When you were a little kid and your parents told you not to do something, it made it that much more tempting. It wasn’t necessarily that you wanted to be defiant, but sometimes you wanted to see what was so bad that it had been forbidden.
Then, when you finally went through with it, you were punished because you broke the rule. You had the freedom to break the rules, but you also had to accept the consequences.
In 1 Kings 16, we meet two of the more infamous characters in the Bible. Ahab and Jezebel were apparently the most evil dictators yet in the history of Israel, and they did a lot of things that openly challenged God.
1Ki 16:30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
1Ki 16:31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
1Ki 16:32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
1Ki 16:33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
1Ki 16:34 In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.
First of all, he worshiped Baal which is obviously something that God could not stand. It directly violates the 10 Commandments, and as we have seen throughout history, God does not like it when people try to replace Him.
However, there’s one other really interesting thing in this passage that openly challenges God. Way back in Joshua, Jericho was demolished, and it was never supposed to be rebuilt.
Jos 6:26 And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
Remember, we all can be like the little kids I’ve outlined above. God tells us not to do things, and we either ignore those laws or obey them. We rebel because we have that sin nature. There are consequences then to our actions.
Before I leave you today though, let’s end on a much happier note. We are rebellious, and we certainly do sin. However, because of the work that Jesus Christ did by dying on the cross, we can be forgiven. That is ultimately the good news of the Gospel.
2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Joshua chapter 12 kind of reminds me of a trophy case. It highlights every kingdom that the people of Israel had taken down. What is even more amazing is that there are 31 kingdoms on that list. Granted, Israel was a rather large nation, but you would think that they would eventually tire of war and lose to someone. They just kept on claiming the land that God has given to them.
Jos 12:1 Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon unto mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east:
I highlighted this verse because it is not like the children of Israel just barely got by. They smote their opponents. To me, that implies domination and utter defeat.
God must have been present in this work because human armies are never able to be this successful on their own. As far as I understand it, Jericho is not the only major city they had to conquer. Obviously it was one of the most significant, but it is not like the rest of the cities were tiny and defenseless. They all had their own armies, and Israel had to fight for everything.
I think that this testifies to the size and power of God. Even these major obstacles were honestly no problem. He took the people of Israel exactly where he wanted them and was able to overcome everyone.
Intellectually, I think that we all know this. We all know that God is omnipotent, but it is often harder to truly believe what we say. We sometimes want to subconsciously make God smaller than our problems for example. We think that He has no idea what we are going through and might not even be able to help us.
That is 100% wrong. Given that he created us, it seems rather natural that he would understand everything about us. If you build something, you know every part of it.
God had plenty of power to help and Joshua in the nation of Israel overcome what must have seemed like an insurmountable barrier, and He can easily help us with any problem we have as well.
Joshua was confused in the seventh chapter of the book named for him. After all, God had guaranteed him military success, and the children of Israel were thoroughly beaten by the people of Ai.
Understandably, Joshua was upset and asked God what went wrong.
Jos 7:10 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?
Jos 7:11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.
Jos 7:12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.
As it turned out, a man named Achan had taken some possessions from Jericho which was clearly against the command of God.
Just like Achan, I think that we sometimes do not realize the collateral damage that we can, and often do, cause. Because of his action, many people needlessly died. If he would have known that that would happen, I am sure that he would have forgotten about the silver and gold.
There are other examples of people who didn’t really realize what they were doing and how much pain they had caused. Saul (Paul) was a perfect example. Until he was converted on the road to Damascus, he had no idea the implications of his Christian massacre.
Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Act 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Saul thought that he was doing the will of God and that killing these people would not really have implications. Obviously, God told him differently.
I hope that we all can remember how our sins don’t just happen in a bubble. We have the potential to harm others, but the more positive side of that argument is that we also have the opportunity to show the love of God to people and make a positive difference in their lives.
Sometimes I have to wonder if Joshua had any doubt about the plan that God laid out for him. After all, in Joshua chapter 6, here is what God told him would happen.
Jos 6:2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
Jos 6:3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
Jos 6:4 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.
Jos 6:5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s 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 flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
If I was going to be going to war against a city with giant walls, I think that I would be bringing battering rams and catapults.
Instead, God told them that they really didn’t have to do anything militaristic. March around the city once per day, and on the seventh day, blow the trumpets, make all of the people yell and the walls will fall down.
I know that I tend to over complicate things, and Joshua was smart not to do that. He could have obviously tried to overrun the city with military force. That would’ve been the world’s wisdom. After all, you take an army to conquer a city.
However, God had a plan. This plan would not only help the Israelites conquered Jericho, but it would also demonstrate that the honor obviously went to God. The people could not have done that on their own.
I think that is something that I need to remember. God provides many solutions as we look through the Bible. His wisdom is much greater than the world’s wisdom.
Joshua chapter two contains one of the more well-known Bible stories. The Israelites spies snuck into Jericho, and Rahab protected them from the soldiers that were looking for them.
Of course, in effect, she was committing treason. I don’t know a lot about the law in Jericho, but I assume that she would have faced a severe punishment if they knew that she was hiding the enemy.
However, she still decided to go through it, and she explained a little bit of why she went through with that.
Jos 2:9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
Jos 2:10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
Jos 2:11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
Jos 2:12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token:
Jos 2:13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.
The Israelites and specifically God has already acquired a reputation. She knew that whenever they came to a city, they overran it. In fact, even though Jericho had giant walls, she apparently knew that somehow, those defenses would fail.
She recognized that God had more power than any city. Even though she surely did not worship God at this time, she recognized that there was something different about the God of the Israelites. She knew that whatever god she was worshiping at the time in Jericho was virtually powerless.
Even someone who would surely not have identified as a follower of God recognized His incredible power and knew that it was better to be on His side.
How much more then should those of us who know God have faith in his power? Shouldn’t we realize that He can get us through anything? If Rahab was willing to commit treason, we should at least be willing to trust God Himself to control our lives.