Welcome to Expound, our verse by verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Father we, as a part of our worship, we give you our attention. We are listening. We think of that little boy in a tabernacle named Samuel, who when you spoke his name, he finally said, speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.
And here we are Lord, your servants, gather together. We've come from different occupations today, different activities, different family situations. But we have a common goal and that is to hear as you speak to your servants. So we ask you to do that. In Jesus' name, amen.
So turn in your Bibles to Joshua chapter 5. We began tonight by singing a song, "I Come Alive in the River," I love the words to that. I come alive in the river. The children of Israel have come alive as they went through the river Jordan. They were birthed into a new experience with God, a new land, a whole new set of problems.
As well as the Promised Land, it was also the problem land. There are enemies in that land that are going to conquer. And we see them facing them tonight in the city of Jericho. The leader is Joshua or Yeshua, his Hebrew name. The English equivalent from the Greek word, his name was Jesus.
So it's just interesting to make a note that the book is named after our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Joshua, Yeshua, God is salvation. Now this Joshua had been a minister of Moses, it says in chapter 1, "a servant of Moses." He was like a personal envoy. Whatever Moses needed, Joshua was there to make sure that Moses got it-- whatever the need was. So he would attend to Moses' tent.
He was also the leader of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces. In those days, when they were marching through the wilderness and there were some attacks by different groups, like Amalekites, it was Joshua who was General Joshua. And he may have even been in the army while in Egypt as a young man. He was born in Egypt, that we know.
He went through the wilderness and he was one of the only two survivors from the previous generation. Joshua was one. Caleb, we'll read about him later in this book, was the other. Joshua leads them across the Jordan River. And now they're in the Promised Land.
However, the fact that he was a general in that army was a little bit different than what he's facing. You see, up to this point he has never led an armed attack on a fortified city. And you do remember that when the spies went to look at the land? One of the things they noted is that there's some walls. There's some cities with huge walls. And there's giants in this land. This place is fortified.
Joshua has never led an assault on a fortified city-state, like he found in Canaan. Moreover, the army was not a well-equipped army, right? They're traveling in tents with their families, a couple of million people, animals, a bunch of ex slaves. So they don't have implements of war, so to speak.
I mean, they don't have catapults. They don't have battering rams. They don't have the moving towers like they used in ancient times to assault cities. It is a ragtag group of people against well fortified cities.
However, having said that, they had one huge advantage, the fear factor. And I'm not talking about the TV show. Israel had the fear factor. They had, on their side, the fear of God that the people of Canaan had in hearing what God had done for them.
What they had in their favor was the fact that the morale of the Canaanites was at an all time low. It was Rahab who told the spies, hey, the people of my city-- man, our hearts melted when we heard what happened with the Red Sea incident. And our hearts further melted and were terrified when we heard about the two kings that you guys wiped out. So we are in absolute terror of you guys.
So the morale was at an all time low among the Canaanites. Now was the time to move. If ever there is a time to attack, it's now. They just crossed over the Jordan River, which means the morale is even lower in the Canaanite side because that was not expected.
So miracle after miracle after miracle-- they were already afraid. Now they're further afraid. Now's the perfect time to attack, right now. But that's not God's plan. God's plan is a little bit strange until you examine it biblically.
God believes that before a conquest there must be consecration. You don't just attack immediately. You have to wait to do some things first. And once you do those things first-- spiritual things first-- this would be counterintuitive for any military officer to operate under today.
First of all, there has to be a circumcision. Get an army to sign off on that one. Number two, there has to be the celebration of the Passover. There must be consecration before there is conquest. So counterintuitive to modern or ancient military strategy. They're going to wait a few days before they actually go in and take Jericho.
Now let me bring your minds back to an important principle. In chapter 1, the Lord promised that Joshua would have, do you remember the term, good success. "Joshua, you will be successful. I will be with you. Be courageous that you might do, perform, obey everything I tell you to do."
So God promised him success conditioned upon, contingent upon, Joshua's obedience to God. Well, if you're going to obey God, you've got to begin with what God said in his word. And so God does that with Joshua. God had told the children of Israel that there was a sign of the covenant, which was circumcision, and they must keep the Passover, which they have not done for a long time.
So the Lord brings Joshua back to what is already revealed in his word. He's not going to tell him any new Revelation. He's not going to give him a dream at night or a vision. He's just going to say, do what is written.
I find there a vital principle for spiritual growth. How many times do we go, oh, Lord, speak to me. Speak to me something new and fresh. And I can almost hear the Holy Spirit saying, why should I? You haven't obeyed. You haven't applied.
You haven't gone to, and looked at, and made applicable for yourself what I have already written down in my work. Begin there. Start with the old and do that. And then I'll open up new revelation. So God takes them back to that.
So they crossed over the Jordan River. Chapter 5 verse 1, "so it was." "When all the kings of the Amorites, who were on the west side of the Jordan--" that's the Jericho side. They've come from Moab, the eastern side, crossed over to the western side.
"When all the kings west of the Jordan-- all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel. Until we had crossed over, that their heart melted. And there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel."
