• Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part Three: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    God does His best work in the silence

    Part Three – Studying God’s Word

    Welcome to the third and last section of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6. 

    In an extended version of Part One – “Understanding God’s Word”, we joined the Israelites as they stood before the impregnable walls of the fortified city of Jericho in the land of Canaan.  

    Having been promised the land as their heritage by God, the Israelites still needed to believe that God was with them and would bring them victory against a superior enemy – the Canaanites.

    By obeying God’s commands and praising Him before they saw one stone be dislodged from the mighty wall of Jericho, the Israelite’s kept their faith and endured when the odds looked heavily against their favor.

    The result – God made the walls of Jericho fall down! 

    In Part Two – “Living God’s Word”, we explored the ways that we can partner up with God, the way the Israelites did, in order to live out the blessings and promises He has for our lives. 

    Part Three – “Studying God’s Word “ is intended as a study guide for those of you who would like to delve deeper into the biblical and life themes presented in Joshua 6.  

    If you would like to know more about the benefits of studying the Word of God, then l recommend that you read our page “Why study the Bible?”

    The aim of this study section

    This study section is intended as a guide to promoting discussion and reflection on Joshua 6.   

    As a start, I suggest that you read Part One and Part Two of this Bible Study on Joshua 6, in order to fully appreciate the lesson portrayed in this biblical account and to consider the chapter’s themes.   

    For whom is this study section intended? 

    You can apply this section within a group setting, such as a house group, a Bible Study group, or a prayer group.  

    Alternatively, you can also study on your own. If this may be the case, l have written some suggestions below in the section “If you are studying on your own” to assist you in your learning.   

    I encourage you to customize this study preparation by taking out of it what you wish and adding your own ideas and insight. Have fun with it!  

    What you will need:

    • A Bible, preferable a study Bible. I personally use the  “The Everyday Life Bible” from Joyce Meyer Ministries  
    • An exercise book or journal and a pen  
    • As an alternative to pen and paper, you could use a tablet or a similar electronic device 

    This study section composes of six parts:

    1. Discussion questions  

    2. Testimony  

    3.Praise and Worship 

    4. Suggested reading   

    5. Journal writing  

    6. Prayer

    These are just guidelines to help you structure your group time. Feel free to add or take out elements as you see fit! 

    Additionally, talk with your group and ask them for suggestions about what they would like to do. The more ideas, the merrier!  

    If you are studying on your own

    If you are not in a group and you would still like to apply this study section of Joshua 6 to your own private study of the Bible, that is also great! Quiet time with God is valuable time, and you can learn a lot about Him during it.   

    The following are a few suggestions of how you can adapt the 6 sections of this study guide for private study purposes:  

    1. Discussion questions:  

    You could start a journal and write down your thoughts to the listed discussion questions.   

    1.Testimony  

    You could use our suggested topics in the Testimony section as stimulation to write down all the wonderful things God has done in your life by starting a testimony journal or a blessings jar.  

    3.Praise and Worship 

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes. 

     4. Suggested reading   

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes.  

    5. Journal writing  

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes.  

    6. Prayer  

    You can speak the prayer at the end of this section over yourself. Your words have power, especially if you speak them over yourself:  

    “ So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;  
        it shall not return to me empty,  
    but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,  
        and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”  

    Isaiah 55:11  

    Let’s look at the 6 sections of our study guide. 

    Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

    1.Discussion questions

    The following are some discussion topics l have thought of to assist you in delving deeper into the themes of Joshua 6.

    There are no right or wrong answers to these topics; they are merely suggestions to stimulate conversation and an exchange of views within your group. Also, feel free to ask others if they have ideas regarding this topic that they would like to discuss and go with it!  

    As each person experiences a different walk with God, it is interesting to hear other people’s perspectives and thereby learn from each other and grow together as a Christian community. Happy talking! 

    Possible discussion topics on Joshua 6

    1. As their first place of conquest in Canaan, God sent the Israelites to the most fortified city in the entire land – Jericho. There was no way they could avoid this if they were to take possession of the land. 

    Why do you think that God sent them to Jericho? How does this correspond to a difficulty that you are currently facing? 

    2. Watching the Israelites march around their walls for 7 days, the Canaanites must have thought their military strategy to be ridiculous. Most likely, they even jeered and mocked the Children of God.  

    Have you been met with disbelief whilst in the process of acting in obedience about something that God has put on your heart? Have others even mocked you for it?

    3. In Joshua 6:21, the Israelites destroy every living thing in Jericho according to God’s commands. 

    Considering what we learned in Part 1.3  about the devoted things – charam in ancient Hebrew – what do you think about God’s punishment of the Canaanites? 

    4. God told Joshua of the promise to bring down the walls of Jericho, however, He also made it clear that the Israelites were to do their part and fulfill His commands in absolute obedience (Joshua 6:2-5).

    Do you think that God would have brought the walls of Jericho down if the Israelites hadn’t obeyed Him?

    How much is our own obedience dependent on God’s fulfillment of His promises over our lives? 

    5. Whilst marching around the walls of Jericho, the Israelites refused to get distracted by the enormity of the challenge that lay before them. Instead, they kept their hearts and minds on God and focused on what He could do to help them (Joshua 6:8-16). 

    What are ways that we can keep our focus on God when faced with adversity, instead of becoming distracted by the enormity of our situation?

    6. Are you waiting on God to work in a particular situation in your life right now? Is He working in a way contrary to how you thought He would work? Is His solution to your problem far better than the solution you were originally hoping for?

      7. The Israelites praised God before they saw a change in their situation (Joshua 6:5Joshua 6:20). 

     How important a role does praise and worship play in your quiet time with God? Have you experienced a major breakthrough after dedicating time to God in praise and worship? Share this experience with the other members of your group. 

    8. We know that God makes the impossible, possible. He provides us with signs, wonders, and miracles (Hebrews 2:4). With one shout of praise, He made the impregnable walls of Jericho fall down (Joshua 6:20). 

    Could it be that when God blesses us with signs, wonders, and miracles in our own lives, that it still comes as a surprise to us? Why is that so, do you think? 

    Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash

    2.Testimony

    Sharing your life experiences and the victories that God has vouchsafed you is a verbal expression of your gratitude. It gives not only our Father glory, but it encourages fellow Christians who may be going through the same trial that you have undergone.   

    “I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
        in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

    Psalm 22:22   

    Possible testimony topics on Joshua 6

    1. Aware that the Israelites were outmatched physically and that they lacked military experience, God gave the Israelites victory at Jericho through unconventional means – faith, obedience, endurance, courage, and praise. 

    Give a testimony of a time when God used unconventional means to give you victory in an area of your life.  

    2. Upon entering the land of Canaan, God gave the Israelite’s what looked like an impossible challenge – overcoming Jericho, a fortified city that was famous throughout the land for its impregnable walls.  And yet, God chose this city for the Israelite’s to conquer, when He could have made it easier for the Israelites to claim their inheritance. 

    Have you also faced what seemed like the biggest challenge in your life? How did you keep your eyes on God during this difficult period? Are there any Bible passages, books, or worship songs that you can share with the group that helped you and which will encourage others? 

    When God brought a breakthrough in your situation, what did you learn about Him from your experience? What did you learn about your own faith walk? 

    3. Prior to them entering Canaan, the Canaanites had already heard of the Israelite’s faith and knew of God’s power and provision for them (Joshua 2:9-11). The Israelite’s reputation as children of God preceded them.  

    How do you think that people recognize you as being a follower of Christ? What are some of the actions or mindsets you have that can encourage someone, who doesn’t know Christ, to pick up their cross and follow Him? 

    Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

    3. Praise and Worship

    Spending time with God in praise and worship is an integral part of every Christian’s faith walk.  By praising God, you are honoring His majesty, His goodness, His love, and His kindness.  

    By worshipping God, You are honoring His presence and are inviting Him to be a part of your life. Also, praise and worship is an expression of thanks for the many times He has offered you grace when you were undeserving of it. Alone for His gift of Salvation, He is worthy of our praise and worship! 

    Basically, if you love God, praise and worship is the way to show Him it! 

    The Bible calls for us to praise and worship God: 

    “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, 
        and his courts with praise. 
        Give thanks to him, bless his name.” 

    Psalm 100:4  

    “Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; 
        worship the Lord in holy splendor.” 

    Psalm 29:2 

    In Revelation 4:11, it states that we were created for the purpose of praising our Creator: 

     “You are worthy, our Lord and God, 
        to receive glory and honor and power, 
    for you created all things, 
        and by your will they existed and were created.” 

    Revelation 4:11 

    How to praise God every day

    So, how do you praise God?  

    As you would start a church service by giving thanks to God through praise and worship, you can start off your day, as well as your prayers, by thanking Him for all the wonderful things He has done for you, as Psalm 100:4 commands us. Also, you can thank Him throughout the day for the mercies He gives you, no matter how big or small they are.  

    Additionally, you can start a gratitude journal. I highly recommend “The 5 Minute Journal” from Intelligent Change. 

    How to worship God every day

    Worship is a physical manifestation of your praise. You can express yourself by dancing, marching around your home and praising Him loudly, playing an instrument, or singing to worship songs. Alternatively, you can bow down on your knees to Him and worship Him that way. God is pleased with every form of worship you express to Him. 

    Finally living a God-intentional life, where we do our best to abide by His commands, walk in love with others, and honor Him by respecting our bodies, hearts, and minds, is the best form of praise and worship that you can show God. 

    How to implement praise and worship in your Bible study group:

    You can start off your Bible Study session by each member of the group expressing gratitude to God for something that He did for them that week. 

    Following that, you can play some worship music and sing.  If someone in the group plays an instrument, it can be used as a musical accompaniment. Together with a tambourine, you have the making of a great worship session!  

    Alternatively, you could play worship songs from the internet or a CD. 

    Play worship songs with our Jacob’s Ladder Blog account on Spotify!

    If you would like to have a ready-made list of worship songs available to you at a mouse click, l have set up our own public Jacob’s Ladder Blog account on Spotify.  

    The music in our account is organized according to our themes for transparency, but feel free to jump between playlists as you please. 

    To find our account, type in Jacob’s Ladder Blog in the search bar at the top left hand corner of your Spotify screen.  

    If you don’t have Spotify and you would like to download it, here is the link to their main page. They offer free and premium accounts. 

     Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

    4. Suggested reading

    Reading the Word of God teaches us about how much God loves us and gives us guidelines on how to live the life He wants us to live – a life of victory and joy. 

    The following is reading material that relates to the themes we have been discussing in Joshua 6. 

    Scriptures:

    Listening to God in the silence 

    The voice of God 

    Resting in God’s presence during adversity 

    Obeying God 

    Partnering with God 

    Faith 

    Courage 

    Endurance 

    Praise 

    Bible chapters on trusting God in the silence

    Interesting online articles relating to Joshua 6:

    charismamag.com, “How to Recognize God’s Still, Small Voice,” Dr. Mark Virkler.

    crosswalk.com, “How to Obey God, Even When You Don’t Feel Like It,” Dawn Wilson. 

    shegznstuff.com, “Identifying the Strongholds in Your Life (5 Areas to consider),” Segun Aiyegbusi. 

    ymi.today, “Three ways to push through a dry season,” Madeline Twooney.

    Inspirational quotes relating to Joshua 6:

    • “I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you’re able to be more patient. Patience is not just about waiting for something… it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.” – Joyce Meyer 
    • “I believe if you keep your faith, you keep your trust, you keep the right attitude, if you’re grateful, you’ll see God open up new doors.” –  Joel Osteen 
    • We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Theresa 
    • “God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go.” – Tony Evans 
    • “God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.” – Max Lucado 

    Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

    5. Journal writing

    Writing down all the good things that God has done in your life is a very powerful tool for a Christian. Not only does it help us to remember what God has done for us; reading over God’s past victories and blessings over you provide encouragement and empowerment in times of trouble. All you need to start is an empty exercise book and a pen. Alternatively, you can keep a digital journal.   

    There are a number of forms of journals, where regular writing in it will strengthen you in your walk with God:   

    •  A testimony journal   
    •  A dreams and visions journal   
    •  A blessings journal   
    •  My favorite –  a gratitude journal   

    Try to write once a day in your journal. All you need is 5-10 min to jot down everything good that has happened to you during the course of your day, no matter how trivial.    

    Meditate upon what you wrote and acknowledge that it is God who was responsible for these good things happening today, and not you or your own works.    

     ‘”Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.’   

    Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)   

    Journaling in your group:

    You can e.g. allot 10-15min for journaling in your group, and afterwards share your written thoughts with each other.   

    An alternate suggestion is to incorporate journal writing as part of your quiet time with God, then discuss your results when you meet as a group.   

    Journaling on Joshua 6

    1. From our reading section, write down 5 key scriptures that resonated with you. Read these every day for the following week and try and commit these to memory (Psalm 119:11).  

    2. Rahab was the only inhabitant of Jericho who sought repentance in the Lord when the two Israeli spies did a reconnaissance of Jericho. Her Salvation meant that she and her family survived the slaughter at Jericho and that her progeny carried the line of David, and ultimately Jesus.

    Write in your journal of your own journey to Salvation. How has being in a relationship with Jesus changed your life for the better? What blessings and opportunities has He provided you with that would not have been realized if you hadn’t have given your life to Christ? 

    3. Are you currently going through a season of adversity? Are you weighed down by worry, ill health, or fears for the future?  

