Lord, we win when we do things Your way.
Read JOSHUA 6:20–27
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. 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.
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.” 23 So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.
24 Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
26 At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho:
“At the cost of his firstborn son
he will lay its foundations;
at the cost of his youngest
he will set up its gates.”
27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land.
‘Amazing grace! How sweet the sound / that saved a wretch like me’ (John Newton, 1779). Thank You, Jesus, for setting me free and standing my feet on a rock.
Today we enter Jericho, an entry of great celebration, an act of miraculous significance – but only if we find ourselves on the Israelite side! Sometimes it is challenging to reconcile the apparent difference between the God of the New Testament and the God who sanctions such utter destruction here. We could spiritualize this passage, but would that be faithful to the text? God hears His people’s cries; He involves Himself with them and undertakes for them (Exod 3:7): however, He never compromises His character in doing so. Just as He intervened in the lives of the Israelites, so God intervenes in our lives, and as such must encounter and deal with human corruption. Reading and believing this passage forces us to come to grips with a God who hates sin. This passage, therefore, challenges our own walk and allows us to determine whether we have deviated from His instruction.
God still requires the same from us: that we renounce sin, repent, and follow him. God still reminds us, as Jesus did, that He is a God of holiness and that His kingdom is open to any sinner who repents. Rejecting God ultimately means facing the same fate as Jericho’s inhabitants (John 3:36); their constant rebellion over four generations meant they are a ‘doomed city’ (See Gen 15) – but with God there is always grace. Indeed, if we compare the actions of the Canaanites to those of the Ninevites (Matt 12:41) we see that God acts in response to our actions. He will stay his hand when mankind repents and embraces His way. Rahab, too, exemplifies how we can determine our own fate before a holy God. Her willingness to recognize His sovereignty means that she and her family become resettled in the Promised Land. What a wonderful picture of eternal hope for sinners before a holy God!
Have we moved away from God’s plumb line into versions of our own practice, which, ultimately, we know God would not sanction but our culture would? Lord, search my heart.
Lord, thank You for your meticulous care for Your people. We revel in the thought of how deeply You love us.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.