March 20, 2015

Joshua 6-8 - Jericho was shut up tight as a drum because of the People of Israel: no one going in, no one coming out.

God spoke to Joshua, “Look sharp now. I’ve already given Jericho to you, along with its king and its crack troops. Here’s what you are to do: March around the city, all your soldiers. Circle the city once. Repeat this for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram’s horn trumpets in front of the Chest. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, the priests blowing away on the trumpets. And then, a long blast on the ram’s horn—when you hear that, all the people are to shout at the top of their lungs. The city wall will collapse at once. All the people are to enter, every man straight on in.”...

They did this six days.  When the seventh day came, they got up early and marched around the city this same way but seven times—yes, this day they circled the city seven times. On the seventh time around the priests blew the trumpets and Joshua signaled the people, “Shout!—God has given you the city! The city and everything in it is under a holy curse and offered up to God. “Except for Rahab the harlot—she is to live, she and everyone in her house with her, because she hid the agents we sent.....

The priests blew the trumpets.  When the people heard the blast of the trumpets, they gave a thunderclap shout. The wall fell at once. The people rushed straight into the city and took it... Joshua ordered the two men who had spied out the land, “Enter the house of the harlot and rescue the woman and everyone connected with her, just as you promised her.” So the young spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, and brothers—everyone connected with her. They got the whole family out and gave them a place outside the camp of Israel.... 

Joshua swore a solemn oath at that time: Cursed before God is the man who sets out to rebuild this city Jericho.  He’ll pay for the foundation with his firstborn son,  he’ll pay for the gates with his youngest son.

God was with Joshua. He became famous all over the land.

Then the People of Israel violated the holy curse. Achan... of the tribe of Judah, took some of the cursed things. God became angry with the People of Israel.

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai (The Ruin),... He instructed them, “Go up and spy out the land.” The men went up and spied out Ai.  They returned to Joshua and reported, “Don’t bother sending a lot of people—two or three thousand men are enough to defeat Ai. Don’t wear out the whole army; there aren’t that many people there.”  So three thousand men went up—and then fled in defeat before the men of Ai! The men of Ai killed thirty-six—chased them from the city gate as far as The Quarries, killing them at the descent. The heart of the people sank, all spirit knocked out of them.

Joshua ripped his clothes and fell on his face to the ground before the Chest of God, he and the leaders throwing dirt on their heads, prostrate until evening.  Joshua said, “Oh, oh, oh . . . Master, God. Why did you insist on bringing this people across the Jordan? To make us victims of the Amorites? To wipe us out? Why didn’t we just settle down on the east side of the Jordan? Oh, Master, what can I say after this, after Israel has been run off by its enemies? When the Canaanites and all the others living here get wind of this, they’ll gang up on us and make short work of us—and then how will you keep up your reputation?”

God said to Joshua, “Get up. Why are you groveling? Israel has sinned: They’ve broken the covenant I commanded them; they’ve taken forbidden plunder—stolen and then covered up the theft, squirreling it away with their own stuff. The People of Israel can no longer look their enemies in the eye—they themselves are plunder. I can’t continue with you if you don’t rid yourselves of the cursed things.... “First thing in the morning you will be called up by tribes. The tribe God names will come up clan by clan; the clan God names will come up family by family; and the family God names will come up man by man. The person found with the cursed things will be burned, he and everything he has, because he broke God’s covenant and did this despicable thing in Israel.”

Joshua was up at the crack of dawn and called Israel up tribe by tribe... He called up the family members one by one and singled out Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah. Joshua spoke to Achan, “My son, give glory to God, the God of Israel. Make your confession to him. Tell me what you did. Don’t keep back anything from me.”  Achan answered Joshua, “It’s true. I sinned against God, the God of Israel. This is how I did it. In the plunder I spotted a beautiful Shinar robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a fifty-shekel bar of gold, and I coveted and took them. They are buried in my tent with the silver at the bottom.”... Joshua took Achan son of Zerah, took the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkey, sheep, and tent—everything connected with him. All Israel was there. They led them off to the Valley of Achor (Trouble Valley).  Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? God will now trouble you. Today!” And all Israel stoned him—burned him with fire and stoned him with stones. They piled a huge pile of stones over him. It’s still there. Only then did God turn from his hot anger. That’s how the place came to be called Trouble Valley right up to the present time.

God said to Joshua, “Don’t be timid and don’t so much as hesitate. Take all your soldiers with you and go back to Ai. I have turned the king of Ai over to you—his people, his city, and his land...Joshua and all his soldiers got ready to march on Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand men, tough, seasoned fighters, and sent them off at night with these orders: “Look sharp now. Lie in ambush behind the city. Get as close as you can. Stay alert. I and the troops with me will approach the city head-on. When they come out to meet us just as before, we’ll turn and run. They’ll come after us, leaving the city. As we are off and running, they’ll say, ‘They’re running away just like the first time.’ That’s your signal to spring from your ambush and take the city. God, your God, will hand it to you on a platter. Once you have the city, burn it down. God says it, you do it. Go to it. I’ve given you your orders.”...

Joshua burned Ai to the ground. A “heap” of nothing forever, a “no-place”—go see for yourself... Then Joshua built an altar to the God of Israel on Mount Ebal. He built it following the instructions of Moses the servant of God to the People of Israel and written in the Book of The Revelation of Moses, an altar of whole stones that hadn’t been chiseled or shaped by an iron tool. On it they offered to God Whole-Burnt-Offerings and sacrificed Peace-Offerings. He also wrote out a copy of The Revelation of Moses on the stones. He wrote it with the People of Israel looking on....Half of the people stood with their backs to Mount Gerizim and half with their backs to Mount Ebal to bless the People of Israel, just as Moses the servant of God had instructed earlier.  After that, he read out everything written in The Revelation, the Blessing and the Curse, everything in the Book of The Revelation. There wasn’t a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua didn’t read to the entire congregation—men, women, children, and foreigners who had been with them on the journey.

Mark 1:21-1:45 - Then they entered Capernaum.  When the Sabbath arrived, Jesus lost no time in getting to the meeting place.  He spent the day there teaching.  They were surprised at his teaching--so forthright, so confident--not quibbling and quoting like the religious scholars.  Suddenly, while still in the meeting place, he was interrupted by a man who was deeply disturbed and yelling out...Jesus shut him up: “Quiet!  Get out of him!  The afflicting spirit threw the man into spasms, protesting loudly--and got out.  Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity....

Directly after leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew’s house, accompanied by James and John.  Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever.  They told Jesus.  He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up... That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil inflicted people to him, the whole city lined up at his door....Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn’t let them say a word.  

While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed.  Simon and those with him went looking for him.  They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”  Jesus said, “Let us go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also.  This is why I’ve come.”  He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons.

A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”  Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to.  Be clean”.... Jesus dismissed him with strict orders:  “Say nothing to anyone.  Take the offering for cleansing that Moses prescribed and present yourself t the priest.  This will validate your healing to the people.”  But as soon as the man was out of earshot, he told everyone he met what had happened, spreading the news all over town.  So Jesus kept to out-of-the-way places no longer able to move freely in and out of the city.  But people found him and came from all over.