Joshua Message #15 by Ed Miller
There is that principle of Bible study that is indispensable, whether we come individually or corporately we need to remember that the Holy Spirit has given us the Bible and the Holy Spirit lives in our heart and the Holy Spirit shows us Christ, so we all have come for the same reason and that is to see the Lord. Before I go to prayer I want to share this one verse from Psalm 119:45, NAS, “I shall walk at liberty, for I seek Thy precepts.” And then in the margin it has a note and it says that literally, the word liberty, “I shall walk in a wide place because I seek Thy precepts.” This idea of being free to walk in a wide place is over against, for my own testimony, the way I used to live because I thought Christianity was like walking on a tight rope and I was walking on egg shells and I was so nervous. But because the Word has set me free, now I have a wide place and I can walk at liberty. So, let’s thank the Lord for the wide place and pray that He will reveal His Son.
Heavenly Father, we thank You so much that you have set our feet on a foundation and You’ve invited us to walk in a wide place where we are stable and even though You have given us hinds feet, You have also given us security. We just thank You, Lord, that we don’t have to walk on a tight rope anymore or on egg shells because You have set us free. Now Lord, as we look again into the word of God, we trust the Holy Spirit to take us to Jesus and we thank You in advance that we are going to see Him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We’re in the book of Joshua. Thank you, by the way, for praying for our little men’s gathering. The Lord was very faithful, as He always is. Of course, the ultimate results we leave with Him. If I’m around and you are around in twenty years or so, ask me, “What did the Lord do at the conference?” and then I’ll tell you because the years tell the story. We can have a quick response and then it can just fizzle away. Thank you for your prayers.
Joshua 1:11, the message of the book can be expressed in many ways but Joshua 1:11, “Pass through the midst of the camp, command the people saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourself, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess it.” That’s sort of a summary of the Book of Joshua; possess the land that the Lord has given you to possess. We have emphasized over and over in our study of Joshua that the land, that Promised Land, the land that overflows with milk and honey, that inheritance is just a little picture of our Lord Jesus. Jesus is the Life of milk and honey. Jesus is the inheritance.
In that connection I love Psalm 16:5&6, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup. You support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” The Lord is our inheritance. Once again in the New Testament, Ephesians 1:13-14, says the same thing, “In Him you also after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who was given as a pledge of our inheritance with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of His glory.” All of that to say that Jesus is our inheritance. As they entered the land, we enter the Life of Christ. As they had victory in the land, we have victory in Jesus Christ. As they discover their particular portion in the land, God shows us our portion in the history of redemption. As they settle down to live in the land and abide in the land and live off of the land, so we abide in Jesus and live off of Christ. That’s the message of Joshua.
The appeal of Joshua is chapter 18:3, “Joshua said to the sons of Israel, ‘How long will you put off entering to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers has given you?’” All Christians are in Christ but not all Christians have entered into the fullness of Christ, the Life of milk and honey. How long will you be saved and how long will you name the name of Christ before you actually learn how to possess your possessions? That’s the appeal of Joshua.
In our study we’ve come to chapter 6. The first five chapters were preparing for chapter 6. When we left off in our last session we had looked at the strategic battle for Jericho. Jericho was the frontier city and by taking Jericho, the forces of the Canaanites were split and so it was a tremendous battle. The first conflict in the land contained all the spiritual principles of conquest. Because it’s the first, everything is included in there. Everything you ever need to know about spiritual warfare and conquest are included in this wonderful story. The look that we had last time, I said, “There are two keys to victory,” and then as we ended I said, “There are really two sides of the same coin.” There’s only one thing we ever need to know.
Let me mention those two keys and then we’ll move to our new material. The first key is simply this; we can’t do it. We are not adequate and we are weak and there is no way in the world we are going to dispossess the enemy out there or the enemy in here, except that the Lord does it. I illustrated that inadequacy six or seven different ways; geographical nature of the land, the warlike nature of the Canaanites, the fact there were massive double walls to the city, all showing the impossibility that we can do it. Add to that the fact that the fighting force had recently been circumcised, that tremendously weakened the fighting force and then marching around every day for seven days wore them out. The location of Jericho and the temperature, the hot temperature, wore them out and after the last day marched around for at least seven hours, probably longer, and you know that would wear anybody out to march for seven hours. Then after that they were told to climb over the rubble and to get into hand to hand combat with the enemy. You see the first principle. It’s not in me and it’s not in you. We can’t do it. I don’t know of a greater demonstration. Even any one of those things would have disqualified us but when you put them altogether you see that it’s not in man.
