A Most Unusual Battle-plan

Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” (Joshua 6:1-5 NLT) The people of Jericho were afraid. They knew the Lord had already given the land to the Israelites (Joshua 2:9) and they were living in terror. Not a reverent fear, but a paralyzing fear (Joshua 5:1).

The king of Jericho had resolved that the God of Israel would not be their Master, but rather than seeking war, or seeking peace, they simply chose to shut themselves off. He could have led his warriors on the offensive to attack the Israelites. Jericho had the high ground and the “home field” advantage. Scripture refers to their “strong warriors” so they did not lack fighting strength. Or the king could have led his people to surrender and seek peace – to petition the Israelites – and their God – for mercy. Having heard of His might and His majesty, they could now beseech His saving grace. And i can’t help but wonder, what would God have done if the people of Jericho had surrendered their lives to Him and cried out for mercy? Perhaps the experience of the Ninevites (Jonah 3:10) gives us insight into the grace and mercy He would have extended to them. But they chose to hide behind their walls. It was the choice that failed to reflect courage, or reverence, or awe, or respect. It reflected a total lack of understanding and discernment of this moment in time for the people of Jericho. They did not know the time in which they lived – or even an opportunity that perched on their doorstep if they would but seize it. Instead, they huddled in fear behind their walls.

Before we go on to look at what God did on behalf of His people, there is a lesson for us in what the Jerichoites failed to do. For seven days they watched the Israelites march around the wall of the city led by the Ark of God. i’m not sure if they watched in fear, or if they ridiculed the Israelites for what they were doing. i’m not sure if they stopped everything just to watch what was going on, or if they went on about business as usual inside the city walls. But i don’t believe that they expected what happened. i don’t believe they thought their walls would just crumble. They thought their walls would protect them. They took great pride in their mighty walls.

This has caused me to stop and ask – are we as the church more like the Jerichoites or the Israelites? Are we content to stay inside of our walls – watching from a distance, but not engaging a world outside? Are we more content to go about the business inside our walls than to boldly follow His presence – even if it may look extreme – outside the walls? Are we more satisfied to be men of Jericho who ignore our times than men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) who know our times and act accordingly?

Henry Blackaby writes that “God’s call [on the Israelites] was not to destroy the idolatrous nations in Canaan, not to settle the lands they conquered, and not to establish a new nation, although all of these would be accomplished. Rather, God called them primarily to be a people who loved and worshiped Him.” His calling on us as His people has not changed.

Notice in verse 2 that the LORD says, “I have given you…”, not I will give you…. The work had already been decided. God knew how the people of Jericho had set their hearts. His plan was in place. His plan accomplished in His way will always demonstrate His Lordship. He is the Master over all – even Jericho.

It’s interesting to me that Joshua did not step out in front of the people to lead the march around the city walls. How many of us would expect that our leader should do just that? And Joshua and the Lord did as well. That is why the true leader of the people – the God of Israel – led them as demonstrated by the presence of the Ark. The Ark did not travel in the center of the people as if God needed their protection. The Ark went at the beginning of the procession in His rightful place of leadership.

i was reading 1 Samuel 11 this morning. In it we read that newly anointed King Saul rallied the people to follow him (1 Samuel 11:7) into battle. Saul lost sight that he was not the leader; the Lord was! Stay ever mindful that He goes before us. Whatever the plan may be for the defeat of Jericho – no matter how unusual it may seem – it is His plan – and He is the leader.

Lastly, His plan entailed no military maneuvers. No battering rams; only rams’ horns. You can always tell God’s plan versus ours:

  • Through it, He demonstrates His power. God’s activity is God-sized. He is God; even the winds and the storms obey Him. His might, strength and power will be seen through transformed lives, divine appointments, perfect timing, supernatural grace, or circumstances that can only be explained by His activity.

  • Through it, He magnifies His presence. The Ark was conspicuous. He does not slip into the back row to bless the effort; He is the Guest of honor. And His presence overshadows everything else.

  • Through it, He assigns His priests. God gave the priests a special role in walking before the Ark and blowing the ram’s horns. He selected those men. Their positions were not gained through popularity, but through the sovereign choice of the Almighty God. We must be faithful to honor God’s sovereign placements.

  • Through it, He honors His proclamation. God’s plan will ALWAYS require faith. He has told us that it is impossible to please Him without faith (Hebrews 11:6). As God leads us in His plan, it will always be preceded by His Word, which will require our Another quote from Henry Blackaby: “What you do next will reveal what you really believe about God and what He has said!”

  • Through it, He fulfills His promise. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”(Num 23:19 NKJ). The Israelites needed not fear, because God fought for them and He assured them of His victory.

You may very well be on top of a “Jericho” in your life right at this moment. And His plan may look most unusual to you right now. But if you know that you are doing what He has led you to do, than keep walking around those walls and trust Him to tear them down. Surrender to Him your fear, your anxiety, even your doubt. “Shout! For the LORD has given you the town!”(Josh 6:16).

(Excerpt from “Lessons Learned In The Wilderness — Possessing The Promise”. For more information about the book see http://www.wildernesslessons.com/Possessing_The_Promise.html.)