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Joshua Chapter Six, Works vs. Faith

In our study of Joshua chapter six, we look at the initial battle in the promised land and apply it to our lives as Christians.

Joshua 6:1

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

We see that Jericho knew that Israel was coming and they were afraid. The name of the city can mean either "City of the Moon" or "Place of Fragrance" and both are appropriate as they worshiped the moon gods and the area was known to have a sweet fragrance.

Joshua 6:2-5

Then the Lord said to Joshua, 'See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 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. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.'

We remember from chapter five, that Joshua was standing and looking at Jericho as he talked to Jesus. He is given some very different orders for the coming battle. First, we see that the battle is already over as Jesus says that they have already been defeated with fear. We see that all they had to do for the victory is to have faith in the completed work of the Lord and to give praise to Him. They are told to circle the city each day for six days and we are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number six is related to man's works. On the seventh day, they were to blow the trumpets and give shouts of praise. After the walls came down, they were simply to walk in and take over. As Christians, we face the same battle that the Israelites did as Jericho was a symbol of man's efforts. They had crossed over into the promised land of being called God's people and now they faced the challenge of resting in Him. Why didn't God just have them march up and the walls fall down? The marching around the city was a display of faith as no military man would believe that you could take a city in such a manner. Like the Israelites, we simply have to walk with Christ by faith trusting in the fact that His payment for our sins was sufficient. Throughout the history of the church (and even more today) there has been a battle for believers to understand that the victory over sin and death has been won by the grace of God through Jesus Christ. Even so, Satan has been among the believers, especially in the leadership, trying to turn the tables on the plan and get us to cower in fear as the people of Jericho did. Since the fall of man, people have had an urge to work for what they get and Satan uses that to make us think that we have to work at this walk instead of resting in Jesus Christ. Our initial battle, as Christians, is to overcome this urge to add any works to salvation. When anything is added to the work of Christ it is like saying that His sacrifice was not enough. We must ask ourselves whether our home (trust) is in Jericho (works) or is it with Christ by faith because it cannot be both.

Joshua 6:6 & 7

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.' And he ordered the army, 'Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.'

Joshua relayed the instructions to the priests and to the army. He sent them out in the same manner as Moses had done (see Numbers 10) with part of the army in front of the priests with the ark and some behind them.

Joshua 6:8 & 9

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. 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.

Why did they have to blow the trumpets? In Numbers 10, they were told to sound the trumpets when they were going into battle so that they would be remembered by God. This would have been like a royal procession and the people of Jericho must have wondered what was going on.

Joshua 6:10 & 11

But Joshua had commanded the army, '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 he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there.

Imagine the sight as the entire army marched around the city without a word. The sound of the trumpets a constant reminder that the battle belonged to the Lord. They did as told and returned to camp for the night. If we, as Christians, would remember this example and let the Lord handle our battles, then, more people might come to know Him. The Israelite army marched around the enemy in silence much as Jesus did when he was beaten, mocked, and even crucified. Too often, I find myself wanting to spring to the defense of Jesus instead of trusting in Him to defend me. When that happens, the problem is usually with my tongue as James warned (see James 3).

Joshua 6:12-14

Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 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. So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.

Leaders lead by example and we see that as Joshua "got up early the next morning". We must remember that the soldiers and priests did not know how many days they were going to be doing this but they went ahead for six days.

Joshua 6:15-17

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. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, 'Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 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.'

On the final day, they circled the city seven times. Joshua informed the soldiers that there would not be any plunder for them as everything was going to be set aside for God. All of the people and things in Jericho that could be destroyed were to be destroyed. Anything that could not be destroyed was going to be set aside for the Lord. He also remembered Rahab and their agreement to spare her and her household. True leaders will have integrity and will walk the talk.

Joshua 6:18 & 19

'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. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.'

Here, we see the principle of the tithe at work. The tithe was an act of faith in trusting that the remaining part of something would be sufficient for the needs of the giver. This was the first city of the land of Canaan to fall to Israel and the tithe was always the first portion.

Joshua 6:20 & 21

When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 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.

Here, we see the ultimate in team work with everyone listening to God and doing as directed. The priests were faithful in blowing the trumpets and the army did their part with a loud shout. God did His part and the walls came down. So, why did God have the priests and the army do anything? He could have just collapsed the walls without their help. God knows that we, as people have the desire to work and He lets us work in His plan. The key is in only doing the work that He sets before us and trusting Him to do the rest.

Joshua 6:22 & 23

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.' So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.

Rahab had been spared and her entire family with her but they were still outsiders. We see that she had convinced all of her family to be in the proper place to be saved. That reminds us that our job, as Christians, is to get the lost into a position where they can be saved. That involves telling them about sin and its consequences as well as its cure.

Joshua 6:24 & 25

Then they burned the whole city and everything it it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord's house. 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.

Everything that could be burned was and those things that could not were set apart for the Lord. Rahab would eventually marry Salmon who tradition says was one of the spies. He was a leader of the tribe of Judah and together they are listed in the line of Jesus.

Joshua 6:26

At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: 'Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: "At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates."'

Why would God have Joshua pronounce this curse? We must remember that Jericho was a symbol of man's works and its defeat was a work of God. Anyone who tries to undo the work of God (trust in man's works) will be cursed. This curse was fulfilled in the days of the wicked King Ahab. This was also the struggle of the early church as judaizers kept trying to bring the law back into the church and it continues to this day.

Joshua 6:27

So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.

Imagine what the rest of Canaan thought when they heard about how Jericho was defeated. The faith that was demonstrated by Joshua glorified God and people knew that God was with him. We each should ask ourselves if the same is true of us. We have God living in us through the Holy Spirit but can people tell?

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