Jean Fouquet (1420-1477/81) “The Conquest of Jericho” (1470-1476)1
Introduction: This chapter retells the story of the Jews’ conquest of Jericho after Joshua received the battle plan from a pre-incarnation of Jesus Christ. This story should be read on three levels. First, the Jews’ ultimate victory showed that God is faithful to keep His promises. The fall of Jericho was also the critical first step in the conquest of the Promised Land. Jericho stood as a fortress gateway, guarding the hill country in the central portion of Israel. After taking Jericho and the nearby city of Ai, the Jews could invade the lower plains and divide the country in half. Second, the account should also be understood in the context of the spiritual warfare that takes place within every believer. After you accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwells inside of you. You have in effect made it to the Promised Land. Yet, because Satan is still the ruler of this world, you must constantly wage war against the desires of the flesh inside your body: “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit . . .” (Gal. 5:17). Just as the Jews made no provision for the non-believers, you must make no provision for the desires of your flesh. Third, the account should be read prophetically in the context of Jesus’ future redemption of the Earth, His judgment of sin, and His future Millennial Reign. God also reveals seven lessons on defeating Satan’s spiritual strongholds in your life so that you may receive your spiritual inheritance.
First, before the battle began, Jesus assured Joshua that He had already defeated the enemy. From this, He reveals that He has already defeated your spiritual enemy as well. Just as the Jews had to be patient to reclaim the Promised Land, believers must be patient for Jesus to reclaim the Earth. Second, from Jesus’ battle plan of marching silently with the ark around Jericho for seven days, He reveals that He has won the battle through our faith alone in His mighty power. He only requires that you show up and that you believe in Him. Third, through the symbolism in this chapter of seven references to the number seven (49 when multiplied together), God draws an analogy to the redemption of the land after the 49th year, called the “Jubilee”. Through this symbolism, He reveals that faith and obedience will allow Him to restore your spiritual inheritance and free you from the strongholds of the evil one. Fourth, from His instructions to the Jews to seize the things of Jericho, He reveals that He wants you to seize your spiritual inheritance and use it for His glory. Yet, though His warnings to the Jews not take idols or gold, He wants you to avoid the worldly things that may cause you to become covetous. Fifth, through the invasion on a Sabbath, He reveals that He expects you to labor for Him on the Sabbath. Sixth, through the salvation of Rahab and her later inclusion into Jesus’ lineage, He confirms that He can use you no matter how bad you have sinned in the past. You only need to repent to receive His forgiveness. Finally, from Joshua’s curse upon Jericho, He reveals that He wants you to warn others of the coming judgment and curse if they fail to repent and accept Jesus.
God defeated the mighty warriors of Jericho before the battle began. The people of Jericho knew that the Jews were coming. Thus, they bolted shut the doors to their walled fortress: “1 Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2 The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.” (Josh. 6:1-2). The walled fortress would have been intimidating to the Jews. Despite their victories over the kings of Jordan, they had little or no experience laying siege against a fortress. The Bible also reveals that the soldiers of Jericho were further known to be “valiant warriors.” These points are stressed to emphasize that the Jews lacked the means to win this battle on their own. But God had already won the battle for them. Jesus had just revealed Himself to Joshua as the commander of God’s army (Josh. 5:13-15). He revealed to Joshua that He had already defeated Jericho. The people of Jericho were filled with fear after His parting of the Red Sea, His plagues, His defeat of the Egyptians, His defeat of the kings of Jordan, and His parting of the Jordan River (Josh. 2:10-11; 5:1). But the efforts of the people of Jericho to barricade themselves in from God were all in vain. They were powerless against His will: “He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you will make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them.” (Dt. 7:24). The Jews only needed to be obedient and show up in faith to receive Jericho. From there, they could conquer the rest of the Promised Land.
