Our theme this year comes from the words of Hebrews 10:38 – “Now the just shall live by faith”. The following text of Hebrews 11 has catalogued the individual faith of some of “the just” who have “lived” before in the days of the O.T. Their faith is a composite picture of faith from many angles. From Abel to Moses, we have seen faith as that which pleases God (Enoch), condemns the world (Noah), leads to places unknown (Abram), waits on God, casts out fear, makes difficult choices and distinguishes God’s people from the world around them( Moses) But there is more to know about faith. Faith is also the victory that overcomes. It is the avenue through which we can see that God wins and Satan loses.
Heb 11:30 – 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.
- Do you remember the little song we used to sing in Bible class? Sing it again.
- Note: There are certain Bible events that can be viewed as a microcosm of the gospel itself. We viewed the exodus story this way. (Noah and the flood, David and Goliath, The parable of the prodigal son, etc.) The victory of Israel at Jericho as recorded in Joshua 6 is one of those events. Someone has said that the gospel is comprised of 1)facts to be understood 2) promises to be believed, and 3) commands to be obeyed. The events of Joshua 6 contain all of these. Do you remember what happened?
I. The Background of the Battle (facts of the case): After 40 years of punitive wandering, Israel once again stands at the door of the promised land. Their unbelief kept them out before, and their faith would again be tested, as they prepared to take the land.
A. Preparing the people:
- Joshua 2 – Joshua sends spies into the land. They enter Jericho and are hidden by Rahab, the harlot. She is promised deliverance because of her kindness. The people are encouraged by the spies’ report.
- Joshua 3 – The Israelites, under Joshua, crossed the Jordan River, with the ark of God leading the way. Read 3:9-10; 4:11-14
- Joshua 5 – This second generation of Israelite men are circumcised in preparation for entrance into the land. They kept the Passover, in commemoration of their deliverance from Egypt.
B. Preparing their Leader: Then, in 5:14 the real Commander-in-Chief appears: Joshua 5:13-15 – 3 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua,”Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
1. Who was this and what was the significance of His appearance? At His ominous presence, Joshua’s question was, whose side are you on, ours or theirs? His answer was NO, I am not one of you or one of them. I have come as “commander of the army of the Lord” (v. 14). There is good reason to conclude that this Man was the Christ, pre-incarnate. His Presence sanctified the place, and he accepted the worship of Joshua.
2. The army of the Lord that this Man refers to is not Israel (The armed people of Israel are never called the “host of the Lord”.) This army was the spiritual host of angels ready to do battle for Joshua. This Commander would reveal the battle plan and win the victory.
3. Joshua’s work as a leader was to listen to what God would tell him. “What does my Lord say to His servant?” (v. 14) Every battle depended on this. Victory could only come according to God’s battle plan, not Joshua’s.
C. Facing the Obstacle: Josh 6:1 – Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. Jericho was the first city on the list, and it was no pushover. It was a fortified city and they were prepared for Israel’s arrival.
- Biblical Archaeology Review notes: The city’s outer defenses consisted of a stone revetment wall [some fifteen feet high] at the base of the tell [hill] that held in place a high, plastered rampart. Above the rampart on top of the tell was [the remnant of] a mudbrick wall [about eight feet high at one point] which served as Jericho’s city wall proper (Wood 1990, 46). We will consider the archeological evidence in another lesson, but suffice it to say that Jericho was impenetrable to the Israelites. They were prepared to survive a long siege as well.
II. God’s Battle Plan: Josh 6:2-5 – 2 And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”
A. What do you suppose went through Joshua’s mind as he considered God’s plan for victory? I like to think he never questioned it at all. But I know how most of us would have reacted. There was not one shred of military strategy in this plan. Nothing lent to its success.
B. It was a test of faith. The faith that was needed was faith in God’s work alone. It would only be successful if He kept His word. Nothing they would do would accomplish even a part of this victory. (The walls would collapse by God’s power alone).
C. The details of the commands were important. Joshua recognized that no part could be neglected. The order of the people, the number of trips, even the time of the shouting – Josh 6:7-10 – And he said to the people, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord.” 8 So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord advanced 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 the priests continued blowing the trumpets. 10 Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.” So Joshua carefully followed the instructions to the smallest detail, adding nothing, omitting nothing.
D. The plan worked just as God said. Their obedient faith was honored by God when the walls came tumbling down. Josh 6:20-21 – So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. Victory! By faith. Could it have happened any other way?
III. The Conquest of Jericho – A “Conditional” Gift – The collapse of the walls and subsequent victory at Jericho was the fulfillment of God’s promise. He said He would give them the city. Did He? But did they do anything to get it? This story illustrates the point that a gift from God can be conditional upon acts of obedience. (God’s blessings come on His terms, and at the point that He decides.)
A. Joshua 6:1,2 – God says “I have given Jericho into your hand, and its king, and the mightly men of valor.” But the city was still standing and well secured against attack. How could it belong to Israel? It simply means that God had made the city available to them – if they did something.
B. What followed the promise were the specific commands on marching around the city, and the shouting and blowing the trumpets (v.3-5) There was something for them to do.
C. All of that was included in the “gift” of the city. Because you cannot make a walled city fall by marching around it and shouting. They could not destroy the walls through doing what God said apart from God’s power directed toward their faith. The noise of the trumpets did not make the walls fall. God alone did. The waters of baptism do not wash away sin.. the blood of Jesus does. But that does not make baptism unnecessary.
- Col 2:12-13 – 2 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, Baptism is a work, but it is a work of God.
D. Notice that on the 7th day after carefully following God’s instructions to that point, Joshua said in vs. 16 – “shout for Jehovah has given you the city.” There is that phrase again, but the city is still standing. Joshua was a believer, a man of great faith.
E. They were coming to the final act. The marching was done, the trumpets had sounded. “It was all over but the shouting“. And the walls were still standing.
F. notice vs. 20 again – When they followed the final instruction, the walls fell. God gave them the city. But look again what does it say at the end of vs. 20 – “they took the city” – I thought God gave it to them? He did, conditionally. They had to do what God said.
- Acts 2:40 – “save yourselves from this untoward generation”
- Phil 2:12 – “work out your own salvation with fear & trembling.”
What do these passages teach? That we earn salvation? No That we are not saved by grace? No They must mean something. That God’s gift is conditional on an obedient faith? Yes!
Conclusion: Heb. 11:30 says that the walls of Jericho fell “by faith“. It was the only way that God had it planned. Your salvation has been planned by God, from before the worlds began. It is to be by grace through faith. It won’t happen any other way. Faith is the victory. Will you respond to the word of God today?
In Acts 2, when the gospel was preached for the first time,
- Peter revealed some facts that had to be understood: Jesus had died for the sins of the world. But His body did not see corruption because he arose from the dead, and was seated on His throne over His kingdom, in fulfillment of O.T. prophecy.
- He proclaimed some promises that had to be believed. God would pour out His Spirit on all people (v. 17) and whoever called on the name of the Lord would be saved (v. 21)
- He declared commandments that had to be obeyed: Acts 2:38-39 -…”Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
- Faith is the victory….