In that connection I hope you really believe that principle is true, that the weaker you are, the more glory goes to God. Do you realize that every forward step in helplessness is a forward step in the knowledge of the Lord and in the knowledge of His word? Don’t despise it when in some way in your life there is weakness, because that is God’s method. I love in that connection Paul’s testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” He didn’t say, “After I’m weak, then God gave me strength.” It’s when I am weak, then I am strong. As you go through the Bible you are going to see, especially in Ephesians, the expression, “Be strong in the Lord.” But there’s an expression in 2 Corinthians 13 that I love just as much as “be strong in the Lord”. Verse 4, “Indeed, He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. We, also, are weak in Him, yet we’ll live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.” That little expression, “We, also, are weak in Him.” Imagine being weak in union with Christ. People say, “Be strong in the Lord.” Yes, but how? It’s by being weak in the Lord. We have to be weak in Him. I think if God opened our eyes to see this it would take us to a new dimension of thanksgiving. We’d be praising the Lord for things that right now might grumble about. It’s a forward step to be weak.
The second key is the exact opposite of that. The first key is that I can’t. You know automatically what the second key is; He can. He can in union with you and me and in union with us. He won’t do it by Himself. That’s why the army had to go in. But He’ll do it in union with His people.
Joshua 6:2, “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I’ve given Jericho into your hands with its king and valiant warriors.” “I have given.” It didn’t depend on their conquering. It depended on God’s gift. It was donation. God is the One that gave it. Joshua 6:19, “But all the silver and gold articles of bronze are holy to the Lord. They shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” It’s just that same principle. God is the Victor and the spoils go to the victor. The spoils go to the Lord. It’s not only illustrated by the spoils but by the ark. The reason the walls of Jericho fell down is because the ark; the picture of the throne of God. King Jesus was marching around the walls; not only the people. In that connection I love the truth in 1 Samuel 5 about Dagon. “The Philistines took the Ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set in by Dagon.” That was their idol, their false god. It was in the shape of a man but it had a pig’s face, just a horrible idol they were serving. “When the Ashodites rose early in the morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. They took Dagon and set him in his place again. But when they arose early the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.” Philippians 2:10, “So, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow; those who are in heaven, on the earth, under the earth.” When King Jesus shows up, everything falls down and that’s why the walls of Jericho fell down because King Jesus was marching around and the walls had to fall down.
Those are the two keys that we looked at last time. I can’t do it. God won’t do it but in union with me He can and He will do it. We’ll get the victory. The thing that brought that together, making the two sides of the same coin, is chapter 11:30 of Hebrews, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled seven days.” Faith is the one truth that makes both keys work. In other words, how do I know I’m that weak? The answer is that it’s by faith. If God said it than you believe.
I remember one time I was in a prayer meeting. Every so often they have a day of prayer at our Bible School and we’d all gather in the auditorium and everybody would pray. There was somebody way down in the front who was praying and there was one of my professors who has been mightily used in my life, Mr. Frank Sells, who was in the back, and in the front someone said, “Lord, make me helpless.” And Mr. Sells yelled out in the middle of his prayer, “You are helpless. Take it by faith.” How could you ever forget something like that? It’s by faith that we know that we’re helpless. So, by faith I also know because He said so, that He’d do it in union with me.
When I left off I was giving three principles of faith. Since faith is the one key that we need to know, I had only introduced the first and so, what I’d like to do for the remainder of this study… I said there were three illustrations of faith. I want to finish Jericho and begin to introduce Ai and we’ll not get further than just the insipient stages of Ai.
Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been circled for seven days.” The three principles of faith illustrated in the Jericho story, the first one is that faith obeys the Lord. Joshua 6:3-4, God gives the command to march around the city, “All the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of ram horns before the ark. And on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times and the priests shall blow the trumpets.” Knowing I can’t and knowing He will do it, once I receive a clear word from the Lord, then I will obey.
