Sermon: Trumpets and the Fall of Jericho
Inheriting the Land
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 16-Sep-04; 76 minutes
This Feast of Trumpets starts the beginning of the year 5765 on the Hebrew calendar. As far as we know it is off by about 250 years because if you do the math in the Bible, the 6,000 years is pretty much finished.
However long it has been since Adam was created, we know that the return of Christ is close. Of course the Church of God has believed for many years that the return of Christ fulfills this Feast of Trumpets.
We anxiously and hopefully anticipate Jesus' second coming. And we think that it is going to happen just about any day now. World conditions seem to be conforming ever so slowly toward that end, but it is plodding very deliberately to the end. It is close.
Go back to Leviticus 23:24-25, and you will see the best known command in the Bible for keeping the day of Trumpets. In fact, there is only one other and it is found in Numbers 29:1—just the two of them:
Leviticus 23:24-25 Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month [Today—the first day of Tishri], you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.'"
That is it.
The other one in Numbers 29:1 says roughly the same thing. It gives the details of the offering that is to be made on the day of Trumpets.
The details we have here are things like, it is an annual Sabbath. Also, it is a holy convocation, which we are doing right now. We are meeting together in a church service made holy to God.
It says that we are to do no customary work on it. Since last night, we have all not worked at our jobs, which is what that basically means—no work that we customarily do on the other days of the week, except the Sabbath. Also, we are to make an offering, which we did a few moments ago.
The one detail that I skipped in that is that it is a memorial of blowing of trumpets. If you will remember from prior sermons that have been given on the day of Trumpets, this is literally "a remembrance of shouting," this phrase that is translated as "a memorial of blowing of trumpets." Another way it could be translated is "a remembrance of the shout of the shofar."
Normally the Hebrews considered the ram's horn—the shofar—to shout; not to blow, or to sound, or to peal, or some other term as we normally would think. They said that it shouted.
Memorial, if you look it up in Webster's or any other dictionary, would be defined something like this: "Something that keeps remembrance alive," such as a monument would; or as a commemoration would by a speech; or as a ceremony ritually performed each time; or a day that is set apart like the day of Trumpets. We, in the United States have these memorials to George Washington and other presidents. We have a memorial to our soldiers [Memorial Day]. We have a memorial to our working citizens [Labor Day]. We have a memorial to our living veterans [Veterans Day], and others.
A memorial could also be a keepsake, or memento that we might keep. Some people do this when a loved one dies, and they keep something of theirs as a memorial to this person.
Now, we understand that Passover is a memorial of God's passing over the children Israel during the 10th plague in Egypt, when all the first-born were killed. If they had the blood on their doorposts and lintel they were passed over.
We know that the Days of Unleavened Bread memorialize the Exodus from Egypt, and the coming out all the way through the Red Sea.
And we understand that Pentecost remembers both the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, as well as the giving of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem after Christ's resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven.
But, what does the day of Trumpets memorialize?
We know that it looks forward to something like every other of God's holy days. We know that Trumpets looks forward to the return of Christ. But, what does it look back on, what does it memorialize?
This is the question we are going to look into today.
Several years ago, my dad gave a sermon on the story of Joseph being a memorial of the day of Trumpets. I do not want to contend with that at all. That is not my intention today.
What I want to do is suggest another memorial of the day of Trumpets. I think that as we go through it you will see that there are obvious parallels in this. There are problems with it—yes, but there are many parallels to what we understand that the day of Trumpets to mean.
The only real clues that we have in Leviticus 23:24-25 about what this day memorializes is the fact that it occurs on a certain day—first day of the seventh month—and it is a memorial of trumpets blowing, a shofar shouting; a lot of noise being made.
In the story of Joseph, the date (Tishri 1) is a very good possibility because at the time, most of the people in the Near East kept their birthdays on the civil New Year rather than the specific day that they were born. It was easier when using a lunar calendar to just do it every year at Tishri 1. Even Pharaoh, the greatest one on earth at the time, did this. And so, the events that happened during the time of Joseph when he was raised to the rank of Prime Minister under the Pharaoh, would most likely have occurred on Tishri 1 because it was the Pharaoh's birthday. So, we see that there was a good possibility that this story of Joseph is a memorial of the day of Trumpets.
