What a real treasure from God to have one whole day to worship Him (Exod.20:8-11) and to set our minds on things above and to take them off of the things of the earth. (Col.3:1-3) How needful. How spiritually refreshing.
Well tonight we are looking at Joshua chapter six. Let me read this for us. This is the very word of God, may we be those that tremble at holy His word, read. (Isa.66:2-5)
Joshua 6:1. Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2 The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. 3 “You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4 “Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 “It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” 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 carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.” 7 Then he said to the people, “Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the LORD.” 8 And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD went forward 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 they continued to blow the trumpets. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!” 11 So he had the ark of the LORD taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp. 12 Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 14 Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days. 15 Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. 16 At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city. 17 “The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 “But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. 19 “But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” 20 So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. 21 They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. 22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” 23 So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. 24 They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. 26 Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” 27 So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
Join me as we ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit tonight in our worship of Him, pray. (Eph.5:18, Lk.11:13, Acts 7:55, 4:8)
We have come to a very famous portion of Scripture. Joshua chapter six is about the battle of Jericho.
For those of us raised in any kind of church we heard that “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a-tumbling down” to quote the Sunday School song.
An interesting personal side note. When I was an unbeliever in college (1982-1986), I liked to listen to a certain genre of music known as “Gospel Music”. I listened to the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Hezekiah Walker, Walter Hawkins, James Cleveland, and the Winans and others. And I especially liked Mahalia Jackson. She had a song about the Joshua and Jericho, except she pronounced it this way, Josh-u-way fit the battle of Jericho. 😊
But something interesting happens many times to well known Bible passages or historical accounts recorded in Scripture, that is they have a tendency to lose the divinely intended impact of the account and they become less serious, which is of course one of the reasons they become more popular (to the flesh).
How this works with this account is that we think of a cute Sunday School coloring book, or a jaunty song that gets our feet tapping to the music and we are kind of up lifted and happy. Of course, I am all for being happy. But the reality of this account is anything but fit for a children’s Sunday school coloring book.
We are looking at a battle. And then the subsequent a slaughter of every living thing. I will bring out why as we go along, but that is the true truth of this chapter. Beloved, when you hear anything that has been popularized from the Bible make sure that you personally go back into the Bible and read that account for yourself. You will be surprised what man says versus what God says.
Believe and live upon what God says. Know this, giddy silly things are almost always wrong. Beware of the preacher that appeals to your flesh. (Jer.6:14, 2 Tim.4:1-4)
What I want to do tonight for our sermon is to learn some of the spiritual lessons that God is teaching us by this account of the very first battle upon entrance into the Promised Land.
These lessons are to encourage the Believers. And they are also to warn the unbelievers.
The Day of Judgment.
Perhaps I should start with what I have found to be the hardest thing about passages like this, that is to say, all the fighting and all the killing. As a young Christian these passages would greatly unsettle me. As an older Believer they still unsettle me, but now I know what God is warning us about.
The key to understanding this passage (and those like it) and the lessons it contains is this, Joshua chapter six is a foretaste of what is known as Judgment Day. Also called the Day of the LORD or the Day of Vengeance. (I Cor.4:5, I Cor.11:31, 2 Cor.5:10, 2 Pt.2:4, Acts 17:31, Eccl.12:14, Heb.9:27, Jn.12:48, Mt.12:36, 24:36, Ps.96:13, Rom.2:16)
Someday Christ will return and judge the world in righteousness. And all those that are not found righteous, He will sweep them away as chaff from His threshing floor. (Ps.1:1-6, Jn.5:22, Mt.25:31-46)
Ezekiel chapter seven shows us the terror of this day.
