Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A List Of the Peoples Conquered By Israel

Joshua 12:1-24

“Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east: Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the river Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead, even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon; And from the plain to the sea of Chinneroth on the east, and unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea on the east, the way to Bethjeshimoth; and from the south, under Ashdothpisgah: And the coast of Og king of Bashan, which was of the remnant of the giants, that dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, unto the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and half Gilead, the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.

 Them did Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel smite: and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it for a possession unto the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.” (Joshua 12:1-6) 

This first group of conquered peoples lists those conquered by Moses on the east side of Jordan, stretching from Mount Hermon,  southwest of Damascus in present day Syria and around the east side of the Sea of Galilee south to about a third of the way down the east side of the Dead or Salt Sea to the river Arnon.   It stretched as far east as where the river Jabbok splits and runs to the north and south, near the Jordanian capital of Amman.  This was the area given to the trans-Jordanian tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh.  Since this area is pretty arid, vast amounts of land were required for raising livestock and only a few groups occupied it.

“And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon even unto the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir; which Joshua gave unto the tribes of Israel for a possession according to their divisions; In the mountains, and in the valleys, and in the plains, and in the springs, and in the wilderness, and in the south country; the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one; The king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; The king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one; The king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one; The king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one; The king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one; The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one; The king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; The king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; The king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; The king of Shimronmeron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; The king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one; The king of Dor in the coast of Dor, one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one; The king of Tirzah, one: all the kings thirty and one.” (Joshua 12:7-24)

On the western side of the Jordan, the land Joshua conquered stretched north past Mount Hermon To Baalgad in present day Lebanon and south to Mount Halek, south west of the Dead Sea, and from the Jordan river to the Mediteranean.  Because of the difficulty of communication, initially the land had been controlled by numerous city states, each having their own king, and allied loosely with other city states of their own ethnic group.

The major Ethnic groups were the Amorites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Canaanites, the Perezzites, and the Jebusites.   Small pockets of Anakims, a race of giants, were scattered among the other groups.  The Philistines along the southern Mediterranean coast were not conquered at this time, nor were the Zidonians to the north.

A total of thirty one city states were conquered.  Each of these consisted of a central city or fortress, surrounded by various farming communities which produced their food.  Joshua had subdued the thirty one fortified cities and killed their inhabitants, but the people of the surrounding communities were still there.

Establishing Control of the Entire Kingdom

Joshua 11:1-23

“And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west, And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. 

And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.  And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.” (Joshua 11:1-5)

After hearing how Israel had been victorious over the Hivite confederation in the south, Jabin realized it would take a far stronger force to defeat them.  Fear of Israel enabled Jabin to unite all the various kingdoms and groups from south of the sea of Chinneroth, known in our day as the Sea of Galilee, north to the present day boundary with Lebanon and Syria, including the area known today as the Golan heights.  They assembled their armies at a small lake northwest of the Sea of Galilee called Merom, preparatory to an attack on Israel.

“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hock their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.” (Joshua 11:6)

God again spoke to Joshua, telling him Israel would certainly gain the victory.  God would deliver them up dead before Israel and they were to burn the chariots and disable the horses.  They were not to save the chariots and horses for future use.  This command parallels the command in Deuteronomy 17:16, which forbid Israel’s kings to build up massive military power rather than trusting God.  Deuteronomy 20:1 made it clear such forces would not be required if they served God.

 “So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.  And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining.  And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he hocked their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.” (Joshua 11:7-9)

Catching Jabin’s army unprepared in a surprise attack, God gave Israel victory, scattering the army west toward the Mediterranean coast and east to the valley of Mizpeh where they were trapped and wiped out.  These huge alliances actually enabled Israel to gain control much more quickly, by bringing them all together in one place.  Otherwise Israel would have had to defeat them one at a time.

 “And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.  And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.  And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. 

But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.  And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.  As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.” (Joshua 11:10-15)

After wiping out united army, Joshua returned to Hazor and wiped it out, burning everything there because they had been the leaders of the alliance.  The people were killed in the other cities but the houses and property were not burned, but saved for the people of Israel.  The entire region that Moses had commanded Israel to take was conquered as Moses had commanded, although large populations of the former inhabitants remained.

"So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same; Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them.” (Joshua 11:16-17)

When Joshua finished, Israel controlled the land from the border of Edom south of the Dead Sea to Baalgad in the Bekaa valley between Beirut and Damascus.

“Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.  There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle.  For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Joshua 11:18-20)

Just reading through the account one gets the impression everything happened in a matter of a few days or weeks.  In fact it took a long time.  Even after control of the land was established, and the main cities were taken, numerous villages and communities had to be subjugated.  Not one village willingly surrendered except the people of Gibeon, preferring to resist to the death.  God hardened their resolve because he wished to wipe them out completely.  Had they been willing to yield, they would have received the same treatment as Gibeon.

“And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.  There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.” (Joshua 11:21-22) 

Forty years before, the twelve spies had feared to enter the land because of the giants, the Anakims who lived among the other tribes.  Under Joshua’s leadership, the Anakim’s forces were wiped out except for a few who took refuge among the Philistines in Gath, Gaza, and Ashdod.  Five hundred years later, one of their descendants,  Goliath of Gath would be killed by David.

