Eternal Stone: God’s Eternal Law of Life

Deuteronomy 24 – Joshua 11

God knows what justice is. That’s good because it means we don’t have to live our lives in bitterness trying to seek our own justice. This gives us the freedom to forgive and move on without carrying the heavy weight of bitterness.

The battle of Jericho is the story of mercy and justice. We find a message of hope and encouragement in the backdrop of unwavering judgement.


Today we encounter one of the most well known battles in Israelite history. It’s the first city they conquer before entering the promised land, and the way the city is conquered is nothing short of a miracle. Let me tell you the story:

Jericho was the place where Israel had been defeated and denied entrance into the land of Canaan one generation ago. Those who had left Egypt were led by God to Sinai where they were given the ten commandments, they were organized into perfect companies, the Sanctuary was built and a system of worship was established — Now they were fully prepared to setup a new kingdom in the promised land. But before they went into the land they asked Moses first to send spies:

[Deu 1:21-22 NKJV] 21 ‘Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up [and] possess [it], as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.’ 22 “And every one of you came near to me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way by which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come.’

So they sent out twelve spies, ten of which brought back an evil report and magnified the difficulties of the land. It was then that the people lost heart and decided to select a new leader, stone Moses, and return to Egypt.  Were it not for the manifestation of God’s glory they would have carried out their plan. Then God said to them:

[Num 14:29-30 NKJV] 29 ‘The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. 30 ‘Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. and an entire generation perished there in the wilderness.

Now fastforward 40 years — The teenagers and children who were alive when the twelve spies went out are now in their 50’s. They are standing on the banks of the Jordan River with the plain of Jericho before them. Jericho, was one of the mightiest cities of the Canaan. It was filled with wealth, and pride and luxury. Gold and silver flowed through the city as it was geographically located on major trade routes.

In addition to being a wealthy city it was located in a desirable tropical climate, with fertile land all around it. The city of Jericho was also called the city of Palms because of all the Palm trees that grew there. But it was a wicked city, filled with idolatry and evil. 

Because it was a wicked city, committing great evil against the Lord, and against even their own family members — and to prevent the spread of the wickedness God commanded that this city should be destroyed. What were they doing in Jericho? The Bible briefly mentions it in Deuteronomy:

[Deu 18:10-12 NKJV] 10 “There shall not be found among you [anyone] who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, [or one] who practices witchcraft, [or] a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 “or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 “For all who do these things [are] an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.

The people of Jericho had beautiful groves where they would setup the idol Molech, a great seated statue of a man with a bulls head and outstretched arms. The people would build a fire in the back of the statue which was hollow, until the arms of the statue of this idol blazed red hot, and then the people would set their own children in the arms of this statue — this is what it means to pass through the fire.

The people were spiritists and mediums conjuring spells and practicing witchcraft — These people were in active communication with demonic entities and were carrying out the will of these demons in pronouncing curses and creating the most painful ways for men and women to die.

They committed the the same sins of Sodom and Gomorrah — man, woman, and even animals. And the Bible says that if they were not destroyed, but left alive, these people so long corrupted and steeped in sin would teach the children of Israel to sin like they did:

[Deu 20:16-18 NKJV] 16 “But of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you [as] an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17 “but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the LORD your God has commanded you, 18 “lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.

Some read the Old Testament and accuse God of genocide because he commanded the destruction of the Canaanites — but I want to take just a moment to offer a different perspective.

#1 — God gave them 400 years to change course, and demonstrated during that 400 years that over multiple generations mercy and grace in allowing them to live only resulted in deeper and darker sins.

#2 — The sins that were being committed were causing the maximum amount of suffering and pain to even children. To exterminate the wicked cities of this place, would end the vicious cycle of suffering and restore peace and harmony to the land.

