Series: Thru the Bible
Message – The Walls of Jericho…Shout your Victory!
“(1) When all the Amorite kings across the Jordan to the west and all the Canaanite kings near the sea heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, they lost heart and their courage failed because of the Israelites. (2) At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelite men again.” (3) So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelite men at Gibeath-haaraloth. (4) This is the reason Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males–all the men of war–had died in the wilderness along the way after they had come out of Egypt. (5) Though all the people who came out were circumcised, none of the people born in the wilderness along the way were circumcised after they had come out of Egypt. (6) For the Israelites wandered in the wilderness 40 years until all the nation’s men of war who came out of Egypt had died off because they did not obey the LORD. So the LORD vowed never to let them see the land He had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. (7) Joshua raised up their sons in their place; it was these he circumcised. They were still uncircumcised, since they had not been circumcised along the way. (8) After the entire nation had been circumcised, they stayed where they were in the camp until they recovered. (9) The LORD then said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.” Therefore, that place has been called Gilgal to this day. (10) While the Israelites camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they kept the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month. (11) The day after Passover they ate unleavened bread and roasted grain from the produce of the land. (12) And the day after they ate from the produce of the land, the manna ceased. Since there was no more manna for the Israelites, they ate from the crops of the land of Canaan that year. (13) When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in His hand. Joshua approached Him and asked, “Are You for us or for our enemies?” (14) “Neither,” He replied. “I have now come as commander of the LORD’s army.” Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in worship and asked Him, “What does my Lord want to say to His servant?” (15) The commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”
Here we used Carmen’s song, “Jericho, the Shout of Victory“ to read the first 16 verses in a very powerful and well done, theatrical song. I encourage you to listen to it before preceding. I also encourage you to pray for the healing of this wonderful man of God who has been battling against cancer for many years.
While I love that song from Carmen, I obviously have some well known exceptions with the theology of binding the devil and the louder you shout the more of God’s power can flow….but that not withstanding does not take away from the amazing and stirring nature of the song. It is not only very good it is very well done!
I will quickly address the issue of praise having the effect of binding the devil with chains that won’t let go. The only verse which approximates this is found in Psalm 8:2.
Psalm 8:2, “Because of Your adversaries, You have established a stronghold from the mouths of children and nursing infants, to silence the enemy and the avenger.” The word silence – is probably accurate though it might could mean to cause to cease or even remove someone from your presence, though silence is more probably the meaning, for we see it’s application in Matt. 21:16, where Jesus quoted it to the Chief Priests who accosted Him in response to what the children were singing at Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem – what we call Palm Sunday. Jesus did not mention the devil at all, but seemed to imply that the ones being silenced by the praise given to Him were the religious elite of His day – including these same Chief Priests. While it clearly did not make them shut up – it did burst their bubbles and make their words fall upon deaf ears.
6:1 “Now Jericho was strongly fortified because of the Israelites–no one leaving or entering.”
The people of Jericho had heard of Israel, how He had delivered them from Egypt, how they had crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, had defeated other kings and had now crossed the mighty Jordan river on dry ground though it was the season for it to be overflowing it’s banks. To say that these people were terrified would be an understatement.
They had fortified their position and were in it for the long haul. Excavations of ancient Jericho reveal that it WAS conquered, it was burned and that it had just recently beforehand taken in a harvest (their jars and storage areas for food were completely full. They also had a water source IN the city – so they could have quite possibly lived in the city for a few years before needing to leave. God it was already too late – because God had given their city over to Israel already – their protection had departed from them!
This is just one of MANY, MANY more confirmations that it is God Who gives victory and oversees defeat. Power and promotion come from Him!
God told Joshua,
6:2 “Look, I have handed Jericho, its king, and its fighting men over to you.”
The instructions were to have all the men of war circle the city once a day for 6 days. On the 7th and final day they were to march around the city seven times – WHILE the priest’s blow the ram’s horns. Remember that even the Ram’s horn was itself significant because it spoke of God’s deliverance. [Abraham, not having to sacrifice his son since God provided a ram caught by the horn in the thicket].
After this, when the seventh lap is complete – the priests were to blow their horns one more time – a sustained blast and the people in response were to give out a great shout of victory…all of this was to PRECEDE seeing ANY evidence of victory!
Clearly the men of war was being used both in a metaphorical and practical way. In metaphor, because these men of war were of themselves incapable of doing ANYTHING to capture this city. Their strength and prowess in battle had to take its place BEHIND the power and instructions of God. It was practical in that once the walls HAD fallen, they would be the first ones to rush into the city to take it.
