August 13, 2012

An Oath to Die For

Joshua 6:26-27

“Cursed before the LORD is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city.”
—Joshua 6:26


Why would it be a problem to rebuild Jericho? Why put it under a curse? Is urban renewal not a good thing?

But what would we think about flying the flag of a corrupt, vanquished enemy? Or rebuilding the statue of a dictator who pillaged the country for decades? Flying that enemy flag or rededicating a statue to that terrible dictator would suggest that the old, corrupt regime is coming back.

The city of Jericho was the symbol of all that was wrong with sinful humanity in rebellion against God. It was filled with people dedicated to turning away from God. No one in Jericho (except Rahab) believed and belonged to the God who created the heavens and the earth; they thought that all good things came from the hands of the false gods of Canaan. Some of Canaan’s Baal worship even involved child sacrifice.

Joshua placed a curse on rebuilding Jericho because a resurrected Jericho would mean returning to that old way of life and rejecting the renewal that God brought to the land. Many years later, when wicked King Ahab allowed Jericho to be rebuilt (1 Kings 16:29-34), he helped Israel burden itself again with the sin of idolatry.

If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we must not become burdened again with the slavery of sin (Galatians 5:1) but serve Christ alone.

Grant me the strength, Lord, to stand firm in the freedom of Jesus Christ, that I may not return to the slavery of sin. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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