Volume 1, Number 8 – September, 2021
The Walls of Jericho
In Joshua 6:1-6, the Israelites were instructed by the Lord to march around the city of Jericho once each day for six days. The priests were told to bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark, and on the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and when the priests blew the trumpets, all the people were to shout and the wall of the city would fall down flat. The remainder of chapter 6 tells of their obedience to God’s instructions, the wall falling, and the city being destroyed.
Marching around a city thirteen times in seven days, blowing trumpets and making a great shout — who ever heard of such a thing? The wall was of such considerable size that houses were built upon it (Josh. 2:15). How safe the inhabitants of Jericho must have felt. How easy it would have been for the soldiers and commanders on the walls to laugh and ridicule the marchers as they encompassed the city. But suddenly on the seventh day, there was an incredible event — the walls fell! (v. 20).
Now how did the walls fall? Was this some common military procedure that had been used successfully in the past? Absolutely not! “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30). Yes, it took great faith to carry out such an unusual command. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). It took faith in “things not seen” — “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
But there are skeptics who laugh and mock at the events recorded in Joshua 6. They say it is absurd to believe that the walls of Jericho fell down after the Israelites marched around them. However, let us consider the following portion of information taken from Halley’s Bible Handbook, New Revised Edition, pp. 159-161: “Dr. John Garstang, director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and of the Department of Antiquities of the Palestine Government, excavated the ruins of Jericho in 1926-36. He found pottery & scarab evidence that the city had been destroyed about 1400 B.C., coinciding with Joshua’s date, and, in a number of details, dug up evidence confirming the Biblical account in a most remarkable way. ‘he wall fell down flat’ (20). Dr. Garstang found that the wall did actually ‘fall down flat.’”
There are many lessons learned from Jericho: (1) We learn that God’s ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8). Man would have planned some scheme to allow a few to enter the city and open the gates or build mounds, use sling shots to pick the soldiers off the wall, use ladders, etc. (2) We learn the meaning of grace. “And the Lord said to Joshua: ‘See! I have given Jericho into you hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor’” (Josh. 6:2). Yes, it was a gift, but it involved active obedience. The same is true today — salvation is a gift from God (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8), yet there are certain conditions that must be met (Matt. 7:21; Jn. 6:29; Mk. 16:16; Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Eph. 2:10; Heb. 5:9). (3) We learn the meaning of obedient faith (Heb. 11; Jas. 2:24). (4) We learn that God’s way will work no matter how foolish (in man’s eyes) it may seem (1 Cor. 1:18-31).
The Apostle Paul told the Romans that “whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The Israelites placed their faith and trust in God when they marched around the city of Jericho. We place our faith and trust in God when we are baptized for the remission of our sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). When we faithfully obey the Lord we can hope for and enjoy the blessings and rewards He has promised (Matt. 6:33; Rev. 2:10). Again, we emphasize — “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).
Our ___________ Betrays Us
In Matthew 26:69-75, we can read Matthew’s account of Peter’s betrayal of Christ. After twice denying being a follower of Christ, Peter was told, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you” (v. 73). Peter denied knowing Jesus a third time, this time cursing and swearing (v. 74), in order to save his own neck. Peter had three opportunities to proclaim himself a follower of Christ, yet three times chose to deny Christ, twice saying, “I do not know the man” (v. 72, 74).
Today, we may not be like Peter and verbally say that we do not know Christ, but our speech, our thoughts, our attire, our actions, the way we give, and how we interact with and treat our fellow man can betray us and cause us to say, “we do not know the man,” based on how we conduct ourselves in our daily walks of life.
The rooster has not crowed for us yet as it did for Peter (v. 75), but the day will come when our rooster will crow and we will have to answer God. Let us not be like Peter in this situation, denying Christ and left unprepared for the crowing of the rooster. Let us be prepared for that day and guard our speech, thoughts, etc.
Learning to Forgive Ourselves
Matthew’s account of Judas serves as our greatest biblical example for how difficult it can be to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. Judas was “remorseful” when he realized the error of his ways after betraying Jesus (Matt. 27:3). He even acknowledged his sins before the chief priests and elders (Matt. 27:4), yet was unable to forgive himself. This immense sorrow caused Judas to kill himself (Matt. 27:5).
If Judas truly repented, God would have forgiven him. God will always forgive us if we truly repent (Mark 3:28). David understood this well, and explains the Lord “forgives all your iniquities” (Psalm 103:3). David’s emphasis on “all” iniquities should comfort us and prevent our remorse from overtaking us when we sin. Judas, however, so deeply entrenched in sorrow, was unwilling to forgive himself, which prevented God from forgiving him.
Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” The energy it takes to harbor anger, hatred, and resentment towards yourself is exhaustive. Every bit of energy we give to negative activities and dwelling on regret robs us of the energy we need to become the person God wants us to be. Life is full of choices and every choice we make will either take us in a positive life-giving direction or rob us of the opportunity to be a life-giving individual. Forgiving ourselves does not justify what we have done, and it is not a sign of weakness. Forgiveness is a choice that takes courage and strength, and it gives us the opportunity to become an overcomer rather than remaining a victim of our own scorn.
Failing to forgive yourself puts blinders on your spiritual eyesight. It causes you to see things through the eyes of guilt, shame, and condemnation. It ruins our faith and causes us to go spiritually blind: “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9). In Col. 3:13, we are told to forgive one another, but did you know the Greek root word for the phrase “one another” actually includes yourself? The Greek root word Heautou refers not only to others, but also to ourselves!
If we are unforgiving of ourselves, we are not really accepting the work that Christ did for us on the cross. God’s Word tells us that Jesus purged, that is, removed, our sin (Heb. 1:3), but if we fail to forgive ourselves, we are, in essence, calling God’s Word a liar. We are es- sentially saying, “I hate myself because I did that sin… I won’t forgive myself of it!” When God’s Word tells us that the sin has been purged, or removed, from us… who are we to say that it is still part of our past/present/ future?
When we ask for God’s forgiveness based upon Christ having already paid for our sins and having trusted in Him as Savior and Lord, He forgives us (1 John 1:9). However, even though we are released from the bondage of sin, as spoken of in Romans 6-8, we can still choose to wallow in it and act as though we are not freed from it. Likewise, with guilty feelings we can accept the fact that we are forgiven in Christ, or we can believe Satan’s lie that we are still guilty and should therefore feel guilty.
Although sin causes great distress and sorrow, especially when our sins impact those around us, we must not act as Judas did. We must realize that, through God’s grace and mercy, He “has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). Knowing this, we must not mentally or physically punish ourselves to the point that Judas did. If God is willing to forgive us when we fall, we must be willing to forgive ourselves!