Tuesday, June 30
Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. 2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
This was Israel’s first battle in the land of Canaan, and it couldn’t be easier. Follow God’s instructions, and the city would fall. Joshua gave the people God’s directions, so they would be sure to do exactly as God wanted. And in seven days, the city walls collapsed, and Jericho was theirs, an easy victory.
To read on, however, even easy instructions were not fail proof. God directed that all the silver and gold belonged to the Lord. Individuals were warned not to take anything. But human greed being what it is, one person couldn’t keep from taking some of the city’s riches for himself and brought the Lord’s anger down upon all of them. We see that played out in various ways today, again and again. Those who refuse to social distance, who choose not to wear a mask, have caused Covid to escalate in many areas of our country.
For many of us, God’s directions do not seem so clear, nor God’s judgment so immediate. We fudge on our obedience and discount God’s judgment. Maybe we would seek to discern God’s instructions better if we took seriously the penalties for failing to obey. God is so good, so forgiving, that we think God won’t mind if we stray from God’s word. Or we tell ourselves that the way God is portrayed in the Old Testament is somehow different from the God we know. No. God desires our obedience. God expects us to listen and follow his ways. We are privileged to call Jesus our savior, and find in him forgiveness and grace when we confess our wrongdoing. There is joy in obedience, but one day there will be judgment.
Gracious God, forgive us when we fail to live up to your word. Forgive us when we do not take you seriously. We want to listen well to you; we want to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Guide us on right paths, for we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.