By Adam Brown –
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days (Hebrews 11:30).
For all the guts and gore of the actual event, the fall of Jericho remains a children’s ministry favourite. Lessons of faith and courage from this episode fill Sunday School classrooms the world over. Indeed, it is easy to imagine the writer of Hebrews assenting of this common application.
The main faith-related point of this narrative is that God won the victory on behalf of Joshua and the Israelites. It was God who caused the walls of Jericho to fall. Israel’s contribution was faith and obedience to the commands of God:
1 Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. 2 And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4 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. 5 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 6:1–5).
We read of Israel’s compliance to these commands in Joshua 6:6-19. What might have seemed like a peculiar military strategy was proven effective. The walls fell and the victory was won:
20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city (Joshua 6:20).
The fact is, walking around the city and blowing trumpets once a day for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day, was not going to win the war, intimidating as it may have been. Moreover, the shouts of the people at the end of all their trumpeting and all their marching did not cause the walls to fall, loud as that may have seemed.
All of this means that these commands were not military strategy at all. Rather, they were tests of faith and obedience. It was the LORD who made the walls fall. The LORD won the victory, just as He promised He would (Deuteronomy 9:3).
The lesson is clear. Each of us is hemmed in by a great wall of sin and depravity. Nothing we do will win us the victory. The walls are too high! The enemy is too strong! Nevertheless, we, like Israel, have the commander of the LORD’s army (Joshua 5:13-15) at our head. Jesus commands the war and wins the victory by the blood of His Cross. At the Cross, the walls that enslaved and entrapped us fell if we but have faith.
Just as Jericho was the beachhead at the front end of Israel’s taking of the Promised Land, so too, our faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the beginning of an eternal inheritance that climaxes in our own resurrection from the dead and entry into the eternal promised land, the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21-22).
Believe. Obey. Take the land.