"Snippets" from David
The Lord of Rules and Regulations
War was eminent! The attack was so near one could feel the anxiety in the air! Several "some ones" would die! Soon there would be widows lonely for their husbands and orphans wanting their father!
This was in an age before gun powder, shells, and bombs. Thick, high walls around a city and strong, bolted gates composed a formidable defense system. Joshua 6:1 said the city of Jericho was tightly shut up. No one was allowed to go in or out of that city. As long as the people of Jericho could keep Israel’s army “out there,” the people of Jericho could preserve their lives and defend their city. As long as they could keep Israel’s army “out there,” they were in control of their destiny.
God told Joshua to do a very strange thing in Joshua 6. It was the kind of instruction that could make Joshua respond by saying, “Lord, you could not possibly want us to do that because it violates Your rules and regulations.” Presumably from the time of Exodus 20:8-11, Israel did nothing on the Sabbath. From that occasion forward, God’s Ten Commandments, given with Moses as God’s spokesman, were the core of God’s Law in Israel. Certainly the statement in Exodus 31:12-17 and the incident in Numbers 15:32-36 strongly suggest Israel kept the Sabbath even in the wilderness.
Yet, God’s instructions to Joshua concerning the first city in Canaan they were to conquer did not observe the Sabbath. “For six (6) days, Joshua, you are to have Israel’s army march around the city once led by seven (7) priests carrying trumpets made of rams’ horns and priests carrying the ark of the Lord. The priests with the trumpets are to blow them continuously, but the entire army is to march in silence. On the seventh (7th) day, the army with the priests carrying trumpets and the ark are to march around the city six (6) times in silence. On the seventh (7th) time, the priests are to blow their trumpets, the army shout, and Jericho’s wall will fall.”
If they marched for seven (7) consecutive days, they violated the Sabbath. If the first day of the march was Sunday, their beginning of the week, the army of Israel fought and won a major battle on the Sabbath, or seventh (7th) day of the week. Either way, the Sabbath was not observed as instructed in Exodus 20. If gathering wood was a violation of the Sabbath, marching around Jericho’s walls in battle gear was surely a violation of the Sabbath!
The issue needs an accurate understanding. Is God bigger than the Law He gave? Or is God subject to the Law He gave? Is God Himself the ultimate authority, or are the “rules and regulations” the ultimate authority? If you are tempted to say that is an irrelevant point without any application to us of today, consider that God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace are in violation of “rules and regulations.”
We are all sinners! None of us are worthy to be in God’s presence. Though we all justly are condemned by our own mistakes and failures, God forgives. In spite of our indefensible violation of the “rules and regulations,” God forgives because He is full of mercy and grace. Our hope is not in the “rules and regulations” because that would place our hope in human perfection, an impossibility. Our hope is in the God Who is bigger than justice, bigger than “rules and regulations.”
Generations later, God’s son declared, “…Something greater than the temple is here. … For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:6, 8). Thank You, God!
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