Summary: Remember who is in command. The key to victory is our obedience. It comes from faith in God.
The book of Joshua records one of the most remarkable military campaigns in history.
• Moses said in Deut 7 that there are 7 nations in Canaan facing Israel and all of them greater and mightier than them.
• They were called fortified cities because of the massive walls surrounding them.
God led them through 3 phases to the campaign. The first being the attack on Jericho and Ai, situated in the centre of Canaan. [SEE MAP]
• Donald K. Campbell writes: The pattern of divine strategy for the conquest of Canaan was based on geographic factors. From their camp at Gilgal near the Jordan River the Israelites could see steep hills to the west. Jericho controlled the way of ascent into these mountains, and Ai, another fortress, stood at the head of the ascent. If the Israelites were to capture the hill country they must certainly take Jericho and Ai. This would put them on top of the hill country and in control of the central ridge, having driven a wedge between the northern and southern sections of Canaan. Israel could then engage the armies of the South in battle followed by the more remote enemy in the North. But first, Jericho must fall—and it would if Joshua and the people followed the Lord’s plan of action.
[John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, Editors, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Victor Books, Wheaton, 1983,1985, p.340.]
Excavations up to 1997 revealed how the walls were constructed, with an outer wall buffer and a slope embankment. [SEE DIAGRAM]
• It was virtually insurmountable. In ancient warfare, such cities were taken only after a long siege (when they cut off the supply line into the city) and forced the people to surrender out of starvation.
• 6:1 “Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.”
But God said to Joshua: “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.” (6:2)
• “I have delivered” (present perfect tense) –in the Hebrew text it’s in prophetic perfect tense (consider an idiom; no equivalent in English).
• It tells a future event as if it has already happened. Only God can speak in such a way.
God says SEE, I HAVE DELIVERED… How can Joshua be SEEING it?
• God is challenging him to see it with eyes of faith. Take it as done, because I said it!
• We saw Joshua exercising that faith when he called the people to shout – 6:16 “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!”
Their victory was assured by God’s Word. You can have His Word for it. If He said it, considered it done.
• That’s what we believe in – not in ourselves, not in our resources, not in our circumstances, but in the very WORD of God.
• When you are facing insurmountable odds, that’s what we must do. Get back to the Word of God and listen to what God has to say.
REMEMBER WHO IS IN COMMAND
• God is sovereign and He rules. God does not guess; He does not “try his luck”.
Look at the prominence given to the ARK OF THE COVENANT in the march around the city. It shows that this is not Israel’s battle but the Lord’s.
• The priests blowing the trumpets (ram horns; shofars) signify the presence of God. That’s what they do in the Jewish feasts to proclaim God’s presence.
• You have the trumpets blasting away and the people remaining silent. The presence of God is CENTRAL and the people of God completely PASSIVE.
• Israel contributes nothing to the overthrow of Jericho.
When you feel small and outnumbered and overwhelmed, heed the Psalmist’s advice: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10)
• Get back into God’s presence and remind yourself WHO is in command.
The battle plan was highly unusual, to say the least.
• The usual ways of using battering rams (against the gates) or scaling ladders (up the walls) were not used.
• God’s plan of victory was a quiet march under the sound of the rams’ horns.
• One march around the city for six days and on the seventh, seven rounds. And then the trumpets blast and the people shouts.
This was an utterly foolish thing to do from the human point of view.
• I’m sure the soldiers on Jericho’s walls were amused and delighted to hear some live music every day.
• YET - although incomprehensible - Joshua followed God’s instructions to the letter. And the people did the same. They obeyed for all the seven days.
It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to know that the success did not come from their circling the city. There wasn’t any mysterious force about it.