The Jericho Strategy
On Sunday, our pastor gave a great sermon based on Joshua 5:13 – 6:5, and I wanted to share a little bit of what he said, with my own thoughts and where it led me woven in. This section of scripture is titled “The Fall of Jericho.” You can read the whole passage by clicking on the link above.
Our pastor pointed out that many scholars believe that the commander of the Lord’s army whom Joshua speaks to is Jesus, and I tend to agree with this. If this were not the case, I don’t think Joshua’s reaction to Him would have been quite as deferential.
Joshua asks this man, standing alone with His sword drawn, if He is for the Israelites or for their enemies. The man responds, “Neither.” Joshua 5:14. He is not “for” anyone. He is the commander of God’s heavenly host. The real question is whether Joshua and the Israelites are on His side.
How often to we ask God whether He is for us or for our enemies? Or worse yet, assume He is on our side? But God is not on anyone’s side, not even the Israelites’. Rather, He calls His people to be on His side. He calls us to seek His will and follow His plan.
So what was the plan that this commander of the Lord’s army revealed to Joshua? How did the Lord plan for the Israelites to defeat Jericho? Did He tell Joshua to gather battering rams and catapults to attack the city? Did He recommend that they try to starve the people of Jericho out of the city by siege? Did He suggest any of the usual means of conquest? No.
What the Lord told Joshua to do was this: March around the city once a day for six days, then march around seven times on the seventh day, then blow trumpets, and shout. Can you imagine following such a strategy? March, blow trumpets, and shout? That’s it?
Joshua then commanded the Israelites to follow this strategy, and God caused the walls of Jericho to fall. Even though the strategy may not have made any sense to Joshua, he followed it to the letter and it worked perfectly. Israel was triumphant!
As we face our own Jerichos in life, Jesus comes to us with a strategy – I think I’m going to start calling it the Jericho strategy – for how to be triumphant. His strategy, as revealed in His Word, is not to take the usual worldly actions that we might think we need to.
When we face being injured by another, the world says the way to triumph is to seek vengeance and to make that person pay. Jesus’ Jericho strategy is to forgive and let Him heal the wounds. Matthew 8:21-35. He even says that we should love and pray for the enemy who has injured us. Matthew 5:43-45.
When we face financial issues, the world says we must do whatever it takes to make more money and to retain what we have, even if that means being dishonest or doing things we wouldn’t otherwise do. The world teaches us to worry about such things. Jesus says to seek first the Kingdom of God and all the things you need will be given to you. Matthew 6:19-34.
When we see a homeless person begging or injured by the side of the road, the world says just keep moving and take care of yourself. They probably got themselves into that situation and they might try to rip you off. Jesus says to stop and help, to treat them as your neighbor. Luke 10:25-37.
When we have done so many bad things we think there is no hope for redemption, the world says to just give up and give in to continuing with our sinful life. Jesus say it’s never too late to come to Him and turn your life around. John 8:1-11.
No matter what Jericho you face, Jesus has a strategy for being triumphant in your situation. Somewhere in His Word is the strategy you need to show that you are on His side. And when you are on His side, and stick with His Jericho strategy — no matter how crazy it seems — the walls will come down. So the next time the walls of Jericho seem impenetrable, go to His Word and humbly ask, “What do you want your servant to do?” Joshua 5:14. He’ll give you a strategy to make the walls come tumbling down.
You have made very good points here – in fact, the most general and most widely (and unfortunately) popular. What you all have missed is that simply because God had destroyed the walls of Jericho didn’t mean the battle was over yet.
Consider the following passages you, and most everyone else, omits:
20 So the people shouted when [the priests] blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that [was] in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
You see, the Israelites weren’t through with the work of God simply because the walls fell. That wasn’t their victory. That was only the doorway to their victory.
Many times we only see half of what God asks of us. We end up not really completing the whole task. We put a lot on God and take for granted He will do it all. Not so, as evidenced here. We have an obligation to do our part and much of the time we miss the mark.
I would suggest you consider the information I have pointed out and add that to your analysis and then see where God leads you with that.
I think you’;ll find it much for fulfilling and much more inline with our necessary obedience.
I am not advocating violence or war, etc, but the principle that there is more to our job than faith. We must act, follow through and do our part, too. Remember, faith without works is dead.
