“Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go in or out. But the Lord said to Joshua, ‘I have given you Jericho, its King, and all its mighty warriors. Your entire army is to march around the city once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark of the covenant, each carrying a ram’s horn, on the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the horns, have all the people give a mighty shout. Then the walls of the city will collapse, and the people can charge right in. After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the ram’s horns started marching in the presence of the Lord….
When the people heard the sound of the horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the city from every side and captured it. They completely destroyed everything in it.”
Joshua 6:1-8, 20-21
In any case, war loomed large. The Jordan River had returned to flood stage, turning off all hope for retreat. And In Joshua 5:1 we see that once word got out to the Amorite and Canaanite kings that God had dried up the river so the people of Israel could cross; the people “lost heart and were paralyzed with fear.” Some days I know just how they feel. I’ve lost heart, am full of fear, and feel like the looming large walls of Jericho are right in front of me. And even though the Israelites are laden with fear, Joshua is not. Joshua is one of my favorite men in the Bible. One of two spies out of twelve who come back assured that God will hand over a giant filled land to the Israelites, a newly appointed leader who declares “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”, and serving as a charismatic warrior, he looms larger than life.
And prior to our passage, we find a series of events that take place before God tears down any walls and secures Joshua’s hero status in history. Joshua brings back ceremonial circumcision (Joshua 5:2-11) which was the sign that these were children set apart and children of the covenant God. And then Joshua has an encounter with an angel (Joshua 5:13-15). And not just any angel, but the commander of the Lord’s army. Joshua would need a people consecrated and “all in” to fight the battle looming large in front of him. And he would need the knowledge that the impossible would be possible only because it was the Lord’s army that would fight this battle…. Not his tired, sore, and fear-filled friends.
And you know the rest of the story. They March quietly for six days, and on the seventh day (7 is the number of completeness), they March around seven times, cry out and walls come tumbling. There can be no doubt that it is indeed The Lord who crumbles and captures this city and Not men. Throughout scripture, God’s people wander, disobey, forget, remember, and forget again, but God NEVER wanders and NEVER forgets. We’ve said that faith is not what saves you, but the object of your faith, God. However remarkable, commendable, and inspiring the faith of the Israelites were; the walls don’t crumble because of their faith…. they crumble because they believed in a Faithful God who demonstrates His glory for their good. The story of Joshua and Jericho’s crumbling walls demonstrates that the story of scripture is indeed about Faith-Filled people, but MOSTLY about a FAITHFUL God! (Read that sentence again!)
I know that some of you have mighty large walls you’re looking at. Maybe, like me, you need to be reminded that although at times I wander, and I forget; God still never wanders and never forgets!! I pray that the story our lives tell is not the story of our ability to have faith, but that our lives proclaim the glory of a FAITHFUL God!!