I called attention last time to the human viewpoint and it seems silly to obey God, what God had commanded. It didn’t seem logical or prudent. To the carnal ear it sounded unreasonable, “Walk around circles and you’ll get the victory.” That sounded silly. But as I said last time, when you walk in God’s circles, you are getting places. There’s direction in God’s circles. My natural heart wants to pull back on God’s wisdom and think that I know better. If I were there at that time (I speak as a fool), I’d want a course on scaling high walls. That’s what I would like. Or how to build and use a battering ram. That might have been helpful. Or what are some of the principles of tunneling under a double wall like that. I’d like to know that. I would make sure that my mighty men who are fighting with me, they not only had swords but I would hope they had some ladders with them and some picks and some shovels. It wouldn’t hurt to have some explosives, as well. That’s how I would have done it. But that’s the logic of man and not the logic of the Lord. Miracles are the logic of heaven. May God help us to have the mind of Christ and to renew our minds!
What does it mean to have a renewed mind? It means to start thinking like He does and seeing things as He does. Naturally I would never think God’s thought. I need a revelation to start thinking like God thinks. Who can do it without revelation? His logic is to walk on water. His logic is to multiply a little boy’s lunch and feed thousands of people. His logic is take the last meal and let it last for six years. That’s God’s logic. His logic is to tell someone who is humped over for eighteen years to stand up straight. That’s not logical but that’s what He does. His logic is to call a man out of the grave or a little girl who had died to get up. Obeying God’s logic may sound silly but it’s only to the unbeliever or the unbelieving believer. But to those who are looking to the Lord, it’s not noise. It’s sound wisdom and music to our ears. May God help us do that!
I know it sounds silly to forgive seven times seventy. By the power of God that’s not silly. It sounds silly to love and to pray for your enemies and for those who mistreat you and persecute you. Why should we do that? They are trampling on my rights. I have no rights, so it’s not silly to obey the Lord. It’s not silly to deny yourself and be generous, even to your own hurt. It’s not silly to know that the Lord considers all the weights in the bag and to be honest. It’s not silly at all to let the Lord defend you and not defend yourself. Boy, I hope God teaches you that. He’s begun to teach me that. We always want to rise up and defend ourselves. If you defend yourself, God can’t. If you don’t, he must and He will. So, don’t defend yourself. That sounds silly; laying down your reputation. My reputation doesn’t matter a rat’s fur. It’s God’s reputation that’s important and not mine. I don’t care what He does to my reputation. It’s the highest wisdom to obey the Lord by faith. Don’t put stock in faith. It’s by the grace of God Who enables us to believe.
Often you’ll hear Christians say, “What is God’s part and what’s man’s part? Well, we need balance.” I hate the word “balance”. God’s grace doesn’t need a counterbalance. Allow me to give a testimony here on that; what is God’s part and what is man’s part. I allowed the devil to hopelessly confuse me for years trying to discover the balance. I want to preach grace but the man is responsible. I’ve got to somehow get that out. I’ve given up on that forever. It is so intertwined. I’m not ever going to try to find man’s part and God’s part. I’ll go this far. What is my part? My part is letting God do His part. That’s how easy it is. Trust the Lord to do His part. That’s my part. Just trust the Lord and be yourself. Don’t lean on your own understanding. When it says to not lean on your own understanding, God isn’t saying, “Don’t use your head.” You’ve got to use your head. He’s given you a brain. Use it. If your brain is like my brain you might need more heads. So, trust the saints. There is wisdom and there is help in a multitude of counselors but don’t depend on your reason and don’t depend on theirs. You depend on the Lord.
Faith always looks away from self and always looks to the Lord. I told you last year that my verse was Isaiah 2:22, “Stop regarding man whose breath is in his nostrils. Why should he be esteemed?” At first I thought it meant, “Don’t trust people out there.” Stop regarding man whose breath is in his nostrils is right here. It’s not even in my lungs. It’s in my nostrils. How fast God can take it away. That’s the first illustration of faith. Trust God. God says it, do it. I don’t care how silly it looks. Unconditional obedience.
The second illustration is actually the same because it talks about walking thirteen times around but it’s a little bit different. Faith not only obeys God but faith perseveres in obeying God. Listen again please to Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” One trip around didn’t do the job. Two trips around didn’t do the job. Twelves trips around didn’t do the job. It had to be seven days around and thirteen trips around. Can you picture the people marching every day and marching the last day and they are almost done and they march twelve times around on the last day and after the twelfth trip around the wall, they look up at the wall and say, “I know what God promised; this thing is not even shaking and it’s not moving and nothing is falling down. This wall is as it was the first day we started marching around the wall. Faith not only obeys God, it perseveres in obeying God. It keeps on keeping on.
