June 29, 2014   Joshua 6 & 7 Jericho and Ai


    Last week we looked at Rahab and the crossing of the Jordan.  Rahab is a great example of God’s love for people.  She is prostitute and a foreigner and she finds God’s grace.  She is mentioned in the New Testament in Hebrews 11 and in James and she is in the linage of Jesus in Matthew 1.   She was used of God to protect the spies that went into the land.  It is great to be used by God.  Sometimes we get used by the world and it is never good to be used by the devil. 

     God used Moses parted the Red Sea and Joshua experienced the parting of the Jordan.  The Jordan was in flood stage and it can be up to 1 mile wide during flood stage.  God led them to the Jordan when it was flooded.   God led them there when it was impossible for them to cross.  God likes to break and bend our will and show us our dependence upon Him.  God likes it when we say Lord I cannot do it help.    The priests had to put their feet in the water before the waters were stopped.  They could pray all day and look at it all day long but they had to step into the flood water and then God moved.  We have to exercise our faith.   We have to step out when God tell us to.    Sometimes that is not easy. .    They cross on dry land.   As soon as the priests step on the other side the waters return to flood stage.  God gave them everything they needed to get to where God wanted them.  That gets us to chapter 5 which we will cover quickly. 

    To me chapter 5 is a preparation chapter.  They prepare for what is ahead.   You just don’t barge into battle.   In chapter 5 the men are circumcised.  It has been said that before they can conquer others they must be conquered by God.  Abraham had entered into a covenant relationship with God which was sealed with circumcision.  It was a reminder to the Jews that they belonged to God.  The older generation that came out of Egypt did not believe in God and they did not circumcise while they wondered in the desert.  The people were now in their inheritance and it was time to renew that covenant.  They are in the Promised Land and the Jordan River behind them is raging and it is not a good time to disable the army.  The whole army would be in pain at this point and they needed to trust God for protection.  They were to be circumcised on the 8th day.   Why?  In the early 1900’s they found out that Jewish women had less cervical cancer than other women of other people groups and they determined it was because of circumcism.  God knows what He is doing.  It just takes us 2 or 3 thousand years for us to figure out some of what God tells us.  They camp in the plains of Jericho and celebrate the Passover and eat food in the land.  The very next day there is no manna.  This is food they did not plant.  Others had planted it and God gave it to them. 

     I love the last part of chapter 5.   Joshua is near Jericho and he looks up and sees a man in front of him with his sword drawn.  Joshua walks up to him and said are you for or against us.  We are like that we want folks on our side.  The correct question is am I on God’s side?   We often pray lord bless this or bless that but is that my plan or is that God’s plan?   Joshua asks whose side are you on and he said neither.   I am not here to take sides.  Jesus is on his side.  I am commander of the Lords army.  I believe that is a theophany or Christophany in other words Jesus.  Angels do not receive worship but Jesus does.  Joshua worships. 

     Joshua falls on his face.   Joshua said what message do you have for me.  Isaiah said here am I send me.  As we see and hear Jesus our lives change.  Our wills will submit to Him. Speak Lord for your servant is listening.   Joshua needs to be in submission to God before he can be victorious.  His will needs to be in submission to God’s will.  Joshua is told to take his shoes off because he is on holy ground.  God’s presence or Jesus presence made the ground holy.   God’s presence is what makes you holy.   I trust that you want to be holy and that takes effort on your part.   Get the junk out of your life. Get the junk out of your house.    It is like Jesus is saying to Joshua I am not here to take sides but I am here to take over.  I am in charge.  Take off your shoes you are in my presence.  Shellie has in the past worshipped with her shoes off.  Some churches may not like that but in my mind she can her shoes off anytime she feels led to do that.  Holy ground   Are you on holy ground today or is this just a common place.  Yes we are the temple of God but this is a special place to me. 

     When we get to chapter 6 it is war fare time.  From 6 to 12 we read of the battles that they are engaged in.  We are in a war today.  We are in a spiritual battle.   I saw an urgent prayer request from a Cindy Jacobs this week and she said that she felt that America is in danger again of an attack and called us to pray.  We fight the world the flesh and the devil.  We are a target of Satan.  We wrestle not against flesh and blood.  The bible tells us that our weapons are spiritual.  Those weapons are powerful and they are mighty.  Paul tells us it is a spiritual battle. It has been said that you are but a poor soldier of Christ if you think you can overcome without fighting and suppose you can have the crown without the conflict.  Warren Wiersbe wrote that if you eliminate the militant side of the Christian faith you must abandon the cross for it was on the cross that Jesus won the victory over sin and Satan.  Jesus made it plain that we will have our battles. Jesus said at one point that heaven is taken by force.   Peter tells us do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial that you face. 