“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.” (Joshua 11:23)

With the land secured, Joshua could divide the land among the tribes and families and allow the army to return home to concentrate on building a nation.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Conquering The Southern Part Of Canaan

Joshua 10:28-43

“And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho. 

Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah: And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho. 

And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it: And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah.  Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.” (Joshua 10:28-33)

Though the treaty with Gibeon had been in direct contradiction with God’s command, once the treaty was made, it could not be undone without breaking another command, so recognizing their sin Israel honored the treaty.  God blessed their decision, using the treaty to bring all the Amorite kings together and defeating their main armies outside the walled fortresses.  This left all five Amorite cities with only minimal forces to defend them.  Rather having to mount prolonged seiges against those cities, Israel was able to take each in about a single day, executing everyone in the cities.

Seeing how fast they were progressing. Horam King of Gezer decided he’d better try to stop them while he still had some help, and came to assist Lachish.  His efforts were no more successful than any of the others.

“And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it: And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish. 

And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it: And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein. 

And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it: And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king.” (Joshua 10:36-39)

They made a swing around all the Amorite cities, totally annihilating the peoples of the various Amorite cities in a single sweep.  They did not leave even a vestige of the previous governments to cause future problems.

“So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.  And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.  And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel. ” (Joshua 10:40-42)

In this single sweep Joshua was able to take all the land south of Gibeon and Bethel, all the way to Kadesh Barnea, where they had sent out the spies forty years before, and as far west ass Gaza on the Mediteranean shore.  The hailstorm and God’s causing the sun and moon to stand still for about twelve hours gave Israel a victory that could not otherwise have been achieved.

“And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.” (Joshua 10:43)

After completing the conquest of the southern part of the land, Israel returned to Gilgal, where they had camped when they first crossed Jordan.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Defeat Of The United Amorite Army

Joshua 10:1-27

“Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.” (Joshua 10:1-2) 

The Hivite consortium consisting of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim formed one of the largest and strongest alliances in the region.  Already convinced that Israel could defeat any other of the separate groups, the alliance between Gibeon and Israel clearly moved the balance of power further in Israel’s favor.

“Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. 

Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.” (Joshua 10:3-5)

Terrified of the power represented by the alliance, the five Amorite kings united in an effort to destroy Gibeon before Israel could attack them.  If successful, it would reduce the threat significantly and dissuade others from allying themselves to Israel.

“And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.” (Joshua 10:6)

Strong as it was, Gibeon was not able to defend itself against such a concerted attack.  Even the simplest and weakest agreement makes us responsible to those with whom we have agreed, giving them a claim on us that can force us into situations that we could otherwise avoid.   Knowing they were outnumbered, Gibeon cried out for Israel’s help.

“So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.  And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.  Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. 

And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.” (Joshua 10:7-11)

Though the treaty with Gibeon was something God had forbidden, it had been made.  Recognizing that breaking it would involve further sin. Israel honored their commitment, and God blessed them for it.  When the Israelite army unexpectedly arrived in the middle of the night, the Amorite army was driven off in disarray.  In their flight to escape Israel, they crossed the path of a hailstorm God had prepared that killed more of them than the Israelite army had killed.

“Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.  And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.  And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.” (Joshua 10:12-15)

That evening the surviving Amorites were looking forward to slipping away in the darkness and escaping, but God kept the sun up for about an extra twelve hours.  The event was so unusual that it was recorded by the Egyptians, and archaeologists have supposedly found some of the records.

“But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.  And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah. 

And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them: And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand.

And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities.  And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.” (Joshua 10:16-21)

Seeing the battle go against them, the five kings who had started it deserted their troops, hiding in a cave at Makkedah.  When Joshua heard it, he made no effort to attack thecave, but simply blocked the entrance with stones to keep them there while they defeated the rest of the army.  With no leadership the defeat was undoubtedly easier.  Finally the survivors managed to get into walled cities for protection and the people came back to Makkedah.  The victory was so complete no one dared defy Israel or accuse them of wrong doing like we have seen in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 “Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.  And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.  And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. 

And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.  And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave's mouth, which remain until this very day.” (Joshua 10:22-27) 

Once the united Amorite army had been defeated and routed. Joshua went back to the cave where the kings had hidden, and opened it so the ringleaders, the five kings could be brought out and executed.  Before executing them, he had each of the captains pose with their foot on the kings throats to demonstrate their complete dominance and encourage them.  The five kings were killed and their bodies hanged up so everyone could see they were dead.  That evening they were taken down at sunset and buried in the cave where they had hidden.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It’s Not Quite That Simple

Joshua 9:16-27

“And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them. And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim.” (Joshua 9:16-17) 

Israel had made a treaty with the Gibeonites because they were convinced they were from a very distant place.  Just three days after they made the treaty they learned that in fact, the city of Gibeon was only about two or three miles away, and many of the local farmers and shepherds were Gibeonites.  They had barely started to move their camp when they came to the city.  Gibeon was one of four affiliated Hivite cities.

“And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes.  But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them.

This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.  And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them.” (Joshua 9:18-21)

God had forbidden Israel to make a treaty with any of the local peoples.  The Gibeonites had deliberately lied and deceived Israel in order to obtain the treaty, but Israel had not included any contingency clauses in the treaty.  The people were upset about having been lied to, but the leaders recognized they had made the treaty and they could not back out now.  Even though they had disobeyed God in making the treaty, and had done so on the basis of false representations, God would hold them responsible for keeping their word.

