Theme: Listening to God
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. -James 1:22
Introduction: The Israelites are across the Jordan River! God has done great things to call them and lead them across the river into the Promised Land. But, while this has been a huge success, it is just the beginning.
Jericho is the first city west of the Jordan in Canaan that the Israelites were to encounter as part of the conquest. As the first stop into Canaan from the East, it had to be strong in order to survive. And it did so by building and maintaining strong walls.
But as we know from hearing this story before, the Israelites had something on their side stronger than any wall. They had God on their side. Looking back into Joshua 5:13-15, we read an interesting story similar to that of Jacob wrestling in the night with the Angel of the Lord, or Moses encountering God in a burning bush. Joshua is outside the walls of Jericho in the desert and a strange man approaches him with a sword drawn. But this man did not come in violence; he came in peace. He was the Commander of the Army of the Lord, and his presence at the Israelite camp signified that God was with His people.
In the beginning of Chapter 6, we see God directly tell Joshua that Jericho has already been given to him. Not only is it given to him, but God gives specific instructions for how the battle of Jericho shall happen. It is not going to happen by a great army and long battle. No, God has something else in mind that will cripple Jerusalem and bring those mighty walls down...trumpets.
The specific instructions from God paired with the obedience of the Israelites to listen and follow through meant that the impossible task turned easy. This week we will be discussing chapters 6-8 of Joshua as we discuss not only the events of the Israelites’ first battle, but the necessity for us as believers to listen, obey, and take risks with respect to what God instructs.
Key Passage: Joshua 6:12-25
12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the LORD, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days. 15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.
22 But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. (ESV)
- What are the key words and phrases that stand out to you in this passage, and why?
- What is significant about how the Israelites were commanded to capture Jericho?
- Why is it necessary for all of Jericho to be completely destroyed after it is captured?
- What do you learn about God from the segments about Rahab in this passage?
- Looking back at Joshua 2 we realise how big of a risk Rahab has taken in trusting the promise from the spies. What level of risk do you believe you have taken, or need to take, in acting on what you have heard from God?
- When you hear from God, what things can intimidate you to keep you from trusting Him?
- What are some encouraging passages that have helped you deal with the challenge of trusting what God has told you?