Doing God's Work God's Way
In the conquest of Jericho, the tactics employed by the Israelites must have seemed stupid and ridiculous beyond words to the people of Jericho. The silence itself must have been almost unbearable. Ordinarily when men went into battle, they would make a great noise with the hope of unnerving the foe. But there was just the silent march of the soldiers and the priest with the Ark of the Covenant and the people following behind. The sound of the marchers was broken only by the blaring of the seven rams horn’s.
At the end of each march the walls of Jericho looked the same as they had when the march began. The same was true on the seventh day after the city had been encircled seven times. But a remarkable change was about to take place.
In Joshua 6:12 we read: “And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.” Early rising on the part of Joshua was important. There was a need for strength. And early meeting with the Lord was essential. Even in the wilderness the people had learned that in order to gather manna, they had to do it early in the morning. This is a very practical lesson for us with regard to spiritual warfare. We need to put on the whole armour of God each day before we enter into the daily conflict. We must read the Scriptures carefully before we go into battle, using Ephesians 6:10 and the verses following as a guide.
It is always good to remember that we must do God’s work each day in the way God intends us too. Instructions in this realm are found in Proverbs 3:5-7. The passage says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” We need this type of heart attitude just as Joshua needed it in considering the taking of Jericho. God has a particular method for the Israelites to follow, so implicit obedience to his instructions was essential.
The city of Jericho was to fall as a result of a conquest of faith. We learn in Hebrews 11:30—“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” All the battles Israel fought were to be fought by faith, just as our our spiritual battles are to be fought and won by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The whole work of God in taking the land of Canaan, symbolic of our spiritual warfare, is a conquest of faith, not arms. It is true that Israelites used weapons, but it was always faith that won the victory for them.
This was true with regard to Jericho. There is no natural explanation for the collapse of his walls. No weapons were used, not undermining, no assault. The walls fell because of God's power. In this connection, it is well for us to read again 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. No better illustration of what God does for us in a spiritual way is to be found than the taking of the great fortress of Jericho.
In the second place, the conquest of Jericho was an adventure of faith involving a tremendous risk on the faithfulness of God. The Israelites had no fortresses to which they could retreat. They had lived in tents, not in houses. They staked everything on the trustworthiness of God. The Jordan River made retreat impossible. They had no place to which they could fly. They were shut up to total trust in God.
We too, need to come to this place where it is either God or nothing. Our personal victory over sin are all won on the basis of faith and that alone. This was the principal our saviour emphasized when he said in Mark 11:20-24—“And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
In the third place, the conquest of Jericho demanded the obedience of faith. It must be in obedience without any questioning. God rarely interprets His commands in advance. He simply asks us to believe Him. If He always gave us an explanation ahead of time as to what He was going to do, that would rob faith of its opportunity. Our Lord said to His disciples in one place, “What I do now thou knowest not; but thou shalt know hereafter.”
Men are always seeking new methods in their attempts to overcome Satan. It is not new methods that are needed but obedient men. Israel was to obey God. They were not told why the plan to be followed was good, nor what the consequences would be. Joshua knew, but the people as a whole did not.
In the fourth place, we find the discipline of faith. Israel was a nation notorious for its complaining spirit and its criticism of God’s ways. For 40 years this had characterized them in the desert. Of course, the nation that had crossed Jordan was the new generation. They had heard their parents criticizing and complaining concerning the ways of God. Now this generation was disciplined to absolute silence. Joshua had commanded them saying, “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” (Joshua 6:10). What an order! Yet imagine the confusion if everyone had been free to express his views on the strategy they were following. Criticism and doubt would soon have paralyzed their faith. They would have talked themselves out of faith before they had completed the first circuit of the city. According to God’s instructions, thirteen such journeys had to be made.
In the fifth place, there was the patience of faith. The Israelites in circled the city thirteen times in seven days. Yet at the end of each circuit the walls were just as stout and forbidding as ever. There was not the slightest evidence the eye could see that a collapse of the walls was imminent. Even at the end of the thirteenth circuit, just a few seconds away from the climax, the walls stood completely intact.
Perhaps some of our prayers have not been answered simply because we have not completed enough circuits in our personal prayer life. We need to recognize that in our flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18). God will test our faith to see whether or not we will trust Him. We are assured however, that the trial of our faith “being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).