Sermons

Summary: God of War and Fire. God of Peace and Love. Can they be the same God?

Scripture Text: Joshua 6 :17

 17 The city and everything in it is to be utterly wiped out as something reserved for the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute is to stay alive, along with everyone with her in her house. This is because she hid the messengers we sent.

Illustration:

On October 6, 1973, I was stationed in the USS Independence steaming in the Mediterranean Sea. October 7th Independence turned south from off the coast of Italy and did a high power steaming to Israeli. The Arab countries attacked Israel hoping to win back territory lost to Israel during the third Arab-Israeli war, in 1967, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

The United States started pulling out Navy A4 aircraft which is great for close combat support. Once after a fast over hauled they were launched to the Azores. From there they were recovered by an American Aircraft Carrier stationed at Gibraltar and hot fueled. Then launched to another American Aircraft Carrier in the middle of the Mediterranean and hot fueled and launched to the USS Independence and we recovered them. We hot fueled, loaded missiles, bombs and ammo. They were then launched to in country of Israel for duty.

The Israelis not only held their land but took over major portions of Arab land. Israel considered it a major victory over their enemies. Out gunned and out manned Israel did see it as a miracle from God.

-A sidebar: I was called from the flight deck to the skippers wardroom for him to tell me that my daughter was born October 7, 1973.

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The Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament, contains several stories of wars and conflicts involving the Israelites and other ancient peoples. The first five books of the Bible recount the people of Israel’s enslavement in Egypt and their being led to the land promised them by God, under the leadership of Moses. Beginning with the Book of Joshua, wars of conquest and defense were initiated by the Israelites, to seize the Promised Land and to protect it from invasion.

Joshua and the fall of Jericho

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and to the edge of the Promised Land of the Canaanites, Joshua was directed to lead them in the capture of their cities. One of these was the walled city of Jericho. Through spies dispatched by Joshua to the city he learned that the Canaanites were afraid of the power of the Israelites. Joshua directed his army to march around the walls of the city every day for a week, carrying with them the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day they made seven trips around Jericho, after which they sounded their trumpets, fashioned from the horns of rams, and created a hue and cry.

According to the Book of Joshua, the walls of the city collapsed before the Israelites, who then slaughtered the population of the city, including men, women, and children. This was in accord with the law of herem, which appears in several biblical books, first in Deuteronomy, where it specifically lists six peoples who would contaminate Israel and were to be destroyed. The Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Canaanites, were all to be exterminated under this command.

The conquest of Hazor

According to the Book of Joshua, Hazor was the site which was occupied by a powerful Canaanite king who assembled a confederation of Canaanite tribes to oppose the Israelites under Joshua following the fall of Jericho. The confederation included chariots of iron according to the biblical story. The army confronted Joshua’s after the Israelites had captured several cities in the southern regions of Canaan, as described in the first ten chapters of the Book of Joshua. When Joshua turned to the north as directed by God it was to complete the conquest of Canaan and the destruction of its people.

The Israelites defeated the Canaanite confederation in battle, after which the towns of Hazor, Madon, Anab, Debir, Achshaph, and Shimron were razed, their leaders hanged, and their population put to the sword in accordance with herem.

Throughout the campaigns described in the Book of Joshua God intervenes by giving Joshua specific instructions regarding the conduct of coming battles, and providing plans for the campaign. God also performs miracles to assist the Israelites in battle by confounding their enemies, including stopping the motion of the sun and the moon across the sky. Bombardment of the enemy with hailstones is another technique of aiding the Israelites. By the end Joshua’s conquest of the land, only one of the Canaanite tribes agreed to peaceful terms with the Israelites, the Gibeonites. They are enslaved by the Israelites, with God’s permission.

Gideon and the Midianites

In the book of Judges, which to tell the history of the Israelites during the period immediately following Joshua, the Canaanites are very much alive and well, and they and other tribes hostile to the Israelites occupy the land of the twelve tribes alongside them. The proximity of idolatry to the Israelites led them astray and a judge arose to lead them back to the Lord, usually through the slaughter of the tempting tribe of idolaters. One such judge was Gideon, to whom God sent a messenger in the form of an Angel. Gideon demanded proof that he was actually dealing with God, in the form of three miracles and he got his answer.

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