Read: Joshua 6
Imagine yourself within the walls of Jericho. You are watching a never-ending line of priests and enemy warriors encircling your city. You’ve been dreading their arrival since you heard what happened in Egypt forty years ago. But instead of attacking the gates or cutting off your food and water supply, the invaders walk around the perimeter of your impenetrable walls in utter, eerie silence.
After circling that city for seven days, which truly must have confused and terrified their enemies, on their very last circuit the Hebrews blew their shofars. Then, as all the people lifted their voices in shouts to join with the blast of shofars, those impenetrable walls became nothing more than rubble. It was not by the hands of the Hebrews that Jericho fell that day; it was by the supernatural might of Yahweh himself. I even imagine that the heavenly armies joined in the horn-blowing and the shouting, just as they will when our Messiah returns upon the clouds in glorious power and unrelenting righteousness.
Although for most of the people of Jericho those shofars were the harbinger of judgment and destruction, to Rahab and her family huddled inside her home, those trumpets were the sound of salvation. Rahab’s belief in the supremacy of God and her willingness to harbor the Hebrew slaves had saved all of their lives. Although it must have been horrifying to watch the city crumble around them and they must have wondered whether the spies would keep to their vow, I can imagine the elation they experienced when the smoke cleared and her house alone was standing. What an awe-inspiring confirmation of faith.
The destruction that day was a huge blow to the kings of Canaan. Jericho was a mighty city, a gateway of sorts to the rest of the land. God was making a giant statement to those who had ignored the warnings of Sodom and Gomorrah hundreds of years before and Egypt forty years before. This was their last chance to flee or face judgment. Although it seems brutal to our western sensibilities that no one was spared, remember that the Canaanites had been given four hundred years to turn from their repugnance and bloodthirsty, depraved worship of false gods. God gave them over four hundred years of mercy! They had every chance to either leave or turn to God, as Rahab did.
The Canaanites were not ignorant of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Abraham had lived among them four hundred years ago. And Abraham himself lived during the time that Shem, the son of Noah, still walked the earth—which means they were not that many generations removed from the Great Flood. Besides, they had heard of God’s display of power in Egypt. The only thing keeping them in the land of Abraham’s inheritance was pointed rebellion against Yahweh. God declared that these people were full of such degradation and defiance that the land itself would vomit them out (Lev. 18:25)!
Many look at the story of Jericho and see a wrathful God, a God who capriciously slaughtered Canaanites in some sort of genocide. But Yahweh is a God who heaped mercy after mercy on the Canaanites, giving them hundreds of years to turn from the worship of bloodthirsty gods. A God who sent spies into Jericho and found one harlot who was courageous enough to call on the name of Yahweh and defy her king. He saved not only her, but everyone who took shelter in her household. Yahweh has been grace from the beginning and he will be grace until the end.
We can trust the God of grace to go before us to prepare the way, trust him on the battleground as we fight against sin and for truth, and trust that he hears us when we call upon his name. The God who knocked down the walls of Jericho is more than able to knock down any walls we might face in service to him.
There is no greater freedom than allowing ourselves to be protected, cared for, and loved by the One who commands multitudes of angels and who fights for us and beside us through every trial. And I for one can’t wait to see the Mighty Warrior return—to claim his people and his land, once and for all.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you consider these first few chapters of Joshua, how has your perspective of God changed? How does the story of Joshua and the Hebrews change your perspective of yourself? How does studying this period in the history of Israel encourage you to trust the Lord without reservation?
Have you fully laid down every part of your life at his feet and trusted him to protect, care for, and love you even in the midst of trial and heartbreak? When times of trial and testing do strike, is your first response to go to the Lord and to his Word for direction and guidance?
Take some time to thank the Father today for the extravagant grace that he extended to you through Yeshua’s death on the cross. Thank him for his righteousness and his long-suffering patience and mercy in spite of your rebellion.
If you have not called upon the name of Yahweh—as Rahab did—and confessed with your mouth that he is the One True God and that Yeshua, his one and only Son is Lord over all (Romans 10:9), then stop everything and do it now. The God of all grace and truth is calling you to himself, calling you to be free, even on the battleground.