Summary: Last week I talked about what led up to the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. Today we fast forward 40 years to Moses' successor, Joshua and the next generation of Israelites as they travel into the land of Promise-Canaan.
IT TAKES FAITH (part ten)
Hebrews 11:30-The fall of Jericho
INTRODUCTION: Last week I talked about what led up to the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. By faith Moses approached Pharaoh to tell him to let his people go and by faith he and the Israelites passed through the Red Sea on dry ground. And we saw in Sunday school that although the Israelites had faith it wasn't perfect as shortly thereafter they were grumbling and complaining. Today we fast forward 40 years to Moses' successor, Joshua and the next generation of Israelites as they travel into the land of Promise-Canaan.
1) "You want us to do what?"
Jericho was the first major city standing in the way of the Israelites establishing themselves in the land of Canaan. The 40 year desert wanderings were over, Moses had passed away, Joshua had taken over and now it was time to march into the Promised Land.
But they would have to overtake the current inhabitants. So Joshua sent out some spies to assess the situation. They ran into a woman named Rahab (more on her next week). She revealed to the spies that the people of Jericho had heard about God parting the Red Sea and what happened to the Egyptians and the Israelites' success in their other conquests and they were afraid.
Joshua 6:1-5, "Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark.
On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”
Here we see God commanding Joshua to do something very odd. They're not going to proceed with a typical militaristic strategy, they're not getting ready to storm the gates; they're being asked to simply march. March around the city for a week and blow their horns; that's it.
Imagine what reaction you would have if this was the battle strategy you were given to conquer a city. I'd be like, "Now, let me see if I got this straight. No siege, no sneak attack, no charging in, no storming in and busting through, just march around and blow some horns and the walls are going to collapse? Okay, yeah; sounds reasonable enough."
I can imagine Joshua being a little apprehensive to communicate this to his leaders to relay to the troops. "These guys are going to think I've lost it. They might even remove me from my command; saying I'm putting everyone's lives at risk and I'm not fit to lead anymore."
But Joshua did go forward with the plan and everyone got behind him.
2) Obeying the odd command.
Joshua 6:6-10, "So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the LORD and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the people, “Advance! March around the city, with the armed guard going ahead of the ark of the LORD.”
When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the LORD went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the LORD'S covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark.
All this time the trumpets were sounding. But Joshua had commanded the people, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!”
Joshua trusted God that this unconventional method would work. It took faith for Joshua to accept and move forward with this command and it took faith for the troops to get in line with their leader and move forward with the seemingly preposterous plan.
It's interesting that Joshua emphasizes for the people to not make any war cry, raise their voices or even say a word before it was time to. They had to resist doing what they would've naturally been inclined to do in this situation. They had to refrain from doing what made sense to do; the action they would've felt compelled to take in a battle situation.
When our faith is tested, we will need to resist doing what we would normally, instinctively do. Faith challenges us to do things in an unconventional and unpredictable way. Faith challenges us to believe things will happen in unconventional ways (like the walls collapsing). This challenges us to believe that God will do it instead of us trying to make something happen ourselves.