Summary: The faith of the people builds day after day and God through the faith of his people God brings the wall down. They thought they were just walking around the city,that they were just being useless, – but God was using that time to build up their faith.
Our tour bus arrived in the downtown square, we all piled out as tourists do, things seemed a little tense with the locals, they gave us the eye and went back to their business. We walked up this steep dusty dirt hill, void of any vegetation, just a lot of dirt and rock. Even though it was early Spring, it was blazing hot and the short hike to the top of the hill got us all winded. As we reached the top, our professor guide announce, “Here we are: the ancient city of Jericho!”
We all looked around, “Where is it?
All we could see was a high mound of dirt with some excavation trenches dug here and there. We were stunned. All the other ancient cities we had seen on our visit to the holy land were being rebuilt so you could get an idea of how things appeared in the day. A rebuilt wall here a broken down building there, a bit of stone walkway – something to allow you to get a grasp of what the place was like. But here in Jericho, pretty much a pile of dirt in the middle of one very hot and remote place.
Jericho is located at one of the lowest points in elevation for any city in the world – 800 feet below sea level, about seven miles north of the dead sea. It is located at a strategic point at the base of a pass through very rugged terrain into the State of Israel, it is the gateway to the promise land. Located on a dry desert plain, even today, Jericho is an isolated and unforgiving place.
This is what the people of Israel faced after wandering for 40 years in the desert: Jericho, a small but imposing fortress that loomed over the people as they approached it. Verse one and two tell us that the gates were tightly shut and inside was an army that was ready and waiting – and there is no doubt that this army had seen plenty of action. What Scripture is pointing out to us right here is this – The people of Israel face an absolutely impossible situation, there is no way this group of rag tag people can take this city, and everyone in the city and outside the city knows it.
Today as we look at this story of the city of Jericho, let’s keep in mind that this is not just another story about God doing the impossible, God has done the impossible for Israel over and over again, we have seen that; This is a story about HOW God the uses the growing faith of his people, and that is very practical and very applicable to our lives today.
This is a story of how God works in our lives. See, God has brought us this far in our lives. Like the people of Israel, He has chosen you to follow Him, learn His ways, and do His will. He is not going to let things fall apart on us now. When we read this story, we experience everything being resolved very quickly and we can see all the details right in front of us, the march the trumpets, the walls coming down, but when the Israelites experience the event, they know very few details, and things for them, move along at a snails pace.
Joshua and the people have to stick to God’s plan in order to succeed….except ,the reality is, wouldn’t it be difficult to accept the plan God gave them? God’s plan here is rather, unconventional at best, isn’t it? Think about this: The people, in their hearts, are not so sure seven days will do it; They do not know for sure that the walls will fall down (I’m sure they were as surprised and the inhabitants of Jericho); They do not know why all this walking around is helping things out; They do not know how they will attack if in fact the walls do fall down, you know, in their minds, they do not know exactly what the final outcome will be. Details are missing. God tells them what the outcome will be, He tells them how long it will take, and He tells them what the result will be, but you know, it just doesn’t make sense, does it?
You know what, just like us, they have no real idea of what tomorrow will bring. The people of Israel don’t know much of anything….but they do know this: God is very real, He is a very real presence in their lives – they may not fully understand what is going on but they can be sure of one thing – God will see them through.
Now, the Israelites have to take the city of Jericho, they have to take these important crossroads. If they bypass the city, they will be attacked from behind. You can imagine how the Israelites felt when after crossing the Jordan river they come upon this looming fortress and this is what they would have seen: Jericho was built upon a mound with earthen embankments sloping up to the city from a dry mote encircling the city. The city had two walls, the first had a 15’ high base of stone topped with an 8’ brick wall, about the height of a two story house. The second wall, behind the first was 15’ higher, making it about three stories tall. These two walls had a sloping rampart in between them for the army to stand and fight. People also built houses on this rampart making the walls seem even higher. Those walls must have looked large as they gazed on this city on a hill.