Dear Friends,

Jericho was the first city in the Promised Land that had to be conquered by the Israelites when Joshua led them into the Land in 1406 BC.  You know the story of the walls falling down providing access for the Israelites’ victory.  Once Jericho was conquered, Joshua pronounced a curse on anyone who tried to rebuild the city.  More than 500 years later, during wicked King Ahab’s reign over Israel’s Northern Kingdom, Hiel tried to rebuild the city only to experience the consequences of Joshua’s curse exactly as Joshua proclaimed.

The name Jericho means place of fragrance.  The place of fragrance became a place of death.

In 1983 I remember driving my new Mercedes 240D out of the showroom of World Wide Motors in fulfillment of my dream.  I was so excited about taking delivery of this car that I couldn’t sleep the night before.  A little over 5 years later, this car became the vehicle in which my wife, Donna, died.  What began as an object of fragrance became an object of death.

What Is Your Jericho?  What circumstance in your life started out with fragrance only to become a stench to you?  Maybe it was a relationship that held out so much promise only to end in disappointment.  Maybe it was your dream job that became your nightmare.  Maybe you held a precious baby in your arms only to have him or her grow up in rebellion bringing you great pain.  Maybe it was an exciting new business venture that resulted in a slow, agonizing failure.

BE ENCOURAGED.  GOD IS NOT DONE WITH YOUR JERICHO!!

Let’s see what we can learn from three significant stories that take place in the context of Jericho:

  1. Zacchaeus (his name means “pure”) walked around with overwhelming shame as a hated tax collector who betrayed his people by working for their enemies.  He was anything but pure.  Jesus noticed he went to extreme lengths to see Him pass by and knew Zacchaeus was ready for a new life.  Jesus offered to take away his shame by giving him purity through saving faith.

  1. Bartimaeus (his name means “son of impurity”) was a blind beggar who heard Jesus passing by and cried out to be healed.  Jesus brought him from darkness to light—both physically and spiritually.  He went from a son of impurity to a son of light!

  1. Good Samaritan—Jesus told the story about a Jewish man who was walking toward Jericho when he was beaten and robbed.  Instead of ignoring the pain of this unfortunate victim, the Good Samaritan engaged his need and in the process went from being in isolation to being a neighbor.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT YOUR JERICHO:

God desires to take your Jericho from the place of fragrance, through the place of stench, ultimately to a place of redemption.

  1. The Lord Will Redeem Your Jericho

Joel 2:25a (NIV84) “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten”

  1. Zacchaeus Reminds You There’s No More Shame

Isaiah 54:4–5 (NLT) “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood.  For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.

Revelation 3:18 (NLT) “So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.”

  1. Bartimaeus Reminds You There’s No More Darkness

Isaiah 9:2 (NLT) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

John 8:12 (NLT) “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

  1. The Good Samaritan Reminds You There’s No More Isolation

Ephesians 3:17 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

Matthew 28:20b (NLT) “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

How will you respond?  If you continue to focus only on your Jericho’s defeat…the death…the disappointment…you may miss the redemption that God desires to bring forth from the ashes.

Our Jericho(s) can be a memorial to God’s redemption and a reminder of His great grace.  The thing that held out so much promise only to end in defeat can ultimately become a source of strength—an anchor for your faith.

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16).

Onward in redemption,

Pastor Gary