Joshua 6

 

Tonight we are continuing our study in the Book of Joshua. Specifically we will be looking at chapter 6 which deals with the destruction of Jericho.

 

Joshua 6:1 Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.

 

Chapter 6 starts out with the people of Jericho shutting their gates and sealing them shut. This was common strategy back then. People would build their cites with wall around them and make only one gate for coming in and out the city. This gave them a great advantage against their enemy and made it easier for them to defend themselves. However this was only good defense for a short time because an army could surround you and just wait for you to starve like the Romans were famous for doing. This is what they did to Jews in 70AD. However, Joshua and the children of Israel are about to find out thatthey will defeat Jericho in 7 days.

 

Joshua 6:2 And the LORD said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. ††

 

God assure Joshua that Jericho is already his and their no reason for him to doubt it. Now even though God was giving them Jericho as gift Joshua has his part to play in accepting this gift as we see starting in.

 

Joshua 6:3 "You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.4 "And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.5 "It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him."

 

In these verses God is talk directly to Joshua explaining to him what he wants him to do and what the end result will be. Now just for a minute I want you to put yourself in Joshua place and just imagine that God has told what you must do. How would this make you feel? I can tell you I think I would have been a little confused. Notice God doesnít try to get Joshua to use some of the normal tactics of overcoming a fortified city like ramming the gate or building ladders to scale the wall. No he wants him to march around the city 1 time ever day for 6 days and then on the 7th to march around 7 times and blast the rams horn and have everyone shout. Think about how strange that must of sounded to Joshua. However, no matter how strange it was Joshua didnít question God and he obeyed. This is great lesson for every Christian to learn. There are some things in the Bible that God does not allow that we might not see any harm in or understand why he wants us to do things a certain way. Well, we need to be like Joshua and not question Godís commands even if we donít understand them fully. It important for us to understand that God has a reason for everything and we need to allow him to direct our steps. Rightly did Jeremiah say,

 

Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

 

Now let read how Joshua put Godís plan into action.

 

Joshua 6:6 Then 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, "Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the LORD."8 So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the LORD advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.9 The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. 10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, "You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, 'Shout!' Then you shall shout."

 

Just as the children of Israel promise they followed Joshua leadership and put Godís plan into action without question.The armed men went first followed by the priest caring the ark of the covenant followed by the rear guard. The priest would continually blow their horns as they circled the city. This wouldbe the only noise that would be made because the people were not to make any noise with their voice until Joshua told them to.

 

In verse 11 Ė 14 tells us that the children of Israel do this for the next 6 days. Again I want to imagine that you were one of the people of Jericho. On the first day you heard the children of Israel marching around you city blowing these horns I would imagine this was very frightening to them. They were probably wondering what in the world are they going to do. Now as the days went I could just imagine thembecome less and less scared andwho knows for sure but maybe they even got to point where they were laughing at them or even yelling insults at them. In either case I think we can all agree that this would have seemed like very strange behavior to the people of Jericho.

 

Joshua 6:15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times.

 

This 7th day was a little bit different because they were to march around the city 7 times. This tells us that this city was not all that big. In fact archeologist have discovered whatthey believe to be the city of Jericho because it matches how the Bible describes it. They have estimated that Jericho was about 600 meters in circumference and to march around it 7 times would be less than 3 miles. I want to give you little more information on the dimension of these walls based on what archeologist have found. First of all Jericho had two walls that were 15 feet apart. In between these walls is where the house like Rahabís was built. The outer wall was 6 feet thick and inner wall was 12 feet thick. Both walls were about 30 feet high. This gives us a good Idea how huge these wall were and big this city was.

 

16 And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: "Shout, for the LORD has given you the city!17 "Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.18 "And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.19 "But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD."20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

 

Just as God had promised the walls of Jericho came down and the city would now be theirs. Think about how much noise that must of made when these walls came down. Which by the way is backed up by archeologist who say that that the outer wall fell down bringing the inner wall along with it. Another interesting point in this is thatRahab was to spared along with her household. We to remember that her house was upon thiswall. According to archeologist the north part of the wall of Jerichodid not come down and this was most likely where Rahabís house was because if she had been anywhere else on the wall she and her family would have died when the wall came down. Some have tried to explain away how the walls came down because they cant accept that God performed a miracle. Some say that it was earth quake others even tried to say that their voice acted like a opera singer who can break glass trying to say that somehow their voice where right frequency to cause these huge walls to fall. Those of us who understand that God is all powerful and can perform miracles have no problem in believing that God caused the walls to fall.

 

We also learn from these verses that the children of Israel were not supposed to take anything from this city for themselves. However the Gold, silver, bronze and iron were to be given to Lords treasury after all it was only because of God that they were able to conquer this city.

