My Life Group lesson for Jan. 8, 2017, using Lifeway’s “Explore the Bible” curriculum, as well as help from Bible Gateway and bits from John McClendon, John MacArthur and Adrian Rogers.
We like to root for the underdogs. People - especially Rebel Alliance soldiers – who know they’re going into a battle and that they have to win no matter what but otherwise are outnumbered and outgunned by an evil Empire.
Our heroes in “Rogue One” didn’t have to die for the cause of getting the secret plans to destroy the Death Star, but they made a commitment to do so if necessary. For them, they sought to do the will of the mystical Force.
That’s all make-believe Hollywood magic.
In real life, a long time ago in a country far far away there was another group that had to choose to follow the commitment they had made to follow the Lord’s commands. They were looking back at the Jordan while staring at a large fortified city, Jericho.
The good news for the Israelites is that they had already been promised victory if they fought according to God’s will.
UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT
*** This is the second lesson in our study of Joshua. Last month we talked about how we are to be strong and courageous as we choose to follow God’s path.
*** In Joshua chapters 3 and 4, God stopped the overflowing Jordan River to allow the Israelites to cross safely into the Promised Land. In their path was the fortified city of Jericho.
*** Today we’ll talk about Jericho, and how God’s people had to trust in an unusual strategy to win victory.
PATIENT OBEDIENCE (JOSH. 6:12-14)
12 Joshua got up early the next morning. The priests took the ark of the LORD, 13 and the seven priests carrying seven trumpets marched in front of the ark of the LORD. While the trumpets were blowing, the armed troops went in front of them, and the rear guard went behind the ark of the LORD. 14 On the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
*** “We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope.” (Jyn Erso)
--- The Israelites were preparing themselves for war, starting with trusting in God.
--- After the Lord led them across the Jordan River, in chapter 5, the men reestablished the rite of circumcision.
--- Even though those who left Egypt were circumcised, none of the men were circumcised in the Wilderness during the 40 years of wandering.
--- After celebrating Passover, the manna ended and they would eat from the Promised Land.
--- God then sent an angel to show Joshua how God would fight Israel’s battles, starting with Jericho.
--- The instructions were a bit unusual, but the people followed them.
--- Each day for six days they circled the city once with the priests blowing the ram’s horns, and then the seventh day it would be complete.
--- The number seven, used no fewer than fourteen times in this chapter, is the number of divine perfection or completeness. We have seven priests, seven trumpets, seven days, and seven trips around the wall on the seventh day.
*** “Make ten men feel like a hundred.” (Cassian Andor)
--- Walking around a city until the walls fall down is not a tactic you’d probably see in modern warfare.
--- It probably took a lot of trust in God to follow through with this command, but they did so.
--- Notice that there’s no indication that the people complained or questioned this.
--- Think about the maturity the Israelites showed here compared to previous times they had been asked to obey God. (Grumbling, golden calf, doubt, etc.)
--- If God instructed our church to do something that was totally radical compared to the norm, do you suppose we would respond as the Israelites did?
--- Believing in what God says should include the confidence to obey Him, because if we don’t then we may not truly believe.
--- When believers obey God’s commands, they demonstrate their trust in Him.
*** Question - Can you think of any times you trusted that God was working for you, but you didn’t truly believe what He promised would happen?
OBEDIENCE REWARDED (JOSH. 6:20-25)
20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets sounded. When they heard the blast of the trumpet, the people gave a great shout, and the wall collapsed. The people advanced into the city, each man straight ahead, and they captured the city. 21 They completely destroyed everything in the city with the sword—every man and woman, both young and old, and every ox, sheep, and donkey. 22 Joshua said to the two men who had scouted the land, “Go to the prostitute’s house and bring the woman out of there, and all who are with her, just as you promised her.” 23 So the young men who had scouted went in and brought out Rahab and her father, mother, brothers, and all who belonged to her. They brought out her whole family and settled them outside the camp of Israel. 24 They burned up the city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the LORD’s house. 25 However, Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, her father’s household, and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent to spy on Jericho, and she lives in Israel to this day.
*** “I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it.” (Baze Malbus)
--- On the seventh day, the people walked around the city seven times, the trumpets blasted and then the people gave a great shout to herald the impending victory.
--- The wall fell, and it’s important to note that it was caused by God.
--- The battle was too great for God’s people, but it was not too great for God.
--- One of our first theological lessons as kids is in “Jesus Loves Me” when we sing “I am weak but He is strong.”
--- While it takes courage to fight our battles, it requires even more courage to let God fight our battles for us.
*** “Congratulations. You're being rescued. Please do not resist.” (K-2SO)
--- They destroyed the city but as instructed did not keep the valuables, instead putting them into the Lord’s treasury. (Except for one doofus, but everyone else followed directions.)
--- This demonstrates faithful obedience. It’s hard to keep thousands of excitable soldiers from seeking valuables during a war. (Even just a cool shield or sword, or pots and pans when you know your wife needs a new set.)
--- God was showing that the victory was not for the soldiers to have the spoils of the war; rather, the victory was His. It was a testimony to the fact that the soldiers were not only fighting for God but also fought with Him on their side.
--- In addition, He was protecting them from the influences of the pagan society of Jericho by not allowing them to have any interaction with anyone or anything from that society.
--- During the raid the Israelites also spared Rahab’s family as promised after she hid the spies. (This becomes very important when Rahab is in Jesus’ genealogy.)
--- Her act of faithfulness was rewarded and recorded as a great testimony to God’s grace on her life.
--- Not only was she an ancestor of King David and of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews highlights her in the Roll Call of the Faithful for honoring God (Heb. 11:31), and James uses her example (James 2:25).
--- No one’s life is beyond the touch of God’s grace if they are willing to repent and place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
*** Question - How does obedience demonstrate what we really believe? Can we have genuine belief or faith without obedience?
"Be careful not to choke on your aspirations."
Darth Vader in “Rogue One” is a bad dude, reminding us how evil he was before Luke turned him good at the end of Return of the Jedi.
His warning here in “Rogue One” is that evil General Krennic is full of pride and seeking glory for organizing the building of the Death Star.
So Vader actually has good advice, albeit for evil reasons.
We are supposed to be humble before God, to give glory to Him, and obey His commands.
In “Miracle on 34th Street,” Santa Claus defined faith as “believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
Actually, true faith is doing things when common sense tells you otherwise.
We do it because we trust that in God.
Do you believe that God gives His people victory when they trust Him and obey His commands? If you believe this, then obedience comes easy. If you don't, then it is difficult to experience the work of God in your life.
*** Take time today to thank God for His faithfulness in what seemed impossible situations. Be an encourager to someone who you know is facing a spiritual battle.
*** If we truly believe in God, we will submit to His counsel and follow His commands. Anything less suggests we don’t really believe in Him as much as we say.
*** The question as you face battles is not whether God is on your side. The greater question is to ask whether or not you are on the Lord’s side.