#3 — When wickedness is allowed to continually be displayed, many others are led to sin in the same way and share in the degradation, pain, and sin. For God to remove this example of evil, and to put in it’s place a nation that would treat with dignity, kindness, and respect all of it’s citizens would demonstrate to all the surrounding nations a healthier way of living that would have a powerful positive influence.

There was only one way to resolve the problem in Canaan — and it was the same final resolution which God had come to at the time of the flood.

[Gen 6:5 NKJV] 5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every intent of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

It is important for us to note, that it was men and women who had completely left God — God did not abandon or leave them. Complete Destruction came only after there was demonstrable proof that there was no longer any hope of saving them, or bringing them to repentance.

Jesus describes this as the sin against the Holy Spirit — the only unforgivable sin, because it is the sin of unrepentant and complete abandon to sin. It is always God’s desire for men and women to turn from their ways, and as long as their is hope of change, God doesn’t give up on us:

[Eze 33:11 NKJV] 11 “Say to them: ‘[As] I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

[2Pe 3:9 NKJV] 9 The Lord is not slack concerning [His] promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

We see an example of this in the life of Rahab, a harlot who lived in Jericho. A woman who lived in a doomed and wicked city, who herself was participating in adultery as a career! But what does the Bible say about Rahab?

First it says that she hid the two spies who came to spy out Jericho, but notice what she says is the real motive for her action. Notice the conviction, and the faith of Rahab:

[Jos 2:8-13 NKJV] 8 Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, 9 and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10 “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who [were] on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 “And as soon as we heard [these things], our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He [is] God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 12 “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, 13 “and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

Do you hear the faith in her speech? She believed that God would destroy the city, and in risking her life for these spies and in asking that her family would be spared, she is realigning her allegiance with God. The Bible says about Rahab:

[Heb 11:31 NKJV] 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

And the mercy of God is that even this Harlot — the Jericho city prostitute — who turned to the Lord with faith, was not only saved, but was honored by God for her faith by making her part of the ancestry of the Messiah. She was also the Great Great Grandmother of King David of Israel!

[Mic 7:18 NKJV] … He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights [in] mercy.

The Lord is not arbitrary or cruel in his pronouncement against Jericho, but holds his olive branch of peace to them until the very last moment. Think of the seven days God gives the city to surrender, repent, demonstrate some level of remorse for their sins?

[Jos 6:3-4 NKJV] 3 “You shall march around the city, all [you] men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. 4 “And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.

Think about this — for seven days they have a demonstration marching around their city. For seven days the conviction of God’s Spirit wrestles with them. For seven days they are given opportunity to open their gates and surrender not to Israel, but it would be as surrendering to God. What God does with Jericho is what He does with each one of us:

[Rev 3:20 NKJV] 20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

As Israel made their circle around the city, there were no threats or curses that came from their mouth. It was perfect silence, perhaps so that the men of Jericho could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking loud and clear to their hearts?

The number seven is the number of completeness — God finished the creation in seven days and seven is also the number of God’s throne in heaven. For Israel to encircle Jericho seven days, symbolized the complete mercy of God in waiting to the very last moment. This is how God fights battles!

  1. Longsuffering — allowing plenty of time to change
  2. Merciful towards the repentant
  3. Forgives quickly
  4. Keeps the door open as long as possible

Which is not the typical ART of WAR — How do men fight battles today?

  1. Retaliate quickly and fiercely — make them pay for what they did — Justice is mine
  2. Show no mercy — mercy shows weakness, and pride demands merciless vengeance
  3. Hold grudges & bitterness for years — and relish in the destruction of your enemies
  4. Do to them what they did to you — an eye for an eye

What a different approach Jesus gave to warring with our enemies:

[Mat 5:39, 44-47 NKJV] 39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. … 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more [than others]? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

Now in the case of Jericho, and in the case with the wicked at the end of time, there comes a point in which a line is crossed — and justice must come. Who brings about justice?

