C) Our Participation in God’s Victory
– A Life Commentary –
Success has everything to do with accomplishing God’s will.
For only by seeking and doing His will can we discover and fulfill our life’s purpose. And only by doing His will can we bring glory to His Name and blessing to our lives.
“So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the LORD.” And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. And the armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard, nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!” So he had the ark of the LORD taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp” (Joshua 6:6-11).
You might think your problem doesn’t have a solution, but when God speaks you must carefully follow His instructions. There will be a lesson on this shortly coming up in Joshua. God carefully led His people to victory. The walls came tumbling down just as stated. Let’s note four things about this city that affirm that the report in the Bible is correct..
a) The wall fell as stated.
An artist carefully draws the scene as the 1907-09 German archaeological team described.. Joshua 6:20 records that the wall fell down beneath itself. The stones came down and formed a ramp up into the city. Everyone when straight up in front of him which suggests the wall as a whole fell.
Kenyon’s work was the most detailed. On the west side of the tell, at the base of the retaining, or revetment, wall, she found, ‘fallen red bricks piling nearly to the top of the revetment. These probably came from the wall on the summit of the bank [and/or] … the brickwork above the revetment.’
In other words, she found a heap of bricks from the fallen city walls! An Italian team excavating at the southern end of the mound in 1997 found exactly the same thing.
b) Secondly, everything was burnt down just as the scripture says.
c) Thirdly, big earthen pots filled with grain were found. This grain was very valuable in that day. But because the city was under a ban, no one attempted to loot it as it otherwise would have been.
d) A short stretch of the northern wall stood with houses against it.
“The German excavation of 1907–1909 found that on the north a short stretch of the lower city wall did not fall as everywhere else. A portion of that mudbrick wall was still standing to a height of over two meters (eight feet). What is more, there were houses built against the wall! It is quite possible that this is where Rahab’s house was.”
This passage is a bit long but after we have heard from the Lord, it provides further directions for us.
1) Instant response (6:6-11)
Did you notice what Joshua did? After he heard the Word of the Lord, Joshua acted. Delay leads to doubt. Delay allows for distraction and rebellion. Prompt obedience is obedience because otherwise we might not obey. The military is good for training this promptness.
This month our children are working on the character quality of punctuality. I like the word ‘promptness’ better than punctuality, but the idea is close. “Punctuality is showing esteem for other people and their time.” In this case Joshua regarded what God said as important enough to shape His schedule and overcome any reluctance to do the things directed.
How did Joshua obey? He took the priests and trained them for what they would need to do. They would take up the important part of carrying the Ark of the Covenant and the seven trumpets.
Next he told the people their part (7). They would march about the city with the armed men. Notice what happens in verse 8. “And it was so.” In other words the people obeyed and obedience leads to victory.
Application: God wants to include man in His will. God gives us an opportunity to do His work together. It would be easier just to decimate the place, but the Lord wants to work closely with us and build our trust and relationship with Him. Joshua had a whole great people to command. But he spoke as God told him to and he found the people obeyed. It is possible that they would not. But if because of our own fears, we do not do what God requests, then we have failed and because of our failure, others will fail. When a husband is reluctant to lead, then the family will face failure. When a single person questions his parents’ advice and does something else, that person will face failure. There might be an imagined ‘success’ for a little while, but it will ultimately fail because it is contrary to what God wants for our lives.
2) Persistence Obedience (6:10)
But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard, nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!” (Joshua 6:10, NASB).
We need to pay prolonged attention to the details at what the Lord has given us to do. In this passage we see several elements that required people to persistently obey. Firstly, they had to travel around the city only once a day for the first six days. Some might figure that the seven times was key to victory and ignore the other less spectacular marches.
Secondly, They were to be quiet. They would no doubt hear all the jeering from the walls. People would make fun of them. All they would do is walk around the walls. No doubt the extra command in verse 10 is because they wanted to do more. They wanted to fight back with their words. Obedience calls for self-control. They had to be willing to constrain their bodies, and in this case their mouths, to not say anything even when others made you feel like you wanted to jeer them.
Obedience often requires persistence, sometimes shorter and sometimes longer. Think of others that had to wait to see God’s victory. David was anointed king but had to wait a long time before he became king. Abraham was promised a child but had to wait many decades before seeing God’s promise fulfilled. Noah spent decades building the ark while others scoffed. Jesus allowed Himself to be beaten and scoffed at before victory would come.
There are many things that Satan would use to mess up our obedience. We need to have discernment in order to be persistent in our obedience. We should note that we have combating voices telling us what to do. First we have what God says. Secondly, we have the voice of what others are saying. Some call this peer pressure. And of course we have our own flesh that wants us to do what we feel. Satan sometimes adds his voice to the others in order to raise a chorus of constent to disobey. His ways of tempting can be a clever voice from a tree (Genesis 3:1-7) or visions of a ‘bright angel’ which is only Satan covered up (2 Corinthians 11:14). Regardless what we face, we need to stay our path.
