104-107-Joshua Chapter 6
The city of Jericho guarded two important entrances into the heart of the Canaanites hill country. The Israelites would have to conquer Jericho first or leave a mighty enemy between then and their families at Gilgal. Jericho itself was fortified by a double ring of walls. The outer wall was six feet think and the inner wall was twelve feet. Across these was laid timbers to support houses. The city of Jericho was built on a hill and the opposing army would have to climb the hill to assault the city. This was a great disadvantage to any attacking army. The general practice of the day was to lay siege for several months in order to force surrender by starvation. Because of the history of the Israelites and past occurrences of battle and the known truth of what their God had done for them the city of Jericho was shut up. The people and the army within the walls of Jericho were on full alert. From a human point of view the Israelites, with inferior weapons, this would have been an impossible battle for them to win. But for God, who always issues His perspective in the future tense, the battle was already over and the victory was for the Israelite people. Therefore the Lord could say to Joshua that He had given Jericho into his hand.
Up to now everything they had done was preliminary in preparation for the conquest of Jericho. Now the task of conquering Jericho was before them and it must be disposed if the Israelites were to occupy the Promised Land. Jericho was the most formidable city that the Israelites would face in Canaan. If the Israelites took Jericho all the other city states in Canaan would be available to them. We see here the wisdom of God, different from worldly wisdom, that Israel face the most difficult obstacle first.
The battle plan given to Joshua made no military sense and was not a plan that showed any possible way to victory. What it did do is show that in our spiritual battles we are truly dependent upon God. The people of Israel show great faith in their obedience to the plan that God had given them. It also showed tremendous faith on Joshua’s part because he had to reveal the plan to the Israelite people. Once the plan that the Lord had given to Joshua was revealed to the elders and the people of Israel it show great faith in their part to follow with complete faith and obedience.
The plan for victory was of such that it would clearly be the work of the Lord and a gift to the Israelite people. Yet, the armies of Israel were given something to do in order that they could work with God in partnership. God could have completed the battle and given the Israelites the victory without any effort on their part. But he wanted his people to be a part of His work. Just as God wants us to be a part of His work today.
First Joshua had to call the priest and inform them of what they were to do. It was not a normal thing for the priest to be involved in the battle and neither was it normal to take the Ark of the Covenant into battle. The Ark of the Covenant would be necessary for the Israelites to have the victory just as the Ark of the Covenant was necessary for them to cross the Jordan. The Ark was the presence of the Lord and the people had to be very mindful that the Lord was with them. When we are doing the Lord’s work it is important to focus on Him with our minds and hearts. We should not be distracted by the difficulty of the task ahead of us.
Joshua had to give the people very specific instructions as to what they were to do. This was a very unusual task they were being asked to do. It certainly was not the customary way to conquer a walled city.
Joshua immediately obeyed the Lord’s commands. Often people hesitate to obey and this shows a lack of faith and trust in the words that the Lord has spoken. So the army of Israel, the seven priest blowing trumpets, the Ark of the Covenant, and the rear guard marched around the city of Jericho. Jericho was not a large city and this could be done in a reasonable amount of time. The people of Jericho watched as the procession went around their city. They must have watched in awe and also with a sense of horror.
It would have been easy for the people of Jericho to attack the Israelites as they marched around the city. They had the advantage of the high city walls from which to throw down upon the Israelites. Israel displayed great courage in their obedience of God’s command. Also this showed great endurance by their marching. They repeated this for six days, as they marched in silence they may have been thinking as to how this action made any sense. Also as the people marched around Jericho they must have looked at the high walls of the city, at how impenetrable they were. This gave them opportunity to realize that this battle was bigger than they were.
After six days of marching around the city of Jericho and on the Sabbath, the seventh day, they arose again to march around the city seven times. After the seventh time around the city Joshua commanded “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city!” for six days they had marched in silence and now they let out a mighty shout. It was not their shout which would take the walls of Jericho down, it was a shout for what the Lord was going to do. It was the time that God would show that by His sovereign grace and power what He would do for His people. The shout of the Israelite people was a shout of rejoicing for now the Lord would fulfill His promise and give them the city.
Rahab the harlot and all those who were with home her were to be spared. Everything and everyone else was to be destroyed. This was her reward for caring for the spies of the Israelite people. She had displayed faith in the God of the Israelite people and now had found support with God’s people.
Joshua commanded the people to stay away from the things that were cursed. This was the idols and the things that were associated with their demonic and depraved worship. God’s judgment against Jericho and the land of Canaan was not because they were in the way of the Israelite people, God’s judgment came because the Canaanite people were in rebellion against God. It was their belief in the occult that caused God’s judgment against them as artifacts that have been recovered have proven.
The silver, gold, bronze and iron were to be consecrated unto the Lord. These represented the first fruits of the Promised Land and therefore belonged to God. Jericho being the first city to be conquered in Canaan was the first fruit. The spoils of this city were to be placed in the treasury of the Lord.
The walls falling down flat may have also been just as much a surprise to the Israelite people as the people of Jericho. They were not told as to how God would deliver the city to the Israelite people.
Why was Israel to completely destroy the city of Jericho and its population? Because the sins of the Canaanites were spiritual sins. God did not want His people to be influenced by their evil practices. “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. “You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. “For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)
This only appears as a harsh judgment because it is. God has commanded such harsh judgment before this one at Jericho. The Judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah was just as harsh. (Genesis 19:24:25) The judgments to come at the end of the age will be even harsher. This is the result of the wrath of God against open rebellion and sin against His Word.
God had given the city to the Israelite people but by their obedience they had to take it as an act of faith. It is the same with all victory in the Christian life. The Christian has been given the life of Jesus but we must take it and live for Him in obedient, persistent faith.
Rahab remained true to what the spies had told her and the scarlet cord was in place and none destroyed her. Now Joshua commanded the spies to go and bring her out of the city. All other inhabitants of the city of Jericho were slain and the city was put to flame. We see in Rahab a contrast between judgment and salvation. All of Jericho had heard about the God of the Israelite people. Only Rehab responded with faith in the God of the Israelite people. Rahab dwelling with Israel to this day shows that this book was written at the time of Joshua. It is not a re-construction from an imaginative writer long after the fact. It also affirms the breadth and depth of God’s grace. Rahab was not only accepted by the Israelite people but she was also an ancestor of the Messiah. (Matthew 1:5)
Joshua cursed the ground where Jericho stood and whosoever should rebuild Jericho would pay a heavy price. King Ahab violated this curse and paid that price of his first born and his youngest son. “Ahab also made the Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.” (1 Kings 16:33-34)