Lesson 3 The Fall of Jericho
One day after the Israelites had made their camp at Gilgal, Joshua went out to see the city of Jericho for himself. As he looked at the great stone wall that surrounded the city, perhaps he wondered how his army could ever force its way in. The gate was tightly locked, he knew; for the people of Jericho were expecting the Israelites to fight against them, and they were afraid to go outside the city wall. Presently Joshua saw a strange man standing near by. This stranger was dressed like a soldier, and he carried a bright sword in his hand. Joshua asked, “Are you a friend of the people of Jericho or a friend of the Israelites?” The stranger answered, “Neither. I am captain of the Lord’s army.” This soldier was Christ appearing in Old Testament time before He became a baby. This is called a theophany.
Then Joshua was glad, for he knew that God would help him capture the city of Jericho. He believed this Captain of the Lord’s army had come to lead the Israelites in their battle against their enemies. So Joshua bowed down to the ground and worshiped.
Then the Captain commanded him to take off his shoes because the ground where he stood was made holy by the presence of this Holy One from heaven. Joshua quickly removed his shoes, just as Moses had done before the burning bush at Mount Horeb.
Why was that a holy place? Because God was there and He is holy. This means God has no sin. He always does what is right. But because you and I are sinful, we think and do things that displease God. Therefore there is a separation between sinful man and this holy God. You might ask yourself “How can I ever be made right with this holy God because I have sinned?” Well, God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth, and He lived a perfect life without sin, and He died on the cross so that sinners like you and me could be declared right with God.
The Captain of the Lord’s army told Joshua how the Israelites should make an attack against Jericho. And He told how God would give a great victory to the Israelites if they would carefully obey His orders. Joshua listened. God’s plan for taking the city was different. (read Joshua 6:2-5) That’s all Joshua needed. He knew God’s plan and started obeying it. Faith is shown by obedience!
When Joshua returned to the camp at Gilgal he told the people about his visit with the Captain of the Lord’s army. And all the people were ready to obey the orders which this mighty captain had given. Faith is shown by obedience. You see, faith and obedience go hand in hand.
Perhaps on the very next day the Israelites began their attack. They did not expect to gain the victory on that first day, nor on the next; for the Lord had commanded them to go out every day for one whole week and march around the city.
When the people of Jericho looked out of the windows of their tallest buildings they saw a host of soldiers marching around their city. Just behind the soldiers, seven priests walked along, blowing rams’ horns. And behind the seven priests came other priests carrying a strange-looking burden wrapped so securely that the people of Jericho could not even guess what might be inside. But the Israelites knew this burden was the Ark of the Covenant, which belonged to the tabernacle. It stood for the “presence of God” to them, and the people of Israel followed behind the priests who carried the Ark. Every one walked quietly along, making no noise except the tread of his feet upon the ground. Once around the great stone wall they marched, and then they quietly returned to their camp at Gilgal.
“What can this mean?” the people of Jericho wondered. “We cannot understand those Israelites. They do not fight like other men.” The next day again they saw the strange march around their city, and again on the third day, on the fourth day, and on every day of the week. Finally they may have supposed the Israelites were only trying to make them afraid. But Rahab believed the Israelites were surely going to capture Jericho. She had called her father, mother, and brothers and sisters into her home. And together they looked out of the window where the scarlet cord hung, and together they watched the strange actions of the people who worshiped the God of Israel.
On the seventh day the Israelites marched seven times around the wall of Jericho. On that morning they had risen early and prepared for the long march. They knew the day for victory had come. At the end of the seventh march around the great wall, the Israelites stood still. They did not turn toward the camp at Gilgal as on other days, but now every one looked toward the wall. Then the priests blew loudly with their trumpets and all the people shouted with a great voice. At that moment the stone wall began to tremble, then it shook, and then fell down flat. What a great miracle! The Israelites knew that God had caused the wall to tumble, because they had not even touched it. The secret of the Jericho campaign was not in doing, but believing. God’s method seemed unreasonable, but for those who followed instructions, it worked! The Israelites had shown their faith by their obedience.
All the people of Jericho died except for one family. When the walls tumbled down, Joshua called the two spies and sent them to Rahab’s house on the wall. They found it without any trouble because of the scarlet cord in the window. Rahab and her family were spared when the walls tumbled down because she followed the orders which the spies had given her. Because she put her trust in Jehovah, Rahab shared in the great victory with the children of Israel.
What lessons can we learn from Joshua and Rahab? God’s commands seemed strange to the Israelites, but their faith was in the Lord, and they believed His command. The Bible says in Deut. 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of the Law (God’s Word). I may not understand what God is doing, but my job is to obey His commands.
If you have never trusted in the shed blood of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you can do that today. It can be in the closing prayer or when you’re by yourself, admitting you’ve displeased God by your thoughts, or your actions, and then thank the Father for sending the Son.
Prayer: Father, Thank you for your precious Word. Please give faith that many may trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior. For those who already know you, Father, we ask that we may obey Your Word, and show our faith by obedience to parents and teachers.
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