In the days of Joshua, the Israelites crossed the Jordan river to inherit the Promised Land. Their first big task was to take the fortified city of Jericho with its famed mighty walls. God instructed his people to march around the city for seven days, to shout, to blow their horns, and God himself would cause the walls of Jericho to collapse. Once the walls fell, the Israeliteswere instructed to kill everyone inside and burn the city to the ground. Because the Israelites obeyed God to the letter, they soon stood in the smoking ruins of what was Jericho. Then God gives them instructions on what NOT to do next.
Jos 6:26 Then Joshua charged them at that time saying “Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city of Jericho: he shall lay its foundations with its firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” God commanded his children that he never wanted them to build the city that HE, God himself, had destroyed. While not explained, maybe the ruins were to stand as a monument to God’s people throughout the ages of his faithfulness to them.
An estimated 530 years later, during the reign of King Ahab and Jezebel, a man by the name of Hiel was charged to rebuild the city of Jericho. But remember, God had given a specific warningto the man that rebuilt that city: his oldest child would die when he began the work and, if he persisted building, he would attend the funeral of the youngest when he finished. 1 Kings 16:34 reads “In his days Heil of Bethel built Jericho. He laid the foundations with Abiram (A-bir-am) firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub (Seg-ub) he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun. These are the only two verses in the Bible that mention this man Hiel. But important lessons can be learnedfrom him.
#1 Gods Word is always true– Not one word of this curse passed away in five centuries. The curse was fulfilled exactly as God had said. Two sons died, they died in the right order, and they died at the right time. The life of Hiel followed the warning of God to the letter. Now we live 200 centuries from when these words were written but Gods word remains ever truthful today. We are foolish to think that the bible is untrustworthy or that its warnings carry no weight. Heb 6:18 says it is impossible for God to lie. Psalm 19:7 “The testimony of the Lord is sure”. Psalm 89:34 God said “My covenant will not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips”
#2 Time does not render a warning void – 500 years passed since Jericho had felled. Surely Hiel thought a law written so long ago could not still be in effect. But it was and Hiel paid the price. Today people say “well the Bible is out of touch with current times. Its teachings do not apply to us today because it is written so long ago.” Time is not marked in Gods eyes the same as mans. Time does not render a warning void. 2 Peter 3:8 One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”
#3 God means for his warnings to be heeded. God is the full mercy, grace, and love but he still means for his warnings to be followed. Most parenting books would have a parent utilize praise, love, and positive teachings. But, it would be poor parenting to not mix in some warnings. Thru the life of Hiel, I hope we can see that God is a God of love but he is also a God of his Word. If God gives a warning, a negative teaching, a “Do NOT” command, he intends for it to be followed. God is both good and severe. Ro 11:22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you,goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cutoff.
#4 Even a command that seems strange must be obeyed. The location of the original city Jericho was perfect. It was near the River Jordan and had been a bustling city of commerce. I’m sure Hiel eyed the location as prime real estate. Surely Hiel thought to himself, God did not mean what he said. So he ignored Gods warnings not to rebuild. Isa 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” says the LORD 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. There are challenging commands and warnings in the Bible. You nor I might not have written them the way God did. Sometimes our logic would want some of God’s warnings out of the Bible. But God has a purpose, a reason for giving us that teaching. While my vision is limited, God sees the value of his teaching from an eternal point of view. I must simply accept that fact that God commands will not steer me wrong no matter how challenging I personally find the verse.
We ignore Gods warnings at our own peril. I’m sure Hiel thought the warning was outdated, did not apply to his good intentions, or was simply a tradition. But regardless of our intentions, we pay the price when we ignore Gods warnings.