When you walk with God, never fear your enemies. Just as the Jews were not to fear the “valiant warriors” inside their impregnable walled fortress, you should never fear your enemies when you walk with God. “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.” (Prov. 29:25). “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.” (Lk. 12:4). When you trust in Him, He will protect you in His fortress tower of strength: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” (Prov. 18:10). When you face one of Satan’s spiritual strongholds, are you taking refuge in God’s holy name?
Jesus requires only that you have faith in His might. Jesus’ battle plan was not a military plan. It relied entirely upon faith. For six days, seven priests carrying seven trumpets and the ark would march in silence around Jericho. On the seventh day, they would circle around the City seven times and then wait for God to perform a miracle at the blowing of His trumpet: “3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4 Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead. 6 So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.”’ 7 Then he said to the people, ‘Go forward, and march around the city, and let the armed men go on before the ark of the Lord.’ 8 And it was so, that when Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward and blew the trumpets; and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them. 9 The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, saying, ‘You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!’ 11 So he had the ark of the Lord taken around the city, circling it once; then they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp. 12 Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them and the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while they continued to blow the trumpets. 14 Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days.” (Josh. 6:3-14). Joshua’s command for the people to silently march around Jericho put them all at great risk. They could have been shot down with arrows, spears, or flaming projectiles from soldiers perched high on top of Jericho's walls. They could not win through military might. They had to rely upon God in faith to protect them and to bring the walls down.
The Jews’ initial invasion route into the Promised Land2
The Jews obey God’s command to march around Jericho for six days3
Where God guides He provides. The Jews showed their faith by letting the ark lead them: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” (Heb. 11:30). Today, God will guide your footsteps as you head into spiritual battle through both His Word and the Holy Spirit, who will apply it to your life (Ps. 119:105; Jo. 14:26). Do you let the Word and the Spirit guide your steps each day?
Let God fight the battle for you while you believe in faith. The battle plan that Jesus revealed to Joshua was the same that He revealed to Moses as the Egyptian soldiers closed in on them at the Red Sea. They only needed to be silent while He vanquished their enemy: “But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Ex. 14:13-14). God repeatedly told His people not to fear when they faced trouble (e.g., Gen. 15:1; 46:3; 20:20; 1 Sam. 11:13; 12:16; 2 Kgs. 6:16; Is. 7:4; 41:10-13). The battle against the enemy always belongs to Him: “The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes,” (Dt. 1:30; 3:22). “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.” (Dt. 20:1). ‘“Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’” (2 Chron. 20:15; 32:7-8; Is. 52:12). He will be your armor and your weapon (Eph. 6:10-18). Do you trust God to defeat your enemies?
The restoration of Jericho to the Jews. On the seventh day, the seven priests with the seven horns marched around Jericho seven times and then blew their horns. This in turn caused the walls to come down: “15 Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. 16 At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.’” (Josh. 6:15-16). The multiple references to the number seven conveys completeness. God completed His creation on the sixth day and rested on the seventh. When the walls fell down, the troops perched on top of it would have died as well. God delivered the Jews a complete victory over Jericho through His power alone.
The Jubilee restoration of the Promised Land. The battle for Jericho is also filled with symbolism. Between the priests, their ram’s horns, and the days, Joshua repeats the number seven a total of seven times. Seven times seven is forty-nine, a number which precedes the Jubilee Year when God “restores” the land back to His people: “You are also to count off seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven Sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. You shall then sound a ram's horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.”’ (Lev. 25:8-10). God gave the Promised Land to the Jews through Abraham’s faith. The Jews were not taking the land from the people of Canaan. They were instead reclaiming their God-given land from them: “On this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his own property.” (Lev. 25:13). Although we cannot be certain, the victory over both Jericho and the Promised Land most likely took place during a Jubilee Year. When Jesus returns, He will also restore the Earth by evicting its landlord, Satan.
