A few weeks ago I started a new "Get Out of Jail Free" program for Patriot (see here for details). In all honesty, I thought it'd make my life easier: Patriot would say he was sorry and I wouldn't have to dish out corrections -- great! He's gotten pretty good at saying he's sorry -- those apologies come quicker than I can say "go to timeout!" But it hasn't all been easy for me.

It surprised me to find that offering forgiveness instead of correction left me with a strange feeling of guilt. I was afraid of letting him get away with murder and I was filled with doubt about this plan. Would he learn the proper way to behave? Or, would he learn to spit out the words "I'm sorry" with no real meaning behind them?

Last Sunday, our Senior Pastor Chad Hovind taught on the story of Joshua and the Wall of Jericho. This Bible story, which you can read in it's entirety at Joshua 6, tells of God giving His people, the Israelites, the land He had promised them. The land, a city called Jericho, was protected by a great wall. God commanded Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, to march his army around the wall once each day for six days. On the seventh day, they were to march around seven times and blow their trumpets. Then the wall would fall and the army of Israel could enter in and take the city.

The Israelites obeyed every specific direction from God, and the wall did fall. Verse 21 says the Israelites "devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys." If you're like me, that verse is a little hard to understand. God sanctioned the destruction of all living things inside the wall of Jericho. How could that be?

Chad shared some insight that I'd not considered: The city of Jericho was decayed with sin. For generations, the people of Jericho had treated each other in ways we consider only horror movies today. God knew the depth of their sin and the rotted state of their souls. So much so that He knew even the donkeys would be worthless, as their mistreatment had made them mean. Chad offered that, had we been there, we would have been crying out to God to put an end to their cruel ways.

So why would God ask His people to do the whole marching routine? Why couldn't He just deliver the wicked city into His people's hands? I had always thought it was to test the Israelites' obedience, but maybe it wasn't. Chad suggested that God, in His great mercy and love, wanted to offer the wicked people of Jericho another chance (or maybe 7 chances) to turn from their sin and seek forgiveness. In that day, God's reputation proceeded Him and the people of Jericho knew whom the Israelites served. By asking His people to march around the wall, God was making His Presence known and warning the people of Jericho. They may not have known what was going to happen, or when it was going to happen, but they knew something was going to happen.

A deeper look into the story reveals one prostitute, named Rahab, who risks her life to offer aid to the Israelite army. In verses 22 & 23, through Joshua, God saves this prostitute and her entire family before the city was destroyed. He knew her heart was softened; He was giving them another chance to turn to Him.

So, what can we learn from this?

About God: God's love is endless and tireless. He offers chance after chance for us to choose to follow Him, forgiving even our most repetitious sins when we ask it of Him. He truly desires for us to choose to love Him.

About parenting: My forgiveness must be tireless, also. In the years my children live under my roof, their behavior will never mirror that of the people of Jericho. If God can offer forgiveness to them, I can offer forgiveness to my children without guilt or fear.
1 Response
  1. Joni Says:

    Wow, sis. Thanks for that biblical application to that story... I'd never thought that the 7 days' marching might be to offer the people of Jericho a chance for repentance as well as to test the Israelites' obedience. What a great lesson for me about God's patience, and a good parenting lesson too. When are you going to write a book? :)