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God of 2nd Chances

Desert to Do-Over  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  34:19
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Faith is tested in both the Hebrews and Rahab. God rewards with miraculous provision.

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Introduction:

Last week we were introduced to a surprise character in the Battle of Jericho. Joshua encountered a man, whom we discovered was an Old Testament appearance of Christ. This man who describes Himself as the Czar of God and Leader of His armies tells Joshua that He is going to deliver victory to the Hebrews.
This plan starts in 5:13 and goes through 6:5, but 6:1 suddenly leaves the Commander/Joshua conversation and switched to the events in Jericho, before resuming the conversation already in progress.
Transition: Since most of us were here last week as we studied Joshua’s encounter, submission and worship, let’s start this week with the interruption of Joshua 6:1.

The Place - Jericho (v.1)

Joshua 6:1 ESV:2016
1 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in.

Explanation

This is not a myth or a fable. It is a real place located between Jerusalem and the Northern tip of the Dead Sea, attested by archeological evidence. People who dig up and study old things have concluded that this was a hotbed of seismic activity because frequent earthquakes yield evidence of 34 times the walls have be destroyed and rebuilt.
It was a fertile spot in the midst of arid desert on the West Bank of the Jordan. The Israelites are camped at Gilgal (NE of the city).
Artists have rendered an image of what the Ancient city may have looked like based upon the actual ruins.
Although we may think of a city as covering several square miles, the ruins indicate it was about 360 yards by 180 yards—about the size of a modern football stadium.
This explains how the Hebrews were able to walk around it 7 times in 1 day.
Notice the produce fields are outside of the walls. This gives some indication of how vulnerable they could have been if cutoff from food sources for a long period of time.
According to the positioning of this verse in the narrative, the city was “shut up” before the 7 days of marching ever began.

Illustration

1. One commentator (Richard Hess) observes, “Jericho is tightly shut up. This may symbolize the attitude of the citizens of Jericho, also ‘shut up’ in their refusal to hear the message of Israel[i]”

Application

1. You and I have both encountered people who are “shut off” from the Gospel. Not because the Gospel is unavailable to them, but because they refuse to hear it. They offer their excuses of “I’m no worse than the next guy”; “I don’t believe a loving God would send anyone to Hell”; or “your religions works for you, but I don’t need it.”
2. A person who won’t admit his or her need for a Savior, will never accept the good news that Jesus offers a way out of our sin and its consequences.
Transition: Following this brief description of the spiritual and military condition of Jericho, the report continues with…t

The Plan (vv.2-5)

Joshua 6:2–5 ESV:2016
2 And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4 Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”

Explanation

1. The Czar from the last chapter continues to layout the Battleplan.
One of the modern inventions that has greatly increased my quality of life is the DVR. This modern device allows me to, with one button of the remote, skip several minutes of irritating commercials.
One great drawback of recording Chiefs’ games is that my friends on social media often reveal the outcome of a game before I have had an opportunity to watch it.
Watching a game when I already know the outcome keeps my blood pressure from rising and falling, but it also removes much of the excitement.
Since this is Joshua’s first battle in the Promised Land, I’m sure it still held great intrigue, even if the outcome is foretold by the Commander.
2. Verse 2 reports the final score, then vv.3-5 provides the playbook.
3. The military men were a security detail at the beginning and ending of the parade, but the main attraction was the ark of the Covenant, which represented the manifest presence of Yahweh himself announced by 7 priests with trumpets.
4. We read often of 12 men representing the 12 tribes of Israel. In the NT we read that Jesus chose 12 disciples. In the book of Revelation we read of 12 stars, 12 gates, and 12 angels. We read of 24 elders representing the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles. But this is the only place in all of the Bible where we read about 7 priests. And it occurs 4 times, so it is unlikely to be a scribal error.

Illustration

These 7 priests are leading a 7-day religious ceremony.
a. Notice the men are to be silent during the march. It is not a time to taunt the enemy. It is not a time to recall the victories and experiences in the wilderness. It is not a time for commentary, it is a time for silent reflection upon Yahweh as represented in the ark in the center of the procession.
b. The only noise to be heard was the sound of feet marching and trumpets blowing. I don’t know what the Priests played on their Ram’s horns. I know they did not have electric base guitars and there is no mention of percussion, but maybe it sounded something like this time when Phil Driscoll was invited to play at our White House for a former President.
Play Video
Now I doubt the Hebrews got the stanky-leg going like Phil, but whatever they played, it energized the Hebrews to contemplate the victory that God had promised to provide.
These 7 days happen to fall on the 7 Days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that follow Passover. It was during the first feast of unleavened bread that Yahweh delivered the Hebrews from the Egyptian army. Now that they have just observed the first Passover in the New Land (5:10), the soldiers would silently reflect on Yahweh’s deliverance of their fathers 40 years earlier and His promise of this deliverance in the first Feast in Canaan.