The Gibbeonites did not go scot free however.  While they would be allowed to live, they would always responsible for providing fire wood and delivering water to the Jews.  The leaders decision was clearly vindicated over six hundred years later, when God required that Saul’s descendants be executed because Saul had violated this treaty, in II Samuel 21.

While God had commanded them not to make any treaties, he had also commanded them not to break their word.  The treaty had already been made.  To break it would compound the sin.  A similar situation arises in many marriages today.

A young couple has sex and decides to marry, although one is not a Christian and II Corinthians 6:14 clearly commands “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:”  On the other hand, Exodus 22:16  commands, “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.”  To not marry will not resolve the initial sin, but will add a second sin to the mix, compounding the problem.  We need to look beyond the surface issue to know how to please God.  Other factors may be involved.  We need to so carefully study the scriptures so we can “rightly divide” them.

“And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us?  Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. 

And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the LORD thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing.  And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do.” (Joshua 9:22-25)

Joshua demanded to know why the Gibeonites had lied to them and informed tham that the consequence of their lies was that they were to be slaves forever.   Their answer was that they believed God’s promise to Israel and acted on that belief.  They didn’t know how to do what they needed to do but their faith impelled them to take action, and God honored their faith, sparing their lives.  Even being a slave was better than being dead.

“And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not.  And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose.” (Joshua 9:26-27)

How often do we judge others because they don’t do things in the “proper” manner, never recognizing what was in their heart.  Fortunately God looks on the heart and knows what the intent is.  I suspect it will be shocking to see how many who have followed our programs who are not saved, and many who we discounted as Christians at all who turn out to be.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making A Treaty With Gibeon

Joshua 9:1-15

“And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof; That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.” (Joshua 9:1-2) 

Even before Israel crossed Jordan, the peoples of the land of Canaan were convinced God would give Israel victory over them.  After seeing how easily they crossed Jordan, and defeated Jericho and Ai, they were convinced no single city or local area could stand against them and began to form alliances even among traditional enemies to withstand God‘s power.

“And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy.

 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us.” (Joshua 9:3-6) 

Gibeon was a Hivite city only a few miles southwest of Ai and Bethel, and they had heard all the same reports the other groups had heard.  Like Rahab, they concluded that God would be more powerful than any army the others could raise, so they took a different approach. Dressing in badly worn clothing and shoes and taking stale, moldy and rancid food supplies to give the impression of people who had spent much time traveling.  Claiming to be from a distant country, they asked for a treaty between themselves and Israel.

“And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you? 

And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye?

 And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the LORD thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth.

 Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us.  This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy: And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.” (Joshua 9:8-13)

Suspicious, the Israelite leaders questioned the men of Gibeon at length.  They responded that they were from a very distant country and that the food and clothing had been fresh and new when they started.  Further they stated that they had heard about how God was blessing Israel even in that far off land and their leaders were offering to be Israels servants if they would just make a treaty.

“And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.  And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.” (Joshua 9:14-15) 

During the depression, people learned to distinguish between professional beggars and people who were really down on their luck by the shoes they wore.  Professional beggars would get comfortable shoes, while those who were really struggling couldn’t afford them.  While it wasn’t always accurate, it gave at least an indication whether their story was true.  Joshua and the leaders of Israel samples the food and examined the clothing, shoes and packs.  Seeing nothing indicated otherwise, they concluded the people’s calaim was true.  Trusting their own judgment, they didn’t bother to consult the Lord, making a treaty, agreeing not to kill their people.

In Deuteronomy 20:10-11, God had commanded, “When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.  And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.”  Believing that the Gibeonites were from a far country, Israel’s leaders didn’t hesitate to make the treaty.

God had warned them not make any treaties with the local people in Deuteronomy 20:16-18.  “But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.”

Groups that did not have regular contact would have far less effect on their attitudes and actions than those with whom they had daily contact.  It is the principle  described in II Corinthians 6:14-18.  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

It is not our business to destroy those who disagree with us, but is our responsibility to keep ourselves from getting caught up in sin.  Avoiding too close association with those of different beliefs and standards minimizes the risk.  While the principle is most often applied to marriage, often in contradiction to other scripture, it has far broader scope.  Even though we share the same opinions about homosexuality or abortion as other religious groups, we should not affiliate ourselves with them in our opposition, implying that our beliefs are the same.  We can work for the same goal independently.  God does not depend on the size of our organization to accomplish his purpose.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Building the Memorial on Mount Ebal

Joshua 8:30-35

“Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.  And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.” (Joshua 8:30-32) 

In Deuteronomy 11:26-30, Moses had instructed Israel to build a memorial on Mount Ebal.  In Deuteronomy 27:4-10, He gave greater detail about how the memorial was to be built.  “Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster.  And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.  Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God.  And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.  And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God.  Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day.”

From Ai and Bethel, Mount Ebal is only about twenty miles north.  Joshua proceeded directly there to fulfill the commandment Moses had given in Deuteronomy,  building an altar of large stones that had had never been struck with metal tools to emphasize that it was God rather than Man’s efforts that produced them.  They were then to plaster over the altar and write the law in the plaster as a permanent record available to anyone who wanted to know what the law said.