     Write down all that is troubling you, and hand it over to God. Then, leave a few lines free at the end of your entry and place a bookmark or some kind of place marker on the page. 

     From personal experience, God will work in your situation and will give you breakthrough in the specific situation you have written about. Use that space that you have left free to write the date of that breakthrough and write down how He worked in your situation.  

    I assure you, that feeling of relief, victory over triumph, and confident reliance in God is amazing! Remember that feeling and tap into it when you are confronted with your next challenge. It will fortify your faith that God has helped you before, and He will do so again!  

    4. As an extension of No. 3, start a journal, where you can record every breakthrough that God has given you. I call mine my “Miracle Book”.

     As a friend once described it, writing in this book is akin to giving a deposit in the bank; every time you are feeling worried or overwhelmed, you can read over your previous entries and gain encouragement from all the times God has helped you in the past. By doing so, you make a spiritual  “withdrawal” that will fortify your faith that God will help you in your current situation.

    I do this and it gives me comfort and encouragement to keep my eyes on God, and watch with hope and expectation for His timing. He is a way maker and a miracle worker!

    Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

    6. Prayer

    What is your personal Jericho? What situation are you currently facing that is burdening you and where you can’t see a feasible solution in sight? 

    Let us bring your concern to God in prayer, for what is impossible for man, is possible with God! 

    Normally l write prayers that can be read aloud in a study group; however this time around, I have written this prayer to be prayed over individually, out of respect for the sensitivity of individual situations. 

    That being said, if you are seeking God’s help as a family, or a church group, then feel free to use this prayer in a corporate capacity. 

    Some final pieces of advice before you speak our prayer:

    *Be specific in your prayer request. Tell God exactly what is challenging you currently. He, of course, knows what is going on in your life, but He wants a two-way communication with you.

    +Additionally, tell God how you are feeling. Give all your emotions to Him. In 2 Kings 20:5, it states that God hears our prayers and sees our tears; He will heal us.

    Prayer:

    Merciful Father, wonderful Savior, 

    Father, You came to me in the darkness, when l was dead to You in sin. You saved me through the blood of Your precious Son, in order that l may become Your child, a son or daughter of the Most High. 

    And now, that l am Yours, You will not loosen Your hold on me. You will not fail me nor forsake me in my hour of need. For my heart is heavy with worry, and my soul is weary with carrying around the burdens of the problems l face. I look around for a solution, but all l see are walls; l yearn for even the slightest sliver of light to fill me with hope of a better future.  

    Therefore, l come to You and lay my situation before You.* All the worry, fear, and anxiety that is threatening to overwhelm me, l lay at Your feet.+ I will cast my care on You and trust in You to help me.  

    Tell me how l can best obey You during this season of my life; teach me to walk with faith and trust that You are working in my situation, even when l don’t see any change. Give me courage to face each new day and provide me with endurance to keep on fighting the good fight, even when the odds seem against me.

    And lastly, put a new song in my heart every morning, in order that l may sing Your praise before l see the victory that You have already planned for me. 

    Precious Lord, You always make a way, where there is no way, for nothing is impossible for You! We thank You that by Your Spirit, You will make the walls that are surrounding me fall down.  

    In Jesus’ name, 

    Amen.

    Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

    We hope that you enjoyed our Bible study on Joshua in our series Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies.   

    For our next theme, we will be studying 2 Samuel 9 and exploring the theme of grace through King David’s act of kindness to Mephibosheth, the son of David’s dear departed friend, Jonathan.   We would love for you to join us!   

    Until then, my friends, be safe and may God’s love and blessings be upon you!   

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)”  

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho”  

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?”  

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”   

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan”  

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?”  

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?”  

    ligonier.org, „Why Did God Command the Children of Israel to Kill Every Man, Woman, and Child in the Promised Land?” 

    biblehub.com, „1 Kings 16:34“ 

    churchofjesuschrist.org, „Joshua 1-24” 

    answersingenesis.org, “The Walls of Jericho” 

    focusmagazine.org, „Devoted Things” 

    compellingtruth.org, „Why did God give the Mosaic Law? What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law?“ 

    rccg.org, „First fruit offering“ 

    biblestudytools.com, „First fruits“ 

    openbible.info, „Tithe In The New Testament” 

    compellingtruth.org, “What does the Bible say about spiritual strongholds?” 

    gotquestions.org, “Spiritual strongholds – what is the biblical view?” 

    christianity.com, “What Is a Tithe? – Meaning and Importance of Tithing in the Bible” 

    biblestudytools.com, „Tithing in the Bible“ 

    ryanhart.org, “27 Inspiring Bible Verses About Tithing and Offerings” 

    crosswalk.com, “Tithing in the Bible – Is Tithing for the New Testament Believer?” 

    gospelweb.net, “Partnership with God” 

    mmnbs.com, “Lesson 6 – Joshua 6” 

    studyandobey.com, “Inductive Bible Study on Joshua 6“ 

    foundationsforfreedom.net, “Bible Study Questions on Joshua 6,” Paul J. Bucknell.

    ministrymaker.com, “What is the Purpose of Praise and Worship?” Dr. Gary Linton.

    winninggodsway.com, “Winning God’s way” 

    allaboutgod.com, “All about…Praise and Worship” 

    biblestudytools.com, “Obedience Bible Verses” 

    bible.knowing-jesus.com,  “30 Bible Verses about partnership” 

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part Two: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Partnering with God to live a victorious life

    Part Two: Living God’s Word – Applying Joshua 6 to everyday life 

    Last week, we finished an extended Part One of our Bible commentary on Joshua 6. We discovered how the Israelites penetrated the impregnable walls of the city of Jericho and thereby took over the city from the hands of their enemies, the Canaanites (Joshua 6: 20).

    Although they were outmatched in military experience and weaponry, the Israelites had an ace up their sleeves that assured them victory before the battle had even begun – the blessings and favor of God.

    The Israelites knew that God had promised them the land of Canaan as part of their inheritance. However, they also knew that the land was occupied by their enemies, who owned the land. In order to come into the fulfillment of the plans that God had laid out for them, they needed to trust God, obey, have faith, and praise Him before they saw victory.

    Now that we have studied Joshua 6, let us explore how we can take the lessons of this phenomenal Bible chapter and apply them to live a victorious life full of faith, praise, and fellowship with God.

    Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

    See with the eyes of faith

    “For we walk by faith, not by sight”

    2 Corinthians 5:7

    Before the Israelites approached the formidable walls of Jericho, the Bible states that Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, was by the city (Joshua 5:13).

    Looking over the arid plains to the formidable fortress walls of Jericho, one wonders what Joshua was thinking. For to the human eyes, Jericho could not be compromised – especially not by a nation of former slaves with no military experience and inferior resources.

    However, God encouraged Joshua to look at his situation with eyes of faith. He himself came to speak to Joshua – what is known as a theophany – who proclaimed that Jericho had already been given into the Israelite’s hands (Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua 6:2).

    By God’s spirit, the walls of Jericho would fall down, but Joshua not only had to believe it for himself, he had to convince the entire Israeli nation to believe it too. They had to see the walls of Jericho flattened to the ground by faith, before they saw it with their human eyes.

    This is exactly what happened:

    “By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.”

    Hebrews 11:30

    As a modern translation of this principle, living a victorious Christian life not only means to have faith that God exists and that He loves us. It also means that we need to believe that God can make all things work out for our good – especially when the odds look like they are against us. We need to see with eyes of faith.

    God does not think like the world does. He is not bound by the expectations of society, nor is He motivated by likes on Instagram or thumbs ups on Facebook. God always has the final say in our lives – not people, not bad breaks, and not adversity.

    So, the next time you face a difficult situation, don’t worry about how it’s going to work out. Don’t spend sleepless nights trying to figure out a solution. Like God promised the Israelites a favorable outcome with Jericho, so He is promising you a favorable outcome to your dilemma. However, you need to accept that promise and believe it will come to pass – you need to see with eyes of faith.

    The power of the believer’s weapons

    “For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

    2 Corinthians 10:4

    The battle the Israelites faced as they stood in front of the walls of Jericho was not a physical one. If so, they would have failed dismally in penetrating the impregnable walls of the fortress city. They were former slaves, who had spent the last 40 years wandering the desert; their lack of military expertise would have cost them their lives at the hands of the Canaanites, who were seasoned warriors and armed to the teeth in weaponry.

    No, this battle against the Canaanites was a spiritual one. Therefore, in order to incur a spiritual victory, the Israelites had to engage in spiritual warfare.

    The warfare we face today is also spiritual: sickness, financial struggles, marital discord, just to name a few.

    They are brought on by an enemy – the devil – who wants to see us live a life of defeat and misery.

    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

    John 10:10

    However, God wants us to live a victorious life, full of joy and fulfilment. Look at the second part of this Bible verse:

    “I came that they may have life,  and have it abundantly.”

    John 10:10

    God provided the Israelites with spiritual weapons to fight, and we can use these same weapons to live out the blessings and promises that God puts in our hearts.

    Let’s explore what these weapons are and how we can wield them:

    Faith

    We talked in the previous section about seeing with eyes of faith. Joshua and the Israelites acted in faith by following God’s plan to walk around the walls of Jericho for 7 days.

    As a further step to seeing, God wants us to step out in faith. This means that we follow a course of action with the belief that God is going to make things right, even if we aren’t sure how the end is actually going to pan out.

    Instead of fretting and plotting our own course through the landmine of troubles in your life, hand over your situation to God today. God is faithful: If you reflect on past problems, did they not all work out in the end? That was not the result of luck or coincidence – that was the favor of God in your life.

    Therefore, put your faith in Him again – if He’s helped you once, He will do it again!

    Courage

    Often in life, situations arise that can daunt us. People can say things that can make us feel threatened or afraid. The pain of past experiences makes us fearful of stepping out of our comfort zones.

    As they walked around the walls of Jericho, the Israelites had to gather their courage. They had a prime view of the defense fortifications of the walls, including a 28 ft stone tower. The Canaanite giants were kitted out in weapons and were probably within distance to launch offensives from the safety of the parapets. However, the Israelites just kept on marching, because they knew that God had their back.

    When faced with adversity, we too need to confront the problem with courage and confidence that God is with us. He will not allow us to face a difficult situation on our own. In fact, He goes with us.

    One particular Bible verse that gives me courage is Deuteronomy 31:6:

    “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

    Obedience

    Listening to God and fulfilling His instructions is not always an easy thing to do for us. God has given us free will, and as humans we are accustomed to being in charge of making our own decisions in our everyday lives.

    However, God is omnipresent: He can see situations from multiple perspectives simultaneously and is not hindered by space or time. So, when He asks us for example, to wait, or to not follow a certain path, He is only doing it out of  concern for us.

    Obeying God doesn’t always mean it makes sense to us.

    The Israelites didn’t likely understand why they had to walk around for 6 days around the walls of Jericho – in silence. However, they did it. When God told them to shout on the 7th day, well they did that too. And what happened? The walls of Jericho came tumbling down!

    God knows what is best for us. So, the next time God asks you to do something and you don’t understand the point of it, just remember that He is asking you to trust Him. Put your human reasoning behind you and just try obeying Him. You will be amazed at how things turn out bigger and better than you thought they could ever be!

    Endurance

    Do you know the excitement you feel, when you start a new project or even a new diet? You’re full of enthusiasm and can almost reach out and grab that positive future picture you have of yourself.

    However, as time goes on, the project ends up consuming all of your free time, and the lack of significant progress frustrates you. Eating green salads for every meal becomes monotonous; you start fantasizing about eating carbs again. You begin to doubt whether you have what it takes to keep going to realize your goals.

    Can you imagine how the Israelites felt walking around the formidable walls of Jericho for 7 days, especially when it didn’t make any sense to them? I wonder if some of them got up on day 4 and thought, “Do l really have to spend my day walking around those blasted walls, getting jeered at by my enemies, who are obviously stronger and bigger than us? I mean, what’s the point? Everyone knows the walls can’t be breached.”

    And yet, the Israelites continued to get up every day for 7 days and walked around the walls of Jericho. They endured through their adversity and their endurance paid off.

    What would have happened if the Israelites had stopped walking on day 6? They would never have known that their victory was waiting for them the next day.

    Be like the Israelites: Keep on persisting when you don’t see a change in your situation, keep on enduring when you feel like giving up. You never know, you might be on day 6 of your own walk. Endure through it and walk into day 7, where your breakthrough is waiting for you!

    Praise

    This particular weapon is something that God has been especially putting on my heart this year.  He has been teaching me the importance of praising Him before l see a breakthrough in my convalescence with depression and burnout. Why? Because He wants me to remember that He is greater than illness, or any problem on this earth, for that matter.

    ”Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

    1 John 4.4

    After 6 days of walking in silence, God asked the Israelites to give one almighty shout on the 7th day, as they stood positioned in front of the walls of Jericho. So, as the low bellowing sound of a single ram’s horn reverberated throughout the Israelite formation, the children of God raised their voices in praise – and the walls of Jericho fell down.

    By praising God during the midst of your current strife, you’re showing Him that your focus is on Him and not on your problem. It tells Him that you trust Him to make a way for you where you see no way. It shows God your faith.

    There are other situations in the Bible where people praised God before they saw a breakthrough in their situation.

    In 2 Chronicles 20:22, the combined armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir turned on each other, when King Jehoshaphat of Judah appointed singers to praise and worship God.