You might have a Jericho wall in your life. By that I mean some insurmountable obstacle that is in your life and you say, “How come that thing hasn’t fallen down yet?” My answer is, “You haven’t circled it seven times yet.” Seven often is the perfect number. It’s used in the Bible. Seven is the number perfection/fulfillment. Not always; Job had seven boys. I don’t think that’s a perfect number of sons. That’s six plus one. But sometimes seven is a perfect number. God only knows when seven days are complete. It might be literal days and it might be seven months or it might be seven years. I have a friend who has been encircling the painful walls of Crohn’s disease for half a century and those walls have not come down but his life is a monument of mercy. You talk to him and he is always rejoicing in the Lord.
George Mueller prayed for one of his friends, according to his testimony, three times a day for fifty two years. Imagine that! Three times a day for fifty two years. Three years after George Mueller died that man came to Christ. Amazing! You don’t know when seven times around is but keep trusting the Lord and keep on walking along the Lord. That principle of walking seven times and persevering must be important to God because He illustrates it several times in the Bible. Let me illustrate.
1 Kings 18:43-44, “After there had been no rain for three and a half years,” listen to verse 43, talking about Elijah, “said to his servant, ‘Go up now and look toward the sea. He went up and looked and he said, “There’s nothing.” And he said, ‘Go back,’ seven times. It came about at the seventh time he said, “Behold a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” So Elijah told this servant to go stand on the mountain and look toward the sea and when he came back he said that there was nothing. “Go again.” He goes back and there’s nothing. He says, “Try it again.” He goes back seven times and the seventh time he saw a little cloud the size of man’s hand. So, persevering faith is to go expecting. May God open your eyes to see the slightest indication that God is doing something, and then the rain will come! We need to always be on the alert for those little things.
I’ll never forget when we had been praying for my step father’s mother and I was in her home one day and my step dad had a Bible. She picked it up and dusted it. She was a Unitarian. She’s not going to read it but I got such a blessing in my heart to see her pick it up and dust up. It’s the word of God. We hear testimonies of the Gideon’s who hand out Bibles and some of the testimonies, because the word of God is going out. So, keep your eyes open for that slightest indication, “Look, he asked a question. He went to church. He turned on the radio and he heard a tape,” something and any little thing. So, that’s persevering faith.
There’s another similar illustration when Nahum and the Syrian, the leper, was being healed, 2 Kings 5:10, “Elisha sent the messenger to him saying, ‘Go, wash in the Jordan seven times and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.’” You remember how Nahum responded. He said, “That’s illogical. Where we live there is better water and it’s not making sense.” And then his servant said, “If it were difficult, you would have probably tried to do it. But now because it’s so simple you don’t want to do it.” When he did it, 2 Kings 5:2, “He went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child he was clean.” So, persevering faith; keep walking around those walls and keep walking around those walls seven times, whatever that means, until God does it. And when you walk around keep your eyes open for that little cloud the size of a man’s hand. And when you walk around, obey God in childlike dependence, like Nahum had to obey the Lord.
There is another illustration of the same truth. This is such a beautiful truth; keep on keeping on. It’s in the New Testament in Acts 12 when Peter was being delivered, Acts 12:7, “An Angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell and struck Peter’s side and woke him up saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And his chains fell off of his hands and the Angel said to him, ‘Gird yourself and put on your sandals.’ And he did so and He said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ And he went out and continued to follow. He did not know that what was being done by the Angel was real. He thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city which opened for them by itself. They went out and went along one street and immediately the Angel departed from him.”
This is so graphically illustrated by the iron gate. I like to picture it this way. When Peter was seventy five feet from the iron gate, maybe, it’s not in the Bible, if it were me I would have said, “Lord, I know there is an iron gate out there and it’s locked and closed for the night. I wish you’d open that gate seventy five feet before I got to it.” If I thought that I think the Angel would say, “Now, you just keep keeping on. God has not promised to open the gate seventy five feet before you get to it. He may but He hasn’t promised. Keep walking.” So, when Peter was fifty feet from the gate, if I was fifty feet from the gate I’d say, “Lord, I wish you’d open that iron gate fifty feet before I got to it.” And the Angel would say, “God hasn’t promised to open the gate fifty feet before you get to it. He may but He hasn’t promised. Keep walking.” That would be true twenty five feet from the gate, fifteen feet from the gate, ten feet from the gate. When Peter was five feet from the gate it was still bolted and locked closed tight. Peter said, “I’m five feet from the gate. I wish you would open that iron gate so I could go through.” And the Angel would say, “God hasn’t promised to open the gate when you are five feet from the iron gate. He may but He hasn’t promised. Keep walking.”
