Joshua 7 KJV Sermon, Achan, Bible, Study, Commentary, Analysis

Let’s turn to Joshua 7. We’ll be studying this chapter in the book of Joshua today. I actually originally set out to teach both chapters 7 and 8. But I had way too much material on chapter 7 to go any farther. So Lord-willing when we return from Easter we’ll continue chapter 8 of Joshua. But today we’re in chapter 7. And I’ll just give this title to the message – God Troubles Achan.

So, what’s happened so far in the book of Joshua? In the first 2 chapters we saw Joshua being encouraged to enter the Promised Land. In the next 2 chapters (3 and 4) we saw all Israel crossing the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land. And then last week in chapters 5 and 6 we saw Israel conquer the walled city of Jericho – the first city they captured in the Promised Land. And do you remember what the rules were for conquering Jericho? Let’s read 6:17-19 to remind ourselves of what Joshua had commanded right before entering Jericho.

[6:17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.]

So all human and animal life needed to be accursed. That word accursed (cherem) means something that is dedicated to God. And not dedicated in the sense that we sometimes dedicate our children to the Lord when they’re first born by having a formal religious ceremony. No, this dedication to God involved utter destruction. All human and animal life were to be dedicated to God — for his destruction of them. But the inanimate objects – gold, silver, brass, and iron – they’re holy or consecrated to the Lord. They also were to be dedicated, but not for destruction – but rather to go into the Lord’s treasury.

Joshua 7:1

And the way that chapter 6 ended made us all think that this had been carried out. The things meant for destruction were destroyed. The things meant for the treasury went there. And that was mostly the case. But, were there any exceptions? Yes. Read 7:1.

[7:1 ¶ But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.]

Again when we hear about “the accursed thing” we’re still talking about the things devoted to destruction at the hands of God… Alright. So one person took something. What’s the big deal? Well, note how God responded to this theft. His anger was kindled like a fire against whom? Achan? Certainly Achan. But was his anger limited to Achan? No, God was angry at all Israel. Why? Because of the sin of one among them.

Now, let me ask you. Does that seem fair to you? Doesn’t it seem like only Achan should have received God’s anger? It might seem unfair to us. But let’s just remember that God entered into a covenant with that entire nation. If one of the members of that nation transgressed then it’s as if all transgressed. So God’s anger burned against Israel because they as a nation – through just one of their compatriots – sinned against God.

And that’s all we hear about Achan’s sin for now. But no one else knows about this, so the story moves on to the next city that Israel is going to conquer.

But before we move on let me go back to last week’s lesson and point something out. Did you ever wonder why Israel attacked Jericho first? Why Jericho of all the cities? Maybe the answer is nothing more spectacular than that Jericho was the first city in the Israelites’ path. But wait, did they have a path? Were they on their way to some place? Yes. They’re actually headed to Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. They need to utter the blessings and the curses of the Law on those two mountains.

Joshua 7:2-3

But we’re not going to make it that far today. So, let’s on to the next city on the path to Gerizim and Ebal! Let’s read verses 2-3.

[2 ¶ And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.]

Joshua again sends spies. Apparently though they don’t enter the city like they did at Jericho. And the spies find that Ai – pronounce it like “eye” [‘ay] – is pretty tiny. And for that reason they advise Joshua to send only 2 or 3 thousand men to fight against the city. I mean, based on the wild success that Joshua and Israel had at Jericho, you can understand why the spies and even Joshua himself would think this would be a piece of cake.

But let me point out a contrast between Jericho and Ai. With Jericho, God is the one who tells Joshua how the attack is supposed to work. And we’ll see in chapter 8 that God again tells Joshua how to wage war against Ai. But who is telling Joshua how to wage war on Ai right here? God? No. Men. Fallible men. Maybe well-intentioned men. They may be wise men. But Joshua needs God’s direction. He didn’t have to ask God about it last time at Jericho, apparently. It seems that God just gave it. And this time God doesn’t give it. Should that have been a sign to Joshua to halt the attempted conquest of Ai? The text doesn’t say. But I do wonder if Joshua should have picked up on this and consulted the Lord on his apparent silence.

Joshua 7:4-5

Well, what happens to Israel when they come up against Ai? Verses 4 and 5.

[4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.]

So, I did some research and discovered that we apparently don’t know where exactly Shebarim is. If it was a city or landmark, it has since disappeared. That kind of thing happens sometimes over the course of – oh – about 3,500 years! But we’re not totally in the dark regarding the physical aspects of this scene. Israel would have come from Gilgal. Gilgal was on the north end of the Dead Sea on the east side of Canaan. Now, Ai was northwest of Gilgal. Let me fill you in on a geography fact about Israel. Its western border is the Mediterranean Sea. And it’s eastern border is the Dead Sea and Jordan River. Each of these borders are very low in their elevation. But in the middle of the country is what’s known as the Hill Country. Why? Because it’s hilly. It’s higher than Sea Level. And its in this Hill Country where the city of Ai resided.

So the people of Israel would have come from the southeast and gone northwest toward Ai – all the while, they’re going up-hill into the hill country. So when Ai starts beating Israel back, where do you think Israel goes? Yeah, they’re going back to base in Gilgal – southeast. And they’re not going up. They’re going downward. That’s why it says that the people of Ai smote Israel in “the going down” or the descent.

Joshua 7:6-9

How did Israel react to this defeat? The text says that their hearts melted. Uh-oh. That’s bad news. That sounds really similar to how the pagans were originally reacting to Israel. Now Israel is the one with melting hearts. Are their leaders experiencing a similar reaction? Let’s see what they’re doing in verses 6 through 9.

[6 ¶ And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. 7 And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! 8 O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?]

What do you think about Joshua’s reaction? He starts by tearing his clothes and falling on his face. He’s devastated. What could be the explanation for God’s abandoning his people? God promised to be with Joshua. God stopped the Jordan River for Israel to cross. He overthrew Jericho. God was causing Joshua’s fame to be proclaimed abroad. And now… this. Defeat at the hands of the tiny city of Ai. I thought God promised not to fail or forsake Joshua. But to Joshua, isn’t this exactly what it looked like? It looked like God had forsaken him and all Israel. Of course Joshua doesn’t know about Achan at this point. We are given that information up front. But he still doesn’t know. So he humbles himself before God, along with all the elders of Israel.

