Study Notes

Hebrews 11:30-31


We have spent considerable time now examining the life of Moses, seeing him as a baby hidden from the law, as a forty-year-old fleeing Pharaoh in faith, and an eighty-year-old shepherding sheep and leading the people of Israel into the wilderness.

Now, the author of Hebrews takes us to the days when Moses' successor, Joshua, is about to lead the people of Israel into the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - the land of Canaan. After 40 years in the wilderness, Moses was giving the people a going-away speech. In that speech, he told them,

Deut. 9:1 "Hear, O Israel! You are crossing over the Jordan today to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, great cities fortified to heaven"

While that was a figure of speech, they would certainly encounter some fortified cities with massive walls of protection.

So, the mantle of authority and leadership was passed to Joshua, and the Jews entered the land.

Just as Moses had promised, there were some formidable adversaries waiting for them there. Idolatrous and immoral inhabitants of the land that would not leave easily. But if the Israelites were faithful to follow God, He would disposess themfrom the land, driving them out before His people.

The Walls Of Jericho

The first city that they encountered after crossing the Jordan River into the land of Canaan was the city of Jericho.

Jericho was a Canaanite city of several thousand people, and well-fortified against attack. It was placed on a hill, and had two levels. The best way I can describe it is to have you picture a two-layer wedding cake. The top section was about six acres in size, and the bigger bottom layer encompassed about nine acres.

Now these two layers were surrounded by walls. The first wall, circling the bottom of the hill, was purely practical - a retaining wall, to keep the hill from eroding away. This was 15 feet high and six feet thick.

On top of the retaining wall was the first defensive wall. This was also six feet thick, but 25 feet high. So Jericho's defense against outside attack was a wall around the outer perimeter of the hill that was forty feet tall!

Now, in case an enemy actually managed to scale the outer perimeter, and get on top of that first layer, there was still another line of defense - another wall surrounding the higher and more populated section of the city. This one was similar to the first - another six foot wide, 25-foot high wall.

Needless to say, Jericho's inhabitants had never worried about attacks before. The city was an impregnable fortress.

Prepared For A Siege

To make matters more difficult for the Israelites who had just entered the land, they were about to find that their reputation had preceded them (Josh. 2:9-11). The Canaanites had heard about the parting of the Red Sea before them 40 years earlier. They had heard about the Israelites' victory over the Amorites and other inhabitants of the lands they entered. The citizens of Jericho were terrified when they saw the huge crowd of Jews approaching. They closed and locked the gates (Josh. 6:1), terrified that they could possibly suffer the same fate as those they had heard about.

They would stay inside as long as it took. They were ready to come under siege - they had abundant food from the harvest (Josh. 3:15), and a well spring of water inside the city. They would be able to hold out for years inside the walls of Jericho.

God's Battle Plan

The Lord told Joshua that the city of Jericho would be given into their hands if they were obedient to follow His battle plan. He said,

Josh. 6:3-5 "And you shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And it shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead."

After recieving this battle plan from the Lord, Joshua got everyone together and told them what was going to happen.

Imagine being in the war room as Joshua was relating this plan. It was interesting and inventive, to say the least. Clearly not conventional combat read from a "how to wage warfare" manual!

The amazing thing to me is not that Joshua had the faith to relate the plan, for he knew that God had spoken to him. No, the incredible detail of this story is that the PEOPLE actually BELIEVED Joshua had heard from God!

And this finally brings us to the first verse of our study this morning...

11:30 The Walls Fell Down

And so by faith, they followed the Lord's instructions.

Josh. 6:13-16 And the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them, and the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while they continued to blow the trumpets. Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days. Then it came about on the seventh day that they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. And it came about at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout! For the LORD has given you the city."

Josh. 6:20 So the people shouted, and {priests} blew the trumpets; and it came about, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, that the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.

I wonder how everyone felt at that moment, when the wall fell down flat? The people inside thinking, "How did that happen?" The people outside thinking, "Wow, it really worked!" The unfortunate guy under the wall thinking, "Mmmmpphhhhfff!"

The walls fell down.


Now rest assured, this is no fairy tale, saints. Although people have been making fun of Bible believers for years, we always have the last laugh.

When skeptics claimed there was no ancient city of Jericho, they were proven wrong by archaeologists who found it! Germans in the early 1900's, British in the 1950's, and Italians in the 1990's all have excavated the ruins of the city of Jericho, and all find what we would expect: piles of bricks from walls that fell down upon themselves!

11:31 Rahab The Harlot

Now, before the destruction of the city of Jericho, Joshua had sent in two men as spies. They lodged in the house of a woman named Rahab. (In the Cannanite, Egyptian, and Greek cultures, innkeepers were often women, and many of them not only rented out rooms, but their physical companionship as well.)

Word had gotten to the king that the spies were there, so he sent men to get them. But she had hidden them up on the roof. The king's men said, "Bring out the men who went into your house!" But she insisted, "Yes, they were here, but they just left right before the city gates were shut at sundown. If you hurry, I'm sure you can catch them!" (Josh. 2:2-5)

Just like the "he went that-a-way" cartoons, the king's men went running down the road all the way to the Jordan River.

Meanwhile, Rahab came up to the spies on the roof. She told them that she believed their God was the true God, and that God was giving them the land of Canaan.

Josh. 2:11-13 "...the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by the LORD, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father's household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death."

Rahab's faith in God, belief that God was judging her people, and desire to be saved with God's people, resulted in action. She knew it wouldn't be enough to believe, but to act on it.

The Bible says,

James 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

Real faith is a belief that's put into action. Rahab's action saved her life and that of her family from the judgment that was coming upon her people.

How about you? At this point, you probably believe in God. You believe that He is righteous, and you believe that He is going to judge sin. But have you acted on it? Have you told the Lord that you don't want to be judged for your sin, that you want to be forgiven?

God sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the death penalty of your sin by dying in your place. And when you acknowledge that you have sinned and need forgiveness, all you need to do is,

Rom. 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;

And don't think, "My sin is too bad, I've done too many horrible things to be forgiven." Remember, if Rahab the prostitute could be saved, then so can you. The Bible says,

1Tim. 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners...

Rahab told God's people that she wanted to be resuced... And now you have a chance to do the same.

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