Joshua 6:15-27 By giving the first fruits, believers secure future harvests
15 Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. 16 At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city. 17 The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the Lord; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in the house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. 19 But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and priests blew the trumpets; and when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. 21 They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.
22 Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there, as you have sworn to her.” 23 So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. 24 They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
26 Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” 27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
Joshua mustered his people and did what the Lord instructed and the Lord fought for them. Jericho was considered the first fruits of Canaan. Therefore, everything in it must be given wholly to God and not to be kept for ordinary use. Today’s passage teaches us the importance of honoring God with the first fruits of our time, talents and resources. By giving God the first fruits, believers secure future harvests.
The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to the Lord.
Jericho was considered as the first fruits of Canaan. Therefore, the city shall be under the ban, and all that is in it belongs to the Lord. The word ban (hermon in Hebrew) means exclusion of an object from the use of man and its irrevocable surrender to God. All first fruits of man’s produce including Jericho belong to God! Therefore as a first fruits sacrifice to God, everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, must be completely destroyed saved Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, were saved and reserved for the treasury of the house of the Lord.
Go into the harlot’s house and bring the woman and all she has out of there.
On the seventh day, following a long blast of the trumpet, the people gave a resounding war cry and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city. Rahab and her kin were excluded from the ban pronounced on the city because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Even though she was considered a harlot by Joshua, her works demonstrated faith that warranted her salvation. Rahab and all her relatives were temporarily placed outside the camp of Israel because they were ceremonially unclean. However, they were later assimilated into the Israelite community: and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day.
Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho.
By means of an oath, Joshua pronounced a curse upon the ruined city of Jericho. The rule of permanent desolation would be applied to any city in Canaan that had violated the covenant of God. The intention was not to desolate the city, as they were still those who inhabited the city afterwards (see Judges 3:13, 2 Samuel 10:5). Rather, the curse was to prevent anyone from returning to the abominations and sins that founded the city (see Deuteronomy 13:12-18). Later on, Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho in his attempt to restore the city to its former infamy of sin and rebellion. Hiel paid with the loss of his firstborn and his youngest son according to the word God spoke by Joshua (1 Kings 16:34).
The giving of the first fruits honors God and breaks the curse of poverty. And this frees believers to prosper in all their endeavor. God implemented the ban on Jericho which happened to be the first fruits of Canaan. Complying with the ban on the spoils of Jericho was a way of honoring God through the covenant of first fruits. But for the other cities in Canaan, the Israelites were at liberty to keep the spoils of battle. By honoring God with the first fruits of Canaan, they were blessed with the rest of Canaan as an everlasting inheritance for Israel. As we know it, Israel failed at keeping the ban when Achan took for himself some prohibited things. As a result, Israel had to pay dearly at Ai which was a much smaller city than Jericho. Because Israel failed to honor God by keeping the ban, and they became accursed with poverty and defeat.
In ancient Israel, the Law of Moses instituted the “tithe,” (a tenth) also called the offering of the “first-fruits.” The tithe was an assessment of one-tenth of all produce and income. Usually this portion was taken from the first harvested of the crop, hence the tithe of “first-fruits.” The tithes were devoted to the maintenance of the Temple, support of the priesthood, and help to the poor (Numbers 18:24, Deuteronomy 12:11, 26:12).
As believers of the New Testament church honor the Lord by the giving of our tithes (one-tenth of their salary), we will likewise prosper like Israel did. Proverbs 3:9-10 says,
Honor the Lord from your wealth
And from the first of all your produce;
So your barns will be filled with plenty
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
When we offer their tithes and offerings, we show honor to the Lord. And the Lord blesses us because of our faith in Him. The opposite is also true: when believers withhold their tithes, they show contempt towards the Lord. The result is eventual poverty and defeat.
We must honor God during times of peace so that when the day of calamity comes, our names may not be overlooked. Observation tells us that people find it harder to repent and honor God when times are good. But when calamities come, repentance may be a tad too late. Rahab expressed her desire to repent and to honor God during times of peace. And when calamity came upon the ill-fated city, her family was spared. Had Rahab not repented during peace times, she would not have found salvation on that fateful day.
During good times, many churchgoers did not commit their lives fully to God. In fact, the more they increase, the more they become complacent and self-centered. They test God and provoke Him by their halfhearted worship. They did not honor Him with their tithes being preoccupied with the cares of life. They live as if they are going to spend eternity on earth. Such are like Esau of the Old Testament, who exchanged his eternal heritage for worthless earthly things. Hebrews 12:17 comments about Esau,
For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
Esau gave up his birthright as the eldest son to his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of soup. Because Esau did not value his spiritual heritage, he forfeited his eternal blessings on the day of reckoning. Eternal blessings and salvation is secured during times of peace when you honor God and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (see Philippians 2:12).
- Do you give your tithes and offerings on a regular basis? God does not covet your money but rather He will bless those who fear Him. Tithes and offering is an ordained avenue to display our worship and reverence towards God.
- Does blessing propel us to pursue our fleshly passions? Or does grace motivate us towards greater reverence towards God? Spend some time to count the blessings of God in your life. Commit yourself in giving the first hours of your day to God by communing with Him in prayer. Commit your talents to God by serving those who are marginalized. Commit your tithes to Him by setting aside a portion of your salary. In doing the above, God sees our heart and blesses us.
Dear Lord, I give you first place in my life for you are the God who deserves our highest worship and reverence. I commit my time, my talents and resources towards your course. Bless me and cause me to be a blessing to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.