Joshua 6 – Preached @ Ebenezer Church
There are 3 main things that I want to share with you in Joshua 6 and these are as follows:
1. The Attack of Jericho – was it justified?
2. The Strangeness of God’s Methods
3. The Salvation in God’s Judgement
1. The Attack of Jericho – was it justified?
There was once a Christian periodical that published a cartoon as follows:
Two ancient military officers were discussing a battle plan.
In the background was a high wall – depicting the city of Jericho.
One officer turned to the other and asked this question:
“What do you think Jesus would do if He was here?”
If our God is a God of love, then why did He allow Israel to attack Canaan?
If our God is a God of love, then why are there wars on this earth?
If our God is sovereign and almighty, then why did He not prevent evil from happening?
These are typical questions that are often asked, many times even by Christians.
I do not pretend at any time to have all the answers to these questions.
But there is one thing that all of us need to know as Christians.
And this is what we are told in Deut 29:29
“29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
In other words, there are things that God has chosen to with-hold from our knowledge.
Why is this so?
Perhaps it is because we will never be able to understand them with our puny earthly minds.
Perhaps it is better for us not to know them at all.
Those of us who are parents, don’t we sometimes also decide that we don’t want to let our children know some things – at least may be for the time being?
But are you aware that THERE ARE many things which God HAS REVEALED to us in His word.
And these are for us to learn, understand and to teach our children.
The sad thing is that most of us don’t even know enough of what God has revealed to us.
Now, in this matter of the attack of Jericho and Canaan, let me tell you what has been revealed to us.
And we should just be satisfied with the reason given to us in the scriptures.
If there are any further questions, we should wait till we are in heaven and ask all these questions to our heavenly Father.
Turn with me to Gen 15:13-16.
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their’s, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
God says to Abram that his children will not inherit the land of Canaan immediately.
Instead, they will come back in the 4th generation.
Why is this the case?
Verse 16 tells us that it is because “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete”.
The implication here is that God is still patient with the present inhabitants of Canaan.
But when their sins have reached the limit, He would pronounce judgement upon them.
And Abram’s descendants will be the instrument used to render this judgement.
In Lev 18 and Deut 18, we read of the gross sins of the Canaanites.
They practice gross sexual perversions.
They have a zeal for black magic and divination.
The make their sons and daughters go through all these.
And God is still patient with them for the time being.
But the time will come when these will be put to a stop.
There will be a time when God will send a sweeping destruction into that land.
And Israel was the agent chosen to bring about this event.
We had a similar situation in the case of Sodom & Gomorrah in Gen 18.
In that situation, God used a different agent for their destruction.
He showered fire and brimstone from heaven.
Then, there was also the case of Nineveh in the book of Jonah.
Jonah 4 tells us that there were 120,000 innocent people (probably children) in Nineveh.
And therefore God gave the Ninevites time yet to repent.
And that was why Jonah was sent there.
And thankfully, Nineveh repented.
Now, when Israel executed God’s direction to invade Canaan, they were not to do so with a “I’m holier-than-you-all” attitude.
God did not bring Israel into the land because they are more righteous and deserving.
Rather, God is bringing them in because He wants to drive out these wicked nations.
There is a great difference here.
This conquest of Canaan is not done by a bunch of land-hungry people attacking innocent and God-fearing folks.
Rather, God is using a none-too-righteous Israel as the instrument of His just judgment on a people who persisted in sin.
This, my friends, is what God has chosen to reveal to us in the scriptures.
It may not answer all the questions that you may have.
But let me turn it around and ask you this question:
Did you realize, in the first place, that even such an answer was revealed to us in the scriptures?
I want to suggest to you that many answers to life’s questions are already provided here in the scriptures for us.
The problem is that we did not even bother to read.
Yet we want to raise all kinds of questions and kick up a fuss about questions that we can’t answer.
I know some people who chose to remain in unbelief because they cannot get some answers to their questions in life.
So, before you end up like this, I urge you to give diligence first to the reading of God’s word.
And you will be amazed by the things that God has revealed to us.
2. Secondly, I want you to observe the Strangeness of God’s Methods
We saw in Joshua 4 how God led Israel across the River Jordan.
Instead of having Israel construct a bridge, the priests carried the ark and stood at the edge of the river.
But that was where we really saw the wisdom and the power of God.
Here in Joshua 6, we read of a similar situation.
We are told in Joshua 6:1 “Now Jericho was straitly shut up… none went out, and none came in.”
And then in verse 2, the LORD said to Joshua: “See, I have given into your hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.”
Hey, I thought we just read that the city was shut up?
Why then is God saying to Joshua that He has given it to his hand?
How would you feel if you were Joshua?
The people that you have are not soldiers.
Their fathers were construction workers in Egypt and have all died in the wilderness.
Most of them probably grew up in the wilderness playing with sand.
The king of Jericho had mighty men of valour.
The city had high walls and is all shut up.
And I’m told the city is given to me?
More than that, what is the strategy to be used to conquer Jericho?
We read that the people are simply to march quietly behind the ark around Jericho a total of 13 times.
Only after the 13th round on the 7th day are the people to shout when Joshua gives the word.
And note, they are to shout and not to shoot.
Well, let me tell you that this is the typical hopeless situation that most bible heroes encounter.
For example, David was clearly the underdog when he faced Goliath.
Moses was totally cornered and rendered helpless by the pursuing Egyptians at the Red Sea.
The Apostle Paul preached relentlessly to the Corinthians, but he saw no converts.
But it is often in such situations of impossibility that the power of God is magnified.
Joshua 6:1 simply points to us the seemingly hopeless situation that confronted Israel.