Ezekiel 7:3. Now the end is upon you, and I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways and bring all your abominations upon you. 4 ‘For My eye will have no pity on you, nor will I spare you, but I will bring your ways upon you, and your abominations will be among you; then you will know that I am the LORD!’ 5 “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘A disaster, unique disaster, behold it is coming! 6 ‘An end is coming; the end has come! It has awakened against you; behold, it has come! 7 ‘Your doom has come to you, O inhabitant of the land. The time has come, the day is near– tumult rather than joyful shouting on the mountains. 8 ‘Now I will shortly pour out My wrath on you and spend My anger against you; judge you according to your ways and bring on you all your abominations. 9 ‘My eye will show no pity nor will I spare. I will repay you according to your ways, while your abominations are in your midst; then you will know that I, the LORD, do the smiting.
Judgment Day will reveal that there is a Day of Judgment for sinners apart from Christ.
Judgment Day is the expression of God’s strict justice apart from God’s mercy. There is no mercy for the sinner on Judgment Day because the day of mercy or of grace is past.
The question is, are we ready for this Day? Has Christ taken God’s judgement for us? Is Christ our righteousness. (Gal.3:12-14, Jer.23:6)
God’s promises are certain.
We know that God has promised to Abraham and thus to His descendants Israel a certain portion of land to live in as their own, we know this land as the Promised Land. The Promised Land is in Canaan. Listen to God’s promise.
Genesis 13:12. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD. 14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16 “I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17 “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.
Abraham lived approximately 2,000 B.C. Joshua lives circa 1,300 B.C. God makes a promise to one man and then 700 years later God makes good on that promise using another man.
The fleshly impulse is to rush God to act according to our timetable. In doing so, we forget ourselves. God is God and we are not. We must live by faith trusting in God and that He will make good on every good promise He has every made to those that trust in Christ. And He will. And here He does. Time and circumstances are no hindrance to God. He created them. He governs them.
The people of God lived for 700 years by faith in that one promise of God. Beloved, that is how we are to live. Two thousand years ago Christ returned to the right hand of the Father and as He did, He promised that He would return for us and bring us to live where He is. (Jn.16:1-6, Mt.28:18-20)
We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor.5:7) Someday Christ will return. And we will live in the Promised Land with Him. God cannot lie. Christ is the Truth. The Bible is the word of truth. And the Spirit of truth seals God’s promises to us. (Jn.16:13-15)
Judgment Day will reveal that all the promises of God are yes and amen to those in Christ. (Num.23:19)
The question for us is are we in Christ? If we are then God has made glorious promises to us. And this is here to increase our faith and confidence and hope in Him.
God has a chosen people.
Now this is the promise of God as regards to the land, but we also see the beginnings of the realization of the promise as regards to the people of the land.
Here at this time other peoples were living in this land, various tribes of Canaanites.
Exodus 23:23. For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them. 24 “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces. 25 “But you shall serve the LORD your God,
They were fellow human beings. They were Gentiles. They worshiped false gods. That means they were sinners. And they were sinners without a Savior of their sins. Remember this, the gospel of Christ was at this time confined to the people of Israel. (WCF 7.5)
God has promised military victory to His people over these people. God is distinguishing between His people and those that are not His people. I realize that even Israel was a mixed multitude of true Believers and false professors. However, the general truth is still significant.
God has chosen a people for Himself. And He passed over the rest. This is an expression of His sovereignty. For those He chooses sovereign mercy. For those He passes over sovereign justice.
Listen to how God expresses this to Moses.
Exodus 8:23. For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of insects on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of insects, and also the ground on which they dwell. 22 “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of insects will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. 23 “I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.”‘” (Exod.9:4, 27)
Judgment Day will reveal that God has a people of His own choosing, the Israel of God.
The question for us is are we numbered among the people of God? Or are we separate from the household of faith? Are we spiritual Gentiles? Or are we spiritual Jews? Have we received heart circumcision? (Rom.2:25-29, Rom.9:6-8, Jer.4:4, Dt.30:6) Are we born again?
God intends to save Gentiles.
