Day 82: The Valley of Achor

Joshua 5:2-12 The generation of Israelites born during the desert journey were not circumcised. As Israel prepared for battle, Joshua had all the men of military age circumcised in keeping with the covenant. They could then celebrate the Passover for the first time in the Promised Land. The day after Passover, the manna stopped falling from Heaven because the people had food available from their new land. (CCC 1150)

Ch 5:13-15 The commander of the army of the Lord: He appeared to Joshua, who removed his shoes in awe just as Moses did at the burning bush. The scene reinforces the fact that Joshua continued the mission given to Moses. (CCC 208, 2777)

Ch 6:1-27 Jericho fell not from military tactics but through AN ACT OF GOD with the obedient cooperation of his people. The procession around the city and the final shout have a certain liturgical quality about them. In their invasion of Jericho, the Israelites left Rahab’s house alone as was promised by the spies. As the Letter to the Hebrews would later recount, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given friendly welcome to the spies” (Heb 11:30-31). (CCC 2018-2020)

Ch 6:21 The antics of Israel must be understood in the CONTEXT OF SALVATION HISTORY. God revealed himself and his will to his people INCREMENTALLY, bringing them along gradually not only in terms of their knowledge of him but also in their understanding of moral law. The Church, teaching in the name of Christ, forbids any form of GENOCIDE, THE KILLING OF NONCOMBATANTS, AND MISTREATMENT OF WOUNDED SOLDIERS AND PRISONERS OF WAR. Soldiers have the moral obligation to refuse to perform such gravely evil acts EVEN IF ORDERED TO DO SO. (CCC 2313)

Ch 6:22-23 Rahab is seen by some of the Church Fathers as a type of the Gentiles who would someday be welcomed into the Christian Faith and reap the benefits of the Redemption (TYPOLOGY!!). (CCC 674)

Ch 7:1-26 Following the success at Jericho, a raid on the town of Ai failed because Achan kept some of the seized valuablers of Ai for himself rather than giving it to the Lord’s treasury as required by the Law. Achan admitted his deed and, consequently, was put to death. All of Israel had to live by faith in God’s providence, and all had to obey the Lord and work for the common good. In this way, Israel foreshadows the idea of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ in which all members have specific duties and collaborate together in a united fashion (TYPOLOGY!!). (CCC 771, 779)

Psalm 125 The believer can count on the Lord’s help and protection no matter what dangers and risks he or she faces. Evildoers deceitfully promise short-term relief from grief and pain if we would compromise our fidelity to God; his grace, however, will assist us in overcoming the allure of sin. This psalm reiterates the common exhortation to have a deep trust in God. “This is a powerful help in facing difficult situations when the eternal crisis of loneliness, irony, and contempt of believers is associated with the interior crisis that consists of discouragement, mediocrity, and weariness,” said Pope Benedict XVI. “We know this situation, but the psalm tells us that if we have trust, we are stronger than these evils.” (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, August 3, 2005)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

The Battle of Jericho and the Sin of Achan 

Human Solidarity, for Good and Bad 

“To speak of social sin means in the first place to recognize that, by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s sin in some way affects others. This is the other aspect of that solidarity which on the religious level is developed in the profound and magnificent mystery of the communion of saints, thanks to which it has been possible to say that ‘every soul that rises above itself, raises up the world.’” 

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Key Event 31: Fall of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-6:27)
The Israelites are to conquer Jericho by walking around the city for seven days in liturgical procession, let by priest carrying the Ark of the Covenant.  In this unusual strategy, when the priests blow their trumpets and the people shout on the seventh day, the walls of the city come tumbling down.  (How’s THAT for EPIC, Game of Thrones fans? 😉)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we thank you. We thank you for sharing this story with us. Thank you for being part of our stories. As we, like Achon, as we can be unfaithful knowing exactly what you have asked us to do. So often, Lord, we turn away and do what we want to do. Lord, the heart of every sin is knowing what you want and yet doing what we want in violation of that. And so, we come back to you knowing that in our guilt you meet us with your mercy. In our shame, you meet us with your reconciliation. And so please, Lord God, transform our Valley of Achor into a door of hope. Hope for our lives, hope for our children, for our families, hope for our culture, hope for our world, hope for your people. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”