Some Question the Accuracy of Scripture because of this Bible Story!
It’s an old favorite Bible story! The story of Joshua fighting the battle of Jericho as the walls come a tumbling down. Down through the years, I never heard of any Christian who questioned this story in Scripture. So, I was shocked and surprised last year to find three people who all say that they question that the Bible is God’s Word all because of the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho!
Let’s go over this Bible story which is an important part of the history of the Jewish people and written in the book of Joshua chapter 6. The date that God led Joshua to fight the battle of Jericho was approximately 1400- 1375 B.C. Many hundreds of years earlier, God had made a covenant with Abraham, who is the father of the Jewish nation. In this covenant God had promised to make Abraham and his descendants into a great nation and to give them the land of Canaan (the present land of Israel) as a homeland on the condition that they remain faithful and obedient to Him. (Genesis 17)
All the Jewish people knew about God’s promise of this special homeland! But they didn’t know when God would fulfill His promise. Abraham and his son Isaac and grandson, Jacob were shepherds and lived in tents in their Promised Land. But during grandson Jacob’s life, a terrible drought covered the whole land and Jacob and his large family had to move to Egypt in order to find food and water. For four hundred years, Jacob’s big extended family (the Jewish people) lived in Egypt. And God blessed the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with many children. Over their four hundred year stay in Egypt, Jacob’s family grew to become the Jewish nation of perhaps two million people.
The Egyptians were afraid the Jews would outnumber them, so they forced the Jews into cruel slavery. But God heard the cries of the Jewish slaves, and with signs and wonders He set them free. God called Moses to lead the Jewish people out of slavery and on to the “Promised Land” – the land He had promised their forefather, Abraham.
For forty years, while on the way to Canaan or to their Promised Land, the Jewish people lived in the wilderness or desert and God faithfully and continually fed them manna – or bread. An d God showed Moses where springs of water could be found throughout the vast desert, so the people could drink and bathe and water their flocks. Miracles attended their way as God was leading them by day and protecting them by night.
The Jewish nation was the only nation in the ancient world that worshipped the One true God. All the other nations worshipped idols. Finally, when the Jewish people arrived at the city of Jericho and the entrance of Canaan, Moses died, and Joshua was chosen by God, to lead the Jews into the land they have waited so long for, the land of the Canaanites - their promised homeland!
Scripture tells us that the Canaanites, the people who lived in Jericho at that time, were a very evil people. A people who worshipped idols and sacrificed their little children to their demon idols. Prostitutes performed sexual acts in their temples and had sex with worshippers. And children were made to walk through fire to their death. The Canaanites in Jericho were morally depraved, sadistic, lawless, and brutal. And they were teaching their children to be the same.
The Canaanite religion emphasized sex, serpent worship, and child sacrifice. Archeologists have found the remains of the mutilated bodies of babies under the entrances of each ancient dwelling in the ruins of Jericho. Perhaps God loved the world too much to allow evil people like those in ancient Jericho to continue their terrible acts indefinitely.
When the Jewish nation had traveled through the desert and had finally arrived at their Promised Land, Scripture tells us that an angelic Person appeared to Joshua as the “Commander of the Army of the Lord” and as a Soldier with His sword drawn in His hand. Joshua fell on his face and worshipped God, knowing that God was completely in charge of the battle to take the Promised Land from the Canaanites. That as God’s servant, Joshua was to trust and obey God’s leading. (Joshua 5)
God told Joshua that the city of Jericho was his to take. (Joshua 6) That Joshua was to instruct all the Jewish people to march around the walls of the city of Jericho each day for seven days. Seven priests, each holding a trumpet and carrying the Ark, were to march ahead of all of the people. For the first six days, each day the priests and people were to march silently around Jericho just one time. No one was to talk or say a word. The battle would be won by faith.
But on the seventh day they were all to march around the walls of Jericho seven times, and then the priests should blow their trumpets. And all the people should shout with a great shout of victory. And then the Lord promised Joshua that at that moment the walls of Jericho would all fall down. God ordered Joshua’s soldiers to kill all the people and animals in the city and the Jewish people were not to take anything in the city for themselves because they would be defiled by anything these people had.
All of the Jewish people obeyed God and marched silently around the walls of Jericho for six days. And on the seventh day when they all shouted, and the trumpets sounded, they stood there and watched as their God caused the walls of Jericho to come down. The Jewish soldiers obeyed God and destroyed the city and all the evil people in it through the mighty power of God. The Canaanite civilization was so totally corrupt that coexisting with them would have been a serious threat to the survival and spiritual welfare of the Jewish nation. (Deut. 9:5,18:12, Gen.15:16)
In the past year, I have talked with two church friends who said that they can’t believe that the Bible is accurate because they don’t believe a God of love could command Joshua and his soldiers to kill all the evil people in Jericho. And I have also watched a video of a beloved and famous Methodist pastor who said the same thing. The pastor claims that this important part of Jewish history is a just a “myth”! And the other two persons say that it isn’t fair for God to command us not to kill and then for Him to kill the people in Jericho. It seems to me that we are putting God on our level. If God were just another person, then I could see their point. But God is God, our Creator and Redeemer, and He alone can judge. We are commanded to forgive and not to ever take revenge on an enemy. But God, who sees and knows all things, says that “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” (Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 1219)
It is so important that we Christians believe that the Bible is the living Word of God. That all Scripture is God-breathed, and all Scripture is profitable. The Word of God is our spiritual food. Our Christian faith stands on the Word of God. Our faith is so precious that we need to protect it and build it up. If we could understand all that God is doing, then God wouldn’t be God.
Scripture records times in the past when God, as Judge of His world, has judged a city or a tribe when the city or tribe has been extremely evil. We read of God commanding Noah to build an ark. God was planning to cause a flood of water to cover the earth. Scripture says that God sent the flood because the people on the earth had reached a certain point where their evil ways had gone too far. (Genesis 7-10) We also read of Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities that God destroyed with fire because their cup of evil was full. (Genesis 19) There are many more examples throughout history of God’s judgments upon cities or tribes or nations who have given themselves over totally to evil.
Scripture tells us that our God is a God of love. A God who loves us too much to allow the cancer of evil to remain in the body and choke out our life. And He is also a God of justice. A holy, fair and merciful Judge who created us and knows everything. He is the Judge who someday will bring justice and righteousness rolling down as a mighty river over the land. (Amos 5:24) The whole book of Revelation is about that final judgment. There will be great victory and rejoicing when sin is finally judged and is finally rooted out.