Joshua & Jericho – Our Story || Marissa Dodgen

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho & the walls came tumbling down.

Anytime, I hear the words Joshua & Jericho, this is what I hear in my head…complete with hand motions. When I was younger, my mom bought me a tape of Christian children’s’ songs sung by the woman who did the voice of Ariel. Yes, the mermaid. I don’t remember any of the songs, except for this one. But other than that what do we know about the battle of Jericho? Why was it important? What significance does it have for us as believers? I’ll be real with you – I didn’t know either. I could remember the story & what happened & even some of the details, but I don’t think I could have told you much more until recently.

Oh, you too? Well, then, let’s start closer to the beginning. 

Take just a minute or two & read the opening verses of Joshua’s story in Joshua 1:1-9.

Who was Joshua?

What was his purpose after Moses died?

Where was the land he was supposed to take the people into?

Reaching a bit further into the text, in verses 13-15 how does it tell us Joshua was supposed to take over the land they where to inhabit?

Nice start, friend. We often psych ourselves out of reading the Bible because we are convinced it is too hard to read or too confusing. Yes, it can be hard to read at times. It can be confusing, but it is not above your level of understanding. Look at the questions you just answered. You do understand the Bible. The most important thing to remember is to read one sentence at a time. Ask yourself questions, just like I asked you questions, and you will get it. Just in the few minutes since you started reading this you understand more about Joshua than you did when you started. Way to go!

Since you are on a roll, read chapter 2.

One of the things I never realized was what Rahab was. Specifically, her occupation. In church, I always remember her being called a harlot (some of the older women would slip & call her a hussy! I knew that was bad, but I didn’t understand what they meant exactly). So what was Rahab?

Hold your whoas and look up Numbers 25:1-2 & lets get a bit of background on the two men Joshua used as spies. What kind of nation was Shittam?

So why in the world would Joshua depend on these two groups of people – a prostitute & a pair of men who came from the nation that “whore[ed] with the daughters of Moab… {and} invited the people to sacrifice to their gods”?

We don’t know exactly. It might be one of the questions I put on my list to get clarification on when I get to heaven, but we can attribute this to God’s character & His plan. God is many things, including merciful & sovereign. Merciful, meaning that we don’t get what we ultimately deserve and that He can redeem these Shittam men and a prostitute, just as much as He can redeem us. He is a God with everlasting mercy that is extended when we don’t deserve it.

He is also sovereign. Sovereign means that despite what may happen, He can & will use everything in this life to accomplish His will. The good, the bad, and the disgusting can still be turned around and used to glorify Him & accomplish His will. These two men & this woman show that regardless of our sin or the sins of those in our past, God can and will use us.

We learn in 2:15 that Rahab lived in the walls of the city, just outside of the gate. If Rahab had not had the occupation she did, she would have lived inside the walls of the city, but because of her life choices she was on the fringe. That fringe placement allowed Joshua to get a sneak peek and intel on the city he was about to take. Her sin put her in the place to be used by God to accomplish His will: for Joshua to take down Jericho.

What a beautiful story of redemption! Maybe this is one we should tuck in our back pocket for those times we are down on ourselves & think we are too bad to be used by God.

Now we’re going to jump forward a few chapters to Joshua 6 and read the entire chapter. Take it slow. There is no rush. Don’t get tangled up in the why’s of everything, you are simply observing the text to get an understanding of what it says & what happens.

As I read this chapter I kept asking why Jericho? What makes this city so important that it is mentioned in the Bible? I came up with two answers:

For the first reason, we need a little more history. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “it was the most important city in the Jordan valley, and the strongest fortress in all the land of Canaan. It was the key to Western Palestine.”

This city was pivotal. It was the gateway to the rest of the land & it was the most secure fortress they would encounter. Word was already spreading about what God did for them at the Red Sea (2:9-10), which was why they had the city shut down: “[It] was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out and none came in.” They knew God was on the side of the Israelites & they knew the Israelites were coming. Skim back over Joshua 6. How did the Israelites bring down the walls of Jericho?

Why would God ask them to do that? Would your house fall down if you walked around it a bunch of times, blew a horn, & then screamed at it? Probably not, but your neighbors might think you have gone insane. Jericho was a huge city. A fortress. They also had a powerful army, according to verse 2. So how were they defeated by the Israelites? They were defeated the same way the Red Sea was split in two….God! And Jericho knew it.

The second reason that Jericho is important is found in a leading Moses had from the Lord in Deuteronomy 7:22-26 

Verse 22: What was God’s plan for all the nations that stood in the way of the Israelites?

Verse 23: God will give them over to the Israelites & cause them to be ________________.

Verse 23-24: What will happen to these nations?

  What will happen to their kings?

Take another look at verse 25. It gives you some idea of why God was having the Israelites destroy these nations rather than just defeating them. What are they doing that is against God?

These nations were openly worshiping other gods. From the beginning of time, God has been very clear that we are not to disobey His commands (remember what happen in our first week of study when Eve decided disobey?) and that we are not to worship other gods; which is exactly what these nations were doing. But this verse gives you another hint as to why God wanted the Israelites to completely destroy the cities. What command does God give Moses about the idols they found in the cities? And why did He specifically want them destroyed in verse 26? “for it is devoted to _______________.”

Read Deuteronomy 20:16-18, about how the Lord commanded Moses to take over the cities. What was God’s instruction to Moses?

In verse 18 it tells us very specifically why God wanted them completely destroyed, “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods.” 

So if God is a God of love like we are all taught, why would He have these cities destroyed?

We are all God’s children correct? Correct. Keep this in mind as we continue.

If someone had their hands on your child and was attempting to kill or put them into slavery what would you do?

Ok…now, let’s be honest, what would you do?

I don’t know where you stand, but I’m not giving that person a second chance to murder or enslave my kids by slapping them on the wrist. They would be as dead as they were once walking. I can’t speak for God and I won’t, but just think about these people, the Israelites…us…His children. He is fighting for their lives. These nations have murdered and enslaved and corrupted His children already. There comes a point when the chances for redemption are dried up regardless of the circumstance. But even then, God did give them a reprieve in Deuteronomy 20:11-12.

What were they conditions for life versus utter destruction?

So you see, He did give them multiple chances and while we don’t have time to find all the references, this was not the first rodeo these people had with God. It wasn’t just yesterday that they started worshiping others gods. This was hundreds of years in the making, all the way back to the tower of babel when people tried to build a tower to reach to heaven to be just as God was. At some point, the camel’s back breaks. God knew that if they were left alive, they would continue to corrupt His people.

Jericho & its destruction seem so simple and so straightforward, and look at all we have uncovered. And we have only scratched the surface! This is what is so amazing about the Bible. It has layer upon layer of depth. No matter how many times you read it or how much you study, there are still things to be uncovered. Today we learned that Rahab was a redeemed woman even though her sins were grave. The spies were from a nation that was abominable in the eyes of God, & a fortress city was taken down by the people of God using their feet, voices, horns, & obedience. We learned that God is merciful and sovereign and that his plan rules over all in spite of worldly obstacles.

What we see as a random story about a random guy and a random city actually ends up to be a story about us. We’re all Rahab, but thankfully God is who He has always been.

                               

 

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