But then what comes out of his mouth is noteworthy. Joshua surely remembers God’s promise to be with Israel and give her victory as she loves and obeys him. That was his promise. But reality is now colliding with that promise. The reality is that Israel was defeated. Israel won’t fail if she obeys. But Israel failed. So… what should Joshua have concluded? I think he should have concluded that Israel somehow did not obey. Right? Success through obedience was the message of Deuteronomy before Israel entered the Land. So… lack of success comes through… disobedience. But does Joshua conclude that? If he did, it sure isn’t what’s coming out of his mouth. What does he say to begin with? “Lord, why have you brought us here? To give us over to the Amorites so they can destroy us?” Wow! Is that really what he thought God was doing? Was that really God’s purpose? This sounds surprisingly similar to what the Isralites kept accusing God of in the wilderness. Remember? “Hey Moses, did you bring us out here to the dessert because there weren’t enough graves in Egypt?” So Joshua, in a moment of weakness, is starting to question God’s promises. Then what does he say next? He laments that Israel had been overly ambitious and crossed the Jordan in the first place. “If only we would have been content to live on the other side of the Jordan!” he says. But this was God’s plan – that Israel enter the land of Canaan and destroy the 7 wicked nations. Joshua was doubting God’s plan. And then Joshua goes on to worry out-loud about the Canaanites surounding them and cutting off their name from the earth. And – Joshua goes on to say – when that happens, then what will happen to God’s great name. If God allows his people to be cut off before their enemies then what will that do to God’s name – God’s reputation? This last concern that Joshua expresses – about God’s name – seems to be somewhat godly. I mean, Joshua is concerned that God’s name be hallowed and not profaned. And so, in this sense it’s admirable. And yet, it comes at the end of a list of other anxieties that seem to not be so admirable. So, what we see here overall in Joshua’s response is really a leader of God’s people despairing. And I’d have to say that this despair is not of faith.

So, shame on Joshua, right? I can’t believe anyone would be so faithless in the face of a trial! Really? Does anyone here think that about Joshua? Yes, we need to recognize that how Joshua responded to this difficulty in his life wasn’t really a model of how we’re to respond. But does anyone here empathize with his response? Do you know what it’s like to have a promise from God in his word? But then you’re faced with circumstances that just seem to defy that promise and God’s own faithfulness to you? When that happens to you and me, we need the Lord’s help to remember that the one thing we shouldn’t be doubting is God and his promises. Doubt your circumstance — doubt the reason you’re in the situation you’re in — before you doubt God and his promises.

Let me issue another application. Does anyone in here doubt that Joshua was a godly man? Do you think he was a good leader? Did he love God? But he was led into temptation through the act of one single disobedient covetous Israelite. Achan wasn’t even directly disobedient to Joshua himself. But his disobedience caused his godly leader to stumble. Each one of us has leadership God has placed in our lives. In most cases there is very little earthly glory these leaders receive. They – as the apostle Paul would say – are gladly spending and being spent for your sake. And oftentimes what these imperfect and yet faithful leaders receive in return from those whom they’re trying to lead is expressed by the apostle Paul when he said that the more he loved, the less he was loved. This can happen in any relationship – parent-child, husband-wife, pastor-congregation. Let’s resolve to be a blessing to our leaders wherever they’re found in our life. Let’s do our part to help them not stumble.

Joshua 7:10-15

Now, you may think I was being a little unfair with Joshua. Maybe you wonder if his statements were in fact something to emulate in your own praying to the Lord. Well, let the Lord’s own reaction inform you as to what he thought about Joshua’s statements. Let’s read verses 10 through 15.

[10 ¶ And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. 14 In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man. 15 And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.]

So the Lord just cuts to the chase and tells Joshua to get up. God asks the rhetorical question – “why are you on the ground?” He then gets right to the issue. The issue that somehow Joshua had completely overlooked. Remember, obedience = success. Therefore where there’s no success there was… what? Disobedience. It’s as if God expected Joshua to figure that out… And yet the Lord is very merciful. He lays out pretty plainly what the problem is and what Joshua needs to do to remedy the issue. The problem, of course, is that someone – God’s not saying whom yet – but someone stole something under the ban. And that’s why God is so angry. And that’s why Israel can’t stand before tiny Ai. So God gives the plan. See? If Joshua would have approached the Lord before the original battle at Ai, God would have I’m sure let him in on this to begin with. But at any rate, here’s the plan now. Tomorrow each tribe would come and one would somehow be chosen by the Lord. Then one family within that tribe would be taken. One household within that family would be taken. And finally one man within that household would be taken. And the man who was taken would be burned with fire. But not only him, but actually “all he has” would also be burned.

Is there any thought in any of us here that says that somehow God is overreacting? Is burning someone to death for stealing a few things fair, you might wonder? I think we want to move our way of thinking away from “what’s fair?” to “what’s just?” Would it be just of God to punish a sinner? Yes. We are so used to God’s grace and forgiveness and mercy and leniency in this New Testament Church era. But we all need to be brought back to the reality that God cannot allow sin to go unpunished. It might not strike us as fair. But it is most certainly just of God to do this.

Lastly, notice the punishment God prescribes. Judgement by fire. Just like the people of Jericho experienced. By disobeying the Lord, Achan proved that he was no better than those pagans that Israel had just destroyed. After all, wasn’t the reason that God destroyed Jericho ultimately because of their disobedience?

Joshua 7:16-18

So, we move to the next day. Joshua needs to find out who’s the one who caused their military defeat. Let’s read verses 16 through 18 for the details.

[16 ¶ So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: 17 And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: 18 And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.]

So the tribe of Judah, the family of Zerah, the household of Zabdi, then finally Achan the son of Carmi was taken. How did this happen? We’re not told. It was likely either that Joshua was casting lots and the lot identified the guilty one. Or it could have been that the Lord himself communicated directly with Joshua to let him know which one should be taken.

Joshua 7:19-21

But however it happened, now Joshua and all Israel know who the culprit is. And Joshua converses with Achan in verses 19 through 21. Let’s read that.

[19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.]

Give glory to the Lord. How? Confess your sins. That was Joshua’s admonition to Achan. So Achan actually confessed his sins in front of Joshua. He owned up to all that he had done… Now, as New Testament believers – what’s the promise to us as we confess our sin? God is faithful and just to forgive us. I’ll spoil the ending of the story for any who don’t know it – that’s not what happens with Achan. There’s no forgiveness and cleansing on the horizon. Just judgement and destruction.

Let’s note what Achan took. He took a “goodly Babylonish garment.” The word translated “garment” is sometimes translated elsewhere as “robe.” It’s the kind of garment that the king of Nineveh replaced with sackcloth after hearing the message of Jonah. What else does he take? Two hundred shekels of silver and 50 shekels of gold. In terms we can better understand, he took about 80 ounces of silver and 20 ounces of gold. Combined this would have weighed a bit over 6 pounds. This is less than most new born babies weigh. So, what Achan took wasn’t heavy. But it was costly – at least in our day. At about $20.00 USD per ounce of silver today ($1600) and $1318 per ounce of gold ($26,360), this is almost $28,000 USD — plus whatever the robe would have cost.

