Summary: Message on the example of faith seen in Joshua at the battle of Jericho.
There are times when what God tells us to do just doesn’t make sense. It has been this way ever since man first walked on the face of the earth. For example, Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit from the tree in the center of the garden. This just seemed unreasonable to them. Not only did the fruit look appetizing the idea of it being able to increase knowledge was quite attractive. So since God did not seem to makes sense they chose to disobey. Then we see just the opposite in Noah. He just did not get the big picture about God asking him to build 300 foot boat in his backyard. Although God did not make sense Noah obeyed and was saved. Samson could not understand why God told him not to cut his hair. He reasoned that it would not make any difference if a got a new look, so he disobeyed. Samson’s disobedience led to his undoing. By nature we are a people that find it extremely difficult to be submissive. We do not like being told what to do especially when what we are being told sounds completely irrational. When God’s commands do not make sense our faith is really put to the test. It is during these times that it can really be seen if Jesus is the Lord of our lives. The story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho is a powerful example of what can happen when people are willing to obey God, even when His commands do not make any sense.
I. Joshua and a battle strategy that did not make sense.
A. The inhabitants of Jericho were paralyzed by fear of the Israelites and of Israel’s invincible God.
1. After being nomads for forty years because of their disobedience the people seemed ready to obey God unconditionally.
2. In the person of the captain of Yahweh’s host the Lord assured Joshua that “I have given Jericho into your hands.” The king of the city and all his valiant warriors would fall into Joshua’s hands.
3. God always has a better plan. The fall of Jericho would be an act of faith (Hebrews 11:30) as well as an act of God. What a relief those words must have been to Joshua (6:2).
4. God graciously gave Israel the land, but they must make it theirs by obeying faithfully.
B. The people were armed and ready for battle; they had been training the last forty years for this day.
1. God’s instructions to Joshua about the taking of Jericho contain no reference to military strategy but rather indicate that it is essentially to be a ritual ceremony. God’s words consist of an encouraging assurance to Joshua (verse 2), instructions for Israel’s part in the episode (verses 3–5a), and a statement about the amazing results.
2. The ritual nature of the episode is suggested by the absence of any military strategy, by the blowing of the trumpets, by the prominence of the priests and the Ark of the Covenant, by the solemn processionals, and by the prevalence of the number “seven,” which occurs four times in verse 4 alone and fourteen times in the chapter. “Seven” is the number of totality, completion, and perfection in the Scriptures.
3. The plan was simple. The Israelite army was to march around the walls of Jericho every day for six days. Seven priests carrying ram’s horn trumpets were to escort the ark in that procession. On the seventh day the Israelite troops were to march seven times around the walls.
4. Then the priests were to blow their trumpets, and the people were to shout with a great shout. At that moment, God promised, the walls would “fall down flat.” At whatever point in the procession an Israelite soldier might find himself, he would be able to move straight ahead into the city. The protective walls of Jericho would virtually melt away.
C. Obedience to this command required a submissive, humble, trusting spirit.
1. The Israelites began their march around the walls. Given the known size of ancient Jericho—about thirteen acres—a trip around the walls would have only taken about an hour.
2. The Israelites probably felt silly marching around the city and probably looked silly to the citizens of Jericho.
3. We don’t know how God did it, but we do know that when the people shouted and the trumpets blew the walls collapsed and the Israelites marched right in.
4. The humble Israelites were obedient even though God’s instructions seemed unreasonable, and their obedience resulted in victory.
II. Examples of commands that can seem unreasonable that we are required to obey by faith.
A. We are commanded to put our faith in Christ for salvation, not our good works which is contrary to all human reason.