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Basic Bible: The Fall of Jericho

Joshua 6:2-4, 12-20a

The account of the fall of Jericho is cause for all men to consider God’s power.

Jericho was a fortified city with walls designed to stand against an invading force. While the number of defenders within the city was small in comparison to that of Israel, the walls made taking the city no small task. Typical strategies for taking walled cities involve scaling walls, breaking down the gates, and starving the inhabitants into submission. God gave Joshua an entirely different strategy and battle plan. The Lord instructed the men of war to march around the city once a day for six days. Then on the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times, the priests were to blow their horns and the people were to make a great shout. The Lord told them that if they did these things, the walls would come tumbling down.

Nowhere in the annals of military history will one find tactics of this sort employed. Marching around a walled city, blowing trumpets and shouting will not destroy fortifications. Had the children of Israel attempted to cause the walls of other cities to fall using this method, they would have spent a lot of time marching, trumpet blowing and shouting without seeing success.

It is apparent that God is acting as a teacher and the children of Israel are His pupils. God made it known that Israel was to precisely follow His instruction. God is teaching obedience, but not obedience alone. God possessed the power to bring the walls of Jericho down without any marching or any shouting. God chose to have Israel march around the city once a day for six days and have nothing happen. Then on the seventh day after they marched seven times around the city and shouted, He would bring the walls down. There was a reason that God chose the number seven. The number seven represents completeness. It is, a number, associated with God. In Genesis 41, the Pharaoh of Egypt was given a dream by God in which the number seven is most significant. In Revelation, the number seven is used to show that end time judgments are from God. In the text before us, God wants Israel to know that it is He who goes before them and it is He who would tumble the walls of Jericho. God’s judgment upon Jericho was to be complete. All of the inhabitants of the city were to killed with the exception of Rahab the harlot and those of her house.

As noted in an earlier article, Rahab’s act of saving of the two spies sent by Joshua was an act of faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Rahab was made righteous by her faith. God spares the righteous. God spared Lot when He destroyed Sodom and God would not destroy Rahab when He destroyed Jericho.

Israel was given the instruction that they were to take nothing for themselves. Everything in the city was to be destroyed with the exception of silver and gold and vessels of iron and brass. These things were to be presented to the treasury of the Lord. The city was accursed and any who took of the accursed things would make themselves accursed and cause all of the camp of Israel to be accursed.

Israel executed God’s battle plan flawlessly. After marching around the city seven times on the seventh day, the seven priests blew their seven ram’s horn trumpets and the people made a great shout. Then God did His part. He delivered Jericho to them. The wall fell down flat.

How did this happen? For every effect there is a cause. When we observe an effect, we look for a cause. Some have suggested that the vibrations from marching, trumpets and shouting caused the walls to disintegrate. Others have theorized that an earthquake caused the walls to fall. Such explanations ignore what is plainly stated: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down (Hebrews 11:30). Faith in God does the impossible. Faith is a causative agent. By faith the walls came tumbling down and by faith in Christ Jesus we are recipients of His righteousness. With faith, the impossible becomes he guarantee of God.

Verse 20 states that every man went straight before him and they took the city. Note that every man went straight. One can go straight, if and only if, there are no barriers to the approach. God had removed the barriers; the walls were gone. Once the walls had fallen, Israel walked in. The final victory was easy because God had removed the barriers. God is a rewarder of them who trust in Him and seek His will.

New Testament believers live in a different time but is the same. He removes every barrier to them who seek His will. He has told us to go and to reach out with the gospel to all who have the ears to hear. He shall remove all barriers.

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