    In Acts 16:25-32, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God in prison. In response, God brought about an earthquake that shook the foundations of their confinement, released captives from their chains, and brought a Philippian jailor to Christ.


    If you too are looking for a breakthrough, l can only recommend that you lift your hearts, voices, and hands and praise the Lord, the One who makes all things possible and that no spirit, might, or power can stand against!

    I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
        I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
     I will be glad and exult in you;
        I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

    Psalm 9:1-2

    Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

    Tear down strongholds

    “Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in.”

    Joshua 6:1

    When the Canaanites first discovered that an attempt was being made to besiege them, they shut themselves in – physically and spiritually.

    Firstly, they positioned themselves behind a physical stronghold – the fortified walls of Jericho – so that the Israelites could not compromise their position.

    Secondly, they set up a spiritual stronghold of pride in their hearts, refusing to repent for their idolatry and adamantly refusing to accept Yahweh as their one true God.

    So, what exactly is a spiritual stronghold and how does it apply to us today?

    A stronghold can mean two things. It can be a fortified place to take refuge in whilst under duress. In  Psalm 27:1, David makes us aware of the importance of making God the stronghold of our lives in times of adversity:

    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
        whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
        of whom shall I be afraid?”

    However, a spiritual stronghold can also be a mindset, philosophy, or opinion that goes against the knowledge of God.

    As we mentioned earlier in our section on seeing with eyes of faith, the warfare we wage today is spiritual. And although we have an enemy who wants to see us live a life of defeat and fear, we can’t always give him the blame for everything that goes wrong in our lives. There are times when our mindsets, more explicitly, our thinking or belief systems, can also cause problems in our lives.

    So, how can our mindsets cause us problems?

    First of all, strongholds find their origins in pride. We are all prone to it.

    Furthermore, we can make life difficult for ourselves when we prioritize the things of this world over God’s values. This includes pursuing materialism, giving too much importance to our appearance, or even seeking to further ourselves instead of helping others.

    As long as we continue to follow such thought patterns, we are erecting spiritual strongholds in our mind that prevent the truth of God to come in.

    Paul accentuates the need to tear down such strongholds and make ourselves obedient to the will of Christ in 2 Corinthians.

    “For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

    2 Corinthians 10:4-5

    Therefore, in order to be able to hear God more clearly and fulfil His wonderful plans for your life, try looking inside yourself today: See where there are any mindsets that you are insisting on pursuing that go against God’s Word. 

    Photo by Micheile Henderson @micheile010 // Visual Stories [nl] on Unsplash

    Seek God’s voice in the silence

     “Be still, and know that I am God!
        I am exalted among the nations,
        I am exalted in the earth.”

    Psalm 46:10

    The world we live in is a busy one. As soon as the alarm goes off, it is a race to get out the door, pack the kids in the car for the school run and rush off to work for that first meeting. When we try to put aside time to spend with God, we get distracted by our phones or by the nagging mental to-do list that we need to work through.

    As a consequence, God’s voice gets drowned out through the noise and hectic of our lives.

    The Scriptures say that the voice of God is small and still. Elijah the prophet experienced this firsthand (1 Kings 19:12 (KJV)).

    Therefore, in order to hear God, we need to find a quiet moment of the day and slow our minds down in order to receive His Word.

    “For God alone my soul waits in silence,
        for my hope is from him.”

    Psalm 62:5

    The Israelites knew the importance of seeking God’s presence in the silence. While they marched around the walls of Jericho, they literally didn’t say a word – not even the children in tow.

    Instead, they used that time of marching to keep they eyes on God, listen to the trumpet fanfare that represented His voice, and seek His presence.

    So, how can we develop our own cone of silence to hear God’s voice?

    Set aside time in the day for God

    God time is also known as “quiet time”. Therefore, block out a specific amount of time in the day to spend with God and guard that time preciously. During this time, put your phone away, disconnect the house phone and encourage a quiet atmosphere around you.

    Let other people in your household know that this is your time with God and that they should not bother you during it. You can also encourage the entire family to use that time for their own “quiet time” – even the children. Everyone can go to their own designated area of the house and develop that routine of spending time with God.

    Alternately, you could get up 30 minutes before the rest of your family does, or have your “quiet time” after everyone goes to bed.

    Create a peaceful space

    In order to promote a feeling of stillness and quiet, make your space peaceful and tranquil. That could mean setting up some big cushions on the floor or lighting a few candles. Make your designated space a haven that you look forward to going to every day to be with God.

    Prepare yourself for God’s voice

    Get yourself mentally prepared to hear God’s voice by playing some worship music. Also, read some verses from your Bible.

    By doing this, you slowly lay aside the hectic of the day and prepare yourself mentally and spiritually to receive God’s voice.

    Pray

    Prayer is communicating with God. For me personally, l talk to God like l would to my own biological father – simply and directly.

    l always start my time with God by expressing my gratitude to Him for all the good things He has done for me that day or that week. Following that, l praise God for the many ways He is good – His mercy, His grace, His understanding of my weaknesses, to name a few.

    “Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
        and his courts with praise.
        Give thanks to him, bless his name.”

    Psalm 100:4

    Write down what God tells you

    Have a pen and a journal on hand and write down what God speaks to you about.

    How do you know when God speaks to you? It’s like a sudden idea that pops into your head, or a spontaneous flow of thoughts. They are great, encouraging, and beyond what you would have thought of on your own.

    Read back regularly what you have written down and most importantly, act upon it! These are in part the plans and promises that God has blessed you with. He wants you to live them out!

    Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

    Give God your first fruits – the importance of tithing

    “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

    1 Chronicles 29:14

    In ancient times, God proclaimed laws to the Israelites through Moses. These decrees became known as the Mosaic Law.

    These decrees were designed to give God’s children revelation of who He was, how to worship and honor Him, and live in a manner that was pleasing to Him. However, the laws had also been written to protect them and set them apart from other nations.

    One of these laws was the law of tithing. According to the Old Testament, God required His people to set aside the choicest agricultural produce of the new harvest – the “first fruits”.  

    Why the first fruits of the harvest?

    Gold or other forms of currency were not given as offerings, as it was about giving God the first and best of the agricultural fruit from the promised land of Canaan, the inheritance given by God to the Canaanites.  

    “The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.”

    Exodus 34:26

    The amount of their produce that the Israelites were required to set aside for tithing purposes was 10%.

    “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.”

    Deuteronomy 14:22 (NIV)

    In fact, the word “tithe” derives from an Old English word to mean “a tenth”.

    Is tithing still relevant today?

    There is dispute amongst Christians today, as to whether tithing is still relevant according to the covenant of the New Testament.

    However, Jesus states the following:

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.”

    Matthew 5:17-18

    The New Testament doesn’t command us to tithe, as was the case in the Old Testament. Instead, we are encouraged to be “cheerful givers”.

    “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    2 Corinthians 9:7

    Tithing for us today is done with our finances – we are no longer required to offer animal sacrifices and many of us don’t earn our living through agriculture.

    Giving a financial offering is an act of gratitude towards God – a thank you for all He has done for us. The more we grow in our faith walk, the more we want to show God our appreciation for His salvation, His provision, His mercy, and His grace.

    With increased revelation of God, tithing becomes less of a duty and takes on a quality of joy. You honestly become happy at the prospect of giving back a part of what belongs to God in the first place.

    For me personally, l know that everything l have in my life – my home, my loving husband,  my little one-eared pussycat, the food that l eat and the clothes that l wear – are through the grace of God. By tithing, l show Him how much His love and provision mean to me.

    One reason people tend to tithe is because they believe God will bless them over and abundantly for their sacrifice.

    I personally believe that God does honor our offerings:

    “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”

    Malachi 3:10

    This promise of abundance is repeated in the New Testament:

    “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

    Luke 6:38

    That being said, l believe that tithing is best approached from a position of gratitude and not entitlement (Luke 18:9-14). Tithe because you love God and you want to show Him that – not because you want something in return from Him.

    How much do l tithe?

    This is a good question. As we have already established, under the Mosaic Law, the amount of offering was pre-determined at 10%

    However, since we have a new covenant with Jesus, the New Testament does not specify an amount. Instead, we are encouraged to give with our whole heart.

    “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    Matthew 6:21

    What does this mean? Whether we give 10% or any other amount, is not so important as showing God our heart to honor Him.

    Consider the following Bible verse, where Jesus watched people tithing:

    “He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.  For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

    Mark 12:41-44

    Although the poor widow tithed less than her wealthier contemporaries, her sacrifice cost her more to make, as it was literally the only money she had. And yet, she gave it all to God.

    Now, no one is saying you must give your entire next month’s paycheck as a tithe. But if you do, seek God in prayer and then do it with a heart of love for Him. The same goes for any amount of money you offer. Remember it’s not about the amount, it’s about the heart.

    My former pastor used to say about tithing, “Give an amount that hurts a little to part with.” I have remembered these words of advice every time l tithe, because it is that point of discomfort, like the widow experienced, that makes my financial gift a worthy sacrifice to God.

    To whom do l tithe?

    I think it’s good to give your tithe to your church. After all, it is the place that gives you spiritual nourishment, and it’s where you have experienced good fellowship.

    Churches need funds to keep running. The flyers and pamphlets they give out, the communion bread and wine (or sometimes it’s grape juice!), the cleaning of the church and the monthly electricity bill all need to be paid for.

    Tithing to your church does require trust, as you don’t have a direct say in how the funds are being used. However, as a giver, your commitment is to honor God. The church’s commitment is to use the funds you give in a responsible fashion to promote the spreading of God’s Word.

    Therefore, give your tithe to your church in faith. If you want to give financially to an additional ministry, then you can always make the decision to make another offering in that direction.

    If you haven’t yet found a church, then l suggest you give your tithe to a ministry that is dedicated to bringing others to a knowledge of Christ.

    Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

    Partner-up with God

    “God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    1 Corinthinans 1:9

    When Jesus chose His son to be the bearer of our sins, it was so that we would enjoy eternal fellowship with Him.

    God performs many good works, but He chooses to perform them through us. So, in order to do that, He needs us to partner-up with Him.

    God’s military plan to bring down the walls of Jericho was contingent upon the willingness of the Israelites to carry out His instructions. He didn’t need them to show the surrounding nations His might and power; nevertheless He wanted His children to be the vessels through which the enemies of God would bow down in awe and acceptance of Him.

    Also, God doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves during times of trouble. Just as He helped the Israelites with His favor, so God helps us today, if we call on Him for help.

    God offers you a partnership – it’s up to you whether you take it or not.

    God has great plans for your life, and He also has great plans that He needs people to carry out for Him here on earth – but He won’t force you to live all these out if you don’t want to.

    That being said, if you have the chance to live a more fulfilled life than what you are living at the moment, if you have the opportunity to be a source of hope and encouragement to others who are suffering, wouldn’t you want to partner-up with the One, who can make all that possible?

    Partnering with God is like being one half of a ballroom dance couple – one person needs to take the lead. In order to live a life of victory and fulfillment as a Christian, let God lead you as you dance through life together. Seek Him in prayer, listen to what He tells you, and put that guidance into action.

    I assure you, if you work together with God from today, He will open doors that no man can shut and make your future paths direct and straight.

    In order to partner-up with God fully, we need to surrender ourselves to Him. Let us discuss this in our last section.

    Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

    Accept Jesus’ gift of salvation

    “Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

    Romans 10:9-10

    Being a Christian is more than going to church or praying. It is more than trying to live a moral life and giving regular donations to the poor. All those things are important, but these things aren’t what make us Christians.

    God isn’t religion – He is a relationship.

    This relationship is made possible through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross of Calvary. Before His crucifixion, we were all condemned to be eternally separated from God, as we as humans are sinful and God cannot be near sin.

    However, Jesus willingly came to earth and died for our sins.

    “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

    2 Corinthians 5:21

    Jesus’ blood that was spilled was the ransom He paid for our transgressions – past, present, and future. It is this gift of salvation that enables us to enter into a relationship with God.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

    John 3:16

    Here’s another verse that further proclaims this:

    “And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.”

    1 John 4:14

    God wants to be in a relationship with you today. He loves you and considers you His precious child.

    In order to enter into this relationship, all you need to do is accept Jesus’ gift of salvation.

    There is no complicated ritual involved: All you need to do is ask God out loud for forgiveness of your sins, acknowledge Him as your Savior, and ask Him to enter into your heart.

    “God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

    God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”

    1 John 4:15-16

    In order to make it easier for you, l have prepared a prayer that you can speak over yourself; it includes the necessities you need to declare in order to be saved.

    What is important, is that you speak these words with faith, for it is by grace that you are saved, not by works.

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—  not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”

    Ephesians 2:8-9

    If you have been unsure for a while, whether you want to give God a chance, make the decision for Him today. I promise you, your life will change so much for the better!

    By being in a relationship with God, you will experience peace, know joy, and have revelation over your life in ways you never can imagine. Most importantly, you will know what it truly feels like to be unconditionally loved.

    Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

    This concludes Part Two of our Bible Study on Joshua 6 – Living God’s Word.

    If you have been enjoying the series so far, we hope that you can join us for our upcoming third and final part of our Bible study – Studying God’s Word.

    Until then, l wish you peace, joy, and an abundance of God’s blessings.

