20 The priests blew their trumpets again, and the soldiers shouted as loud as they could. The walls of Jericho fell flat. Then the soldiers rushed up the hill, went straight into the town, and captured it. 21-25 They killed everyone, men and women, young and old, everyone except Rahab and the others in her house. They even killed every cow, sheep, and donkey.
Joshua said to the two men who had been spies, “Rahab kept you safe when I sent you to Jericho. We promised to protect her and her family, and we will keep that promise. Now go into her house and bring them out.”
The two men went into Rahab's house and brought her out, along with her father and mother, her brothers, and her other relatives. Rahab and her family had to stay in a place just outside the Israelite army camp. But later they were allowed to live among the Israelites, and her descendants still do.
The Israelites took the silver and gold and the things made of bronze and iron and put them with the rest of the treasure that was kept at the Lord's house. Finally, they set fire to Jericho and everything in it.
26 After Jericho was destroyed, Joshua warned the people, “Someday a man will rebuild Jericho, but the Lord will put a curse on him, and the man's oldest son will die when he starts to build the town wall. And by the time he finishes the wall and puts gates in it, all his children will be dead.”
27The Lord helped Joshua in everything he did, and Joshua was famous everywhere in Canaan.
For some of you, the beginning of this passage marks familiar territory from your childhood. “And the walls came a-tumbling down.” It was a remarkably simple strategy to defeat the city and enter it. Some marching and a little noise from the shouting and the blasting of the horn. The story however, does not end there. It may have when you were a child, but as an adult you cannot move on in this passage without struggling in the modern age with the awful violence that happens to the city at the hand of the Joshua and the Israelites.
It may be offensive to the modern sensibilities but it is the reality of conflict and war. People get killed and excesses happen. We live in the mystery and tension of understanding why but we cannot escape the evil or war that takes lives and values them so cheaply. A night with the news on CBC only drives that home – war and life-taking is so much a part of the world that we live in.
Isn’t it remarkable that one of the promises of the new covenant with God through Jesus Christ is one where wars will cease and the ‘lion and the lamb will lie down together.’ A new order and a hopeful future is what we hold on to in times like these. The violence and evils of conflict erode this trust on a daily basis but with Paul we hold on to that future. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
God of hope and God of peace. We live in a world full of violence and war. We confess that we ourselves have felt times an evil toward someone else. And yet, we long for more. Something better – something more like the hope you give us in Jesus. Grant us the possibility to be that hope for others.