In Genesis 9:18, the Word of God tells us;
18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth. 20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”
It is in this moment, in this moment of sin and appreciation of it by Ham, that a people of sin were born. This was a moment which changed the course of history not only for the decedents of Ham, but more important the people of Israel forever. God has a promise for each of us and today we have to ask ourselves which side of the wall do we desire to experience.
Scripture – Joshua 6 (ESV)
The Fall of Jericho
6 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. 2 And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4 Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when 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 the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” 6 So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” 7 And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”
8 And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing 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. 9 The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.
12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days.
15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, 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. 16 And 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. 17 And the city and all that is within 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 whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.
22 But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
26 Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.
“At the cost of his firstborn shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates.”
27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
Engaging the Word
Today as we dig into this passage in the Word there are a few areas that we need to consider as believers so that we can not only understand this passage of scripture but more importantly understand its significance in our lives. Questions like;
- Why did Jericho need to be destroyed?
- Why did all the living things in Jericho need to be killed?
- What was the purpose of the trumpets in this passage
- What does this passage mean in our lives?
These are questions that we need to understand, questions that we need to be able to answer as believers.
As we see here, the Israelites have walked across the Jordan and are now standing at Jericho. They are now standing upon the soil of God’s promise for their lives as a people and the first thing that they are asked to do before God is to go and conquer the city of Jericho that lies before them. As we have talked about before, Jericho is a bustling city an epicenter where the trade of the countries traversed between nations and a city that was not only fortified but it was supplied with natural resources right to their front door. The Jordan river carried water into the city and the people if needed could survive for quite a while without access to the outside world. So why did Jericho need to be destroyed? Why didn’t the people of Israel focus on perhaps creating a city for their own? Why didn’t they migrate into the other areas of Canaan and perhaps set up their nation within the border boundaries of the nation that lay before them? As we had talked about before, Jericho was cornerstone to the country that lay before them. It was of strategic importance and if Jericho fell, then the remainder of the country would easily fall before them. However even so, knowing of its strength why did God instruct the people of Israel to conquer this city before all else. It is evident that the people of God needed to understand that the hand of God was the strength that was carrying them. It was not their swords, the military prowess or their skilled training, but it was the hand of God that would deliver them.
Here in verse 1 & 2, we see that Jericho was shut up and that no one could go in and no one could go out. This in and of itself indicates that there was nothing that the people of God could do to conquer this city. They had no way in and the city was completely fortified. God’s people in this moment of their lives had to learn to completely trust in the strength not of themselves but entirely of God in their midst. Folks the sooner that we as believers understand that we are at war against the evil and sin of this world, the sooner we will take steps as believers to embrace the full promise has for us as believers. You may be wanting to argue that we are not at war, but perhaps need to mold our Christian understanding of the Word to the new world of today. However, the word of God says in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Today if we are survive as a people of God and if we are to experience the promise of God in our lives and in the life of our church we need to stop playing with the lion and put it down. Experiencing the promise of God requires that first we see the enemy before us and secondly embrace the truth that we can only conquer the enemy in our lives through the power of God. Whether it is conquering sin within our lives or conquering the hopelessness and sin that has conquered the lives of those around us, conquering requires being sold out to Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives.
Action upon Instruction
It is for this reason that Joshua is given specific instruction from our Lord that he is called to bring the people of God together and to place trumpeters in front of the Arch of the Covenant as they marched around Jericho. There are two significant reasons as to why they were instructed by our Lord to have trumpets playing before the Arch of the Covenant. I believe our Lord desired to illustrate to the people of Israel and the people of Jericho that He was leading the way before the people. That it wasn’t the strongest of soldiers or the generals of Israel that were leading the charge against sin in the land but the presence of God. Secondly, I believe that our Lord desired to give specific instruction to the people of Israel so that they could experience the promise and presence of God. It was in this moment that our Lord spoke into the life of obedience amongst the people of God.
We see here in verse 2 and verse 6 and verse 10 and 16, that Joshua leads the charge amongst the people of God as He gives this specific instruction to the people. This instruction by God was not to be debated. It was not to be understood within the context but not obeyed in its specificity. It was specific instruction given by God so that the people of Israel could not only see the presence of God alive in their midst but also experience the promise that was given to them. Although it is easy for you and me to look at this moment and discard its significance, it we really consider the magnitude of the instruction we might be better able to understand its significance. For instance, the arch of the covenant was without a doubt the most sacred and valuable possession the Israelites had. Surely, they would have wanted to protect it, not put it out there on display for Jericho? Surely, militarily it would have been a better idea to put the strong soldiers and weapons at the front of the people?
Unfortunately, we too often look upon the promises and instruction of God as general guidelines to which we are called to generally adhere to but not explicitly obey. We look at instructions like the “love the Lord your God and love your neighbor” as instruction to which we can generally adhere. We don’t have to engage the presence of the Lord on a regular basis. We don’t have attend church on a regular basis. We only have to be nice to our neighbors if they are nice to us. Last week I spoke about wives submitting to your husband. But too often we all to easily forget that God tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Surely, we only have to love our wives if they are nice to us? Generally adhering to the instruction and promises of God is not living a life of Godly obedience. It is merely being a Christian when we feel like it. Experiencing the promises of God requires explicit adherence to the instruction of our Lord upon our lives.
The Action of our Hearts
Finally, in this passage of scripture we see a truth that the world quite honestly does not get and will never get. Here in verse 18 and verse 21our Lord through Joshua gives the people specific instruction that once God has conquered the wall that separates them from promise, that they are called to put all to death, the men, the women, the children, even the animals. The world looks at this instruction by God as barbaric, that how can we serve a God that would slaughter the men, the women, the children and the animals. Even as babes in Christ some of us have struggled with this question ourselves. But if we look at verse 18, we see that our Lord specifically calling the people of God to separate themselves from that which would cause destruction within their own lives. The people that resided in Jericho had found themselves serving the idols of Canaanites, like that of Baal and Anat. Out of their desire to experience and enjoy the sin of this world they had chosen not to follow the God of Noah and Joshua. Rahab the prostitute within this sinful place had chosen the God of Israel knowing that He was on the throne. These people within Jericho had chosen not to give into the presence of God but had chosen to oppose God. The killing of the people of Jericho was not about the killing of people, it was about obedience to God and his instruction to separate ourselves from the lure of sin within our lives.
So why is this significant in our lives. In Romans 8:13, our Lord tells us “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Also in 2 Corinthians 6:14 our Lord also tells us “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial”. Unfortunately, in the church today, the understanding of these truths has not been preached. We have allowed sin to creep into our lives and into our church and rather than putting it to death we have played with it. Rather than separating ourselves from the things of this world we have entertained these things in our lives. From couples that live in sin in our churches, to the divorces that we accept, to the “OMG” that so many find acceptable, to the lust in the men’s hearts and the gossip on women’s tongues. These are just a few areas where we have found acceptable to play with the sin of our lives. Yet, God has such promise for each of us if we will just put the sin of this world to death. Whether they are the big sins in our lives, the gentle sins of our lives or the little ones that we entertain, God has so much promise for us if we will just listen to his call upon our lives.
Today there is a Jericho in each of our lives. Whether it is Jericho of sin, or a Jericho of disobedience to the Word of God in our lives or just a Jericho to which we have allowed our strength to go before the presence of God instead of letting the presence of God lead the way. Our Lord desires to tear down the Jerichos in our lives if we will just explicitly listen to the presence of our Lord in every way. Even if we do not understand it. Even if it makes no sense. God has promise for us and he desires to give each of us promise if we will just answer his call.