So, I tell you, brothers and sisters in Christ, when you are six months, six weeks, six days, six hours or six minutes, keep walking. God has called us to live by faith. Persevere with your eye looking for that little hand. Come humbly and dip down seven times like a little child and obey the Lord. Persevering faith is step by step. You keep walking. God may open that gate a lot sooner than you think but He hasn’t promised to. Keep walking until the door opens. Persevering faith is the second principle of faith and we ought to be expecting and childlike and know that it is step by step.
That second principle leads then to this third principle; the strange blending of the silence and the shout. Both were commanded. Joshua 6:10, “Joshua commanded the people saying, ‘You shall not shout or let your voice be heard nor let a word proceed out of your mouth until the day I tell you to shout and then you shall shout.” There is an interesting relationship between “be silent” and “shout”. This had to be difficult. I was discussing this with a brothers and when I said, “Be silent,” the first thing I would ask is, “Why does he want us to be silent?” So, he would break the rule.
Being silent has to do with trusting the Lord, no talking, no complaining, no murmuring, no griping, no venting, no questioning, no gossiping, no defending yourself. I imagine in that great company that were marching around the wall, when we read about the parade and all the armed men, I know just from the east there were forty thousand armed men marching around the wall and the priests and the people. I’m not at all certain if two and a half million people were walking around the wall, but imagine every day marching around and on the last day for at least seven hours, there was not a peep and not a word.
I was discussing this with my Lillian and I said, “What principle do you think God was teaching by the command to keep silent?” She said, “He’s teaching us to give mothers more credit for keeping their kids quiet.” I think she’s probably right. That responsibility would fall to the mothers.
And then there came the command to “shout” in chapter 6:20, “The people shouted. The priests blew the trumpets. And when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell flat. So, the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.” Because they weren’t only circling the walls but they had encircled the wall because there were so many. It’s not like we made a breach in the wall attack. The whole wall fell down, so they attacked from every place. It wasn’t the silence that brought down the wall and it wasn’t the shout. You and I know it was the Lord. It certainly wasn’t as I read the vibration cause by the cadence of marching around all that time. There’s no power in silence. There’s no power in shouting. There’s only power in the Lord.
It would make sense to me if I were marching around, when I began to see that the wall was beginning to shake, if I heard some noise that there was something going on inside the wall and I saw a stone fall down, that’s shouting time. Then I would shout. But if you read the record here, the shout came before the wall even began to tremble or crumble or fall. There is something in that about faith and trusting God before the wall even begins to move. When I say that God wants us to shout before the walls come down, I’m not saying that if you have some insurmountable problem, just shout and it’s going to go away. I’m not saying that. That could be presumption. You have to wait for the word. They had to wait. Don’t shout until you get another word.
I have a son in law who was in the military and he told me that one of the rules is, “You go by the last command you heard and you don’t do anything else until you get the next command.” If you are out somewhere and you don’t know what the command is, you go with the last word that you heard. I think that is applicable here. You don’t shout until God gives you a clear word and then you trust the Lord.
I think the principle of silence and shouting together is just to wait on the Lord and I’ll even add to wait in silence upon the Lord, until you get the word and then praise the Lord and I’m sure the walls will come tumbling down. So, obey God, no matter how silly it sounds, persevere in faith with expectancy and childlikeness and walk step by step and then wait on the Lord. Psalm 62:5, “My soul wait in silence for God only; my hope is from Him. Trust in Him at all times, oh people. Pour out your heart before Him.” As you wait on the Lord, may God help you to wait in silence on the Lord. When you get a clear word, then shout it from the house tops and then you can be praising the Lord.
Lamentations 3:25, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It’s good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.” Wait silently. As you are trusting God and He’s told you to do something and even if it sounds weird or silly, wait silently. Don’t think you have to defend or justify your faith before your family. You don’t have to justify your faith before your friends. And you don’t have to justify your faith before the world and you don’t have to justify your faith before the church. You just need to obey God and be silent and when it comes to pass, then you can shout and that will be the evidence that it was the Lord. So, faith obeys the Lord and faith perseveres and faith waits silently for the Lord. May God help us to live by faith!
