By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:30-31
Roughly forty years have passed since the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. The people of God received his law, built the tabernacle, established the priesthood, and when given the opportunity to receive the land promised to their fathers, they cowered in fear. They chose to fix their eyes on the impossible rather than on God, who had overcome impossibilities right before their eyes. Their consequence for disobedience entailed wandering in the wilderness for forty years before dying outside of the promised land. As it says in Hebrews 3:19, “…they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” The writer of Hebrews paints fear of man as synonymous with unbelief.
Open up your Bible and read Joshua 2.
What actions of Rahab signal that she feared the Lord more than the king?
According to Rahab how long had Rahab been waiting and enduring in faith?
What was different about her fear of the Lord as opposed to the fear in the hearts of all the inhabitants of the land?
What conclusions an you draw about the fear of the Lord from this chapter?
We’ve seen Noah construct an ark “in reverent fear” (Hebrews 11:7). We’ve watched as the angel of the Lord called out to Abraham, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Genesis 22:12). We’ve seen that the Israelites initially “feared greatly” when their enemies encroached on them with no way out, only to see the great power the Lord used against the Egyptians. They feared the Lord as a result (Exodus 14:10,31). We know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and that one is only truly wise when he believes that God is God and lives their whole life in response to that truth (Proverbs 1:7). Though we tend to struggle with this concept in our modern time, the fear of the Lord vitally compels our endurance in faith and needs to be an ever-growing reality in our understanding of him.
Open up your Bible and read Joshua 5:13-15 and Joshua 6.
What command was Joshua given in regards to taking the city of Jericho?
What might he have had to endure in following that command?
What confidence did he have to follow God’s command?
What was the result of Rahab’s faith?
After seeing God’s incredible power, how are we to respond? It could be easy to stay disconnected from such an obscure command. When will we be told to encircle a city in silence for six days before shouting on the seventh? But isn’t it true that throughout the rest of Scripture, other commands may be just as difficult? Consider these examples:
“Count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3), when others already count themselves more significant in their own eyes.
“…that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9-10) when the world around us insists that love accepts unconditionally, without regard to what is best for them according to God’s design.
“You shall not covet…” (Exodus 20:17) in a society that capitalizes on your desires, appealing to those eternal longings for acceptance, belonging, and intimacy.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14) in a cancel-culture concerned chiefly about anything standing in the way of self-fulfillment.
“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12) in a world system that acknowledges achievement and prizes productivity at the cost of those around them.
I could keep going, but I will not.
Often times in our world, God’s Word is just as foreign to us as it was the week before the walls of Jericho fell. Faith calls us to live in the fear of the Lord, and we do so by obeying his Word. The wise man builds his house upon the rock by hearing Christ’s words and doing it (Matt. 7:24-25). Our confidence supersedes that of Joshua’s. Joshua had the commander of the army of the Lord in his presence, leading them to victory. We have the Holy Spirit himself—the firstfruit of victory—living in us to lead and empower our obedience. The Lord promised Joshua before he even began that the city of Jericho would be given to him. Our hope extends to the city of the living God, secured by Jesus, making us more than conquerors through any distress, persecution, famine, danger, or sword (Romans 8:35-37). Thus our assurance leads to reverence, and our reverence leads to obedience. Our fearsome awe of God leads to fruitful faith.
In what ways are you currently fearing man more than the Lord? How has this hindered you from acting in faithful obedience to God’s commands?
Take time to pray, confessing your need to grow in the fear of the Lord and asking God to show you how worthy he is of your reverence and obedience.