“That We Might Have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)
Joshua Chapters Six And Seven
God’s Victory Over Jericho
Perhaps most of you are familiar with the spiritual “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.” It has a rather catchy tune and it doesn’t contain any spiritual untruths. It does, however, seem to put the emphasis on the wrong person.
If Joshua had been interviewed after the battle of Jericho there is no doubt that he would have given the credit for the victory entirely to the Lord. After all, this is the same Joshua who later spoke those well-known words: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
Joshua became famous after this battle only because he faithfully carried out the instructions of his Lord. It is this gift of victory which will be the focus of this article.
The Promise of Victory
The Lord knows the outcome of battles before they take place. Such was the case with Jericho. One day while Joshua was surveying this ancient, walled city from afar a man who identified himself as the “commander of the army of the Lord” spoke to him. He said that Jericho was already delivered into the hands of Israel.
He went on with detailed instructions as to how Joshua should lead His army against them. He was to march around the city once a day with all of his armed men for six days. On the seventh day he was to have his army march around the city seven times and then have the trumpets blow and the people shout and the walls would crumble.
This is not the only time in Scripture where the Lord provided unusual instructions for His followers. The instructions to Gideon in regard to the Midianites come to mind, as do the instructions of Elisha to a leprous Naaman. In each case God was showing His power, eliminating any chance for people to take credit for the victories He produced. Joshua faithfully carried out the instructions of the Lord in every detail. He coordinated the procession of Israel around Jericho with the ark of the covenant as the focal point.
One can only imagine how those in Jericho must have felt as these ominous processions continued. They had heard about the miraculous parting of the Jordan and of Israel’s earlier triumphs, and in fear had shut up their city and were relying on their walled defense. But this was no defense against the power of God, for as the Israelites completed their seventh lap on the seventh day and the crowd shouted, the wall collapsed and the Israelite army “charged straight in” (Josh. 6:20).
Joshua’s obedience continued with the utter destruction of the city. His army destroyed every living thing–men, women, children, and animals. He also told them to keep away from any of Jericho’s religious articles, for they would be a temptation to those who kept them.
Jericho, which probably means “moon city,” was a pagan religious center housing many false gods. Included in their worship were child sacrifices and ritual prostitution. God did command them, however, to keep articles of gold, silver, bronze and iron for the treasury of the Lord’s house. Joshua then had the city burned and placed a curse on any who would rebuild it.
God’s Grace Toward Rahab
Amidst all of this mass destruction of Jericho was the rescue of Rahab and her family. Rahab was the prostitute who had protected the two Israelite spies sent to Jericho and had even helped them to escape. For the kindness she showed them they had promised to save her and her family from harm if Jericho was attacked.
After Joshua entered Jericho he had the spies locate and rescue Rahab and her family. In Matthew 1:5 we learn that Rahab and Salmon were the parents of Boaz, the great-grandfather of David. God in His grace had rescued this Canaanite prostitute and used her in His divine plan for salvation.
Lessons For Us
The Biblical account of the fall of Jericho provides many lessons for us today. First, we should be awestruck by the power of our God. Cities built with hands, no matter how ancient or grand, cannot stand before the wrath and judgment of our God. Jericho was a pagan city filled with people who worshiped false gods and committed deplorable acts.
Does Jericho in any way resemble the cities of our world today? The deities worshiped may be different, but the disregard for God and His Word is very familiar, as are the wanton acts of sin. Let us pray that our God lengthen the days of our cities and that His Holy Spirit works faith and repentance in the hearts of unbelievers.
We should also learn from the Jericho account to follow God’s commands however illogical they may appear to us. Joshua did not question the military strategy God had chosen to employ against Jericho. He did not try to save the women and children of the city as “innocent” bystanders. He did not disobey God and then try to rationalize his behavior. He simply carried out the instructions God had given him.
How often do we doubt the promise of God? How often do we question the logic of what God allows to happen to us? How often do we deliberately sin and then try to rationalize our behavior? Let us learn from the faithful example of Joshua.
Finally, we should learn of God’s grace to sinners through the story of Rahab. God chose to rescue Rahab, a sinner. God chose to rescue Rahab, a prostitute. God chose to rescue Rahab, a Gentile. Not only did He rescue her, but He chose to use her in fulfilling the promise of a Savior, her Savior!
This should provide us with hope as we look over our lives of sin. If God’s promise of salvation was extended to this Gentile sinner, it means that His promise of salvation is extended to us as well. If God used Rahab to carry out His will on earth, He also uses us, “clay vessels” as we are, to carry out His will.
God rescued sinners like Rahab, and God rescued sinners like you and me! Thanks be to God for giving us the victory!
By grace I'm saved, grace free and boundless My soul, believe and doubt it not. Why stagger at this word of promise? Hath Scripture ever falsehood taught? Nay; then this word must true remain: By grace thou, too, shalt heav'n obtain. (TLH 373:1)
— Prof. Joseph Lau
(The studies which follow were done by a pastor for his own congregation. As we begin the four-part series we include here the pastor’s opening ‘introduction.’)
We are orthodox. That is, we teach only and all of God’s Word with no admixture of error and no deletions from the sacred Word.
There is an ever present danger for us who would be confessional in that when we speak of “fellowship” we think only of separation and withdrawal. The severance of fellowship (or rather, the expression of it) is called forth when there is no longer the unity and agreement on what God’s Word teaches. However, in this study of “koinonia” or fellowship–the word as it is used in context in Scripture–let us see the splendidly positive aspects as well.
First, we shall consider how fellowship is the common union of God with man in what we call the church. Our fellowship is first vertical, that is, we by the power of the Spirit believe in God. Through the Word we learn that Jesus is our Redeemer. He has atoned for all our sin and makes us one with God through His sacrificial death and merit. It is then also that our fellowship is horizontal. We are part of the earthly bride of Christ, His Church on earth.
Secondly, our fellowship finds its very intimate expression in the sacrament of the altar. In considering Paul’s words to the Corinthians on their fellowship in communion, we see that there is a clear separation from idolatry involved and a very special, mysterious intimacy.
Thirdly, fellowship is not merely a fine sounding word for doctrinal presentations. It is something of the heart that expresses itself in activity. Fellowship means “sharing.”
Lastly, fellowship among us means a very personal relationship, a “partnership” in the Gospel, a “participation” in the Spirit.
May our gracious God reinforce through His Word that blessed fellowship we have with him and with one another in the church. May He also preserve us in this fellowship until the last day.