One other thing about Jericho I want to mention. Joshua 6:26, “Joshua made them take an oath at that time saying, ‘Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds the city Jericho, with the loss of his first born he shall lay the foundation; with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” That’s quite a curse. Ahab, five hundred years down the road, 1 Kings 16:32, “He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made Asheroth. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel the Bethlelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his firstborn; and set up is gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.”
Five hundred years later Hiel laid the foundation of Jericho and laying that foundation he lost his firstborn son and he didn’t get the warning and continued building. The last piece was the gate. When he put the gate on, his young son died. We have that curse fulfilled. The reason I make mention of this is because there is some misunderstanding because we know from Joshua to David Jericho was rebuilt without a curse and inhabited. It was given as an inheritance to Benjamin, the smallest tribe, along with other famous cities like Gilgal and Jerusalem and Ramah and so on. So, it was rebuilt. Judges 3, Eglon, the enemy, came and took it from the Benjamites and for eighteen years that was taken from the Benjamites. Elisha the prophet performed miracles and rebuilt Jericho. There was a school of prophets in Jericho that was rebuilt. David had business in Jericho. How come God waited five hundred years and cursed Hiel when this had been rebuilt many times before God gave the curse? In fact, if you come to the New Testament, Zaccheus was from Jericho rebuilt.
When Hiel rose up it was different. That’s when the curse fell because he laid the foundation and his firstborn died and he didn’t heed the warning and then his youngest son died with the gate but with the foundation and gate are the key to understanding this. It identifies Jericho as a fortification. In other words, the curse was against rebuilding Jericho the way it was when it was destroyed. If you read 1 Kings 16 you’ll see how Hiel worked hand in hand with wicked King Ahab. They were trying to make Jericho the center of idolatry. They were rebuilding it. God’s curse was against the sin and not against the real estate.
Let me give an illustration. It’s poor but it might help. Let’s say that God destroyed a house of prostitution and brought it right down to the ground and then God gave a curse, “If anybody rebuilds this house, then they are going to be cursed.” Let’s say that somebody sees all that rubble and comes and purchases the land and builds a church right where that house of prostitution was. Is God going to curse them? But let’s say that somebody comes back and builds a house of prostitution there? If you rebuild what it was, that’s when the curse came. It’s not saying that you can’t rebuild the city and you can’t live there and do Godly things there. But you can’t build it as a place like it was of idolatry and unbelief and wickedness and that’s what Hiel did. He tried to make Jericho that kind of place.
That brings us to the study of Ai. I have completely satisfied myself of our discussion of Jericho. To enter into the spiritual significance, we need to understand the spoils and understand the ban. Joshua 6:17-19, “The city shall be under the ban and all that is in it belongs to the Lord. Only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live because she hid the messengers whom we sent. As for you, keep yourself from the things under the ban, that you do not covet them and take some of things under the ban and make the camp of Israel a curse and bring trouble on it. All of the silver and gold, the articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord. They shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”
As we go through the record of Ai; the battle of Ai, the loss, the subsequent victory at AI, there is much failure on man’s part, from the top down. Joshua doesn’t look good in this particular story. There were mistakes and there were blunders and failures. I call them mistakes, blunders and failures on purpose. I didn’t call it sin but now I will. Those mistakes, blunders and failures, because God focuses on one sin and it becomes a big one. Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and have come short of the glory of God.” Sin in coming short of the glory of God. When we go through the story you are going to see that they had many sins. There was a low view of God and disobedience, pride, greed, theft, cover-up, lust, denial, toleration, presumption, and self-confidence and so many things. One time they sinned by not praying when they should have. They also sinned by praying when they shouldn’t have. So, when we go through this we’ll look at that. The point God is making has to do that they touched what was under the ban. The principle of “under the ban” is this; the spoils belong to the victor, to the one who won the victory.
Very recently, weeks ago, at our home our coil in the boiler under our house sprung a leak. It got old and rusted out and sprung a leak. Well, we didn’t know that and under the house we were collecting a lake. The water was just pouring out. That caused a flood under the house and that leak deprived us of heat in the house and hot water. That was our first indication that something was wrong. We didn’t have hot water. We called the plumber and he came with his fins and diving suit and went under the house and he showed us that the coil had sprung a leak and because of that leak, it sprayed up and destroyed the electrical circuits that were in the boiler. The hot water heater was trying to keep the water hot and so the fuel bill was unbelievable – more than a thousand dollars because we burned up three hundred gallons of fuel in a short period of time. All of it because one leak in the boiler and that touched the electrical circuits and then we had to have that replaced and that cause a flood.