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)” 

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho” 

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?” 

    ligonier.org, „Why Did God Command the Children of Israel to Kill Every Man, Woman, and Child in the Promised Land?”

    biblehub.com, „1 Kings 16:34“

    churchofjesuschrist.org, „Joshua 1-24”

    answersingenesis.org, “The Walls of Jericho”

    focusmagazine.org, „Devoted Things”

    compellingtruth.org, „Why did God give the Mosaic Law? What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law?“

    rccg.org, „First fruit offering“

    biblestudytools.com, „First fruits“

    openbible.info, „Tithe In The New Testament”

    compellingtruth.org, “What does the Bible say about spiritual strongholds?”

    gotquestions.org, “Spiritual strongholds – what is the biblical view?”

    christianity.com, “What Is a Tithe? – Meaning and Importance of Tithing in the Bible”

    biblestudytools.com, „Tithing in the Bible“

    ryanhart.org, “27 Inspiring Bible Verses About Tithing and Offerings”

    crosswalk.com, “Tithing in the Bible – Is Tithing for the New Testament Believer?”

    gospelweb.net, “Partnership with God”

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1.3: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Victory, first fruits, judgement, and salvation –  The occupation of Jericho



    Part 1.3: Understanding God’s Word – Bible commentary on Joshua 6

    Bible passages being discussed: (Joshua 6:21-27)

    In our previous instalment of our Bible study on Joshua 6, we learned that the Israelites were preparing to launch at attack on the fortified city of Jericho in Canaan. God had assured them victory at this first point of their three-part military plan to conquer the land (Joshua 6:2), whose occupation God had promised to them as their inheritance (Genesis 5:18-21).

     And yet to the human eye, the odds were severely stacked against the Israelite’s favor. Not only was Jericho considered impregnable, but the Canaanites were experienced warriors with an expanse of military resources at their disposal. The Israelites were former slaves, with no military experience, who had been wandering the desert for 40 years.

    However, God makes a way, where there is no way. He had a plan to thwart the military expertise and reinforcements of the Canaanites. However, in order to realize this plan, the Israelites were to obey God, trust Him, have faith, and praise Him with a great shout at the imposing walls of Jericho, before their victory was even realized.

    All this they did and as God promised, the walls of Jericho fell, and they were able to charge into the city and capture it (Joshua 6:5).

    “By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.”

    Hebrews 11.30 (NRSV)

    However, although victorious, the Israelites still had work to do in Jericho, if they were to maintain their strategic advantage and take the land God had promised them from the hands of their enemies.

    God exacts His judgement on Jericho

    What the Israelites did after taking over Jericho was in accordance to the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 13:12-18:

    „If you hear it said about one of the towns that the Lord your God is giving you to live in,  that scoundrels from among you have gone out and led the inhabitants of the town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods,” whom you have not known,  then you shall inquire and make a thorough investigation. If the charge is established that such an abhorrent thing has been done among you, you shall put the inhabitants of that town to the sword, utterly destroying it and everything in it—even putting its livestock to the sword.  All of its spoil you shall gather into its public square; then burn the town and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall remain a perpetual ruin, never to be rebuilt.  Do not let anything devoted to destruction stick to your hand, so that the Lord may turn from his fierce anger and show you compassion, and in his compassion multiply you, as he swore to your ancestors,  if you obey the voice of the Lord your God by keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.

    The Mosaic Law had been provided to the Israelites by God to give them revelation of who He was, how to worship and honor Him, and live in a manner that was pleasing to Him. However, it had also been written to protect them and set them apart from other nations.

    God wanted the law to teach His people and others that He was mighty, holy, and to be feared. For that reason, there were ironclad decrees in place for anyone or anything that violated the holiness of God and the sanctity of His ways.

    This was especially the case for anyone or anything that had been set aside as being “devoted”. Devoted has two meanings: The ancient Hebrew noun cherem translates devoted as a “devoted thing” – a pleasing offering to God. The verb charam on the other hand, means “devoted to destruction”, God’s judgement.

    Because the Canaanites had indulged in wicked practices and had refused to devote (cherem) themselves to God, He declared them to be devoted (charam) to divine judgement. Canaan was God’s property to do with according to His will. God had made His decision and Jericho, with its inhabitants, buildings, and resources was doomed for destruction.

    Let’s us look at the ways that God instructed the Israelites to carry out his divine judgement on the Canaanites – the devoted.

    God commanded the Israelites to destroy every living creature in Jericho

    Prior to causing the walls of Jericho to fall down, God specifically instructed the Israelites to destroy every living thing that lived within the refuge of the fortress city walls in His name.

    “The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.”

    Joshua 6:17 

    Why would a God, who is supposed to be merciful, demand that the Israelites execute His death sentence on the people of Canaan?

    If you notice in the above verse, the word “devoted” is expressed. God had a reason for hardening His heart towards the welfare of the Canaanites.

    God punished the Canaanites for their spiritual disobedience

    The slaughtering of the inhabitants of Jericho admittedly raises some challenging issues for Christians and non-Christians alike.

    The fact is, God cannot be in the presence of sinners. And the Canaanites were sinners, who kept idols and followed practices such as child sacrifices and sacred prostitution that were an abomination to God. Hence, God exacted a punishment for their spiritual disobedience. And this meant death.

    As we mentioned earlier, the Mosaic Law had specific instructions for any violation of the Holiness of God. Observe the following decrees:

    “No human beings who have been devoted to destruction can be ransomed; they shall be put to death.”

    Leviticus 27:29

    Exodus 22:20 provides further confirmation of this:

    “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.”

    The presence of the Canaanites also posed to spiritually sully the Israelite’s faith. The Israelite’s were God’s chosen people – His children. Thus, in order to sanctify them and maintain their spiritual virtue, God needed to eradicate the Canaanite threat. Hence, he made them devoted (charam).

    Burn the city and curse it

    God demanded that the Israelites burn the city. This was to not only ascertain the complete destruction of the city, but to also offer a burnt sacrifice (charam) to God.

    “All of its spoil you shall gather into its public square; then burn the town and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall remain a perpetual ruin, never to be rebuilt.”

    Deuteronomy 13:16

    Furthermore, Jericho wasn’t supposed to re-built (Joshua 6:26): On God’s instructions, Joshua laid a curse on any man who tried to re-build the city.  Hence, a spiritual cleansing was necessary to prevent revenants from returning and resurrecting the city – which actually  happened when Hiel the Bethelite attempted to resurrect Jericho, most likely under the patronage of King Ahab (1 Kings 16:34).

    The Israelites were to stay away from the property of the Canaanites

    God specifically instructed the Israelites to keep their hands off any idols or any other objects that God had declared as accursed (Joshua 6:18). They were devoted artefacts and were meant to be destroyed. God knew that having such objects in their possession would taint the purity of the Israelites.

    Additionally, according to the Law, God would turn His anger upon anyone who violated this specific request: They in turn would be devoted.

    This is exactly what happened.

    Following the victory at Jericho, 3000 Israelites were sent to attack the city of Ai. However, they were forced to retreat by the inferior numbers of the men of Ai, who slaughtered 36 Israelites in the process (Joshua 1:5).

    It was an unnecessary loss, but one that occurred because one of the Israelites Achan had stolen a devoted object during the destruction of Jericho. By this act, he had caused God to remove His compassion and instead, incur His judgement (Joshua 7:11-13).

    Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

    Was it necessary for God to incur such merciless wrath on Jericho?

    It is true that the fate of the Canaanites at Jericho was harsh, but there were unique times in the Bible when God did this, for example with He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:23-25).

    Moreover, the Canaanites were not only shut-in physically behind the city walls, their hearts were closed to God. Not at any point did the Canaanites consider surrendering to the Israelites, nor did they sound a parley. There weren’t even any deserters.

    In fact, the Canaanites were well prepared for a siege. The attack on the city took place around harvest time (Joshua 3:15) and within the walls was a spring to provide water for the inhabitants. There was no way that they were going to budge.

    If the Canaanites had repented, there may have been a chance that God could have spared their lives. After all, He spared those of Rahab and her family (Joshua 6:23). God always offers each of us a chance to enter into a relationship with Him – but it is up to us to take it.

    God didn’t want the Canaanites to become a future threat to the Israelites

    Whereas we have a limited perspective of our lives, God’s perspective supersedes ours. And He knew that if the Israelites didn’t clean up the city of Jericho when they claimed it, then the threat was real that any Canaanites could return to challenge their conquest of Canaan. This actually happened, as the Israelites spared the lives of a minority of the Canaanites, thinking that they might prove useful as servants.

    Instead of focusing on the wrath of God in this situation, it is important to remember that God is indeed good. Remember that He sacrificed His one and only son, in order that we may know Salvation and enjoy a loving relationship with God for all eternity. The biblical accounts that declare His love, mercy, and grace far outnumber God’s acts of judgement.

    Additionally, God offers to save anyone who comes to Him and repent (Romans 10:13). Only one person in the entire city of Jericho was prepared to open her heart for God – the prostitute Rahab.

    Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

    Rahab’s salvation paves the way for our own redemption

    Just as God commanded that the Israelites destroy Jericho in its entirety, so He also reminded them to honor their promise to Rahab and spare her life and the lives of her family (Joshua 6:17).

    Rahab had faithfully followed the instructions of the two Israelites by binding a scarlet cord to the window of her house. When the Israelites entered the city to kill the inhabitants, the cord at the window was a sign for them to spare the inhabitants of the people who were inside.

    Rahab’s house was built against the north side of the city wall, so there is postulation as to whether that part of the wall remained intact or if the wall somehow fell outwards.  Scientists claim that the entire wall construction consisted of an inner and an outer stone retaining wall, with Rahab’s house being part of a mud wall that had been constructed on top of the outer wall.

    Whatever the case may be, Rahab and her family survived the fall of the wall and the Israelites brought them out of the city and set them outside their camp. They were saved not only by Rahab’s kindness, but by her faith.

    “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.”

    Hebrews 11:31

    Rahab’s salvation and ultimate survival had a more consequential effect on the Israeli nation than anyone at the time could ever have imagined. Rahab secured the line of David when she married Salmon and had a son Boaz, who was David’s grandfather. Jesus was born out of David’s genealogy, which is why He is sometimes referred to as “the son of David”. 

    Therefore, Rahab’s salvation made it possible for us to know redemption from our sins through Jesus.

    The importance of giving God your first fruits

    Earlier in this Bible study, we discussed the difference between cherem and charam – the devoted things.

    Whereas the Canaanites had been set aside as charam – to be destroyed – God required that the treasures of Jericho be devoted to him as cherem – a pleasing offering. This offering was called the first fruits. Hence, the Israelites had to set aside all the gold, silver, and iron and bronze vessels and dedicate them to God’s treasury.

    “But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

    Joshua 6:19

    This decree of offering first fruits is established again in the Book of Leviticus:

    Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.”

    Leviticus 23:10

    So, where does the term “first fruits” actually come from?

    It derives from providing God with the choicest agricultural produce that your harvest brought in. It was about giving God the first and best of your blessings, as everything was created by Him and belongs to Him.

    “The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.”

    Exodus 34:26

    Many of us know this as tithing, which we are encouraged to do in the New Testament, for example in Matthew 5:17-20 and 2 Corinthians 9:7.

    Although the city of Jericho had been given into the Israelite’s hands, it was not theirs to benefit from the riches of the spoils of war. God did not want them to use what belonged to Him to further themselves. God had enabled their victory and all the honor and glory belonged to Him.

    By giving the first fruits of Jericho to God, the Israelites would remember that it was not by their might nor power that Jericho had fallen into their hands, but by God’s spirit.

    “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

    Zechariah 4:6

    Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

    This concludes the final part of our Bible commentary on Joshua 6. We hope you enjoyed reading our extended 3-part analysis of this fascinating Bible chapter.

    Next week, we will be moving on to Part Two – “Living God’s Word” of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6.

    If you would like to know how you can apply the lessons of Joshua 6 to your everyday life, then feel free to join us for our next instalment, which is coming soon.

    Until then, stay be blessed my friends.

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)” 

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho” 

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?” 

    ligonier.org, „Why Did God Command the Children of Israel to Kill Every Man, Woman, and Child in the Promised Land?”

    biblehub.com, „1 Kings 16:34“

    churchofjesuschrist.org, „Joshua 1-24”

    answersingenesis.org, “The Walls of Jericho”

    focusmagazine.org, „Devoted Things”

    compellingtruth.org, „Why did God give the Mosaic Law? What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law?“

    rccg.org, „First fruit offering“

    biblestudytools.com, „First fruits“

    openbible.info, „Tithe In The New Testament”

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1.2: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Faith, obedience, endurance, and praise – the secret behind God’s military plan 

    Part 1.2: Understanding God’s Word – Bible Commentary on Joshua 6

    Bible passages being discussed: (Joshua 6:3-20)

    In the first instalment of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6, we started this month’s study by reading about the pivotal events and preparation that led to the Israelite’s victory at the city of Jericho, where God caused the walls of this fortress city to fall down and the Israelites to establish themselves as the new rulers of the land of Canaan – the Promised Land. 

    We started our Bible commentary with Israelite’s successful crossing into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. Though Canaan truly is the land of milk and honey, as God promised them, it is also occupied by their enemies, the Canaanites.  

    As part of their 3-part military strategy to possess the land of Canaan, the Israelites are about to embark on what no one has done before – they are planning on conquering the impregnable military fortress city of Jericho, which had been strategically built to defend the access point to the central mountain ranges that divide the land from east to west.  

