Joshua 6-7

Sunday Evening Bible Study

March 21, 1999

Introduction

The book of Joshua is a book about receiving Godís promises. The Israelites have taken 40 years getting through the wilderness, a journey that could have been done in two weeks. It was their lack of faith that made it last longer than it could have. But the point is that they are now ready to go in. Joshua is the man to lead them in.

We are now at the point where they are going to capture their first part of the Promised Land.

Joshua 6

:1-5 God's Instructions

:2 And the LORD said

Yahweh is speaking. It would appear to be the same person who identified himself as the "captain of the host of the LORD" back in 5:14.

:3 ye shall compass the city

The city was on 8-9 acres, and would take less than 30 minutes to march around.

To get a picture of the size of Jericho, think about the land that Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa sits on, itís about 10 acres.

If Israel used all of it's troops (and that's possible), there would be 600,000 armed men involved, probably completely encircling the entire city.

:6-11 The First Day

:9 the armed men went before ...

The order of the march then, was this:

First came the armed guard in front

Then came the priests with the trumpets

Then came the Ark of the Covenant

Then came the rear guard.

:11 and they came into the camp

The people in Jericho would probably have been expecting them to attack after marching around the city, but instead, they quietly go back to their camp.

Think about the effect this must have had on the people of Jericho:

It's possible that they were sitting up on the walls laughing and jeering at the stupid spectacle.

But I don't really think so.

Remember what Rahab told the spies:

(Josh 2:11 KJV) 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.

And then after Israel had crossed the Jordan, we read:

(Josh 5:1 KJV) And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

I can't help but think that this must have been kind of a terrifying sight, watching these 600,000 armed men, with trumpets and "their GOD" (the ark), marching around your city walls in silence.

:12-21 Destruction of Jericho

:15 after the same manner seven times

Probably taking about three hours.

:15 seven ... seven ... seven

Have you noticed how many sevens there are in this chapter?

Seven Priests. Seven Trumpets. Seven Days. Seven times around the city.

Why all the sevens?

Seven is God's special number of completeness, perfection.

God created the world and rested in seven days.

This is going to be God's perfect judgment on Jericho

They will be utterly destroyed (vs.21)

This is God's perfect plan for Israel in this battle.

:17 the city shall be accursed

(Josh 6:17 NASB) "And the city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the LORD Ö

:18 and trouble it

trouble Ė `akar Ė to trouble, stir up, disturb, make (someone) taboo

Joshua's choice of Hebrew words is very interesting, since it's kind of a play on words on the very person who would bring trouble to Israel, Achan.

:20 the wall fell down flat

(Heb 11:30 KJV) By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

Archaeological Evidence From Halley's Bible Handbook:

Dr. John Garstang, director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and of the Department of antiquities of the Palestine Government, excavated the ruins of Jericho (1929-36).

He found pottery and scarab evidence that the city had been destroyed about 1400 b.c., coinciding with Joshua's date, and, in a number of details, dug up evidence confirming the Biblical account in a most remarkable way.

Dr. Garstang found that the wall did actually "fall down flat." The was was double, the two walls being 15 feet apart; the outer wall, 6 feet thick; the inner wall, 12 feet thick; both being about 30 feet high. They wer build, not very substantially, on faulty uneven foundations, of brick 4 inches thick and 1 to 2 feet long, laid in mud mortar. The two walls were linked together by houses built across the top, as Rahab's house "on the wall." Dr. Garstang found thtat the outer wall fell outward, and down the hillside, dragging the inner wall and houses with it, the streak of bricks gradually getting thinner down the slope.

From Easton's 1896 Bible Dictionary:

In one of the Amarna tablets Adoni-zedec (q.v.) writes to the king of Egypt informing him that the 'Abiri (Hebrews) had prevailed, and had taken the fortress of Jericho, and were plundering "all the king's lands."-

:21 they utterly destroyed all

Question: How could God want them to destroy the entire city, with all the women and children?

Answer: This was a wicked place, and it was time for their judgment.

1. God told Abraham about some things to come, including a prophecy about his descendants. God told Abraham that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt for 400 years.

(Gen 15:16 KJV) But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

In other words, somehow the return of Israel to the Promised Land was tied to the "fullness" of the Amorites' sins.