Yet, in that God will work out a magnificent victory for His people.
Have you seen this principle working out glaringly in your life?
Well, I have.
I can tell you honestly what happens when I preach.
When I feel I am so familiar with a passage, there comes my doom.
On the contrary, it is when I feel so unconfident that I learn to rely even more upon my God.
It is when we totally submit ourselves as useful vessels for Him to use that we see the power of His might.
Let me read to you what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Cor 12:9-11
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Let me bring this lesson as an application for us in our lives.
You may be encountering a specific situation in your own way right now.
Perhaps you are a successful person who is full of confidence that you can have it all in this life.
There was a man mentioned in Luke 12 who was so happy and confident that he was so prosperous in his life.
But God said to him that “that very night, his soul was required of him”.
Friends, never think that you can enter heaven on your own.
If that is the case, Jesus would never have needed to die for His people.
Do not be over-confident that you can take care of everything yourself.
Turn to God before He brings a great disaster upon you so that you can learn to humble yourself before Him.
Or perhaps you are currently plagued by disappointments and struggles in life.
Well, remember that our Lord said that “His grace is sufficient for you”.
Remember that we are taught to commit our cares and worries to the LORD?
But what does it mean to “commit something to the LORD”?
Let me give you an example.
Supposing you have something very precious in your hands – gold, jewellery or some diamonds.
And you put it in the safe deposit box in the bank.
Once you have done that, you do not worry about what happens to that precious thing.
You do not stay at the bank to watch over that precious thing.
You have committed it to the bank for safe keeping.
Therefore you trust the bank for what it would do.
Perhaps some of us may be plagued by worries for our children.
We are concerned that they will not grow up to be useful people as we desire them to be.
There was once a man by the name of Augustine who lived in the 3rd century.
His mother was worried sick for him too.
He was such a bad young man and he continued his immoral ways till his mid life.
But Augustine’s mother never ceased to pray for him.
You know, sometimes we can try to persevere in prayer.
But when the results we see is contrary to what you have been praying for, most of us get discouraged.
But, Augustine’s mother continued to pray diligently for him.
She learned to commit him to the Lord while she just continued diligently to pray.
And one day, while sitting in a garden, Augustine felt strangely warm in his heart.
And he started to weep for his sins.
And that day, he entered the kingdom of God, and life was not the same anymore.
And God used Augustine mightily and he became the “John Calvin” of his time.
A story was told that he was walking in the streets one day and met one of his formal girl friends from his immoral life.
So this girlfriend was all excited to see him, sprang in front of him and said “Hi Augustine, it’s me!”
Augustine looked at her, smiled and said “hi, but it’s not me!”
There was a total change in Ausgustine’s life.
Dear Christian parents, I can only urge you to keep persevering in your prayers for your children.
We do not know what God would lead our children through so that He can teach them precious lessons.
I’m sure Joshua was zealous and eager to do something glamorous when he faced the city of Jericho.
But instead, he was just required to march quietly round it.
It was God who had to act; Joshua was to be patient in doing something quietly.
But the victory that was about to come was unimaginable.
In the same way, we may be zealous for our children.
We want to do something to ensure that they will grow in a certain direction.
That is appropriate zealousness; but remember that it is the Lord who has to act.
Therefore, we just have to learn to commit them to the Lord.
And to our children and young people sitting here, let me tell you that it is not by chance that you hear all these things that your parents have heard.
God’s word is as much for you, as it is for your parents.
This is what I would urge you to do.
King Solomon prayed that God would give him wisdom to govern his kingdom.
In Daniel 2, Daniel and his 3 friends prayed that God would reveal to them the dream of King Nebuchadnezza.
In both these situations, God answered their prayers.
God opened the eyes of Solomon and made him wiser than anyone else.
God gave Daniel the knowledge and understanding of King Nebuchadnezza’s dream.
Your spiritual eyes are in the hands of God.
Pray, pray that God would open your spiritual eyes so that you can see your own sin and your great need of Jesus.
Then you will appreciate the concern of your parents for you.
Then you will appreciate why we all would give up our time on Sunday and give it to God willingly.
Then you will appreciate why Jesus had to die for you and why we ought to submit ourselves to Him.
3. The Salvation in God’s Judgement
Finally, I want you to observe that there is salvation in the midst of God’s judgement.
God was about to bring judgement upon the people in Jericho.
The people in Jericho had heard about the mighty deeds of God.
This is what we are told in Joshua 2.
Now, when they hear about the mighty acts of God, there are 2 things they can do.
They can continue to resist Him and fight against Him.
Or they can respond like Rahab, submit and turn to Him.
The king of Jericho and his men of valour decided to fight against God.
They were ultimately destroyed and there was nothing left of them.
But Rahab and her family submitted themselves to the Lord.
They found salvation and were engrafted into Israel although they were not Jews.
Now, there is a great lesson here for us.
By default, all of us are sinners and condemned to die in hell.
There will be a day of judgement which no one can avoid.
That great day of judgement is coming nearer everyday.
Many of you have heard that there is only one way to avoid doom.
And that one way is to believe in Jesus Christ.
So while there is judgement on the way, yet there is salvation provided for those Whom God has called.
Hebrews 3:15, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation”.
Talk to your friends, talk to the elders of this Church, if a burden has been placed on your heart.
Do not miss that great salvation that is offered in the scriptures.
Or you will miss it like the King of Jericho and his men.
Because God is certainly bringing judgement upon this earth.
You must not delay any longer in heeding the call of repentance and turning to Jesus.
Respond like Rahab and turn to God for salvation.
This is the call of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray.