The Fall of Jericho
Joshua 6.6-20 (New Living Translation)
So Joshua called together the priests and said, “Take up the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and assign seven priests to walk in front of it, each carrying a ram’s horn.” Then he gave orders to the people: “March around the town, and the armed men will lead the way in front of the Ark of the Lord.”
After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the rams’ horns started marching in the presence of the Lord, blowing the horns as they marched. And the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant followed behind them. Some of the armed men marched in front of the priests with the horns and some behind the Ark, with the priests continually blowing the horns. “Do not shout; do not even talk,” Joshua commanded. “Not a single word from any of you until I tell you to shout. Then shout!” So the Ark of the Lord was carried around the town once that day, and then everyone returned to spend the night in the camp.
Joshua got up early the next morning, and the priests again carried the Ark of the Lord. The seven priests with the rams’ horns marched in front of the Ark of the Lord, blowing their horns. Again the armed men marched both in front of the priests with the horns and behind the Ark of the Lord. All this time the priests were blowing their horns. On the second day they again marched around the town once and returned to the camp. They followed this pattern for six days.
On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.
“Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”
When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.
The book of Joshua is the story of how the people of Israel conquered Canaan. Jericho, was at a vital point in the land that had to be conquered in order to be able to move on into the rest of Canaan.
Now this is a story that might seem strange to our modern western ears, however in the time that this happened, fighting and conquering lands and people were part of history. The land was promised to the Israelites and to take it and live in it they had to follow God’s instructions.
The point of this story is ultimately about obedience to God, it tells how people are not to rely on themselves but on God. The instructions they were given on how to take Jericho were strange and unusual and were certainly not a recognized military strategy.
However, the Israelites had to have the faith to do as they were told or they would not progress on in moving into Canaan.
There were given careful detailed instruction to be followed precisely over seven days. They were to walk around the town, in a particular order, with the ram’s horns being blown, but otherwise in silence.
Furthermore, they had to do this for precisely 6 days, in exactly the same way and same order and each time to go right around the walls once. Then on the seventh day they had to do it all again in exactly the same way only this time they must walk around the walls seven times not one.
Now, if the taking of Jericho was all to be done by God’s power and plan, then of course God could have made the walls fall anyway and without all this ceremony. BUT, another vital part of God’s plan was that the Israelites had to be learning to be obedience to God and to God’s instructions
The marching showed that they had to put some effort into this too, they might trust God and it might be God’s plan but it would only work if they believed in it and did the work faithfully to His directions and plan.
They followed God’s plan and the walls of Jericho tumbled and Jericho the city was taken.
To us today it speaks of how all too often we want immediate solutions and want all our needs and wants met. And met now! Our prayer intentions can amount to ‘Please God sort it out now’ and ‘hear my prayer NOW’.
We are impatient and feel so often that we do not have to wait on the Lord and we don’t trust Him. We want to trust in ourselves in our health, our bank accounts, our position in the community, our reputation, in our talent, education, and as the bottom line we trust in our own abilities. We don’t quite trust the Lord alone.
We might compare it to Naaman’s response when he was told he would have to wash seven times in the Jordan river (2 Kings 5.11-14). Cleansing only came to Naaman when he humbled himself and washed seven times, not four or five or even six, but seven. He had to do as he was told exactly.
Surely, here the Lord was teaching Israel the need to wait patiently to find their rest in Him.
And showing us a good lesson too, to be patient trust in the Lord and his timing and not in ourselves.
Team Vicar & Associate Hub Leader