So what do we learn from this? We learn that Achan was greedy. We learn he was motivated by money and material gain. We learn he really didn’t trust the Lord. Remember, the Lord promised each one of these Israelites houses they didn’t build, cisterns they didn’t make, and lands full of good things. Did he really not trust that God would provide everything he needed? And the most important thing we learn is that Achan’s valuation of the Lord was less than $28,000 in terms of today’s currency. This is a problem.

Here’s something we might not think of either. How many Israelites lost their lives as a result of Achan’s selfishness? Verse 5 says that 36 men died in the battle. 36 lives of men who were interested in obeying God. These men perished. Their families were bereaved of their husband and father. 36 widows. Many more than 36 orphans. All created by Achan’s flippant act of selfishness.

And that’s how I view it. Achan didn’t rob Fort Knox. He didn’t come away with bars and bars of gold. He was acting like a petty thief. Well, why did God end up being so harsh to him? Think about it. Achan broke the commandment to not covet. He broke God’s command to not steal. Achan refused to listen to God’s command to devote everything in the God-forsaken city of Jericho to God. God through Joshua had just clearly stated that everything was God’s in that city. What was Achan’s problem? Did he not know of these commands? Oh, he knew. Did he not care? I think that’s probably more likely. He knew what God wanted. But he showed that he couldn’t care less about doing God’s will.

And let me say this. Achan didn’t have to be perfect. Theoretically if Achan desired that garment and the silver and the gold – and that’s all he did – and then he just walked away from those things – he would have lived. Who knows whatever other sins Achan may have committed in his heart? That wasn’t why God was condemning him. Achan let his internal desire consume him. And in the absence of any apparent vital relationship with the God of Israel, he externally acted out his internal evil desire.

So, a question that’s often asked in light of God judging sin is “why is God so harsh in response to sin sometimes?” But here’s the question I’m left asking. Why is God so merciful to us? I understand how God needs to punish sin – sometimes swiftly and immediately. Adam sinned and he and Eve were ut of the garden and condemned to eventual death. Israel sinned at Kadesh-barnea and immediately they were barred from the Promised Land. Ananias and Saphira sinned and God struck them dead on the spot. But what about when God doesn’t immediately judge sin? What about during the reign of the judges where everyone is doing whatever he feels is right? Why no swift and shocking judgement then? What about Israel’s long spiral down with their various kings? Why no immediate harsh judgement? And the only answer I have is what God said to Moses – I will be merciful to whom I will. God is just to punish sin immediately. But if he wants to delay the punishment, that also is his right.

Joshua 7:22-23

So, Achan gave Joshua his report. He confessed what he had done to Joshua. And so verses 22 and 23 tell of Joshua sending messengers to Achan’s tent to see if his report was accurate. Let’s read that.

[22 ¶ So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. 23 And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.]

Notice before whom they laid these things out. Not just man. But actually, they laid them out before the Lord. It’s as if the Lord was specially present among Israel in those days. And it seems that when God’s presence is with his people in a special way that disobedience is often not overlooked. Again, think of Ananias and Saphira.

Joshua 7:24-26

Finally, let’s see what Joshua and all Israel do with Achan. Verses 24 through 26.

[24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day.

So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger.

Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.]

Let’s notice a word play used here. Look at the end of verse 24. The last word is… Achor. It’s talking about the Valley of Achor, which is north of Gilgal. So the Israelites came back from Ai in the Hill Country back southeast to Gilgal. They found out who troubled Israel. And then they went a little north to this Valley of Achor to execute judgement on Achan. I’m going to pronounce his name the way it would be pronounced in Hebrew – or at least I’ll try to. So here’s the word play. Achor means something like “disturbance” or “trouble” in Hebrew. So they go to the Valley of Trouble. And Joshua asks Achan – whose name is pretty similar to Achor – Joshua asks why he troubled – or achor’ed – Israel. Then Joshua says that the Lord will trouble – or achor Achan. And this is what Joshua warned Israel about in 6:18. He admonished all of Israel to keep themselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest they bring on themselves destruction and trouble (akar).

But notice the recipients of this trouble. It wasn’t just Achan – I’ll return to our typical English pronunciation of his name. It was him and his sons and daughters and all he owned. His sons and his daughters. It’s interesting that it doesn’t mention his wife specifically. I’m not quite sure where she would have been or if she would have been grouped into “all that he had.” Maybe he was divorced. Maybe she had passed away previously. I don’t know. But his sons and daughters were there. And all Israel stoned them.

I’ve tried to envision what it would be like to see someone stoned to death. It’s a very unpleasant thought to me. So much so that I have a very difficult time concentrating on the details. But let me try. Stones are plentiful in much of Israel. That’s why to this day you’ll hear even of Muslims on the Temple Mount throwing stones at the police or visitors. That’s the weapon of choice because stones are so abundant. This place of the Valley of Achor would be similar. It’s in an arrid region that has a lot of stones. So these people pick up these stones. They’d probably try to use sizeable ones. I don’t think they’re lobbing pebbles. And I can hardly bring myself to think about it. If the stone was large enough and hit someone in the head I suppose they’d be knocked unconscious. That would be merciful. But what if the people weren’t very good at aiming? They might hit the person in the face. In the torso. How many times would this need to happen before the person was dead? Did the person facing execution try to duck? Was the person tied up and unable to move? If he wasn’t, is there any way he could resist the urge to flee? There’s no easy painless way through this type of execution. It’s not like lethal injection or even the electric chair. This is a terrifying execution style.

And then when Achan and his family were finally dead, Israel burned them with fire. It’s worth noting that God explicitly called for them to be burned with fire. But for what it’s worth, he didn’t call for them to be stoned. I’m not saying that he disagreed with that punishment. I’m just saying he didn’t explicitly call for it.

Are you troubled yet by this story? The most troubling part for me is that Achan’s sons and daughters experienced Achan’s fate. We have no indication that they were a part of his crime. Maybe they were. But that’s not stated. What do we make of this? If this part of the story is anything, it’s a warning. Friends, I guarantee you that if you let yourself indulge in sin you will not be alone in suffering its consequences. You will bring trouble on yourself and on others with you. And your family is the group who will primarily suffer. This is just the way it is. God visits the iniquities of the fathers on the children and grandchilren of those who hate him.

But here’s where I’ll leave it. God also shows mercy to thousands of those who love him. And I think of my sin and I can see myself in Achan’s place. Can you? I deserve a brutal and painful punishment for my sin. But thanks be to God that where sin abounds, God’s grace much more abounds. Why is it that God seems to be so severe with some – and yet he’s extended mercy to me? Achan confessed to no avail. He still experienced punishment. And yet when I confess my sin I receive forgiveness and cleansing. God has said he’ll show mercy to whom he’ll show mercy. And he has seen fit to invite me into the New Covenant. One of the stipulations of that blessed covenant is that God will be gracious to my sins and will remember my iniquities no more.

