Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor…” (Joshua 6:2)
For years the people of God were strangers and sojourners, living in a foreign land as slaves and then journeying through a desert without permanent living arrangements. It wasn’t as if they didn’t have land, actually God had promised the land to Abraham hundreds of years before the Exodus. Small problem, they had to get there and then they had to chase all of the people away. One generation died never seeing it and now the next generation stood before the land facing a raging river (with no bridge) and an unconquerable city on the other side of the river. But, we can all relate, there are some obstacles that seem too hard, too complicated and unconquerable for us.
As the journey into the Promise Land began God gave them clear instructions. Get yourself spiritually ready (Joshua 3:5), follow my leading (Joshua 3:3) and take a step of faith (Joshua 3:8). They did and God split a river in order for His people to follow His will. After crossing the Jordan the people of God stood in the shadows of a great city surrounded by a really big wall. Actually, archaeologists tell us that it wasn’t only ONE wall, it was layers of walls.
Jericho was fortified by a 15 foot retaining wall and on top of that was a mud brick wall 6 foot wide, 20 feet tall. At the crest of the wall was another mud brick wall that was roughly 46 feet above ground. Obstacle after obstacle, barrier after barrier staring down at the people of God like a playground bully. God’s battle plan for the defeat of this impenetrable city was rather unique as far as battle field strategies go. His words to Joshua must have been stunning and disconcerting to a guy who had never led an army into battle. “You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” (Joshua 6:3-4). In other words, don’t run toward the city shouting with weapons in the air. Walk around it in quiet obedience for seven days completing 13 circuits and then blow a horn and shout. By most estimates the perimeter of the city was roughly 10 kilometers or 6.1 miles. In seven days, the Israelites would walk approximately 78 miles. You know the rest of the story, they walked and did what the Lord commanded. They walked in quiet obedience for seven days, no shouting, no weapons raised, just patient persistence. By human standards, it made no sense, but it is hard to argue with the results.
The walls came down due to two components, the power of God and the faithful persistent obedience of His people.
As I ponder the application of this event to my own life I am struck with this thought, am I willing to walk in faithful persistent obedience while I wait on the walls to fall? Maybe you find yourself there today. Facing a raging river of frustrations and looking at a wall of impossibilities beyond it. I find myself there today, yet I find great strength in the story of the conquest of Jericho. I want more than anything for God to tear down the walls that I am currently facing. Honestly, I just want to skip the seven days of walking and get right to the horn blowing and shouting. But, that is often not how God works. God wants to see victories, but that is not His highest priority for us. His highest priority is to “conform us to the image of His Son..” (Romans 8:29). Maybe the walls I currently face are there not to keep me away from something, but to lead me closer to Him. He desires to reveal His power at work in me as He conforms me to Christ. For many, those walls can represent suffering, pain and separation.
Most Christians spend their entire life shouting at barriers hoping they fall rather than walking in faithful obedience trusting God to take them down.
Learning to walk in obedience around the walls we currently face will lead to a greater victory because obedience and victory always go together. Hebrews 5:8 tell us that “Although He (Jesus) was a Son, he learned obedience from what He suffered.” 2,000 years ago Jesus walked in obedience. Not around the walls of a city, but in the streets of a city. Yet like the Israelites his walk of obedience also broke through a barrier. And like the Israelites He walked in obedience because His Father told Him to walk. The Israelites walked 78 miles for victory over a city, Jesus walked less than a mile on a road of suffering to bring victory to you.
I am planning to keep walking as I wait on the walls to fall. If the Israelites walked around the city 12 times, stopped and shouted the walls would have remained intact. My encouragement to you is to keep walking, faithfully in patient persistence. God is still in the business of breaking down barriers, but too many of us give up on the walk to soon. A few months before Joshua’s Jericho walk God gave him a great promise through Moses, “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear not be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) I feel certain that as Joshua stared at the walls, he heard those words. I hope that as you stare at walls of impossibilities in your life today, you also will remember those words. You don’t walk alone. As you walk around the walls you have a faithful companion who has promised to walk with you.