YOU ONLY HAVE I LOVED
Lord, keep me from evil associations.
Read JOSHUA 6:12–19
12 Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted[a] to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. 18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.”
a. Joshua 6:17 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verses 18 and 21.
‘Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting’ (Ps 139:23, 24).
This passage explores to some extent the concept of destruction in God’s name, as this campaign is about more than just occupation. The account of Jericho is, ‘we believe, historical narrative as well as theological presentation’(M Woudstra, NICOT: Joshua, Eerdmans, 1981, p108) – ‘history remembered through liturgy’ (E Hamlin, Joshua, Inheriting the Land, Eerdmans, 1983, p46). The Lord has given the people the land to occupy, but the city is to be destroyed – for it and its occupants are ‘devoted things’ (18). Anything or anyone who threatened to defile the faith or praxis of the Israelites before God was considered cherem (banned from use or contact). As such, a city like Jericho, which had rejected God, had become cherem and must be ‘cheremised’ – destroyed (Lev 27:28,29). However, this concept applies also to Israel, which could not stand against its enemies while it possessed these cursed things.
Joshua asks the Lord which side He stood for (Josh 5:13), but God’s inability to be unjust determines His actions regardless. God will not tolerate idolatry from Israel as he has from Jericho. This is a constant theme in Scripture: sin disfigures our relationship with God. As God’s community and His disciples, are we prone to minimizing what we cause when we allow other things in our life to become ‘devoted things’? God calls us to holiness and enables us to be holy, because He is holy. Christ’s sacrifice once for all enables us to lose the stain of sin and become His devoted people. That said, we need to respond accordingly, for grace does not permit a casual disregard towards faithfully following God’s commandments. The damage to our relationship when we wander away has the potential to be as devastating for us as it was for the wandering Israelites.
I belong to the Lord and know the lengths He will go to for those devoted to Him. My value to Him ensures He will never leave or forsake me.
Lord, we know the importance of following Your directions in our lives. Keep us open to doing whatever You instruct us to do.