 

Joshua 6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

 

Every part of this wicked city was destroyed both human and animal.

 

Joshua 6:22 But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, "Go into the harlot's house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her."23 And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel.24 But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.25 And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

 

Rahab and her familywas spared and they burned the city of Jericho. Again, thisgoes hand and hand with what the archeologist have found because they found evidence of this city being burned.

 

Joshua 6:26 Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, "Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates."

 

Joshua putsa curse up on this city and about 500 years latter we the curse come true.

 

ESV 1 Kings 16:34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

 

This King rebuilt Jericho and it cost him both his sons live just as Joshua said it would. As, one commentator said, ď It always dangerous to build upon what God wishes to be destroyedĒ.

 

Joshua 6:27 So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout all the country.

 

No doubt people were talking a great deal about Joshua and how scared they were of him and they hoped he didnít come their way.

 

Now lets take a look at chapters 7 and 8 that show how sin can effect an entire congregation.

 

Joshua and the children just did a great job of following Godís instructions so they could defeat Jericho but this didnít last long as we find one disobedient man starting in verse 1.

 

Joshua 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah (z Ė rah) of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel.

 

One thing that always helps me to remember someoneís name and what they did is if I can make it into some kind of funny. When I think of Achan I picture him achan for the items he took from Jericho. Now to keep in mind that no one in this camp knew what Achan had done only God did. This teaches that even if we manage to hide a sin from those around us we cannot hide our sin from God.

 

Joshua 7:2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, "Go up and spy out the country." So the men went up and spied out Ai.3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, "Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few."4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai.5 And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

 

You can see Joshuaís confidence in God when he only sent a small group of his men to take AI. However, because of Achanís sin the people of AI easily took care of these soldiers and even killed 36 of them.There is nothing like a defeat that will cause men to lose their confidence. Now let look at Joshuaís response to this.

 

Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.7 And Joshua said, "Alas, Lord GOD, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all -- to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!8 "O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies?9 "For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?"

 

Here Joshua doesnít understand what is going on. He probably felt like God had abandoned them. The great confidence that he had was turned to mush. He even started thinking it would have been better to have stayed on the other side of the Jordan. He was always concerned that news would spread that he couldnít defeat this small city of AI giving confidence to rest of enemies. Now notice Godís response.

 

Joshua 7:10 So the LORD said to Joshua: "Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?11 "Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.12 "Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.13 "Get up, sanctify the people, and say, 'Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the LORD God of Israel: "There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you."14 'In the morning therefore you shall be brought according to your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the LORD takes shall come according to families; and the family which the LORD takes shall come by households; and the household which the LORD takes shall come man by man.15 'Then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.' "

 

No Joshua finds out why they couldnít defeat AI and just how serious God takes sin. He basically tell Joshua until you take care of this sin in your camp I will not help you nor will I be with you. You see God always keeps his word and as long as his people obey his commands that he will fulfill his promises however when a person sins that separates you from God. This tells us that we need to take sin very seriously and take care of it quickly by repenting. Another thing we learn from this is God does not want sin in the camp and he doesnít want it in his church. Sometimes, people will know that someone is living in sin and that they may even be influencing others to sin however we let it continue and nothing is ever said to the person. While its easier to avoid dealing with this situation and we just tolerate God will not and he doesnít want us to either. We need to remember what Paul said, a little leaven leavens the whole lump.

 

In verse 16 -26 Achan confesses to sinning.

 

Joshua 7:21 "When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it."

 

He let the lust of his eye get the better of him and because of his sin He and his family and all his possession were destroyed. This would serve as example to rest of the children of Israel not to break Godís commands.

 

Joshua 8:1 Now the LORD said to Joshua: "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.2 "And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it."3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai; and Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor and sent them away by night.

 

Again, we see God giving AI as a gift to the children of Israel but they still have their part to play in accepting this gift because they must obey Gods command and go and defeat this city. Joshua follow Gods command and sends men behind the city and he and some other people would approach the city as before and even pretend they were afraid and run. This plan worked great because all fighting men of AI came running after Joshua and when they did the other men came out of hiding and starting burning the city and attaching the people and now these soldiers of AI were surrounded and the children of Israel easily defeated them. They killed about 12000 people that day both men and women. This time they didnít destroy the cattle or the other valuable items because God said they could have them this time. They did not kill the King yet and presented him to Joshua. But notice what happens to him in,

 

Joshua 8:28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.

 

So every person was destroyed in AI and another city was destroyed thanks to God being on their side. I want to finish this lesson tonight by reading the rest of chapter 8.

 

Joshua 8:30 Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal,31 as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: "an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool." And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.