<< Joshua 6: The Fall of Jericho >>
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the rams horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down hat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.--Joshua vi. 1-5.
THE fortified and powerful city of Jericho must have looked very formidable to the Israelites as they pitched their tents between the Jordan and the city which barred their way to the land they had come to possess. Its high walls, its frowning battlements, and closed gates would threaten the army, unaccustomed to assail strong places, with difficulties and dangers not easy to overcome. Yet they must be overcome, or else the ordinances of the Jewish Dispensation could not he carried out, nor could the lessons of the regenerating life be given in the Word of God. Jericho then must fall. And its Fall was directed to take place in such a manner as altogether to represent how falsehood sinks before the majestic power of truth. A careful reading will enable anyone to conclude that every arrangement was commanded to symbolize a lesson, as well as to declare a fact. A city corresponds to the Church, especially as to its doctrines. These surround the minds of the members of the Church, as walls surround a city. The Church is called by Paul the city of the living God.--Heb. xii. 22. The prophet says, Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.--Zech. viii. 3. Our Lord said of His disciples, Ye are the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.--Matt. v. 14. The holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, has clearly a similar signification. The doctrines of truth in general, forming a spiritual defense, being represented by a city on a large scale, we may not find it difficult to conceive that each particular doctrine is represented by a city of a smaller kind, especially if we remember, as there is much reason to believe, that small cities were formed at first of small families who dwelt together for mutual instruction, and mutual support.
A city, to oppose the Israelites, would represent a doctrine or system which opposes divine truth, and especially that portion of divine truth which insists on the purification of the heart. Jericho would represent such a system. It stood directly in the way. Now, what stands directly in the way of the religion that insists on inward conflicts, against the passions and impurities which infest the unregenerate heart? Is it not the system of salvation by belief alone?
Believe and all your sins forgiven,
Only believe and yours is heaven.
This system persuades the soul which embraces it, that its great danger is from the wrath of God, and it undertakes to pacify that wrath. Thousands upon thousands believe this, and rejoice because they consider that heaven is secure, although they have never successfully resisted one bosom sin.
The evils condemned by law, and the habits, which are palpable violent breaches of the usages of decent society, they possibly avoid; but the secret evils of envy, hatred, jealousy, detraction, the stings of malice, the ten thousand overreachings, and the thousand falsehoods of business, evils which society allows, and by which selfishness attains its cruel ends, these are passed over. It is dreamed that they result from the body, and when the body is put off, these evils will be left behind. Vain, vain delusion! These sins are of the mind, not of the body. Such as death leaves us, eternity finds us. The heart filled with jealousies, contempts, and hatreds, which made us restless and unhappy here, would be far more out of place in heaven. The ambition which crept in meanness, or strode in madness, to reach the highest place, regardless of the ruin which it caused, would be felt as a cruel wolf amidst the innocencies of heaven. The scheming subtlety which winds and winds, and weaves its spider webs to ensnare and betray for its far-reaching but knavish aims would be felt as a, serpent, a fox, or a spider in heaven.
All that mercy hay done for such a soul--and what has it not done?--will fail in its saving effects, unless we co-operate with our Savior, and let Him conquer these evils in the heart, and root them out. He has done all that Infinite Love could do to impart to us the means of Regeneration. He, our Heavenly Father, set us free from the powers of darkness by entering into the world as our Redeemer, and living and dying for us. He has given us His Word and His Church. He has conjoined us with angels.
His Providence is ever with us. He has given us the facts of experience. We never saw a constantly happy person who has not steadily done the work of regeneration by resisting self-love, and the love of the world, in heart and in deed.
Those who have not done the work of inner religion are, as is well known, as unamiable as many of those who make no profession of religion at all, and in their old age as wearisome to live with and as wretched in themselves as the ordinary run of mankind. Nothing but steady wrestling against the promptings of self and sin--nothing but carrying the war into the interiors of the soul, the very bowels of the land, and conquering again and again--will enable us to overcome those multiplied miseries which are included in that index of wretchedness denominated bad temper, and will secure us that heaven in embryo---interior pence. The people of Jericho say, We cannot, and we need not, trouble ourselves about anything, but just believing. The commandments of the Lord cannot be done in their application to the heart. Why, endeavoring to prepare for heaven by purifying the heart would be trying to save yourself, and going to heaven by merit! Such a mode will never do. What a time it would take! Oh no! You have only one thing to do. You must believe the Lord died for you, and then you will be changed in a few minutes, and all will be right. And if your lusts and failings return again, you must believe again, and at the hour of death believe you are saved by this death, and you will no doubt be happy in heaven. True, the Lord died for us, for all of us.
Amazing mercy! Love immense!
Surpassing every human sense,
Since time and sense began.
That man might shun the realms of pain,
And know and love his God again,
His God became a man.
