Picture of Jericho from Dreamstime.com
I have been asking God what this week’s blog should be about and one word kept coming: Jericho
I had no idea what He meant by it and started looking at possibilities and then this morning several different searches took me again to the city of Jericho. Coincidence? I think not.
Jericho – claimed to be the oldest city in the world. Jericho a city fought over for centuries by both the Israelites and the Palestinians but long contested by many nationalities. Jericho has had numerous walls built around it, and once it had a double wall, doubly fortified. This city has been ruined by forces of nature, namely earthquakes, many armies and once as reported in the Bible, by the hand of God itself.
Jericho is located west of the Jordan river about 10 miles from where the Jordan goes into the Dead Sea; east of Jerusalem (30 km/19 miles). At first glance you will notice that Jericho sits on rolling hills; except those are not hills, they are “tells”. Former sites of buildings now laying ruined under the ground, layers and layers of settlements. Each new settlement would build upon what lay under the ground. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of at least 20 or more successive settlements built at Jericho. To say that this place has a history is an understatement.
Jericho is 240 meters (780 feet) below sea level. To the northwest is a hill called the Mount of Temptation, reportedly the place where Jesus went to for 40 days and fasted after His baptism in the nearby Jordan river.
The road, more like a well travelled highway from Jerusalem to Jericho has been used for centuries. In Biblical times it was called the “road of blood” because of the blood shed
there by bands of robbers and thieves to unsuspecting travelers.
Biblically Jericho is the first city the Israelites had to overtake when they entered the Promised Land. When the Israelites, lead by Joshua crossed the Jordan river, which miraculously parted like the famous Red Sea, and when they had passed through the water, they came out by Jericho. (Joshua 3:16). It is this city that Rahab the prostitute was saved in after she helped the Israelite spies when they came to the city (Joshua 2). Elijah on the day that God took him home had to go to Jericho and the Jordan river (2 Kings 2). It is the site where Jesus passed through and He healed 2 blind beggars (Matthew 20:29). It is this same city where one of the local tax-collectors, Zacchaeus, heard Jesus was coming and being a short man, he ran ahead and climbed a Sycamore tree to enable him to see Jesus. Jesus went to Zacchaeus’s home and had a meal there in Jericho. The road between Jerusalem and Jericho is the same road of the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). There are approximately 58 passages in the Bible that mention the city of Jericho.
History lesson over.
What does Jericho mean to us today? Two things. Today is Part 1 and next week we will look at Part 2.
#1: Jericho in the universal sense could mean Washington DC.
A hotly contested plot of ground that controls the surrounding country around it. Deeply seated in this city are the very rules the country was founded on. Jericho has been
labelled the oldest city in the world. Washington DC is the heart of the USA. Many, many people have taken residence and been defeated in the White House in Washington.
Many, many settlements have been built and destroyed in Jericho even with impenetrable walls. Right now, with all the barbed wire and soldiers protecting the USA capital – it seems to be an impenetrable fortress, perhaps much like Jericho.
When the Israelites crossed over and faced their very first city, Jericho they were afraid. They had no idea how to overtake such a city. The walls loomed huge before them and even though there were many Israelites they were not prepared for that fortress. No
one came out and certainly no one could get in.
Joshua the commander had a visitation from a heavenly being. The being whom Joshua called a “man”, stood in front of Joshua with sword drawn. Joshua asked this man if he was for them (the Israelites) or for the enemy.
The answer was a surprise: “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Joshua 5:14
Joshua upon hearing that this was the Commander of the Army of the Lord, fell face down in reverence. The Commander then said, “take off your sandals for the place you are standing is holy ground.” Vs 15
God sent the Israelites to take over the land, He had not explained how, but as they wondered what to do there appears the Commander of the Army of the Lord to advise the Commander of the Israelite army.
The very first thing he tells Joshua to do is to worship God. “Take off your sandals”. This is a visible sign of reverence to the God who has never left the Israelites on their own: The appearing of the Commander in Chief is proof.
God in His infinite wisdom, and I think in His own humorous way told the Israelites what to do. In Joshua 6 we read that God told Joshua that He had delivered the city over to them and to take all his fighting men and march around the city wall one time a day and to continue to do this for 6 days. Each time they were to take the Ark of the Covenant, the box containing the 10 Commandments written out by God Himself, and it was to be carried by the priests who also were to take trumpets and blow them as they walked around the wall. The trumpets represent worship, the joyous burst of sound vibrating to the heavens. The rest of the people were to be quiet. Then they would go back to their camp and settle in for the evening. This was the military strategy from the Commander of Gods Army. Pretty strange.
Can you imagine how uncomfortable or perhaps comical it was to be locked inside the city wondering what the noise outside the walls was about? Why did these people blow trumpets and then go back to camp? I am sure there were many sarcastic remarks, after all their city was impenetrable but the Bible says these people had heard of the Israelites and their God and were afraid.
On the 7th day, the army, including the Ark of the Covenant and the priests all marched around the city 7 times and on the 7th time all the trumpets sounded and the people shouted and the walls of the city fell down. The army rushed in and took the city over. The takeover was done in such a way that only God could have created such a plan and it happened supernaturally. Human effort did not take that wall down.
I have watched all the plans from both sides of the USA government and frankly it has made me ill. The mud slinging, the threats, the innuendos, not from one side, but from both. It has almost torn the country apart. It has torn families apart, friends, neighbors – who will win, who won’t, was there corruption? Who can repair such a split? Only God.
People created the problem, and now we need to wait for God to fix it as only He can.
It seems to me that just like the Israelites we are on the outside looking up at what we think is an impenetrable, immoveable fortress. We have waited and waited to see which “side” would win in the states – no side has won, not when the country has been split. It was more like a civil war without the physical fighting. It is now a wounded country; huge ugly wounds lay open where a powerful country used to be.
What did the Israelites do when they did not know how to attack the problem of Jericho? They really had no other option, they knew they were unable to take over the city so they obeyed the Commander of the Lords Army and worshipped, and then they walked around the city, blew the trumpets, prayed and left the rest to God. It was a plan, not a plan we would think would ever work, but work it did.
It was God’s plan and perhaps we should do the same. The country of the USA and the country of Canada were both founded on Biblical, Godly principles. God is not a Republican or a Liberal nor is He a Democrat neither is He a Conservative. He is God of the Universe and He holds NO sides. He holds to His Word, His Plan, His Method and I think it is time we give it a try to do it His way.
Here is what God promises, He is not going to just "try", God cannot lie:
"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Humble ourselves, repent, Worship, Pray and Praise and watch God supernaturally work.
If people will seek God over political parties, not run after this man or that man, this group or that group. It is on our watch that our countries are in such a mess and we may feel like what can "I" do. Read the promise above.
We as humans think we have such great ideas, amazing strategies and that things will work out the way “we” think they will. They hardly ever do. So, we go to the next thing, we guess what we think God will do and we are “sure” He will do it this or that way. He hardly ever does.
Remember this is the God who answered 400 years of silence with a baby born in a manger and you know – it was the best answer ever. Perhaps He really does know what He is doing.