Lessons from the fall of Jericho walls
Introduction:- We are in a series on the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11. Today we look at the fall of Jericho walls.
Hebrews 11:30 NIV - By faith the walls of Jericho fell after the army had marched around them for seven days.
How did the walls of Jericho fall? By faith. The walls fell after the army had marched around them for seven days. But it was by faith that the walls of Jericho fell. Let's look in detail at what exactly happened and what we can learn from it.
Scriptures - Joshua 5 & 6
The Story – After crossing the Jordan river, the Lord asked Joshua to circumcise the males and Joshua obeyed. After circumcision, they could start possessing the promised land. But for that, they had to first conquer the city of Jericho.
Conquering Jericho was difficult as there were huge walls around it. According to archaeologists, there were two walls. One outer wall and one inner wall. The outer wall was a mud brick wall around 20 feet tall and 6 feet thick. This wall was on top of a 12 feet high retaining wall made of stones. The inner wall was also a mud brick wall around 20 feet tall and 6 feet thick. The inner wall was at a higher place as compared to the outer wall. To put this into perspective, for the Israelites standing below the walls looked as tall as a 4-storey building. During those times, it was humanly impossible to penetrate those walls.
In such cases, an army would try to conquer the city through the siege. The army surrounds the city and stops its supplies. Lack of food and supplies would force the people in the city to come out.
However, this would have taken a long time as Jericho had a sufficient food supply.
How do we know that? Joshua 3:15 says it was harvest time when the Israelites crossed over.
Jericho also had a spring which supplied water. Bible calls Jericho the city of palm trees (Deuteronomy 34:3). Palm trees can thrive only where there is plenty of water.
In short, water and food supply were not a problem for the people of Jericho. So conquering Jericho through siege would have taken years.
When Joshua was nearing Jericho, he has an encounter with the Lord. The Lord asks the army to march around the city with priests carrying the ark of the covenant and blowing trumpets. They were to march around the city once for six days and seven times on the seventh day. When Joshua and the army did all that the Lord asked them to do, the walls of Jericho fell and they conquered Jericho.
The enemy builds huge walls between us and our promises. The bricks he uses to build the walls are lies. Bible calls these walls strongholds. These strongholds distort the true nature of God and try to stop us from possessing God’s promises. But don’t worry. God has given us spiritual weapons to pull down these walls. (2 Corinthians 10:4-6, Ephesians 6:10-18)
Now let’s look into some key verses from these chapters.
Joshua 5:1 NIV - Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, their hearts melted in fear and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.
We often think that we have to live our life saving ourselves from the enemy’s attacks. But the fact is this - our enemies are scared when they see us. Why? Only because the Lord is with us.
Joshua 5:2-3 NIV - 2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.
The Lord asked Israelites to circumcise as the males born during their long wilderness journey were not yet circumcised. The uncircumcised had to be circumcised before the Israelites could possess the promised land. This is according to the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17). As per the covenant, the Lord promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants. But their part in the covenant was that they should be circumcised.
Promised Land is a shadow of God’s Kingdom and His promises.
1. God's promises are for His children.
God's promises are for the circumcised. God's promises are for His children.
Colossians 2:11 NLT - When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.
Thanks to Jesus, we are circumcised. We are now His people. We are now His children.
2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV - For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him, the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
All of God's promises are 'Yes' in Jesus.
I like the way NIV puts it. It says It doesn’t matter how many promises God has made. According to a Canadian school teacher Storms who counted God’s promises in the bible, there are more than 7400 of them. Whatever may be the count, they all are ‘Yes’ in Christ. We can through Jesus agree to them by speaking ‘Amen’ and this brings glory to God. Amen.
So, to receive God's promises, you should first receive Jesus.
If you have not yet given your life to Jesus, today is the day. He died for your sins so that you could have eternal life. Eternal life is not only living forever in heaven in the future. It is also enjoying God and His promises now itself. All you need to do is accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.
Joshua 5:9 NIV - Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.
Egypt signifies sin. So, when you receive Jesus, the Lord has not only forgiven your sins, but He has also rolled away the shame of your sins.
