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"He Has Transgressed the Covenant of the LORD" -- Joshua 7:1-26

Joshua%20Conquest.jpgThe Ninth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Joshua

The seven trumpets sounded seven times, the people of Israel gave a great shout, and then suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed.  The army of Israel quickly entered the city and put to death all of Jericho’s inhabitants just as God commanded.  The only people spared were Rahab and her family, because they believed that YHWH was the Lord of all the earth, and because at the risk of her own life, Rahab hid the two spies Joshua had sent to investigate Jericho’s defenses.  But not only did the Lord command that everyone in Jericho be put to death, he also commanded that the entire city was to be completely destroyed.  Because YHWH had devoted the city to himself for destruction, no Israelite was to take any personal property from the ruins of the city.  The only items to be spared were things made of gold, silver and bronze, which were to be added to Israel’s treasury for eventual use in the temple.  As long as Israel obeyed the Lord’s commands, victory over the Canaanites was assured and Israel would soon possess all the land.  But should any one of the Israelites disobey the Lord’s commands, trouble will come upon the entire nation.

We are continuing our series on the Book of Joshua.  We have just completed chapters 5-6, which describe those days immediately after Israel’s entrance into the promised land as well as the account of the fall of Jericho.  Throughout these chapters, the emphasis has fallen upon the contrast between this present generation of Israelites who entered the land of promise and that generation of Israelites who left Egypt and who perished in the wilderness because of their unbelief.  This generation was not like the former one.  This generation obeys the Lord’s commands.  They submit to Joshua.  They renew the covenant.  And they are victorious over Jericho and its formidable defenses, because they followed the Lord’s commands to the letter.  And so the entire nation of Israel was privileged to watch Jericho’s walls collapse at the end of what amounted to a seven-day worship service, in which a holy processional led by Israel’s priests and the ark of the covenant marched around the city of Jericho as a sign that YHWH is Israel’s shield and defender, as well as Lord of all the earth.

In the opening chapters of Joshua we see the “works principle” very clearly set forth.  As in the original covenant of works God made with Adam in Eden, which was then republished at Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, God promises blessings for obedience and threatens curses for disobedience.  This is the operative principle when Israel renewed the covenant at Moab (our present Book of Deuteronomy), and shortly thereafter when Israel advances on Jericho under the leadership of Joshua and crosses through the Jordan River on dry ground.  This principle is also evident when YHWH gave to Israel a great victory over Jericho.  But before YHWH gives Jericho in the hands of his people, Joshua reveals to all Israel an additional command of the Lord in Joshua 6:18-19, a command which is the basis for what unfolds in chapters 7-8.  “But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it.  But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the LORD; they shall go into the treasury of the LORD.”  The law of God does exactly what he intends it to do.  It both exposes sin and reveals to us his will. 

To read the rest of this sermon, click here 

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