Intro: The Old Testament can be very difficult to read at times, because the situations involving people and God may seem cruel and unethical to our natural minds. So, in the writings of Moses [Torah], let’s remember there are many symbolic and spiritual layers to every biblical story, because we cannot comprehend the mind of God. We tend to focus on the physical aspect of things more than the theological aspect of what God is trying to reveal to us in His Word about His character and holiness. Scripture is the self-revelation of God to His human creation; God is trying to help human beings grow in understanding so we can worship Him as Spirit and Truth (John 4:24).
In our passage today, God instructs Joshua [Yehoshua] to prepare the people of Israel for a spiritual battle. We must remember God is commanding the obedience and unmilitary actions of Israel. This is not something Israel has plotted to do, but rather what God—their Life-Leader—intends to do as He fights for Israel against sin and wickedness.
In order for God to be present with his people, evil has to be destroyed. Unfortunately, for generations, the Canaanites have chosen to invest themselves in sinful living: idolatry, child sacrifice, adultery, incest, murder, and other oppressive actions. So, God chooses to fight evil by bringing His justice to their wickedness. We must never forget the world is God’s vineyard and the seeds of wickedness humanity sows will produce a harvest that God will judge.
The instructions Joshua receives for Israel are very specific and theologically focused. We see the symbolism that resembles Creation with six days of God’s work and on the 7th day with the blowing of the ram’s horn [sounding the Sabbath rest]. To stir further thought about biblical symbolism, the blowing of a ram’s horn [shofar] can be symbolic of many things: announcing the coronation of the King, moving people toward repentance, reminiscent of God’s revelation for humanity to follow His Word/Commands, summoning people to return to the service of God and neighbor, calling for Israel’s renewed freedom in fellowship with God, reminiscent of the ram who took Issac’s place, the calling of humility before God, and Judgement Day. So when God calls his priests to blow the ram’s horn as they walked around the town once a day for six days, it can actually be symbolic of all of the above, because it calls God’s people to a place of worshiping in Spirit and Truth.
For the next few days we will read about the Fall of Jericho and seek to focus on the theological aspects of God’s story. For today, please focus on the fact that Canaan is already a defeated foe because it has abandoned allegiance to God. Canaan chose sin. As Christians, we face a defeated foe—satan—because Christ has already won the victory over evil and sin. Therefore, today, shout in a voice of triumph, because nothing satan tries to do can rob you of your salvation in the Lord! You are a mighty conqueror in Christ!
Joshua 6:1-5 NLT The Fall of Jericho
1 Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. 2 But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. 3 You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. 4 Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark [signifying God’s presence and a spiritual battle], each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. 5 When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the many lessons throughout Scripture to help us better understand your nature and plan for the world. Help us to walk in obedience to your word and look for the victory only you can bring our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.