If you go back and look in Genesis you will find that trumpets are not really mentioned. However, you would expect trumpets to have been blown, and a great shout to have gone up, when Joseph was given his new position and raised in rank from a prisoner to second in command in the whole land. Pharaoh even says that he was supposed to be announced to the people and so there was a great deal of shouting.
Obviously, Joseph is a type of Jesus Christ. The name that he was given there says that, in the meaning of it, he was a savior of the world, or something along that line. So obviously, there are parallels to what Jesus is going to do at His second coming, and what Joseph did being raised in rank. So, there are good possibilities there. But, the blowing of the trumpet is something that one must infer from the text.
The reverse is true of the incident that I am going to be speaking about. The date is the big question mark. In fact, from all the internal indications that I can find in the Bible, it seems to be almost six months off—happening in the spring rather than in the early fall, while the blowing of trumpets and shouting are front and center.
This one is just the opposite of the Joseph situation, and of course, many of you already have probably already figured it out, it is the Fall of Jericho in Joshua 6.
We will be starting, though, in Joshua 5:13, but before we go there, it is good that we review the setting of this incident.
Remember the time that we are dealing with and what had just occurred. It occurs at the very end of the 40-year wilderness wandering of the children of Israel. Moses had just died on the other side of the Jordan on Mount Nebo, and his body had been hidden by God.
Just prior to that, Joshua had been appointed as the new leader and judge of Israel. He was new in his position. Of course, he had been doing a great deal of leading under Moses for the past 40 years. He was certainly the commander of the Israelite army, and was the obvious choice to succeed Moses. He proved to be faithful when he went in as a spy with Caleb and the ten other men who were not faithful. And so, he was the one tapped as the new human leader of Israel, and God told him to be courageous, and to do his job.
On the 10th day of the first month, what we saw was Israel crossing the Jordan, and once they crossed they placed memorial stones in the midst of the river for the people to see where it happened, and remember what God had done for Israel here.
Then all the males of the children of Israel (except Joshua and Caleb) were circumcised, probably on the 11th day. I would imagine that the crossing of the Jordan had taken all day, and it was probably on the 11th day that they began the circumcisions. I do not know that for sure, but it seems plausible.
Then they kept the Passover and/or the Days of Unleavened Bread. We are still in the 14th, 15th, and 16th of Nisan time frame.
The next day after they kept the Passover, or the Night to be Much Observed, the manna ceased.
And now, here we are, Israel has camped at Gilgal, they had just kept the spring Holy Days, the manna had ceased, and they are waiting.
Joshua 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand . . . .
This is the real beginning of the story of Jericho's fall. I believe that the person who made the chapter breaks in the book erred here. This is where chapter 6 should have begun. This is also where the timing gets a bit dicey.
The words, "and it came to pass," is quite indefinite. How much time does "and it came to pass" cover? It is impossible to know. It does not give any indication of the time of the year like, "and Joshua was wearing his thick bearskin when he met this Man" giving the impression that it was still cool weather, like maybe fall had begun. But, no, all it says is, "and it came to pass."
We do not know the timing for sure for this. I have not seen anything that is real decisive on this matter as how much time. It could have been the next day, or few days; or a week, or a couple of weeks; it could have been a few months. All it said was, "it came to pass." So, I do not know. At some point Joshua was personally out reconnoitering Jericho, and he meets this Man. We do not know when. All we know is that it came to pass.
With that said, I really have a hard time understanding why God and Joshua might have waited over five months before doing anything at Jericho. Here they had just come into the land, and their hopes were up, everybody was ready to get on and push into the land, and get their inheritance, and then, they wait five months? What are they doing?
As a nomadic people, they would have had that camp set up in a jiffy. They had done it for 40 years. Putting up camp was something that went up by second nature.
It does not say that they moved anywhere, that they did any exploring of the land at this time; it does not say that they decided to plant the local fields; it does not say anything about them building any permanent structures, or anything else that would take time and occupied the people for these five months between the spring Holy Days and Trumpets. It does not say anything like that.