The rapture of the Church and the Second Coming. The use of the ram’s horn, a “shofar”, is also filled with symbolism. In addition to the walls of Jericho, the shofar announced God’s appearance to the Jews at Mount Horeb (Ex. 19:13). It also announced the beginning of the Jubilee year (Lev. 25:27; Nu. 36:4). The rapture will also be preceded by the blowing of a loud trumpet heard only by God’s people (Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16-17). Jesus’ Second Coming will also be preceded by a trumpet (Rev. 11:5). One of the earlier Church fathers named Origen noted these parallels to discover that the fall of Jericho symbolized the impeding fall of the word to Jesus: “We frequently find Jericho to be placed in Scripture as a figure of this world . .. Consequently, this Jericho (that is the world) is about to fall; for indeed the consummation of the age has already been made known a little while ago by the sacred books. In that way, therefore, will the consummation be given to it? By what instruments? By the sound, it says, of trumpets . . . At that time, therefore, Jesus our Lord conquers Jericho with trumpets and overthrows it . . .” Other early church writers discovered that Rahab symbolizes the Church. (quote by Douglas Earl, Reading Joshua as Christian Scripture (Journal of Theological Interpretation Supp. 2 (2010) p. 145). Like Rahab, the Church’s righteousness is but filthy rags before God (Is. 64:6). Like Rahab, the Church is saved by its faith alone (Heb. 11:31; Eph. 2:8; Ro. 3:24; Jo. 3:16). But, like Rahab, this salvation should produce the fruit of works done out of devotion not obligation (Ja. 2:14-26). For those who believe, Jesus will both protect them and remove them before He brings His final judgments upon the rest of the world.
A possible 7,000 year plan for Redemption. If the story of Jericho symbolizes the restoration of the world, it may also suggest approximately (but not the exact date) when this will happen. The crossing over the Jordan and the seizure of Jericho both took place on the beginning of the seventh day. A day to the Lord is “like” a 1,000 years (Ps. 90:4; 2 Pet. 3:3-8). The Millennial Reign is to last 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-5). Paul called this time period a Sabbath rest (Heb. 4:1-9). In the Bible, God confirms His messages in certain numerical patterns. For example, after Noah lived 600 years, God then destroyed the Earth and started over (Gen. 7:6). The later Jewish king Joash (who symbolized Jesus) was hidden from view for exactly six years before he was revealed and restored to his rightful place on the throne (2 Kgs. 11:3-12). The transfiguration of Jesus also took place “after six days.” (Matt. 17:1-2). Just as God created in six days and then rested on the seventh, the Jewish interpretive text called the “Talmud” also teaches that mankind will labor for six of God’s days and rest on His seventh: “The school of Eliyahu teaches: ‘The world exists for six thousand years - - two thousands tohu [“void” (without revealed Scripture)]; two thousand, Torah; and two thousand, [and the last thousand] the era of the Messiah. But because of our numerous iniquities many of these years have been lost.” (Sanhedrin 97a-97b). This same prophesy appears in the apocrypha book of Enoch: “As the world was made in six days, so its history would be accomplished in 6,000 years of rest . . . At its close would begin the 8th Eternal Day, when time should be no more.” (Author: Anonymous, The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden (Thomas Nelson 1974), p. 81). Some early church writers also wrote of a 6,000-year period of human history. Barnabas, for example, also wrote: “in six thousand years the Lord shall bring all things to an end.” (Epistle of Barnabus, chapter 15, The Apostolic Fathers, pp. 151-151). Irenaeus also wrote: “For the day of the Lord is a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 1, 28:3; Cox, Cleveland, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, (Hendrickson Publishers 1994) p. 557). This time theory, however, does not work with the Ussher / Lightfoot creation date of 4004 BC. Under their calendar, 6,000 years passed in the fall of 1997. The Jewish calendar begins 235 years after the Ussher / Lightfoot creation date. Under the Jewish civil calendar, the beginning of the new year of the year 6,000 will take place on September 30, 2,239 AD. Nevertheless, for three reasons, that cannot be the exact date. First, the accuracy of the Jewish calendar is subject to debate. Indeed, even the Jews acknowledge this: “But because of our numerous iniquities many of these years have been lost.” (Sanhedrin 97a-97b). Second, God said that a day was “like” 1,000 years. He did not say it is an exact unit of measure. The Hebrew word for day, which is “yom”, can also be interpreted as an “era” of time. Thus, there could be six human eras or epics of time. Third, Jesus is clear that absolutely no one knows the exact day or the hour of His return or when history will end (Matt. 24:36; Mk. 13:32). We must live each day expecting His return. If there is 6,000-year-period of human history, we don’t know if the Millennial Reign will begin very shortly or more than two hundred years from now. Like the virgins who missed the bridegroom (Jesus) because they failed to fill their flasks with oil (symbolizing the Holy Spirit), you should always be ready for His return (Matt 25:1-13). If He had told you the exact time of His return, you would put off preparing for His return (Matt. 25:13). Are you living each day ready for His return?
