The Bible indicates that God instructed Israel to destroy Jericho, with its treasures dedicated as an offering (charam) as an act of worship and reverence to Him.
However, something bizarre may be occurring here – how could an entire nation vanish and yet come back into being in the Holy Land? Something supernatural must be at play here.
Table of Contents
God’s wrath against the Canaanites
God was merciless towards the Canaanites; His anger against them was intense. Like Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:23-25), they too suffered at His hand (Genesis 19:24-25), though in contrast with these extreme examples of evil they didn’t worship the true God but instead engaged in practices such as idol worshipping, child sacrifice and sacred prostitution that deserved them to be cleansed from earth entirely.
God was outraged at the Canaanites due to their spiritual corruption. He could no longer stand being around them because of their idolatry and other offensive practices, while their influence threatened Israel’s faith by spreading corruption throughout its ranks. Therefore, it was necessary for Him to completely wipe them out.
God told the Israelites to destroy Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites to punish their sin and grant them the land that had been promised them by Him. Jericho itself would be completely destroyed along with its idols and practices which God judged unacceptable as punishment for this offense against Him and to give his promised land back.
Many may find it shocking that God would strike down upon Canaanite cities with such harshness, yet this is consistent with how He dealt with nations when His grand plan was at stake. Just as He saved Lot and his family in Sodom in response to their faithfulness (Joshua 6:17), so too He spared Rahab-the-harlot and hers (Joshua 6:17).
These events show God is capable of fulfilling His promises. He made a way for the Israelites to capture Jericho even with its formidable walls, depending on their obedience, trust, and faith – something He rewarded them with victory! Similarly, He will fulfill all His other promises to His people when they obey Him in faith; then take them further up the ladder of glory! Amen.
God’s mercy on Rahab
At the time of Jericho’s destruction, God showed His mercy toward one woman – Rahab. According to scripture, she was a prostitute but risked her life to protect the Israelite spies sent into Jericho; hiding them in her house before deceiving King Ahaz in order to spare their lives – showing trust in His presence, and showing His strength at work through her. Her trust made an impressionful statement about His goodness!
After 40 years of wandering in the desert, God told Joshua He would give them Canaan. Joshua instructed his troops to march around Jericho once every day for six days while priests followed behind blowing ram’s horns, with walls falling on the seventh day.
Joshua planned for an assault of Jericho, with Achan as its target. But there was one major roadblock – Achan had stolen some sacred items from Jericho and hidden them in his tent, even after warnings from spies that he would be destroyed; Achan refused to repent or return them and all his possessions would be destroyed, including family and animals. It would prove catastrophic!
God was angry with Achan for murdering Rahab; yet He showed mercy towards her as He knew that she trusted Him even as she saved lives by working as a prostitute for Achan. Lastly, He wanted Rahab to know He was merciful.
God is a compassionate and merciful being; only He can save our souls and bring us into a lasting relationship with Him. Though He can be judged harshly at times, His merciful acts far outweigh them; thus giving His only Son as a means for us to know and worship Him, while assuring those who accept him of forgiveness for their sins and salvation in eternity.
God’s punishment for Achan
Joshua 7 offers us an unforgettable illustration of sin’s consequences: Achan’s disobedience led God to judge all Israel, leading directly to Jericho being destroyed and Achan himself being put to death; however, God specifically stated that fathers would not be executed for their children (Deut. 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; Ezek. 18:20).
God desired for Israel to recognize His presence while also following his lead when taking up their land. A similar lesson would be repeated during the battle of Ai, when disobedience resulted in defeat.
Achan was indulging his greed when he took from Babylon a wedge of gold and silver as well as an exquisite garment made from Babylonian fabric, taking these things without regard for God’s command that no gain be made of such treasures.
Achan’s sin was an insult to God’s holiness and His right to require obedience from His people, in addition to breaking a promise made hundreds of years before with Abraham.
As Israel marched around Jerusalem, God allowed their faith to cause its walls to collapse – to show how powerful His word truly was and show that He wanted people to recognize His presence and realize its strength.
Many unbelievers attempt to explain the miracle of Jericho from a naturalistic angle, which misses its real point: It demonstrates God’s power over creation through his Word and his sovereignty over creation. Additionally, these explanations fail to recognize the importance of faith for its witness in society – people must be ready to stand against opposition and proclaim Jesus Christ as the one who can forgive sin – all while readying themselves to sacrifice everything – including their lives – for his glory; otherwise they risk remaining stuck in the desert forever unable to enter God’s Promised Land.
God’s blessing on Joshua
God’s command to Joshua in Joshua’s time to wipe out tribes from Israel in the Old Testament caused much controversy, and continues to spark debate today. Many people question why an all-loving God would call for so many lives to die – especially considering its context: God intended his command not as an absolute decree but instead to warn Israel about keeping their covenant and following Him completely.
God promised the Israelites when they crossed the Jordan River that He would lead them into His Promised Land — rich with minerals, water and fruit — and defeat their enemies. First however, they had to capture Jericho. Although its walls were formidable, Joshua had received word from his spies that it may be possible for even a small army to capture it successfully.
Joshua sent scouts into the city to assess how it was defended. They discovered that it wasn’t too strong and its defenders weren’t many; this gave Joshua hope that they might quickly capture it, though before doing so he prayed to God first for guidance.
God told Joshua three things to do. First, he must destroy the city. Second, he must save Rahab the harlot. Thirdly, before Rahab fell, Joshua must give a shout before her walls crumbled as proof that their victory was from Him and not them.
Next step was to set fire to the city in order to destroy it completely and present an offering to God as part of His plan for deliverance. Furthermore, burning prevented anyone from rebuilding it – an act forbidden by Him!
As soon as Joshua heard this news, he was overjoyed. In response, Joshua asked God for blessing and was told: “Be careful to follow my covenant and laws.” Furthermore, He warned Joshua that any disobedience to His commands could bring hardships for Israel as well as exile.