IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: AND THE WALLS OF JERICHO CAME TUMBLING DOWN!
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.”
In the Christian life there can be no victory
until first of all there is a battle. There can be no
crown until first of all there has been a conquest.
We are studying about victory in the Lord as given to
us in this beautiful Old Testament picture of Israel
taking the land of Canaan. They have crossed the
river Jordan because of the great miracle of God.
They are now poised in land preparing to invade the
city of Jericho. What you have here is a brilliant
military strategy. The strategy is going to be to
drive a wedge right through the middle of Canaan,
separating the northern and the southern sections.
Jericho was a very pivotal city. If the city of
Jericho could be taken, if it could fall, then the
rest of the land could be taken as well. So, you have
a masterpiece of military strategy.
It is a brilliant example of the use of
psychological warfare in battle as well. We see the
elements of fear, surprise and swift movement. The
question may be raised – why in the world are we
spending any time at all studying an ancient Old
Testament account of military strategy. The Bible
tells us that the Christian life is like a battle. We
sing songs for instance about the Christian life in
that context. We sing: “Onward Christian soldiers,
marching as to war.” We sing: “Am I a soldier of the
cross.” Of course, we read in the Bible about this
same terminology. The Bible says we are to endure
hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. The Bible
says we are to war a good warfare.
In one way you could really say that the whole
theme of the Bible is warfare. For instance, in the
third chapter of Genesis when sin invaded the human
experience, God said to Satan, “I will put enmity
between thy seed and the woman’s seed.” From there on
you have the account in the Bible of God’s battle
against sin, Satan …
If you ever visit the Holy Land, you will no doubt visit the remains of the ancient city of Jericho. To get there you either travel down through the mountains from Jerusalem or you take the River Road coming south from the Sea of Galilee, running parallel to the Jordan River. The city itself is located not far from the river, an important point to keep in mind when you read the story of Joshua’s amazing conquest. The Canaanites built Jericho as a kind of “gateway fortress” to their land. Any invading enemy would have to deal with the great walled city of Jericho. You could not simply bypass it. Jericho was too large and too strong to be ignored.
What was Jericho to Joshua and the people of God?
A city of pagan unbelief.
A city of strategic importance.
A city of human impossibility.
All three are crucial. Pagan unbelief must be confronted head on. The corrupt Canaanite religion with its emphasis on idolatry and immorality could never coexist with the true worship of God. It must be confronted and defeated. Thus the city had a spiritual importance and a military importance. And because the walls were so high that they seemed to reach to the sky (Deuteronomy 9:1), the city must be completely defeated or the Jews would never be safe.
In the last 140 years archaeologists have done an enormous amount of research on the ruins of ancient Jericho. We now know that the city Joshua saw actually had two walls, an inner wall and an outer wall, both built on a slope, making it virtually impregnable to any attacking army.
If God is the real hero of this story-and he is-then we face another question. Why did God have the people march around the city for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day? It’s not as if their marching somehow destabilized the stones in the wall. It is, I think, a lesson about the power of God on one hand and the need for perseverance on our part. God has so ordered the moral universe that he responds to our faith when it is actually put to work. It’s not passive faith that he honors, but active faith, living faith, faith with shoe leather, faith that actually does something.
If you read the rest of Joshua 6, you discover that God’s promises do not equal inactivity. Read it all and you will discover . . .
Diligent preparation (vv. 6-7).
Careful discipline (v. 10).
Patient repetition (v. 14).
Audacious exultation (v. 20).
Complete obedience (v. 21).
Intentional compassion (vv. 23-25)
Think about this for a moment. God could have said, “Sit tight. Don’t do anything. I’ll knock over the walls and destroy the city myself.” Is there any problem with that? No, not really. God is fully able to work with or without human means. But his normal plan is to use people to accomplish his purposes. So even though God caused the walls to fall down, the people still had to march, they still had to shout, and when the falls fell down, they still had to take the city, fighting door to door.
And this is the precise point the writer of Hebrews wants us to understand. “By faith” the walls fell down. How do we know it was “by faith”? Because the people of God put their faith into practice by marching around the city day after day after day.
And so we can sum up the lessons of this story in one final statement. The walls fell because of . . .
V. Faith That Acted in Spite of Any Doubts.
Let me give you the best definition of faith I’ve ever heard. Faith is belief plus unbelief and acting on the belief part. We all know that belief is involved in faith. You have to believe something before you can have faith. If you go to a doctor, you must believe he can help you. If you don’t believe, you’ll never go in the first place. Before you step into an elevator, you’ve got to believe it will hold you up. If you don’t believe, you’ll end up taking the stairs. So belief is always the first part of faith. It is the conviction that certain things are true.