    However, the Israelites are not going against the seasoned warrior Canaanites alone – God has been preparing His people for victory by re-instigating His covenant with them and insisting on traditions and customs being observed that had been discarded in the wilderness. In addition, God has planted a weakness behind the enemy lines in the form of Rahab, a prostitute. Moreover, the Israelites believe in God’s promise to deliver Jericho into their hands (Joshua 6:2). If God says it’s a done deal, then it’s a done deal! 

    Now that their preparation is complete, the next thing that the Israelites need to do is carry out God’s plan to overcome Jericho – a plan that tests the boundaries of human logic and military expertise, because it simply does not make sense to us. And yet it worked!  

    Would you like to know what this plan was and why it led the Israelites to the capture of Jericho? Then keep on reading! 

    However, before we begin, let us take a quick look at why God chose Jericho, a city whose defenses were considered impenetrable, as a first point of victory for the Israelites in their military campaign on the Promised Land of Canaan. 

    Photo credit:  Adam Zvanovec on Unsplash

    The victory at Jericho was designed to give God glory and establish His might

    The victory of Jericho was going to be monumental, not only for the Israelites to drive a wedge into Canaan and set up a new ruling dynasty in the land, but for God to show His people, the Canaanites, and the surrounding nations how mighty He was.  

    This was God’s battle, and He was going to choose a divinely superior method of deliverance that would display His power and establish for the Israelites and the surrounding nations that He was the source of the Israelite’s victory – not man’s carnal intelligence or expertise at wielding weaponry. 

    So why did God seek out Jericho specifically? 

    Although it is true that the city of Jericho posed as a major obstacle for the Israelites in their pursuit of claiming the land God promised them, what really offended God were that the city’s inhabitants were worshipping pagan idols and holding occult practices that were offensive to Him (Joshua 6:18). This spiritual disobedience was an abomination to God and needed to be stopped and the Canaanites made an example of.  

    For that reason, God chose to pitch His people, who were inexperienced in warfare and ill-equipped for battle, against the Canaanites, who were superior to them in military experience and resources, in order that all would recognizable that the Israelite victory could only come through God’s might and power and not through human strategizing.  

    Additionally, this plan was unique in that it had never been implemented before, nor would it ever be used again to conquer a city. 

    Now, let’s find out what God’s military strategy for defeating the Canaanites at Jericho was. 

    Photo credit:  Juan Jose on Unsplash

    The art of war – minus the weapons and the fighting

    The Art of War” is one of the most renowned military treatises ever written. It is attributed to the ancient Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu. 

    When it came to ancient warfare, Sun Tzu and his contemporaries used their experience on the battlefield to form innovative and crippling strategies to gain victory over their opponents. These strategies were documented, resulting in the famous publication we know today. 

    Sun Tzu’s treatise includes tactical advice in conquering a besieged city, however the people of Ancient Palestine were also seasoned in this type of warfare. 

    The strategy behind invading a besieged city such as Jericho would have covered a timespan of weeks, if not months. There were various options that an attacking army could implement to force their enemy to surrender: 

    • They could starve the city inhabitants into surrendering 
    • They could assault the city with battering rams, moving towers or catapults 
    • The integrity of the fortress walls could be compromised by tunneling or using fire 
    • A dirt ramp could be constructed by heaping earth until it reached the most accessible point in the parapets 

    God’s military plan for the overthrow of Jericho

    However, God does not strategize as man does. First of all, His military plan was designed to achieve a victory in 7 days – an impossible timeline in ancient warfare. God reveals further details of His strategy to Joshua: 

    ‘”You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.” 

    Joshua 6:3-5 (NRSV) 

    Let’s break down God’s plan: 

    • The Israelites needed to march around the walls of Jericho once each day, for 6 days 
    • At the front of the cavalcade would be 7 priests bearing 7 trumpets made out of ram’s horns 
    • The priests were to walk ahead of the ark 
    • On the 7th day, the Israelites were to walk 7 times around the city walls 
    • At the sound of the priests blowing the trumpets, all of the Israelites were to give an almighty shout  
    • The walls of Jericho fall down 

    God’s presence is a formidable weapon

    God’s plan did not involve weaponry or a convoluted military strategy. It didn’t even require the Israelites to build trenches or erect battering rams. God’s plan comprised of a very simple strategy that entailed two key symbols of God’s presence: 

    The ark 

    The ark was to play a prominent role in the victory of Jericho.  God was showing His people that He was with them, leading them to victory. Seeing the ark before them would also have reassured the Israelites, reminding them of how they crossed the Jordan (Joshua 3:2-43:8-14). God also wanted the ark in front of them to keep the Israelite’s hearts and minds on Him, and not on their upcoming battle. 

    The trumpets

    The trumpets that the priests used were not the silver instruments traditionally used in ceremonies. These trumpets were designed to be used in battle. They were made out of ram’s horns and only ranged a few notes, which evoked spiritual overtones. When blown into, they emitted a dull, penetrating sound, which was designed to make the Israelites associate it with God’s voice.  

    Can you imagine how these trumpets sounded and the effect it had on the Israelites? And what about the Canaanites? The sombre resonance being emitted from the ram’s horns would have intimidated the Canaanites watching from the walls above them, making them think that the time of their doom was nigh. Talk about an added bonus!  

    What is also so unusual about this plan is that every Israelite was involved – not only the non-soldiers such as women and children, but also the priests, who traditionally were excused from warfare. God wanted a group effort for a group victory. 

    I wonder what Sun Tzu would have thought about this plan? 

    One thing is for certain: Though this strategy challenges our logic (and even our survival instincts), it is evident that God factored in details in His plan that we as humans may otherwise not have considered. Let’s find out what they were. 

    Photo credit:  Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

    Don’t fight the enemy his way – fight your way

    The Israelites could not engage in direct warfare, as they were ex-slaves and nomads, who had wandered the desert for 40 years. They were not warriors like the Canaanites, and they certainly did not possess battering rams, catapults and such to even launch such an assault. Their few swords and slings (though these were very effective – remember David versus Goliath [1 Samuel 17]?) would be of little use against the fortified walls of Jericho. And God knew that.  

    Therefore, God wanted the Israelites to fight with what they had. Let’s see what the Israelites had in their strategic assemblage.  

    Photo credit:  Michael Uebler on Unsplash

    The weapons of our warfare are spiritual, not carnal

    Based on what we’ve just read, this was always going to be a spiritual battle, not a physical one. Hence, instead of using the meagre supply of weapons in their arsenal, the Israelites were going to fight with far greater weapons – their faith, obedience, courage, and endurance.  

    Faith

    The Israelite’s declaration of faith in God’s assurance of victory starts with Joshua. He not only listened to what God told him about the imminent fall of Jericho, he believed that God would deliver the city into the Israelite’s hands (Joshua 6:2). 

    Then, with continued faith, Joshua told the plan to the Israelites, who in turn, accepted this untried and illogically-sounding strategy with their own faith. This was highly commendable on their part, considering that Joshua intentionally only told them God’s plan in increments. Joshua wanted the Israelites to focus on God and be dependent on Him throughout every part of the process to achieving victory and the prize of capturing the city.  

    Thus, the Israelites marched around their enemy’s camp trusting God’s promise, which only Joshua had heard directly. They believed in the battle plan. 

    This was a tremendous leap of faith for the Israelites, for they didn’t have the reassurance of a tried and tested strategy to gauge their odds, nor could they rely on their limited experience in warfare. They had to put their trust and reliance in God.  

    Courage

    Despite the battle plan being fraught with danger – walking around a highly defended city being observed by battle-hardened giants for 7 days – the Israelites gathered their courage and walked.  

    Going around and around the city walls, the Israelites would have been able to see clearly what they were up against – giants armed to the teeth in weaponry, impenetrable walls with ramparts wide enough for chariots to ride across, and a looming stone tower that rose 28 ft above them.  They also would have made themselves vulnerable to attack from the Canaanites. And yet, the Israelites refused to let themselves be intimidated. They walked in courage, knowing that God was Jehovah Nissi – their battle standard. 

    Obedience

    Joshua and the Israelites followed God’s strategy down to the last detail. For 6 days, every man, woman and child walked in absolute silence around the walls of Jericho in the cavalcade that God had decreed – even when they saw nothing happening.  

    It was only on the 7th day, that the Israelites shouted once – again in obedience to God at Joshua’s command. 

    The Israelites demonstrated their obedience by fulfilling Joshua’s instructions as he issued them, without having an overview of God’s strategy.  

    Additionally, the Israelites most likely would have marched on the Sabbath. However, they chose to obey a God, who didn’t allow Himself to be restricted by His own laws, as opposed to strictly following a religious practice. We see this repeated in Mark 2:23-28, when Jesus countered the Pharisee’s accusation that His disciples plucked at heads of grain to still their hunger on the Sabbath.  

    Instead of relying on their own human logic and carnal strategizing, the Israelites chose to completely obey God, without questioning His plans, nor His timing. 

    Endurance

    The Israelites exhibited tremendous endurance by persisting in following a plan day by day that didn’t make sense to them. This was remarkable, especially when you consider that walking around the walls of Jericho only exposed the Israelite’s apparently futile situation to the Children of God, which could only have attempted to whittle away at their insistence in obeying God. 

    These elements, together with the presence of a mighty and powerful God, made up the winning military strategy required to make the walls of Jericho fall down. 

    Photo credit:  Joshua Earle on Unsplash

    The sound of silence

    Have you ever heard of the phrase “Speech is silver, but silence is golden?” Well in the Israelite’s case, silence played a key role in their victory. 

    Although it doesn’t specifically state in the Bible why God wanted the Israelites to march in silence – He could have equally required of them to sing and dance in worship, or march around praying loudly – the Israelite’s observation of silence demonstrates an important precedence for us all to come to God in silence. Instead of running around trying to solve our problems with our own strength, we need to come to rest and be still in God’s presence and draw on His strength.  

    “Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” 

    Zechariah 2:13 

    In addition, by being silent, while at the same time not exactly being told why, was a further act of obedience from the Children of God. 

    Finally, through the silence, the Israelite’s could better hear the trumpet fanfare that represented the voice of God, which helped them focus on God’s promise of victory for them. 

    Photo credit:  Kristina Flour on Unsplash

    On six and seven* – the significance of the numbers 6 and 7 in the Bible

    When you read about God’s strategy for the Israelites to conquer Jericho, did the number 7 keeping popping out at you?  

    • 7 days 
    • 7 trips around the city walls 
    • 7 priests 
    • 7 horns 
    • The Israelites shout on the 7th day 

    Well, that is not a coincidence on God’s part. Numbers play a significant role in the Bible.  

    The number 7 is found 735 times in scripture. It represents completeness, perfection and the foundation of God. 

    When you think about what you already know about the number 7 from Sunday school or your own study of the Bible, the significance of this numeral makes sense: God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th – the Sabbath. Passover is celebrated in Israel, according to biblical tradition, for 7 days.  

    The number 7 is also represented in other ways in the Bible: 

    • According to the Hebrew calendar, God created Adam in the 7th month 
    • The bible is divided into 7 divisions:  

    1) the law 

    2) the prophets 

    3) the Psalms 

    4) Gospels and Acts 

    5) the (general) epistles 

    6) Paul’s epistles 

    7) The Book of Revelations 

    In comparison, the number 6 symbolizes man and his weakness: 

    • God created man on the 6th day 
    • In ancient times, Hebrew slaves were to serve 6 years and be released in the 7th year 
    • 6 (x3) is associated with Satan 

    For 6 days, the Israelites walked around the walls of Jericho and nothing happened. It was only when God intervened on the 7th day, did the walls fall down, thus completing the Israelite’s victory. 

    God has given the Israelites a purpose in Canaan, as well as a plan by which they can claim the land of milk and honey for their own. The Israelites know that they have to accept God’s plan with faith and carry it through with obedience, if they have any chance of conquering Jericho. However, there is one final thing they need to do, before they see the walls of the city fall down. 

    They needed to give an almighty shout of praise to their God! 

    *(From Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde) 

    Photo credit:  Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

    Praise God before the breakthrough

    Every Israelite – from the 7 Levite priests before the ark to the smallest child – obeyed God and walked in absolute silence around the walls of the fortified city of Jericho for 6 days. 

    The city encompassed an area of about 6.5 acres, so it didn’t take the Israelites long to march around the perimeter. However, it did give them ample opportunity to do a thorough reconnaissance of their enemy’s layout.  

    Being so close to Jericho’s infamous impregnable walls, the Israelites were confronted with just how colossal the task ahead of them was. Their proximity to the walls would have most likely put them in danger from an airborne attack of spears, slings or arrows from the Canaanites manning the parapets. At the least, the Israelites probably had to endure ridicule and jeering from the Canaanites, with the intention of intimidating them. Yet through all of this, they did not break their silence. 

    Until the 7th day.

    On this day, God wanted the Israelites to shout – just once – before He made the walls fall down. And the shout was to be a response to the sound of the ram’s horn, which was supposed to be akin to His voice.

    Why did God ask His people to that?

    We established earlier that this was a spiritual battle and that God wanted to use the victory of Jericho to set a precedent for the surrounding nations.

    God didn’t need the Israelite’s help – but He did want their partnership, which required them to show Him a visible sign of their faith. And what better way to show God your faith than by praising Him before you see a breakthrough?  