God isn’t carefree when it comes to sin, even in the New Testament – even in your life. But Achan was troubled and ultimately destroyed for his sin. And I have been extended pardon by the Lord. And if this is the case for you as well, and I trust it is, rejoice and give thanks. Praise the Lord for the mercy and kindness he chooses to bestow upon us undone sinners. Achan received justice. And for us, because Christ received the justice that our sins deserved, we receive mercy.

Next time, we’ll see what God does with Ai now that his people have purged the evil from among them.

Joshua 6 KJV Sermon, Commentary, Bible, Jericho, Analysis

So now, all the preliminary stuff is out of the way. It’s as if Joshua and his men all now turn their sights toward Jericho.

Joshua 6:1

And what do they find? Chapter 6, verse 1.

[6:1 ¶ Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.]

You better believe it was shut. These people were afraid. But isn’t it incredible that no one besides Rahab had turned from their sin and asked for mercy from Israel’s God?… Not really, folks. A criminal can fear the appearance of the police and yet he’ll still flee to an old abandoned house and hold a days-long shoot out with the authorities before he’s subdued. It’s not unusual that hardened sinners fear — and yet at the same time vainly try to flee — God’s judgement.

Joshua 6:2-5

So everyone in Jericho is frightened. What happens next? The Lord actually has a word for Joshua in verses 2 through 5.

2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

So that’s the plan. The men of war were going to travel around the city one time for six days with 7 priests with rams’ horns leading the way before the Ark of the Covenant. The 7th day they would go around the city not once, but 7 times, blowing the trumpets. When the priests blew the horns with a long blast then the people would shout and the wall will fall down flat so that everyone can go straight up into the city.

Joshua 6:6-11

Next, Joshua gives the command and the people begin their first day of circling around Jericho. Let’s read verses 6 through 11.

[6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.

7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD.

8 ¶ And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. 9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. 11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.]

Did Jericho have any watchmen on its walls? If so this is what they would have experienced. A number of men brandishing weapons to lead this group. Then priests in their special holy garments blowing trumpets – those eerie sounding shofars. [Show ram horn] Then some other priests in their garments carry what would have looked to the people of Jericho to be a golden box – perhaps with angels on top of it. Then there were the rest of the men of war following that group. And to both those who may have been on the wall and to those who were huddled inside the city terrified of what was to come – no one heard a sound from the individuals in this group – except of course the constant sound of the rams’ horns. The rest of Israel silently made their way around the city and back into the camp at Gilgal.

The sound of those trumpets would have fallen on the ears of the people of Jericho with two different reactions. To almost every inhabitant in that city the trumpets would have been the sound of impending doom. Except one family heard those trumpets a little differently. To Rahab and her family, those trumpets were the sound of deliverance.

Joshua 6:12-14

So, that was the first day. Verses 12 through 14 tell us what happened the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th days.

[12 ¶ And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.]

Joshua 6:15-21

And now the 7th day – let’s read verses 15 through 21.

[15 ¶ And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. 17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.

20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.]

The people go around Jericho 7 times. On the 7th time the priests blow the trumpets. When the priests blow those trumpets, the people shout. And the captain of the Lord’s host knocks down that wall. Well, the text doesn’t say that. But really, 7 horns and the voices of even 500,000 men can’t knock down a wall. Believe me. NPR did a special on this. There was no human way this wall was going to come down. This book, by the way, is not a manual for military commanders. If any such a person tried this naturally, he would fail. This was a work of God. And whether the captain of the Lord’s host was behind it or whether God used others means, God was the one responsible for knocking down this wall.

Now, the wall – which must have been mighty thick – fell down flat. Did it fall inward? Outward? However it fell, it fell down flat in such a way that the people could go up straight into the city. I imagine that’s as opposed to the wall falling and forming a bunch of rubble so that the men had to gingerly maneuver through the fallen stones… And when they did go up they killed everyone. Women? Yes. The elderly? Yes. Children? Yes. Why!? Because God told them to. God was using Israel as a judgement on these wicked nations. These nations were so bad that these children that we’re so concerned about – a number of them would have been sacrificed to their demon idols. And those who lived would grow up to emulate their fathers. They would all worship idols. God didn’t want that. He gave them time to repent. He really did. As my family is reading through Genesis we just came across this statement from God to Abraham to the effect that Abraham’s descendants needed to stay out of the land for hundreds of years because God was giving the Amorites time to fill up their iniquity. God was being very patient with the Amorites – 1 of these 7 wicked nations. He wouldn’t destroy them for another 500 years or so from Abraham’s time! Some of us in this room wouldn’t countenance rebellion against us for 500 seconds! God took it for 500 years.

Joshua 6:22-25

And don’t forget Rahab! Rahab believed God and hid the two spies when they came. And what was her reward from this faithful, patient God? Read verses 22 through 25.

[22 ¶ But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. 23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. 24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.]

Wow. Imagine being Rahab and her family. The Israelites are destroying the only city you’ve ever known right before your eyes. They’re killing all the people you’ve grown-up with. And you alone and your family are being securely transported by these very same Israelites to a place of safety. They’re placed outside the camp. This was perhaps so that they could be purified. But eventually at least Rahab entered the camp and she was there until the time of the writing of this book. Why? Not because she was any less wicked than the rest of her peers. But because she received God’s messengers in peace.

How was it that Rahab was kept safe in her house? Wasn’t her house on the wall? Yes, it was. Perhaps the part of the wall on which her house existed didn’t collapse. Maybe only one side of the wall fell. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for Israel to destroy all the people – they were trapped with only one way in. Whatever the case, the Lord preserved Rahab’s physical house so that she could be retrieved from there in safety.

Joshua 6:26-27

We’re near the end of the conquest of Jericho – notice I say conquest, not battle. I didn’t read about a battle here. Right? I didn’t notice the people of Jericho fighting at all. God did the heavy lifting, so to speak. But after this conquest, Joshua has some words. Let’s read verses 26 and 27.

[26 ¶ And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.

27 ¶ So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.]

Joshua issues a curse on the one who would rebuild Jericho. This curse actually comes to pass later in the history of Israel in the book of Kings. Maybe we’ll get to that some time.

And finally the story ends with the statement of something that is by now quite obvious. God was with Joshua. He parted the Jordan River before him. God caused the wall of Jericho to fall before him. Nothing could stand in his way.

