Summary: Most of the time, the Hebrew people haven't demonstrated a lot of faith. In the wilderness, they were constantly murmuring, but in this text, God speaks of their faith.
“The Faith of the People”
When you think about the Hebrew people that Moses led through the wilderness for 40 years, you don’t think of them as being “faith people.” And, they really weren’t.
The Bible tells us that all those, who were over 20 yrs old at the time the 12 spies went in to check out that Canaan was a good land, and they refused to enter the promised land, died in the wilderness. Even faithful Moses had died, and Joshua had taken over the leadership position.
Now, Joshua goes in with a new group. They had been with the old group for 40 years in the wilderness, and they had seen what God had done, and I can imagine they had a holy fear of God, and a confidence that whatever God said, He would do.
Faith of the Old Group
But, it was the “old group” that v29 talks about. I don’t know that we can give them a great deal of credit, because Pharaoh and the Egyptian army were in right behind them, coming to kill them, and the Red Sea was in front of them.
Moses told them to “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” What else could they do? Then, when Moses lifted that rod out toward the sea, God caused a huge wall of water to form on two sides, and He opened up a path way for them, so that they could cross on “dry land.”
Yet, the Bible says, right here in Hebrews 11, that “they crossed over by faith.” Perhaps, their human logic caused them to be tempted to surrender to the Egyptians, to attempt throw themselves on the mercy of Pharaoh. But they had seen what God had done back in Egypt through the ten plagues. All of these plagues were designed to show them the superiority of the Lord God of Heaven over the nature gods of Egypt. So, when Moses pointed to that pathway between those walls of water and said, “Go forth,” by faith they went forth.
Exodus 14:17-18 tells us something else about this. Verse 18 says that God got Himself honor upon Pharaoh and the Egyptian army “that the Egyptians might know that God is the Lord!”
Was God interested in the Egyptians? Did He care about them? Of course He did. A very strong biblical case can be made that the reason God placed His people in Canaan was so that they would be in that strategic “land bridge” between Asia and Africa, and they could be His missionary people to the world. They failed, but God didn’t give up His interest and His plan for the world. Today, the church is His missionary people to show the world the greatness and goodness of God.
Faith of the New Group
In verse 30, it was this younger group, those who had been under 20 years old 40 years earlier, that Joshua led into Jericho.
It’s pretty easy to see their faith. They were told to go in and march around the massive city wall of Jericho for seven days playing instruments of music. Such a thing was unheard of, going into enemy territory without weapons, just playing music. But that’s what God said do, and that’s what they did.
I can imagine that the first day, the people of Jericho were both puzzled and amused by these Hebrew people marching around their wall. They probably watched them pretty closely the first couple of days, because they had known for some time that they were out there, and that they were coming. They probably had their big weapons on the wall, but those people looked so silly marching around playing music that they just let them go. Sometimes, it is through our looking silly to the unsaved world, and maybe even to ourselves, that God brings us into great victory. One of our big draw backs to going down the church isle and publicly declaring what God is doing in our heart, is our fear of looking silly.
I suspect after a few days, and certainly by the seventh day, they pretty much stopped paying attention to them. It was just a joke to the people of Jericho, and they had likely gone on about they business. But the wisdom of God is always foolishness to the unsaved, unbelieving world.
Now, the text says “by faith the walls of Jericho fell.” On that last time around, Joshua turned to the people and said, “Shout, for this day the city of Jericho is delivered into your hands.” When Joshua said that, the walls were still standing just like they had been for many years. But by faith, the people gave a shout of victory, and down came the walls.