The memorial altar was located near Shechem, the ancient city where Simeon and Levi had murdered the men because Shechem had been involved with their sister, Dinah.  It was the site of Joshua’s great challenge to Israel in Joshua 24:15.  It figures prominently in Israel’s history.

“And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 

And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.  There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.” (Joshua 8:33-35)

In Deuteronomy 27:11-28:68. Moses had given exact instructions as to how the blessings and curses were to be expressed.  Joshua goes through them all, warning the people of the dangers of disobedience and reminding them of the blessings for obedience.  He then went through the entire law, leaving nothing out so they would know exactly what was required.  It must have taken several hours of concentration by the people.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Conquering Ai

Joshua 8:1-29

“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land: And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.” (Joshua 8:1-2)

Israel had never suffered a defeat until they attacked Ai, and the defeat stunned them.  Now they had taken care of the sin that caused their defeat, and God encouraged them to try again.  There was now nothing that would hinder their victory and they should not hesitate.  Because the entire army knew what had happened, he was to take the entire army so they could see the victory and have their faith restored.

God promised that they would be as successful as they had been at Jericho, totally destroying the town.  Jericho had been their first major victory under Joshua, and they were instructed to Give the metals to God and burn everything else.  In essence, it was like the offering of the first fruits when they began to reap the fields.  At Ai, they were instructed to keep all the cattle and personal belongings for themselves.  God instructed Joshua to lay an ambush behind the city.

“So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.  And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready: And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them. 

Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.  And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.  Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.” (Joshua 8:3-9)

Joshua took all six hundred thousand men with him.  In the earlier defeat, Israel had made a frontal attack and fled when the men of Ai charged out at them.  Since they had succeeded the first time, Ai would probably try the same thing again, even though it was a much larger force approaching.  If they did, he and the main force would run away in an attempt to draw them farther from the city.  That night he sent thirty thousand around to the west side between Bethel and Ai to invade the city if the strategy worked.  They were to set the city on fire once it was secure so the main force would know when to turn and fight.

“And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.  And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai. 

And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city.  And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.” (Joshua 8:10-13)

Early the next morning, long before daylight Joshua got his forces ready and entered the valley on the north side of Ai.  He sent a second force of about five thousand to the west side of Ai.  If the army from Bethel came out, they were to invade it as well.

“And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.  And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.  And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city.  And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.” (Joshua 8:14-17) 

When the king of Ai saw the Israelite army, he responded exactly as Joshua hoped he would, rushing forth to battle believing he could scare them away before they were ready.  He wasn’t about to wait and let them do like they had at Jericho.  In his haste, he failed to consider they might set up an ambush, and took all the defenders in the effort to appear as the largest force possible.  Not a single man was left behind to close the gates after them in either Bethel or Ai.

“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city.  And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.” (Joshua 8:18-19) 

Just as God had directed Moses to stretch out his staff over the Red Sea and opened the way for Israel, he directed Joshua to stretch out his spear toward Ai.  As soon as he did, the thirty thousand men invaded Ai spoiling it and setting it on fire.  While nothing is described about taking Bethel at this time, Joshua 12:16 implies they did so.

“And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers.

And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.  And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.  And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.” (Joshua 8:20-23)

When the men of Ai saw the smoke, they knew they’d been tricked and that they had nowhere to go.  When the main Israelite force turned on them from the north and the thirty thousand came pouring out of the city on the south, they were caught between them.  Israel took no prisoners except the King, and no one got away.

“And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.  And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.  For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.  Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua.

 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.  And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.” (Joshua 8:24-29)

Once the armies of Ai and Bethel were annihilated, Israel came back to Ai and killed every person there.  Not a single person survived, man or woman.  Once they had removed everything they wanted, they finished burning the city, hanging the king from a tree until evening, then burying him under a heap of stones by the gate of the city.  The heap was still undisturbed at the time the book of Joshua was compiled.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Consequences of Achan’s Sin

Joshua 7:19-26

“And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.” (Joshua 7:19)

Though they knew some things had been stolen, and that it was Achan who had taken them, they still didn’t know any details, or even what had been taken.  God had clearly revealed that the Achan was the guilty party.  Joshua Asked achan not to try to imply God was lying, but to admit he was right, to give him the glory or credit for being right.

“And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” (Joshua 7:20-21)

After forty years in the wilderness, seeing God’s power and knowledge demonstrated repeatedly, Achan knew his chances of successfully lying and getting by with it were nonexistent, and confessed what he had done.  He did not deny his sin as so many today do, implying God is a liar.  I John 1:10 states, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  By denying their guilt, they blaspheme God.

The biggest reason people lie about their sin is because they think there is a possibility they might get by with it.  Under the American legal system, there is a great deal of incentive to lie because there is good chance of getting off with little or no penalty even if the evidence is incontrovertible.

Achan had taken an imported Babylonian suit, worth several thousand dollars, two hundred shekels or about one hundred ounces of silver, worth over three thousand dollars, and fifty shekels, or twenty five ounces of gold worth about forty two thousand dollars.  While it sounds like  lot, it would have weighed only about eight pounds and would make a very small bundle.  Seeing them, on the spur of the moment, Achan coveted and took them, hiding them in hole under the carpet in his tent, with the silver on the bottom to protect the suit from the dirt.  It was not a premeditated theft.

