Yesterday we concluded our study by mentioning some practices Israel was commanded to avoid. It's worth commenting on a few of these practices. The first one given was that of sacrificing children to the fire. The Canaanites had a god whose name was Moloch. He was a particularly cruel god. There were statues made to him, generally out of bronze. This figure, where it's been found, is always one that stands holding out both arms in front of him to receive a sacrifice. What the Canaanites did, apparently, was to heat that bronze statue until it was red hot, and then they would take their young children and infants, and place them in the red-hot arms of Moloch as a sacrifice.

I suppose it's not really possible to preach through the book of Joshua without dealing at some point with what some people have felt to be a great moral problem. The moral problem lies in the fact that at the direction of God, the Jewish people were commanded by Joshua to exterminate large blocks of the country God had given them to possess. People would call it genocide. It's a bad thing and people have asked with some perception how it can be possible that in a book that pretends to present to us the character of a good and loving God we could have stories which show God directing His people to do such a thing. This is one of a class of problems that we find in the Bible, and it is the task of apologetics, that is, the defense of the faith, to answer these. 

Now I want to apply what I said in this way, first of all to Christians. First, while this was a literal, historical battle, now I’m going to talk about spiritual battles. But don't think that our spiritual battles are any less literal or historical. We face spiritual challenges that are just as real. We go up against a different form of walled cities, strongholds of that one who is God’s and our enemy, the devil. Sometimes these are in the world. There are great bastions of evil power in this world. Sometimes they’re in the church. Sometimes they are within our own hearts. God is in the business of tearing down those strongholds, and He uses us as His soldiers. 


There’s a third step in the preparation of the people for their victory, though it overlaps the one I’ve just given. First of all, be silent. Second of all, obey. But thirdly, obey in all things to the very end. I call this "total obedience to the very end." This third point is important because obedience that is not total and to the end is not true obedience. It's really disobedience. And we have to emphasize this because of our tendency to start out well at the beginning. We really do obey, and we want to follow God. But we don't do it to the end. And so, we miss the blessing. We have to stress that because God does not operate on our timetable. Now, we Americans have tight timetables, and we keep moving it up all the time. And if God doesn't operate on our timetable, well, God better watch out because He’s going to miss what we’re doing. That's the way we think. And yet, we have to learn that God moves when God will move. And we have to wait for Him. And to do that, we have to keep obeying until He moves. 


There are several things the Lord told them. The first is that they were commanded to be silent. This is what Joshua told them in verse 10: “Do not give a war cry. Do not raise your voices. Do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout.” Now, I don't know how they did that. Can you imagine the difficulty there would be ordering a march of that scale without saying a word? It’s virtually impossible for a family of four or five to do this.  And they were not just to do it once. They were ordered to march around the city of Jericho once each day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. Yet as difficult as that seems to us, the Bible says they did this very thing in obedience to God’s command.