The book of Joshua is a book with many valuable lessons (Rom. 15:4). Let us learn one lesson from Old Testament history that helps us as Christians today:
And Jehovah said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets or rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the rams’ horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him (Josh 6:2-5).
Many religious folks have never understood that a “gift from God” can be conditional, and still be a gift. Look carefully to the “gift of Jericho.” “I have given into thine hand Jericho…” (6:2). Jericho was given as a “gift”, but God’s commands had to be obeyed. Failure to do so would have resulted in defeat. Verses 3-5 have very specific marching orders from God. The “gift of Jericho” could not be received until every command of God was followed. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days” (Heb. 11:30). The walls of Jericho did not fall down until all of God’s commandments were obeyed. A faith that will not obey is a faith that will not save! “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jam. 2:24).
A careful and thoughtful study of the book of Joshua enables one to better understand God’s “gift of salvation.” Paul writes, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). God has promised the “gift of eternal life (salvation, a heavenly home). It was necessary for Israel of old to obey God in order to receive the “gift of Jericho.” Likewise man today must obey God’s direct commands in order to receive the “gift of eternal life.”
Before Paul penned the words of Romans 6:23 he had written, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). Paul continues, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16; emph., JLW). There are only two masters in view; one is God and the other is Satan. There are only two ways (Matt. 7:13-14). Listen, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine [teaching] which was delivered unto you, being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18; emph., JLW). When we are obedient to Satan, we become servants of sin. When we are obedient to God, obeying from the heart that form of doctrine (the New Testament of our Lord); then we become the servants of righteousness, i.e., servants of God.
We sometimes sing the song: “Trust and Obey.” Let us seek to “trust and obey” God in order to receive the “gift of salvation.” Salvation is conditional!