Having narrated the passage through the Jordan, the sacred writer brings before us in succession (a) the effect of the invasion upon the heathen, ver. 1 of ch. 5; (b) the circumcision of the people, ver. 2-9 (c) the enjoyment of the bread of the land and the Passover in connection with the cessation of the manna, ver. 10-19; the appearance of the angel of God to Joshua, ver. 13-15; and finally the capture of Jericho, ch. 6.
We briefly comment on the first four of these events to concentrate in the writing upon the capture of Jericho.
The terror which, according to the words of Rahab, had before seized the Canaanites west of Jordan () is greatly increased by the marvelous passage of the Jordan. Their heart melts, their courage flees, and a panic has fallen upon them. And this in token that the Lord has given the land to His people.
The circumcision of the people took place upon an express command of Jehovah because (ver. 4-6) it had been omitted in the wilderness. The adult generation, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, had died in the wilderness. Since, then, the former circumcised men of war were no more, on account of their disobedience, the present race of young men must, before they dare undertake the conquest of Canaan, receive the sign of the Lord’s covenant. The reason why the rite was performed is that the reproach that clave to the people all during the period of the wanderings and that consisted in their becoming a people of slaves under Pharaoh. This reproach had not been removed while they were journeying through the wilderness, because God had been angry with His people on account of their disobedience, and they on their part had neglected circumcision. The reproach is rolled away by the Lord through circumcision. It was only as a sanctified people, holy to the Lord, that they might and could war the warfare of God, successfully strive »to enter into the promised land. The name of the place of the performance of the rite was called Gilgal “unto this day,” for, said the Lord to Joshua, “this day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.”
At this place the Passover, connected with the first enjoyment of the land, and the cessation of the Manna, was also eaten. The designation of the time—on the fourteenth day of the month—recalls. The Manna ceased on the morrow after the Passover, because the people had now arrived in Canaan and no longer needed the bread of the wilderness.
As the people received the consecration to the holy war through circumcision and the Passover, so Joshua their leader receives his in a way agreeable to his position. The Lord, Himself, appears to him. He bears a drawn sword in His hand. Joshua, thus proving that the Lord had strengthened him and made him firm, goes near the apparition and asks the man—a man he at first took the Lord to be—, “Art thou for us or for our adversaries?” The one addressed answers that he is the “Captain of the host of the Lord and is now come.” Joshua falls on his face to the earth and does worship, and with deepest reverence asks: “what speaks my Lord to His servant?” The gesture indicates that he recognizes his visitor as JEHOVAH Himself. The Lord instructs Joshua to remove his shoes from off his feet in that the place where he stands is holy. Joshua does so and now the Lord communicates to him His will with respect to the capture of Jericho,.
At the approach of the Israelites, Jericho, so it is next stated, had closed its doors: none went out and none came in. Instead of surrendering and casting itself upon the mercy of God, the city resisted to the end and was thus without excuse. Jehovah now commands Joshua to march around the city with the ark preceded by the priests giving blasts on alarm trumpets, one each day for six days in succession, but on the seventh day seven times, and promises that then her walls shall fall down. This command Joshua imparts to the priests with the people for immediate execution, which then also follows. On the seventh day the Israelites begin their march very early, with the dawn, because they have to make the circuit seven times. At Joshua’s command, the people who have before marched in silence around the city, raise a battle shout. The trumpets clang and the walls of Jericho fall flat. Over the prostrate walls the Israelites enter the city, and “each one straight forward,” so that their order was preserved as far as possible. This order was, (1) the armed men; (2) the seven priests with their seven trumpets; (3) the priests with the ark of the covenant; (4) the remaining warriors as a rear guard. The shouting was done on the seventh day only, at the express command of Joshua. Silently and without voice, for six long days, under the prolonged blasts of the trumpets, the people marched around and around the City of Palms.
The city was devoted under the express command of God. It was doomed, laid under the ban, that is, devoted to Jehovah without the possibility of being redeemed. It was thus put away and destroyed utterly to the honor of God, a propitiation, as it were, to the divine justice and holiness, that God might be glorified. The city was burnt with fire, and all that was therein with the exception of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass andof iron. These were put into the treasury of the house of the Lord.
The fall of the walls of Jericho occurred through the direct efficiency of God. It is certainly soulless to think of an undermining of the walls. Also, nothing is said in the text of an earthquake. Yet certainly the resort to an earthquake is no indication of infidelity if only it be affirmed that it is God who by His almighty presence makes the earth to quake. Whether the Lord assailed these walls directly or made them fall flat through shaking the earth underneath them, makes little difference. In either case the fall of these walls was a miracle.
A devoted city, according to, might not be rebuilt. Joshua, therefore, pronounces an imprecation on the foundation and the soil of Jericho. The curse upon this city—the key city of Canaan—was the curse upon everything of an idolatrous nature, upon the Canaanite race with all its abominations. Such a curse the New Testament Scriptures utters against all false teachings and corruptors of men and mockers of God.
The fall of Jericho is the type and image of the fall and destruction of the world, not of God’s but of man’s world. There are, certainly, two such worlds of which account must be taken and between which a sharp distinction must be made. “I pray not for the world. …” I am quoting Christ here at. “Now is the judgment of the world” ( ). Then there is the admonition of John, “Love not the world” ( ). On the other hand, there is also a world that God loved and to which He gave His only begotten, a world that God reconciled to Himself and to which He does not impute its iniquity, ; .