So as we've already made a note of, Rahab, the harlot, told the two spies that came to Jericho what was the condition of the Canaanites, previously, in hearing about the Red Sea. Now we are told in verse 1, what is the condition presently. Previously, their hearts melted. Presently, their hearts are melting. Previously, it was because of what happened at the Red Sea. Presently, it's because what happened at the Jordan River.
So again, the morale of the Canaanites is at an all time low. This was the last thing the Canaanites expected to happen. Oh, they knew the children of Israel were camped on the east side of the Jordan. They knew the two spies had snuck into their territory. And they were looking to find them and kill them.
They knew the children of Israel were closing in, but they thought we've got weeks, maybe months, because the Jordan River, do you remember, was at flood stage. It was high. It was uncrossable. It was impassable, unless, God does a miracle, which he did. So now instead of being confident, we can plan our strategy, now there are like the Elvis song, "All Shook Up."
[SINGING] All shook up, mmmm. Thank you very much.
But notice the strategy as we go on. "And at that time the Lord said to Joshua, make flint knives for yourself. And circumcise the sons of Israel, again, the second time. So Joshua made flint knives for himself and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins." I don't even know what to do with that verse.
"And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them. All the people who came out of Egypt, who were males-- all the men of war had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness, on the way, as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised."
Now there is a lot of things I want to say about these verses. Number one, ouch. I don't even like the fact that something is called the hill of the foreskins. It's just awfully embarrassing to sit up here and even talk about that, but it's a verse in the Bible. And I did promise it would be verse by verse. So there it is.
Second thing I want to say about this is that this was part of the covenant that God made with Abraham. Now I'm taking you back all the way to the book of Genesis. You don't have to turn there. You know the story. You'll remember it as I tell you.
In the 17th chapter of Genesis, God said he was making a covenant with Abram, who his name was then changed there to Abraham, that God was going to do a mighty work through him. And he's going to give them the land. It's the covenant of the land that they have just entered into, the Promised Land.
But then God thought and God said to Abram, this is the covenant, but there's going to be a token-- a sign, an outward sign of the covenant. So there's going to be some kind of symbol, some kind of sign, some kind of token, some kind of certificate that marks that you are in a covenant relationship with God.
Now Abram was all ears at that time. First of all, what's wrong with the covenant? Second, the Lord said he wants to give a token of the covenant, great. Covenants are cool. And maybe he thought back to Noah.
And God made a covenant with Noah that he would not destroy the earth by a flood any longer. And the token of the covenant, the outward sign-- the symbol was a what? A rainbow. Now that's visible, man. That's colorful. That's beautiful.
In the law of Moses, later on after Abraham, God made a covenant of the Sabbath day. Keep the Sabbath day. And that was part of the covenant of the law of Moses is that every seventh day they rest. That's a great token. That's peaceful. That's restful.
You think of the New Testament token for our relationship with God. It's baptism. That's refreshing. That's cleansing. So there's Abraham-- God saying, I'm going to give you a token. And he's all ears until God says the token is that every male child is going to be circumcised on the eighth day.
And I'm sure Abraham scratched his head and said, you know, I think I like a certificate better. I don't know if I like this idea. What's this stuff about circumcision? But on the eighth day, every male child was circumcised in the foreskin of the flesh.
The question is often asked, what is this circumcision all about? What does it mean exactly? Well, I'm glad you asked. More than just an outward sign of an inward change, that's typically what we say tokens are, are these signs that God gives, but with circumcision, especially, since it involves the male organ, it is the organ of generation of life. It symbolizes the cutting away of fleshly desires, a life lived after the flesh.
One of the problems we have as human beings is that it's not we just sin, but were born in sin. And we practice sin because we are sinners by birth and by nature. So David, in Psalm 51, verse 5 says, "I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin, my mother conceived me."
That's true of every human being. With God's people, the token, the circumcision of the male, was the cutting away of the flesh, the organ of generation as a symbol of the cutting away of the propensities toward the fleshly life. Nothing should rule over you except God. You should cut away fleshly things that could rule over your life, fleshly habits, fleshly inclinations, and serve only the Lord. So that is the idea of circumcision.
Now it is spiritual. It is symbolic of something spiritual. How do I know that? Because in Deuteronomy chapter 10, the Lord said it. He said "circumcise, therefore, your hearts, and be stiff necked no longer." So that outward symbol was a sign of an inward reality that your hearts were trimmed, and cut, and placed before God, and wholly devoted to him. That all fleshly desires, all other habits take a backseat to serving the Lord only. Easier said than done, but that's what the token is all about.
So he tells them to make-- verse 2, "flint knives for yourself." Now I'm sure that Joshua wasn't prepared to hear this. He just crossed over. The people are ready to attack. They're ready for war. They know it's coming. The people in Jericho have heard they're coming. They can see them in the plain.
If you've been to Israel, and you've been to Jericho-- that plain's spread out where the Jordan River is. It's easy to see. Jericho is on a little raised hill. It would be easy to see them.
