Summary: The third of a three part series, ‘Do You Believe?
(Slide 1) We are going to play a couple of rounds of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors,’ okay? Here are the rules, paper takes rock, scissors takes paper, and rock takes scissors. Find a partner or couple of partners, Ready?
(Three to five rounds are played.) Now, I have to ask, why does paper take rock, scissors takes paper, and rock takes scissors? Does it make any sense to you?
I recently watched an episode of a show on the History channel called ‘Dogfight’ that featured the story of two propeller driven aircraft called ‘Skyraiders’ shooting down a jet powered aircraft, a MiG -17, over North Vietnam.
Everything about the story would leave you to believe that the Skyraider pilots had absolutely no chance to shoot down the fast and sleek jet let alone get away. But they did!
Our text today has the Israelites playing a larger game of rock, paper, scissors while in the role, I believe, of a Skyraider pilot. Faith and discipline enter into this story and it is a story that we find fascinating and perhaps implausible because the Israelites use what appears to be an unconventional approach as they attempt to defeat a well-entrenched enemy.
Do you believe that when God puts something in your hand and life and then gives you an impossible task He will also help you accomplish it in His way? That’s what happened to the Israelites!
After 40 years of wondering around because of their lack of faith in and obedience to God to enter the Promised Land that their father Abraham had been given, they finally crossed the Jordan River and began to take possession of it. It was a great moment for the ancient Israelites! Finally they were beginning to possess what God had given to them as well as becoming the great nation He had planned for them to become.
But, there was a challenge, a problem: What to do about the people that already lived there?
Now this is where some people have a problem with God and with the Bible because the solution to the problem was to get rid of them by killing them and destroying their property. How could people do that in the name of God?
It would take awhile to give you a good reason (and there is one) so to make a long story short, God could not stand the way that they were living and what they were doing to themselves and especially their children. They were unholy and God demands that we become holy.
So, the Israelites prepare for battle and their first attack would take place against the city of Jericho. According to Bible scholars, the walls of Jericho stood 25 feet tall and were probably 20 feet thick. So it was a formidable target.
How would the attack take place? A frontal assault using Israel’s best troops? A veiled movement that would have the enemy guessing as to which direction they would come from?
No, it would be a 7 day march with a total of 13 trips completely around the town… with only the sound of horns being blown. Huh?
For six days they marched. Then on the 7th day, they marched seven times around the city with horns blowing and then after completing the seven laps on the final day, Joshua commanded them to shout!
They did and the walls came down and the town was captured and occupied. But they did so without weapons but with faith.
In Joshua 5:13-15 we read, ‘As Joshua approached the city of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man facing him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am commander of the Lord’s army.”
At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for this is holy ground.” And Joshua did as he was told.’
Then in chapter 6 beginning at verse 1 we read; ‘Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go in or out. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its mighty warriors. Your entire army is to march around the city once a day for six days.
Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the horns, have all the people give a mighty shout. Then the walls of the city will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the city.’