Now, the battle itself was very significant in what it depicted. We already know that the taking of the promised land was a “type” of the kingdom of God and it’s reign being made complete in us as we take on the nature of Christ – by ceasing from our labors for right standing with God and taking His by entering into the rest of faith. We do not have to guess at this the dots are connected for us in the 3rd and 4th chapters of Hebrews.
Jericho was simply the first of these cities to fall making it an example for all that would follow.
In the new birth, we enter into God’s rest which is typified as the “sabbath rest” of the Lord. So it is on THIS day that the city was taken.
Seven also represents completion and perfection – as in the days of Creation. While the Promised Land still had to be physically conquered – it was already given to the Israelites on THIS day!
Can you not see how this corresponds to our own deliverance. We were set free from the enslavement to sin and the law at the death and resurrection of Christ – but we enter into salvation individually much later. Also, even after we have entered the Promised Land – there are MANY cities left to conquer. Though they have already been given to us, and their protection has left them, we still must take the ground in His Name!
Of course the fact that all of these natural conquests were being led by Joshua which is the Hebrew name for Jesus is profoundly significant. It reminds us of the passage in 2Corinthians were Paul said, “
2Cor. 2:14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”
I like the Holman translation because it is even more accurate to the Greek, as well as to these Old Testament experiences,
“But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ, and spreads through us in every place the scent of knowing Him.”
As to the fall of the wall
Now this claim of scripture that the walls fell and the city was defeated by Israel, has come under some scrutiny in the past by skeptics and naysayers, but only one objection of any note has ever seriously been levied. A British Archaeologist named Kathleen Kenyon carried out an excavation of that area in the 1950, and came to the conclusion that there was no archaeological evidence that the walls of Jericho mentioned in the Bible surrounded that city at the end of the Late Bronze era which would loosely correspond to the dating of the Jericho conquest of Israel mentioned in the Biblical book of Joshua. Not surprisingly this is the account of the Jericho wall on Wikipedia as well. However, further investigation of the area throughout this last century tells quite another story…one that most Google searches will neglect the reveal.
In Deuteronomy 9, we have an account of Moses telling Israel that they were now about to cross the Jordan river, to dispossess nations which were greater and stronger than themselves, having large cities with walls that reached high up towards the sky. Evidently Kenyon did meticulous work but arrived at wrong conclusions due to mis-dating.
Her findings showed a Jericho that had been heavily fortified and burned by fire, but she had incorrectly concluded that the Bronze Age city of Jericho had been destroyed by the Egyptians around 1550 B.C. but further investigation and analysis of the evidence, has revealed that the destruction actually took place around 1400 B.C. (end of the Late Bronze I period), exactly when the Bible says the conquest occurred.
The fallen walls
According to Joshua 6:20, the wall “fell down flat”. The Hebrew words depict that the wall literally fell beneath itself. Archaeological evidence provides us with a picture which corresponds to that account. It appears that the mudbrick city wall collapsed and was deposited at the base of the stone retaining wall when the siege took place.
An account on this from Kenyon’s own work was very detailed. Evidently on the west of the tell, at the bottom of the retaining she found,
“fallen red bricks piling nearly to the top of the revetment. These probably came from the wall on the summit of the bank [and/or] … the brickwork above the revetment.”
40 plus years later, excavating the southern end of the mound, an Italian team found the exact same thing.
Now, if you remember Rahab’s house was incorporated INTO the wall of Jericho, so if the walls fell, how was she and her family spared when they were supposed to stay inside her home with a scarlet cord tied outside? According to Joshua 2:12-21; 6:17 & 6:22-23 they were indeed spared.
Well again, archaeology has shed some light on this as well. You wee, at the north end of the tell of Jericho, the German excavation of 1907–1909 found that small stretch of the lower city wall did not fall like everywhere else. An 8 foot high portion of that mudbrick wall was still standing. Furthermore, that section of wall still had the clear remains of intact houses built against the wall! This was clearly the “low-income” area of Jericho, what we might call the slums. Some thing never change, but regardless of where the spies found Rahab, she was NOT invisible to God or the Holy Spirit Who worked on her heart to convince it and compel it to act in faith.
The final question is, if there were two walls, and it is the city walls that fell, how did the Israelites get over the 12-15 foot wall at the base of the tell?
Again, archaeology reveals something about that as well. Evidently the bricks from the collapsed upper walls formed a ramp against the retaining wall which the Israelites could easily climb to the top. It is interesting how precise the Bible is about this. It is something one could easily read over or past if they did not have this knowledge, but the passage actually tells us that they had to climb up into the city. The wording was, “the people went up into the city, every man straight before him.