What would they be doing in their tents for five months except going stir crazy, or getting "tent" fever? I just cannot see five months just going by.
So, the timing is a big question here. But just about everything else fits nicely into the understanding and meaning of the Day of Trumpets.
Let us go onto the rest of this in Joshua 5, all the way down through to the end of the chapter. He sees the Man with the drawn sword in His hand:
Joshua 5:13-15 . . . And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries? So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant? Then the Commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, "Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so.
It is evident from what we just read that the Commander of the Army of the Lord, is none other than the One called YHVH—Lord, the Eternal, the One who became Jesus Christ. We know specifically from verse 15 that this is the same one who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, using the same exact words. I think that we are supposed to get the indication that this meeting between the Lord, and Joshua parallels the meeting between the Lord and Moses. Moses had that meeting at the beginning of his leadership, found in Exodus 3 when he was given his job to do. This is a very similar incident. And now the Commander of the Lord's army is going to give Joshua his marching orders—literally!
We also get another detail about Him, which we saw in verse 13, that He had a drawn sword in His hand. This is a symbolic clue. If God holds a sword in His hand, what does that mean? It means that He has come to fight. It means that He has come to judge. A sword in the hand of God is a symbol of judgment, and the fact that He was there personally means that He was going to take care of it personally too. This was something that He was not going to do through an intermediary like Satan; He was not going to do it through any natural means like an earthquake or whirlwind; He was there to take care of things.
Joshua understood this immediately.
Job 19:29 Be afraid of the sword for yourselves; for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment."
He is saying that when the sword comes, it is a judgment.
This was specifically talking about Edom, but God here repeats the fact that when His sword is drawn, there is a judgment coming, and He is going to take care of it Himself, especially like Joshua 5 and 6.
We need to remember also—you cannot stay here in Joshua the whole time, and just talk about the fall of Jericho because we need to show the parallels between this incident and the Second Coming.
Please go to Revelation 19, and we will see this same thing.
Revelation 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
This is the same reason that He came to Joshua personally before the fall of Jericho, not the battle of Jericho. There was no real battle.
Revelation 19:12-16 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDs.
It is this same posture that He takes before the fall of Jericho. He Himself comes with a drawn sword in His hand. He Himself comes to lead the armies in judgment and war against Jericho.
We will find as we go through this that Jericho is a representative of all the nations and peoples of Canaan. It is a symbolic war here; a symbolic judgment on one city that stands for God's judgment on the whole land.
So, the parallels begin right here. The Promised Land, obviously we have known this for years, is a parallel—a type—of the Kingdom of God.
Jericho was the opening salvo in establishing God's people in their inheritance. That is what the battle of Armageddon does. It is the opening scene in establishing the inheritance of God's people in the Kingdom of God—the Millennium.
We could say that Jericho, then, was a divine judgment against the Amorites and the Canaanites for their mounting sins. Go back to Deuteronomy 9 and see this specifically said.
Deuteronomy 9:4-5 Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, 'Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land'; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
If you remember, when God made prophecies to Abraham that they would go down into Egypt, He said that it would be 400 years before this happens because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. So, He had given the Amorites, and the Canaanites that lived there in Canaan 400 years; and that it would be at the end of that time that He would bring His people up out of Egypt and drive the Amorites and the Canaanites out of the land for their sins; basically cleansing the land for His people to inherit. It is a very similar thing to what will go on as the Millennium begins.
He had to do this to get rid of their sinful influence as is mentioned in Deuteronomy 12:29-30:
Deuteronomy 12:29-30 When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.'
In Jericho what was happening was that God was giving Israel the example of what they were to do throughout the rest of the land, and He was going to show them Himself. He was going to come with a drawn sword, smite Jericho and all the people that were in it, and rid the land, at least that part of it, of their influence so that when His people came into the land and received their inheritance, they would have no evil to deal with. There would be no idolatry for them to fall into; no sinfulness that they might be attracted to. He was giving them basically a clean slate, and was showing them, just like Jesus will do when He comes back, that He will destroy the armies assembled against Him, and start over new and clean in the Millennium.