He died, and rose again, that we might LIVE. He died, that His love might constrain us to burst away from sin and selfishness and live to Him. He died, that the powers of darkness might be removed which held souls in bondage, and that we might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. He died, that we might abhor the inward as well as the outward evils which led to such a sacrifice, and thenceforward we might gratefully walk in His ways, and be regenerated by His Holy Spirit. The goodness of God leadeth us to repentance (Rom. ii. 4). But if we despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, though we outwardly conform to what religious society may demand of us, yet the great interior evils remain.
We are as deformed in the sight of the Lord as before, as impatient as before, as passionate as before, as envious as before, as self-seeking as before, as disposed to prevaricate and torture the truth to our own wishes as before, while pretending that we are in no danger from these deadly sins of the spirit, because Christ died for us and disarmed the wrath of God. We are turning the greatest blessing into the greatest curse. We are straining at gnats and swallowing camels. The hasty violent word or blow of a person who makes no profession of religion is a far less guilty thing in itself than the keen, bitter malice that regards every act of another with jealousy and hate; that misconstrues his words, imputes to him the worst of motives, pursues him to loss of property, or perhaps of life, but does it coldly and politely. When, therefore, a person retains this inward awful sin, and others similarly unworthy, and resists the Spirit of the Lord, and the warnings of divine truth, which ever say, Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, not before the eyes of men only, but before the eyes of God; and resists this inner purification as unnecessary, saying that all he is afraid of is the wrath of God, and exclusion from heaven: when he declares that Christ by His death pacified the wrath of God, by paying the debt of suffering which (what is misnamed) justice claimed, and now by believing this, he is sure of heaven, he is malting a scheme of salvation, which is a mere mental Jericho. The name of that city in Hebrew means his moon, and it represents a system derived from the vain moon of self-derived intelligence, having no foundation in the wisdom of the Word of God. By that Word we are taught the conduct must be changed, but still more the heart; the words must be purified, but still more the spirit; heaven can only be won by being heavenly minded. become angels we must become like-minded with angels. And without that inward regeneration we never can enter heaven.
Except a man be born again,
Of Jesus living breath;
No heavenly confidence shall cheep
The awful gloom of death.
Except a man be born again,
He cannot enter heaven:
Lord, on my inmost soul impress
This warning thou hast given.
Every system, then, that stands in the way of inward struggles with the evil tempers and lusts of the heart is a mental Jericho.
If man fancies he has nothing to do, because the Lords adorable mercy has done so much, then the work of inward religion is paralyzed, and paralyzed by the very acts which were intended to stimulate and strengthen it.
O, the enormous perversity of man! O, unparalleled infatuation! What! did the Lord die that men might keep their bad tempers, their impatience, their disdain, and their greediness, and take no harm? Did the Lord die that His own laws might be broken, and no one be any worse? What! Did the Lord die that wrong might be right, and right of no consequence? Did the Lord make the universe on the principle that only the truly good can be happy, and did He die to reverse this principle?
Did he die that men might have a scheme of religion by which they might despise His commands, ignore His will, His word, and His heaven, but be quite safe in taking a fiendish soul With them into eternity, if they only believed this scheme, and uttered a prayer?
This is what such ii system practically comes to. Life is nothing; death and belief are everything. We know how ingeniously such a scheme of religion call be put together. We know how by a few texts skillfully arranged, and mixed up with mere assertions and human devices, it can easily be presented so as to deceive the simple and to please the bad, to whom a covering of religious smoothness, and plenty of selfishness, are a compound most attractive; yet no better world and no life for heaven are possible where such a system practically prevails. The hidden hell of secret passions in the human breast is cloaked, where such deceits are clung to, and eternity reveals the worthlessness of a plan which sets at naught the holy teaching of Him who said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
The Fall of Jericho, then, represents the fall of such a system. And the divine directions for the mode of overcoming Jericho represent the manner in which all must proceed to overcome the delusive pretence that faith only, true or false, can be a substitute for Christian love and Christian life. Faith is the evidence of truth, to direct and strengthen Christian virtue, not a substitute for it. Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.--1 Cor. xiii. 2. Faith is confidence in truth, in all truth, not a selection of some portion of truth, and putting it instead of all the rest. True faith is confidence in all that the Lord is, all that the Lord has done, and all the Lord says.
With the heart man believeth unto righteousness (Rom. x. 10); not believeth instead of righteousness. Our faith must always be the loving trust which seeks the Lords will in everything, and ventures to do it in despite of ourselves, the world, and the powers of darkness. This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.... This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith.--1 John v. 3, 4.
The spurious faith, which pretends that Gods commandments cannot be kept, and ought not to be kept as necessary to salvation, but that belief in the Lords death at any hour is the one thing needful, is the mental Jericho.