You must have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Mick, Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I do agree that we must do all that God calls us to do and that faith that does not produce works was never true faith at all. However, I don’t think what you have said is inconsistent with my post. My point in this post is that what God calls us to do when facing an enemy is often, if not always, contrary to what the world calls us to do. I cited several examples of this in my post from the Gospels. God’s instructions to Joshua were contrary to what one would expect, but it was the Israelite’s obedience to these instructions that gave them the victory, not just faith.
One last thing. You ended your comment by wishing me “Good luck.” I do not believe in luck. I believe in God who is my Rock and my Redeemer. No where in His word does He call us to rely on luck or chance but rather to trust in Him alone. Peace, Linda
Hi Linda. I just gave you the Versatile Blogger Award. You can stop by and pick up your award. Blessings, Theresa
I am so glad the Lord’s ways are so much higher than ours.
I found this part intriguing:
“Our pastor pointed out that many scholars believe that the commander of the Lord’s army whom Joshua speaks to is Jesus, and I tend to agree with this. If this were not the case, I don’t think Joshua’s reaction to Him would have been quite as deferential.”
“Joshua asks this man, standing alone with His sword drawn, if He is for the Israelites or for their enemies. The man responds, “Neither.” Joshua 5:14. He is not “for” anyone. He is the commander of God’s heavenly host. The real question is whether Joshua and the Israelites are on His side.”
That really is something to consider!
Thank you. This was encouraging.
Theresa, I was encouraged and challenged by this thought, too. I want to be on God’s side, not insist He be on mine. Peace, Linda
I understand. I wish to be on God’s side in that I want to yield to Him. But I am so grateful the Lord was on our side when He came and was crucified making a way for us to be on His side. 🙂
what a thought provoking post – thank you, Linda! Sometimes I think we all need reminding that it’s not God who needs to change his act but us!
and to Random Thinker: it’s not so long ago I was in a similar position to you. My advice would be to question constantly and talk to lots of different people about why they believe what they do. And read Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis – it’s awesome, or The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel – who was an atheist when he started out, but not by the time he finished it. Good for a historical perspective. xxchar48
The sermon definitely provoked me to start thinking about needing to be on God’s side and not expect Him to come over to mine. I’m glad you appreciated it. And thank you for the suggestions to Random Thinker. Those are both excellent books. You know, Lewis was also an atheist for a long time, which I think is why his logical arguments are so good. They were arguments he had to wrestle through himself. Peace, Linda
yes, have you ever read Surprised by Joy? When it comes to apologetics, I don’t think you can go far wrong with Lewis
I haven’t read that one yet. I did recently read A Grief Observed and wrote a book review of it in February. And I’ve read quite a few of his other books. I’m currently working my way through Reflections on the Psalms. Just finished a chapter on the complaint Psalms and need to reread. I can never quite grasp all Lewis has to say on the first read-through. Peace, Linda
Thank you, Linda
In the moments when our own words fail, God provides assurance. Thanks for the many reminders that we are set-apart and ought to live that way – despite all else.
The strategy doesn’t always have to make sense to me but I choose to trust Him!
Blessings and thanks
Ann, That is definitely one of the things I took from this sermon – that the strategy doesn’t have to make sense to me to work. Though the closer I get to Him the more I come to see His strategy as actually making better sense for the bigger picture. But always to trust, that’s so important. Peace, Linda
Linda, this really encouraged me. I have those “Jericho’s” in my life and you’re right, things are going to happen differently then I might think and from what others might do. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this! God bless you as you keep leading us to Him and helping us learn that it’s about being on His side.
Deb, I’m glad this was an encouragement. That idea of being on God’s side instead of Him being on our side really hit me on Sunday. I could just hear Jesus standing in front of Joshua and answering “Neither.” It is interesting, too, that the name Jesus is a derivative of Joshua, and both means Yahweh is Salvation. Peace, Linda
There are blessings in all Jericho experiences. Good post.
April, Yes there are, especially if we follow His strategy for how to deal with those experiences. Peace, Linda
I am an atheist who most recently started to question my way of life. I struggle hard to define and understand faith, even though I want so badly to do so. Whenever I feel I need some spiritual guidance I jump on and read blogs. I want to thank you for your post.
Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am encouraged that someone who is a questioning atheist found something useful in my writing. Faith is sometimes hard for even those of us who have it to understand, and I strive to present my understanding of it in a way that is not condescending or arrogant, but is instead is loving and compassionate. It’s good to know I have succeeded, at least with this post. Peace, Linda