1. AN AWESOME ENCOUNTER
a. While Joshua was near Jericho, meditating and praying, whom did he see, and what question did he ask? Joshua 5:13.
“As Joshua withdrew from the armies of Israel to meditate and pray for God’s special presence to attend him, he saw a Man of lofty stature, clad in warlike garments, with a drawn sword in His hand. Joshua did not recognize Him as one of the warriors of Israel, and yet He had no appearance of being an enemy.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 159.
b. Who was the warrior of lofty stature and commanding presence that stood before Joshua? What instructions were given? Joshua 5:14, 15.
“[Joshua 5:13–15 quoted.] This was no common angel. It was the Lord Jesus Christ, He who had conducted the Hebrews through the wilderness, enshrouded in the pillar of fire by night, and a pillar of cloud by day. The place was made sacred by His presence, therefore Joshua was commanded to put off his shoes.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, p. 61.
2. THE TIME IS RIPE
a. What are we told about Jericho and why its gates were kept shut? What assurance did God give to Joshua? Joshua 6:1, 2.
“One of the strongest fortresses in the land—the large and wealthy city of Jericho—lay just before [the Israelites.] . . . On the border of a fertile plain abounding with the rich and varied productions of the tropics, its palaces and temples the abode of luxury and vice, this proud city, behind its massive battlements, offered defiance to the God of Israel. Jericho was one of the principal seats of idol worship, being especially devoted to Ashtaroth, the goddess of the moon. Here centered all that was vilest and most degrading in the religion of the Canaanites. The people of Israel, in whose minds were fresh the fearful results of their sin at Beth-peor, could look upon this heathen city only with disgust and horror.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 487.
b. Explain the instructions God gave through Joshua for the overthrow of the city. Joshua 6:3–8. How did united discipline boost the faith of all?
“The very plan of continuing this ceremony through so long a time prior to the final overthrow of the walls afforded opportunity for the increase of faith among the Israelites.
“They were to become thoroughly impressed with the idea that their strength was not in the wisdom of man, nor in his might, but only in the God of their salvation. They were thus to become accustomed to putting themselves out of the question and relying wholly upon their divine Leader.
“Would those who today profess to be God’s people conduct themselves thus under similar circumstances? Doubtless many would wish to follow out their own plans and would suggest other ways and means of accomplishing the desired end. They would be loath to submit to so simple an arrangement and one that reflected upon themselves no glory save the merit of obedience. They would also question the possibility of a mighty city being conquered in that manner. But the law of duty is supreme. It should hold sway over human reason. Faith is the living power that presses through every barrier, overrides all obstacles, and plants its banner in the heart of the enemy’s camp.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 163.
3. THE MYSTERIOUS DISPLAY
a. What did Israel do for the first six days in their compass of Jericho? Joshua 6:9–14. How did the city react to the mysterious display?
“In obedience to the divine command Joshua marshaled the armies of Israel. No assault was to be made. They were simply to make the circuit of the city, bearing the ark of God and blowing upon trumpets. First came the warriors, a body of chosen men, not now to conquer by their own skill and prowess, but by obedience to the directions given them from God. Seven priests with trumpets followed. Then the ark of God, surrounded by a halo of divine glory, was borne by priests clad in the dress denoting their sacred office. The army of Israel followed, each tribe under its standard. Such was the procession that compassed the doomed city. No sound was heard but the tread of that mighty host and the solemn peal of the trumpets, echoing among the hills and resounding through the streets of Jericho. The circuit completed, the army returned in silence to their tents, and the ark was restored to its place in the tabernacle.
“With wonder and alarm the watchmen of the city marked every move, and reported to those in authority. They knew not the meaning of all this display; but when they beheld that mighty host marching around their city once each day, with the sacred ark and the attendant priests, the mystery of the scene struck terror to the hearts of priest and people. Again they would inspect their strong defenses, feeling certain they could successfully resist the most powerful attack. Many ridiculed the thought that any harm could come to them through these singular demonstrations. Others were awed as they beheld the procession that each day wound about the city.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 488.
b. What happened on the seventh day? Joshua 6:15, 16, 20; Hebrews 11:30.