God was being patient with them in their sins, but when His patience had run out, it would be time for judgment.

This is now the time of Israel's return, and the Amorites' sins were "full".

2. God warned the people through Moses not to mix with these people at all.

God had warned them earlier in Deuteronomy:

(Deu 20:17-18 KJV) But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: {18} That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.

They were bad news, and would only end up drawing the Israelites away from the Lord.

These people had all kinds of perverted rituals that they took part in.

Their rituals were honeycombed with the sins of violence and sexual immorality. Archaeologists uncovered a library of early Canaanite texts, dating right back to the time of Joshua, demonstrating what their religion was all about. Their own gods, El, Baal, Anath, Astarte, and Asherah, were lusty, murderous, incestuous beings, just plain horrible.

These people, in building their houses, would sacrifice their children and put their bones in little jars, and embed the jars in the walls of their house to keep out evil spirits.

It is now time for the judgment of these people to come. And God is going to use the armies of Israel to bring about His judgment.

One Archaeologist wrote (in the Open Bible): "Exterminating the Canaanite in the time of Joshua was not a question of destroying innocent people. It was a question of destroying or being destroyed, separating or being contaminated, being quarantined from the plague or having the plague destroy everyone."

:22-25 Rahab's rescue

:22 left them without the camp of Israel

Though they were saved from destruction, they were still Gentiles, and so they were brought to the place that the unclean people lived, "outside" the camp. I believe this was a kind of quarantine. Later on, they would be included as a part of Israel.

see verse 25, "and she dwelleth IN Israel even unto this day"

Rahab would eventually marry an Israelite names Salmon (Mat. 1:5), and one of their descendants would be a man named Boaz, who would in time marry a young Moabite gal named Ruth. These were some of the ancestors of King David, the ancestors of the kings of Judah, and the ancestors of Jesus Christ.

:24 they burnt the city with fire

Archaeologists confirm that this was exactly what happened.

From Halley's Bible Handbook: Signs of the conflagration and destruction were very marked. Garstang found great layers of charcoal and ashes and wall ruins reddened by fire. The outer wall suffered most. Houses alongside the wall were burned to the ground. The stratum generally was covered with a deep layer of black burnt debris, under which there were pockets of white ash, overlaid with a layer of fallen reddish brick.

:26-27 Curse on Jericho

:26 Cursed be the man

Joshua's curse came true, 500 years later.

(1 Ki 16:34 KJV) In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

Lesson

Unusual warfare.

(2 Cor 10:3-5 KJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: {4} (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) {5} Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Just like Joshua, there are going to be times when God will be asking you to war with unusual weapons. Whereas other people fight with others using things like threats, rumors, and gossip, our warfare is of a different sort.

(Eph 6:11-13 KJV) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. {12} For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. {13} Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Lesson

Battle tactics

Every situation is going to be different, but here are some interesting ideas to consider when you are faced with a difficulty to overcome.

1. Just walk around your problems for a while

You don't always have to tackle things immediately.

2. Be patient

It may not happen overnight.

Seven days can seem like forever.

3. Be quiet. (or, "shut up")

I think some of the neatest victories come when we keep our mouth shut.

4. Let God tear the walls down

Look for God to make an opening for you.

God opens doors that nobody can shut. (Rev. 3:7)

5. Get ready to rush in and do your part

The battle wasn't over when the walls came down.

The Israelites still had to go in and fight.

Joshua 7

:1-5 Defeat at Ai

:1 committed a trespass

We could translate it more literally, "they trespassed a trespass"

The word for "trespass" (ma'al) signifies originally "to cover", and it came to mean "to act deceitfully". You could say they "committed a cover-up"

What we're going to see in this chapter is a picture of the effects of secret sin, the things that had been forbidden by God.

:1 took of the accursed thing

God had warned the people not to take anything from the city. Everything was "under the ban". God didnít want His people to be polluted by anything that was in Jericho.

:1 the anger of the Lord

He was upset because He knew what kind of trouble the Israelites would be in once they started to tolerate the gross things of the Canaanites. He loves His people so much, He only wants the best for them.

:2 to Ai

Ai is about ten miles west of Jericho, across the mountains. Ai is the next place for the Israelites to conquer. It's kind of like the next level of maturity that God wants to bring us to as Christians.