God’s instructions regarding which things the Jews could plunder. Through Joshua, God gave specific instructions on what they could take within the defeated Jericho: “17 The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the Lord; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. 19 But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” (Josh. 6:17-19). God wanted to give His people the resources to continue on with their conquest of the Promised Land. By seizing the weapons and the tools from the people of Jericho, the Jews could seize the blessings of the Promised Land. But they in fact never seized the full extent of their spiritual inheritance. They never invaded the lands of Syria and Iraq, which God also promised to them. God, however, knew that the gold and silver and the idols of Jericho would become a snare that would lead to covetousness and idolatry. Thus, for their own protection He prohibited them from seizing these things. When some disobeyed God’s instructions, He then removed His protection from the Jews. Many died in the subsequent battles because they had lost God’s protection.
Seize your spiritual inheritance, not your worldly one. Jesus has also given every believer talents that they are to use for His glory (Matt. 25:14-30). If you have been given gifts for teaching, preaching, hospitality, prayer, or any other skill, He wants you to seize and develop those talents for His glory. If you are successful and make money, that money can be used to further His kingdom. But you should avoid using your gifts to chase after either money or power: “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim. 6:10). Likewise, the pursuit of the idols of the flesh like drugs, alcohol, pornography, fornication, and adultery will only lead to misery. Are you laying claim to only God’s spiritual inheritance for you and not the things of the flesh?
The invasion and destruction of Jericho. After the walls of Jericho fell, the Jews killed every man, woman and child except for Rahab and her family: “20 So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. 21 They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.’” (Josh. 6:20-21). Many are troubled by these verses. How could a just and loving God allow innocent people to be killed? The answer is that the people of Jericho were all guilty of idolatry and other unholy practices under God’s Law. In addition to reclaiming their land, the Jews were acting as God’s appointed avengers against evil (Ro. 13:4). He has not called upon His believers to again engage in holy war. But He will wage a similar war against sin in the end times.
By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down4
By faith, Jesus can also destroy any stronghold in your life5
The collapse of the walls of Jericho6
The people of Jericho panicked, and Joshua then sent the Jews in to defeat them7
The Sabbath is a time for spiritual warfare. While God normally prohibits labor on the Sabbath, He had the Jews seize Jericho after He made the walls fall on a Sabbath. Because all Scripture is both inspired “and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (2 Tim. 3:16), there are spiritual lessons from the judgment upon the people of Jericho on a Sabbath. Today, the enemy that the Church fights against is a spiritual enemy. Like the walls of Jericho, God wants you to engage in spiritual warfare to bring down the enemy’s spiritual “fortresses”: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” (2 Cor. 10:3-4). The Sabbath is a time for spiritual warfare against the enemy Satan and his spiritual strongholds in your life. Just as the Jews showed no mercy toward the things of the flesh, your Sabbath is a time to wage war against the desires of your flesh and to pray or help others in bondage to the flesh. “[T]he lust of the flesh . . . is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 Jo. 2:16). “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God . . .” (Ro. 8:7). “[A]nd those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Ro. 8:8). We must therefore “. . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Ro. 13:14). For “. . . flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 15:50; Ro. 8:6, 13). Paul also warns that “one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption . . .” (Gal. 6:8). For the Sabbath invasion of Jericho, God reveals that the Sabbath is a time to wage spiritual war against the evil that holds the nation captive. Are you using the Sabbath as a time to pray for others?
