The Siege of Jericho
One of the first principles of war is to search our, discover and overthrow your enemies strategic strongholds. There are certain geographical locations the control of which can mean the difference between winning and loosing battles and ultimately the war itself. Thus when the allied forces landed on the beaches of France it was vitally important that they identified the bunkers from which the German army controlled the coast-line and overthrew the troops who occupied those bunkers. Once they did that they beaches would then be in the control of the allied forces and more troops could be brought across the channel to France from when they could then make inroads into the rest of German occupied Europe. Hence whilst every battle to regain occupied territory is important there are some that are absolutely vital if the campaign is to succeed.
As we have seen in our studies thus far in the book of Joshua, the children of Israel, God’s covenant people, have entered into the land of Canaan, that land that God had promised to them. However whilst they were in the land they did not at this point possess the land. In order for them to enter into the experience of the full enjoyment of their promised inheritance it was necessary for them to confront and conquer their enemies who occupied that land.
And this evening we enter a new section of the book of Joshua, a section which begins at 5/13 and goes through to the end of chapter 12 in which we have the record of how the people of God applied themselves to the task of overcoming their enemies and taking possession of the land.
And the inaugural battle, the battle for Jericho, was indeed a most important battle in many ways. It was a vitally important from a Tactical point of view. Jericho stood at the foot of the Western Hills of Canaan. If the Israelites were going to control the crucial area of the hill country from which they could then begin to fan out into the rest of the land, then they were going to have to take the fortress city of Jericho which lay at the foot of the Hills and then that of Ai which lay further up the mountainside. So the battle for Jericho was crucial from a Tactical point of view. It was also crucial from a Morale point of view. This would be the Israelites first experience of conflict. Defeat here would have serious negative repercussions upon the people, probably causing them to despair and turn back. They certainly wouldn’t be in any mood to have another go at taking the city of their first attempt failed. It was also vitally important, from a Spiritual point of view in that, as we are going to see, it would be a real test of their faith in and obedience to God. Failure to take Jericho would result in them being unable to take possession of the land and thus unable to enjoy the blessings which lay before them.
Although this passage records actual historical events which took place over 4,000 years ago, you will discover that there are spiritual principles contained within this narrative which far from being bound to and applicable only to that generation of God’s people transcend the boundaries of time and of culture and are still relevant and applicable to us, God’s people today.