|Joshua: Strength and Courage
Joshua: Fall of Jericho
Joshua: Strength and Courage for the True Man of God
Lesson 11: The Fall of Jericho
Joshua Chapter 6
Be strong. Be courageous.
We’ve heard words like this before. “Be a man.” “Don’t cry.” “Suck it up!” A couple of weeks ago I was at the pool
with my boys and one of them got stung by a bee in the palm of his hand. I was swimming and didn’t hear him
call for me. He finally got my attention. I looked at him and I could tell something was wrong by the look on
this face. He was also holding up his hand for me to see. I could tell he was going to start crying, that he
couldn’t really help from crying but also that he didn’t want to cry. I asked him what was wrong and he told me
he got stung. As he said “stung” he started to cry. It must have hurt. I looked at his palm and the bee’s rear end
– stinger and all – were still hanging in his skin. I told him not to cry, that he was going to be ok, and he pretty
much stopped. But I fell into that trap of a father with sons. “Don’t cry.” “Be a man!” Sure, it hurt. Bee stings hurt.
But I think he was more scared than hurt because he did stop crying.
As we get older, we face scary things. Things that will hurt us. Being a man means that we are to be strong and
courageous. But saying that and being that are often two vastly different things. The big question we’re asking
in this study is “How can we be strong and courageous?”
My answer is to follow the example of Joshua. Which is why we are going through this study of Joshua – both
the book and the man. Joshua was told by God to be strong and courageous. But he wasn’t just told to be
strong and courageous. He was led to strength and courage that was in him but not of him. Joshua was filled
with the strength and courage of the Lord. And so can we.
Let’s review a bit our look at where we’ve been so far.
- Joshua has taken over as leader of Israel upon the death of Moses
- Joshua leads the people over the Jordan river
- Joshua sets up the Israelite camp in Gilgal
- Joshua has spied out the land surrounding and including Jericho
- Joshua has met the “Commander of the army of the Lord
At each of these events – actually along every step of the way for Joshua – God has been there. He has
encouraged. He has strengthened. He has spoken. He has acted. God has promised that He would also be with
us every step of the way. What we have to do is open our eyes (by faith strengthened through Word and
Sacrament) to see God in our lives, strengthening us and encouraging us.
We’ll take a look at this chapter and then bring it home for us today.
Jericho is the first city that Joshua and the army of Israel will attack in the Conquest of Canaan. The fulfillment
of the original covenantal promise to Abraham:
“To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.” – Genesis 15:18
“The whole point of the Book of Joshua is that the conquest of the land was in accordance with the divine
purpose.” The Word Becoming Flesh, Horace Hummel, page 111.
We must not lose sight of the fact that what Joshua and Israel are doing is following God’s command.
Note right away in verse two God says, “I have given Jericho into your hand….” This is past tense. It is already
done! I challenge you to start looking at your life as something already completed in God’s eyes! He is outside
of our time-line. He sees the end of our lives, he sees every moment past, present and future. It is in his control!
This is what Hebrews 12:2 means, when it says, “Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith.” Jesus “perfected”
our faith by overcoming earthly limitations such as death, the grave, and sin itself. This is the Lord who lives in
us and has promised to be with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Lord is with us as He is with Joshua.
In Chapter five, we have the appearance (theophany) of the Command of the army of the Lord. What the
Commander said to Joshua seems to have been the battle plan for the attack on Jericho. Here we have “the
LORD” telling Joshua how to attack Jericho.
It is strange, to say the least. An early-iron-age army would attack a walled city in specific ways. Lay siege to
starve them out. Construct battering rams and siege towers to overcome the walls. Taunt and jeer to entice
Jericho’s army to take the field of battle.
None of this happens.
Rather, the battle plan is simple. Have the Ark of the Covenant and the priests, armed with horns, lead the army
in walking around the city. After making one circuit, head back to Gilgal and bed down for the night. Do this for
six days. On the seventh day, have the Ark of the Covenant and the priests armed with horns walk around the
city seven times. After the seventh circuit, everyone shouts and the wall comes down. They then go in, destroy
everything except for Rahab and her family and the iron, bronze, silver and gold (which would go into Israel’s
This Joshua and Israel do. And it works! Note that not the whole wall falls – otherwise, Rahab and her family
would be in trouble since chapter three tells us her house was “in the wall” (Joshua 3:15).
The question of what is known as “The Ban.” It is based on the Hebrew word “chorem” and is found in verse 17.
“And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction.”
But what is often left out of this is that Israel is both church and state. The history of the Christian Church has
included “Holy Wars” and have had, as its precedent, the Conquest of Canaan. But the Church was never
meant to be “the State.” What the Conquest is, ultimately, is an example of “now, not yet” ideas. It has a
specific context of Israel conquering the Promised Land under Joshua’ leadership (ultimately, God’s
leadership). But it is also a “type” of God’s conquest of sin under Jesus’ leadership. It was never meant to be an
example of how the Church should go forth and conquer lands and peoples with the sword, but rather to
conquer sin, death, and the power of the devil with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
An important point – this judgment on Jericho and all the people of Canaan was not because they happen to
be “in the way.” Archaeology has discovered the worship implements and idols from this period of history and it
indicates a worship of the occult. These people were in rebellion against God (not all, as Rahab illustrates, but
most of the rest).
“they captured the city.” (verse 20). Even though in verse two it says that God gave them Jericho, they still had
to take it. God gives us total victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil through the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. But we must still take that victory by faith.
The curse that Joshua lays on Jericho in verse 26 is fulfilled in 1 Kings 16:34.
“In [Ahab’s] days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set
up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by
Joshua the son of Nun.”
The Conquest of Jericho was completely God’s doing. But He is gracious enough to include His people in the
plan, albeit in a very strange way.
It takes courage to do it God’s way. Israel was most vulnerable during the marching around the city.
It takes strength to do it God’s way – strength of heart and character to do something that makes no sense and
also to do it for six straight days.
It takes faith. They had to follow Joshua –and the Lord – in a crazy thing, all the while looking up at seemingly
impenetrable city wall, armed only with horns.
Big Idea: Strength and Courage come from God to do everything.