Spiritual warfare on the Sabbath can also include volunteering and helping others. Spiritual warfare is not limited to praying for yourself or someone else. It also includes investing time to help others under spiritual attack. One of Jesus’ most interesting lessons stem from His many miracles and healings that took place on the Sabbath. Consider the times the Pharisees attempted to charge Jesus with breaking the Sabbath. First, the Pharisees accused Him of breaking the Sabbath when He allowed His followers to eat grain in the field when they were hungry (Matt. 12:1-14; Mk. 2:23-28; Lk. 6:1-5). He was merely repeating what David did for his men when they were hungry (1 Sam 21). The poor were also allowed to glean the fields so that they would not go hungry (Ex. 23:10-13; Lev. 19:9-10; 23:22; Dt. 24:19-21). Jesus’ point was that “work” that involved helping the poor or the needy is not just an acceptable use of the Sabbath, it was one of its intended purposes. Second, the Pharisees also sought to charge Jesus when He healed on the Sabbath. These included the man with the withered hand (Matt. 12:9-21; Mk. 3:1-6; Lk. 6:6-11), the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (Jo. 5:1-18), a woman who suffered from a disease for 18 years (Lk. 13:10-17), and a man swollen with fluids (Lk. 14:1). Jesus compared these acts to freeing a trapped animal on the Sabbath. He again wanted people to understand the work that involves helping others is expected on the Sabbath. The Jews had taken all the joy out of the Sabbath by their oppressive rules and regulations: “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.” (Is. 1:14; Ho. 2:11). His point was certainly not to ignore the Sabbath altogether. Instead, “[t]he righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” (Prov. 31:9). God repeatedly tells us to practice “justice” for those in need (Prov. 28:5; Jer. 22:3; Ezek. 18:21; Zech. 7:9; Matt. 23:23). Jesus commands that we serve the poor, the sick and the hungry (Matt. 25:31-46). When you devote your Sabbath to helping the persons in need, you are serving Him: “I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40). Part of “true religion” also involves helping those in need (Jam. 1:27). If you do nothing to help those around you, your faith is “dead” (Jam. 2:17-20). Hard work on a day off spent serving others is more fulfilling than a day spent serving yourself. Do you use your Sabbath to help others?
The salvation of Rahab and her family. While the City of Jericho was under condemnation for its sins, God ensured that His believers were unharmed during the final judgment: “22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” 23 So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. 24 They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Josh. 6:22-25). Between Joshua chapters 2 and 6 a total of 86 words are devoted to Rahab and 102 to the destruction of Jericho (R.S. Hess, Joshua (TOTC; Leicester: IVP, 1996), 133-4). The message is that God cares more about the salvation of the few than the judgment of the many. He will one day judge sin not because He wants to but because He has to do so. Moreover, before He judges sin He will rapture the Church to save it from judgment.
Through Joshua, God saved Rahab and her family8
God can use you no matter what baggage you have in your background. Rahab and her family were initially placed outside the camp (Josh. 6:23). They were not warmly greeted. Instead, Joshua saved them only to uphold the oath that the spies had given. She and her family, however, were eventually allowed to stay and live within Israel (Josh. 6:25). Although the Jews never saw themselves as spreading God’s light to others, He meant for them to do just that: “He says, ‘It is too small a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’” (Is. 49:6). Rahab’s inclusion into God’s family foreshadowed the inclusion of the gentiles into the line of Abraham. Possibly to show that God can use anyone no matter what your background, He included Rahab within the line that gave birth to Jesus: “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.” (Matt. 1:5). If you have repented of your sins, He is faithful to forgive you (1 Jo. 1:9). Is there any old sin that you are using as an excuse not to serve?
