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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:At the Sound of the Trumpet
Text:Joshua 6:1-27 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Running the race
 
Preached:2018
Added:2020-08-20
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Pastor Ted Gray
10/07/2018
“At the Sound of the Trumpet”
Joshua 6:1-27
 
Have you ever expected God to work in a certain way in your life, only to find out that His way is totally different from what you expected? That was certainly the case with Joshua and the Israelites. They had crossed over the Jordan River as the Lord performed a great miracle. The Lord stopped the flow of the Jordan at flood stage so that more than 2 million people could cross through on dry ground.
 
But now that the Israelites had reached the other side they also faced their first enemy, the residents of Jericho. Jericho was not a large city. It was only about 7 acres in size. The Israelites might naturally think, “We know what the Lord will have us do. We will send about 10,000 of our troops against this small city to conquer it and take it over as a base for our operations. Then we will move on and take over the Promised Land.”
 
But God’s ways are not our ways. The Lord spoke through Isaiah saying, “My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
 
And we certainly see that truth in verses 2-5 where the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
  
Perhaps at some point in your life, perhaps even now concerning a given situation, you may expect God to work in a certain way, and He doesn’t. Don’t despair.  He has not forgotten you.  He is simply saying, “Your ways are not My ways and your thoughts are not Mine. Trust me. Be patient and wait on Me.” 
 
That is the one truth these verses teach us: God often accomplishes His plans differently than we expect. And we should be greatly encouraged by that. Victory always comes from the Lord. The Israelites would find that out when the walls of Jericho fell, not by their military might but by God’s command.
 
Secondly, this passage teaches us that the Lord brings judgment on the wicked. The judgment that God brings is no “slap on the wrist.”  The judgment on Jericho was incredibly thorough. Verse 21 describes how They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” Verse 24 adds: Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house.”
     
Because of the total annihilation of Jericho there are those who ask, “How could a loving God command such extreme – seemingly barbaric – annihilation?  Why didn’t He give them time to repent?   It doesn’t seem fair.”
 
In response to that skepticism, a couple of truths are worth noting. First, every resident of Jericho knew the same things that Rahab knew. In Joshua 2:10-11 Rahab had explained to the two spies what the people of Jericho knew about the Lord. She said, We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” Yet, none of the other residents of Jericho acted by faith even though they knew these facts. They had ample time to repent, but they didn’t.
 
Is it any different today, in the 21st century? Romans 1:18-20 says essentially what Rahab had said in Joshua 2:10-11. Romans 1:18-20: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
 
The residents of Jericho knew about the Lord’s power, but instead of seeking Him in repentance and faith they continued to live in sinful rebellion against the Lord until destruction came upon them. The same will be true for countless millions of people today.
 
A second aspect to note about this destruction is that the destruction was a result of God being true to His warnings of judgment. Just as He is true to His promises of salvation, so too He must be true to His warnings of judgment. The residents of Jericho were Amorites, and the Lord had made an interesting statement about them to Abraham, about 460 years earlier, back in Genesis 15:16.  As the Lord laid out his covenant promise to Abraham, He said: “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
 
All those years that Israel was in Egypt, and later in the desert, God waited patiently. The sins of the Amorites grew, but it did not reach its “full measure” until the moment the trumpets sounded on the 7th day. At that time, the sin of the Amorites had reached its full measure and the Lord used Israel as an instrument of punishment on unrepentant sinners.
 
That is how the Lord usually works in history.  He gives people, and whole nations, opportunity to believe in Him and obey His Word.  When they don’t respond in humble repentance and saving faith, He allows another nation to destroy them. 
     
Which brings us to our own nation. What will happen when the sin of our nation reaches its fullness?  Romans 1:18-32 is a lucid commentary on our own society.  Even now God is giving our society over to ever increasing wickedness because of our rejection of Him and His Word.
 
God must be true to His word, both in fulfilling the wonderful promises of salvation, and also in bringing judgment on individuals and whole nations when they reject Him and His Word. We see that in the fulfillment of the warnings in verse 26, “At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: ‘Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates.’”
 
Some 500 years later, during the reign of Ahab, a man named Hiel rebuilt Jericho. 1 Kings 16:34 describes how “he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.”
 
You see, God was not being unfair in the destruction of the Amorites in Jericho. He was simply being true to His Word. The people of Jericho knew all the same truths about the Lord as Rahab did. But while Rahab put her faith in the Lord, the other residents of Jericho did not. This passage reminds us that God always does what He says He will do regarding both the salvation of sinners through faith in Christ, and the judgment of those who reject Christ and refuse to believe in Him.
 
While these verses teach the certainty of God’s judgment on the wicked, they also teach the wonderful truth of the gospel that God saves those who, by His grace, put their faith in Him. In verse 17 Joshua gave this command to the people: “The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.”
 
And then in verse 22 and 23 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, ‘Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.’ So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel.”
 
If you just read verse 17 and 25 – about Rahab being spared from God’s judgment – you might think that Rahab was saved by works. Both verse 17 and 25 say that she was spared because she hid the spies.  However, when you read Joshua 2, which gives the account of her hiding the spies, you will see that her faith preceded her work. That is, she hid the spies, which was a good work, because God had graciously given her faith in the Messiah to come, Jesus Christ.
 
Faith and works always go hand in hand. In James 2:25 we read that Rahab was justified by works. The Holy Spirit inspired that verse, not to teach that justification (our salvation) is by works, but to clearly show that true saving faith results in good works. Good works are evidence of a person’s faith. If there are no works, it is an indication that the profession of faith is not genuine, for “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).
 
Hebrews 11:31 also points out the role of saving faith in Rahab’s life: “By faith, the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” Likewise, Jesus taught that we will know those who truly believe in Him by their fruits, that is, by the actions and deeds of their lives (Matthew 7:19-21).
 
