Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. 2 And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. 3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. 4 Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” 6 So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord.” 7 And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”
8 And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. 9 The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.
12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days.
15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.
Joshua 6: 1-20
Although the story of Joshua is one I’ve heard since childhood, it wasn’t until recently revisiting the scene that I noticed something I hadn’t thought about before. Learning to insert myself into the story is changing the way I read my Bible and has led me to meditate more on the details, the ones included and the ones deliberately left out. In doing so with this passage, I am struck not that God brought the walls of Jericho down, but over the fact the people actually listened to and trusted Joshua with God’s plan of attack that sounded insane!
If you remember correctly, these are the same people who grumbled incessantly throughout their time in the wilderness. When God led them out of Egypt, they complained, even though they wanted to flee. When God provided manna to eat, they were irritated it was the same food day after day. When Moses went up on the mountain to meet with God, they grew rebelliously frustrated that he was gone for so long. Now, however, these same people are told they must be patient and quietly walk around the city for seven days first, and miraculously they do just that.
Isn’t it surprising that they accept this plan so easily? Wouldn't you think, based on their previous track record, they would demand a new leader or devise their own plan? A plan they deemed smarter, quicker or more efficient?
Isn't that what we do? We don't like waiting on God. And, we certainly don't think His plans for our lives are always best. So we grumble, doubt and try to take control, which actually leads us to spin even more out of control!
That is what makes the Israelites amazing. It appears these once impatient, discontent group of complainers are able to learn something throughout their time in the wilderness. (Even if what they learn is temporarily mindfulness, as apparent in the next chapter of Joshua.)
In this moment though, they learn who God is through the wilderness and are enabled to better trust Him. Instead of doubting His plan, trying to take things into their own hands, or control the timing, they submit to what God says is good and best. Therefore, the wilderness God allows them to remain in serves to shape and mold them, to show them more of who He is, and to prove His faithfulness and love!
What great hope this offers for our time in the wilderness. It's not without purpose, even though like the Israelites, we hate it, don't understand it, and find enduring through it very hard. But through the trials, we see more of His character and learn to trust Him better.
I'm seeing this first-hand in our family. This past year was especially challenging for one of our children. It seemed as if the wilderness would never end. Many days felt like we were going in circles around the same struggles we thought had already been dealt with. And, at times we doubted God’s goodness and shook our hands at His plan.
But, He is always working. Working on the heart of this child, and on ours, as He slowly reveals more about who He is for us and who we are in Him. Now we better see that He as the conquering King is knocking down walls and defeating enemies everyday. We can even assent to what He appointed was best. Not a wilderness we want to go through again, but one that gives life-changing perspective.
Sometimes it takes the wilderness to help us to see and to build our trust, just like the mighty men at Jericho. They had great faith but faith given to them by the One they had learned to see as their great deliverer.