The Lord commanded Joshua, and Joshua commanded the people, that they should go round the city in silence once each day for six days, led by seven priests, blowing seven trumpets of rams horns, preceded by the ark: that on the seventh day they should go round seven times: that when the seventh circuit was complete the whole people should shout, the walls would fall down flat, and then the people of Israel should march straight before them. Everything should be destroyed except Rahab and her household, who were one in heart with Israel; and the vessels of gold, silver, brass, and iron, which were to be put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. These important particulars are all most instructive. Let us consider them one by one. We can hardly fail to be struck at the outset by the use of the number SEVEN. The seven priests were to have seven rams horns, to go round the city seven days, and on the last day seven times. We find everywhere in the Word great prominency given to this number seven. The days of creation, significative of the states of regeneration, are seven. The clean beasts went into the ark by sevens. The Church is designated as the seven churches, represented by seven golden candlesticks. The Lord is said to have the seven stars in His right hand, and seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are called the seven spirits of God. The number seven in Hebrew is also the word which means perfect, complete. SEVEN, then, is used to signify that which is complete in goodness, THREE, that which is complete in truth.
The seven priests, then, who were to follow the ark which headed the procession, would represent the complete devotion of all the holy feelings of the heart, to overcome the system of falsehood of which Jericho was the symbol. The ark went before them to represent that they were led by the Word of God, whose essence, the commandments, were enclosed in the ark.
The procession of the army round Jericho would represent the survey on all sides which is made by the soul, of the system which is opposed to its spiritual progress. The procession moved on in solemn silence, except that the priests sounded the trumpets as they passed along.
The silent march would represent meditation, contemplation of the character of this error, in every part. The sound of the trumpets would represent the proclamation of the whole bearing of divine truth, that it requires justice, love, wisdom, order, and obedience.
The rams horns which sere used as trumpets would represent the truths of charity. Sheep in the Word are the types of the good affections of charity, which make the Christian kind, and disposed to follow and obey the great Shepherd in His works of mercy (John x., Matt. xxv). The ram, the male of the sheep, would represent the intellectual side of these affections, or the firm thoughts and strong determinations which sustain and defend such gentle, affections. The horns, by which the rams exert their force, correspond to the truths of the Word by which strong-minded Christians exert their force. Using these horns for trumpets would represent the earnest publishing of the truths of charity from the Word. Love the Lord, love your neighbor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow, defend the fatherless, aid the sick, set free the captive. Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. These are rams horns that sound aloud against a system of only believing. These send terror into the conscience of one who has unhappily been led to trust in a mock religion, and are as formidable as, no doubt, the alarming blasts of the rams horns were to the terror-stricken, guilty inhabitants of the polluted Jericho when the majestic army of Israel went round the devoted city.
The march on each of the six days would represent consideration and comparison of this dangerous delusion, in relation to all the states of the regenerate life. The states in which there are labor, struggle, and temptation are represented by the six days of labor; and the rest that follows by the seventh day, or the Sabbath.
The seven times of making the circuit of the city on the seventh day would correspond to a full, complete, and entire devotion of the whole good affections and thoughts of the mind, to the overthrow of this delusion, and its expulsion from the soul.
All the previous operations represent mans obedience to the divine teachings. They were uttered to Israel by Joshua, they are uttered to the spiritual Israel by the Lord Jesus.
He is our Divine Joshua, and when we faithfully obey, then comes the time for the divine operation. We cannot remove interior evils, or interior false delusions, of ourselves; but when we in faith obey, carefully following the Lord in our duties and our trials, the fullness of time comes, when the divine spirit of our Lord removes them as triumphantly now as it did the walls at Jericho.
When all the people shout, indicative of the fervor of the whole soul, then the Lord acts. Omnipotence takes the strength from the frowning bulwarks, and they crumble to dust. When power from the Lord smites them, they become very weakness, as at the Red Sea, when
The Lord but looked out from His pillars of glory,
And Egypts brave thousands are sunk in the tide.
So here, at Jericho, the walls fell flat. The defenses were gone. The panic-stricken inhabitants saw they were utterly helpless. The hour of judgment was come. Israel went straight before them.
Doubtless the extirpation which followed by divine permission was a necessity for the health of the universe, as the removal of an ulcer is occasionally for the health of the body. But it represented also the removal in the soul of the falsities and evils of the dangerous system represented- by Jericho.
Nothing is so black, so defiled, so full of horrors as that least read of all books, the unregenerate heart. It is a dark chamber of horrors, a miniature hell. When it resists purification, under whatever pretense, or whatever doctrine, it is resisting the only means of ever attaining happiness, of ever reaching heaven.
When the light of divine truth has laid its inner character quite open, by every fancied excuse, and all false pretext falling down like the walls of Jericho, then all that the better principles of the soul have to do is to go straight before them, destroy all the nest of evil impulses and evil thoughts, taking up the words of the Psalmist: Innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me so that I am not able to look up, they are more than the hairs of my head.--Ps. xl. 12. They compassed me about, yea, they compassed me about, but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.--Ps. cxix 11. The inward sins thus unfolded to us will perish and die; while every good, like Rahab and her house, will be preserved, and thus far we shall have attained the greatest of all victories, the victory of self, and be able to lay the crown at the adorable feet of Him whose name is Jesus, because He saves His people from their sins.
Author: Jonathan Bayley --- From Egypt to Canaan (1869)