1686.) Joshua 6

by Philip Ratner (Dennis and Philip Ratner Museum, Bethesda, Maryland)

Joshua 6   (NRSV)

Jericho Taken and Destroyed

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

2The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. 3You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, 4with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. 5When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.”

6So Joshua son of Nun summoned the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and have seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark of the Lord.” 7To the people he said, “Go forward and march around the city; have the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”

“Go forward and march around the city”  —  by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

8As Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. 9And the armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets; the rear guard came after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10To the people Joshua gave this command: “You shall not shout or let your voice be heard, nor shall you utter a word, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11So the ark of the Lord went around the city, circling it once; and they came into the camp, and spent the night in the camp.

12Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord passed on, blowing the trumpets continually. The armed men went before them, and the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14On the second day they marched around the city once and then returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

Such a ridiculous plan, really, to take a fortified city!

March around it in silence for six days.  March around it seven times on the seventh day.  Then yell!  One can hardly imagine what the Israelites were thinking as they followed the Lord’s instructions and marched around that city over and over and over again.

What seemingly meaningless, repetitive thing is God requiring of you now?  Could it be that while you are patiently persevering, He is preparing for your current obstacle to fall at your feet, to the glory of His name?  “Be strong and courageous” and wait obediently for your seventh day!

James 1:12 (NIV)

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

–from Tozer on the Holy Spirit:

According to the Scriptures, patience—the ability to wait—is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The human, natural side of us does not like to wait for anything.  But the great God Almighty, who has all of eternity to accomplish His purposes, can afford to wait,  In our creature impatience we are prone to cry out, “O God, how long?  How long?”

And God replies, in effect, “Why are you in such a hurry?  We have an eternity stretching before us.”

15On the seventh day they rose early, at dawn, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. 17The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live because she hid the messengers we sent.

Rahab had a past, but God gave her a future.

Hebrews 11:31 (NLT)

It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

18As for you, keep away from the things devoted to destruction, so as not to covet and take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel an object for destruction, bringing trouble upon it. 19But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

20So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat;

“When the trumpets sounded, and the people shouted, the walls collapsed” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it.

They took, after God had given (Joshua 6:2). It was clear that God gave, but that Israel had to take by obedient, persistent faith.

–David Guzik

21Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.

Hebrews 11:30 (New Living Translation)

It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.

22Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house, and bring the woman out of it and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23So the young men who had been spies went in and brought Rahab out, along with her father, her mother, her brothers, and all who belonged to her—they brought all her kindred out—and set them outside the camp of Israel. 24They burned down the city, and everything in it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25But Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, Joshua spared. Her family has lived in Israel ever since. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

“devoted to destruction”

verse 17:  The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.

Nothing is to be left alive.  The city itself is to be burned.  The complete destruction of the city indicates that Jericho is to be like a whole burnt offering, completely destroyed as a gift to God.  Such an offering would acknowledge that God won the battle.

26Joshua then pronounced this oath, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be anyone who tries to build this city—this Jericho! At the cost of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest he shall set up its gates!”

Jericho is the world’s lowest city (more than 1,000 feet below sea level), and also appears to be the oldest (with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BCE).  Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of over 20 successive settlements of the city.

When the city of Jericho was rebuilt years later, the curse was fulfilled:

1 Kings 16:34 (NIV)

In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun.

27So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was in all the land.

This completes the story of Israel’s victory at Jericho. We can learn from the things that marked their victory.

  • Faith: Joshua and Israel believed the battle plan.
  • Obedience: Joshua and Israel followed the battle plan exactly.
  • Courage: Israel followed the battle plan despite danger.
  • Endurance: Israel followed the battle plan over a period of time, even when it seemed that nothing was happening.
  • Israel’s trust was in the Lord, not in human ingenuity.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

I bet you have already started humming this song!  HERE  is “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”  arranged by Moses Hogan and sung by the Nathaniel Dett Chorale.

_________________________

The new pastor decided to visit the children’s Sunday school. The teacher introduced him and said, “Pastor, this morning we’re studying Joshua.”

“That’s wonderful,” said the new pastor, “let’s see what you’re learning. Who tore down the walls of Jericho?”

Little Billy shyly raised hand and offered, “Pastor, I didn’t do it.”

Taken aback, the pastor asked, “Come on, now, who tore down the walls of Jericho?”

The teacher, interrupting, said, “Pastor, Billy’s a good boy. If he says he didn’t do it, I believe he didn’t do it.”

Flustered, the pastor went to the Sunday school director and related the story to him.

The director, looking worried, explained, “Well, sir, we’ve had some problems with Billy before. Let me talk to him and see what we can do.”

Really bothered now by the answers of the teacher and the director, the new pastor approached the deacons and related the whole story, including the responses of the teacher and the director.

A white-haired gentleman thoughtfully stroked his chin and said, “Well, Pastor, I move we just take the money from the general fund to pay for the walls and leave it at that.”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Ratner.    http://www.ratnermuseum.com/includes/images/photos/heroes/hero_1.jpg
Tzarfati.    http://biblical-art.com/artist_artwork.asp?id_artist=2096&alt=2&pagenum=1
tall walls of Jericho.     http://i.ytimg.com/vi/U3vNEh0wjRs/0.jpg
woman with a veil.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/woman2bwith2bviel.jpg
walls of Jericho falling.    http://www.reformation.org/en-walls-of-jericho.jpg
walls of ancient Jericho.    http://howardbloom.net/jericho_wall_color.jpg
guy laughing.    http://www.edupics.com/laughing-t11665.jpg
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