Joshua’s curse upon Jericho. After the Jews had rescued Rahab from God’s judgment, Joshua cursed the burned ruins of Jericho: “26 Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, ‘Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.’ 27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.” (Josh. 6:26-27). All who reject God face this same curse.
Don’t let Satan rebuild his strongholds in your life9
Evidence of the curse upon Jericho. The Jericho that Joshua wrote about exists no more. Excavations that have been ongoing from 1907 through the present have found the remains of Jericho 10 miles north of the Dead Sea to the west of the Jordan River. Based upon pottery evidence, archeologists date the destruction of the site to approximately 1550 BC. It was not reoccupied until around the first millennium B.C. (Hess, Richard, Joshua an Introduction and Commentary, (Inter-Varsity Press 1996) p. 137). There would be no reason for this site to lay abandoned for 1,550 years. The area includes some of the best natural springs in the area (Source: Wikipedia Jericho).10 The resettlement of this area comes close to the time that Jesus was born. He is the well of living water who comes to give life and lift the curse upon the world (Jo. 4:14; 7:38). Critics of the Bible claim that Joshua and the Jews could not be responsible for the destruction of Jericho based upon the assumption that the invasion took place around 1,447 B.C. This date is based upon the revelation that Solomon built the Temple exactly 480 years after the Jews left Israel (1 Kgs. 6:1). But there is nothing in the Bible that lists the exact date that Solomon built his temple. The dating of either the building of the Temple or the dating of destruction of Jericho might be off. The Bible correctly identifies this lost city that was not known to exist until 1,907 AD. For reasons that archeologists cannot explain, it was instantly destroyed. Despite the natural abundance of spring water in the area, the site lay abandoned for centuries. It only became inhabited again near the time that Jesus returned. Moreover, even after that date, it never again reclaimed its place as a mighty city. The curse will not be fully lifted until the time of Jesus’ return. At that time, the curse upon the entire earth will be lifted.
Don’t let Satan rebuild his strongholds in your life. This curse was fulfilled when Hiel tried rebuilt the foundations of Jericho during the reign of King Ahab: “In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.” (1 Kgs. 16:34). Hiel’s sons died for his actions. One commentator explains that the attempt to rebuild Jericho was motivated by evil and an enmity toward the things of God: “Ahab did evil above all that reigned before him, and did it with a particular enmity both against Jehovah and Israel. He was not satisfied with breaking the second commandment by image-worship, he broke the first by worshiping other gods: making light of lesser sins makes way for greater. Marriages with daring offenders also embolden in wickedness, and hurry men on to the greatest excesses. One of Ahab’s subjects, following the example of his presumption, ventured to build Jericho.” (Matthew Henry on 1 Kgs. 16:34).11 Satan is always looking to rebuild a stronghold of evil in your life. Sometimes you place the blocks down without realizing that they will become the wall that Satan will use to entrap you. Are you staying clear from the cursed things of this world that Satan may use to entrap you?
Preach the Gospel of repentance and salvation through faith in Jesus. God takes no pleasure in the judgment of the guilty. He does not want any to perish: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezek. 33:11). The wicked need only repent to receive and believe in His blood sacrifice at the cross to receive forgiveness: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Is. 55:7). “Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.” (Acts 8:22). Jesus died so that the entire world might live (Jo. 3:16). But many will not realize their need to repent and accept Jesus without a messenger. This is Jesus’ Great Commission for every believer (Matt. 28:16-20). Have you responded to God’s calling in your life?
Image credit: Jean Fouquet: The Conquest of Jericho (artbible.info)↩︎