    This is what the Israelite’s one and only shout symbolized – that they believed God would keep His promise of victory, before they saw one stone from the wall of Jericho being dislodged and that He was their Lord, who would never fail them, nor forsake them. 

    Praising God before a breakthrough is also demonstrated in other biblical accounts: King Jehoshaphat sent men to sing and praise God before his battle against the combined armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (2 Chronicles 20:20-22). In Acts 16:25-32, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God in prison. In response, God brought about an earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison, released captives from their chains, and brought a Phillipian jailor to Christ. 

    And so, the Israelite’s raised their voices on Joshua’s command and shouted their praise to the Lord in faith: 

    So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it.” 

    Joshua 6:20 

    And in response, God caused the walls of Jericho – the infamously impregnable walls of Jericho – to fall down.  

    Photo credit:  Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

    However, the lesson of God’s promise doesn’t end here. The Israelite’s still need to fulfil God’s final commands in the captured city of Jericho, before they can claim their inheritance as the new leaders of the land of Canaan.  

    If you would like to learn more about what the Israelite’s get up to in their first days as the victors of Jericho, then feel free to join us in our next and final instalment of Part One of our Bible Study on Joshua 6, which we will publish soon.  

    In the weeks to come, we will be publishing the remaining parts of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6: In Part Two – Living God’s Word, we will share with you how you can implement the lessons learned in Joshua 6 in your own life. In Part Three – Studying God’s Word, we will be offering study and discussion questions, reading material, and a prayer that you can use in your own small group or adapt to your own private study of Joshua 6. 

    Until then, stay blessed my friends! 

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)” 

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho” 

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?” 

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1.1: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Before the walls fell down: The promise and the preparation 

    Part 1.1: Understanding God’s Word – Bible Commentary on Joshua 6

    Bible passages being discussed: (Joshua 1- 5), (Joshua 6:1-2 

    The fall of the city of Jericho in Joshua 6 (NRSV)  is one of my favorite biblical accounts, as it provides a wonderful testimony about what God can do when we act in obedience and faith. It also gives a clear insight into the difference between how we perceive our circumstances, in comparison to how God sees them.  

    We start this epic biblical account in the land of Canaan. Under the anointed leadership of Joshua, God has brought His people, the Israelites, out of their 40-year wilderness period in the desert of Sinai, by crossing over the Jordan River into Canaan (Joshua 3). Safe on the other side, the Israelites have set up camp in Gilgal, which borders to the east of the fortified city of Jericho.  

    The land of Canaan is significant to the Israelites, as it is the Promised Land, the heritage of the Israelites, that God had promised to Abraham when He made a covenant with Him (Genesis 15:18-21).  

    The only things is, the Promised Land is still occupied by the Canaanites, who are their enemies. In order to stake their claim as the new owners of the land, the Israelites need to defeat the Canaanites by taking the city of Jericho and claiming the fortress city for themselves. 

    The momentous task is the final and decisive step for the Israelites on a long journey to receiving the promise of God’s inheritance.  

    The Israelites had been enslaved in the bronze fetters of Pharaoh for 430 years in Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41). After their exodus from Egypt, they were then nomads for 40 years in the wilderness, which severely tested their faith (Numbers 32:13). Their steadfast leader Moses died and didn’t get to see the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1-8), and all males who had been born in the desert had to be circumcised, even the adults (ouch). 

    One the other hand, the Israelites had also experienced signs, miracles and wonders of God’s provision: God parted the Red Sea for them so they could escape Pharaoh and his army (Exodus 14), and He provided them with manna and quail in the desert when they were hungry (Exodus 16). Through Moses, He gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments and the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized God’s holy presence amongst His people.  

    Finally, God promoted Joshua, Moses’ second-in-command and one of the original 12 spies who scouted Canaan (Numbers 13:1-16), as the new leader of the Israelites. It was Joshua’s faith and obedience towards God that played a monumental role in the Israelite’s triumphant campaign in conquering Canaan, which lasted a total of 7 years.  

    Now, the Israelites are about to bear witness to another of God’s miracles – He is going to give them the city of Jericho – a fortress city which is reputed as being impregnable (Joshua 6:2-5) and is manned by a race of people well accustomed to warfare.  

    However, despite God’s promise of victory to make the walls of Jericho fall down, the Israelites still need to prepare themselves spiritually by obeying God’s laws. Moreover, they need to exercise their faith by holding on tightly to the promises that God has made them. 

    As an exception to our conventional layout of the Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies, this month, we are going to break down Part One further into three sub-segments, with each part analyzing a section of Joshua 6.  Many of us are going through adversity right now and it is on our hearts to explore in depth how God is in fact with us, making walls fall down and providing the path to breakthrough, when all the while we hear is His silence.  

    We hope that this deeper analysis of Joshua 6 will give you comfort and encourage you that God hears your pleading and prayers, and has already made a way when you don’t see a way.  

    We will post the two remaining sub-segments on Thursday and next Monday respectively. In the following weeks we will also be looking at Part 2 – “Living God’s Word”  and Part 3 – “Studying God’s Word” to complete our Bible study series on Joshua 6.

    Photo credit: eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

    The importance of Jericho for the Israelites

    So, before we look at how the Israelites overcame Jericho, we need to know why, out of all the cities in Canaan, did the Israelites choose this particular city as their first launch of attack in their campaign on the Promised Land? 

    Conquering Jericho was important to the Israelites for two reasons: 

    1. Jericho was part one of a three-part military campaign on Canaan

    The northern and southern parts of Canaan were separated by a ridge of mountains running east to west. Jericho was situated at the gateway to this mountain ascent. In order to prevent a hostile approach into the hill country from the east, the city had been built as a military fortress with 12-17 ft walls, which were wide enough to cater chariots as an added defense feature. Inside the walls was a stone tower about 28 ft high. 

    The first part of the Israelite’s military strategy was to capture Jericho and thereby gain control of the central mountain ridge. This would effectively divide a wedge between the northern and southern parts of Canaan, thus dividing their enemy’s army in two. It would also ensure that the Israelite’s didn’t have any enemy forces right at their back once they entered the high country.  

    Map Courtesey of: Free Bible Land Maps – New Testament Christians.Com, “Conquests of Joshua.”

    Following their conquest of the center of the land, the Israelites planned on executing the second part of their campaign, which was to attack the Canaanite armies to the south. Their third and final military goal was to overcome the more remote armies to the north.  

    2. God uses the fall of Jericho to show His power and that He keeps His promises

    Ancient warfare tactics required weeks or even months to capture a city, however God delivers Jericho into the Israelite’s hands in just 7 days based on: 

    •  His power  
    • His promise to His people to give them every place where they set foot and to always be with them (Joshua 1:1-5
    • The Israelite’s faith in God and their obedience in following His instructions 

    This is especially significant when you consider that the Israelites had previously failed to enter Canaan and confront their enemies due to a negative reconnaissance report from Moses’ spies (Numbers 13:25-29). They feared the Canaanites, believing them to be physically superior to them and their cities to be well fortified (Numbers 13:28). The inhabitants of Jericho were also seasoned warriors, armed to the teeth with military resources, whereas the Israelites were a nation of ex-slaves with no military experience. 

    This was indeed all true, but God uses these odds to show that the walls of Jericho can only fall down through His power and not by man’s prowess or strategizing. This should be an unusual achievement, a unique triumph that highlights the majesty, goodness, and might of God. 

    The victory of Jericho should not only be to encourage the Israelites that they can face anything that opposes them in Canaan, but it is to also send a message to the other nations of the glory and power of God. 

    God also wanted to show the Israelites the fulfilment of His promise that they would inherit Canaan, the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey (Leviticus 20:24). And God always keeps His promises.  

    Photo credit:  Valdemaras D. on Unsplash

    Why the battle was won before it even began

    When God leads you to experience a breakthrough or enter into a new level of spiritual promotion, He will line everything up in your favor. In the case of the Israelites, we see in three ways, how God had been laying the groundwork for their victory at Jericho long before they arrived at the fortified walls.  

    1. God has already given us the victory 

    The Israelites are preparing themselves for what could be the most impactful battle of their lives. Looking up at the walls and seeing their enemy leering down at them from the high parapets, l guess we can safely assume that they are feeling just a little bit nervous about the outcome of their undertaking, despite their faith in God. It’s only natural right?  

    However, God is totally relaxed, because He considers the battle to be already won. He says the following to Joshua: 

    ‘“See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers.”’ 

    Joshua 6:2 

    Did you notice how God said, “I have handed Jericho over to you?” (emphasis mine). God is reassuring the leader of the Israelites that He has delivered Jericho in their hands, before they have even left their camp in Gilgal! 

    Hebrew scholars refer to this term as the prophetic perfectIt is a literary technique, which is most distinguishable in Hebrew and Aramaic translations of the Bible, where a future event is so sure to happen, that it is referred to in the past tense, as though it has already occurred.  

    This reassurance of God is a gift, an unmerited expression of God’s mercy and love. However, in order to receive this gift, the Israelites need to obey God’s commands to the letter.  

    2. God renews His covenant with the Israelites and prepares them for victory

    God likes to plan – we just don’t always see it.  Sometimes, when it appears that God has instantaneously answered our prayers, He has actually been preparing us for His provision and grace.   

    Since arriving in Canaan, God is preparing the Israelites spiritually for their onslaught on Jericho and consequently the rest of the land. Not only does He want the Israelites to commit to a covenant relationship with Him, He wants to train them to put their faith and obedience in Him. This is how God achieves this:

    God instructs the Israelites to set up 12 memorial stones in Gilgal 

    The Canaanites regarded the River Jordan as a natural defense. However, not only did the Israelites chose this route to enter into Canaan, they wanted to cross it during the harvest time, when the banks of the river were flooded over.  

    When God separated the waters and dried up the river bed in order for His people to cross over (Joshua 3:16-17), He instructed the Israelites to set up 12 memorial stones where they first set foot in Canaan, which was Gilgal. The stones were to serve as a reminder for future generations of the miracle of the River Jordan crossing and to let all the people of the earth know how mighty and fearful God was (Joshua 4:20-24) 

    God requests that all males born in the wilderness be circumcised.

    The rite of circumcision was first performed by Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14), establishing the covenant relationship between God and Israel. However, the Israelites who had left Egypt had not continued with this covenant tradition in the wilderness.  

    Therefore, it was necessary for the Israelites to undergo circumcision in their camp at Gilgal, in order to seal a covenant with God and distinguish themselves as His chosen people. God also wanted to remove any taint of their former lives as slaves (Joshua 5:9). For this reason, Gilgal means “rolling”, as it was here that God rolled away the Israelite’s past.  

    Though undergoing circumcision meant that the Israelites needed a time-out in order to heal from their wounds, God was more concerned with establishing a spiritual bond between Himself and His people, rather than having the Israelites go to battle without His presence.   

    The Israelites were to observe the Passover

    The Passover commemorates God’s deliverance of the Israelite’s from Egyptian slavery, as well as their new-found liberation as a nation. It comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, which means to pass over.  

    It was first observed while the Israelites were in Egypt, where God passed over the blood-smeared doorposts of the Israelites to kill every firstborn – human and animal alike (Exodus 12:1-28). It was God’s tenth and final plague against Pharaoh, a judgement issued to Egypt because Pharaoh refused to release God’s people from the bonds of slavery (Exodus 11:4-8). With the demise of his firstborn son, Pharaoh conceded defeat and released the Israelites from their bondage (Exodus 12:31-32).  

    39 years had passed since the Israelites had last observed the Passover, which had taken place in their second year in the wilderness. However, before the Israelites could face their enemies at Jericho, God required them to take up the Passover tradition once again (Joshua 5:10). 

    Not only did God want the Israelites to obey His laws as He had decreed them when the Israelites were on the brink of freedom, He wanted His people to remember how He had delivered them from their enemies in Egypt, before doing the same at Jericho. 

    God stopped providing manna and quail

    As part of the keeping of Passover, the Israelites were required to have a feast. While they were in the wilderness, God had provided them with manna, which was similar to bread, as well as quail from heaven (Exodus 16:12). However, for Passover, they ate the rich produce of the land. From then on, God ceased providing them with manna and quail. 

    Why did He do this? For 40 years, God had generously provided the Israelites with a constant, albeit limited food source. Now, God was teaching them that there was abundance to be had in Canaan, but instead of it being presented to them every morning and twilight, God was training them to be self-sufficient (Philippians 4:11-12). 

    Joshua receives a Heavenly visit

    This point is an important one. In Joshua 5:13-15, a Man with a drawn sword appeared near Joshua, as he was by Jericho. This was no ordinary man, but an angel of God’s army. Theologians call this kind of encounter a theophany, which is a heavenly visit from God in the Old Testament, where He takes the form of, but is not limited to, a human. Similar theophanies are to be found in Judges 6:12-22 and 2 Kings 6:17

    Joshua needed to take his shoes off, because he was standing on holy ground. Moses experienced the same in Exodus 3:5 when he was on Mount Horeb. Being on holy ground meant you were in the presence of God in the Old Testament, which was a rare and privileged experience.  

    Not only did the angel appear to reassure Joshua in his role of leader, but He wanted to make it clear to Joshua, that He was not there to be on the Israelite’s side; rather, the Israelites needed to side with God if they wanted victory.  

    The angel also wanted to make it clear that this was God’s battle and consequent victory and would therefore be won on His terms, for His glory (Joshua 6:16-17).  