Notice back in Joshua 5 at the end of verse 13 that Joshua asked a question: "Are you for us, or against us?" God's reply is strange. He says, "No."
Would you expect God, when you ask Him, "Are you on my side," and He says, "No," and you ask Him, "Are you on their side," and He says, "No"—which side is He on?
This is not the typical Hebrew negation, though it is basically pronounced the same, "Lo." But, it is spelled differently. It means basically, "Neither."
"Whose side are you on?"
"Neither. I have come in a different capacity," is what He says. "I have come as Commander of the Lord's army. I am on the Lord's side. I am on God's side. How are you going to arrange yourself under Me?" is basically what He is saying. "Are you going to be on My side?"
I believe it was either George Washington or Abraham Lincoln who said a very similar thing during their time of duress. He said, "It is not whether God is on our side, or God is on the other side, but whether we are on God's side."
That is exactly what is happening here. He is suggesting that He is not on either side because He has come as the impartial Judge of all—that is one of His divine titles—He is the judge of all.
If you go back Genesis 18:25 when Abraham is discussing with God about how many people He would save the city of Sodom for, He said, "Does not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
Also in Hebrews 12:23 He is called "the Judge of all."—"You have come before the Judge of all."
This is the capacity in which He is coming before Jericho as the righteous Judge, the One who is coming to administer justice. And so, He tells Joshua, "I am not on anybody's side; I am on the side of right."
Joshua's actions are pretty interesting also. In verse 13, he is the man of war—"Who are you!? Are you on our side or their side!?" He is the leader of Israel. He is the one who is responsible to defend and protect the people. He comes as the general, the man of war. He is challenging this "Man" to declare his allegiance one way or the other.
The next moment, he is a humble, prostrated servant, fully throwing himself on the ground before this One with the sword. Here is the great leader of Israel showing why he was the great leader of Israel. He had the same qualities that Jesus Christ had, who was willing to make Himself a servant in order to serve all mankind. That is why Joshua had the name that he has. Joshua is Jesus in Hebrew. There are a lot of parallels right there.
In this case, the way that it works out is that the One who became Jesus Christ is the God the Father figure, and Joshua is the Jesus Christ figure in this scenario.
In the same way that Jesus Christ humbly gave Himself as the Savior for the people, Joshua does the same thing. He puts his life on the line, and does whatever it takes to bring the people into their inheritance.
Here we have Joshua being a type of Jesus Christ, and showing the same humility that Jesus Christ had. Certainly, just like Jesus Christ, he knew his place before God. He was a servant. He may have been an exalted servant and had a great deal of responsibility, but he was still a servant. And so he says, "What does my Lord say to His servant?"
It is very interesting here that He does not say, "What does the Eternal say to His servant?" He says, "What does my Master say to His servant?" He uses the word, "Adonai," instead of "YHVH." He is telling the Commander of the Lord's army that he had figured out exactly what his own position was before Him, which was under Him as His servant.
He uses a different word than what would normally be used to address God in this situation. He is saying, "You are my superior even though I lead all of Israel; I am your servant, I am not going to press my rights or responsibilities under You."
He just basically puts himself prostrate on the ground there, and says, "Command me!" This is interesting the way that it all works out.
We should know that Joshua 6:1 is a parenthetical statement. What the author is doing is setting up the situation. He wants to give you an idea how Jericho was at the time.
Joshua 6:1 Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.
This means exactly what it says. The king of Jericho had ordered that the city be prepared for siege. What he had done was he had the gates shut, he had them locked, and barred, and he had rock piled up behind them and whatever else it took to make that city safe from these two or three million Israelites who had just crossed the Jordan.
He had heard of all the things that they had done across the river, what had happened in Egypt when they left, and that they had routed the Amalekites out in the desert. They were shaking in their shoes inside Jericho knowing that Israel had not lost. Their God was before them, and they knew that this was an irresistible force coming.
And so the king of Jericho closed up the city as much as he could. He made it into the most formidable fortress in the land of Canaan.
We should note before we begin to think that this was an easy thing, just how formidable Jericho was.