“So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.  And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. 

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 

 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.  And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.” (Joshua 7:22-26)

Finding the stolen items further confirmed Achan’s guilt and everything he owned, as well as his family were taken and executed in the valley which would be called Achor or troubling because his actions had caused Israel trouble, resulting in their defeat at Ai.

While it may seem cruel to execute his family for Achan’s sin, his theft had caused thirty six families to lose an innocent member of their families.   He was only suffering the same loss he had inflicted on others.  It was his action that caused their deaths.  Today we think it unfair that families of criminals often suffer for his crime, but we need to realize it was his actions, not society’s that caused the problem.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Effects of Sin

Joshua 7:1-19

“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.” (Joshua 7:1)

God had commanded, “And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.   But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.” in Joshua 6:18-19.  The people had obeyed God’s command, except for one greedy man, Achan.  I’m sure he believed that the little he took wouldn’t make any difference, but little things can make an amazing difference.

Numerous times space shuttle flights had to be scrubbed and once several astronauts died because a single rubber “o” ring failed to hold.  Achan’s disobedience brought the wrath of God against Israel.  Like the failed “o” rings, the problem wasn’t immediately apparent.

“And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.  And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.  So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.” (Joshua 7:2-4)

Like he had done at Jericho, Joshua sent spies to see what they faced.  It was a good decision.  It is always good to know what one is facing.  Since Ai was such a small town, only about twelve thousand people, the spies recommended that only a small force of about two or thee thousand make the attack.  They saw no reason to make the entire camp move such a short distance for such a small objective.  Depending on their advice, Joshua made one of the worst decisions he ever made.  He didn’t ask God what He wanted because they could easily defeat such a small village.  Because he didn’t ask God, he didn’t know there was a problem that needed to be dealt with first.  It was a complete rout.

“And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.” (Joshua 7:5)  

Knowing that the walls of Jericho had proven a liability when they fell, The men of Ai didn’t wait for Israel to attack them, killing thirty six men.  Until this time, Israel had never lost a man in battle, and they panicked at the shock.  Excited by their victory, the men of Ai chased them more than a mile, increasing their fear.  Fear is contagious and it spread quickly.

“And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.  And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!  O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!  For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?” (Joshua 7:6-9)

Joshua and the other leaders were devastated that they could be so easily defeated by such a small opponent.  Like most people, their first response was to doubt God.  Why had he brought them out here in such a miraculous fashion and then allowed such a defeat?   Had they been wrong in crossing Jordan and trying to take the land?  Wasn’t the failure going to reflect on God’s ability to provide?  Even Spirit filled men like Moses and Joshua experience moments of doubt.

“And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?  Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.” (Joshua 7:10-12)

Romans 14:23 states, “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  God rebuked Joshua for his attitude, ordering him to get up and deal with the sin.  It was not God’s failure that caused them to be defeated, but the people’s sin.  They could not succeed, and would not receive God’s blessings any more until the sin had been corrected.

Many times Christians today are, like Joshua, praying desparately, when what God wants them to do is stop praying and begin to correct the sin that is preventing them receiving his blessings.

“Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.” (Joshua 7:13)

 The first step in straightening things out was for the people to begin to prepare to hear what God had to say by sanctifying themselves and recognizing that there was a problem on their part.  Until they had dealt with their sin they would not be successful.

The instruction here is the equivalent of instructing them to seek the Lord and get back into church so they could find out what they needed to do.

“In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man.  And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.” (Joshua 7:14-15) 

God doesn’t always instantly reveal the either the problem or the solution.  They would have to go through a process of letting him show what the problems was step by step.  By going step by step, they would learn how to deal with future problems, and not to just jump to conclusions.  God frequently holds off on the answer to the problem to teach other important ideas.

“So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 

And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.” (Joshua 7:16-19)

Only by following the exact protocol God had given were they able to determine where the guilt lay.  Achan was obviously not telling what he had done.  In fact, even after going through the process as directed, Joshua still had to ask Achan what he had done so God would get the glory.  Taking shortcuts or jumping to conclusions would have neutralized what God intended.  Too often people settle for temporary relief because they have not dealt with the root of the problem.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fulfilling The Promise To Rahab

Joshua 6:22-27

“But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.  And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.” (Joshua 6:22-23) 

The only men who knew what Rahab looked like or where she lived were the two spies, so Joshua sent them to get her safely out of the city, as they had promised her.  In our modern world, it would not be uncommon for leadership to decide the spies had no authority to make such a commitment and ignore it.  It is one of the reasons there is such distrust of the government today.  Her family and all her belongings were carefully taken to the edge of the Israelite camp.

“And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 

And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:24-25) 

Following God’s command, they totally destroyed everything except the metals by burning it.  Nothing was to be salvaged except the things that were dedicated to God and Rahab’s belongings.

All of Jericho believed God would give Israel the victory.  Most of the people did their best to prevent it from happening, trying to kill the spies, and locking the gates to keep them out.  Believing the same thing, Rahab took a different course of action, reaching out to the spies for help.  As a result, she and her entire family were saved when the rest of the people in Jericho died.  At any time during the week before the walls collapsed, the rest of the city could have made the same choice but they refused, and consequently died.

