The next stop on our tour was Jericho. I will always remember this stop as the place where I rode the camel and permanently lost my i-phone while riding; but there are some very faith-building events in history that should make Jericho a favorite stop for any Bible student traveling in Israel. So, today, a short synopsis.
We know Jericho as the first great city of Canaan conquered by the Israelites. You remember it was the home of the harlot Rahab (She likely lived between the thick double-walls of the city) who hid the spies, sent by Israel to search out the land. She had heard great things about Jehovah. She feared Him and, because of this faith and her willingness to help the enemy of her own people of Jericho, was spared in the great destruction that followed the marching around the city for seven days by the people of God. You can read about the covenant the spies made with Rahab in the latter part of Joshua 2 and about the destruction of Jericho in Joshua 6.
It’s very interesting to read from archaeologists who’ve studied ancient Jericho. In the mid- 1950s, Kathleen Kenyon did extensive work in Jericho and published her findings, largely debunking the Biblical account, premising that the archeological evidence discredits the Biblical account. Published during an era when much of the world was all about discrediting the Word of God and throwing off its authority, her study was widely read and accepted.
But in 1990, an article in Biblical Archaeology Review (a journal that definitely does not adhere to any literal interpretation of Scripture) published quite the opposite view. When perusing the findings that are the basis of this article, one is stricken with the amount and weight of the evidence that the invasion and destruction of Jericho happened at the time and in the manner that the first few chapters of Judges relates. I would advise the reading of this article in Christian Courier. It will build your faith and make you glad that you serve Jehovah! It’s here: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/56-saga-of-ancient-jericho-the
In the Jericho area today, there’s a modern city. Just outside this city, now in the political West bank (thus under Muslim rule), over 20 civilizations have been unearthed; so Jericho is a tel in the expansive sense of the word, for sure. It’s a stacked succession of ruins of conquering civilizations. (The fact that we can unearth layers of stacked civilizations should remind us of the temporary nature of our current way of life.) The demise of our “way of life” is certain and, thus, always pending.
As God foresaw the layers of a tel, He made a judgment promise in Judges 6:26:
Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.
“At the cost of his firstborn shall he
lay its foundation,
and at the cost of his youngest son
shall he set up its gates.”
In I Kings 16:34, some 700 years after the prophecy that whoever rebuilt the city would pay for it with the loss of both his oldest and youngest sons, Hiel, the Bethelite did just that, and his sons were the bulk of the purchase price for this real estate tycoon, who failed to do the spiritual research (or failed to believe it) regarding the investment required for this first renovation of Jericho.
Ten quick and obvious lessons from Jericho for your September day:
- Always, like Rahab, examine the evidence for yourself. Don’t let the culture around you sweep you up in it’s ever-changing philosophies.
- Obey the details of Scripture for your eternal escape. Rahab could have deviated from precision in many ways, but she did not.
- Like Rahab, do your best to save your household.
- God can do anything He wants to do, using whatever implementation he chooses. Marching and trumpets for defeat of a large civilization?!! Bring it on!
- No matter the taunting of today, the great pending eternal salvation will be worth the ridicule!
- Harlots are worth saving. Redeemed people are honored beyond belief in God’s economy (Matthew 1:5).
- The passage of large amounts of time is no object in the keeping of God’s promises. Don’t be lulled, like Hiel, while you wait for judgment.
- Be like Rahab, who saved her household for righteousness; not like Hiel who sacrificed his for economic profit.
- Our God’s glory is dependent on His promise-keeping. His promise, through the spies, to Rahab; His promise to the marching Israelites; His promise to the re-builder of Jericho…all of these came down toward a glorious moment of redemption that was in the preparing.
- Like Rahab, befriend the people of God, even if it means threat to your safety or well-being. God has a way of making our righteous, but dangerous paths His opportunity to mightily prevail.