International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 26, 2011
Purpose: To celebrate God's victories in behalf of God's people
Scripture Text: Joshua 6:2-3, 4b, 12-20b
Joshua 6:2-3, 4b (NRSV)
(2) The LORD said to Joshua, ‘See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. (3)You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. (4) On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets.
Joshua 6: 12-20b
(12) Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. (13) The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD passed on, blowing the trumpets continually. The armed men went before them, and the rearguard came after the ark of the LORD, while the trumpets blew continually. (14) On the second day they marched around the city once and then returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
(15) On the seventh day they rose early, at dawn, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. (16) And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, ‘Shout! For the LORD has given you the city. (17) The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers we sent. (18) As for you, keep away from the things devoted to destruction, so as not to covet and take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel an object for destruction, bringing trouble upon it. (19) But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.’ (20) So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
It would be a big mistake to read our text and think this victory was easy. There were three important events prior to this successful conclusion. They all take place in Chapter 5 of Joshua.
The first event was the circumcising of those men that were born while they wandered in the desert for forty years. Their fathers had all been circumcised prior to leaving Egypt, but none had been circumcised while on this forty year journey. In preparation for entering the Promised Land God ordered Joshua (5:2)...“Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites a second time.” You should also know the men were given plenty of time to heal before the battle.
The next thing Joshua was commanded to do was to hold the feast of the Passover on Canaan soil. And it was a special feast, for the first time since the wandering had begun forty years prior, they feasted on the land. God had provided “manna” for the past forty years but from this time forward the “manna” ceased. (Verse 5:11) 11On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelites no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of Canaan that year.
Next, Joshua saw a vision as he was scouting out the city of Jericho. (5:13-15) 13 Once when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?’14He replied, ‘Neither; but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, ‘What do you command your servant, my lord?’15The commander of the army of the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.
I find it interesting that as “the commander of the Lord's army” he was not on either side. The success of the battle would hinge on Joshua's faithfulness to God's commands. The commander could swing the battle either way, he could bring judgment on Israel, or he could bring judgment on Jericho. The commander of the Lord's army obeyed God's commands without prejudice. Later, we see Israel's army defeated because of disobedience.
With God there is only one side, that's His side. By His grace he has made victory possible, but we are required to join Him in the battle and follow His commands Like this new nation God created in the wilderness, we too have the assurance of victory. But our assurance is based on our remaining faithful to a mighty and powerful God. Just as Joshua proclaims later in this book (24:15) “but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” What god do you serve today? Joshua commanded the people (24:23) “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” Our victory was won on the cross by the perfect lamb that takes away all of our sin, but we need to claim it.