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Battles for the Promised-Land

October 29, 2013

Again God told his people he would give them a land of milk and honey, and Joshua reminded them that they must worship God and obey his commands to be happy and prosperous in that land. God did not say that getting the land would be easy or without suffering. Joshua understood the difficulties of battle, but he could not know if his people had the tenacity to fight the battles of human temptations after God led them to victory on the battlefield.

The time is 1406 BC. Moses is dead after annointing Joshua the leader, Joshua, the commander-in-chief of the Israelite army, marshaled the men of the twelve tribes into battles. Many different people with many different cultures occupied the promised land.; Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites and Hivites, Perizzites and Jebusites. They were ruled by kings fearful of the growing tribes of Israelites. The kings came out with their troops, horses and chariots, and some joined forces to fight against Israel. Fierce fighters, the Israelites showed no mercy, plundering and devastating the cities and killing the kings.

Heroes make their reputations in battles, but many lie fallen, their blood clotting the ground, groaning in anguish or dead. Like many war stories, the battles to obtain the promised land were vicious. Joshua’s victories began as the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. God stopped the river’s flow while Joshua’s armies passed. Joshua then attacked Jericho. He sent two spies into the city where they were befriended by Rehab, a prostitute, who hid them from their pursuers, then let them over the wall, and guided them to safety. In return the spies promised to protect her and her family when victory was theirs.

The story of the battle of Jericho is God’s spectacular victory. Jericho, 840 feet below sea level is probably the lowest city on earth, and may be the oldest settlement. It had an irrigation system, a huge tower. and a defensive wall. God told Joshua to march his army around the walls of Jericho once each day with all the armed men walking silently, led by seven high priests carrying rams’ horns in front of the ark. God  said, “On the seventh day, march around the city seven times with the priests blowing the trumpets and the army shouting loudly. Then the walls of the city will collapse and the army will go straight in.” The city was taken in the way God commanded, and everyone in the city was killed except Rehab, the prostitute, and her family.

Joshua subdued the entire region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills, and the mountain slopes. He divided the lands among the twelve tribes. After fulfilling his promise to bring the tribes into the promised-land and reminding his people to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully, Joshua died at the age of 110.

The people promised, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” Could they?

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