Summary: “Without God man cannot. Without man God will not.” God is a user of means, and men are His major means, and the marching of men is one of those means. It is one of the ways we cooperate with God to make a difference.
We don’t sing Onward Christian Soldiers marching as to war very much
any more, for we seldom see the relevance of being soldiers of the cross
fighting the forces of darkness. Marching seems irrelevant also, for even in
the military world the real force is now in the air and on the sea. The
firepower of missiles and bombs makes marching to war less vital. But the
fact is, marching has been the key to effective warfare all through history.
George Washington won the war for Independence by much marching.
On one occasion when the British were strung out over 12 miles
Washington asked his war council what they should do. General Charles Lee
urged them to wait, but younger men urged him to attack. Washington took
the counsel of the younger men, and his Continental Army marched out of
Valley Forge onto the trail of the British. The pipers lit into Yankee Doodle,
and the sergeants called out marching orders. With precision the American
forces marched against a superior foe, and they dwell them such a blow that
the British never again underestimated their American opponents.
There was much marching yet to do, but Washington motivated his men
to never stop marching until they forced the British to surrender and leave
this land free and independent. If you study the history of warfare, you will
discover that many, if not most, of the great victories that have changed the
course of history were decided by the marching men. In our age the march
has been the key to victories in the civil rights battles. Martin Luther King
Jr. changed the history of our nation by means of marches.
In 1965 black people in Alabama could not register to vote. King led a
large group marching to the courthouse to register. He and 2 thousand other
blacks were put in jail. When a black man was shot and killed by a state
trooper, King called for a march to the state capital in Montgomery.
Governor Wallace forbid such a march, but King defied the order. The state
police attacked the marchers and sent 70 to the hospital. King did not back
down, but he ordered another march. This time 400 white ministers, priests
and rabbis from all over the United States joined the march. One of them
died in the march, and the nation was shocked. President Johnson and the
courts got involved, and congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Marching won for blacks the right to vote without being hampered, and that
victory has changed the whole complexion of government in the U. S. Ever
since that victory, marching has been a means by which the masses get their
message out to the world. If enough people care enough about an issue to
march it is a powerful witness for their perspective.
As we look at the march around Jericho that led to the opening victory in
Israel’s conquering of the Promise Land, we see that the march was basically
just that-a witness. The march did not have any military value, for it did not
take the marchers anywhere but around the city. It did not give Israel the
advantage of a surprise attack, for it was done in broad daylight with the
enemy watching. From a military viewpoint this was the most futile march in
the history of warfare. It may have been a great idea for a parade, but it was
worthless strategy for taking a walled city. The enemy, no doubt, had a good
many hearty laughs at Israel’s war games. It was more like entertainment as
they watched the march and listened to the trumpets. The daily parade had to
be the talk of the town, and everybody in Jericho had to have seen it at least
once. You can just imagine the mockery the citizens of Jericho hurled out at
It was probably very embarrassing for fighting men to march around the
city instead of building battering rams, catapults and ladders, which was the
normal preparation for taking a walled city. It was not that it was a hard
task to do, for Jericho was only about 9 acres of coverage, and so it took only
about 25 to 35 minutes to march around it. These people had been marching
for 40 years in the wilderness, and so a half hour a day for one more week
was a snap. But the question is, why could God want His people to march like
this when it was obvious to all that it had no effect on the situation? The
answer to that question is what makes the march for Jesus a relevant activity
for Christians in our day. Why does God want His people to march? First of