Monday, November 18, 2013

Jericho: the Heart (part 7 of 8)



The Battle for Jericho

“Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in” (Joshua 6:1).  And such is often the case with those whom God is calling; they are afraid to be vulnerable.  Even if they don’t have a cognizant reason for protecting their heart, they intuitively know there is an impending destruction of all that they think and believe coming after them.  While in this state, they do not come out, nor does anyone come in.  But God stands at the door of their heart and knocks; indeed as the Captain of the Lord of Hosts he persistently and insistently pleads, and as the psalmist said:

Open up [Lift up your heads], you gates.  Open wide [Be lifted up], you aged [ancient] doors and the glorious King [King of glory] will come in.  Who is this glorious King [King of glory]?  The Lord, strong and mighty.  The Lord, the powerful warrior [mighty in battle].  Open up [Lift up your heads], you gates.  Open wide [Be lifted up], you aged [ancient] doors and the glorious King [King of glory] will come in.  Who is this glorious King [King of glory]?  The Lord All-Powerful [of Heaven’s Armies/Hosts]—he is the glorious King [King of glory].  Selah [Interlude].  (Psalm 24:7-10, Expanded Bible).

Just as God hovered over the surface of the waters in the time of Creation before a declaration of light was made, so God hovers over the heart and woos it till it is time to enlighten it.  Likewise, God, as represented by the ark being carried by Joshua’s priests, circled or hovered around Jericho six days (representing man); then on the seventh day, they circled the city seven times (representing spiritual perfection) and then the whole of Israel shouted, the walls came down, and they conquered the city.

Thus they encircled the city 13 times total, and 13, according to E. W. Bullinger (“Number in Scripture,” 1967, p. 205) “stands in connection with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, revolution, or some kindred idea.”  Ed Vallowe (1984, p. 102), in his book “Biblical Mathematics,” also associated 13 with depravity.  Thus the human heart, in Jericho is judged, and for the most part destroyed thoroughly; the 13 is the primary thrust, but not of primary importance: that belongs with the spiritual perfection represented by that sliver or thread of hope found in Rahab and her family. 

When the trumpets blasted and the people in unison shouted, the walls came down flat, and they went straight into the vulnerable stronghold.  Their message was without ambiguity, straightforward, as is the gospel message.  The 6, 7, and 13 numbers associated with Jericho was about man, the spiritual perfecting of man, and judgment against his evil deeds.  The ban Joshua (representative of Christ) made concerning the things of value held inside the confines of Jericho (representing the human heart) were now either completely destroyed by sword, fire, or confiscation (to be placed into the Lord’s coffers).

Anything animated by flesh was thrust through or hewn by the sword, all precious metals, already refined and/or purified by God’s processes was confiscated and placed into the treasury of the Lord for the maintenance of His house.  Finally, they burned the city with fire thus eliminating all flammable remains and purifying the city for a better inhabitation.  In the years to come a school of prophets resided in Jericho and Elisha the prophet finalized the cleansing process by sweetening the last vestiges of its bitter water ways.

Thus even after conversion the perfecting of the saints continues, and most often by the corrective and instructive words of prophets.  The bitter and sweet waters running together through one faucet that James speaks of, is unfortunately, the experience of many Christians.  But God ever works, sending us prophet after prophet to correct and perfect us, until he sends one powerful enough to accomplish His ends in us, to sweeten our embittered souls, and fit us indeed for His kingdom.