If you are already a follower of Jesus, then I encourage you to read the bible and know the many promises that God has given you. Personalise them for yourselves.
After circumcision and rest, Joshua and his army proceeded towards Jericho. When Joshua was nearing Jericho, he has an amazing encounter with a man. I believe this was Jesus.
Encounter with Jesus is the beginning of faith. Jesus is the author of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Joshua 5:13a NKJV - And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand.
Notice how the Lord stood. He stood with His sword drawn. Some think that God is sleeping during our times of trouble. No! Not at all. His sword is already drawn, and this sword is spiritual – The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Whatever may be the trouble we are facing, He has a word for us which will rescue us. Later on, we can see that the Lord did give a now word for the situation to Joshua.
Joshua 5:13b-14a NKJV - And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
When Joshua asks Him ‘“Are You for us or for our adversaries?”, He gives a strange answer. He said ‘No’.
Basically, what the Lord is saying here is that I am not your team member. I am actually the One who is in charge.
Notice what the Lord says. He says He has now come as Commander of the Lord’s army. This means this time He has come as Commander of the Lord’s army. When you are in a battle, Jesus comes as commander of the Lord’s army. When a perfect sacrifice was needed for our sins, He came as the spotless lamb. When you need peace, He comes as the prince of peace. When you need comfort, He comes as the comforter. So, when you need faith, He comes as the author and the finisher of your faith. Jesus and only Jesus is the answer to all our problems. Amen.
Joshua 5:14b NKJV - And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”
When Joshua heard Lord’s answer, he understood who this man is. So, he fell on his face and worshipped Him. This shows that this person was actually Jesus.
Joshua 5:15 NKJV - 15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
When Joshua asks the Lord what He wants to tell him, the Lord asks Joshua to take off his sandal and Joshua obeyed. Taking off sandals shows total surrender. A soldier is helpless without his sandals.
Basically, Joshua removed himself from being in charge and made Jesus in charge of the situation.
During times of trouble, we should totally surrender our cares to Jesus.
1 Peter 5:7 NKJV - casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
The word ‘cast’ used here in the original language Greek means ‘Throw away’. Doesn’t matter what your care is. Small or big. You should give it completely to Jesus. Sometimes, immediately after giving our care to the Lord, we take it back. We then by our own efforts try to solve the problem and we end up more worried than before.
After praying, if you are still worried and feel burdened, then you have not yet surrendered your troubles to Jesus.
Joshua 6:2 NIV - Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.
God asked Joshua to see that He has delivered Jericho into his hands. Did this happen yet in the natural? No. But Joshua was asked to see it as it was a truth in the spiritual realm.
2. See the things that God has already given us.
The word ‘see’ used here in the original language Hebrew is deep. Some of the meanings are see, perceive, discern, gaze, think, enjoy etc.
We should see with our spiritual eyes the things God has already given us. We should perceive and discern that they have been already given. We should think, imagine, and visualise ourselves enjoying them.
The ability to imagine is a powerful gift that God has given us. Use it to visualise the wonderful things of God. Don’t use it to visualise things of the enemy.
Let’s look at another place where the same word ‘see’ is used.
2 Kings 6:15-17 NIV - 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Here the servant was not able to see the protection around Elisha because it was not visible in natural. But when Elisha prayed and the Lord opened his eyes, he could see the horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
1 Corinthians 2:12 AMP - Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [Holy] Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the [wonderful] things freely given to us by God.
We should know the things God has given us freely.
2 Peter 1:3 NKJV - as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
Ephesians 1:3 says we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Then in Ephesians 1:18-19, Paul prayed for Ephesians that the eyes of their heart will be enlightened to see what God has given them.
Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV - I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
We should pray this prayer for ourselves daily so that we would start seeing the things God has already given us freely. This gives us the faith required to possess God’s promises.
So, the author of our faith – Jesus birthed faith in Joshua through His words. Then He gave him some instructions.
Joshua 6:3-5 NIV - 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
What was the response? Joshua and his army persevered and obeyed all that God asked them to do (Joshua 6:6-21).
As a result, the walls of Jericho fell (Joshua 6:21).
