LESSONS FROM JOSHUA AT JERICHO
by Jeff Hagan
The story of the walls of Jericho falling down, recorded in Joshua 6:1-27, is one that truly demonstrates the miraculous power of God. But more than that, the complete destruction of Jericho teaches us several important truths regarding God’s grace and our salvation.
The people of Israel had just crossed over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan (Josh.3:14-17). This was the land of "milk and honey" God had promised to Abraham over 500 years earlier (Duet. 6:3; 32:49). After spending forty difficult years wandering in the desert, the people of Israel were now on the banks of the Jordan River. Their challenge now was to take the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. However, their first obstacle was the city of Jericho an impregnable, walled city.
The strategy to conquer the city of Jericho was unique in two ways. First, the strategy was laid out by God Himself, and, second, the strategy seemed to be silly, perhaps even ridiculous. God simply told Joshua to have the people march silently around the city for six days, and then, after seven times around on the seventh day, to shout.
Although it was seemingly foolish, Joshua obeyed God’s instructions in detail. When the people did finally shout, the enormous walls collapsed instantly, and Israel won an easy victory. In fact, God had given the city of Jericho to them before they even began to march around its walls (Josh. 6:2, 16). However, it was when the people of God, by faith, obeyed the commands of God that the walls of Jericho fell down (Josh 6:20).
I believe the description of the complete destruction of Jericho was recorded in Scripture to teach, not just give us history, and provides lessons for or us. Arguably the most important lesson being obedience. Even when God’s commands seem ridiculous, obedience is what brings us through. When we are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, we must learn that our "Jericho victories" are overcome only when our faithful obedience to God is complete (Heb. 5:9; 1 John 2:3; 5:3).
There are some other important lessons we can learn from this incident. First, there is a massive difference between God’s way and the way of man (Isa. 55:8-9). Even though the military strategy to assault Jericho in the way it was done seemed irrational, we should not question God’s purpose or instructions. We need to have faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do (Heb 10:23; 11:1).
Second, God's power is supernatural, it's beyond our ability to fully understand (Ps. 18:13-15; Dan. 4:35; Job 38:4-6). The walls of Jericho came "a tumbin' down," and they came down instantly. The walls collapsed by nothing other than the power of God.
Third, there is an unbreakable relationship between the grace of God and our faith and obedience to Him. Scripture says, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” (Heb. 11:30). Although their faith had repeatedly failed in the past, in this case the children of Israel believed and trusted God and His promises. As they were saved by faith, so we are today saved by faith (Rom. 5:1; John 3:16-18). But that faith was evidenced by obedience. The promise was conditional. The children of Israel had faith, they obeyed, and the walls of Jericho fell “by faith” after they were circled for seven straight days. Saving faith drives us to obey God (Matt. 7:24-29; Heb. 5:8-9; 1 John 2:3-5).
This incident also tells us that God keeps His promises (Josh. 6:2, 20). The walls of Jericho fell because God said they would. God’s promises to us today are just as certain. They are "exceedingly great and wonderfully precious" (Heb. 6:11-18; 10:36; Col. 3:24).
Finally, we should learn that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). It is not enough to say, “I believe in God,” and then live in an ungodly fashion. If we truly believe God, our desire is to obey God. Our faith is put to work. We make every effort to do what God says, to obey Him. Joshua and the Israelites carried out the commands of God and conquered Jericho. God gave them victory over an enemy that was trying to keep them out of the Promised Land. So it is with us today: if we have true faith, we are driven to obey God, and God gives us victory over the enemies that we face in life. Obedience is the clear evidence of faith. Our faith is the evidence to others that we truly believe in Him. We can conquer and be victorious in life by living out out faith, a faith that obeys the God who gives us that faith as a free gift (Eph. 2:8-9).