And as long as Israel kept doing what they were supposed to do, this would keep happening. Unfortunately, we see that not everyone was on board with God’s plan through Joshua. The text here says that everything was destroyed and that certain things were put into the Lord’s treasury. Well, almost everything. Everything except for what Achan stole. And, as I say each week, we’ll hear about that… next time.

Joshua 5 KJV Sermon, Bible, Commentary, Explanation, Summary

We’ll be studying Joshua chapters 5 and 6 today. The title I’m giving this message is “Jericho: Destruction and Deliverance.”

But first I feel like I need to say something about last week’s lesson. Yes, I did keep saying “Jericho” when I meant “Jordan” but that’s not what I want to address. I want to address my feeling throughout last week that those two chapters we covered lacked action and that therefore we were in danger of feeling like the story – and my lesson based upon it – was uninteresting. I had a few people come and tell me that they didn’t feel that the story or the lesson were boring at all. And that reminds me of something that I know intellectually as someone who teaches the Scripture. We’re trained to just “say what the Bible says.” And that’s an easy admonition to listen to and mentally assent to. But it’s a whole other matter when you’re left to practice it. But what I saw last week was that if we just desire to understand the Bible and have someone here teaching it as best he can and saying just what it says as best he can – then God’s people can learn and grow from it, no matter whether there’s action or excitement or whether you’re simply witnessing a quiet and somewhat repetitious retelling of a miracle – like crossing the Jordan – not the Jericho!

So, thank you for being attentive and wanting to understand better what God’s word says.

OK, now on to this week’s lesson on Joshua 5 and 6. Israel is now in the land promised to them by God. And God had already made it clear that they would need to wage war against the 7 nations that inhabitted Canaan. Israel was to act as God’s instrument of judgment on those nations. They simply needed to follow him and do what he commands. [Look at Google Map?]

Now, before we get into the fighting, we need to take care of some matters in the first 12 verses of chapter 5. Do you remember the end of the lesson last week? 12 men – one from each tribe of Israel – took a stone from the dried Jordan River bed. They brought the stones to Gilgal – where Israel lodged that night. Then Joshua revealed why God had them take those stones. The stones were to be memorials to their children, yes. But there was another reason. These stones were for the nations. Read 4:24 – “That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty…” The stones and the reality that they portrayed were supposed to let the nations know that the hand of the Lord is mighty. Did this indeed happen?

Joshua 5:1

Let’s read 5:1.

[5:1 ¶ And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.]

[Map of Canaan] We’re told that the Amorites are just west of the Jordan. The Canaanites are near the sea. And from these two groups that are mentioned and their reaction we get the idea that probably any of the 7 nations who heard about Israel’s miraculous crossing over the Jordan River were experiencing the same state of mind.

Now, we need to remember something God told us back in Deuteronomy. These nations that the Lord was going to drive out before Israel – they were larger and mightier than the Israelites. The Israelites humanly-speaking were underdogs. What would cause these nations to be so fearful of Israel? Oh, just the fact that the largest river in the area decided to immediately dry up just so that they could cross over into Canaan. But even these hardened sinners could see that God was with Israel doing these things for them. He had to be. Rivers don’t just suddenly stop by themselves. And large powerful nations – like those led by Og and Sihon – don’t just get defeated by a roving band of men from the desert. That is, unless the God of the whole universe decides to get involved! So the nations are trembling. It would seem to be the time to strike! But Israel has a few things to attend to first.

Joshua 5:2-9

Let’s read about the first action they take after entering the promised land – verses 2 though 9.

2 ¶ At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. 3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. 5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. 6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. 8 ¶ And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole. 9 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

So God commanded Joshua to circumcise all Israel – well, all the men, of course. And Joshua goes ahead and makes sure that happens. Other translations give the hill on which the circumcisions took place a nice name – Gibeah-HaAraloth. But this name simply means what we have in the KJV — “Hill of the Foreskins.” These were the by-products of this ritual that God instituted with Abraham centuries earlier. Circumcision was to be a sign that the person receiving this procedure was included in the covenant community. In fact, according to Genesis 17:14 any man who was not circumcised was to be “cut off from his people” because he had broken God’s covenant.

Isn’t it telling of the spiritual condition of those men who refused to believe God’s promises and were forced to wander in the wilderness? They didn’t even circumcise their boys. God truly was displeased with that generation and you can understand why. They not only refused to believe God but they also refused to pass along to their children this sign of God’s covenant with them. Well, God let each one of them die in the wilderness. And now he had a new group to work with. And he wanted them to do right. And notice — God is the one who initiates this. Do you suppose this might have been encouraging to the men at that time? I mean, by commanding this to happen God is really symbolically inviting them back in to his covenant that he made with Abraham so long ago. God promised Abraham this land that they were now actually standing in. But God didn’t promise the land merely to Abraham, but to Abraham and his offspring – namely through Isaac and then Jacob. So these men who were inheriting covenant promises also needed to physically bear the sign of that covenant. And this is why they needed to be circumcised.

And lastly we need to understand what God means when he tells Joshua he rolled away the reproach of Egypt. And that’s why they named the place Gilgal – which apparently means “rolling”. What is the reproach of Egypt? I think most likely this means that the Egyptians were reproaching the Israelites. Picture it. Israel leaves Egypt with great signs and wonders. The Egyptians try to recapture them but are stopped at the Red Sea. Israel goes to Sinai and then starts north only to have the incident at Kadesh-barnea where all of the men besides two of them are completely faithless to the Lord. So he lets them wander for 40 years. Do you suppose the Egyptians heard about that? No, the Egyptians wouldn’t want to come back up north and try to get Israel. They learned the hard way already – via the Red Sea incident –that that’s just not something they should be attempting. But Egypt could certainly mock Israel and despise them. And that’s apparently just what Egypt did. They mocked – or reproached – Israel. But now that Israel is entering the land? Well, I suppose you could say, who’s laughing now? God rolled away their reproach.

Joshua 5:10-12

So the Israelites receive the sign of circumcision in their flesh before their first military activity in the land. What else do they do? Let’s read verses 10-12.

[10 ¶ And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. 11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. 12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.]

4:19 already told us that Israel crossed the Jordan River and camped at Gilgal on the 10th day of the 1st month. So now, 3 days later the people eat the Passover. It’s the meal that commemorates Israel’s deliverance from Egypt – the ones whose reproach was just now finally being rolled away. And what happened after the Passover? Verse 11 tells us they ate some food from the land. That’s the emphasis there. And then what happened after they started eating from the land? The manna ceased to fall for them. All those 40 plus years it fell for them. But now that they’re finally in their land they don’t need it. So God stops sending it. God always provides for his people. He’ll do it miraculously, if needed. But we shouldn’t think little of him providing for us through normal providential means, either.