Others might make fun of you. This is true. They are having sex and tease you for your virgin path. You see ‘everyone doing it’ on the television. The Tempter bombards you with words suggesting that you are missing out by waiting for marriage. Keep God’s Word in your mind. Treasure them. Success does not come overnight. It takes time. You will be attacked. The godly man will be persecuted. Meditate day and night on God’s Word and He will keep you properly focused through all these temptations.
Application: So let me ask, ‘How well do you take scoffing and ridicule?” Some of us are so shaky in our faith that we can’t stand alone. We give in and do what everyone else is doing. This results in a lot of pain. Jesus says, “And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29). Jesus is not telling us to literally do this but in this case He is saying that it is crucial that we exercise self-control with what we might do with our eyes. If it is important to protect our sensitive eye, then controlling what we do with our eyes is more important.
In fact, this might where some people become hopeless. They might have tried to live a holy life but fail time after time. They are inspired by some speaker but then they fail. Jericho might require self control and persistence. But is not God testing your heart by giving you opportunity to show how much you really will obey His words?
3) Self-control (6:17-19, 24)
Starting in verse 17 we see special instructions that Joshua gave the people.
“And the city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. “But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, lest you covet them and take some of the things under the ban, so you would make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. “But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” (Joshua 6:17-19). And they burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. (Joshua 6:24).
We are not sure why Joshua stated a ban on all the booty. Everything but the heavy metals which were to be put into the treasury of the Lord were to be burned (Joshua 6:24). There does not seem to be some law or instruction by which he should do it. There are other laws speaking about giving the firstfruits of the land (Deut 26:2). The ban could be an extended application of this principle but hardly to be mandated. Or there is the general understanding of booty: He who wins, receives. But most victories did not have a ban imposed nor was it here explicitly commanded. Joshua as a leader stated it.
I surmise it was because Joshua saw the impossibility of this task. He could easily see how his unprepared men would be demoralized by losing a lot of men when attacking Jericho. Just before this attack, he was praying and asking God for wisdom and protection, and then God appeared to him and provided the instructions that would lead to victory (Joshua 5:13-14). Joshua desired to especially give thanks and honor to God through the ban.
So although the Israelites had many needs, they could not take things from the city of Jericho. It belonged to the Lord. Obedience of course calls us to be content. The Israelites needed to control their desire to see things which now could be theirs. They could even reason this is not God saying it but Joshua. Or “Who will know what I secretly take. It won’t make a difference.” I wonder how many of us have listened to the argument to justify an evil deed? Everything was set apart as holy unto the Lord.
Application: Covetousness is one of the church’s greatest sins but rarely seen or admitted. Possessions are not wrong but we must make it a principle of our lives that the desire of things will never lead into compromise of what God desires.
4) Salvation (Joshua 6:17, 22-23)
“And the city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. (Joshua 6:17, NASB). And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives, and placed them outside the camp of Israel. (Joshua 6:22, 23).
There were many things going on during the destruction of that city. One wonders how they would think about the harlot that helped preserve the life of the slaves. Perhaps those huddled into Rahab’s house were also wondering whether they would be forgotten. This must have been a scene beyond scenes.
Here the whole wall had fallen except for the northern section where Rahab’s house was. Her house was in between the inside and outside wall with the other slum dwellings. If the wall fell, then her house would have fallen and crushed all the ones to be saved. God, however, was paying attention to such details even at times of great judgment. The sounds and sights must have been awesome. After the calamitous fall of the city wall, one part of the wall still remained. Inside was Rahab the harlot along with all of her relatives waiting to be rescued. They belief caused them to be there in that house when the calamity occurred.
This is for a picture for us now. Judgment is happening all around the world. It is not the full Great Judgment Day. That will come in due course where all sin will be finally judged. But there are many small judgments just like the city of Jericho. The small and temporary judgments are precursors to God’s final judgment. All the small judgments are only like a shadow of what is to come. But what is special is that amidst judgment is salvation. Even though the tsunami had killed many, many others are being saved from it. Even though many did by the hurricane Katrina, many others are being saved. This is the difference to the tragedies now happening and the final Judgment scene. Salvation is now still being offered to those remaining alive.
Application: You might be one that needs to be saved. You might be one that has thought a lot about your own plans but little about God’s. You now see how arrogant and rebellious you are to God. Before you blamed God for your problems. Now you see your life’s difficulties as a result of your sin. Those that are seeking salvation cannot bargain with God.
There was only one house you can choose to be in to be saved. Jesus Christ is the only Savior just as He is the only Lord. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). The scriptures state very clear that it is not Protestantism or Catholicism or Buddhism by which people are saved but by the Name of Jesus Christ. Without Christ you will end up in judgment.
One of Rahab’s relatives could state all his reasons for not going to Rahab’s house. He might not want to have associated with a sinner liker her. Or he might have thought that being near her house was okay. But in the end all the excuses will be no good. The only refuge is found in the place with the red scarlet cord which represents the blood of Christ. Without His forgiveness, you have no hope and without hope, you only have judgment.