Bible Studies in Book of Joshua

Joshua Chapter 6: The walk of faith and the fall of Jericho

By Fraser Gordon

 

Introduction

 

Now in Joshua chapter 6 we come to Jericho, a city built on a mound and covering an area of about 6 acres. Apparently archaeologists have found the actual area where Jericho was at the time of Joshua.  They have found a wall belonging to it. Apparently this city had been rebuilt a few times before Joshua had actually arrived there, and the walls had been fortified.  We are not sure how many people lived there as the Bible doesn’t tell us, but this is the size of Jericho at the time of Joshua. We know that Rahab dwelt upon the wall and apparently there was another wall on the outside of this wall which was about 12-15 feet away; it was a wall of protection. This wall was about six feet thick and some people say it was about thirty feet high.  Apparently, to fit everyone in, people dwelt in the gap between the two walls as well as on it, and houses were put in between the two walls.  Let’s have a look. 

 

When a city shuts up shop...

 

Joshua 6:1  Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

 

Here we have a picture of the enemies of God completely shut up because of their fear of the Israelites.  Joshua tells us that none went out and none came in; it was a fortress completely closed off, but it remained a hindrance to the nation of Israel.  For them to go on into Canaan this is the first battle which must be confronted. What could that mean to us?   If we take Israel’s journey as a picture of our walk, when there is an obstacle which hinders our path or we are confronted by a fortress securely shut up what do we do? The enemy remains secure within the walls, but it is a battle that has to be confronted.    For Israel it was a literal city which they had to attack, but we have a spiritual battle to face. What are our Jericho's? Corinthians talks about us having to pull down every stronghold which the enemy tries to build out of vain imaginations that are locked within our fallen humanity.  So Jericho for us could just be a hindrance, something that stops us from going on with God. For each of us there is something different;   something that always seems to hinder us from giving ourselves fully over to God.  It always remains a fortress in us, whether it is worldliness, a character trait, principalities and powers, or a weakness in our character.  It is something that stands opposed to us going on and going in to our inheritance and it remains securely shut up.   So how did Israel actually do it?

 

The Lord gives victory

 

Joshua 6:2  Then the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.

 

The first thing you need to see is whose battle is it? It is the Lord's battle and He declares to Joshua “See I have given Jericho into your hand, its king and its mighty men of valor”. So the first step when entering into any type of battle or confronting any fortress is to realize that God is the one who is active.  And God is the one that can actually bring you victory in the area that is holding you back.  Bear in mind what Hebrews says about this passage concerning Jericho.   We read “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled seven days.”  So this whole thing for the nation of Israel was a walk of faith.  It is about God building faith into their hearts but it is God who is the One that is active.   How did you start your Christian life; you looked toward the Lord Jesus Christ to do something for you that you couldn't do for yourself.  It doesn't mean that that is all you do according to faith.  Just as you received Him continue to live in Him as Colossians says.   In other words, in the same way you received Him, looking to Him in faith you are to walk in faith and go on and obtain everything that God has for each of us. 

 

One strange plan... it seems!

 

Joshua 6:3-11  March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.  (4)  Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.  (5)  When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in."  (6)  So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, "Take up the ark of the covenant of the LORD and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it."  (7)  And he ordered the people, "Advance! March around the city, with the armed guard going ahead of the ark of the LORD."  (8)  When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the LORD went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the LORD's covenant followed them.  (9)  The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding.  (10)  But Joshua had commanded the people, "Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!"  (11)  So he had the ark of the LORD carried around the city, circling it once. Then the people returned to camp and spent the night there.

 

So here you have God giving Joshua, from verses 3-5, the instructions, and then Joshua tells the priests what to do.  Apparently there were two types of trumpets that the Israelites used.   They had silver trumpets and they had rams horns which were considered to be something to be used in representing God, in battle or for worship. They were used at the time of jubilee, and for war, those two events. Also rams horns were something which God has made and the silver trumpets were manmade and used for different purposes.  Armed men went before the seven priests who blew on the trumpets (ram’s horns) and the people of Israel came after it, but in the midst was the presence of God dwelling in the Ark.