Now, where did Israel eat the Passover? In the plains of? Jericho. You didn’t forget about Jericho, did you? This is the first city to be attacked. Rahab is there waiting for deliverance. And this is no small task. It is a walled city. Do you suppose Joshua might be wondering how he’ll attack the city? He seems very courageous. But do you suppose he might need a little encouragement about this next phase in his leadership of God’s people?

Joshua 5:13-15

Well, if he does need any encouragement he certainly gets it in verses 13 through 15.

[13 ¶ And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship [shachah], and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.]

Does Joshua’s reaction surprise you? In a way it should. Joshua apparently can’t tell that this man is anything other than a mere man. Right? He comes up to the man and asks if he is for Israel or for Jericho. So this man apparently looks like just a regular man. He’s brandishing a sword, but we’re in a military scene here. So that’s not unusual. The only thing that indicates that there’s something different about this man is his response to Joshua’s question. He says that he’s the captain of the Lord’s host or army. But I thought Joshua was the captain of God’s army. And it’s here where we realize even more acutely that there’s something going on behind the scenes. Israel served as God’s human army. But there’s an army behind the scenes that this man commands. This captain and his army make all the difference in the human realm. Their victory decides the victory of Israel. We don’t hear about this captain again. Did he disappear and then wage war in an invisible spiritual realm? Was he and his army silently and invisibly moving among Israel as they fought? Later on, are they the ones whom the Lord uses to throw down hailstones and stop the Sun? Any of those possibilities may very well have been the case. We can’t say for sure.

And really, who is this captain? Is he an angel? The text says Joshua worshiped him, which would of course be idolatry if this captain wasn’t God. This word translated “worship” [shachah] can also mean simply “to bow” like when Rachel and Leah bowed to Esau when they came to Canaan. But this word really can also mean “worship.” I don’t know that I can come to a dogmatic conclusion on whether this man was God – perhaps Jesus Christ before he was incarnated. But I like the thought of that. After all, who better to lead the Lord’s army than the Lord himself? Imagine Jesus – our Jesus, the Jesus of the New Testament – receiving worship from Joshua — that hero of the faith. And there’s one more reason I would lean toward thinking that this is an appearance of God the Son. Did you notice what he tells Joshua to do? Remove your sandal. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Yeah, God himself said it in Exodus 3. Whom did God say that to? Moses. Do you suppose that Joshua knew that God had used those same words with Moses, his mentor? I think the clues lead us to believe that this captain was somehow God himself. And that’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? Even if this was just an angel, it’s still exciting. And if it’s exciting for us, you know it was exciting for Joshua, too. And in that encouragement and excitement, Joshua and Israel were ready to be the human instruments of God to judge these 7 wicked nations.

 

Haggai 2 Sermons KJV About Commentary Bible Study

Haggai 2 Word Cloud

Haggai 2:1-9

And actually, this isn’t all God has to say about his divine presence. He continues with that theme is chapter 2 verses 1 through 9. We’ll read that.

[2:1 In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying, 2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, 3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: 5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. 6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. 9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.]

So it’s about one month after Haggai’s second prophecy. And God now wants to continue to encourage his people. Why did he need to encourage them? Well, some of them were alive to see the first Temple – Solomon’s Temple. Remember that glorious Temple? Now, this second Temple actually was larger than that first one according to measurements we find in the Scripture. But even though this second Temple was larger, it was a little less glorious looking. After all, we know that in Solomon’s time gold was so plentiful that silver really counted as nothing. That’s a lot of gold! And a good deal of that gold was used in his Temple. In addition to that, there were skilled craftsmen carving wood and fashioning metal. There were other precious adornments in that first Temple. And of course, there was the ark of the covenant in there as well. But this second Temple of Zerubbabel’s… well, it had wood in it. Did it have some gold? I think it probably did. But it certainly didn’t have as much as it had previously. Were there carvings in it? Maybe some. And they apparently didn’t have the ark. And so in these ways this second Temple seemed to be less glorious than the first. The people perhaps wondered if it was even worth working on this seemingly-inglorious project.

But God doesn’t view this as some inglorious task. This is of utmost importance to him. So he comes and tells his people through Haggai to “be strong!” He tells them to work. And he again reminds them of his presence – “I am with you!” That’s in the present.

He also looks back to the past. He reminds Israel of the promise he made with them when they left Egypt. I think this is referring to his covenant that he made with them at Mount Sinai. That’s the covenant that brought Israel into an official relationship as a nation with the Lord. His spirit – or probably something like his essence – was among them at that time and was still presently.

So with Lord’s presence with his people in the past and present in view, he turns also to the future. He says he’s going to shake the heavens, earth, sea, land, and all nations. I think this is looking back to his activity in delivering his people from Egypt. He shook that nation with plagues and judgments. And remember when Israel left Egypt, the Egyptians gave them gold and other valuable objects. Well, here God promises to shake not just one nation but all nations. And the result is that all the nations are going to bring what’s desirable among them to this Temple in latter days. Some have interpreted this to be a Messianic prophecy. I don’t think that’s the case. We need to ask ourselves – “What do the nations desire?” Currently judging by the way things are in this world I think that most of them aren’t desiring Messiah. Well, what s this talking about then? I believe the answer is in verse 8 – the silver and the gold belongs God. This second Temple is lacking these kind of things. But God is promising to make his Temple glorious with gold and silver and other precious materials in latter times.

The question we all have is – when is this going to happen? I mean, do you remember Pastor Fuller’s discussion of the glory of Herod’s Temple – the one that existed in the time of Christ? That Temple was glorious. And it came after Zerubbabel’s. Is that the fulfillment of this prophecy? I don’t think so. I don’t know of a shaking of all nations at that time or a shaking of all creation. And really, only the Romans were involved in bringing wealth to the Temple at that point. But God here promises that all the nations will bring their wealth.

I think the key to when this shaking will take place is the end of verse 9. God promises that when this shaking happens he’ll bring peace to “this place” which is probably referring to Jerusalem. When has there been peace in Jerusalem since Haggai issued this prophecy in about 520 BC? I can’t really think of a time. But I know a time will come when Messiah returns and will set up an earthly kingdom over which peace will reign. I know nations and their kings will stream to Jerusalem and bring their glory there. So for these reasons, I think this is speaking of a time yet to come in the future.

So this is the 3rd encouragement to do God’s will. Being reminded of God’s constant unending presence – in the present as it was in the past and as it will be in the future.

Haggai 2:1-9 Illustration

Isn’t it an encouragement (to keep following the Lord) to remember all that he’s brought you through? Do you remember his presence with you back then? And isn’t it amazing to know that he’s still with you? And then we’re reminded that the Lord will never leave or forsake us. He will be with us always. To the end of the world and then even after that. We can’t flee from his presence. He won’t let us go.

