"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days." (Hebrews 11:30)
Yesterday, we discussed the faith this generation of Israelites exhibited by circumcising all the men so close to Jericho. God chose to include them in Hebrews 11 because of their faithfulness in following His instruction in the destruction of Jericho.
Can you imagine what the people of Canaan thought when they heard the walls of Jericho collapsed? Joshua 5:1 says the hearts of the people of Canaan melted, and they lost all courage to face the Israelites when God allowed the people to cross the Jordon River on dry ground. What would they think now? Jericho was a heavily fortified city. It would take a large army a long time to place such a city under siege and force a surrender. But God through the obedience of His people achieved that in seven days with nothing but trumpet blasts and a shout.
How great is our God! According to Joshua 2:15, Rahab's "house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall." So the walls of Jericho collapsed except that portion with the scarlet cord hanging out the window! The Lord sure knows how to save His people, doesn't He?
Father, cause Your children to take heart knowing You are the God who gives faith and then uses those to whom it is given to accomplish Your plans and purpose to the dismay of the world.
Twice in Matthew Jesus says, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." Matthew 9:13 says, "Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 12:7 says, "And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless." In both instances, Jesus is confronting the Pharisee's attitude toward those they perceived to be sinners. In Matthew 9 it is tax collectors, and in chapter 12 it is Jesus' disciples.
Isaiah 66:1-3 gives us some insight into Jesus' instruction in Matthew. In verse 1 and 2, God says the universe is His; He is the Creator of it all. In the second half of verse two, He describes who He watches, esteems and blesses. "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." In Isaiah 57:15, He says the same thing, "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit."
In Matthew, the Pharisees exhibited nothing of a humble, contrite, lowly spirit. In Matthew 23:28 Jesus describes them as "You outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." They were faithful to observe the rituals of righteousness but had no interest in what God desired from mankind.
Isaiah 66:3 describes those, like the Pharisees, who go through the outward activity of righteousness by offering the proper sacrifices but have no inclination to be humble before Him and others.
Verse 2 adds the phrase "and trembles at my word." It seems to me, when we see our rebellion against God's Holy Law, trembling would be inevitable. But when He reveals His grace, His unmerited favor, and His pardon, it seems we would also tremble with the emotion as one delivered from death.