Joshua 6:1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites.
The city of Jericho was terrified by Israel’s crossing the Jordan River. They knew that Israel’s God had parted the Red Sea, and defeated kings (Joshua 2:10). They also knew that they were next. But instead of surrendering to God, they barred their gates against him. They hoped to survive, of course, but would rather die than surrender to the God of Israel. This shows how stubborn people can be against God.
Joshua 6:2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.
The conquest of a walled city was a major challenge, but God spoke as though the victory was already won. Israel would still have to fight, but the outcome was assured. They could fight with confidence, not in themselves, but in the God who guaranteed victory.
The church is also assured of victory as we take the gospel to the world. We do not use the weapons of the world (2 Corinthians 10:4), but the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17), wrote Paul. And we are more than conquerers through him who loved us (Romans 8:37), wrote Paul again.
The battle for souls continues to rage, but in the end, there will be people from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne (Revelation 7:9), wrote John. The battle must be fought, but outcome is assured.
Joshua 6:3-5 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.
This may be the most unusual military strategy ever devised. It was designed by God to be so unlikely that he alone would receive the glory. The presence of the ark of the covenant showed that Jericho’s defeat was, first and foremost, the work of God.
The soldiers could have complained that the battle plan did not make sense. But unless they did it God’s way, they would have been defeated. Children often challenge their parents by asking, Why? But parents have authority over their children, and Because I said so! is still a good answer. That is why we should obey God, even when his ways do not make sense to us.
God was also giving Jericho time to repent. He does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), wrote Peter. Jericho was surrounded, and their doom was sure. Why not open the gate and surrender? Some people are so opposed to God that they will resist him to the end.
Joshua 6:20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.
If you go to Jericho today, you will find the main attraction is the wall that collapsed. It has been thoroughly excavated, and the following four items are consistent with the biblical record. First, there is evidence of collapsed walls. Second, there is evidence of a rapid defeat. Third, there is evidence of a fire. And fourth, there is evidence that it happened around 1406 BC, which is the date of this story. Archaeology cannot prove the Bible, but it consistently supports the Bible’s truthfulness.
Joshua 6:21 They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.
This was consistent with God’s command. [D]o not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them . . . as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 20:16-18), wrote Moses.
Many have asked, What kind of God would command the annihilation of an entire region of people? Answer: the God who has a right to. God is the giver of life, and he has the right to take it away. Every day is a gift, and no one deserves tomorrow. [T]he wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), wrote Paul. Because we sin every day, every day should be our last. The fact that anyone lives another day proves that God is gracious.
But like the people of Noah’s day (Genesis 6), and the people of Sodom (Genesis 19), those who lived in Canaan were especially wicked. Their rejection of God included worshipping idols, sexual perversion, and killing children. God was patient for hundreds of years, but eventually, their sin reached its full measure (Genesis 15:16). A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he (Deuteronomy 32:4), wrote Moses.
The annihilation of Jericho also reminds us of what will happen when Jesus Christ returns. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses. . . . Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. . . . He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty (Revelation 19:14-15), wrote John. The return of Jesus Christ to judge the world will make the destruction of Jericho seem like child’s play.
Joshua 6:22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.
Rahab sided with Israel’s God by harboring Israel’s spies, and by giving them information (Joshua 2). She took her life into her hands, and could have been killed for treason, but she sided with God and was saved. This is also true for all who believe in Christ.
[T]his is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me (John 6:39), said Jesus. Not a single man, woman, boy or girl who truly believes in Jesus Christ will ever be lost. The Lord knows those who are his (2 Timothy 2:19), and will not kill the righteous with the wicked (Genesis 18:25). No one who believes in Jesus Christ will perish but [will] have eternal life (John 3:16), wrote John.
Reflection and Review
Why did God use a battle plan that did not make sense?
Does archaeology prove the Bible is true?
Why did God command the slaughter of Jericho?