Haggai 2:1-9 Application

Are you allowing this blessed truth that God is with you now as he has been in times past and will be into the future – are you allowing it to be the catalyst to continue doing his will? Don’t give up, brethren. He’s with you if you’re his.

Haggai 2:10-19

But while we think of the past, we can certainly see God’s presence with us. But if you’re like me – and actually like Israel – you can call to mind not only God’s presence but actually your own failures in the past. Let’s read about that in Haggai’s 4th message from the Lord in verses 10-19.

[2:10 ¶ In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. 15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD: 16 Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. 17 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD. 18 Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider it. 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.]

This prophecy happens about 2 months after the last one Haggai delivered. And it starts out seemingly not so happy again. Haggai asks some priests about the law. In particular, what does God say about a piece of meat that had been sanctified – if it touches something else, does whatever it touched become holy? The answer, as any priest would have known, was “no”. That wasn’t part of the law. But what about this? If something that’s holy touches these things and they’re not made holy… then if any of these things touched something unclean, what would happen? The answer? Those things would be made unclean. So touching a holy thing doesn’t make it holy. But touching something unclean does make it unclean. And then God uses that as a picture of how he viewed this nation of Israel. Anything unclean that touched them in any way made them unclean. They were so easily swayed by the paganism around them. And unfortunately they had no positive influence on those around them. And yet even all the holy things they knew and practiced didn’t ultimately make them holy as God wanted them to be.

So with that stated, then God again calls his people to consider some of the realities he already reminded them of in Haggai’s first prophecy. “Remember before you started building the Temple and I made life so difficult for you? And you didn’t turn to me – that’s what I truly desired. Well, remember that time and now be aware of this reality. From this day onward I will bless you.” What a beautiful statement. What a relief. “I will bless you.” And this was a bold promise to make from the prophet Haggai. Haggai had started his ministry only about 3 months ago from the time of this most recent prophecy. And before that time Israel had apparently experienced difficulty after difficulty directly from the Lord for their disobedience. And now Haggai pronounces blessing from the time that the Temple started to be rebuilt. This is a rather startling claim. How could they be sure he was telling the truth? That’s what verse 19 is getting at. The seed is still in the barn. Nothing has born fruit yet this season. It’s not as if Haggai could look around at the produce of the land and kind of gather that this year was just going to be a better year for planting. No, this was a word from the all-knowing Lord. And thus it would certainly happen.

So what we have in this 4th prophecy is this. It’s a reminder of past failures because of disobedience, coupled with promises of present and future blessings for doing God’s will. This is yet one more encouragement to obey God.

Haggai 2:10-19 Illustration

Have you been saved? We’re talking about doing God’s will. What in this day is more the will of God than you trusting his son to be saved? Have you trusted Christ – that he suffered for your sins so that you could be forgiven and be a child of God? If you have, then you can certainly identify with this prophecy. Remember the old things you got in to before you knew Christ? Remember the shame? Remember the years of wandering? Of fruitlessness? Your vain life? But now that you know Christ you’re experiencing blessing. No, everything isn’t just easy. But relationships perhaps are being mended. You have a peace that totally eluded you before. You have confidence of your eternal destiny. The Lord is using you to advance his kingdom in ways small or large. Things have changed for the better generally. This is all from God. And what can we do but humbly give him thanks for these wonderful blessings? Blessings instead of the curses we deserve.

Haggai 2:10-19 Application

So have you taken note of the blessings that God has used to replace the curses he sent on you previously? Remember those curses, but don’t focus on them. Focus on God’s promise of blessing both now and into the future – really forevermore.

Haggai 2:20-23 Explanation

And really these blessings for those who obey the Gospel and the curses for those who disobey and disbelieve continue on – into eternity. And we see some parallels to this in the next and last prophecy of this book. Let’s read verses 20 through 23.

[2:20 ¶ And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, 21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; 22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.]

This prophecy comes out the same day as the last one. And it’s addressed to only Zerubbabel. Some of the content is familiar. We’ve already seen God’s promise to shake the heavens and the earth. But this time Zerubbabel is told that God will totally overthrow the pagan kings of this world. And when God does that he’s going to take Zerubbabel and make him as a signet ring. What does that mean? Well, there are a few things to say about this. First, a signet ring was something very precious to a king. So precious in fact that he would keep it on his person constantly. So that act of giving someone this ring would have been an act of supreme trust. The signet ring was used to give the king’s authority to something like a document—like we saw in the book of Esther with Haman’s edict and then Mordecai’s as well. So that’s what a signet ring is. But why does God mention a signet ring anyway? And why does he say he’ll make Zerubbabel like one of those to him? In the book of Jeremiah in chapter 22, God has a message for Zerubbabel’s Grandfather Jeconiah. The message is that even if Jeconiah was a signet ring – something precious to him – yet God would cast him away. And then God goes on to curse Jeconiah’s line and say that none of his descendants will prosper sitting on David’s throne. So it sounded like Jeconiah and all his lineage were cast off from the Lord. But here in the book of Haggai, God reverses this curse in a way. Picturing the signet ring as Jeconiah, you can imagine then God coming and picking up the ring which is now Zerubbabel and putting it on. When God goes to topple all the nations and their kings, he will prefer Zerubbabel because God had chosen him.

But this toppling of nations hasn’t happened yet as far as I can tell. And Zerubbabel is dead now. So what I – and I think just about all the commentators – see happening here is God using Zerubbabel to symbolize the Davidic line – and ultimately Christ, the son of David. When God overthrows all nations and sets up his Millenial kingdom, Christ will reign on the throne.

So what do we have in this 5th and final prophecy? Really what we have is a promise of future judgment for those who refuse to do God’s will. And along with that we have the assurance that God will favor those who are doing his will – even their descendants.

Haggai 2:20-23 Application

The kings of the pagan nations had no concern for doing God’s will. And they will be overthrown some day along with everyone else who refuses to love and obey God. Zerubbabel on the other hand was following the Lord. And as a result both he and his family to future generations would be blessed… Would you submit to God and do his will? In our context, for any one here who doesn’t know the Lord, would you obey him by believing his son? If you do this you and your family after you for perhaps a long time will reap the rewards. And really for the rest of us who know Christ, this last prophecy wasn’t so much a challenge or commandment to Zerubbabel as it was a promise. No strings attached. Just a promise from God of future blessings and an assurance of God’s favor.

We’ve seen throughout this book that God wants to get your attention if you’re putting off doing his will. He wants you to get to work. And he may make life difficult until you do. But once you do, he’ll promise you his presence. He’ll stir you to be able to do his will. His presence will be with you always. You will remember past failures from your life of disobedience. But the blessings you receive will far outweigh those memories. And when judgment comes in the future, God will still have a plan for you, while he’ll need to punish those who have no interest in doing his will.

