Waits

Joshua Waits

It appears to me, that this Old Testament book of Joshua is an important part of God’s plan for His people.   It was written to give us an account of the LORD fulfilling His promise to the Patriarchs;  by giving the land of Canaan to Israel in a “holy war”, which meant it would be a conflict with religious overtones rather than a political motivation.  It was what He had promised.(read Joshua 1:2-6 & 21:43)

God’s perfect plan was to conquer Canaan (which He considered a lost world), with His Abraham Covenant in order to reach that lost world through the seed of Abraham! The covenant God made with Abraham promised unconditionally to give a land, a  posterity, and a spiritual blessing to the Patriarch and his descendants. (Gen.12:2-3)  Then God said He was giving the land to Israel forever!  (Gen. 13:15)  It’s important to note and keep in mind, that God gave the boundaries of that land to Abraham (Gen.15:18-21); and later He reaffirmed it to Isaac (Gen. 17:19-21).  So the book of Joshua records the fulfillment of that covenant to Israel as her faithful God had promised centuries before. That the land was later lost and taken from them doesn’t reflect on God’s character,  but on the failings of the people to keep His laws.

Losing the land would be as punishment from God as was warned in Deut. 28:15-68).  “But Israel must possess the land forever according to the promise, something that awaits the return of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel.  (read Isaiah 49:8)” [The Bible Knowledge Commentary page 326]

God had just brought the Israelites through four events:  1) the crossing of the Jordon, 2) the ceremony of circumcision,  3) celebration of the Passover after many years, 4) eating the food produced in Canaan.

Joshua had not received any divine message or instructions even though it seemed the next step would be to capture Jericho.  So he set out to evaluate the situation.   I wonder how he felt when he first saw the large fortified walls that were “up to the sky”. (Deut. 1:28)  Jericho was a city ready to fight.  And Israel wasn’t equipped with what they would need like battering rams or catapults.  All they had was slings, arrows and spears.

Joshua knew the battle had to be won, because there was no where to retreat.  They had just crossed the Jordan. Futhermore, they could not bypass the city because that would leave their camp with women, children, goods and cattle exposed!

While pondering these heavy thoughts, Joshua was startled when he saw a Soldier bearing a sword.  He immediately asked, “Who goes there–friend or foe?”(5:13)  “The response was startling and revealing.  Something occurred that convinced Joshua this was no mortal soldier.  As with Abraham under the oak at Mamre, Jacob at Peniel, and Moses at the burning bush, Joshua knew he was in the presence of God!

“The Commander of the army of the LORD” stood with a drawn sword, indicating that He would fight with and for  Israel. Immediately, Joshua fell on his face and worshiped, saying, “What does my LORD want to say to His servant?”  The reply of the LORD was brief but urgent.  “Remove your sandles, for the place you are standing is holy.”

Now Joshua had thought this battle was going to be between two armies and he was to be the general-in-charge!  But, the LORD had other plans!, This battle was going to be the Lord’s battle.

I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

The Hand of The LORD is Mighty

The Hand of The LORD is Mighty

I’m sure you  remember the passage where the LORD parted the Red Sea so God’s chosen people could cross over on dry land when they escaped from slavery in Egypt!  Now we are talking thousands of people and all their livestock and possessions their Egyptian neighbors had given them!  When Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, the LORD brought up a strong wind all that  night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided like a wall on each side.  (Exodus 14: 21-22)

But did you know that the LORD repeated that miracle again when the Israel nation was ready to cross into the Promised Land?  I have read it many times, but honestly had forgotten it!  It was just as exciting to read this time as it was when I read it in Exodus!  The feeling this time was more relaxed.  They didn’t have the Egyptian army chasing them with their chariots and horses!   And this was a new and different generation that had not experienced life in Egypt, but had been born while traveling in the wilderness. I’m sure they had heard the stories of the LORD’S miracle at parting the Red Sea.

So 40 years later, as they are ready to take the land God had promised their forefathers,  Joshua was instructed by the Lord to command the priest’s to bear the Ark of the Covenant and lead the Israel people across the Jordan River.  “And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” (Joshua 3:13 NKJV)  And as soon as the feet of the priests touched the Jordan River, the waters parted and there was dry land!  The priests holding the Ark of the Covenant stood firm in the middle of the Jordan River and all of Israel crossed over Jordan on dry ground!

Now the LORD had instructed Joshua to take a man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  They were to go to the place where the priests had stood with the Ark of the Covenant and take a  large stone from that spot, put it on his shoulder, and carry it to the other side.  After the people had crossed to dry land; the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant also crossed to dry land and a large rock was  taken up for each tribe of Israel.  Then the waters of the Jordon returned to normal and the water overflowed the banks as before! (Joshua 4: 18)

This is the time when we celebrate our Thanksgiving, which was a tradition that was started after the pilgrim’s had gathered their  first harvest in their new land.  The children of Israel and our early settlers were likely feeling about the same way about this time!  It had not been an easy journey! It had been a long journey!  But, they had finally arrived and were full of excitement and anticipation for what lay in store for them in this new land that was to become their very own!

This is a special time for us to remember our own forefathers and what God has done for us to live in a free country because of the faithful men who came here in order to worship the LORD in a free land!  It’s important to take this time to explain to our children so that they will understand and remember and can pass that memory to their children.  And that tradition of passing on to future generations the importance of special times was started in God’s Word.

Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’  then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’;   for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over,   that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4: 21-244; 4:5-7)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!  I pray you will take this opportunity to teach your children, family and friends how we came to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving!  That God has a Mighty Hand and has given this land of freedom of religion to us and we must never forget that it is a gift from the LORD!  God bless your family and God bless the United States of America!!