So I'm sure when the Lord said, hey, Joshua, here's the plan. Make for yourselves flint knives. He probably said, Lord, I probably didn't hear. You said, sharpen our swords, not make little knives, right? That's what you want us to do. You want us to get our swords ready for battle. Little knives aren't going to help us in this battle.
No. I want you to make flint knives and circumcise those who haven't been under the covenant. They haven't, all of these years, been under the covenant since they left Egypt. I'm sure that was a bit of a blow to Joshua.
Why do they have to do that? Again, it's consecration before conquest. It's worship before warfare. Before you go to battle, bow before the battle. Pause and make sure that you are committed and consecrated to God.
Now just a word about flint knives, because the age that we're dealing with is the Late Bronze Age. So they weren't in caveman days. They had bronze, metal knives available. So why rocky? Why flint knives? Really, it would be obsidian. Are you familiar with the black rock, obsidian, how sharp it is? It's like a knife if you cut it.
Because a knife made out of rock freshly cut is absolutely sterile. I've been told it has the same sterile properties as a sterile scalpel because microorganisms, bacteria, cannot live in a rock. And when you freshly cut it and it hasn't touched any surface with bacteria, it's sterile. So you make these fresh knives-- these flint knives.
For verse 6, "the children of Israel walked 40 years in the wilderness till all the people, who were men of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed because they did not obey the voice of the Lord. To whom the Lord swore that he would not show them the land, which the Lord had sworn to their fathers that he would give us a land flowing with milk and honey."
So Joshua circumcised their sons, "whom he raised up in their place, for they were uncircumcised because they had not been circumcised on the way." You might be wondering why they weren't circumcised on the way. I couldn't tell you. All I know is they weren't.
I can venture a guess. I could say, well, maybe they forgot. Life gets you going in a certain direction. You sort of get out of touch with a lot of things. They maybe just forgot about the law that was given. They're not carrying around books or computers to look things up. They have priests, but it's the whole worship system was just getting started. Maybe they forgot about this-- probably not.
I think it's because they were discouraged. They had been disobedient. In their disobedience they were not allowed to enter the land. And that entire older generation was dying off every single day. So there's death in the camp. There's funerals every day.
They weren't allowed to go into the land. They're discourage. They're probably thinking, what's the use? And we're going to die out here anyway. So probably in their discouragement just decided, our disobedience kept us out and we're not entering in. Forget it. That could be it. They're wandering around for 40 years.
So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. I don't think I really have to explain the ramifications of that. It would take several days for the healing of this to take place.
The circumcision of an adult male would be vastly different than the circumcision of a baby. And these men-- effectively, you have an army of men now completely disabled. Talk about being vulnerable. Not only are they poised on the plains of Jericho, facing their first enemy behind walls. They have their own strategy. Yes, their hearts are melted, but you have a bunch of people in the army that can't move. They're disabled. They're just in pain for days.
Let me jog your memory, again. You're going to remember that back in Genesis chapter 34, Jacob comes back to the land of promise. He'd been up with Laban. He comes back to Shechem. And Shechem the city, but the head of Shechem was a dude named Shechem So I'm guessing the city was named after him.
Shechem had a son named Hamor. Hamor, the son of Shechem, saw Jacob coming And saw that Jacob had a beautiful young daughter, named Dinah. So Hamor fell in love with her, or fell in lust with her, and forced himself physically upon Dinah.
Then young Hamor more was certain that he has to have this Israelite girl as his wife. So Shechem goes to Jacob and they have this huge meeting of tribal leaders. And they say, look, we want to marry your daughters. And we want to make sure that we can coexist in this land.
And so Jacob, and especially his sons-- especially two of his sons, Siemian and Levi, knowing that their sister has been violated, they said, well, you know what? According to our law, we can't have you have our daughters, our women, and we can't mingle with you, unless everyone in your city, in your area, is circumcised. You have to have the same covenant of circumcision that we have.
So if you and your men go through the ritual of circumcision, then you can marry our daughters and Hamor can have Dinah. So Shechem and Hamor went back to town. And their job was to convince all the adult males that they need to go through this crazy ritual, so that they can marry these women. And those that agreed to it were circumcised.
Then it says this in the text. "Then on the third day when they were in pain, Siemian and Levi came in and discomfited them." Killed them by the edge of the sword. Wiped out that whole population in vengeance for Dinah.
So the children of Israel, now, are in a similar situation for days. They are in pain. They are vulnerable to an attack from the enemy that is right before them in Jericho. So they're there in the camp until they are healed.
And then the Lord said to Joshua, "this day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you. Therefore, the name of that place is called Gilgal," which means circle, but the idea is it's being rolled away. So Gilgal, the rolling or the circle.
Now here's a question. If you've read Joshua, maybe you asked this as you were reading preparation for today's study. Why didn't Moses have them get circumcised before they crossed over? I mean, I'm a pragmatist. I'm thinking, OK. If the morale of Jericho is at an all time low, I'm not going to let it get higher.
