Text: Joshua 6:1-27, 1 Kings 16:34, Colossians 2:11-12, Exodus 3:1-6
Most people move into a retirement community later in life, but I’ve been a part of one since birth. My dad has always been in the business of caring for the elderly, and as a result, I’ve gained some serious benefits—mainly, a personal cheering squad. They are always up for a competitive card game or impromptu ice cream cone, and never forget to tell me how tall I’ve gotten. And boy, do these people know how to throw parties. I’ll never forget the Bon Voyage party we had for the chapel.
You see, the community was going through a huge, exciting expansion—new office buildings and homes going up left and right. There was just one problem standing, quite literally, in the way of those new plans: the community’s beloved chapel, the centerpiece of the campus. Instead of letting the bulldozer run its course, the community decided to uproot the chapel from its original location and transfer it to the other side of the property. There, it could continue to be enjoyed for years to come.
The day of the move, my parents let me miss a few hours of the second grade to witness it. We stood under the porte-cochere, eating cream cheese bagels while the community band warmed their bagpipes and trumpets. Surrounded by dirt piles and construction hats, it was hard to miss the shocking upheaval of the chapel’s uprooted foundation. Still, there was much to celebrate. The chapel itself, the very place where this community had regularly recounted God’s faithfulness, remained safe and sound.
In our reading today, we’re entering a different construction site together, one filled with its own upheavals and unknowns. The broad-shouldered city of Jericho is fearfully closed to the Israelites—no one goes out, no one comes in. Under the Lord’s direction, a curse is imposed on the city and its idol-loving inhabitants when Joshua and the priests begin to march around it. Carrying the ark of the covenant, they keep in step with God’s commands and watch as the walls around Jericho fall at their feet.
“The people advanced into the city, each man straight ahead, and they captured the city. They completely destroyed everything in the city with the sword—every man and woman, both young and old, and every ox, sheep, and donkey.”
God gave them the city.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about this. Yes, justice was served. Yes, the good guys prevailed. And yes, God’s perfect plan unfurled as He’d promised. But that doesn’t change the fact that they were standing in a destruction zone, does it?
Sitting with the truth of crumbled walls and a city destroyed, I cannot help but wonder what this says about God. We readily cozy up to God’s promises of love, restoration, and peace, but what do we do when His promises include curses, death, and brokenness?
We trust Him still. From where we sit, it’s hard to understand the mind and ways of God (Isaiah 55:8-9). But the just consequences of sin do not lessen the sovereign goodness of our God.
At the intersection of God’s wrath and mercy, we find two constants: His kept promises and His unfailing love. To trust the fullness of His character, we need Him to be steady and sure. In chapter 6 we encounter God’s faithfulness, not only in the midst of a crumbling Jericho, but also in the protection of Rahab, who became part of the lineage of Christ (Matthew 1:5).
Because of who He is, we can always stare into the dark unknown of destruction to find an unchanging God. In the midst of every upheaval and replanting, He is faithful.