This is one of my favorite bible stories. It is the power of the Lord to do the impossible. Israel takes a walled city with the sound of the trumpet and the shout of triumph!
Because this is one of my favorite stories I am going to spend a little extra time here. Today I want to start with the basics of the story as it is told to us in our reading. I will put it into first person account a little bit but I also want to do two separate first person accounts on this story. One will be from the eyes of those inside the wall of the city. This story will include Rahab’s view as well as some other inhabitants’ perspectives. The second will be from the eyes of one of Israel’s mighty men marching with the army. This story will include perspectives on the front lines and back in camp. I want to do this to get a fuller perspective of what went on that week in the Promised Land.
Let’s get into our story from Joshua’s perspective today as he is the one God chose to lead this battle. We left our story the last time as Joshua called all the people together to hear God’s instructions.
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The people have all assembled. They have been waiting for Joshua’s command. They are anxious to begin the conquest of the Promised Land. They are confident that God is with them as their crossing of the swollen Jordan is fresh in their minds and hearts.
“I have heard from the Lord and He has given me His instructions on how we are to take the city that lies before us to the west; Jericho.” He pauses here to ensure everyone is listening. He doesn’t want them missing a single word he is about to share. Their obedience to the Lord is crucial and could affect the outcome of what is to come.
“Tomorrow we will begin our campaign. It will not be a campaign of cunning and military strength but one of obedience and faith. What I am going to share with you may sound strange and maybe even counterproductive but it is the word of your God and you WILL follow it.”
Joshua turns to the high priest to address him. “You will have those who are tasked with carrying the Ark of the Lord ready it. They will carry it with us just as they did when we crossed the Jordan. You will also appoint seven priests to carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns to go before the Ark.” The high priest nods his head in acceptance of Joshua’s instructions.
Next Joshua looks to the people to tell them of their tasks. “Judah, your fighting men will go before the Ark in a procession of the people. Issachar, your fighting men will be the rear guard for the Ark. The remaining tribes will follow in our usual formation of departure. EVERY fighting man shall be present in this.” Joshua looks around the assembly to make eye contact with as many men as he can before continuing. All eyes are on him as they continue listening to the Lord’s commands.
“Here is the part you MUST listen to! The Lord has instructed me to have the camp set out each day, in the formation I have just given you, and march ONE time around the walls of the entire city. The priests are to be blowing the trumpets as we march but NO ONE is to speak, shout, or even open their mouth. Once the single march is completed we will return to camp for the night. We will do this for SIX days! On the seventh day, we will march around the city as before but we will circle it SEVEN times. When we have finished our seventh time around the city the trumpets shall sound a LONG blast. AT THAT POINT ALL THE PEOPLE WILL SEND UP A SHOUT TO THE LORD! The Lord will then cause the walls to fall! At this point each man is to march straight into the city. ‘All the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent’ (verse 17). DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING FOR YOURSELF FROM THE CITY! ALL IS TO BE DESTROYED. ‘But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord’ (verse 19). This is the command of the Lord your God. Be careful to follow it precisely and therefore not bring destruction and trouble upon the camp.”
Joshua again scans the crowd and makes eye contact with as many people as he can. “Tomorrow is the beginning of a new thing the Lord your God is doing for you. Be prepared to go early in the morning. I will see you at first light.”
The people begin breaking up and heading back to their own tents. There is excitement in the air and a feeling of celebration begins to build before the first step is even taken. They have faith that their God can do what He promised. The Lord has already shown He is with Joshua and as long as they follow his directions, they are safe in the Lord’s will.
(to be continued)
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When I was writing this story today I had to stop and call my mom. We wrestled together with the question of “Did Joshua tell the people ALL the details in the beginning or not? Did he tell them they how long they would be marching and how the seventh day would happen BEFORE they happened?” We didn’t come to any firm conclusions on this point.
The reason I wanted to ponder the possibilities is that the view from the camp would (or could) have been very different depending on the answer. If the Israelites didn’t know the time schedule they could have become anxious and frustrated that “nothing was happening” as they marched once a day. But if they knew the whole plan their excitement would have been building each day so that by the time they were told to shout they burst forth like a dam was just blown out of the water.
After even more personal contemplation on this question I believe Joshua told the people the full plan. God didn’t tell him not to and I don’t think he would have wanted to ‘stretch the people’s faith’ any more than what God told him to do. He wasn’t trying to frustrate the people or make them blind faith followers of him. He was God’s servant just as surely as they were. Moses held nothing back from the people and Joshua would have followed in his same footsteps.
Father God, thank You for taking me deeper into the story. I LOVE climbing in and asking “what about…” questions. Thank You for letting me ask them without fear. I’m excited to see where the two other parts of this story will take us. I already have some ideas but I KNOW You always bring a bit more out as we go along. I look forward to seeing what You have in store for me!
Thank You also Father that You have a plan for my life. I don’t always get the ‘full battle plan’ beforehand but when I do it is amazing to watch it unfold. Having the battle plan ahead of time doesn’t mean I don’t have to use my faith. Sometimes it takes MORE faith to believe what waits at the end because I can’t see how what You have laid out could possibly work in the natural world. Then again, that is the essence of faith! Trusting You to do exactly as You have said You would. THANK YOU that I can ALWAYS take You at Your word!