“And you shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for 6 days. (4) Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the 7th day you shall march around the city seven times and the priests shall blow the trumpets. (5) And it shall be when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall will fall down flat, and the people will go straight ahead” (Joshua 6:3-5, NASB)
What Does it Say?
- You march around the city, all men of war circling the city once, for six days.
- Priests carry seven trumpets before the ark.
- On the 7th day, march around city seven times; and priests blow trumpets.
- When they make a long blast on the trumpets, the people will shout with a great shout.
- Walls will fall flat. People go straight ahead.
What Does it Mean?
I shared earlier this summer about my visit to Seattle and the unforgettable experience of watching a glass blower as he placed glass pieces into the fire and went on to create absolute masterpieces. A piece of that glass now sits on the desk where I study each morning. It’s a jellyfish paperweight. (I know that may seem like an odd choice, but my Aunt Tina and I signed up for a glassblowing class, and that was the craft of the day!)
I was hesitant to try my hand at this. I had been watching the skilled artist do his thing, and I was blown away by his talent. I do not have talent. I should tell you that I stopped doing art projects when I was six and my snowflake in Miss Ruyle’s class turned out to be a total disaster. Yet Aunt Tina is such an encouraging person, and since she was going to take the class, I agreed to give it a shot. We signed our names on the waiver (the one that states the ovens are 2,000 degrees), and we picked a time slot to blow a piece of glass together.
The description of the class sounded innocent enough. The first qualification was that the participant had to be over the age of five—yes, a jellyfish glass paperweight is something a 5-year-old could make. I kept reminding myself of that all day. My heart raced as Aunt Tina and I returned to the glass shop at our appointed time. I was terrified the jellyfish would be similar to the snowflake downfall of 1980.
The glassmaster took me into the studio and had me pick out colors. That was easy enough.
Then the work began. He put a piece of glass on a rod and patiently talked me through the process. It was challenging. I had to keep my rod spinning the entire time while simultaneously adding color and shape to my glass blob. The glassmaster never left my side, continuing to instruct me and once in a while taking over the task of spinning the rod when I forgot and became distracted with a different task.
In the end, I did it! My jellyfish looked like a jellyfish and everything! I could not have done it if the glass master had left my side. The individual tasks were none too hard or overwhelming, but I could not have completed the entire project without without the help and guidance of the skilled glassblower.
God Brings Down the Walls
This experience reminds me of the times when God asks us to step up and do something with Him. Here in this passage in the book of Joshua, God was going to bring the walls of Jericho down. God did not need Joshua or his army; yet He was teaching them what they could do if only they would live a life of obedience to Him.
Jericho was a formidable city—daunting with its huge outer walls. From the outset, the task seemed impossible; yet God was with Joshua as He had been with Moses. As these verses record, God told Joshua exactly what He wanted him and the Israelite army to do: Joshua and his army were to walk around the city once a day for six days; then on the seventh day, they were to walk around it seven times.
Simple Tasks, Unconventional Strategy
Was this beyond their capabilities? No. If the Israelites could do anything at this point, it was walking—they’d just finished doing that exact thing in the desert for 40 years! Walking was in their gifted column. GREAT! Easy peasy. Oh, and the priests would need to go out in front, carrying seven trumpets; and just behind them would come the Ark of the Covenant (a visual reminder of God’s promises and provisions).
Is any part of that task list difficult? No.
Does it make sense? No, not so much. God was clearly telling Joshua what He wanted the Israelite army to do; now the question was, would they do it?
This is not how war is done, by the way. No general has ever re-used this tactical plan. Priests do not normally go in front of the army. Priests are not usually armed. When the priests blew those trumpets, they probably already felt like sitting ducks; and now, drawing all that attention to themselves, well….
Did God hate them? Did God want them killed for some reason? Had God read the rules of war? I’d have a lot of questions, especially if I’d been one of those priests: “Joshua, did you hear God right?”
God calls us to tasks, and often those tasks are not beyond our capability; we can walk, we can blow a trumpet, we can shout…. but the task does not appear to promise success in the end. We might end up a laughing stock. We’ll be the butt of jokes. That person will never speak to me again if I do that. My friend will think I’m crazy. We may think of a host of reasons not to obey God and take up the task, but what if we simply obeyed? How might we see God work?
All for God’s Glory
Whatever task He is asking you to perform, the work is impossible without God. He is doing the work, just as the glassmaster was really making the jellyfish that was in my hands. The work can’t be done—and is impossible to complete—without the Master at our side. It’s God who deserves the credit and the glory in the end.
Can’t you just hear Joshua’s response as the news reporter interviewed him after the walls fell? “Yah, well, we really had been practicing walking with power, and well, these new Air Jordan sandals, well they did the trick!” The idea of Joshua taking the credit is laughable. There is no other explanation but God. The problem often lies with us wanting a tithe of God’s glory.
Closing the Faith Gap
When God calls me to things that are only possible with Him, the question really comes down to obedience. There is always a gap between what I can do and what God must do. That gap is faith.
Do we have ears to hear what God is asking of us and the faith to do it? His command could be as simple as, “Text that friend of yours this verse that I showed you today.”
“But she’ll think I’m crazy!” So we don’t.
What if we did?? Obeying in the simple things is HARD, but in the end we just might see those walls of Jericho fall if we can get over our pride and desire for control and if we let God put those sandals on our feet to walk, place a trumpet in our hands to blow and give us a message for our voice to shout. The simplicity of faith is often HARD as we rely on God to do what He says He will do.
What Does it Mean to Me?
Do I have a testimony of a time when God nudged me to do something simple and I did it? What were the results? Was it for my harm or for His glory?
Has God ever called me to do something my pride just wouldn’t allow me to do? Have I ever regretted that?
Live it Out:
Today I pray that You, Lord, will make me sensitive to Your Spirit. Give me the faith to stop and talk to that person who passes my way, to encourage a clerk at the store with a gift or a word, or perhaps just text a friend with a verse. Lord, may it be You Who leads me. I tend to think I know best, and I know there’s someone who needs to hear from me. Help me to obey as You lead.
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