    Photo credit: Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash 

    God has already planted a weakness behind the enemy lines

    If Jericho had been nigh impossible to penetrate in the past, it was even more so now. On seeing the Israelites, the inhabitants of the fortress city have gone into lockdown mode.  

    Word of the Red Sea parting and the miracle of the Jordan River crossing have reached the ears of the citizens of Jericho (Joshua 2:10). Though the Israelites may not be seasoned warriors such as themselves, the Canaanites acknowledge that the Israelite attack is not to be taken lightly.  

    The people of Jericho don’t want to follow God, and yet they know of the promise He has made to the Israelites to take their land away from them, which has them shivering in their leather sandals (Joshua 2:9).  The entire city of Jericho is determined to shut the presence of God out – literally and spiritually and is thereby on full alert.

    However, what the Canaanites don’t know, is that God has already compromised the impregnable defences of the city in a manner that no one could have reckoned with – through a prostitute named Rahab.  

    After Moses’ failed attempt at a reconnaissance trip (Numbers 13:25-29), Joshua sent two men on a second scouting expedition – but this time in secret (Joshua 2:1)).  The presence of the two spies was quickly found out and the king of Jericho issued orders for the men to be found. 

    At the risk of her own life, Rahab offered the two Israelites refuge by hiding them on the roof of her house under stalks of flax. When the king of Jericho sent his men to Rahab with the request to hand over the men, she told the king’s officials that the Israelite’s had already left. 

    God literally placed a weakness in the wall, as Rahab’s house was built into the defensive stone exterior (Joshua 2:15). After the city’s gate had been shut for the night, Rahab let a rope out of her window, which the two Israelite’s used to flee the city.

    Why did Rahab decide to help the spies?  

    • She was the only one in Jericho that understood that God reigns supreme above all powers in heaven and on earth (Joshua 2:11
    • She knew that with God on the Israelite’s side, the fall of Jericho was inevitable
    • With that in mind, Rahab wanted to switch sides and declare her allegiance to God in faith (Joshua 2:11
    • Rahab was securing her family’s survival: In return for helping the spies escape the city, Rahab wanted the Israelite’s promise that they would spare her life and the lives of her family once Jericho was theirs (Joshua 2:13).  

    Due to Rahab’s assistance, the 2 spies were able to make it back safely to the Israelite camp and pass on the intel they had gathered, including Rahab’s allegiance. They now had a (wo)man on the inside! 

    Photo credit: Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash

    We hope you enjoyed reading Part 1.1 of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible commentary on Joshua 6 “Before the walls fell down: The promise and the preparation”.

    If so, feel free to join us when we post Part 1.2 “Faith, obedience, and praise – the secret behind God’s military plan”.

    Until, then may God’s blessings be upon you!






    Sources: 

    enduringword.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho”

    blueletterbible.org, “The fall of Jericho”

    bible.org, “Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)”

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?” 

  • Articles

    3 ways that God is using a dry season to strengthen my faith

    Written by Madeline Twooney

    Three years ago, l entered a dry season regarding my health. Until that time, l had been a private school teacher for 14 years. I had worked 75 hours a week, including on the weekends and during school holidays, until my body and my mind gave out and l had a breakdown. Consequently, l was diagnosed with burnout and depression and had to resign.


    During the first weeks of my convalescence, l was optimistic that with a bit of rest l would soon get back on my feet. However, as time has passed, it is evident that the damage to my health is greater than what l had initially realized.


    Completing everyday tasks overwhelm me. I get panic attacks in open spaces and have therefore been diagnosed with agoraphobia. Severe headaches leave me bedridden, and l experience stabbing pains in my left arm. I fall into deep pits of depression that last for weeks, and l have become a social recluse.


    Although l regularly seek the advice of a psychotherapist and other medical experts, l believe ultimately in the power of God to heal. Thus, through prayer and thanksgiving, l lay out my petition of a full recovery to God (Philipians 4:6) every day. However, it’s like the sky over my head is made out of bronze (Deuteronomy 28:23), because l can see only a little improvement in my health.


    Jesus says in John 10:10 that He has come in order that we may enjoy life until it overflows, so l just don’t understand why God isn’t healing me. In my darkest moments, l even despair whether l will ever experience what it feels to enjoy a healthy, joy-filled life.


    However, after much struggling and griping, I have come to realize that God is using this journey in the wilderness to teach me to completely trust and rely on Him, because l can’t recover unless l put my absolute faith in Him.

    Here are three ways that God is using my current dry season to strengthen my faith:

    Praise God before you see a breakthrough

    When l feel afraid or fall into a miry pit of depression, l raise my hands and thank God for healing that l haven’t seen manifest yet. The effects are instantaneous: My spirits lift, and l feel a sense of peace wash over me. I remember that God is in control, as l keep my eyes on Him and not on my circumstances.


    To emphasize the importance of praising Him before a breakthrough, I believe that God has been showing me the spiritual foundations behind the Israelite’s victory over the fortress city of Jericho in Joshua 6.


    I find it amazing how the Israelites, commanded by Joshua, shouted before the walls of Jericho fell down: This took more faith than shouting in jubilation after they had seen God give them the city (Joshua 6:16). I admire how the Israelite’s believed that God had given them victory over their enemies before they actually saw it.


    This season has taught me that words have power. If l voice my praise to God preceding a victorious recovery, l know that my words shall not return to me void, but shall accomplish the purpose of reviving my health (Isaiah 55:11).

    Photo credit:  Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    Get to know God by studying the Word


    During this dry season, there have been times when l have wandered around aimlessly as the Israelites did in the desert. I was confused and doubtful as to whether my circumstances would ever change. Like Job, l felt that God had left me alone to fend for myself (Job 23:8-9).


    However, God has been with me the entire time in this arid wilderness: My mind and heart just weren’t attuned to hear His voice. Thus, instead of hoping for rain, l had to dig deep inside myself and ask Jesus to stir up His living waters in me (John 4:14).


    Studying the Bible has been a revelation for me: It’s been like discovering a Get-to-know-God manual (2 Tim 3:16). Through His Word, God gives me courage when l am afraid (Isaiah 41:10), strength when l am weak (Isaiah 40:29), and corrects me when l mess up (Hebrews 4:12). On days when l feel disheartened, God meets me where l am (Matthew 11:28).


    Knowing the Word helps me realize that l am fearfully and wonderfully made in Christ and that l shouldn’t believe the lies of the enemy that say otherwise (John 8:44).

    Photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    A dry season is an opportunity to grow spiritually

    Last summer, l started working out at the gym. At first, l found it strenuous, and my body felt stiff and sore after every workout. Nowadays, my body is accustomed to the physical exertion, and l can see muscle definition forming.


    Similarly, l feel like God is using this dry season to grow my spiritual muscles. When l get a panic attack or become depressed, l am learning to hand the situation over to God, instead of allowing it to overwhelm me.
    Though it’s hard, l appreciate that God is using affliction to purify me of emotions that aren’t serving me, such as fear (Isaiah 48:10). I believe that God wants me to start a writing ministry, and is using this time to build up my resilience to tackle future trials and teach me obedience as preparation for His promotion.


    When l first became sick, l was convinced that this trial was designed to fail me. However, the further l push through this season, the more l see God cheering me on, as l learn to seek His face. Through this process, He has renewed my fallen spirit, given me a heart that is hungry for Him, and changed my mindset from that of a victim to that of a victor.

    If you are experiencing a dry season right now, let me encourage you that your time in the wilderness is a temporary layover, it is not your final destination. Stay the course, keep your eyes on God and ask Him to show you what you need to learn from Him to move on through. On the other side of your trials lies the Promised Land, with all the blessings for your life that God has planned for you.

    You’re going to make it!

    Photo credit:  Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash

    Blog banner:  Alexei Scutari on Unsplash

    This article was first published on YMI Magazine on the 11th February 2019.

  • Our current theme

    A change of theme is nigh, as well as a change in color scheme.

    Our current theme at Jacob’s Ladder Blog is “Trusting God when He’s silent”. I chose red for our new color scheme, as it not only symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ, but it represents humanity. In the Old Testament, the word oudem means “red clay” , which in its semantic origins denotes mankind.

    Since the Fall of man, humans have struggled on earth. Adversity, heartbreak, struggle, lack – we’ve all been there. If you’re like me, you know from personal experience that the time you spend in the valley can be a lonely one, fraught with pain, anxiety, and worry. In desperation, you throw out your arms and cry out to God to take away the burden that is weighing down your heart. You hold on in rigid faith that your Father, your Provider, your Rock, will answer your pleading and your prayers.

    But God remains silent.

    However, it is in the silence where God does some of His best work. Though we don’t see it, God is working in our situation; most importantly – God is working in us.

    What we need to do when we are stuck in the silence is wait on God’s perfect timing, and trust Him that all things will work out for His good because He loves us (Romans 8:28 NRSV).

    Trusting God means having a relationship with Him. Just like you trust your family and close friends as a result of a personal investment of your time, care, and attention, the same things applies with building a relationship with God.

    The more we seek God and spend time with Him, the more we learn about Him. We see His goodness, receive His grace, and experience the divine miracles that move the mountains in our life in a way that surpasses any human attempt on our part to solve our problems in our own strength.

    If you are seeking God in the midst of your own silent period, we want to encourage you here at Jacob’s Ladder through our diverse selection of content, that you can put your trust and confident reliance in God.

    We are blessed and humbled to be sharing the experiences of the following writers who put their trust in God when faced with adversity:

    In our Devotionals category:

    Onome Ogbajibrede “How to trust God when He is silent”

    Lynne Phipps “The trust factor”

    In our Personal Testimonies category:

    Sarah Keith “Solid as a Rock”

    JJ Ollerenshaw “Be still”

    In our Articles category, we will be exploring why God appears to be silent in your moment of need and what you can do while you are waiting on Him for your breakthrough.

    Jacob’s Ladder Book Reviews

    We will be reviewing the book Strengthen yourself in the Lord by Bill Johnsen.

    Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies

    This month’s Bible Study will be on Joshua 6.

    We hope you enjoy our upcoming content and that it encourages you and emboldens you to lay your trust in God, regardless of how your situation is looking right now.

    God is working all things out in your life for His good. All you need to do is trust Him. Even in the silence.

    And in the meantime, l hope the following Bible verse gives your comfort:

    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
        and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
    when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
        and the flame shall not consume you.

    Isaiah 43:2 (NRSV)

    God bless you and keep you safe.

    Madeline Twooney

    Co-founder of Jacobs Ladder Blog

    Photo credit:  Sérgio Rola on Unsplash

    Source:

    bellatorchristi.com, “Reference Guide to the Biblical Symbolism of Colors”

    Comments Off on Our current theme
  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part Three: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Ephesians 1

    Knowing who you are in Christ

    Part Three – Studying God’s Word

    Welcome to the third and last section of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Ephesians 1 “Knowing who you are in Christ”.  

    In Part One, we studied Paul’s epistle to the church at Ephesus. We discovered that Paul was writing to the Ephesians to encourage them in their faith in Christ and to remind them that they are forgiven, loved, and chosen to be adopted by God into the Body of Christ. 

    God’s endgame to unite all nations under Jesus Christ through the church is also revealed. 

    Paul continues to tell the Ephesians that upon receiving salvation that they – and by extension, us – are stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit, who comes to reside in us. The Holy Spirit provides us with a portion of the blessings, which is known as a pledge,  that we are to inherit as children of the Most High God.  

    Finally, Paul establishes Jesus as the Head of the Church, whose authority is greater than any entity or dominion and whose power is independent of space and time. If Jesus is the Head of the Church, then we as a community of Christians, are His body.  

    In Part Two, we explored the ways in which we can apply our understanding of God’s promise of love and blessings to our everyday lives. We also discussed how we can be ambassadors of Christ and spread the gospel as individuals and as churches to the nations.  

    Part Three of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study is intended as a study guide for those of you, who would like to delve deeper into the biblical and life themes presented in Ephesians 1.  

    If you would like to know more about the benefits of studying the Bible, then l recommend that you read our page “Why study the Bible?” 

    Blog banner credit: ditya Saxena on Unsplash 

    The aim of this study section

    This study section of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study series is intended as a guide to promote discussion and reflection on Ephesians 1.   

    As a start, I suggest that you read Part One and Part Two of the Bible Study on Ephesians 1 that l have already posted, in order to fully appreciate the lessons portrayed in this epistle and to consider the chapter’s themes.   

    For whom is this study section intended? 

    You can apply this section within a group setting, such as a house group, a Bible Study group, or a prayer group.  

    Alternatively, you can also study on your own. If this may be the case, l have written some suggestions below in the section “If you are studying on your own” to assist you in your learning.   

    I encourage you to customize this study preparation by taking out of it what you wish and adding your own ideas and insight. Have fun with it!  

    What you will need: 

    • A Bible, preferable a study Bible. I personally use the  “The Everyday Life Bible” from Joyce Meyer Ministries  
    • An exercise book or journal and a pen  
    • As an alternative to pen and paper, you could use a tablet or a similar electronic device  

    This study section composes of five parts:  

    1. Discussion questions  

    2. Testimony  

    3. Suggested reading   

    4. Journal writing  

    5. Prayer  

    These are just guidelines to help you structure your group time. Feel free to add or take out elements as you see fit! 

    Additionally, talk with your group and ask them for suggestions about what they would like to do. The more ideas, the merrier!  