In the New Testament,  we find the same concept that the individual has the opportunity to choose salvation by repenting of their sin and accepting Christ, or damnation by depending on their own efforts to save them.  A few, like Rahab, choose to trust God.  She is one of the two women listed in Matthew 1 as one of the ancestors of Christ.

“And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.” (Joshua 6:26) 

Joshua pronounced a curse against the city, saying that rebuilding it would cost the life of eldest son of the man who tried, and building the gates would cost the life of his youngest.  The city was rebuilt about seven hundred years later by a man called Hiel during the reign of Ahab in I Kings 16:34.  As prophesied, construction cost him the lives of his eldest and youngest sons.  Archaeologists found the remains of the youngest son in the foundation of the gates, and of the eldest buried in the foundation of the city.  God fulfills his word.

“So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.” (Joshua 6:27)

Jericho had been considered virtually impregnable.  The Jordan at flood stage was almost impossible to cross.  Everyone had been waiting to see how Israel would deal with such callenges, especially after Moses’ death.  After seeing how easily Israel overcame both, Joshua’s reputation as a leader spread like wildfire.  Obviously Israel had not lost their power under new leadership.  While it cemented Israel’s commitment to follow him, it further demoralized their opponents.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Attack on Jericho

Joshua 6:1-21

"Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.” (Joshua 6:1) 

The city of Jericho must have been almost paralyzed with fright.  Rahab had descriped th peoples expectations in Joshua 2:9-11.  “And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.  For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.  And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

The Jordan river was in flood and they had counted on it to at least delay Israel’s approach for at least several days, possibly even weeks.  Instead, God dammed up the river and allowed Israel to cross on dry ground in a single day.  With no time to call for reinforcements, all Jericho could do was lock up their gates and hope somebody came to their rescue in time.

“And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.  And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.  And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 

And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.” (Joshua 6:2-5)

Jericho was a large, heavily fortified city, with far better defenses than any city Israel had encountered.  God gave Joshua specific instructions as to how they were to attack.  From a human military approach, the plan God proposed sounds ludicrous.  For six days, each day the army was to simply march around the city once a day without talking or making any undue noise, and return to camp.

  On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times. Then the priests were to sound their trumpets and every man was to Attack going straight into the city.  Remember this is a walled city with walls thick enough that Rahab’s house had been built on top of the wall.  Even if the walls collapse, the Israelites will have to climb over the rubble, yet God said the walls would fall down flat and they could go straight in.

“And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD. And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD. 

And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.  And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 

And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.

 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp. 

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.  And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 

And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.” (Joshua 6:6-15) 

Thoroughly convinced that Israel was going to be victorious, one can only imagine the trepidation in Jericho as Israel sounded the trumpets and marched around the city the first day.  The total lack of talk must have been especially unnerving.  Even after they returned to camp, Jericho would not dare open the gates or allow anyone out, suspecting concealed ambushers lying in wait.  The tension undoubtedly built each time Israel approached again.  The seventh day must have been especially stressful when they didn’t stop marching.

In Deuteronomy 20:10-12, God had commanded, “When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.  And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.  And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:”  For seven days, Jericho had the option of surrendering, and for seven days they refused.  

“And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.  And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.  But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.” (Joshua 6:16-19) 

Rahab, the harlot had surrendered herself to Israel, but the rest had refused.  Now Joshua commanded them to give a great shout when they heard the trumpets, because God had given them the city.  They were to protect Rahab and her family, but to kill everyone and destroy everything else except the metals, which were to be dedicated to the Lord and placed in the treasury.  Attempts to salvage anything for themselves would bring God’s curse on Israel.

“So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.  And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.” (Joshua 6:20-21)

When the people shouted, following God’s instructions, the walls fell down flat, just as God had promised.  In fact Archaeologists claim the walls of the entire city sank into the ground except for a single small section where Rahab’s house was.  Israel did not have to climb over piles of rubble to attack, but were able to march straight in from every side.  Can’t you imagine the consternation of the defenders when the wall sank and they were instantly exposed to Israel’s attack with no protection.  It would be almost impossible to respond to the change in time to protect oneself.

Israel followed God’s orders, killing and destroying everything as he had commanded, except for one person.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The First Passover In Canaan

Joshua 5:10-12

 “And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.” (Joshua 5:10) 

Exactly forty one years from the day they had eaten the first Passover in Egypt, described in Exodus 12, Israel celebrated their first Passover in Canaan, just four days after crossing the Jordan and circumcising the males.

“And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.  And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” (Joshua 5:11-12)

For forty year, Israel had grumbled about having nothing but manna to eat, even though it supplied all their physical needs.  The very next day after celebrating the Passover, they were able to get enough grain to celebrate the feast of unleavened bread.  The second day of the feast of unleavened bread, there wasn’t any manna, and it never came again.  If they had obeyed God in Numbers 13 and 14, they wouldn’t have had to eat manna all those years.

How many Christians have spent most of their Christian lives dissatisfied, although God has always supplied the essentials, simply because they have never been willing to obey him?

Recognizing God 
Joshua 5:13-15

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? 