 

The first thing they had to do concerning faith was to be obedient to God's directions and to God's instructions.  I am not a history teacher, but I don't know of any other army in the world that has gone up to a city and walked around it and then gone back to camp and done that for six days.  Had you been on the inside of that city what do you think you would have done?  Apparently it was a two hour journey from where they were, from Gilgal up to Jericho and back, so it is a fair walk. If you had seen them coming, what would you have thought?  Here they come, they come right up to the mound and then start going around the outside so you would marshal your forces around the outside and then they would go around a little bit further and then just start heading back to camp. If you were on the inside what would you think?   You would probably have been at a complete loss to understand it. So the first thing that they had to do was to be obedient to God's commands even though it may have appeared stupid.    It is interesting that when you read through scripture God always uses the weak and the insignificant and the things that don't look much in the eyes of the world to show Himself strong on their behalf.  They had to walk around Jericho for six consecutive days with the walls looking the same; the seventh day was different, this time it was seven times around Jericho in one day.   So they actually walked around thirteen times.  The second thing they had to do is in verse 10.

 

Joshua 6:10  But Joshua had commanded the people, "Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!"

 

So there had to be obedience but there also had to be the discipline of faith.  They had to keep their mouths shut.  That's a really hard thing for most of us...you have a two hour journey and you can't say a word!  The only noise that was allowed was the priests blowing the trumpets.   

If they had been allowed to talk there would have probably been dissention; like ‘what are we doing this for’ or ‘this is stupid, why don’t we just go on in and attack?’ But they have to remain absolutely silent; they are not allowed to say anything.  That is actually the discipline that God is requiring of the nation to act out their faith by remaining silent and letting Him work. When thinking about that, I realized that God often requires the same thing of us, that we keep our mouths shut.   We don't moan about His methods.  We don't moan about His ways. Had they been allowed to speak, before long you would have had a committee set up.  Someone would go and see Joshua; perhaps ten men, and tell him they think that this strategy should be changed because this just seems ridiculous.    But the nation had to also be patient because thirteen times around a city is a long slow journey, and every time they came around the walls of the city still looked the same.  There had been no change. 

 

God declared to Joshua at the beginning what the plan was. I don't know if Joshua outlaid it to all the people.  There is no indication to say that he did.   He just gave the priests instructions. 

 

Blow that trumpet and shout in faith!

 

Joshua 6:12-16  Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.  (13)  The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the LORD and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the LORD, while the trumpets kept sounding.  (14)  So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.  (15)  On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times.  (16)  The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the LORD has given you the city!

 

So the next part in their walk of faith was actually “a shout of faith.”  This is an outward expression of their faith in God and they had now reached the point where something different was required of them.   One scripture I did think of was when the Lord shouts. In 1st Thessalonians 4:16  it says that when the Lord returns He will descend from heaven with a shout, and with the trump of God, so there is shout and a trumpet and the dead shall rise first and then we who are alive will be caught up.  It may be the same sort of imagery.  

 

Joshua 6:17  The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.

 

One little thing you have here is a picture of what happens in Jericho and in the book of Revelation.  You have seven priests here and you have seven days and you have seven times around  the walls and then there is complete silence.  In the book of Revelation you have seven seals and when the seventh seal is opened there is silence.  There is silence in heaven for about half an hour the bible tells us. When the seventh seal is opened there are seven more trumpets, and seven angels. This is the same imagery that is going to be replayed in the last days.  Whatever Israel confronted here in this stronghold is again going to be replayed, whether it is the fall of Babylon as a world system, or whether it is a spiritual happening, what happens here happens in the book of Revelation with all the numbers of seven and  the silence which occurs.

 

Is God fair to destroy these people?

 

Joshua 6:18-21  But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.  (19)  All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury."  (20)  When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.  (21)  They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it--men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

 

Then at the shout of faith the outer wall just fell down flat so that the armies of Israel could walk straight in. This is something that only God could do. One of the things people say is “how can you serve a God of love when He commands a nation to destroy everything” and they take offence against the God that we serve. I want to just have a little look at that because God declared to Abraham right back in the beginning in Genesis 15 what would happen. 

 

Genesis 15:7-16  He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."  (8)  But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"  (9)  So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."  (10)  Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.  (11)  Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.  (12)  As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.  (13)  Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.  (14)  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.  (15)  You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age.  (16)  In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."