I'm going to attack while the iron's hot. And so if circumcision is needed, then Moses should have brought that up on the east side before the crossing. It would just work better. That's how I would've planned it. Why is it Moses didn't do that, but Joshua did and they had to wait till they entered the land?
That would be a fair question. And I'm going to try to answer it. I think there's a principle in the way God moves in our lives. I think, first of all, God gives. And then God asks. God gives you the gift. God gives you his mercy. God gives you or extends his grace.
And then as you enjoy that, then he asks you to cooperate with that once you're there. So he promised them the land. Now they have it. Now they're in it. They've set foot in it. They've taken it as a gift. Now that you're here, do this.
In Romans 12, Paul said, after writing all about what God had done for 11 chapters, he said, "therefore, I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present yourselves, your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable under God, which is your reasonable service." Because God has done all of these things, the mercies of God, therefore, you do this.
God has given, now he's asking you to give him your whole, your all, your body, your mind, your hands, your feet to serve him. I think that's the principle. God gives and then he asks.
"So the children of Israel," verse 10, "camped in Gilgal and kept the Passover on the 14th day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho." Want to hear something amazing? This is only the third Passover they ever kept in their history.
You remember the first one? That's Exodus 12. That's the very first Passover. That's when the death angel passed over them. That happened way back in Egypt, Exodus 12. This second Passover was one year later. Numbers chapter 9, they're about ready to break camp and go on their march.
One year after the Passover was initiated, year two, they kept the Passover. After that, they never kept it again. This is the third time then, in their history, that they kept it as a nation. And significantly, it's the first time that they keep it here in the land of Canaan. Now that they have crossed over.
In keeping the Passover, I'm thinking of some of the older men and women who were Israelites. Who at one time were younger and had survived the wilderness because they were young. Their parents, the previous generation, died, but they were there at the first Passover some 40 years earlier.
And this would have been to them a memory trigger. They vividly remembered their dad taking the blood of the lamb and painting the lentils and doorpost of the homes. They remembered the cries around them in the village, in the homes of the Egyptians first born dying and the parents wailing because of the loss.
They remember the sound of their pursuers, the Egyptians, the sound of the horses, and their hoofs on the ground as they chased the children of Israel out into the wilderness to the Red Sea. They remembered all that because they had just crossed over the Jordan River. And now celebrating the Passover, it would bring those vivid memories back to them.
In verse 11, "they ate of the produce of the land. On the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched, or roasted grain, on the very same day." So here's what's cool. This is the first time they're eating the fruit of the land.
Out by Jericho there was some produce. It's the springtime of the year. It's going to get really hot because Jericho's about 800-900 feet below sea level. So it's sort of like Palm Springs, Phoenix area. Great place to be in the wintertime, but summer's coming.
So by the time they enter into this area, it's the barley harvest. So the barley farmers have left their fields because the children of Israel, a couple million people, just crossed over the Jordan, miraculously. I'm out of here. They all went to Jericho under the protection of those walls.
The children of Israel now can glean from the fields and eat the fruit of the land. With that in mind, before we get onto the next verse, let me just read something to you out of Deuteronomy. OK. I'll read it to you. And this is, typically, on the first day of our tour in Israel, what I like to read on our tour bus, of what God said to the children of Israel.
He said in Deuteronomy 8 in verse 7, "the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land. A land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs that flow out of the valleys and hills. A land of wheat and barley, that's what they probably were eating in Jericho, of vines and fig trees, in other parts of the land, and pomegranates," yum. "A land of olive oil and honey."
"A land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing. A land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full then you shall bless the Lord your God, for the good land which he has given you."
Now they get to taste the produce of the land for the first time. And this is a foretaste of the pomegranates, and the oranges, and the olives-- all that great Mediterranean cuisine. They tasted it. And the taste is a foretaste of great things to come.
Now look at the very next verse in Joshua 5 because it tells us what is going on. There's a whole change of diet happening here. Verse 12 says, "now the manna ceased. On the day after they had eaten the produce of the land, and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year."
They get into the land. As soon as they start eating the fruit of the land, the manna that had been there daily for 40 years stopped as suddenly as it started. Manna is cool. I don't quite understand it, but I've always been fascinated by it.
And you've heard me on a number occasions in trying to get the biblical description of what it taste like. I think it tastes like a hot now, fresh out of the oven, Krispy Kreme donut. Because it tasted like wafers with honey.
And I'll tell you what, I don't eat Krispy Kreme donuts anymore, or donuts anymore, but I'm telling you, it's like I get raptured when I have one of those right out of-- just cooked. It's like aahhh. And I've always thought, that's what manna was like. Well, who wouldn't want that? Well, 40 years of that-- 40 days that would get old.
So interesting thing about manna, it was healthy and it was handy. It was healthy. And it wasn't like Krispy Kreme donuts. You'd die if you ate those for 40 years, just saying. We'd have to roll you down the street, first of all. But you'd just die on a diet of that, but manna, there was health property. There were vitamins in it.
In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord said through Moses, "while you ate the manna during those 40 years, your feet did not swell." Nutritionists tell us that if you have the same diet every single day a lot of things happen to your body, including your apt to take on water and your feet swell.
