by Richard Lim
Although we are now under the New Testament yet the Old Testament contains many stories that teach us many valuable lessons for applications to our daily living as stated in Romans 15:4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
Also in 1 Cor 10:6 “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” One of the stories or accounts recorded in the Old Testament is the account of how Joshua and the Israelites overcame the city of Jericho.
It was at this time that the children of Israel had crossed over Jordan and were about to go into the Promised Land that God had promised them when they were faced with a city that was protected with a very high wall like a mighty fortress. In Joshua 6:1 the wall was described as “straitly shut up”(KJV) and no one was able to go in or come out.
Today the wall wouldn’t pose any problem. With modern technology, we can send in fighter jets or even fire a missile from an aircraft carrier. But for the children of Israel it was like an impossible task, yet they were able to take the city of Jericho. There are several lessons that we can learn from this account.
Firstly, we can learn that with God, all things are possible. This account reminds us of the power of God and nothing is impossible to God (Matt. 19:26, Mk. 10:27). In fact, at that time the fame of Israelite nation spread throughout the world that even Rahab, a prostitute, also knew the God of Israel.
“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.” Josh. 5:9-10.
When God’s people followed Him in faith, the word of victory spreads. The spies that were sent to spy didn’t have to tell Rahab about God or His people. She already knew and her heart was melted and motivated to do something.
Secondly, we can learn that salvation is possible as long as there is repentance and willingness to obey. Though she was a harlot, Rahab is now named among the heroes of faith in Heb. 11:30-31 because of her faith in God.
Not only that, her name is also mentioned in the lineage of Jesus in Matt. 1:5. No one person is beyond redemption as long as their hearts are willing to turn from sin and serve the living God. Rahab had received a second chance from God and she made the best out of it.
Let us all learn to heed the warnings of the Hebrew writer in Heb. 3:12-13 “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Thirdly, we can learn that respecting and obeying God’s authority matters. God gave specific orders to Joshua on how to conquer Jericho. It was God’s battle plan, not Joshua’s. In fact, in Joshua 5:14-15, God said that He was the commander of the Lord’s people. God wanted to be involved in this battle and He was their leader.
There was a specific pattern that the people of Israel needed to follow in order to win the battle for example, they needed to march certain number of times around the city, who was supposed to marched where, the instrument to be used and when to blow and so on.
Joshua was careful to relay all of what God had commanded. What if Israel had changed it? Remember Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10! What happened to them? It was easy to get caught up and forgot what God had commanded which caused Israel to be defeated in Ai where Achan sinned when he did not follow fully what God had commanded. It cost him dearly.
God is serious about authority and as God’s people, we also need to be serious about it. Today in the New Testament, there is also a “pattern” that we need to follow as mentioned in Romans 6:17 “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” We need to take heed not to change or neglect God’s pattern of authority.
Fourthly, we can learn that faith and works are inseparable. God chose a rather strange battle plan. It consists of marching in circles, blowing trumpets and shouting. Where are the arrows, swords and battering rams? As an army general, would you have come up with such plans? Although it may sound strange, yet the people carried out the command to the fullest without any hesitation. They did not question Joshua nor did they question God about the plan.
In fact, in Hebrews 11:30 says “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” What if Israel was confident in God but short stopped like marched 6 days? It was God who tore down the walls yet He still required them to follow His plan and what they did, mattered to God which resulted in victory. James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?” Jas. 2:17 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”