:3 Let not all the people go up

There were about 12,000 people who lived in Ai (Jos 8:25).

The spies saw that there were only a few inhabitants. They remembered how easily Jericho had been taken.

They recommended that it would only take about two or three thousand warriors to knock off this city. Sounds about right to me Ö

:5 the men of Ai smote of them ...

The Israelites are beaten back, and 36 men die in the process.

:6-9 Joshua's prayer

:6 rent his clothes ... put dust upon their heads

These are traditional signs of mourning and sorrow. They are more than a little bummed.

:7 would to God we had been content ...

It's hard to hear this coming from brave, faithful Joshua! Joshua is kind of sounding like the ten faithless spies who gave the bad report forty years ago, causing Israel to wander in the wilderness! (Num.14:3-4)

Even the best can get discouraged by defeat.

:10-15 The reason for defeat

:10 Get thee up

Lesson

There's a time to pray, there's a time to act.

In reality, for most of us, we spend far too little time in prayer, and we'll probably not hear God say this to us too often.

But for some, we need to realize that God wants a balance of prayer and action in our lives.

Sometimes God is just going to do a wonderful work all by Himself, and we get to just stand back and watch.

But sometimes God wants us to be a part of the work by getting up and getting moving.

:11 Israel hath sinned

Difficulties aren't always a result of sin. But when you're having hard times, it doesn't hurt to ask, "Is there something I've done wrong here?"

We mentioned Ai being a picture for us of moving on to the next level of Christian maturity, taking on the next challenge in the Lord.

Then one of the big reasons we might not make it to the next level is because we might not be dealing with secret sin.

:11 dissembled

to deceive, lie, be untrue

:11 among their own stuff

They've taken this evil stuff and hid it close to their heart.

:12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand

Lesson

Secret sin leads to defeat.

God had already promised Israel that if they disobeyed Him, then one of the many results that would follow would be defeat at the hands of their enemies:

(Deu 28:25 KJV) The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.

You may be looking for victory in certain areas of your life, but instead keep experiencing defeat. Yet a secret sin in one area of your life will affect other areas of your life, even if you donít see the connection. What did a secret sin in Jericho have to do with a defeat in Ai? In one sense they had nothing in common, but one hidden sin kept them from experiencing Godís victory.

(Isa 59:1-2 KJV) Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: {2} But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Clean out your closets.

For some of us, there can be some areas of our lives that we simply donít want to deal with. It may be that we want to hold on to a secret sin, but it may be that there are things that are just too painful to deal with. There can be people that seem just too hard to forgive. Yet what we are doing by holding on to areas of unforgiveness is to short circuit our relationship with God.

(Mat 6:14-15 KJV) For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: {15} But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

It may be a husband who abandoned you. It may be a parent who abused you. It may simply be another obnoxious person in another church that you decided you didnít want to deal with. But your choice to not forgive them has hurt your relationship with the Lord.

Itís hard for you to get much further in the Promised Land until you deal with the problem.

:12 neither will I be with you any more

Hereís the saddest part of all.

Lesson

Secret sin leads to distance from God.

Samson played around with sin, going to prostitutes, and seeing women he was forbidden to see as an Israelite. Finally, it got to the point where:

(Judg 16:20 NKJV) And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" So he awoke from his sleep, and said, "I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!" But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.

:13 Sanctify the people

Purify them. Set them apart. Make them more like Me says the Lord.

:16-26 Getting rid of the sin

:18 Achan ... was taken

Can you imagine what Achan must have been thinking when:

First the tribe of Judah was picked

Then the clan of the Zarhites was taken.

Then the family of Zabdi, his own grandfather was taken.

And then, finally, his name was picked out.

Lesson

God sees your sin!

(Jer 23:24 KJV) Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

(Ezek 8:12 KJV) Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.

One of the reasons why we continue in some sins is because we don't think anybody knows about it. Surely if someone knew, we'd be so embarrassed that we'd stop.

But the truth is, God knows. God wants you to stop.

Perhaps some of us need to take these verses and tape them to the mirror in our bathroom, or over the coffee pot in the kitchen so that the first thing we see in the morning as we begin to achieve consciousness are these words. God sees.