People have studied sameness of diet in other parts of the world and have noted that in certain cultures, the feet will swell. God said, your feet didn't swell for 40 years and you're walking around the desert. So I can only infer it was packed full of vitamins and it was healthy, but it was also handy.
It was malleable. It was multifaceted. You could grind it. You could bake it in pans. You could use it with a pestle and mortar and just make many kinds of-- I think, a variety, using the same stuff. So you could have manna tacos and one day. You could have manna wraps the next day. You could certainly have manicotti any day. So it was healthy and it was handy.
Then it stopped. Now they're not going to get it tomorrow. Now they're not going to be able to just walk outside the tent and go, OK, you have manna duty. Go bring it in. It won't be there.
Now they have to go out and harvest plant, bring in food, which interests me. You know why it interests me? Because if indeed crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land is a picture in the Old Testament of the spirit filled life in the New Testament, as many scholars have pointed out, and we believe it is, you would think that the mark of this new spirit filled life-- this is when the miracle start, man. This is when the manna starts, not stops.
No. The manna was for the disobedient people wandering around the desert for 40 years, complaining and getting mad at God, not trusting in him, not getting their kids circumcised, not keeping the Passover. They get all the manna? That's right.
When you mature in the Lord, you don't have to believe by what you see. Faith comes by hearing. And hearing by the word of God. As you mature you don't need to live off of a miracle. The miracle ceased. Now you are mature. Now you can cooperate with my divine provision that I have already put into the earth.
All you got to do is add water and a little fertilizer. Work that land and you can get a lot of good stuff. But you're going to co-operate now with me. Before the cooperation you just go out and get it in the morning bring it in and eat it and cook it. And now you're going to have to do a little more. That's part of the Promised Land experience. So the manna cease.
Now verse 13, "it came to pass. When Joshua was by Jericho that he lifted up his eyes and looked and behold a man--" is it capitalized in your Bible? It's that way for a reason. "A man stood opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said, are you for us or are you for our adversaries?" That's what a general would ask.
So he said, "no. But as the commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshipped him, and said, what does my Lord say to his servant? Then the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, take your sandal off your foot for the place where you stand is holy and Joshua did so."
I picture Joshua going over his maps of Jericho. Scratching his head, thinking of the strategy that he has just gone over with his senior leaders. Thinking about how they're going to take Jericho once the army gets underway.
Suddenly he looks up and he sees a soldier, somebody with a sword. He immediately thinks, are you friend or foe? You on our team or their team? Are you for us or are you for them? That's what a soldier would ask. Identify yourself soldier, name, rank, and serial number.
Because if you're a friend, if you're on our team, you're out of order. You shouldn't be here. You're not in the right position. You've kind of gone astray from the rest of the army. Get back in line. If you're a foe, you're going to get a whole lot of sword in your face.
So he asks, are you friend or foe? You for us or them? I love the answer. No. I'm in charge here. I'm not just a soldier, I'm the commander of the Lord's army. Something in that interchange persuaded Joshua to call him Lord and worship before him.
This is why it is capitalized in your Bibles, because translators, scholars, believed that what you have here is a theophany, an appearance of the Lord in human form, in the Old Testament. To be more precise, a Christophany. An appearance of Jesus Christ in a pre-incarnate form, in some physical form, present with his people.
I'll jog your memory, back to Genesis chapter 18, "the plains of Mamre." Abraham was there by his tent in the heat of the day and three visitors come by. He entertains them, cooks them a meal, and one he calls the Lord-- the Lord. Jacob goes to Penuel. And there is a man that he wrestles with until the breaking of the day. He's called the angel of the Lord, not an, but the angel of the Lord.
Moses is out in the desert and a plant starts talking to him. It's burning, but it's not consumed. Moses takes his sandals off because the voice, identifying himself as the Lord, and Moses calls him Lord, and worships him as the Lord-- the voice says take your sandals off. You're standing on holy ground. Joshua knew the story.
And so suddenly he recognized, oh, this is the same one that spoke to Moses years before. And so he does likewise. He worships before him. So we believe this is an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament.
You remember Jesus in the Garden of the Gethsemane? Remember when they came to arrest him and Peter drew out the sword, right? And Jesus said, "put the sword away, Peter." Listen to what he said. "Don't you know that I can command 72,000 angels." If I need to I can dispatch 72,000 angels right now to take care of this business.
Truly, even then, he was the commander of the Lord's armies. He was in charge. He wasn't a victim. He was the victor. He held all the purse strings, absolute sovereignty. Joshua recognizes that is the commander of the Lord.
Now let me throw something wild at you. In the future there's going to come a battle. It's called the Battle of Armageddon. You've heard the name. You know a little bit about it. If you know prophecy, you know a lot about it. And it's hinted at and spoken about in several different portions of scripture, but one in particular.
In the book of Zechariah, it says this, "behold the day of the Lord is coming." That's the tribulation period, coming in the future. "And your spoil will be divided in your midst for I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem."