It is likely, as far as I have been able to study out, that it was the most impregnable city and fortress in Canaan. It was even more impregnable than Hazor, or Jerusalem, or Megiddo, or any of the other big cities in Canaan. The first obstacle that they had to defeat was the worst one—the hardest one.
Jericho sat on a mound that covered only 8 or 9 acres. The piece of ground the Church of the Great God bought up here is only 5 acres. It was roughly twice this size. It is not that large. My dad mentioned earlier that Jerusalem would sit in one corner of uptown Charlotte, North Carolina; and the same could be said of Jericho. It was only a pear shaped mound covering about 8 or 9 acres. It was not large.
We normally think of these big cities as the large cities that we are used to. But, no, it was sitting on a rather small mound. But, it was completely walled and it was essentially walled twice.
I want to read a paragraph from a book called, A Survey of Israel's History, by Leon J. Wood. If any of you are interested in biblical history, this is a very good book, quite conservative in its outlook. I have not found anything of its like.
He writes on page 142:
An approaching enemy first encountered a stone abutment...
Let me add, an abutment is a load-bearing wall. It is also called a revetment wall.
...eleven feet high, back and up from which sloped a 35 degree plastered escarpment (an embankment) reaching to the main wall some 35 vertical feet above.
Let me explain here. They first reached this wall that was the support for a huge sloped embankment that went up 35 degrees reaching 35 feet in the air. This is above the 11-foot stone wall that supported it.
So, you have—I do not know if any of you have been to some of these racetracks, but some of the degrees of banking on these racetracks is near 30, 32 degrees. It is so steep that if you are standing at Talladega [a race track in Alabama], in one of the curves where the banking is 32 degrees, you cannot stand up. The force of gravity pulls you down. They are called self-cleaning racetracks. Anything that is on the top and not going the correct speed is going to fall, or slide down to the bottom.
With a 35-degree angle on this plastered escarpment, a man could not scale it without the use of a ladder or rope. Back to the quote:
The steep, smooth slope prohibited battering the wall by any effective device, or building fires to break it. An army trying to storm the wall found difficulty in climbing the slope, and ladders to scale it could find no satisfactory footing. The normal tactic used by an enemy to take a city so protected was siege. But, Israel did not have time for this if she was to occupy all the land in any reasonable number of months.
Another description has it slightly differently. It had a massive 15-foot high stone wall at the bottom (similar to the 11-foot wall), then a six foot thick mud brick wall on top of that. So, you have this massive stone wall that went 15 feet up, and then you had a six foot thick mud brick wall on top of it. Then, you had the escarpment going up—this earthen rampart—which was topped by another 12-foot thick wall of mud brick. I do not know how tall mud brick walls were but I would imagine that they were substantial.
With mud brick at 12 feet thick we can understand now how Rahab and her family could have a house on the wall of the city. It made a great foundation—solid mud brick 12 feet thick.
Now you have an understanding of how in some other places, chariots could be driven on the city walls two abreast (narrow chariots).
As you can tell by this description, the Israelites faced a daunting, nearly invulnerable fortress. This was built like this all the way around. It was not just on one side, but all 8 or 9 acres along the perimeter was this unscalable wall and embankment, and then another wall on top of that.
Defeating Jericho would likely have been an impossible task for them. They had never done a siege, and they did not have the equipment for it. They would have had to dig it out, or something that would have taken months. They certainly had the manpower to do it, but it would have stalled them terribly. A siege like that could go on for many months or years. That is not what they wanted to do.
Joshua 6:2 And the Lord...
Now He is called the Lord. I want you to understand in this context that there is no break. This is the same Commander of the army of the Lord that is speaking. Remember verse 1 was parenthetical. We are still at the point where Joshua is kneeling with no shoes on in front of the Commander of the Lord's army, who has His drawn sword in His hand.
Joshua 6:2 And the Lord said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.
Despite Jericho's fortifications, despite this 50 feet of wall that they need to scale to get into Jericho, despite all this God tells Joshua, "It is yours! I have given it to you! It will be defeated! It is going to fall down! And, not only that, not only are these fortifications not going to stop you, I have given you their king, and their mighty men of valor also."
