In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest [son] Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun. 1 King 16:34;
After the miraculous conquest of Jericho by the children of Israel, Joshua the son of Nun by divine auction placed the city under a terrible curse. The city of Jericho before this time was very prominent and respected for great political power, influence and affluence. However, because the city was considered extremely rebellious and ungodly, Joshua placed a generational curse on the land to forbid its rebuilding and future habitation. By Joshua’s declaration, anyone who attempted to build Jericho would lay the foundation of the city with the death of his first born and set up the gates with the death of his last born!
As a result of the dreadful curse upon Jericho, the city remained a heap of ruin for many years until a certain man decided to defy the pronouncement. Hiel the Bethelite, against the declaration of Joshua decided to rebuild the city of Jericho and prepare it for habitation. What attraction on earth did Hiel see in Jericho that he was prepared to cross the border line everyone would not cross for many years? Why was he determined to pay the invaluable price of rebuilding Jericho at the expense of his first and last son? Did he ever realize the great cost of his decision? What exactly was the force driving this Bethelite?
According to the scriptures, the city of Jericho was located in the plains; it was a pleasant land with very good location possibly because of its proximity to River Jordan. In appearance, the Jericho looked very promising and fertile. It appears that this was what Hiel the Bethelite saw that he was ready to rebuild it and set it up for habitation. His plan was probably to rename the city after himself and lay hold on royalty on the land for life.
It is obvious that Hiel the Bethelite was a very ambitious man. He had his eyes on the mission of rebuilding Jericho and was determined not to spare anyone and anything in realizing his target. The precious lives of his innocent sons did not matter much to him, all he wanted was the fulfillment of his ambitions and no more! Every good father’s desire is that his offspring would outlive and outshine him, but Hiel’s overriding ambition had made him lose all sense of compassion and fatherhood. It is sad that in realizing his ambition, Hiel terminated the destiny of his two sons abruptly. Abiram and Segub were eternally robbed of the opportunity to express the greatness within them and fulfill their God-given destiny in life because of an ambitious father. What a tragedy!
Hiel the Bethelite actually realized his lifelong ambition of rebuilding Jericho, but did he make any meaningful thing out of it? It is sad to know that inspite of Hiel’s invaluable price of his first and last born, the city of Jericho as established by the scriptures, was still not free from the generational curse placed upon it.
And the men of the city [Jericho] said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren. 2King 2:19;
The land of Jericho inspite of its pleasant and strategic location was stack barren! The ground was unproductive, the water was poisonous. Of course if the ground was barren and the water useless, it is certain that every inhabitant of the city was equally cursed, because they would never have anything to show for their hard labour and sweat! Hiel’s ambition was after all fruitless, worthless and futile! His ambition was like running to catch the wind, vanity upon vanity! What a tragedy!
A lot of people are like Hiel the Bethelite; they are full of selfish ambitions and could do anything to realize and achieve their targets. As Hiel sacrificed his two sons to realize his dream which eventually turned out fruitless, a lot of people are sacrificing their family, marriage, relationship and destiny all in the names of pursuit of selfish ambitions. Overriding drive to attain higher heights in career and keep employment has led a lot of young ladies to keep ungodly relationship and go to bed with their boss to earn promotion on the job. A lot of couples have had their family torn apart because each of them is given too much to selfish ambition rather than pursue godly purpose for their family together. A lot of Christians and ministers have also joined the mad rush in pursuit of things that do not make meaning to God; selfish ambition has replaced ministry, self glory has taken the place of God glory. It is unfortunate!
The way and manner Hiel lived and pursued his selfish dream, it is clear that he had no relationship with God; all he lived and died for was his selfish ambition of building Jericho. He failed to realize that he needed more than ambition and self determination to live a meaningful life; his whole life was a huge waste since all he lived and died for eventually turned out to be rubbish! We need to realize that the main essence of life is not to amass material wealth, attain great heights in career, business and be prominent. Our lives are meant to be lived for God’s pleasure and bring blessings unto people around us. King Solomon was one man that had all good things that life could offer, but he was extremely miserable inspite of all his possessions! On his death bed, he declared ‘life is vanity upon vanity’! The situation has not changed; life is still vanity upon vanity!
Ambitions in themselves are not evil if the drive is not to fulfill selfish ends. Unfortunately most people’s ambitions and aspirations in life are self-centered and egoistic; true greatness in life is to live for others and not for self! Jesus came to demonstrate this to us. Jesus never lived for self; He laid down His life for others to bring many sons unto glory. Like the popular saying ‘those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves’, it is when our pursuits in life have gone beyond self that we can experience real greatness and true fulfillment.
Stop! Take a break and ask ‘What on earth is driving me?’ Are you being driven by selfish ambitions and aspirations? Are you driving on the fast lane that leads to futility? You can make your life count only by what you invest in the lives of others and God’s kingdom. Life is too short brief to hold down! Remember, only one life, no re-run!