"The city will be taken. The houses rifled. The women ravished. Half the cities shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. In that day then, the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle, or as he fought in the day of battle. And in that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which face Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives will be split in two."
Question? When did the Lord ever fight in a day of battle? We don't read about anything where he fought in the day of battle, except here. The commander of the Lord's armies, a pre-incarnate apparition of the Lord Jesus Christ-- there in some physical form as the commander, the captain, the guy in charge.
This now accounts for the success at the Battle of Jericho because they're not sharpening their swords and getting out there catapults. They're going to be marching around doing this, ah! They're going to be yelling, ah! That's what they're doing. That's their part. And God is going to bring victory and those walls are going to fall down. And we can now attribute the victory to well, that was the day the Lord fought in the day of battle. So Joshua did so.
Can I give you a principle here to take home with? Public victories, which they are going to have in chapter 6-- it's a public victory. It's their first win in the Promised Land. But here's the secret of the public victory. Public victories are the results of private visits with the Lord.
It's worship before warfare. It's consecration before conquests. It's stop, bow, take your sandals off, worship God, and then proceed. That's the principle. It's that private visit that Joshua has with the commander of the Lord's army that brought him to victory.
I've always loved the story about John Knox, the reformer. I've been to his house in Edinburgh, Scotland. I've seen the pulpit at St. Giles Church where he preached. And if you know your history, you know that Mary the Queen of Scots was afraid of John Knox. In fact, a famous statement made, she said, I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the armies in Europe. She knew the power of that man in his private visits with the Lord. Now you can always do more than pray after you pray, but you can never do more than pray until you've prayed. So Joshua pauses, worships, and now he's going to go on. He did so.
Verse 1, "now Jericho was securely shut up," closed up. "Because of the children of Israel, none went out none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, see, I have given Jericho into your hand," done deal, past tense, victory. You have it. It's assured. I've done it. "And the mighty men of valor, you shall march around the city. You and all the men of war shall go around the city once. This you shall do six days."
Now Josh was leaning in hearing the strategy. OK. You want us to march around? Oh, yeah. They're going to get a good look at our army. They're going to see how many people we are, good. We won't do anything, we'll just show them who we are.
But then he said, yeah, you're going to do that. You're going to go all over the city. It's an easy walk. It's a nine acre complex, the ancient city of Jericho. So you're going to march all the way around the city, but you're going to do it every day. Huh? Yeah, six days. OK.
Then what? "And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of ram's horns before the ark, but the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times." So you're going to do a lot of walking around that town, 13 times. "And the priest shall blow the trumpets. Now Joshua is thinking, and then we attack?
"Then 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." And Joshua was thinking, and then we attack?
But the Lord said, "and then the wall of this city will fall down flat." Joshua is going, huh? What? You want me to tell that to my army men? "And the people shall go up every man straight before him. So Joshua the son of Nun--" better to get that name right. We pronounce it nun, but in Hebrew Nun-- Nun.
And it's probably better to do that because you might think it says son of a nun. And it would a whole explanation to get out of that. So just Nun, that's who he is. "Called the priests and said to them, take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of the rams horns before the ark of the Lord. 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."
Get the picture, there's a small infantry of armed men, first of all, to protect the ark. Then the priest bear the Ark of the covenant. We talked all about that in previous studies. Then in the rear guard, more armed men. That is how it is led. And the army will follow behind.
Now we have some insight here into the ways of God. And I bet you know what scripture I am going to come up with. The ways of God can appear foolish. God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.
This is not a smart military campaign. It's brilliant spiritually. It's going to boost the morale of the children of Israel and trusting God. It's going to really debilitate the morale of the Canaanites. But this is God's foolish campaign-- militarily campaign.
What could be more foolish than just marching around a city with a box? And let's protect the box. Let's not do anything. Let's not say anything. Let's just walk around that city with a box. I'm sure the first day, fear struck the hearts of the Jerichoites as they looked out and go, oh, there they are. It's beginning. They're on the march.
And they just kind of move with their head and their eyes all the way around. And they're going that way. Now they're going around that way. And going around, going around, going around-- now they're back. And they go home.
And then early in the morning they do it again. They wake everybody up in the city because they're early on the march. And first the first day they were fearful. By the third day, I'm sure the Jerichoites are mocking the children of Israel. All they can do is walk. They don't have an army. They don't have implements of war. They don't have battering rams, and catapults, and moving towers.
There's a principle there. You are mocked by the world because you follow the beat of a different drum. You're following the orders of an invisible God. They can't see him.
They mock you, but it's only the first day. Or it's only the third day, battles not over yet. Wait till the end. Just wait till the end. Don't get discouraged on day one, two, three, four, five, six. Keep marching. Keep going. And so they did.
And there's some things here that are out of place. They're out of place, biblically. Number one, what's out of place, priests were exempt from fighting. Here they're leading the march.
Number two, the ark of the covenant was never to be taken out during battle. They will try that in 1 Samuel chapter 4 and 5. And not only will they get defeated, the ark will get captured. That's out of place. Number three, the trumpets were ram's horns. God said during a war, you bring out the silver trumpets. And that is going to be the marching order, everybody in the camp can hear it.