Now it stands to reason that the world that God loved and so loved that He gave His only Begotten, reconciled to Himself in CHRIST and to which He imputes not their transgressions,—it stands to reason that this world is not, cannot be, that world for which Christ does not pray, God’s PEOPLE may not love, is judged and will therefore be destroyed. There are, then, very actually two worlds: God’s world and man’s world. God’s world is Christ, the elect, the church, the body of Christ, that temple—the temple of God, of which Christ is the chief corner stone, the creature—the inanimate and irrational creature that groaneth and awaiteth the manifestation of the sons of God, the new heavens and the new earth on which will dwell righteousness and where God will everlastingly tabernacle with His people. Jericho, certainly, is not the type of this world but of man’s world; the world that lies in darkness, whose name is blasphemy, and whose prince is Satan; thus the world that made war with the LAMB and sheds the blood of saints and prophets; the doomed world, with its wars and famine, sufferings, tears, and despair, grave and hell, rich and poor, economic inequalities, oppressions, and exploitations, vain strivings and expectations, selfishness and greed; the world that possesses the earth and commands the fruits of genius and is seated in the throne of men’s kingdoms; yet the world where stalks the curse of God. It is this world of which Jericho was the type, the world of reprobated men, the world whose people imagine a vain thing, and whose kings set themselves and take council together against the Lord and His anointed, Ps. 2. The world of which Jericho was the type is the worldly state as it stands concretely before us in the godless of the earth. It is the church in so far as it takes on flesh and blood in the carnal seed. And to this world belongs also the sinful flesh of the believers.
It is plain that this world—the world of which Jericho was the type—cannot be limited to the axis powers. For it—this world—is as wide and comprehensive as the world. It is worldwide. Wherever the devil is, there is this world. Wherever sin is, there is also this world. Wherever the curse of God stalks there is this world. Wherever selfishness and greed is, there is this world. Wherever death is and the grave and hell, there is this world—the world of which Jericho was the type. This world, therefore is here, in every state of our union, in every city, village and hamlet. This world is in my heart and your heart. It is the height of folly and hypocrisy, certainly, to identify this world with the axis powers.
Man’s world, as was Jericho, is, will be, overcome, this world—man’s world—with all that it includes and stands for: the devil and his henchmen; the wicked that corrupt the earth; greed sin and oppression and the exploitation of the weaker nations by the stronger; persecution of the saints, their tribulations. They are, will be overcome, conquered. Sin, hell, and the grave is overcome, in a word, all that Jericho stands for.
They who conquer are God’s people, and their victory is complete, decisive and absolute. The world is at their feet. It works for good to them. It is their slave, and they its master, not, to be sure, in the point of view of worldly political power, but in the point of view of the nobility of their heavenly sonship. In the point of view of worldly political power, the world is their master. It is the world that occupies the thrones of the world’s kingdom. The world possesses the earth
Yet, God’s people conquer. They very actually conquer the world. But it is their faith that conquers—conquers the world. Mark you, faith, not carnal violence, not battleship and fighting planes, and bombers, not armies well trained and equipped with guns and swords, but solely faith, true living faith, the faith that proceeds from the life of regeneration, that the faith according to which God’s people walk as children of the light, the faith under the constraint of which, they flee from sin and turn to the living God, receive God’s Word, confess Christ’s name and witness for the truth, prophesy of Christ’s coming, desire and pray that only God’s will be done and His counsel be realized. This is the faith that conquers the world—this, namely, our true contrition of heart, our godly conversation, our confessing and witnessing, our seeking His kingdom, our reaching out in prayer for the heavenly and for the heavenly only. By this faith the walls of Jericho fell. This is the faith that conquers the world. For this faith, this holy, holy striving, God rewards (the reward is of grace). So this faith, this praying according to His will, this seeking in prayer the heavenly, God responds by making the world work for good to us every moment, every second. Thus the world is our slave indeed. So through his living faith, the man of faith brings the world—man’s world at his feet, yet not he but God in response to his faith and in answer to his prayers (true prayers—prayers in which the believers seek exclusively the heavenly God, His will and counsel and thus not themselves). Through his living faith the man of faith brings at his feet all that the world stands for: sin, greed, oppression, persecution, tribulations, death, grave, hell, the sinful flesh of the believer himself. The encompassing of the walls of Jericho was the expression of a living faith—the faith of the true Israelites. It was by their living faith that they made their enemies their footstool, yet not they but Jehovah in response to their faith.
Verily, the faith of God’s people conquereth the world indeed. And wanting the things that God wants and wills and these things exclusively, they are at one with God as to their willing and striving and longings, and thus also their will and word is being done and through Christ all that God worketh according to the counsel of His will are also their achievements. Thus they are having their way. They very actually reign with Christ, the Lord of lords, and the King of kings.
Thus their faith is their victory indeed, not certainly in the sense that faith merits with God, and not in the sense that the victory proceeds from their faith as its source, but in the sense the victory is achieved solely in the way of faith, in the way of faith in Christ.
The victory is solely Christ’s achievement through His atonement. He vanquished all our foes. And He gives us the victory as a free gift of grace, and when the world will have served His and our purpose (His purpose is our purpose) again in answer to our prayers and in response to our holy strivings, it will be destroyed. The walls of Jericho, of Babylon, shall fall. There will be new heavens and a new earth on which righteousness will dwell. This will be the victory in its glorious consummation. But the victory is solely of God through Christ, The priest that encompassed Jericho was Christ, and the ark was His throne and the throne of His Father.