We have seen some ways that the destruction of Jericho applies to us and even to our nation today, but what other applications do we find in this remarkable account of the fall of Jericho? One other application: Although God gives the victory, we must still act on His commands. In verse 2 the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.” Jericho was conquered by God’s power, not the power of Joshua and the Israelites, yet they were to obey God’s commands through the process of gaining victory over Jericho.
 
But being obedient to God’s directions – to His Word – often brings a test of faith. In the case of Joshua and the Israelites, being obedient meant marching around Jericho for seven days. And as they marched around this little 7 acre city, their faith was undoubtedly tested. Imagine what their thoughts could have been: “Why circle around and around? We have more than enough military power to take this city by force. If we have to blow horns, why ram’s horns and not shiny metal horns? When we do take this city over, why do we need to destroy it?  These houses and this wall are still in good shape. This could be our base of operations for years to come.”
   
What was true for Israel of old is true for you and for me today: When we see that God’s ways are not our ways and that His thoughts are not our thoughts it brings a test of our faith.  Being obedient to God and His Word often results in a test of our faith.
 
And during that process of being obedient to God, we must patiently wait on the Lord. That is a second application. Just as Israel circled the city day after day and waited in patient obedience for the Lord to crumble the walls of Jericho, so we too must wait on the Lord in patient obedience. Hebrews 11:30 says: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for 7 days.” The walls fell after they had marched around the city for 7 long days. Can you imagine how long those days must have seemed to the Israelites?
 
After the first few days the Amorites in Jericho may have begun to ridicule the Israelites: “They defeated Og and Sihon, but they’re afraid to attack us. Look at them blow their trumpets! They aren’t shiny silver ones like ours – nothing but ram’s horns! These people are nothing but hot air!”
 
Does that type of ridicule sound familiar? Jericho, in many ways, represents this fallen world apart from Christ. The world still mocks the weapons of Christianity: “Prayer? Bible study? The sacraments? – You Christians are so foolish!” 
 
And through all the criticism of the world we are to have that same patient obedience as Israel had as they marched around Jericho day after day. 2 Corinthians 10:4: “For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
 
The people of Jericho found that out. But in the long week of waiting, the people of Israel had their patience tested. Verse 10 describes how Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!”  How hard it must have been to silently wait! Yet Israel, in this instance, set a wonderful example of trusting and obeying. And we are to follow that good example of patient obedience to the Lord. Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the Lord.  Be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.”
      
Third, we must trust our salvation to God’s grace, through faith in Christ, as Rahab did. As the walls came crashing down, Rahab and her family were spared. Some commentators have questioned how exactly they were spared. In other words, was the portion of the wall where their house was, still intact?  Were they saved because no debris came to crush or injure them?
 
All those questions amount to speculation. Ultimately, Rahab’s salvation was by grace through faith in the Messiah to come. Jesus had said about Abraham, “Abraham rejoiced that he would see My day. He saw it and was glad”  (John 8:56). And the same could be said of Rahab and every other Old Testament believer. They looked ahead to the promise of the Savior, and were saved by faith in Him, just as we are today.
 
There is no salvation apart from saving faith in Jesus Christ. He alone is the way, the truth and the life. No one come to the Father except through faith in Him (John 14:6). But all who have faith in Him are saved, regardless of the sins in their lives, regardless of their past, and regardless of the present struggles with sin. Salvation is found through faith in Christ alone. As He Himself said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
   
But for those who do not put their faith in Christ there is the certainly of judgment. Just as we don’t know all the details of how the wall of Jericho came crashing down, we don’t know all the details of how this present evil world will come to a close. But we do know that the last trumpet will sound, and the Lord will return in glory. The world as we know it, with all its sin, its political corruption, crime, and perversion will come crashing down. But we do know that all who have placed their faith in Christ alone will be saved. We who believe in Christ with true saving faith can echo the words of the hymn writer:
 
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.  (It Is Well with My Soul; William Spafford)
 
The question that each one of us must ask is the same question Rahab must have asked herself: “Is my faith in myself?  Is it in the strength of the walls of this city – this present world in which I live?  Is it in my own good works?  Or is my faith truly in the Messiah, the promised Seed of the woman, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ?”
 
Rahab’s faith was firmly focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. Even the scarlet cord that she placed out her window was an Old Testament shadow pointing to the shed blood of Jesus. In the same way, may your faith and mine always be centered upon Jesus Christ, as we make it the goal of our life to live in obedience to God’s Word, patiently waiting on Him, knowing that His thoughts and His ways are always right for our lives – here and now, and throughout all eternity! Amen.
 
 
                                            - bulletin outline -
 
 
“Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day,
march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear
hem sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the
wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” - Joshua 2:4-5
 
                              “At the Sound of the Trumpet”                             
                                               Joshua 6:1-27         
 
I.  These verses remind us that the Lord:
     1) Often accomplishes His plans differently than we expect (3-5; Isaiah 55:8-9) as He
          accomplishes His purposes and grants victory to His people
 
 
 
 
     2) Brings judgment on the wicked (17-21, 24, 26; 1 Kings 16:34)
 
 
 
 
     3) Saves those who put their faith in Him (17, 22-23, 25; Acts 16:31)
 
 
 
 
II. Applications:
     1) Being obedient to God (2-5) often brings a test of faith (Hebrews 11:30)
 
 
 
     2) We must patiently wait on the Lord (10, Psalm 27:14)
 
 
 
 
     3) We must trust our salvation to God’s grace, through faith in Christ, as Rahab
          did (22-23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 11:31)
 

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2018, Rev. Ted Gray

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