As I’ve told you many times, the Bible is the ONLY religious text which offers specific places, dates, names and events which when pressed upon even by secular science, stands the test and proves true. Some of these facts did not get revealed until over 40 years after the Kenyon expedition and no doubt many people’s faith was severely challenged by what seemed like incontrovertible evidence running contrary to the scriptural account. But faith needs no evidence, it simply knows, and in the end the truth will be revealed. Maybe not in our lifetime, but it will be revealed, so do not loose faith.
Now let’s continue with the rest of the chapter…
17-27 “(17) But the city and everything in it are set apart to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and everyone with her in the house will live, because she hid the men we sent. (18) But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things, you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and bring disaster on it. (19) For all the silver and gold, and the articles of bronze and iron, are dedicated to the LORD and must go into the LORD’s treasury.”
“(20) So the people shouted, and the trumpets sounded. When they heard the blast of the trumpet, the people gave a great shout, and the wall collapsed. The people advanced into the city, each man straight ahead, and they captured the city. (21) They completely destroyed everything in the city with the sword–every man and woman, both young and old, and every ox, sheep, and donkey. (22) Joshua said to the two men who had scouted the land, “Go to the prostitute’s house and bring the woman out of there, and all who are with her, just as you promised her.” (23) So the young men who had scouted went in and brought out Rahab and her father, mother, brothers, and all who belonged to her. They brought out her whole family and settled them outside the camp of Israel. (24) They burned up the 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, her father’s household, and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent to spy on Jericho, and she lives in Israel to this day. (26) At that time Joshua imposed this curse: Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes the rebuilding of this city, Jericho. He will lay its foundation at the cost of his firstborn; He will set up its gates at the cost of his youngest. (27) And the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.”
Israel’s Defeat at Ai & the Judgment of Achan
“(1) The Israelites, however, were unfaithful regarding the things set apart for destruction. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of what was set apart, and the LORD’s anger burned against the Israelites. (2) Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and scout the land.” So the men went up and scouted Ai. (3) After returning to Joshua they reported to him, “Don’t send all the people, but send about 2,000 or 3,000 men to attack Ai. Since the people of Ai are so few, don’t wear out all our people there.” (4) So about 3,000 men went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. (5) The men of Ai struck down about 36 of them and chased them from outside the gate to the quarries, striking them down on the descent. As a result, the people’s hearts melted and became like water. (6) Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell before the ark of the LORD with his face to the ground until evening, as did the elders of Israel; they all put dust on their heads. (7) “Oh, Lord GOD,” Joshua said, “why did You ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites for our destruction? If only we had been content to remain on the other side of the Jordan! (8) What can I say, Lord, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies? (9) When the Canaanites and all who live in the land hear about this, they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. Then what will You do about Your great name?” (10) The LORD then said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why are you on the ground? (11) Israel has sinned. They have violated My covenant that I appointed for them. They have taken some of what was set apart. They have stolen, deceived, and put the things with their own belongings. (12) This is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They will turn their backs and run from their enemies, because they have been set apart for destruction. I will no longer be with you unless you remove from you what is set apart. (13) “Go and consecrate the people. Tell them to consecrate themselves tomorrow, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘There are among you, Israel, things set apart. You will not be able to stand against your enemies until you remove what is set apart. (14) In the morning you must present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the LORD selects is to come forward clan by clan. The clan the LORD selects is to come forward family by family. The family the LORD selects is to come forward man by man. (15) The one who is caught with the things set apart must be burned, along with everything he has, because he has violated the LORD’s covenant and committed an outrage in Israel.'” (16) Joshua got up early the next morning. He had Israel come forward tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was selected. (17) He had the clans of Judah come forward, and the Zerahite clan was selected. He had the Zerahite clan come forward by heads of families, and Zabdi was selected. (18) He then had Zabdi’s family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was selected. (19) So Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and make a confession to Him. I urge you, tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me.” (20) Achan replied to Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I did: (21) When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.” (22) So Joshua sent messengers who ran to the tent, and there was the cloak, concealed in his tent, with the money underneath. (23) They took the things from inside the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and spread them out in the LORD’s presence. (24) Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the cloak, and the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkey, and sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and brought them up to the Valley of Achor. (25) Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? Today the LORD will trouble you!” So all Israel stoned him to death. They burned their bodies, threw stones on them, (26) and raised over him a large pile of rocks that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from His burning anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day.”
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
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