So, they were not supposed to fear their defenses, nor were they to fear the soldiers—the army that was massed inside Jericho. "It is all yours! I have given them into your hands. Now, there are some instructions that you need before that happens, but it is already yours. Already, the leadership and the warriors are yours, and are defeated."
This is called prophetic past tense—it means that it is as good as done. "I have given Jericho into your hand." That is past tense.
There is one small thing I want to mention here. You see in most Bibles the words, "the king and the mighty men of valor" and it is in italics, and should not be there.
What He is saying is, "the king, the mighty men of valor." The king of Jericho was most likely a David-type person for his people. He was a mighty man of valor. He was one of those whose reputation had gone far and wide as being a great warrior, and he was formidable. What God is also saying here is that even this great warrior who is facing you across that wall, is doomed. Nothing is going to stand in your way.
It is like David and his mighty men. It is the same concept here. David was included among the mighty men, just as Jericho's king was included among the mighty men of valor.
Here, it was not just the fortifications; it was also what stood behind them that gave the Israelites a bit of fear. And here, God just brushes it aside. "They are yours! It is done!"
Joshua 6:3-17 You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him." Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, "Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord." And he said to the people, "Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord." So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the Lord advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them. The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, "You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, 'Shout!' Then you shall shout." So he had the ark of the Lord circle the city, going around it once. Then they came into the camp and lodged in the camp. And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. Then seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually and blew with the trumpets. And the armed men went before them. But the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. And the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did six days. But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: "Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
Down to verse 20:
Joshua 6:20-25 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, "Go into the harlot's house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her." And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
This was what happened at Jericho. What we saw early on were the instructions the Israelites had to follow precisely in order to gain this victory over Jericho. They had to march around the city once each day for six days, and seven times on the seventh day.
Other than the tramping of their marching feet, they were not to make any noise. No yells. No cries of war. I take it that they were not even supposed to speak among themselves. They were simply to march. The only sound that the people in Jericho were supposed to hear was the sound of the ram's horns blowing. And, there were seven priests who were blowing those seven ram's horns. That was the only sound that was supposed to be heard.
Then on the seventh day after the seven circuits of the city on that day, the priests would blow one long blast on their trumpets, and that was the signal combined with Joshua's command to shout, that they should then shout, and the walls came tumbling down.
Now, there are a few things I want to go back over in here that are parallels, and a few things that we need to understand as details in this narrative.
Notice that Yahweh says to Joshua, "all you men of war," in verse 3. What He is telling them is that only the warriors were to march around the city. The women, and the children were to stay back in the camp. This was a military exercise, as well as a religious exercise, but the people who were not warriors were not involved. How do I know this?
What would the perimeter of about 10 square acres be? It is roughly a half-mile. If you try to get 2 ½, or 3 million people in a perimeter of only about a half-mile, it just cannot be done. There are too many people.
What God did was have the army go around the city. And, it may not have been the whole army either. Israel's army was a formidable and large force. But, representatives could easily have been chosen for this special duty. I do not know how they chose them. Some have thought that the advance guard may have been Reuben, Gad, and the eastern (half of) Manasseh from across the river.
Remember that they said that they would send their men across the river to fight for Israel. So, they might have been the shock troops that went into the battle first. That may have been their price for taking their land early on the eastern side of the Jordan river.
The rear guard, then, would be from the other tribes.
Levi was represented in this in that they had seven priests marching just behind the vanguard (advanced guard), blowing their seven trumpets. After this came the ark borne by the Levites whose job it was to bear the ark. Following this were the other soldiers as the rear guard.
So, you have vanguard, priests blowing trumpets, the ark carried by Levites, and then the remaining soldiers in the rear guard.
We should notice here the repetition of the number seven. There are seven days, seven trumpets, seven priests, and seven circuits around the city on the seventh day. Many sevens!
What do you think of about all these sevens?
I think of the book of Revelation. It is full of sevens. They occur in bunches all over the place. Go to Revelation 8. This is the seventh seal, which announces the seven trumpets, and specifically the Seventh Trumpet.
