We are on our fifth message in our series in Joshua. God is bringing us into a season as a church and as followers of Christ of taking the territory that He has given us. We have laid a strong foundation of how to walk in this new territory that He has given us. We have looked at how fear can keep us from getting there. We have talked about the importance of covenant identity so that we can continue to move forward in this new territory. Today we are going look the battle of Jericho and some key things that we can learn from it.
I. The battle is already won
Joshua 6:1-5: Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”
It doesn’t get any easier than this for Joshua and the Israelites. Rahab tells them that everyone is afraid of them. They are close to Jericho and the gates are tightly shut. No one is going in or out because the people are afraid. God tells Joshua that He has givento them Jericho, its king, and all its warriors. It’s a done deal all they have to do is follow the Lord's instructions.
We are in the same boat as Joshua and the Israelites when it comes to taking the land that God has given us. We have the finished work of the cross. There is nothing that we can add to it - Jesus has already accomplished everything. All we have to do is follow Him and do what He tells us to do!
John 19:28-30: Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
II. Instructions for the battle
Joshua 6:6-11: So Joshua called together the priests and said, “Take up the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and assign seven priests to walk in front of it, each carrying a ram’s horn.” Then he gave orders to the people: “March around the town, and the armed men will lead the way in front of the Ark of the Lord.” After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the rams’ horns started marching in the presence of the Lord, blowing the horns as they marched. And the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant followed behind them. Some of the armed men marched in front of the priests with the horns and some behind the Ark, with the priests continually blowing the horns. “Do not shout; do not even talk,” Joshua commanded. “Not a single word from any of you until I tell you to shout. Then shout!” So the Ark of the Lord was carried around the town once that day, and then everyone returned to spend the night in the camp.
1. The Ark of the Covenant first
The Ark of the Covenant went first and then then the troops followed. This was God showing them that He was going with them and fighting on their behalf.
2. The significance of the number Seven
Notice the emphasis on the number seven: seven priests, seven trumpets, seven days of marching, and seven circuits of the city on the seventh day. The number seven is written clearly into the life of Israel. The Sabbath is celebrated on the seventh day of the week; seven weeks from Passover is Pentecost; the seventh year is the Sabbatical Year; and after forty-nine years (seven times seven) comes the Year of Jubilee. Three of Israel’s feasts fall in the seventh month: the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23).
In biblical numerology the number seven represents completeness or perfection. The Hebrew word translated “seven” (shevah) comes from a root that means “to be full, to be satisfied.” When God finished His work of creation, He rested on the seventh day and sanctified it (Genesis 2:3). This helped give the number seven its sacred significance. The Jews noted that there were seven promises in God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3) and seven branches on the candlestick in the tabernacle (Exodus 37:17–24). Anything involving the number seven was especially sacred to them. It spoke of God’s ability to finish whatever He started.
3. They marched in the Presence of the Lord
Their marching was done in worship to the Lord.
4. They were to remain silent until Joshua gave the word to shout
With the lessons of history in mind, Joshua’s directive to keep silent is a precaution that teaches us. When facing great challenges, do not permit your lips to speak unbelieving words. Prohibit demoralizing speech from your lips. Words can bind up or set free, hence the order of silence! Later, they would see the salvation of he Lord following their shout of triumph.
We cannot help what we see and hear, but our refusal to speak doubt and fear will keep our hearts more inclined to what God can do rather that what we cannot see.
Psalm 37:7: Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
5. The significance of the blaring trumpets
These instruments were, literally translated from Hebrew, "jubilee trumpets." They were used in connection with Israel's solemn feasts to proclaim the presence of God.
Numbers 10:10: Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind your God of his covenant with you. I am the Lord your God.”
In effect, God Himself was speaking the words of Psalm 24:7-10 in the long blasts of these priestly trumpets:
Psalm 24:7-10: Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Heaven’s Armies— he is the King of glory.
When Christ returns, He, the King of glory, will enter cities in triumph. The conquest of Jericho was a similar kind of triumphant victory.
III. The principle of the first fruits
Joshua 6:12-21: Joshua got up early the next morning, and the priests again carried the Ark of the Lord. The seven priests with the rams’ horns marched in front of the Ark of the Lord, blowing their horns. Again the armed men marched both in front of the priests with the horns and behind the Ark of the Lord. All this time the priests were blowing their horns. On the second day they again marched around the town once and returned to the camp. They followed this pattern for six days. On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.” When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys.
- They did as the Lord directed
- The walls came down*
- They took the city of Jericho
*All of the walls came down ... except the walls of Rahab's house! Isn't that amazing?
Worship is really the theme of this whole battle. Worship caused them to keep their eyes on the Lord, and by keeping their eyes on the Lord they kept their faith. When we walk into the the boundaries that God has given, we must remember the finished work of the cross. The enemy has already been defeated, and God is the One who gives victory. We simply have to walk in faith and obedience.