We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s Passage of Scripture is Joshua 6:16-17 which reads: “And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city. And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.”
Regarding this passage, Dr. R.C. Sproul notes in the Reformation Study Bible:
In the holy war the city was reserved for God. The consequence is seen in the awful reality of God’s judgment on Jericho, as also on the whole of Canaan. However, judgment does not exclude grace. The mercy Rahab sought will be extended to her.
Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from Immanuel Kant. He said: “The Bible is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. A single line in the Bible has consoled me more than all the books I ever read besides.”
Our topic for today is titled “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho — and Hazor Too (Part 1)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin. And, I want to remind you to take advantage of our special offer. If you enjoy this podcast, please feel free to purchase a copy of this book — “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin. It is available on our website for just $20.
The book of Joshua tells of the conquest of the land of Canaan. As we read through this account, we find an interesting mixture of expressions. In some cases, we read that God fought the battles. In other cases, we read that the people fought the battles. What we see is that whatever the military strategies the Israelites pursued in waging their victorious battles, God was behind them all. This conquest took several years, probably about five. Unfortunately, we are not given a chronology. The fighting included three major campaigns and ended with the people of Israel in control of the land but not having completely conquered it. As we will see later, God designed the process this way to allow several generations to experience His work. The overall goal seems to have been to strengthen the nation’s confidence in God. Instead, the people stumbled because they failed to trust God and obey Him.
As we look at the account of the conquest, we are left with some questions. The key issue concerns God’s instructions to the Israelites to destroy the people who currently occupied the land. We see this as harsh—in fact, as a form of genocide. So before we look at the conquest narrative, we need to examine this problem.
— WHAT IS A “BAN”?
God’s order to destroy the Canaanites is usually expressed by the use of the Hebrew word herein.’ This term can be translated in a variety of ways. For example, in Joshua 6:17 the KJV says that Jericho will be “accursed.” The NASB uses the expression “under the ban.”The NRSV renders, “devoted for destruction.” The NIV says only that it will be “devoted.” So what does the word mean, and why is this important?
The primary reason it is important involves the historicity of the conquest. Beginning with the assumption that this “ban” meant total destruction (indicating a burning to the ground) of all the cities on which this edict was given, archaeologists have looked for burn layers in these cities to establish a correlation. Since they have not been able to find them, some have argued that the conquest did not occur. However, a closer look suggests that this argument is based on false assumptions.
To understand what the word meant for the audience involved in the con-quest, we need to look at how the term was used. When cities were placed under herein, specific guidelines were usually given, stating what was to be done. Normally the instructions did not include burning the city. In fact, in the entire conquest, only three cities are said to have been burned.’ Rather, the directions specified what to do with the people and the spoils. In the case of Jericho, Joshua was told that all human life was to be destroyed along with all animal life, including oxen, sheep, and donkeys—with the exception of Rahab and her family. Furthermore, the people were specifically warned against taking any of the loot. Earlier, in the case The conquest of Car of Heshbon, the city of Sihon, human life was exterminated, but all the animals and spoil were retained and given to the people. This latter example but to prepare for a appears to be more the norm?
Even this kind of punishment, however, gives us problems because of the high value we place on human life. Here we have a second reason why understanding the term herein is important. God has a different perspective, which is sometimes puzzling. In God’s view, the right to physical life is not an absolute, and individual humans may forfeit that right by the decisions they make. Certainly, human life is not limited to the temporal (or physical) realm, and God is more interested in the spiritual than the physical. In this light, we need to remember that the conquest of Canaan was not undertaken for the sake of conquest, but to prepare for a Messiah whose mission was to redeem the world. Within this context, the picture is one of judgment. Therefore, the bottom line seems to be whether God has the right to judge individuals and people groups. If so, then we need to look at the lifestyles of those Canaanites who were declared to be hereon. Was their destruction arbitrary, or were there reasons for a holy God to judge them?
Let’s Pray —
I am your host, Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International. This podcast is designed to help you better understand the Word of God — both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is the story of the Covenant which God made with His chosen people Israel. And the New Testament is the story of the Cross which signifies the fulfillment of the Old Covenant with Israel and the formation of a New Covenant with redeemed people from many nations.
Before we close, dear friend, I want to remind you that the most important thing you should know about the Bible is that it is the story of God working to save humanity from sin and the consequences of sin. He did this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and take the punishment that we deserve on Himself. Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you want to get to know Him today, here’s how.
All you have to do is believe “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” and you will be saved. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will.
Until next time, remember the word of God is the foundation to a successful life. God bless.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.