Unfortunately, some people stop their definition of faith right there. They think faith is belief plus nothing else. Faith to them is pure belief without any mixture of doubt. That’s okay as long as you stay in your house, in your bed, and under the covers. But in this world, it’s hard to arrive at 100% certainty. You hope the doctor can help you, but you could get worse and not better. You hope the elevator will hold you up, but maybe the cable has gone bad.
In this world, it’s hard to arrive at 100% certainty.
People who truly believe that faith means 100% certainty are paralyzed. They are waiting for something that will never happen. In truth, there is always unbelief mixed in with our belief. You see it best in the big decisions of life. You get a good job offer in another part of the country. It’s a great opportunity, but you don’t want to move. You are stuck in your present job, but the kids are happy in school. Your wife doesn’t want to move, but you’ve found twice the house for half the money. You think you should, but some of your friends aren’t sure. Late at night you lie awake tossing and turning, first going one way and then going another.
That’s reality. You don’t have 100% certainty and you don’t know of any way to get 100% certainty. You think so, you hope so, you pray for guidance, you seek counsel, you write it all down, you wait for a lightning bolt from heaven but it never comes.
You think it didn’t take faith to march around Jericho for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day? God told them that the walls would fall down, but they still had to do the marching. That’s “acting on the belief part.”
Stalling by Faith
What is faith? In the big decisions of life, faith is not waiting for 100% certainty. Faith is wavering between belief and unbelief, doubt and assurance, hope and despair, and finally, hesitantly, with your heart in your hands, acting on the belief part.
Let me put this very clearly. Many people think “living by faith” means staying over in the “Belief” column until you get certainty. But that almost never happens. That’s not “living by faith;” That’s “stalling by faith.”
Living by faith means acting on the belief part. It means taking a step of faith, however small, however halting, however unsure of yourself you may be. And in that light we can understand this story even more clearly.
The Hebrews marched around the walls once a day for seven days. Can you imagine the scene? Thousands of Jews line up the first day to march around the city. In front are the priests with the Ark of the Covenant. They march around blowing their rams’ horns. Inside the pagans are scared to death.
Nothing happens. The next day the Jews march around again. And nothing happens. On the third day they march around continuously same way until the seventh day.
And in one miraculous moment, “the walls came a tumblin’ down.”
That’s it. That’s how faith works. Don’t you think there were some doubters? Don’t you think there were some critics? Don’t you think there was some grousing in the ranks? Probably. Complaining seems to be part of human nature. These are real people who are tramping around in the hot sand day
after day. It’s hot and nasty and extremely frustrating.
But they did it. That’s “acting on the belief part.” And when they took the step of faith, God honored it and the walls of Jericho fell to the ground.
“There are three stages in most great tasks undertaken for God: Impossible . . . Difficult . . . Done.” Here’s one thing you learn whenever you start to do anything for the Lord. It won’t be as easy as you think. The fact that you are doing it for the Lord seems to make no difference at all.
But often God lets us struggle and sweat so that we learn to trust in him at a deeper level than ever before.
It’s not hard to see why we think that way. After all, when we work for God, our motives are lifted to a higher plane. We search the Scriptures, we seek godly counsel, we pray for guidance, and we believe that God is pleased with our efforts.
And still things move slowly. What we thought would take weeks takes months. And sometimes months turn into years. Enthusiasm lags, we feel stuck in the mud, the curious become skeptical and critical, and doubt takes dead aim at our faith.
Why should it be so? Couldn’t the Lord set it up another way? The answer that he could—and sometimes he does. But often God lets us struggle and sweat so that we learn to trust in him at a deeper level than ever before.
Most of us spend most of our days looking at a wall of impossibility. The bad news is that it really is impossible. The good news is that God loves to start with impossibility.
When God wants to do something big, he starts with something very small.
When he wants to do the miraculous, he starts with the impossible.
The real battle of Jericho was not with the Canaanites. The real battle was in the hearts of the people of God.
Joshua and JESUS:
The name Joshua means “God saves” in Hebrew. In Greek it was shortened to “Jesus” or “Savior.”
Our text tells us that it was “by faith” the mighty walls of Jericho fell to the ground. But how will we face and conquer our own walls of impossibility? Where do we find the faith? If we move on to Hebrews 12, we find the answer very clearly. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (v. 2). He is the author and finisher of our faith. He starts it and he finishes it. He’s the Captain of our salvation. Just keep your eyes on him.
And do you know the Old Testament name for Jesus? It’s Joshua! That’s right. The name Joshua means “God saves” in Hebrew. In Greek it was shortened to “Jesus” or “Savior.” The Old Testament Joshua points us to the Lord Jesus Christ who leads his people to victory.
Keep your eyes on him!
Look to Jesus!
Follow him wherever he leads!
When Jesus leads the way, the walls must come tumbling down. This is the word of the Lord. Amen.
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