And the fourth thing that's out of place is that if they march for seven days they broke the Sabbath. One of the seven days has to be the Sabbath day. And on the Sabbath you don't do work and you don't walk very long. Only a Sabbath day's journey. They broke the Sabbath.
And if I'm reading this correctly, it was the seventh day that they marched more than they did the other days. So all of that is out of place. I'm going to let you find out why. Instead of me just giving that away. That's just a fascinating study.
So what it was when Joshua had spoken to the people, "seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of the rams horns went before the Lord advanced and blew the trumpets. And the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them."
"Then the armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets. And the rear guard came after the ark, while the priest continued blowing the trumpets. Now Joshua had commanded the people saying, you shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, nor shall any word proceed out of your mouth until the day I say to you, shout. Then you shall shout."
Now I've talked this over with soldiers before. And I said, how is it in a battle to be on the march, to march toward an enemy and be absolutely quiet, not say a word, not be able to-- you get so excited in the battle to let that out. Usually that's just part of the game, part of what you do. This is very difficult.
They couldn't say a word, not a peep. So "he had the ark of the Lord circle the city, going around it once, then they came to the camp, lodged in the camp. Joshua rose early in the morning and the priest took up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests, bearing the seven trumpets of rams horns before the ark of the Lord, went and continually blew with the trumpets."
"And the armed men went before them, but the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the priest continued blowing the trumpets. And the second day they marched all around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did for six days. But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day. And they marched around the city seven times in the same manner."
"On that day only, they marched around the city seven times. And the seventh time it was so when the priest blew the trumpet, that Joshua said to the people, shout, for the Lord has given you the city. Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all those who are in it."
"Only Rahab, the harlot, shall live. She and all who are with her in her house because she hid the messengers that were sent. And you, by all means, keep yourselves from the occursed things, lest you become occurse." Please remember this for a future study. "When you take of the occursed things and make the camp of Israel occurse, and trouble it."
Occurse means devoted. And here's the explanation in the next verse. "All the silver, gold, and vessels of bronze, and iron are consecrated to the Lord. They shall come into the treasury of the Lord." So all the spoil from this city-- you can't keep any. You can keep the next city, but you can't keep this city.
The first fruits belong to God. The first city spoils belong to God. All that metal will be part of the collection we take for the Tabernacle and for doing the work of God. That's the idea of a devoted or an occursed thing.
So here it is, verse 20. "So the people shouted when the priest 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."
I can only imagine what a great shout that was. Not being able to shout-- not being able to speak for seven days. All that pent up energy. Now it's, raahhhh! They're just mighty shout. OK. This is their part.
These soldiers on the move get to yell. They don't really fight. It's really not a battle of Jericho. It's a misnomer. There's not really fighting going on. It's a wipeout, not a battle. It's like the battle of Armageddon. It's misnamed. It's not going to be a battle. Jesus is coming back and will wipe the enemies of God out, done. The walls fell down flat. It was a wipeout.
So they were the fans in the audience watching God work shouting, yeah, God, go get them. "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man, woman, young, and old, ox, sheep, donkey, with the edge of the sword. But Joshua 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. And the young men who had been spies went in, brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all that she had. And left them outside the camp of Israel."
"And they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver, the gold vessels, the bronze, iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. And Joshua spared Rahab, the harlot, and her father's household and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day." That was when it was written, of course. "Because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho."
From the beginning she showed faith. When they came, the spies to her house, she brought them to the rooftop and hid them under the flack's. Remember, the piles of flax? So when the soldiers of Jericho came in they couldn't find them.
Then she got them out of the bundles and said, now head for the hills boys. Wait a few days. And when the pursuers are gone, then go back to the camp and tell them, because we know God is with you. And I believe your God is God.
Rahab, the harlot, reminds me of a true story-- another true story that happened in 1967. During Israel's Six Day War in the Golan Heights, an Israeli, named Eli Cohen, went across enemy lines, convinced the Syrians that he was part of them, and learned military secrets from the Syrians. Was given a tour of the Golan Heights, and all of the fortifications, the bunkers-- then he gave the information to the Israelis.
But what he did was ingenious. He told the Syrians-- because the general said, you know, we've got our bunkers and our men stationed on the Golan Heights. There's no trees here. And the sun is so hot in the summer. And our men are just boiling.
And so Eli Cohen said, I've got an idea. Eucalyptus trees grow really well here and they grow fast. If you plant eucalyptus trees, it'll blend in with the setting. It looks like natural landscape. Nobody would be able to see the bunkers. And you'll have shade. And so they did that.
Then Eli Cohen said to the Israelis, after a couple of seasons went by and the war began to heat up, he said, just aim for the eucalyptus groves. It's all you need to know. Gave them the coordinates. Just aim for those trees.
And Eli Cohen-- it's in a book called, Our Man in Damascus, gave the secrets of the eucalyptus trees. The Israelis did that and, in fact, took the Golan Heights back from the Syrians. So she is sort of like an Old Testament version, female version, of Eli Cohen. A harlot who believed in God.
