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Joshua Didn't Fight The Battle of Jericho

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1. Who’s on Whose Side? 5:13-15

Who’s on Whose Side?

A. The Strange Warrior

Joshua is most likely out on a reconnaissance of Jericho. He encounters a Stranger Warrior, with sword drawn.
Who is this man standing before Joshua? A clue comes from the description of the figure: ‘his drawn sword in his hand’. This precise expression is used in to describe the angel of the Lord as he stood in a military stance before Balaam on the road.
This charge to Joshua is, almost verbatim, the charge that God gave to Moses at the burning bush ().
Based on the two parallels from Numbers and Exodus, we may assume that the man in , described as ‘the commander of the LORD’s army’, is the angel of the Lord. But who is the angel of the Lord? In , at the burning bush, the angel is identified with God and speaks as if he is God. The Old Testament elsewhere indicates that the angel of the Lord is God (see ). The same is true in ; the appearance of the angel of the Lord evokes awe, submission and worship on the part of Joshua, because the angel is God. In addition, it is likely that the word of God spoken to Joshua beginning in 6:2 is from the lips of the angel of the Lord. Some commentators argue that the angel of the Lord is the Second Person of the Trinity, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
Joshua challenges him: Who have you come for, that is, on whose side have you enlisted? Neither, he says. The question is, whose side is Joshua on? When this Strange Warrior identifies Himself, Joshua submits himself to Him and His direction.

B. The Submitted Warrior

itted Warrior
Joshua challenges him: Who have you come for, that is, on whose side have you enlisted? Neither, he says. The question is, whose side is Joshua on? When this Strange Warrior identifies Himself, Joshua submits himself to Him and His direction.
So often we want to turn to God for knowing His plans (particularly, how those plans affect us). So we turn to Him more for His answers, than for actually knowing Him and recognizing Him as God. Examine our prayer lives — do we seek Him in prayer primarily for what we want from Him? Or do we seek Him, first?
Ultimate responsibility does not rest on Joshua’s shoulders, nor are the twelve tribes the only army fighting for their cause.3

2. This is Your Battle Plan? 6:1-5

A. The Outcome is Certain

Jericho is “Shut up” — graphic re it being on a tell. The text literally says, ‘Jericho was shut up and it was shut up’; the double use of the verb is emphatic to underscore that from a military vantage point Jericho is secure and seemingly impregnable.
To our eyes it is impossible.
God’s declaration is that it is certainly going to fall. “…sometimes nothing looks so unlikely as the decree of God.”

B. Not your typical military operation order

It becomes quite evident that this breakthrough isn’t going to come about by any human means, conventional or unconventional.

3. The Action at Jericho, 6:6-21; 26-27

A. The centrality of God in the circumstances, 6:6-15

Chapter 6 mentions God’s ark 10 times. it is God’s presence, symbolized by the Ark, that will make all the difference.
God is fighting Israel’s battle, and we need to recognize and acknowledge the centrality of his presence and activity in the conquest.
We are to be struck with the relative passivity of God’s people in this operation. Usually, God operates through the instrumentality of His people. But this time, it is different. Yes, they do have a role in the marching and shouting, but in it all God appears to be setting the stage for His activity and glory to be front and center. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

B. The devotion of God’s people, 6:16-21

The priority of obedience to God’s command
There is always defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory. see chapter 7

cf 1 Kings 16:34

C. The question of genocide

4. The Rescue of Rahab, 6:22-25

For many people the cherem constitutes one of the great ethical dilemmas in the Old Testament. They would argue that it is unworthy of God to be depicted as sanctioning and ordering the total destruction of the Canaanites at Jericho. How could a holy and loving God give instructions for the utter annihilation of the Canaanites? This is a question of theodicy, which is an attempt to understand the nature and actions of God in the face of evil and suffering.4 Again, how could God act this way?
A foundational observation to make is that God does, in fact, order the cherem. There is no way around this truth. Moses tells the people before the conquest:
But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction [cherem], the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded (; cf. ).
How could God order such a thing? First, it needs to be pointed out that Israel is to take possession of the land by the immediate hand of God, who has an absolute right to exercise his power in any way he wills. It is God’s desire, pleasure and purpose for Israel to inherit Canaan. When the apostle Paul explains the sovereignty of God to the men of Athens he includes the following description: ‘And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place …’ ().
Secondly, the Canaanites were in no respect innocent as they stood before God and Israel. Were they a peaceful, righteous, upright people? Were they in some way undeserving of God’s justice? When God promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan, he said it would not occur until ‘the fourth generation’ because ‘the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete’ (). Since the time of Abraham the Canaanites have been heaping up sin. recounts the wicked behaviour of the Canaanites: they practise child sacrifice, incest, adultery, temple prostitution and various other abominations. Therefore, we see God’s justice going forth against the Canaanites in the book of Joshua because they rejected God and his law.
Israel acts as an instrument of God’s judgement on the Canaanites. In one sense this should not be troubling since elsewhere God uses pagan nations to punish his own chosen people (; ). Why would he not employ the elect nation as a means of judgement on ungodly peoples? The Lord employs secondary causes in judgement, such as fire against Sodom and Gomorrah, or rain against the people in Noah’s day. At Jericho, God simply uses Israel as his instrument of justice.
The cherem also serves the purpose of God protecting his own people. In the Lord provides the following reason that Israel is to destroy the many nations before them: ‘… that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God.’ To put it simply, cohabitation with pagan nations in the land of promise makes Israel vulnerable to fall into wickedness.
There is an exception to all the human destruction that is to take place at Jericho. Rahab and her family ‘shall live’; they shall be spared ‘because she hid the messengers’ (6:17). Rahab had acted in faith, and therefore she is to be delivered (cf. ). So here is God’s grace being poured out in the midst of great judgement.
In addition, any precious metals, or implements made of precious metal, shall be taken and placed in the ‘treasury of the LORD’ (6:19). The term ‘treasury’ is often used in the Old Testament to refer to any gold, silver and utensils for the upkeep of the tabernacle or temple—that is, the house of the Lord (; ). These items are ‘holy’ to the Lord; the term ‘holy’ in Hebrew simply means that these objects are separated from common use and are set apart wholly to the Lord and his work.

D. The curse on Jericho, 6:26-27


4. The Rescue of Rahab, 6:22-25

A. The right response to the threat of judgment

B. All who come to Him, He will Not Cast Out

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