Application

1. “Even though the people participate, it is God’s divine work that will bring down the defences of the enemy and allow no obstacle to withstand the onward movement of God’s people into their divine inheritance[ii]”
2. Likewise, we respond to God’s promise in faith and obedience, but He is the one who goes before us and fights our spiritual battles. He is the one who makes possible our salvation from darkness and evil. He is the one who provides victory over the flesh and temptation.
3. The Christian life if God’s divine work!
Transition: After God gives the battle plan to Joshua, he must faithfully pass it on to the priests in v.6 and the militia in v.7. Then Verse 8 we see the Hebrews running the Plays they were given.

The Players & the Plays (vv.6-21)

Explanation

1. Vv.8-11 describes that the first day went just as God called it.
Joshua 6:8–11 ESV:2016
8 And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. 9 The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.
2. Vv.12-14 describes days 2-6 that wend just as God had called it.
I’m not skipping reading these verses because they are unimportant, but only to save time. Please go back and read the whole chapter without interruption to get the flow of the whole story.
3. Vv 15-21 describe the peak of the seven-day celebration.
Joshua 6:15–21 ESV:2016
15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.
4. They were going to march 7 times this day. At the end of 7 laps there would be a prolonged blast then they were to shout a “great shout”.
5. In the first part of 17 and also in 18-20, Joshua reminds the men of charem.
“The best analogy for us to understand ḥerem is to think in terms of radiation. A nuclear explosion would destroy many things and irradiate much more. The abhorrence and caution with which we would respond to that which has been irradiated is similar to what is expected of the Israelites regarding things under the ban.[iii]”
6. In 17b we find that in the middle of God’s judgment on the wickedness of Jericho He extends grace and salvation to an unlikely Gentile.
7. In vv. 21-22 the story concludes with the Hebrews doing just what they were told and God doing just what He had promised.
Transition: The walls are flat, the people & animals are destroyed. But before the precious metals are collected for the temple and the city is leveled by fire, 4 verses tell a remarkable story.

The Provision--Salvation (vv.22-25)

Explanation

1. The protection promised in 17b comes about just as predicted.
Joshua 6:22–25 ESV:2016
22 But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Illustration

1. This is a picture for us of God’s grace and salvation. A woman of low social standing places her trust in the promise of Yahweh and she is spared along with all those, but only those, in her home.
2. This is another example of God’s mercy when man does not deserve it.
a. When Man’s wickedness was great, and Yahweh determined to destroy the world by flood—He preserved Noah and his Family.
b. When a great famine threatened the descendants of Abraham—He preserved Jacob’s family in Egypt.
c. When God’s just wrath is poured out on the Canannites—He preserves Rahab and her family.
d. When the Babylonians overthrow Judah for her disobedience—God preserves the royal line through Daniel and his friends.
3. People frequently claim that the God of the Old Testament is wrath, but the God of the New Testament is love. But He is one God and all 4 examples I just gave you are the OLD TESTAMENT God extending grace and providing Salvation.

Application

1. God’s judgment on Jericho was predicted and it came to pass just as it was foretold.
2. God has promised to judge wickedness once and for all at a time that only He knows, but it will come to pass just as it is foretold.
3. Yet in the midst of all His wrath upon sin and evil, He still finds room for mercy and grace. And he offers that Salvation to you if you would simply repent of your sin and place your trust in His death and resurrection, so that you may be delivered from the wrath to come.
Transition: The final 2 verses put 2 exclamation points on the story.

The Proclamation—Only the Beginning (vv.26-27)

Explanation

1. Joshua proclaims a curse in v.26 upon anyone who would try to rebuild Jericho. 500 years later a king would try and 1 Kings 16:34 says that the curse of Joshua happened just as stated.
2. V.27 is a little confusing. We read that The Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread. Does that mean the Lord’s fame spread or Joshua’s fame? I think the first half of the verse explains the 2nd. Joshua was famous only to the extent that Yahweh was with him.
Transition: This story is not just a history lesson. It is not primarily about marching, trumpets or walls. It is a call to personal faith.
Conclusion:
The Hebrews silently placed their faith in Yahweh even if it meant ridicule. They had cowered in fear in the past, but this time they trusted that God would do what He had promised!
Rahab risked her very life to trust in the God of the Israelites. Rather than follow the religion of all her friends and neighbors, she determined that the God of the Bible deserved her allegiance and He protected her during great calamity.
What about you? If you have never trusted Christ for your salvation from sin and hell, today is your opportunity to believe as Rahab. If you have trusted Christ but your obedience has not always been complete, today is your opportunity to forget what lies behind and move forward in faith that God will do what He has promised in His Word.
[i] Richard S. Hess, Joshua: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 6, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 141.
[ii] Ibid., 143.
[iii] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), Jos 6:21–24.
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