    If you are studying on your own  

    If you are not in a group and you would still like to apply this study section of Ephesians 1 to your own private study of the Bible, that is also great! Quiet time with God is valuable time, and you can learn a lot about Him during it.   

    The following are a few suggestions of how you can adapt the 5 sections of this study guide for private study purposes:  

    1. Discussion questions:  

    You could start a journal and write down your thoughts to the listed discussion questions.   

    2. Testimony  

    You could use our suggested topics in the Testimony section as stimulation to write down all the wonderful things God has done in your life by starting a testimony journal or a blessings jar.  

     3. Suggested reading   

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes.  

    4. Journal writing  

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes.  

    5.Prayer  

    You can speak the prayer at the end of this section over yourself. Your words have power, especially if you speak them over yourself:  

    “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;  
        it shall not return to me empty,  
    but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,  
        and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”  

    Isaiah 55:11  

    Let’s look at the 5 sections of our study guide. 

    Photo credit:  Green Chameleon on Unsplash 

    1.Discussions questions

    The following are some discussion topics l have thought of to assist you in delving deeper into the themes of Ephesians 1. There is no right or wrong answer; these topics are merely suggestions to stimulate conversation and an exchange of views within your group. Also, feel free to ask others if they have suggestions regarding this topic that they would like to discuss and go with it!  

    As each person experiences a different walk with God, it is interesting to hear other people’s perspectives and thereby learn from each other and grow together as a Christian community. Happy talking!  

    Possible discussion topics on Ephesians 1:  

    1.  God loves us unconditionally. How do you define this kind of love? What are some examples of how God has demonstrated His unconditional love for you? 
    2. Paul writes to the Ephesians that we have been foreordained, pre-chosen to be sons and daughters of God.  Does that mean that those who aren’t believers of Christ have not been pre-chosen to be in a relationship with God? What role does free will play in all of this? 
    3. God’s great plan is to unify all nations under Jesus Christ. That means having an end to all religious conflict in the world. Considering the extent of religious disunity, persecution, and acts of terror that occur in the name of religious conviction, do you see global unity under one God and one church as a possibility? 
    4. God considers us holy and blameless in His presence (Ephesians 1:4). Considering that we are all sinners and are constantly trying to find our way, what does this mean to you? 

    Note: These topics might be a bit sensitive for people to address, so introduce it into a group situation at your discretion. 

    Photo credit:  Christin Hume on Unsplash 

    2.Testimony

    Sharing your life experiences and the victories that God has vouchsafed you, is a verbal expression of your gratitude. It gives not only our Father glory, but it encourages fellow Christians who may be going through the same trial that you have undergone.   

     I will declare your name to my people;  
        in the assembly I will praise you.”  

    Psalm 22:22   

    Paul’s letter to the Ephesians gives us reason to be joyful, for God declares that not only are we loved and forgiven for our sins, He lavishes us with His grace, blessings, and invites us into His family as His adopted children.  

    Possible testimony topics on Ephesians 1:  

    1. How did you come into a relationship with Christ? Share your story of salvation with the rest of the group. Give a testimony of a time when God blessed you abundantly – over and above your expectations. 
    2. It is stated often in the Bible that we should seek God, for example, in Matthew 7:7. However, in this epistle, Paul makes it very clear that God seeks us out.  Share with the group of an encounter you had with God when He sought you out at a time when you needed Him the most.
    3. When we give our lives to Christ we are stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit and He comes to reside in us. How do you feel the Holy Spirit working in you since you have entered into a relationship with Jesus?  

    To help you with your answer, refer back to Part One of our Bible Study under the section “Signed, sealed, and stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:11-14)”. 

    Photo credit:  Wesley Eland on Unsplash 

    3. Suggested reading

    Reading the Word of God teaches us about how much God loves us and gives us guidelines on how to live the life He wants us to live – a life of victory and joy. 

    The following are some scriptures you may enjoy reading about how much God loves you and that He always has your back. 

    Scriptures:  

    Reading the remaining 5 chapters of  the Book of Ephesians will give you more depth and insight into God’s unconditional love for you and the plans He has for you as an individual, as well as for the church.

    • Ephesians 2 – God raised us from the death of a life of sin and has sat us in High Places with Him. It is by faith that we have been saved, not by works. Paul discusses the foundation of the Church, which are the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as her cornerstone.
    • Ephesians 3 – Paul declares from his confinement in Rome of his role in revealing God’s eternal plan for His children.   The power of God is greater than any other authority, and the Church under Christ should reflect His glory. Paul prays that the Ephesians have an encounter with Christ that embeds itself in their hearts. 
    • Ephesians 4 – In this chapter, Paul lists the spiritual gifts that God has given us to fulfill His vision of a functioning Church. Additionally, Paul reminds us to live in humility and morality that honors the Holy Spirit, such as to not steal, be obscene, or allow the sun to go down on your anger. 
    • Ephesians 5– God is love so we should also walk in love. Again, Paul gives us instructions on living a Christian life that reflects God’s will for us. He also talks about the role of men and women in a marriage. 
    • Ephesians 6– Paul gives instructions about family life, specifically the role of both parent and child in the home. Lastly, Paul teaches us that we have a spiritual enemy, Satan, and that we must put on spiritual armour daily to fend off the enemy’s attacks.  

    Interesting online articles relating to Ephesians 1:  

    theprayingwoman.com, “God has your back” Sophia Vilceus 

    www.joelosteen.com, “Claim Your Inheritance” Lisa Comes 

    www.crosswalk.com, “Teaching Life Skills: Practical Outreach for Any Church” Chris Bolinger 

    https://ymi.today,  “5 lies to stop believing about yourself” 

    www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com,  “Are There Some People God Will Not Save?” 
     

    Inspirational quotes relating to Ephesians 1:  

    ‘God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, “I love you.” ‘- Billy Graham 

    “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.” C.S. Lewis 

    “The life of success is one of going forward to posses our possessions. It has been said that God’s will does not send a man to where His grace cannot sustain him. God’s will and His grace go hand in hand.” – Benson Andrew Isahosa 

    Photo credit:  Josh Applegate on Unsplash 

    4. Journal writing

    Writing down all the good things that God has done in your life is a very powerful tool for a Christian. Not only does it help us to remember what God has done for us; reading over God’s past victories and blessings over you provides encouragement and empowerment in times of trouble. All you need to start is an empty exercise book and a pen. Alternatively, you can keep a digital journal.  

    There are a number of forms of journals, where regular writing in it will strengthen you in your walk with God:  

    •  A testimony journal  
    •  A dreams and visions journal  
    •  A blessings journal  
    •  My favourite –  a gratitude journal  

    Try to write optimally once a day. All you need is 5-10 min to jot down everything good that has happened to you during the course of your day, no matter how trivial.   

    Meditate upon what you wrote and acknowledge that it is God who was responsible for these good things happening today, and not you or your own works.   

     ‘”Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.’  

    Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)  

    Journaling in your group:  

    You can e.g. allot 10-15min for journaling in your group, and afterwards share your written thoughts with each other.  

    An alternate suggestion, is to incorporate journal writing as part of your quiet time with God, then discuss your results when you meet as a group.  

    Journaling on the Bible Chapter Ephesians 1 

    1. In your journal, divide your page in half to form two columns. In the left column, write the title “How the world sees me”. In the right column, write the title “How God sees me”.  

    Fill out in the left column how your family, colleagues, friends, and neighbors sees you. Include not only roles and job descriptions but also personality and behavioral traits. 

    Example: “mother”, “husband”,  “reliable”, “shy” 

    In the right column, write a list of everything that God says about YOU

    Example:  “beloved Child”, “forgiven”, “redeemed” 

    As an extension, consider starting a gratitude journal, where you write down the great things God is doing in your life every day. I personally love using the Five Minute Journal from Intelligent Change.   

    Photo credit:  fotografierende on Unsplash 

    5.Prayer

    If you wish, you can read the following prayer aloud as a group, or one person can read it aloud on behalf of the others.   

    Prayer:  

    Oh, Great and Almighty God, 

    You are the Alpha and the Omega, the God who is, who was, and who is to come – You are the Almighty and the Ruler of All. 

    I come to You today full of awe and humility. I lay myself at Your feet, overcome by the love, grace, and mercy that You lavish upon me. Your acts of kindness towards me are countless, as are Your blessings which are as numerous as the stars in the night sky.  

    Precious Lord, l thank you that You chose me to be your child, before l was even in my mother’s womb. Thank you, that when l was swayed by the temptations of this world and dwelled in the darkness of spiritual death, Your love was a light that shone out and brought me back to life through the redeeming blood of Your son Jesus Christ. 

    Now, l am seated in heavenly places with You, adopted into the Body of Christ as Your child. I am Yours, marked with the stamp of the seal of the Holy Spirit that denotes me as belonging to You and You alone. Your grace and love fill me with wonder that You would have chosen me into Your heavenly family.  

    Father, teach me Your ways, in order that l may live the life You have planned for me. Instruct me in the ways of Your love and grace and imprint it on my heart, in order that l do not sin against You. For without You, where l would l be? 

    Mature me in my gifts through the teachings of the Holy Spirit, in order that l may serve You well in my church and help further Your great plan to unify all mankind under the leadership of Jesus Christ, Your son.  
     

    To You be given all the honor and the glory, for You are worthy to be praised. 

    In Jesus’ name, 

    Amen.  

    Photo credit:  fotografierende on Unsplash 

    We hope that you enjoyed our Bible study on Ephesians 1 in our series Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies.  

    In August, we will be studying  Joshua 6, which describes the fall of Jericho, a fortress city in the land of Canaan. We would love for you to join us!  

    Until then, my friends, be safe and may God’s love and blessings be upon you!  

    Sources:

    https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary, “Ephesians 1 – God’s ulimate plan” 

    https://www.studylight.org, “William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible 
    Ephesians 1” 

    www.jcblog.net/ephesians/summary, “Summary of the Book of Ephesians” 

    https://www.gty.org/library, “What Does It Mean to Be Sealed With the Holy Spirit?“ 

    https://www.ephesus.us/, “St. Paul in Ephesus” 

    https://www.gotquestions.org, “What does the Holy Spirit do?” 

    https://www.bibleref.com, “What does Ephesians 1:15 mean?” 

    johnkking.wordpress.com, “Applying Ephesians to my life” 

    withalliamgod.wordpress.com, “Application Of Ephesians 1:3-11 in Local Churches Leadership” 

    www.gotquestions.org, “What is a blessing according to the Bible?” 

    www.lsmradio.com, “What is God’s Blessing?” 

    www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com, “10 Effective Ways To Spread Christianity” 

    http://www.crosswindschurch.com, “Bible Study Basics – Ephesians 1” 

    http://dsntl8idqsx2o.cloudfront.net, “Ephesians Small Group Series Lesson 1 – Introduction to Ephesians & Chapter 1 The Extent of God’s Love and Power” 

    biblesummarybychapter.blogspot.com, “Ephesians Bible summary by chapter” 

  • Devotionals

    How to trust God when He is silent

    Written by Onome Ogbajibrede

    Thought of the day: Trusting in the living God is the living spring that opens the floodgate of divine help from above.

    ‘‘And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.’’    

    Psalm 9:10 (KJV)

    In one of the editions of our monthly crusade held in Abuja, Nigeria, which was organized by the Redeemed Christian Church of God Nigeria, a lady gave a testimony that boosted my faith again, and it is really a known fact that if we depend on God without looking elsewhere for help, He would come to our rescue.

    According to this lady, she said she delivered her baby inside the car, and the baby had catarrh in the nostril. At the hospital, it was diagnosed that the baby had a particular disease.

    It is only a mother that can explain the pains of motherhood in clean terms. Therefore, she took up this challenge upon herself. Every Sunday she was always giving a seed offering unto God concerning the baby’s health issue. This she did continuously, and God healed the baby: The disease was taken away by God Almighty who is our Balm in Gilead.

    Everyone who makes God a sure pillar of support and trust in Him will not be put to shame. God has never failed, and He has not forsaken His dearly beloved ones.

    Sometimes, in life, it may seem that God has abandoned us, and that He is silent concerning our case. This He does to see if we will give up on Him. But if we still hold on, it is then He appears from nowhere to calm our troubled storm.

    What a mighty God we serve! He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and when He comes, every other lion runs away.

    How can we trust God even when it appears He is silent concerning our case sometimes?

    Firstly, it is to be born again by accepting Jesus as the only true Saviour. Furthermore, by building confidence in God through studying His Word regularly, through constant prayers, by believing God for the impossible, and by listening to testimonies of how people trusted in God and God did not fail them.

    Prayer

    Dear Lord Jesus, Increase my faith in you, so that I can have absolute trust in you daily and rely on your help always. Amen.

    Delve Deeper: Recount the stories of people who have trusted in God – they were not disappointed. In our daily living, trusting in God will help us survive the storms of life.

    Photo credit:  Joshua Ness on Unsplash

    About the author:

    Onome OGBAJIBREDE is an Evangelist and a Christian Devotional Writer, who inspires and encourages people to come closer to God. He holds a Degree in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from Nigeria. Onome lives in Abuja, Nigeria, and can be contacted via devotionalembassy@gmail.com He loves researching into new ideas.

    Some of his devotionals can be accessed from the following links.

      Link 1  https://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=71709

      Link 2   https://christiandevotions.us/viewauthor/450

      Link 3   https://presbycan.ca/author/onome-ogbajibrede