Many of us are familiar with the story of Joshua, the Israelites, and the Walls of Jericho. Indeed, it has become a popular prayer on the tongue of many a Christian. The prayer is usually declaration of the removal of any obstacle in our lives that is preventing us from reaching, receiving or attaining something, and it usually follows along the lines of “may all of the walls of Jericho in our lives fall down, In the name of Jesus”. To which all who hear, shout a resounding “Amen”.
What many have failed to realize in that story is that something significant happened in order for those walls to come tumbling down. And by “something” I am not simply referring to the “shout” of the Israelites upon the conclusion of their 7th march around the city.
Joshua 6 gives the full account of the event, and the events that led to “the Event”. But it is the events that led up to “The Event” that I want us to take note of.
Joshua 6:2-16 says:
And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD. And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD. And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp. And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
There was a specific way that the Lord asked that this mission be carried out. He gave very specific instructions on what was to be done. Not only in how many times they were to march around the city; not only in that they were not to make any sound with their voices during the 1st 6 marches, one march each day for 6 days, but for the sound of the trumpets; not only in that after the 7th march of the 7 marches on that 7th day, and the long sounding of the trumpets, at Joshua’s command, only then were they to shout a mighty shout, but God gave them the order in which they were to line up. He was very specific in that 7 priests were to bear the Ark of the Covenant. They were to follow behind another 7 priests who carried and blew the trumpets made of ram’s horns. An armed man was to go before the 7 Priests who blew the trumpets, and another armed man following behind the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant.
This exact instruction was given through the Angel of God, directly to Joshua.
Joshua then gave the exact instruction to the priests and the people, who in turn, obeyed the instruction exactly as it was given to them.
As a result, verse 20 says:
So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
For the sake of contrast, let us examine another part of this story.
Even after the fall of the wall, in the course of taking the city, the Lord, again, gave very specific instructions to the people of Israel.
Joshua 6:17-19 & 7:1 tells us:
And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.
After the fall of Jericho, Joshua and the children of Israel were riding the tide of their victory in the strength of the Lord. Which is why what happened soon after left Joshua very confused and in despair.
Joshua 7:2-9 says:
And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?
To which the Lord responded with:
And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. (Joshua 7:10-12)
The Lord had specifically ordered that the only live souls to be spared in Jericho be Rahab, the prostitute, who hid the spies of Israel and those who were in her household. Likewise, the only other thing that was to be taken from Jericho was the silver, gold and the vessels of brass and iron. Those were consecrated unto the Lord, and were to be put into the treasury of the Lord. But, one person disobeyed. Just one person! Who did not do it exactly as God had commanded. Therefore, because of the partial disobedience of one person, the Lord withdrew His hand of protection from an entire people!
When you read further in that chapter, you will see that it was not until that person admitted to what he did, returned the items that he had disobediently taken, and was thereafter stoned to death and burned (he and his entire household including his cattle), did the Lord now restore His Hand over the people of Israel.
When the Lord gives specific instruction, brethren, it is important that we follow that instruction.
He is a merciful and compassionate God. But let us not forget, that He is also a consuming fire.
For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)
Moses and the Israelites had to obey a series of instructions leading up to their exodus from Egypt. But even as the exodus began, instructions still came. The Lord said in Exodus 14:2:
Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so.
The Lord specifically instructed them to go in the direction of the Red Sea, knowing that He would harden the heart of Pharaoh who in turn would go after them and believe that based on where they were headed, they would be trapped.
Moses was not privy to the manner of miracle that the Lord was about to perform. Yet, he did not argue. He simply obeyed.
God could have caused an earthquake to happen that could have torn down the walls of Jericho. God could have instructed the Israelites to take a path which would have led them around the Red Sea, or He could have caused Pharaoh and his army to not come after them. Instead, He instructed the leaders, Joshua and Moses, respectively, who in turn instructed the people of Israel into a course of action, to which their obedience to His instruction not only brought them face to face with what appeared to be an insurmountable predicament, but that instruction, and the precise obedience of that instruction, brought them to their deliverance.
It was God who tore down the walls of Jericho. It was God who parted the Red Sea for the people of Israel to walk through. But He did it only after they obeyed His instruction.
We cry to God everyday for one need or another. One miracle or another. We ask Him to “tear down the walls of Jericho in our lives”, or “to part the Red Seas in our lives”. But let us honestly ask ourselves a question. Have we obeyed His every instruction on that which we are seeking from Him? Do we ask while standing still or are we moving in faith and obedience. The Israelites were on the banks of the Red Sea when God parted it. Joshua and his men were right outside the walls of Jericho when the Lord brought it crashing down.
Are you a million miles away from what it is that you are seeking from God?
Are you arguing, rationalizing, negotiating, or flat out disobeying every instruction from the Holy Spirit that is supposed to move you to the banks/walls of your deliverance? Just because it doesn’t seem to make sense, or it seems difficult, or because it’s an action that you are not accustomed to?
Every thing that has to do with the expectation of a move from God, comes with instruction from God. This is the time, brethren. Today is the precise time in our lives when we have to be a Moses; be a Joshua, and seek the face of God. We must pray, fervently and continuously. We must meditate on His Word, in thought and deed. We must learn to recognize His voice and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, we must heed the instruction that the Spirit gives to us. Because it is only in total obedience to God that we place ourselves in the right place, at His right time, to receive our deliverance. The deliverance that only He can provide.
It is my prayer that as we continue our spiritual journey during this season of Lent, that the Lord teach us how to recognize his voice, and that He give us the strength, the courage to mind His instruction, in every aspect of our lives.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
As always, please, share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.
The handmaid at His feet.