Now let's close out this chapter because we're over time and we want to stop. "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 foundations with his youngest first born. And with his youngest, he shall set up its gates."
How did Joshua know what would indeed happen in the future. This is a prophecy. 1 Kings chapter 16, under the reign of King Ahab, a man by the name of Hiel-- Hiel decided, I'm going to rebuild the city of Jericho. In so doing, he lost the life of his eldest son. And when the city was completed, his last son.
Joshua says that here. It was fulfilled prophecy later on. So "the Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout all of the country." Now why did those two spies go to Jericho? Besides spying out the land, why did they really go to Jericho? To save Rahab, the harlot.
Do you remember Jesus in Jerusalem? It says, he was going to go back to Nazareth, but he had-- or to Capernaum, to the Galilee's, but he needed to go through Sumeria. Why did he need to go through Sumeria? What's in Sumeria? The Jews have no dealings with the Sumerians.
There was a woman. He needed to meet her. He needed to have a conversation with her because in so doing, she came to faith in Christ and the whole village did. In the same way, these two spies needed to go to Jericho because there was a woman named Rahab who believed in the God of Israel. And she was saved.
And you remember she put out a scarlet cord, scarlet, like in the Passover. In the Passover, the scarlet blood on the lintels, and doorpost, and the judgment passed over their house. But the commandment of God was stay in the house. Stay in the house and you'll be saved.
Rahab, you and your family stay, in the house. How could a house be saved if the walls crumble down, and the house is built on the walls of the city? Now you hear that question and you go, yeah, I have a whole problem with the whole thing about Jericho. I don't get-- what do you mean walls just fall down of cities.
You have no problem with this if your god is big enough. You only have a problem with this if your god is small and incapable. If you have a small god, then you're going to have a problem with every page in the Bible. If your god is big enough to create the heavens and the earth, it's like, another one to God's scoreboard, bam.
So I have no problem at all with this because my god made the heavens and the earth. And just like he wanted to save that one woman and her family by faith. He's still in the saving business, the salvaging business. The love of God is like the Amazon River flowing down to water one daisy in Jericho. And he'd love to water you tonight, bring refreshment to your soul if you'd let him.
Father we do thank you for our time together. Thank you we could study the book of Joshua. Thank you, Lord, for the life that the children of Israel experienced going through the river. And I pray that some, tonight, would experience new life in Jesus, as they put their trust in him.
As we close our service, we're about to close with one quick song. If you're here tonight, you've not received Jesus as your Savior, you're willing to trust him tonight. Like this woman of a checkered background, a woman who had a reputation in that town. A woman of the night. She believed and she was saved. She was spared. And she made her way into the genealogy of Jesus Christ, himself.
If you want to be in God's book, the book of life, you turn to Christ tonight. You receive Jesus tonight. Or you come back to Jesus if you've wandered away from Him. If any of that describes you and you're willing to trust him right now as we close, I like to pray for you. I want to see your hand. Just raise your hand up. Raise your hand up.
You're saying, Skip, pray for me. I'm giving my life to Jesus right now. God bless you, ma'am. Right there on the left, yes. Anybody else? Raise that hand up. Say yes to Him. Place your trust in Him. God bless you toward the back-- in the very back. Anybody else? Raise it up. Say yes to Him. Right up in the front.
It's a simple, trust and belief. God bless you, and you, and you on the left, and you in the family room. There are several of you. Anyone else? On my right, on my right-- Lord, we do pray and we ask that you strengthen them as they make this commitment in Jesus' name. Amen.
I'm going to have you stand up. And as we sing this last song-- and we're going after this song. We're done, but if you raised your hand, as we sing this parting song, I want you to come up here right now and stand here. I'm going to lead you in a quick prayer. This will take a moment.
But if you raised your hand-- Jesus called people publicly. I'm asking you to come publicly. As we sing, just say excuse me, get up from where you're sitting, in the back, in the family room, come through these doors. And please stand right up here, right now. This will not take long. Come and stand right here. Make this commitment to Jesus. God bless you and you.
Give it all to you. Give it all to you.
All right. Yes, good. Come one up. Give it all to you. We give it all. Give it all to you. Give it all to you. Let the Lord knock down those walls in your life, in your heart.
No need to hide anymore.
I love these words. No need to hide. Walk in the light. Now those of you who have come forward, you ready for this? I'm going to lead you in a prayer. It's a prayer of asking Jesus to come in and take control. I'm going to pray it loud. I'd like to say it loud after me, from your heart to the Lord. Let's pray.
Say, Lord, I give you my life.
I give you my life.
I know I'm a sinner.
I know I'm a sinner.
I believe in Jesus.
I believe in Jesus.
That he died for my sins.
That he died for my sins.
That he shed his blood for me.
That he shed his blood for me.
And that he rose on the third day.
And that he rose on the third day.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn to Jesus as Savior.
I turn to Jesus as savior.
Help me to follow him as Lord.
Help me to follow him as Lord.
It's in his name I pray.
It's in his name I pray.
For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit Calvary.abq.org.