And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” (Joshua 5:13-14)

God does not change.   He doesn’t switch sides because we bribed him or talked him into it.  When Joshua asked the man(angel) whether he was on Israel’s or the Amorite’s side, he answered neither one.  He was on God’s side.  Too often we spend our effort trying to get God on our side, instead of getting ourselves on his side, even though we are told repeatedly that God does not play favorites.  Romans 2:11 is very succinct, “For there is no respect of persons with God.” 

Understanding that it is not about us, but about God will have a definite impact on our spiritual life.  When Joshua heard what the man said, he stopped to ask what God had to say instead of asking God for what he wanted.

 “And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:15)

What God wanted was for Joshua to recognize him as God.  It is something we humans to often fail to recognize.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

Circumcising Those Born In The Wilderness

Joshua 5:1-9

“And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.” (Joshua 5:1)

In any conflict, one’s mental attitude is half the battle.  Rahab had told the spies that the Amorites were convinced Israel would be likely to win a conflict.  Knowing the miraculous way Israel crossed the Jordan River only heightened their anxiety.  The river had been no barrier at all.  They had hoped it would stop or at least delay them so they could attack them in smaller groups.

“At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.  And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 

And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.  Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. 

For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not show them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.  And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.” (Joshua 5:2-7)

In Genesis 17, God had covenanted with Abraham that every male would be circumcised as a sign of their belief in God, and that any who was not would be excluded from the promises.  The covenant with Abraham had been kept up until they left Egypt.  During their forty years of wandering, they not taken time to circumcise their children, so any who had been born during that period were not circumcised.  All the men who had been more than twenty when they left Egypt died, leaving only a bout a third of the men and boys having been circumcised.  God instructed Joshua to keep the agreement between God and Abraham before they went any farther.  

“And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.  And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.” (Joshua 5:8-9)

With the circumcision of all the males, the last vestiges of their captivity in Egypt was removed.  They were completely identified as God’s people once again.

Baptism serves the same purpose for the Christian as circumcision did for the Jews, identifying those who trust God.  Taking that step indicates a clear breaking with our old sinful life, just as the circumcision here indicated breaking completely away from Egypt.  Those who had not been circumcised were still part of Israel and experienced the blessing of God, but it was essential for them to obey in the area of circumcision for them to attain all the benefits of God’s promises.  In the same way, a person can be saved without being baptized, but it is essential if he is ever to attain the full measure of growth as a Christian.  It symbolizes our attitude of trust and obedience, and refusal to be baptized indicates an unwillingness to obey.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Establishing a Memorial

Joshua 4:1-24

“And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. 

Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man: And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.” (Joshua 4:1-7)

God specifically directed Joshua to assign twelve men to build a memorial of stones taken from the middle of the river where they camped when they came out.  It would be a constant reminder, even to those  who didn’t know, that something significant had taken place there.  It would provide opportunity to again teach their children what God had done for them.

God established a number of things for memorials to remind the Jews of wha tGod was doing.  The institution of the Passover was one.  The written record of their defeat of the Amalekites was another.  Some of the sacrifices were for memorials.  The censers that Korah’s followers used were hammered flat and put on the altar as a reminder that only those God chose were qualified as priests.  Each memorial served to remind them of a specific aspect of their relationship to God.  It was especially important for the Jews, as succeeding generations had no personal experience of those things.

Far less memorials are required for Christians, because each individual must personally experience salvation, but baptism and the Lord’s Supper still serve to Remind us What God has done, and to simulate questions by others.

“And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.  For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.” (Joshua 4:8-10) 

In addition to the twelve stones that were carried out of the river and set up in the campground, twelve stones were piled in the river where the priests had stood.  According to Halley’s Bible Handbook, archaeologists have been able to find that pile still under the river.  They only way such a pile could have been built is if there was a time when the water wasn’t flowing, thus validating the Bible’s claim, in the same way the discovery of the Chariot wheels in the Gulf of Aqaba validates the crossing of the Red Sea.

“And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the LORD passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people. 

And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them: About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.  On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life. ” (Joshua 4:11-14)

The ark remained in the river until all the people were out, and was observed by all them.  About forty thousand men from the Trans-Jordanian tribes went along to fulfill their commitment to help the rest of the people obtain their land.

Because of the similarity in what God had done in crossing the Jordan to what he had done when Moses led them across the Red Sea, Joshua’s standing with God was clearly and permanently established.

“And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying, Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.  Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan. 

And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.  And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.” (Joshua 4:15-19)

Almost forty one years after they had left Egypt, Israel finally crossed Jordan and camped in Gilgal, just east of Jericho.  Just as the waters had stopped flowing instantly when the priests feet touched them, they resumed as if nothing had happened the instant the priests’ feet came out of the water.

“And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.  And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?  Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.  For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” (Joshua 4:20-24)

Joshua carefully instructed the Jews as to the meaning of the twelve stones so they would be able to inform their children in the future.  A memorial loses it’s value if no one knows what it means.  Unfortunately, things we see every day often become so commonplace we forget they have meaning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Crossing Jordan

Joshua 3:1-17

“And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. 

And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.  Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.

