All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Battle Is the Lord’s

The children of Israel now face Jericho, their first major obstacle in the conquest of Canaan. Joshua is near the city when a Man appears with a drawn sword. When asked if He’s for Israel or against them, the Man’s answer is that He is the Commander of the Lord’s army. He tells Joshua to take off his sandals because he’s standing on holy ground—indicating that He’s Divine. Then He gives him instruction on how to conquer this impregnable city. The soldiers are to march around Jericho once a day for six days without speaking a word, and on the seventh day, they are to march seven times in silence.

Warriors lead the procession, followed by seven priests with ram’s horn trumpets. The Ark of the Covenant comes next, carried by priests in special vestments. The remaining soldiers march behind them, each under their tribe’s standard. Six days they march once around the city, the sound of their feet occasionally pierced by the blasts from the trumpets. On the seventh day, they march seven times,* and at the end of their seventh circuit, the trumpets blare and Joshua commands them to shout.

The walls fall flat, and the soldiers invade the city, killing both humans and animals, and setting fire to everything! However, they spare Rahab, the prostitute, and her family. Later, she marries Salmon, a prince of Judah, and becomes the mother of Boaz, an ancestor of Christ.

The conquest of Canaan parallels our struggles with sin. In Exodus 23:20–23, the Lord makes it clear that His Angel—the Man Joshua met with the drawn sword—is the One who will fight every battle, and drive out the enemy. To illustrate this dramatically, He says He “will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite.” Exodus 23:28.

In the same way, our will must be surrendered, and the fight must be left to the Commander of Heaven. When He fights our battles, the strongholds of sin crumble.

and Uncaring?

Most of us have an immediate problem with the fact that Israel is to totally destroy every living creature—men, women, children, and beasts. Why would God destroy “innocents?” Is He suddenly heartless and ruthless?

The genealogy of Genesis 4 sheds light on this. When Cain’s wickedness was established, his descendants followed his lead. By Noah’s time, “the Lord saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The Lord was sorry that He’d made man, and was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5–7. However, God’s love for fallen man is so great that He extends grace to them for another 120 years!

Long before Jericho, the Lord tells Abraham that “the iniquity of the Amorites [a general term for Canaanites] is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16), then strives with them for another four centuries! Finally, when Israel’s ready to move into Canaan, the Amorites’ probation is complete. They’ve proved they won’t change, and God commands their complete destruction. However, this does not mean that righteous ones won’t be saved. Rahab proves this, and because of her family’s belief in God, they become part of His people.

Cleansing Canaan

Canaan is to be the Lord’s sanctuary, where He dwells with His people. In cleansing the land, the wicked become their own sin offerings—like Nadab and Abihu. As fire burns the sacrifices in the sanctuary for cleansing, so fire cleanses the sanctuary of Canaan. The Lord and His people can now dwell together in the Promised Land.

*The number seven used repeatedly in this story clearly indicates this is the Lord’s battle

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