[Rom 12:19 NKJV] 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but [rather] give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance [is] Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

[Heb 10:30 NKJV] 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”

At the end of time there are figurative individuals who are crying out for justice from God for all the wrong they have suffered, and the Bible says:

[Rev 6:10-11 NKJV] 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both [the number of] their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they [were], was completed.

So in God’s Battles — who brings about Justice? Whose job is it to execute vengeance? Why do you think it’s God’s job not ours? I’m not saying that there isn’t a part we can and should play in some battles, but there are battles that belong in the Lord’s hands.

Jericho was just such a battle — God had promised them the land of Canaan and it was God who would take full credit for the first victory — Right here is where the children of Israel had failed 40 years previous, and God would demonstrate that what human power and will could not accomplish, he would accomplish through his might and his power! God was showing Israel the victory He can bring when we trust in His leading 100%.

Israel was not to shout, or shoot an arrow, or throw a spear, but just March for six days in silence — This was a test for Israel. Would they trust in God’s methods to save them and bring them victory?

Now the Bible tells us that the time of year was the harvest time:

[Jos 3:15 NKJV] 15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest),

For years, people said that the destruction of Jericho was a fictitious story made up in the Bible but Archaeologists have unearthed the ancient city of Jericho! There have been Excavations by Austrian/Germans led by Ernst Sellin and Carl Watzinger, 1907-1909 and 1911. John Garstang, British archaeologist, 1930-1936.  Kathleen Kenyon, 1950-1958.  In all the excavations — there is Plenty of evidence of destruction, and the pottery unearthed by Kenyon revealed that there was an extremely wealthy part of the city.  Now the city itself had Big walls around Jericho —

  • Outer stone retaining wall holding a steep plastered glacis
  • Topping this was an upper red-mud brick wall— estimated at 4.5 feet thick and 12 feet tall. – Immediately inside the two walls, there were houses of mud brick (Joshua 2:15)”

Now when they excavated Jericho they found something curious — usually in a siege the walls are bashed in, but the walls of Jericho did not fall inward, the archaeologists discovered that the walls all felll outward creating a natural ramp that the army could scramble up into the city.

[Jos 6:20 NKJV] 20 So the people shouted when [the priests] blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

Archaeology confirms this account of Jericho’s destruction. Not only that, remember we said that Jericho was destroyed in the time of the harvest, the bible also says:

[Jos 6:24 NKJV] 24 But they burned the city and all that [was] in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

Archaeologists who have excavated Jericho have found jars of grain, still filled to the brim indicating that it was destroyed at harvest time — and the jars of grain are all charred with fire, showing that the city was destroyed by fire after the walls came down, just as the bible mentions.

The story of Jericho isn’t a made up story, but a very true story that illustrates one of the greatest battles Israel fought — and the main point of the story isn’t even that Israel won a great victory, the point of the story is that God won a great victory.

I’m going to take you back to one more scene in the story. We are back at the banks of the Jordan and Joshua is seeking the Lord for strength and courage to fight the upcoming battle of Jericho, and who should meet him there at the river bank?

[Jos 5:13-15 NKJV] 13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “[Are] You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but [as] Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15 Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand [is] holy.” And Joshua did so.

Who was this “commander of the army of the LORD”? — The clue is that the Commander says “take your sandal off… where you stand is holy” — this was the same command given to Moses when He met with God.

Jesus, in human form, came to Joshua as commander of the Lord’s army — what an encouragement to this general of Israel. The commander of God’s army had come — and although invisible to human eye, an army of angels was there to fight this battle with Joshua and Israel. It was angels who excel in strength, who pushed over the walls of Jericho and led to the complete overthrow of this wicked city.

The Battle of Jericho, reminds us of the ministry of angels sent to help us in our battles which we face. The Bible promise is:

[Psa 34:7 NKJV] 7 The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Appeal: The Lord’s battles are fought and won different than we fight today. The Battle of Jericho is an encouragement to us to call out to God and to seek the help of His angels in the battles and confrontations we face.