“How easily the armies of heaven brought down the walls that had seemed so formidable to the spies who brought the false report! The word of God was the only weapon used. . . . The work was left to the Almighty.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 161.
4. THE EXTREME DOOM—AND ITS CAUSE
a. What did God command about Jericho, its inhabitants, and its goods? How was Joshua’s curse in Joshua 6:26 fulfilled? Joshua 6:17-19, 24, 26; 1 Kings 16:34.
“The Israelites had not gained the victory by their own power; the conquest had been wholly the Lord’s; and as the first fruits of the land, the city, with all that it contained, was to be devoted as a sacrifice to God. It was to be impressed upon Israel that in the conquest of Canaan they were not to fight for themselves, but simply as instruments to execute the will of God; not to seek for riches or self-exaltation, but the glory of Jehovah their King. Before the capture the command had been given, [Joshua 6:17, 18 quoted.]
“All the inhabitants of the city, with every living thing that it contained, . . . were put to the sword. . . . The city itself was burned; its palaces and temples, its magnificent dwellings with all their luxurious appointments, the rich draperies and the costly garments, were given to the flames. . . . The very site of the city was accursed; Jericho was never to be rebuilt as a stronghold; judgments were threatened upon anyone who should presume to restore the walls that divine power had cast down.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 491, 492.
b. Why did God pronounce such doom upon Jericho? Deuteronomy 7:2–10; 20:16–18.
“[Deuteronomy 7:2; 20:16 quoted.] To many these commands seem to be contrary to the spirit of love and mercy enjoined in other portions of the Bible, but they were in truth the dictates of infinite wisdom and goodness. God was about to establish Israel in Canaan, to develop among them a nation and government that should be a manifestation of His kingdom upon the earth. They were not only to be inheritors of the true religion, but to disseminate its principles throughout the world. The Canaanites had abandoned themselves to the foulest and most debasing heathenism, and it was necessary that the land should be cleared of what would so surely prevent the fulfillment of God’s gracious purposes.
“The inhabitants of Canaan had been granted ample opportunity for repentance.”—Ibid., p. 492.
5. GOD KNOWS BEST
a. What are we to learn from the conquest of Jericho? Romans 15:4.
“As a people we lack faith. In these days few would follow the directions given through God’s chosen servant as obediently as did the armies of Israel at the taking of Jericho. The Captain of the Lord’s host did not reveal Himself to all the congregation. He communicated only with Joshua, who related the story of this interview to the Hebrews. It rested with them to believe or to doubt the words of Joshua, to follow the commands given by him in the name of the Captain of the Lord’s host, or to rebel against his directions and deny his authority. They could not see the host of angels, marshaled by the Son of God, who led their van; and they might have reasoned: ‘What unmeaning movements are these, and how ridiculous the performance of marching daily around the walls of the city, blowing trumpets of ram’s horns meanwhile! This can have no effect upon those strong towering fortifications.’ . . .
“[God] will help His believing children in every emergency if they will place their entire confidence in Him and implicitly obey Him.
“God works mightily for a faithful people who obey His word without questioning or doubt. The Majesty of heaven, with His army of angels, leveled the walls of Jericho without human aid. The armed warriors of Israel had no cause to glory in their achievements. All was done through the power of God. Let the people give up self and the desire to work after their own plans, let them humbly submit to the divine will, and God will revive their strength and bring freedom and victory to His children.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 162-164.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How was Joshua strengthened in advance to carry out a specific strategy?
2. If Jericho had not been destroyed, how might the rest of history been affected?
3. Explain the mysterious way in which God won the battle of Jericho.
4. Why did Israel need to burn everything and give the metals to the treasury?
5. What might be preventing me from experiencing the success God can give?