V.22-25. However, even in the OT we get glimpses that God intends to save Gentiles and also include them among His worshiping people. We see here believing Rahab. Remember that Hebrews 11 places her in the great hall of faith chapter. (Heb.11:31) And James uses her as the counterpart of a true Believer next to Father Abraham. (Jas.2:21-26)
Remember the promise to save an elect people in Christ includes all the families of the earth. (Gen.28:14)
In the NT epoch God fully and clearly opens up His household of faith to now include the Gentiles. But He still has a chosen people from within the nations. (Mt.28:18-20, Acts 13:48)
Hear the word of God.
John 15:16. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
I Peter 2:7. This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” 8 and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
Judgment Day will reveal that God saves people from every nation and calls them to one flock in Christ. (Eph.2:12-21, Jn.10:1-18)
God is sovereign.
And those that are not His people, those people that have no faith in Jesus as the Christ, God has not chosen them for His own. He has passed over them. This is an expression, as I say, of God’s sovereignty.
And this brings me to another question. And this question was posed online. Why would God promise to give Israel land that belonged to other people?
Oh beloved, what a sad question. It reveals a lack of knowledge of the God of the Bible. What is the answer Beloved? God is sovereign. He is Lord of the whole earth. (Ps.24:1-3) He is the Creator and Governor. The land does not belong to the Canaanites. It belongs to God. And He give it to whom He chooses.
Joshua chapter six is a lesson on the universal and complete and holy government of God over all His creatures, and in view, over all men, meaning each and every human being. And I will say to use the language of Nebuchadnezzar after he was instructed by God, and no one may contradict or criticize God’s sovereign government of anyone. (Dan.4:34-37)
God permitted the Canaanites to live here. God permitted them to grow to earthly power. And then in due time, in the same way that God did with Pharaoh, God put them down. (Rom.9:16-23)
In our passage God tells His Joshua His leader that He Himself will give Jericho into their hands. Meaning that the Lord will be the One that defeats the Canaanites.
Joshua 6:1. Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2 The LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.
And consider the Canaanites. They are trusting in their stone walls to protect them from the judgment of the Lord, to keep them safe from calamity and death. Oh Beloved, no man-made defenses will thwart the arm of the Lord when He rises up in judgment.
The same God that divided the Red Sea and stopped up the Jordan River will throw down the walls of Jericho as easily as a little child toppling over a tower of blocks.
God rules the earth. God rules the church. God rules all. (Eph.1:11, Rom.8:28, Mt.10:29-31, Col.1:13-17, Isa.45:7-9, Prov.16:33, Job 42:2, Lam.3:37-39, Acts 4:27-28)
Judgment Day will reveal that God is the Lord and He alone reigns. (Ps.97:1)
Judgment Day will dash the idol-free will of man to pieces and revealed the free will of God.
Do we, Beloved, submit willingly to the sovereignty of God?
God is revealing.
V.1-6. Now let’s come to the marching around the city of Jericho, blowing trumpets, and for the space of seven days.
The method of God.
Well, the people of God are marching around the enemies of God. The holy priests are blowing holy trumpets. The ark of the covenant, a symbol of Immanuel God with His people – Christ, is circling around the enemies of the Lord and His people. You remember that this passage is about the coming Day of Judgment.
Now we know what all the sights and the sounds are for. God is revealing to those that hate Him that the Day of Judgment is approaching them. God wants this messaged to be preached, as it were, by His people to those who are not His people.
Oh Beloved, think of the preaching of Jonah. Jonah walked through the city of Nineveh and he had a simple sermon, in forty more days the Lord of heaven and earth will judge the sinners of this city! (Jonah 1-4)
The time to repent.
Now I know some say, how awful! Judgment preaching is awful! Well Beloved, that is quite right. It is meant to stun us, to put us in “awe” of holy God. Jesus said at the preaching of Noah the unbelievers repented (and believed) and God spared them. (Mt.12:41) May I say, how wonderful!
Beloved, please do not think that this message is somehow sub-Christian or contrary to Christ or to the ethos of the New Testament.
Christ Himself says this.
Luke 12:2. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. 3 “Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Mt.10:28)
The foolishness of God.
