Jericho has set itself up against God, against its Lord and King. How may our world do the same? When we look at the culture in which we live, we can see ways in which its values stand in contrast to the Lordship of Christ. Advertisements, for example, target human desires, and so they can be indicative of deeper beliefs. Think of the self-promoting culture that gravitates towards Youtube’s slogan “Broadcast yourself.” Or the entitlement inherent in Burger King’s “Have it your way.” Or the appetite-driven bent of Sprite’s “Obey your thirst.” There’s a dangerous sense of pride and control with other words like American Express’ “My life. My card.” All these things can be used in good ways, but the mentality that they can target is dangerous. Implicitly and explicitly, there is much around us that sets itself up against God, and would draw us to conform to the same values. As followers of Jesus—the Lord of all—we take a stand against any other things that set themselves up against His Lordship. How do we do this, if we aren’t to physically storm cities as Israel did?
We read in Ephesians, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:10-12, NIV)
And later we are told to take the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This mission involves absorbing violence as well—we are to forgive and not repay evil for evil. God may and will judge justly, and we are told not to take revenge. And yet we are to enter combat as much as Israel did in the battle at Jericho. We are not fighting for our own rights, but for God’s glory and for the lives of people. The devil would have people in bondage and death, but as we make disciples we share the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is Lord.
We sometimes talk about making Jesus Lord of our lives. This is a misnomer. We can’t make Jesus anything. We can only acknowledge Who He is—and even if no human acknowledged Him, He would still be Lord. The people of Jericho didn’t repent and turn to God, but they still belonged to Him. The question is whether we will humble ourselves and conform our lives to this truth now—sharing the gospel so others may also bow the knee in humble repentance before their Lord and our Lord—or whether we along with all others must ultimately do so anyway despite all resistance when Christ comes again.
And now is the time of forgiveness. Now is the time of Rahab, becoming a traitor to her city of Jericho and re-aligning herself with God as she hid the spies. God has provided abundantly for us to find mercy before Him—the marks on Jesus’ hands and feet testify to the deep, deep love of Jesus. Our Lord, our Sovereign, actually humbled Himself to take the wrath we deserved for our rebellion. He took it upon Himself! The One we bow the knee to is both our Lord, our Judge, and our Savior. So we are called to come before Him for forgiveness and new life, and we are to go into the world and call others to Him.
And this is not an impossible task even though the walls may rise high and the cities be shut tightly in opposition, for He is with us to the end of the age! Every tower and city will fall; whether in repentance like Rahab, or in destruction like the rest of Jericho. And as we go, we remember how we ready ourselves for this mission. In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul writes: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV)
Sometimes we shy away from witnessing, from sharing what we believe, as it may offend. But really, the most violent thing we could do would be to fail to preach the gospel to a dying world, to fail to preach Christ as Lord in a place that serves idols that only give death. In Christ is life and hope; how can we not share this?
Our calling? Having bowed before Christ and continuing to surrender our lives to Him (for we still set ourselves stubbornly against God so often), having received adoption in place of condemnation, and forgiveness in place of punishment, we are given a commission to go and make disciples, that others may glorify their Lord and ours. That others may experience the grace of the Lord Jesus. And so we fight, we give ourselves, for God’s glory and His gospel.
And our Lord—to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given—sends us out to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything” He has commanded us. And just as Israel could not be confident in themselves but in God when they went against Jericho, we also can be confident that Jesus is with us. The One who died for us also is also with us every day.