Pass It On
When you have something good, you want to pass it on, right? That’s how God feels. As we saw in the previous post, God wanted Israel to be separate from the world but not exclude the world: i.e., he wanted Israel to pass it on. Israel was to be the example for all to follow. To demonstrate this to them, he gave them an example immediately after they entered the Promised Land.
Before they entered the land of Canaan, Joshua had two spies go into Jericho and check things out (Js 2:1). A woman by the name of Rahab hid them at one point to help ensure they were not found out (Js 2:4). These spies reported back to Joshua that the people of Jericho feared the Israelites and now was the appropriate time to take the land as their own (Js 2:24).
The people of Israel first had to cross the Jordan River. Joshua used this as a faith-building exercise. If God could get them safely across the river which was swollen due to the Spring rains, then surely he could deliver Jericho into their hands (Js 3:10). As soon as the feet of the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant touched the water of the river, it parted, and everyone entered Canaan on dry land (Js 3:13-17). After crossing the river, they all encamped at Gilgal (Js 3:19), approximately ten miles from Jericho. When the people of Canaan heard how God parted the Jordan River for them to cross, they all feared the Israelites (Js 5:1). This gave Joshua the opportunity to stop and renew their covenant with God by having all the males circumcised (Js 5:2-9). This was around the tenth day of the first month.
On the fourteenth day of the first month, they held Pesach (Passover; Js 5:10). The next day (Matzah or feast of Unleavened Bread), they ate unleavened bread and roasted grain from their new land (Js 5:11). The next day, the manna which God had fed them for forty years ceased and they ate the produced from their new land (Js 5:12). This would have represented their first Bikkurim (or feast of Firstfruit). Joshua then had to let the men completely heal, get them battle ready, and have all the people travel the ten miles to Jericho. It is likely it would have taken the men approximately two weeks to recover from the pain and soreness of their circumcision. Then it is likely it would have taken about a month to group and train the men to prepare for battle and go over battle strategy.
While it is true they expected God to fight their battle for them as he had said (Js 6:2), I’m sure Joshua wanted to have a regimen of fighting men that would be under his strict authority—just in case. Then, it is likely it would have taken a few days to get all the people—close to two million of them—to travel the ten miles, get camped and ready for what God was going to do for them. They then marched around the city once a day for seven days and then seven times on the seventh day(Js 6:4, 12-15). Adding up all this time of preparation, it is not hard to imagine it took them approximately 50 days after their first Bikkurim until the walls of Jericho fell. That would place this time of the conquering of Jericho around Shavuot (Pentecost). As we stated previously, this is the feast of inclusion and that is what happened here.
Once the walls fell on the seventh day of their marching, the Israelites took the city and killed everyone in the city, except for Rahab and her household (Js 6:17, 21-22). Rahab and her family were spared just as the spies had stated. Therefore, Rahab who was a Canaanite, a Gentile, was allowed to live as an Israelite. She married Salmon who was of the tribe of Judah. She and Salmon had a son named Boaz (Mt 1:5) who also became an instrument of inclusion which God used to show this pattern of inclusion again. We’ll discuss that next time.
Don’t you find it interesting that this story in the Bible, which became a most notorious story of all the Biblical stories, fell on Shavuot which God had instituted as a feast to represent inclusion and a feast where paradigm shifts occurred? God doesn’t shove it in their faces and say, “Look, I’m showing you what this feast is about.” No, he lets the realization of what he is doing seep in subtly. Not everyone would get it, but those who paid attention would. While others were screaming, we are God’s chosen people, keep others at bay, God was saying, no, see, I’m giving you examples for you to follow. Follow my lead and be the example, the banner, the ambassador I want you to be for the world. God is still the God of Inclusion. Are you acting that way or are you also trying to keep others at bay. Your future is sure and that is all that matters. But is it supposed to be that way? What if others before you did that? Would you have a relationship with God now if they had that same attitude. God was saying to the Israelites to pass on what he had taught them. He’s still saying the same thing today.