In the journey of the faithful recorded for us in Hebrews 11 we make a rather large leap from the Israelites and Moses crossing the Red Sea in verse 29 all the way to the fall of Jericho in verse 30. That is a skip of well over 40 years. Why? What does that tell is about the generation that died in the wilderness? It shows us that those who left Egypt were not the ones who entered the Promised Land, except for Caleb and Joshua. Moses died before entering the Land as a direct result of his sinful behavior at Meribah (Numbers 20). The rest of the people died without entering the Land due to their lack of faith. They did not believe God and the result was that they did not enter the Land Promised to the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The sin of faithlessness is a serious offense as it finds us declaring with our minds and emotions that God cannot be trusted. A whole generation failed to believe even though they were the ones who had seen God deliver the people from Egypt through the plagues, through parting the Red Sea, through the provision of food and water, through a pillar of cloud and of fire to lead them by day and night. Their shoes did not even wear out.
The nation rejected God’s promise and then wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until that faithless generation had died while still wandering with no home. Joshua and Caleb believed God, spied out the Land and reported back that God was able to deliver the Land to them, and they were part of the people who inherited the Land.
Now we come to the fall of Jericho and what a victory this was. Jericho was a large city ringed by a set of two walls over 30 feet high. The outer wall was 6 feet thick and the inner wall was 12 feet thick. The city was built into the side of a hill and so had to be attacked on an upward incline. Most cities fortified and situated like this were attacked, surrounded, supplies were cut off, and the enemy waited until those in the city starved to death. Otherwise they coud not take the city.
This was the first city that the Israelites were commanded to take. They were to kill the inhabitants for their grievous sins against God, and they were to leave the city in ruins. The order from God was to take nothing. No spoils. No captives. Nothing. Leave the city in ruins for their sin. The only people to be spared were Rahab and her family, but we will read more about that later.
God promised that He had already given Jericho to the people. To Him it was a done deal. He told Joshua how the city would be taken. The army of Israel was to march around the city one time a day for six days. The seventh day the city was to be marched around seven times and then seven priests were to blow trumpets. When the trumpets sounded the people were to shout. And the walls would fall down.
This gave the people an opportunity to see the power of God. They only knew of the stories of the power of God in Egypt from their parents second hand. They had not seen the plagues or the parting of the Red Sea. But now they would see a mighty city destroyed simply by an act of faithful obedience.
They did what they were told and marched around once a day for six days. On the seventh day they marched seven times and when the trumpets sounded Johua shouted, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!” The people shouted and the walls fell. The term used is translated that the walls fell “flat” but the Hebrew word used means literally under or beneath. They did not fall outward. They literally crumbled and sank into (under, beneath) the ground, making the place where the wall had been a flat surface that could be walked over directly into the city.
The ruins of Jericho prove the Scriptures to be true. The walls are rubble stacked upright underneath the ground as if they sank straight down into the earth. Of course they are there – the Word of God is true. Israel was able to walk into the city and take it. God did what He said He would do. He said He gave them the city. They believed. And God gave them the city. The most well fortified city cannot stand in the way of what God has planned.
What a victory. What faith. What a demonstration of God’s power. What a faith builder for the people. Before Jericho fell, before the army of Israel marched around the city seven times on the seventh day or once a day for six days, before Israel started to conquer or inherit the Promised Land, before all this there was an encounter with a harlot that would change the history of the world.
Joshua had sent spies to Jericho to gather information about this great city that they surely would have to conquer when they entered the Land. Those spies were hidden by a woman named Rahab. She was a harlot. She hid the men from the king of Jericho and then lied about knowing where they were from or where they had gone. She made sure they were sent safely away to report to Joshua. She expressed faith in God based upon what she had heard about God, Israel, and the Exodus from Egypt, and she asked them to save her and her family. The spies agreed that she would be saved for protecting them.
When they came to attack Jericho they had instructed Rahab to put a scarlet cord out of her window to mark where her house was, as it was one of many homes built into the city wall. She did. There is one section of the walls of Jericho, located to the north of the city, that did not fall and still stands today. There in that section of the wall are houses. One of those was Rahab’s. God saved her.
Now the Bible never commends her lying, but it does commend her faith and the actions that her faith produced in sparing the lives of the spies. This harlot, this woman of ill repute, confessed faith in God, was accepted into the nation of Israel, and in fact was used in God’s plan to bring the Messiah to be born. For Rahab is one of five women listed in the geneology of Jesus Christ. She was the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, who gave birth to Obed, who begot Jesse, who was King David’s father. Rahab was the great-great grandmother of David and a distant direct relative of Jesus.
The women listed in this geneology are significant and show God’s plan that the gospel is to be preached to all people. Those five women are Tamar, a Canaanite who posed as a prostitute to seduce her father-in-law Judah. Rahab was a gentile harlot who came to faith, spared the spies and was herself spared. Ruth was a Moabite woman and thus her offspring were forbidden to enter the assembly of the Lord. Bathsehba, Urriah’s wife, commited adultery with David. And Mary the mother of Jesus was accused of being pregnant outside of wedlock.
God used each of these women to accomplish His purposes in bringing about the birth of the Savior. Their sins were never praised, but their faith is. They believed God and were forgiven and used for His glory.
You see, God can use each of us and we are all sinners. He came to seek and save that which was lost, to forgive our sins and free us from the power and penalty of them. It is indeed incredible that God used sinners, and also that in the written Word He made a specific point to include women, even Gentile women, in the geneology of Christ. Women were not usually mentioned in geneologies, but God makes a point here. Men and women of faith, no matter their lineage or their past, are called and used by God to accomplish His purposes.