March 26, 2017
In this issue: The Walls of Jericho by R.J. Evans | The Sword that Jesus Brought by Larry Ray Hafley
by R.J. Evans
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 and 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. ‘The 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). ~ By way of Bible Truths from www.BibleDebates.info
By Larry Ray Hafley
In Matthew 10:34, Jesus told his disciples, “Do not think I came to bring peace on earth, I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”
Recently, I heard the question asked, “What did Jesus mean when he said, ‘I did not come to bring peace but a sword’?” Immediately, my mind flashed to Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Initially, however, I doubted that it fit the context of Matthew 10:34. After all, the word of God is not a literal sword.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the sword of Hebrews 4:12 was parallel to the sword of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 10:34. Also, I thought about John 17:14 where Jesus, as he prayed for his disciples, the apostles, said, “I have given them your word.” Then, I remembered Ephesians 6:17 which says, “the sword of the Spirit is the word of God.”
With these passages in mind, I connected the text of Matthew 10:34-36. “And do not think I came to bring peace on earth, I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
Though the Spirit’s sharp sword is designed to bring peace and harmony between men and nations, and between Jews and Gentiles, because of unbelief and disobedience, it has often brought division (Jn. 3:19-21; Eph. 2:1116; 4:17-19; 5:11; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; 4:3, 4).
Becoming a Christian has set father against son, mother against daughter, mothers-in-law against their daughters-in-law, and husbands against their wives. Indeed, the word of God often has made a man the enemy of his own household. As long as people are able to read the word of God, and not only learn the truth, but also obey it, the word will continue to act as a sword, a sword that “pierces even to the division of soul and spirit.” As long as some obey and some remain disobedient, the sword of God, the word, will divide and separate and make enemies of whole households.
Although Jesus was not referring to this in Matthew 5:44, the lesson still applies to anyone who wears the name of Christ. Jesus said, “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
If, as Christians, we fail to show this love, and cease to do good to those divided against us, we fail in our duty to God. Worse still, we fail to lead the lost to God (Matt. 5:16). ~