   A pastor attended a court hearing to protest the building of a tavern near his church and public school.  The lawyer for the tavern owners said to him I’m surprised to see you here today reverend.   As a shepherd shouldn’t you be out taking care of the sheep?   The pastor replied today I am fighting the wolf.    Paul said when he left the church in Ephesus in Acts 20 I know after I leave savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  A few years later Jesus told that church in Ephesus that they had left their first love and their first love was Jesus.   We are in a battle for the souls of men.  We labor for the lost and pray for the lost.  Joshua’s battles were different.  They had to fight to take the land.  We struggle with the violence and the killing in the Old Testament.  God’s holiness has not changed.  As Christians we are thankful for the cross and for God’s grace today.  

     Jericho was a city that covered about 8 to 10 acres and it is estimated that about 20,000 people were in it.   It is not a huge city at all.   It is not much when you consider that Joshua had about 600,000 men who were of fighting age.  There is a good chance that Joshua did not use his whole army to take the city.   At a safe distance so the enemy could not shoot arrows at them they could probably surround the whole city a few hundred men deep.   That would be rather impressive.    In verse 2 we see that the Lord told Joshua that the city was his.   Joshua had the promise of God that the city was going to fall into his hands.   The victory is assured.  There is no doubt about the outcome of this battle.  It is a sure thing.  Brothers and sisters we walk by and in the promises of God.  His word is so important.  We have the promise of heaven.   We have the promise of forgiveness.   We have the promise of his presence and his blessings.  Ephesians 1:3 we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.  We can claim his direction, his peace, his help, his presence, his forgiveness and his blessing upon our life.   God tells Joshua the city is yours.  He still needs to follow directions on taking it. 

    So what is the plan for taking Jericho?    Well march around the city once a day for 6 days and then march around the city on the 7th day 7 times.  They spend a whole week to take 1 city.  That may seem like a waste of time but it was God’s plan.   Seven is a very important number and represents fullness, to be satisfied to be complete.  The Sabbath was celebrated on the 7th day, there are 7 weeks from Passover to Pentecost, the 7th year is the sabbatical year, and after 49 years 7 times 7 is the year of Jubilee, and 3 of Israel’s feasts fall in the 7th month.   There were 6 days of creation and then God rested.   To march around the city seems to be really foolish.   But it works because God is in it.  God’s ways are not our ways and his wisdom is total and complete.    The Israelite men must have questioned marching around the city after a few days.  That is not how you take a city.   I suspect that some of the men in Jericho must have thought that was very strange.  I wonder if some of the men in Jericho began to taunt them after a few days.   What are you idiots doing down there?    I mean how would you take a walled city?  You build ramps, battering rams and ladders and etc.   The walls were high because Rahab let the spies down by a rope.  It is believed that there were 2 walls about 15 feet apart and houses were built in the middle.  That would make those walls very solid. 

   The ark which represents God’s presence is mentioned 8 times in the first 15 verses.  God’s presence is very important.  We have heard the saying don’t leave home without it.   Do not go anywhere without his presence.  He is with us but we want to be close to him day by day.  We thank him for being with us but we also ask for his presence and guidance.  The men are to be quiet when they march around the city until the last time on the 7th day and then they shout and the walls will fall.  You can yell at walls all day long and they will not fall but God dropped them. Hebrews 11 tells us that the walls fell by faith.   Rahab's house was somehow protected from the falling walls.   Perhaps the walls did not fall at her house.   God works in strange ways His wonders he performs.  He is amazing.  The city was easy to take.   If the walls fell in I suspect that many people died when the walls fell.

    Everything was to be destroyed.  It was to be devoted to God.   The first fruits were given to God.  We see in the next chapter that Achan took some silver, gold and a robe for himself and because of that the Israelites fled in battle at Ai and 36 innocent men died.  We do not want to take that which belongs to God for ourselves.  Wise people are careful not have cursed things in their house.    We do not want to have what God tells us not to have because God will not bless that.  Joshua had to deal with that and take Ai before they moved on.

    The walls fall and I am sure that the Israelites faith is growing.  God parted the Jordan River for them and by faith Jericho falls.  They are enjoying the food in the Promised Land.  Now they have taken some land and seen God’s glory and blessing.