There is a waiting period between receiving the word from the Lord and the fulfilment of the promise in the natural. We should persevere and do all that the Lord asks us to do during this waiting period.
How many days did Joshua and the army persevere? Seven days.
This doesn’t mean that 7 days after we receive the word from the Lord, we would possess in the natural what He promised.
7 signifies completion, and perfection. So, 7 days signifies the completion of time. When we persevere and obey all that the Lord asked us to do till the completion of time, we receive in the natural what God promised.
A blessing before the appointed time will destroy you.
Sometimes it is not the appointed time yet as we are not yet ready for the blessing. Sometimes it may be also that the others involved in that blessing are not ready yet. Whatever may be the reason, God knows the right time.
So, we should persevere and do all that the Lord asks us to do till the completion of time to possess His promise.
3. Persevere till you possess God's promise.
Hebrews 6:12 NIV - We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The word patience used here in the original language Greek also means persevere. So, you should persevere till you possess.
However, always remember that obedience comes from faith. Faith does not come from obedience.
Romans 1:5 NIV - Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
Now let’s look in detail at what all the Israelites did during the seven days.
They marched around Jericho once for six days and seven times on the seventh day. What else did they do?
Joshua 6:12-13 NKJV - 12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13Then seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually and blew with the trumpets. And the armed men went before them. But the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets.
The priests marched around Jericho carrying the ark of the Lord. There were armed men before the ark and behind the ark. So, the ark was in their midst throughout the march. The ark of the Lord signifies Lord’s presence. During the waiting period also, the Lord is with us. If you feel you lack faith during the waiting period, remember the Lord is with you. Look to Him. He is not only the author of faith, but He is also the finisher and perfecter of our faith.
Seven priests were blowing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord. Ram is a male sheep. So, the ram signifies Jesus. A ram has to be killed to get its horns. So, the blowing of trumpets of rams’ horns signifies proclaiming Lord’s death. That is precisely what we do when we break the bread (1 Corinthians 11:26). So, I encourage you to break the bread at home as well often. It is powerful.
Joshua 6:10 NKJV - Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.
Joshua commanded the people to not speak a word till they shout on the final day. It is better not to speak anything than to speak words of unbelief during the waiting period.
Proverbs 18:21 says death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Acts 2:18 NLT - 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike — and they will prophesy.
Prophesy in the bible means to speak forth under divine inspiration. Of course, if we talk under divine inspiration, we won’t be speaking contrary to the written word. In other words, if we are speaking contrary to the written word, then we are not speaking under divine inspiration.
Acts 2:19 NLT - 19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
For some reason, the conjunction ‘And’ is missing in some translations. But ‘And’ is very much there in the original language Greek and it is important. Basically, these verses are saying that when we prophesy, God shows signs and wonders. So, we should prophesy during the waiting period. If you cannot prophesy at least don’t speak words that cancel the things, you are praying for.
I encourage you to speak in tongues as well more and more during the waiting period because when you speak in tongues you may be prophesying as well. That too ideally in an unknown language. You will also be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit as a result.
Last but not least the Israelites shouted.
Joshua 6:16 NIV - The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!
In the end, Joshua commanded the army to shout. The reason for this shout was the truth that the Lord has given them the city. So, it was a shout of victory and praise. This they did before the walls fell.
This is amazing faith. So, the word says by faith the Jericho walls fell.
Conclusion: To possess the promises of God, we should first receive the word from the Lord. Once we receive the word, we should start seeing that the Lord has already given the thing to us. However, there is a waiting period between receiving the word and the fulfilment of the promise in the natural. During the waiting period continue to walk in faith and do all that the Lord instructs you to do. This is active waiting.
I would like to conclude this message the way the author of Hebrews concluded the topic of faith which he started in Hebrews 11. The conclusion is however in Hebrews 12.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV - 1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If you are struggling with a situation and you need a breakthrough, look unto Jesus. He is the author of our faith; you will see the breakthrough by faith.
If you have been waiting for long for the fulfilment of a promise and you feel like giving up, look unto Jesus. He is the finisher of our faith. He will perfect your faith so that you will continue to wait patiently and confidently.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English-speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.