And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.  ” (Joshua 3:1-5)

Three days after commanding the people to get ready to move, Joshua moved the people to the Jordan river and camped there three days.   The spies came back with their report and they were ready to cross Jordan.  And the officers instructed the people to follow the plan established in Numbers 10, with the priests bearing the Ark going about a half mile ahead as scouts to lead the way as they had not been in the area before.

The people were especially to prepare themselves spiritually, expecting God to do great things among them.

“And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.

And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.  And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.” (Joshua 3:6) 

Until one has seen the situation, directions can be confusing, so God frequently does not reveal all the details until we need them.  As they approach the bank of the river, God told Moses that starting that day, God would begin to assure the people that Joshua was a man of God just as Moses had been.  Joshua was to instruct the priests that when they came to the edge of Jordan they were to walk into the water and then stop and stay there.

“And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.  And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.  Behold, the ark of the covenant of the LORD of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. 

Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.  And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.” (Joshua 3:9-13)

The proof that God was leading them would be that when they priests walked out into the Jordan river, the water would quit flowing and begin to build up as if there was a dam on the upper side, while the water on the downstream side would run on down and leave the riverbed dry.  Twelve men were to be appointed for a special task, one from each tribe.

“And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)  That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.” (Joshua 3:14-17)

Exactly as God had told Joshua, as soon as the priests feet dipped into the water, God dammed up the water on the north side and the water began to fill the valley, backing up far to north of Adam and Zaretan, while the water on the south side ran on into the Dead Sea, making it possible for the people to cross right next to Jericho, rather than having to ford far up stream.  It was especially impressive as it occurred during the flood season when Jordan was at it’s peak and almost impossible to ford anywhere.  The waters continued to back up until all Israel had crossed over.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Scouting Jericho

Joshua 2:1-24

“And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.” (Joshua 2:1) 

It is critical that one has valid information in order to make good decisions.  Forty years before, Joshua had been one of the twelve spies sent to spy out the the entire land from Kadesh Barnea to the border of Lebanon.  They were to see what the land was about and how strong the defenses were.  After thirty days of travel and observation, all but Joshua and Caleb had been overwhelmed by the immensity of what would be required and persuaded the entire congregation not to try.

Rather than risking the same thing, Joshua only sent two spies, and their destination was only the city of Jericho.  After all, they could only attack one city at a time.  By breaking the job down to tasks they could conceivably handle, he insured there would be no rebellion this time.

When my Dad built the church building at Sunset Hills, the people could not imagine ever having enough to build the entire building.  Dad announced that they begin building as soon as they had enough to pay for the concrete floor and foundation, about five thousand dollars at the time.  The people could envision that amount and quickly raised most of it.  When they saw construction start they got excited trusted God enough to give enough to build the outer walls before the floor was completely finished.  Seeing the walls being built, they could believe it was possible to build the roof and raised the money.

Finally the entire building was finished even though at no time had the church had more than eight or ten thousand in their account.  They had never had to ask for other churches to help them.  Seeing God provide in such a way caused the faith of many to grow by leaps and bounds.  I am amazed by the number of churches which have started a building project and gotten discouraged by the enormity of the project, often resulting in church splits or closures.

Moses’ spies effectively went to figure out how much was needed for the entire project, while Joshua’s only worried about how much was needed for the floor.  By taking it a step at time, they would be able to take the entire land much quicker than they could have envisioned.  It is an important concept.  As the saying goes, “every journey starts with a single step.”

“And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came ms, en in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.  And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 

And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.

But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.  And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.” (Joshua 2:2-7)

Rahab was a prostitute.  She was undoubtedly unpopular among the “good” people of Jericho.  Nobody would be surprised that strangers stayed at her house, or that they tried not to call attention to their presence.  It was an obvious place to hide.  Unfortunately somebody realized they must be Israelites and reported them to the king.  At the risk of her own life, Rahab hid them and lied to the officers who came to investigate, claiming they had left about sundown, just before the watchmen shut the gates.  If they were quick they could probably catch them, although she didn’t know which way they had gone.

Believing the spies were from Israel, the officers sent troops toward the crossing of Jordan to try to catch them before they could cross the river.  The watchmen immediately shut the gates in case they were hiding somewhere instead.

“And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.  For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. 

Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.” (Joshua 2:8-13)

After the officers were gone, Rahab came and talked to the spies, telling them that the entire city had heard how God had lead them across the Red Sea, and how they had defeated two major countries.  They were almost paralyzed with fear, convinced they could not defeat Israel, because God would give them the victory.

Believing the same thing, Rahab did something none of the others did.  She hid the spies, then asked them to save her and her family when they conquered the city.  While the others tried to prevent God from doing what they believed he would, she acted on her belief.

“And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee. 

Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.  And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. 

And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.  Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee.  And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him.  And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. 

And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.” (Joshua 2:14-21)

Agreeing to spare her family, the men instructed her to tie the rope she let them down the wall with in the window when they came to identify which house to avoid.  They would not take responsibility for anyone who was outside the house.  She didn’t wait for them to attack, but tied the rope in the window immediately.  She wasn’t taking any chances of forgetting.

“And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not. 

So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them: And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.” (Joshua 2:22-24)

The spies were thoroughly convinced that God would give the victory, especially by the attitude of the people, who had given up hope.  They got back to Joshua just as he was ready to move down beside the Jordan.