 

So Abraham is in the land of Canaan, he has come out of Ur and he wants to know what God's plans are for him and God said “I am going to bless you and make of you a great nation and this is what is going to happen.  Your seed will actually be afflicted for 400 years.  You will go down into Egypt and you will serve the Egyptians for that period of time. After this they will come out with great possessions; but there is a time period here. God gave the nations who were living in the land 400 years to clean up their ways but things got worse until the cup of iniquity was full and they were ripe for judgment. No one gets away with anything.  When you read the book of Jude there is one theme that comes out of that book and that is that God judges sin.  He doesn't let people get away with anything; whether it is angels that left their abode, or people. When Sodom and Gomorrah reached a point of complete wickedness God judged them.  Whether it's Cain, whether it's Balaam, or whether it's Korah's rebellion in the desert, or the nation of Israel in the wilderness, they paid for sin with their lives.  They wandered forty years and they all died off.  At some point God judges sin.   The Amorites, the Canaanites are part of a confederacy of seven nations that God said He was going to destroy, but there was a time period for this. He had waited 400 years for the cup of iniquity to be full, and now we see that this had happened and He was actually going to use Israel to bring judgment upon these nations. 

 

Now, the other problem that you have is that in Genesis 6, we see that there are angels who left their abode and intermarried with women. It says that they tried to wreck the seed of women; tried to change what a human actually was.  You had this strange breed of giants or people with super human abilities, called men of renown.  It happened in the days of Noah, and part of the flood was to actually destroy Satan's attempt to corrupt the seed of woman on earth.  But it also says that this also happened afterward as well.  So there wasn't just one event where these angels left their abode. 

 

In Numbers 13 the spies went in to the land and brought back the report that they had seen the   descendants of Anak there and they were like grasshoppers in their sight; this made them really afraid.   So when the nation is about to inherit all which God has for them you have this spiritual opposition to them coming in again, there are giants in the land!  There were giants in the land in the time of David too; Goliath was one foe that David had to conquer.   So you have this Satanic opposition, and we understand that these things happen time and time again until the final opposition in the last days. A lot of bible teachers believe that what happened back then will be replayed in the end time.   Is part of what happens in Revelation due to this influx again of the nephilim within humanity?

 

Look at what is pumped out of Hollywood. When you think of movies, everything is about humans with super human abilities.  Even what your kids watch, it is all the same sort of line, humans with super human ability.  Whether it be Twilight or Thor, x man, mutants etc.   It is all part human and part something else.   I do believe that it will be replayed in the last days. 

 

So these giants were a part of these nations.  When you hear people say “how can you serve a God who wipes out the whole human race?  If He is a God of love, why does he wipe these people out?”  You need to remember that the race had become completely sinful—apart from Noah and his family. There were many people who were part human and part fallen angels, which Genesis 6 tells us produced this race of giants who were called Nephilim which means ‘Fallen ones.’ They were also called ‘mighty men of renown,’ and God was not going to allow that to continue.    

 

Protected by Grace and Faith

 

Joshua 6:21-23  They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it--men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.  (22)  Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, "Go into the prostitute's house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her."  (23)  So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.


So you have this wonderful picture when the whole city was doomed to destruction, of God's grace to someone who believed in the God of Israel, that He was the true God. Grace is given to Rahab; and you have this little gem in amongst all this wickedness.   Obviously, her house was not destroyed where it was on the wall.

 

A curse upon the city

 

Joshua 6:24-27  Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the LORD's house.  (25)  But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho--and she lives among the Israelites to this day.  (26)  At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: "Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: "At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates."  (27)  So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.

 

So Joshua put a curse on anyone who would rebuild that city.  500 years  passed from the time that Joshua put that curse upon the city and no one dared to rebuild it for 500 years--until you get to the time of Ahab, who was a wicked Godless king and he was happy for someone called Hiel to rebuild it.  This prophecy came to pass when he was laying the foundations; his first born died and when he set up the gates at the end of his building project, his youngest died as well.   It took 500 years for someone to actually do it but they did it and they paid for it.  So Jericho was destroyed. It was rebuilt by Hiel, and then apparently the Herodians destroyed it in 3 B.C.  And then a guy called Ackhileas rebuilt it, which was around the time of Christ. It was destroyed again by some person called Vispassean in 68 A.D just before 70 A.D destruction of Jerusalem where the Jews had all their troubles and the city and temple were destroyed by the Romans.

 

So there you have Jericho.