What I’m saying is, the leak in the boiler here, they touched the ban and that led to that and that and that and there was a lot of destruction all over the place. The spoils belong to the Lord. He’s the victor. Now, in that first battle God said, “You can’t take any spoils. They all belong to Me. I want you to learn that the victory is mine. Well, in two ways they touched the battle. The main sin was Achan and we’ll read about it but look at 7:1, “Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.” He took the spoils. The spoils belonged to the victor. He stole more than a garment. He stole more than gold. He stole more than silver. He stole more than brass. He stole the victory that belonged to the Lord He stole the glory of the Lord.
But Achan wasn’t the only one. Joshua 7:1, “The Sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban.” Verse 11, “Israel have sinned. They have transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. They have even taken some of the things under the ban and have stolen and deceived.” You might say, “I’ve read the record and I don’t remember Israel doing that.” They did it in the principle. They robbed God of His glory. Let me show you how that happened and we’ll develop it next time. Achan sinned and Israel sinned and they both sinned in regard to the ban. The spoils belong to the Lord. Israel stole God’s glory before the battle for Jericho began. Achan stole God’s glory after the battle was completed and God won. Let me show you how that works.
Chapter 7:3-4, “They returned to Joshua and said to him, ‘Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need to go up to Ai. Do not make all the people toil up there. They are few. So, about three thousand men from the people went up there and they fled from the men of Ai.” They stole God’s glory by self-confidence. In other words, their attitude was, “Jericho; that’s a big problem. Look at those walls! We can’t handle that big problem. We’ll have to let God do that. But Ai, that’s a little problem. We can handle that. We can handle the little problem. It’s a small one.” And, so they stole God’s glory at the start, saying, “Step aside, Lord, we’ll take this. We can handle the little things. We need You for the big things but this is our victory.” So, they sent up only a handful of military fighters; self-confidence. They stole God’s glory by taking the battle out of God’s hands.
Listen to what God said, verse 12 chapter 7, “Sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies. They have become a curse. I will not be with you anymore.” Boy, that’s a sentence. If you think you can handle the little things in your life, take it along with this sentence. God says, “I will not be with you anymore.” You can’t handle the big things and you can’t handle the little things. I can’t handle the big things and I can’t handle the little things. The victory is the Lord’s and the spoils belong to the Lord.
The sin of Achan came in at the end because he stole the spoils. That was after the battle was done. By stealing the spoils, the spoils belong to the victor, he said, “The spoils are mine.” So, he took credit for what God had done. That’s the principle. He didn’t say, “I can win the battle.” Israel said that. Israel said, “I’ll do it.” But after God did it, Achan took credit for doing it and took the spoils. In both cases they went after the glory of God. Whether you say, “I can do what only God can do,” or whether you say, like Achan, “God did it but I’ll take credit for it,” either way you touch His glory.
Isaiah 42:8, “I’m the Lord. That’s My name. I will not give My glory to another.” That’s why the heart of sin is falling short of the glory of God. The glory is His. That’s why we read in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” That’s the leak in the boiler. That is the leak in the coil. That’s the leak, when you touch God’s glory. Once you do that, whether you say, “I can handle it,” or whether you say, “God did it but I take credit because I want people to think I did it,” both times you’ve touched His glory and He withdraws Himself and says, “You are on your own.” Good luck with that. May God deliver us from being on our own. We need the Lord. We’ll close there and pick it up next time looking at Ai. I hope you don’t think you can handle little things. Just like with God there are no big things or little things, with you there are no big things or little things. There are only things and God needs to handle it. You can’t and I can’t.
Our Father, thank You for Your precious word, not what we think things might mean, but all You know them to mean. Work it in our hearts and teach us, Lord, not to get impatient and faint but to persevere with an eye of expectancy looking for that little cloud, not to try to reason, but to do what you say and come as little children and dip into the Jordan seven times and walk step by step until You open the door. We thank You, Lord, that we can trust You for this. We want You to have the glory. We don’t want to pretend we can handle it and we don’t want to take credit after You’ve handled it. Work these things in our hearts. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.