LESSONS FROM THE VICTORY OF THE ISRAELITES AT JERICHO
After the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered into the land of Canaan, the first city that they attacked and conquered was Jericho. The history of their great victory at Jericho is recorded in Joshua chapters six and seven. Since this is recorded in the Bible “for our learning” (Romans 15:4), it is worth our time and effort to seek out some lessons.
Jericho was a gift from God. According to the Lord’s own words to His servant Joshua (Joshua 1:2,3,6), He gave the Israelites the land of Canaan. He gave them vineyards, fields, and houses that did not belong to them – all of these were a gift from the Lord.
Concerning the city of Jericho specifically, God also told Joshua, “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valour” (Joshua 6:2). If God gave them this city, then it was a gift from Him. But, to say that it was a gift does not mean that there were no conditions which had to be met in order for the children of Israel to receive it. The Israelites must obey the Lord’s commands. Then, and only then, would He give them the city of Jericho.
Today, we can say that the salvation which we receive through Jesus is also a gift, just as Jericho was a gift to the Israelites. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It is also written, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). So, we are saved by God’s wonderful grace and the salvation that we receive is a gift from the Almighty. But, this great gift is conditional. We receive it only when do the Father’s will, that is, we are saved by His grace only when we act according to the conditions that He has set forth in the Bible. “And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). This passage plainly shows that Jesus saves those who obey Him. Conclusion: obedience to the Christ is necessary in order to receive God’s gift of salvation.
God instructed Israel to use a “strange” method of attack. What was the plan? God commanded the Israelites to march around the city of Jericho for six days, one time each day. He then altered the plan for the 7th day. That day He wanted Israel to compass the city seven times, then the priests were to blow their trumpets. Following that, all of the people should shout with a great shout (Joshua 6:3-5). That was God’s mode of attack. Has such a plan been used often in man’s warfare throughout history? It has never been repeated after Jericho! It was unique, it was special, and to many it appears to be strange. But here is a lesson that we must never forget: yes, many times men consider God’s instructions or actions as strange, but everything that God does and says is right, every time! (Psalm 33:4). Therefore, we must never doubt or question His ways. Again we read, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).
In Egypt, during the last plague that God brought on that country, the only firstborn children that He spared were those inside houses where there was blood on the doorpost (Exodus 12). God later used an artificial serpent to heal those who were bitten by snakes (Numbers 21). He also cleansed a man of his leprosy only after he had dipped seven times in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5). God now saves men through the preaching of the cross of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:18-23). Many look at these truths, and because they are not able to see some logical connection between God’s instructions and the blessings that He gives to those who obey Him, they reject God’s way as foolishness.
God does not need our advice, our philosophies, our wisdom, or our logic. As our Creator and Savior, He shows us the good way – the right way, and the only way that leads to heaven. It is up to us to decide if we will accept His way and live by it. Are you and I prepared to accept the will of Jehovah and act by faith, just like the Israelites did at the city of Jericho?
By faith the Israelites marched around Jericho. Joshua told the children of Israel how God wanted them to attack Jericho. To their credit, in this case rather than respond by murmuring, they did exactly what God told them to do (Joshua 6:8-16,20). They demonstrated a great faith, as it is written, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30). Just why did the Israelites compass Jericho a total of thirteen times during those seven days? Simply because that is what the Lord commanded them to do! What a strong faith. God caused the walls of Jericho to fall, just like He had promised. When did that occur? Only when the Israelites fully obeyed His commands. Again, we see that they received this gift (the city of Jericho) only when they believed and obeyed the will of God.
What kind of faith must you and I have in order to please the Lord? A living, active, obedient faith that works by love (Galatians 5:6). Just as the children of Israel conquered Jericho, and later all of Canaan, we, too, can be conquerors today through faith. “. . . And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4). Jesus once asked His apostles, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). Let each of us be prepared at all times to answer that question by showing our faith in action (Mark 2:5).
Under Joshua’s leadership, the Israelites attacked and defeated Jericho over 3000 years ago, long before any of us was born. Yet, there are some important, fundamental lessons that we can learn from the Bible’s record of that historic event. May the Lord help us to see those lessons and to take them seriously.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.