“And the Lord said to Joshua: ‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valour'”

There is no mistaking. God gave the city of Jericho into Israel’s hand. It was the first city conquered by Israel after crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land, something that the God of Israel gave specific command for Joshua to do. Joshua’s men marched in silence around the city once each day for six days. The priests walked with them, blowing ram’s horns and carrying the ark of the covenant as a sign of God’s presence among them. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and at the appropriate signal, the priests were to blow their trumpets and the people were to give a magnificent shout. They did exactly as Joshua commanded, the walls crumbled, and the city was destroyed. Only Rahab and all her family were spared.

Then we read in Joshua 6:17 that the whole city was to be devoted to the Lord as an offering, or dedicated for destruction as some translations say. They were to not take anything. All of the spoils – silver, gold, bronze and iron – were to be “consecrated unto the Lord” and stored in Israel’s treasury.

In the shadow of God’s warning not to rebuild Jericho, it remained uninhabited for around 500 years until Hiel of Bethal rebuilt the city at a cost of the lives of two of his sons.  But then Jericho entered a new era, including that of being the home of the ‘sons of the prophets’ (2 Kings 2:4-18). Fast forward and the sons of Jericho helped in the rebuilding of Jerusalem under Nehemiah. Jericho is also mentioned several times in the Old Testament, always in the context of a Jewish city. In the Gospels, Jericho is portrayed as an affluent city, where Jesus healed a beggar and dined at the home of the rich tax collector Zacchaeus, where he was convicted of his greed and received salvation.

Why do we share this short glimpse into Bible history? Whilst Israel and the Jewish people around the world were blowing trumpets during the Biblical feast of Rosh Hashanah last weekend, the UN World Heritage Committee (a part of UNESCO) were meeting to decide which part of Jewish heritage it could rewrite. It decided that the ancient ruins of Ancient Jericho, the world’s oldest fortified city, would be added to the “World Heritage Site in Palestine” list. They refer to the site as Tell es-Sultan (meaning Sultan’s Hill in Arabic). But Palestinian leadership are overjoyed that once again they can use the anti-Israel UNESCO’s redefinition as a way to further its Palestinisation of Jewish heritage in an attempt to rewrite history in favour of its revisionist history. Jericho is now added to the list of “Palestine” world heritage sites, along with the Church of the Nativity and the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem, the cultural landscape of southern Jerusalem and Battir, and the Old City in Hebron.

Israel’s foreign ministry has committed to act to change the decision. The purpose of today’s prayer bulletin is this: pray that the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, Jericho and all the Land of Israel will be protected from those who wish to undermine the Jewish people’s connection to the land. UNESCO’s decision is meaningless compared with historical fact. It doesn’t have any authority to change what the Bible says. Remember, “I have given Jericho into your hand,” the Lord said.  That is what God determined and it hasn’t changed.

Meanwhile, the moral of the story for Christians is this: let us make sure we read our Bibles, identify hogwash when we see it, and be ready to defend Israel.

Thank you for praying with us today.