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Daily Lectionary: Joshua 6:6-27; Acts 10:18-33
So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. (Joshua 6:20)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It may be that most youth today are familiar with the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho from “Veggie Tales.” In that version, Joshua and the children (“vegetables?”) of Israel are rewarded for following God's explicit instructions. Leave it to a cartoon to turn the story of Joshua into a story about us!
No, the walls of Jericho fall down because the Lord smashed them. He used the marching trumpets and the ark to do it, but let's not be fooled into thinking it was “obedience” rather than God's power that did it. That's the danger we constantly face. We always want to turn what God does into something we've done. We always want to take the promises God makes and make them conditional upon our response.
When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” And He meant it. The preaching of the Good News of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name is the declaration that our trying to make things happen with God is done. We can't do it. Jesus did it.
When Jesus died for our sins, the walls of hell collapsed. The enemies of God were routed. The kingdom of Satan was plundered. Jesus descended into hell and laid it out for the devil: “You're done. I've won. End of story.”
The devil, of course, wants to fool us and get us to believe that it's not so. So we read again of the fall of Jericho and the destruction of the Lord's enemies. When the devil whispers that there's something left for you to do to get right with God, just remind him of what happened at Jericho. And Calvary. And the font and altar. And that evil one will slink away in defeat. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Rise! To arms with prayer employ you, O Christians, lest the foe destroy you; For Satan has designed your fall. Wield God's Word, the weapon glorious; Against all foes be thus victorious, For God protects you from them all. Fear not the hordes of hell, Here is Emmanuel. Hail the Savior! The strong foes yield to Christ, our shield, And we, the victors hold the field. (LSB 668:1)
My personal addendum...
While Veggie Tales may be guilty of tweaking the story of Joshua and Jericho and what God did... the very same thing happens in many, many churches across American evangelicalism do the same thing with story, and the rest of scripture. They turn all that God has done by His spoken word into what we ought to do for God.
8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.We would do well to remember that it has been finished. We can rest in His faithfulness. We can rest in what He has already done. We are His workmanship... He is the author and perfecter of our faith... not us. And that is some good news...