May I say something Beloved? Look at the method that God uses of announcing His victory and their defeat. A bunch of guys marching around, blowing trumpets, and carrying a box! The inhabitants of Jericho must have thought the Israelites were fools! What is this nonsense?! Are you going to defeat us by this foolishness?!
Not only the unbeliever would have been tempted to think this was a foolish method, but also the Believer. You have armed men ready to fight. They are told, carry your weapons, don’t use them, just have the priests blow their horns, you march! Even Believers would be tempted to think this is silly. Even Believers would be tempted to think the only way to win is with a steel sword. No Beloved. That is the just the point. We do not fight this battle. God fights.
Oh Beloved, God chooses the foolish and weak thing to shame the wise and powerful. Even as He uses the preaching of the Gospel to seek and to save, but it is foolishness to the natural man. (I Cor.1:18-31) But it is the power and the wisdom of God to them that believe in Christ.
The glory to God.
But you see that God chooses this method so that none of the glory would be attributed to Man. This method ensures that the victory is attributed to God alone, to His power, to His mercy.
The culpability of man.
This public proclamation of the coming judgment of God assures us that no one can accuse God of wrongdoing. No one can accuse God of hiding His purposes to bring sinners to the judgment. No one can accuse God of not telling men that the wages of sin is death and after death comes the judgment. (Rom.6:23, Heb.9:27, Rev.20:11-15)
The victory of God.
Beloved, Jericho represents the world of unbelievers. Jericho represents Babel. (Gen.11:1-9) Jericho is an example of the righteous vengeance of God upon all the ungodly. (Ps.1:6, Nahum 1:2, Jer.51:56, Ps.94:1, 2 Thess.1:8, Jer.51:11, Isa.1:24, Rom.12:17-19)
The City of Man will be thrown down. The kingdoms of men will become the kingdom of Christ. (Rev.11:15) All false gods and their worshipers will be brought to nothing. They will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The Babylon of Man and his sin will be thrown down, never to be built again. God puts a curse upon those that try. Only Zion the City of our God will remain. The Prince of Peace will put down all enemies with a road of iron. And He will then call His people to enjoy an enemy-less and sinless Promised Land. (Fallen is Babylon the Great – Isa.21:9, Rev.14:8, 18:2)
The kingdom of Satan has been destroyed. Christ’s kingdom of glory has come. (WLC 191, WSC 102, see WCF 32.1-3, 33.1-3)
The separation of God.
V.17-18. And by God’s refusing to let His people enrich themselves by the earthly spoils of the Canaanites, He is teaching us that none of the idols of the unbeliever will remain to corrupt the holy people of God. Then and there we will enjoy the perfect riches that are found in Christ. (2 Cor.6:14-18)
Revelation 18:10. standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’ 11 “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more– 12 cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, 13 and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. 14 “The fruit you long for has gone from you, and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them.
Beloved, the battle of Jericho is not a “ battle”, it is the divine administration of the divine penalty against sinners, it is the capital punishment of the Lord upon the guilty. (Rom.6:23)
Judgment Day will reveal to all that God had warned all men that this day was coming for all men.
It is a terrible thing to fallen into the hands of the living God being found in our sin. (Heb.10:31, 2 Sam.24:14, Ezra 8:22) Apart from Christ, all people will find God to be a holy consuming fire. (Heb.12:29) Are we preparing for this day?
God is preserving.
V.17, 22-25. The final thing I want us to see is that amidst the destruction of the city God preserves Rahab and her family. Oh Beloved, look around. Our country is Sodom. Our world is Babylon. God has placed all unrepentant unbelieving sinners under His holy ban (anathema), destined for destruction.
Judgment Day will reveal that God knows how to preserve everyone that loves the Lord. (2 Pt.2:9, Ps.28)
On that day all eyes will see the Christ that was once hated and rejected now exalted and glorified.
And all of the people of God, on that great day, will give a great shout to the glory of God.