This is interesting. Just like at Jericho, there was silence.
Revelation 8:1-6 And I saw the seven angels [like seven priests] who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets. Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Here we have the first trumpet, second trumpet, third trumpet, fourth trumpet, fifth trumpet, and sixth trumpet; and then we go to chapter 11:
Revelation 11:15-16 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices [shouting] in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshipped God...
What does that sound like? What Joshua did before the Commander of the army of the Lord. He fell on his face, and he worshipped!
Revelation 11:17-19 ...saying: "We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead [nations], that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth." Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.
It is just amazing to read these little bits and see the parallels between the fall of Jericho, and the return of Jesus Christ. It appears to me that if this parallel is direct, that the first six days of their walk around Jericho is parallel to the first six trumpet plagues that fall upon the earth. And then the seventh day with the seven circuits of the city announce the very coming of Jesus Christ, the coming of the Lord who is represented in the object of the Ark—that was His seat and throne on earth on this seventh day and seventh trumpet. Revelation 11 also mentions that He comes to give the saints their reward. That exactly is what the opening up of the Promised Land and the destruction of Jericho was going to do. It was going to allow the Israelites to be given their inheritance that had been promised to them.
It is also interesting that in Revelation 11:18 it talks about those who fear Your name, both small and great. From the New Testament standpoint it is interesting because those who were interested in Judaism were called God-fearers. They were not ones who had been circumcised yet, or had completely come into Judaism as proselytes, but ones who were close to the next step that would make them full members of Judaism. They just had not quite done it yet.
What does that sound like to you in the incident at Jericho?
To me it sounds like Rahab and her family. She had done what a God-fearer would do. She had hidden the spies, and followed their instructions to the letter. She was one who feared God. If we would go back into Joshua 2 where it talks about those spies and Rahab, she specifically says that she feared God, and she knew that He was going to win; that Israel was going to come in and take the land. She believed.
So not only are the saints and the prophets, and all the others given their rewards, but even those who feared God, both small and great. Rahab was no great person. She was a harlot. And, her faith is noted in the Bible.
Back to Joshua 6 where it talks about "trumpets (shofar) of ram's horns." This is very poorly translated. Ram's horn is not even in there. The literal rendering should be, "shofars of jubilee." I do not know where they got the second ram's horn. A shofar is a ram's horn. Why did not they say, "ram's horns of jubilee," which would have been much closer. These are the same trumpets that are blown on holy days to announce the appointed times, as well as what was used to announce the Jubilee every fifty years.
Go to Leviticus 25:8-12. This is a bit about the year of Jubilee. We will see that the blowing of the trumpets had another idea behind it, not just the announcing the plagues of God's judgment on Jericho, and the people, but it was also announcing the jubilee.
Leviticus 25:8 And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.
Here, we are getting into a bunch of sevens again.
Leviticus 25:9-12 Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee [the same phrase in Joshua 6] to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.
It says that the Jubilee is a holy year of liberty, and that is exactly what God was doing here in destroying Jericho. He was proclaiming liberty, not for the people of Jericho, but for His own people. He was going to make them free to inherit the land. That is one big part of the jubilee year—everyone goes back to his inheritance. No matter what had happened in the intervening time, you get back what is yours by right, or reward in this case.
That is the same thing that happens in the Millennium. The inheritance goes to those to whom it has been given—the people of God.
The same thing is happening by the fall of Jericho as will happen in the Millennium. The Jubilee is a type of the Millennium, which is begun by the fulfillment of the day of Trumpets.
When God came down on Mount Sinai as the 40 years were beginning, a similar thing happened. Notice this also:
Exodus 19:16-19 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long....
Remember, that is exactly the same thing that happened in Joshua 6. That was the signal that God would act and the people were supposed to do their part by adding in their voices.
Exodus 19:19-20 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
What I am getting at here is that the trumpet blast at Jericho also announced the presence of God and a similar thing took place. You do not have the smoke and earthquake, but you have the trumpet blast, and noise of the people shouting, and suddenly things happen.
The walls fall down. And then, Israel is given a great victory.
