Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bible Study Last Night

We looked at the story of Jericho last night in our Bible study starting off in the final verses of Joshua, chapter 5. This is where the "Commander of the Lord's Hosts" visits Joshua just before the battle of Jericho. This must have been an awesome moment for Joshua when he was told by the Lord to take off his shoes because the place on which he stood was holy. The next day, they began their seven day "seige" of the walls of Jericho. They were to march around the city once a day for six days and keep silent except for the rams horns. It must have been an awesome sight with the warriors, the horn blowers, the Ark of the Covenant followed by the entire population parading around the city. The real challenge for the people was to keep quiet as they marched. Someone said last night that the true miracle was not that the walls fell down, but the ability of the people just to stop talking. There was the constant blare of the rams horns which would have been unnerving; and the people of Jericho, waiting to be conquered, watching this parade and wondering what the Israelites were doing; perhaps feeling a little anxious, and perhaps overly secure behind their legendary walls.

It turns out that Jericho is the oldest city in the world with carbon datings of its ruins dating back as far as 7,000 BCE (that would be 9,000 years ago). This predates the pyramids. It is also the lowest city on earth at 825 feet below sea level. The most escavated city in Israel, with good archeological evidence to back up the story in Joshua about its defeat in the 13th century BC and how it all happened. Archeologists found a collapsed wall and pottery jars still filled with grain with obivious scorch marks from being burned. This is in complete concert with what the Israelites were told to do to the city and its inhabitants according to Joshua chapter 6.

On the seventh day of marching, Joshua instructed the people to march around the city seven times and when he told them to, the rams horns were to be played and the people were to all shout - at which point the walls of Jericho fell down and the warriors went right into the unprotected city and destroyed its inhabitants. It was clear that the battle of Jericho was God's victory. All of the booty of Jericho was devoted to Him and was under a ban. The precious metals (gold, silver, bronze and iron) were to be put into the treasury of Israel and everything else was to be destroyed by fire. Nothing was to be kept as spoil at the risk of a curse (Of course someone did keep some of the spoils, but that's next week's lesson).

The story of Joshua is a big analogy. The symbolism is on every page. The sudden appearance of the Commander just before the battle to Joshua is a parallel to the revelation of God to us through the Holy Spirit. He brings with Him the assurance that the battle is already won - "just follow my instructions," He says. I have such a hard time following instructions . . . . and what were those difficult instructions? They had to walk and be silent for six days. I have a very difficult time being silent. In fact this blog is all about letting out what is rushing around inside me trying to get out. But sometimes just being quiet is what I really need to do. Then there is the ban on the spoils. This is also difficult because with the battle finally won, it seems the victory makes it alright to relish in the success and perhaps foolishly spend money that was gained - or - I just think that since the victory has been won, that all is well and I needn't worry anymore - but I forget that the discipline that got me to the point of victory has to be maintained, or I'll end up losing all that I had gained.

God wants us to be victors, not victims; and He has promised that we are - but we have to follow His instructions to the letter or we open ourselves up to anything. He is jealous and the credit for what He has done must not be given to anyone or anything else.


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