:21 a goodly Babylonish garment ... silver ... gold

Here are the things that Achan had taken.

1. A goodly Babylonish garment

Some translations say, "mantle from Shinar", Shinar was where Babylon was.

One commentator writes, "Babylonish robes were very splendid, and in high reputation. They are generally allowed to have been of various colours, sometimes even woven with golden threads in them."

Why would this be a problem?

a. Worldliness

Throughout the Bible we see Babylon as being the epitomy of worldliness.

In Revelation 18 we see a picture of Babylon being destroyed, a place where all the world's merchants went. A place where all the kings went to be cool.

We might see Achan as wanting to keep up with the latest in worldly trends. Being a "cultured" fellow.

b. False religion

The word for "garment" here ('addereth), can be translated, "prophet's garment". Historically, Babylon has been the birthplace of twisted religion.

In Revelation 17, John sees a vision of a strange woman on a beast:

(Rev 17:4-5 KJV) And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: {5} And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

False religion can surely seem glamorous at the time. It can have a lot of emotional highs, but lack the real thing, God Himself.

2. Silver ... gold

"wedge" of gold - literally, a "tongue" of gold. The wedge of gold was 50 shekels, or about 1 1/4 pounds.

There were 200 shekels of silver, or about 5 pounds of it.

Warning about coveting money.

(1 Tim 6:9-10 KJV) But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. {10} For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Be careful about that thought that says, "If I only had a little more money, then everything would be okay."

We need to learn contentment with what we have.

(Phil 4:10-13 NLT) How grateful I am, and how I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but for a while you didn't have the chance to help me. {11} Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. {12} I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. {13} For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.

:21 saw ... coveted them ... took them ... hid

That's the order of how sin occurs, especially secret sin.

It starts with the eyes, then moves to the heart, then the action takes place. (James 1:14-15)

If you want to try to make life a little less sinful, you might want to try and be careful about the things you let your eyes see.

:24 took Achan ... and all that he had

Don't assume here that the kids are having to pay for daddy's sin. That's not the case here.

(Ezek 18:20 KJV) The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

It seems that Achan wasn't alone in his sin, or in hiding it.

At some point, he got his family involved in it too. Interesting to note: If Achan had a wife, she wasn't involved.

Lesson

Our sin affects others as well as ourselves.

We like to think that we're involved in "victimless" sins.

That's what people in the pornography business like to call themselves. "Nobody's getting hurt", they say.

To guys: If you're involved in pornography, you can't tell me that you don't treat women differently.

Of course you do.

Just the idea of allowing sin to go on, as if it's okay.

Pretty soon, others around you can allow their sin to go on without trying to change.

Your kids pick up on this kind of stuff. If you donít have to change, why should they?

:26 a great heap of stones

As a reminder to everyone of the results of secret sin.

:26 The valley of Achor

Achor = "Trouble"

:26 the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger

What do I do if I'm the one caught in secret sin?

Should I leave the church so I won't hurt it? NOT!

Should I go get stoned? NOT!

Should I let myself be executed? NOT!

Deliverance from Secret Sin:

1. Confess

Confess your sins. Admit to God that youíve failed. Don't wait until you're caught and exposed.

(1 John 1:9 KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

There may be a time when itís proper to confess to someone else that youíve sinned. If youíve sinned against another person, you certainly need to ask for their forgiveness. Yet there are also times when just breaking the bondage of a bad, habitual sin doesnít come until you carefully, confidentially confess it to someone else.

I've found that once you turn on the light in a dark room, it's not so scary any more.

(James 5:16 KJV) Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

2. Die

Die to your sin and live for God.

God wants you to learn to live as though your old sin nature was dead. Absolutely unresponsive to sin. It can only happen through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit:

(Rom 8:13 KJV) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

3. Repent

Israel had to get the accursed thing out of the camp. Removed completely.

If you've harmed someone, go make it right with them.

Turn the direction of your life around.

You may need some help, you may need to ask others to help you as well as God.

The problem with secret sin is that we try to deal with them secretly, when they're way too big for us to handle alone.

True repentance means doing everything you can to make and stay right. Paul gives us the standard by which to measure whether or not our repentance is genuine:

(2 Cor 7:11 NLT) Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer. You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.