Haggai 1 KJV Commentary Analysis Application Bible Study

Haggai 1 Word Cloud

Haggai 1:1-12

Let’s find the first encouragement God gives the Jews to do his will. We find it in 1:1-12. Let’s read that.

[1:1 ¶ In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. 3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? 5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. 7 ¶ Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. 9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. 11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands. 12 ¶ Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.]

Haggai 1:1-12 Explanation

So this is how the Lord begins to speak to his wayward people. Did this sound encouraging to you. Whether it did or not, we see here that God sends a message through Haggai to the two leaders of the Jews – Zerubbabel the governor and Jeshua the high priest. And this message is necessarily negative. God needs to state the obvious to his people. He tells them that he knows what they’re saying. They’re convincing themselves that it’s not time yet to do the Lord’s will and rebuild his Temple. But it hasn’t been time for now 17 years! When will the time come to start doing his will? God’s had enough. He shoots back at them and asks a rhetorical question. I’m paraphrasing, but he says something like “Oh it’s not time to rebuild the Temple, is it? To rebuild my house? You really have no concern for my house? What about you? Each one of you runs to his own nice house. And your houses actually have ceilings. Mine? Well, look at it. It’s in ruins.”

God then commands them to consider their ways. He points to the fact that really every endeavor they attempt to undertake comes to little or absolutely nothing. Yeah, they can plant seeds. But there’s not much of a crop as a result. They can put on clothing. But everyone is still cold. They can eat. But no one feels full. The one who earns some money brings it home and puts it into a bag in order to save it. But it’s as if that bag has holes in it! The money metaphorically falls right out of the bag. What little they were able to make and bring home, God pictures himself as blowing on it and it flying away like so much dust. God admits that he’s the one behind all these hardships of theirs, trying to get their attention because they’re refusing to rebuild his house. He called for a drought on everything. To an agricultural society, that’s deadly.

And why was God doing this again? He restates it – because my house lies desolate while everyone runs to his own comfortable home. So God rebukes his people. But he doesn’t stop there. He offers the correction. What do you suppose the correction to letting God’s house lie in ruins is? Yeah, rebuilding it! He tells them as much. He instructs them step-by-step. “Go up to the mountains. Get wood. Come and use that wood to build my house.” Nice and simple, really. “Just do what I sent you to do almost 20 years ago!”

How do the people respond to that rebuke? Let me ask you, how did those people, the Jews, respond to God’s rebuke through his prophets before they were exiled in Babylon? Think of it. Some of them would have struck whatever prophet that gave God’s message of rebuke. Some would have lied about that prophet. Some would have planned to murder that prophet. And by-and-large, no one listened to the prophet delivering God’s message of rebuke in those days. But what did we see here? Remember this message was primarily to Zerubbabel and Jeshua. But what other group responded with them? The rest of the people. Here’s how they responded to this message. All the people including their two leaders obeyed God’s word through his prophet. That’s incredible. It shouldn’t be. Obedience to God should be a normal activity. And yet far too often it isn’t.

So what we see in this first prophecy is this. We see words of rebuke that yield a response of obedience. That’s the first encouragement to do God’s will we see in this book.

Haggai 1:1-12 Argumentation

Wait, words of rebuke can be an encouragement? Rebuke and encouragement might seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. But remember, whom the Lord loves he chastens. Wise men love instruction. They love correction. The wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy. God’s our best and heavenly friend. And when he wounds he does it in love and for a purpose. He does it for our good.

Haggai 1:1-12 Illustration

Can any of us relate to being encouraged to do God’s will through words of rebuke? King David could. He murdered Bathsheba’s husband Uriah after committing adultery with her and then took her as his wife. He spent a while acting as if nothing was wrong. Whatever else we can say about that episode we can say this. David was certainly not doing God’s will at that point. And so God waited a little while and then he sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke him for his sin. And how did David respond? “I have sinned.” As the song goes, he “rent his heart and [did] his will.”

Haggai 1:1-12 Application

What about you? How are circumstances for you? Have you taken an inventory of your life? Is God withholding rain from heaven for you, literally or metaphorically? Is he allowing everything you’re pursuing to be fruitless and disappointing? Is he making life hard for you? Now, don’t get me wrong. In this life we shall have tribulation. That’s what Jesus promised us. Things will be difficult. But can you trace your hardships back to an unwillingness to do God’s will? Search your heart. Or even better, ask God to search your heart and reveal any wicked way in you. And when it becomes apparent what is holding back God’s blessing, confess it to God. Say to God about that sin what he says about it in his word. And with God’s help forsake it and move forward doing God’s will.

Haggai 1:13-15

So we just saw words of rebuke that yield a response of obedience. That’s one encouragement to do God’s will. We see a second encouragement in verses 13-15 of chapter 1. Let’s read that next prophecy from Haggai.

[1:13 Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD. 14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, 15 ¶ In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.]

Haggai 1:13-15 Explanation

So sometime between the 1st day of the 6th month and the 24th day of that same month Haggai is again commissioned by the Lord to speak to his people. Haggai’s first message was one of rebuke. But how would we characterize this message? It’s pretty pleasant, isn’t it? After the rebuke, how do you think this statement sounded in the ears of the Jews – “I am with you.” That must have been very comforting. God gives a reassurance of his divine presence with the people.

But that’s not all he gives to them. They apparently started the work after the last message from Haggai. But now on the 24th day of the 6th month – about 3 weeks after the first prophecy – God goes a step further and stirs the spirit of the people to do his will – to rebuild the Temple. So, they originally consented and started to do the work. But then God comes in and graciously bears them along in doing his will now.

So the second encouragement to do God’s will that we see here is this. A reassurance of God’s presence and a stirring of spirit to do his will.

Haggai 1:13-15 Illustration

Jesus left us with the command to make disciples. This is a rather difficult endeavor. What was his encouragement? “Lo, I am with you always.” I am with you. He promises us his divine presence as we attempt to do his will. And isn’t this area one in which we need God to stir our spirits? We can feebly and yet faithfully try to disciple folks. But unless God is with us and stirring our spirits to help us do the work, we really won’t get very far. And it just occurred to me as I was making final touches on this message that this point was the thrust of Pastor Fuller’s message this morning, wasn’t it? We can’t do it, but God can!

Haggai 1:13-15 Application

So the first prophecy in this book was a message of rebuke. And if you and I respond to the rebuke God sends to us through his word like the Jews did, we will receive the kind of comfort this prophecy gives. God will surely be with you as you strive to do what’s right in his sight.