Friday, June 24, 2011

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 26, 2011

(Victory belongs to GOD)
(Joshua 6)

The Old Testament Jericho was a fortified city in Canaan that is located in the plains of the Jordan River Valley, near the foot of the Judean Mountains, and about five miles from the north end of the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, and probably, only Damascus of Syria is considered to be older.
There has actually been three different eras of Jericho in its long history. First, there is the “Old Testament Jericho”, which we see here in this passage of scripture. Then, there is the “modern Jericho” that is located only a mile from the first, and some seventeen miles, northeast of Jerusalem. And finally, there is the “New Testament Jericho”, which is located a little more than a mile west of the modern Jericho, and just south of the Old Testament Jericho.
By far, the most imposing of the three Jerichos is the one that is referred to, here, in the book of Joshua. It actually appears for the first time in biblical records in the book of Numbers (Numbers 22:1 & 26:3). The next time we see it is in Joshua 2, and then here in Joshua 6. After Joshua and the Israelites destroyed Jericho, Joshua placed a curse on it that would affect anyone who tried to rebuild Jericho (Joshua 6:26). That curse was realized several hundred years later when a man from Bethel, by the name of Hiel, rebuilt Jericho, and thereby, caused the curse to fall upon his family, as his oldest and youngest sons both died during the process (1 Kings 16:34), which is just what the curse called for.
Here in Joshua 6, Joshua is told by GOD to lead the people in a silent circuit around Jericho for six consecutive days, once a day. Then, on the seventh day, they were to march around the walled city seven times, and altogether, on cue, shout with a loud shout, and the LORD promised, that the city walls would fall to the ground (Vs. 1-5).
The people followed these seemingly bazaar instructions, and on the seventh day the walls of the city really did fall. Modern archeologists date the ruins of the Old Testament Jericho at around 1400 B.C., which does fit the biblical timeline of the exodus from Egypt, and also, the weight of the evidence found on the site of the destruction of Jericho, clearly and firmly supports the chronology and account of the bible which states that it was destroyed by warfare.
The extermination of the people of Canaan has always been objected to, by those who fail to take the existence, power, and sovereignty of GOD into account. It is the same today when massive amounts of people die in a single disastrous incidence, who on most accounts, did not follow, believe in, or think they should obey the word of GOD, WHO is the sovereign ruler of the universe. However, one only needs to read the Holy Bible to see that, even in this case with the Canaanites, 400 years prior to their demise, GOD told Abraham that Israel could not have the land of Canaan yet, because the Canaanites sins had not yet reached their full measure (Genesis 15:16). You see, GOD’s punishment for our sins is often held back for years, giving us ample time to repent, and to turn our lives around. But biblical history, and world history, both teach us that nations seldom do turn from their sins, in the face of GOD’s warnings.
GOD will never allow HIS “grace” to trump the “truth of HIS Word”, and, HE will not wait forever before HE discipline those who are living in disobedience to HIS Word. With HIS powerful judicial acts of atoning retribution, HE will, in the process of time, put a halt to our foolishness. And when we continue down a road of indifference, and choose to continue on a gradual slide towards an unstructured existence, much like we’re living in today, disobeying and disrespecting the laws of GOD all along the way, HE will eventually, take us out.
And so, to those who are not trying to live within, or respect GOD’s Will, I say this, “Don’t come hollering “How come GOD allowed this to happen to me?”, when something goes wrong in your life, or, in the lives of those you love, when you know full well that you are not following GOD. Because the correct answer will be, “If you are not following GOD, then, your question should be addressed to whoever or whatever it is that you pledge your allegiance to. That is who, or what, allowed it to happen, not GOD”. In short, one should, first of all, look in the mirror, and then, examine the choices one made, that were contrary to the Will of GOD.
There is victory when we surrender to JESUS, but there is only defeat, when we surrender to the world. We can’t make the world a better place, no matter how hard we try, because the world is under the dominion of satan, and therefore, it can only breed evil. It is the exact opposite of GOD. That is why, our charge from JESUS, as Christians, is that we lead people out of this world, which is filled with death and decay, and into the life-giving knowledge and light of JESUS CHRIST, and then, to make them disciples along the way.
GOD does not want us to lose our hearts to the people, or the things, of this world. In the world, we can only taste defeat, because the world, itself, is lost. Man lost it to satan the very first time he ever disobeyed GOD, and let sin and death, enter into our existence.
Joshua and the Israelites (except for Achan- Joshua 7), at least on this occasion, all stuck to the plan of GOD, even though it may have seemed ridiculous to them when they first heard it. And because they were faithful, GOD gave them the victory, and HE even tolerated Achan,s sin and did not allow the whole nation of Israel to suffer defeat because of his disobedience and indiscretion.
And remember Rahab, the reformed prostitute who risked life and limb to conform to the agenda of GOD, when she aided and protected the Israelite spies in Joshua chapter 2? Here in chapter 6, we see her trust in the protection of GOD paying off, and biblical history would go on to record that she would find herself firmly implanted within the genealogy of CHRIST JESUS, (Matthew 1:5) WHO, would later come to extend an offer to save us all from the evil gravitational pull of this world, through HIS vicarious sacrifice on the cross.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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