Remember, the Ark of the Covenant was there as a sign to everyone that God was there. And, what is the mercy seat? It is the throne of judgment. That is where He sits down to judge, and He is making a great judgment here in Joshua 6.
These are all fulfilled in the day of Trumpets in what will occur when Christ returns.
There is one thing I want to mention—just a small detail—about the walls falling down flat. That is another bad translation. It should be, "crumble upon their foundations." It is almost as if they disintegrated. All the mud bricks collapsed. Then, the way was open before them, and they could just march right up into the city.
It was not that the walls teetered and fell down, but that it just simply collapsed as if all the mortar in them just suddenly disappeared, and with a little shake, they all came down. And guess what all those bricks did on the escarpment, which was sheer and plastered so that no foothold could be made. When the bricks fell down, it broke the plaster, and created stairs for them to climb right into the city.
God just made it all happen with His presence.
There are other parallels with the day of Trumpets in this passage.
The accursed things—things devoted to destruction mentioned in Joshua 6:17—represents what man considers valuable. When Christ returns, all man's wealth will become His, and will be used in His service.
Zechariah 14:14 Judah also will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be gathered together: Gold, silver, and apparel in great abundance.
Was is not gold, silver, and apparel that Achan took?
Another one is the deliverance of Rahab and her family—it pictures the salvation of the Gentiles by faith.
She is mentioned as a hero of faith in the faith chapter.
So, the deliverance of Rahab and her family pictures both the salvation of the Gentiles by faith, as well as God's mercy on those who protect His people.
Isaiah 16:3-4 is a prophecy about Moab. God tells them to hide His outcasts. He then deals with Moab more lightly than He does some others around them. He spares them a great deal from what happens there at the time of the end.
Now, even the fact that it says a couple of times that the Israelite soldiers went up straight before them into the city has a parallel too.
Remember, we often go to Joel 2 regarding the great army that comes with Jesus Christ on the day of Trumpets: "Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain. Let the inhabitants of the land tremble for the Day of the Lord is coming for it is at hand. It is a day of darkness, of gloominess, clouds, and thick darkness," etc. Go down to verse 7:
Joel 2:7-8 They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down.
This is very similar to what happened at Jericho from everything I have been able to gather. Not one Israelite soldier died at Jericho. They were untouchable even though behind the walls stood Canaan's best chance at defeating Israel.
There are some who speculate that the other city-states sent men to Jericho. This was the cream of Canaan's military might assembled at Jericho, and it was wiped out.
It is very much like what Christ is going to do which is found in Zechariah 14:
Zechariah 14:12-13 And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths. It shall come to pass in that day that a great panic from the Lord will be among them. Everyone will seize the hand of his neighbor, and raise his hand against his neighbor's hand.
Zechariah 14:15 Such also shall be the plague on the horse and the mule, on the camel and the donkey, and on all the cattle that will be in those camps. So shall this plague be.
That is what happened at Jericho. Every living thing that was in Jericho was put to the edge of the sword, and then burned. Nothing survived. The only things that were left that they were supposed to take was the gold, silver, iron, and bronze which was to be put into God's treasury.
We have a similar thing happening at the end.
All of this is well and good, these parallels are amazing and interesting, but where does that leave us? What does it really mean for us?
We will conclude in Hebrews 11:30 because there is a lesson in here for us, if just a small one, but an important one also.
Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.
That is the lesson for us. We have to see ourselves in the place of the Israelite soldiers, whether we are vanguard or rear guard. I would have to say that knowing the times that we are living in, we are the rear guard. We are the end of the procession down through history. The apostles and prophets, and those who came in the first century—those were the vanguard. They set the stage, and we are bringing up the rear. We are last.
We have been instructed to march, pretty much in silence throughout the seven days, throughout our lives. We do not fight, we do not yell and scream. But, we simply walk around in faith until our Joshua gives us the command to shout—to join in the joyous announcement of His Appearing. And then, even we, changed into spirit—immortal—ready to fight alongside God—will watch in awe as He miraculously defeats our enemy, and gives us our inheritance in the kingdom of God.
That is the lesson.
Are you going to walk in faith until God gives us the victory?