By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. Hebrews 11:30
As the Hebrews, under the leadership of Joshua, prepared to enter and subdue the Promised Land, they sent spies out to get a feel for what they would encounter. They were particularly interested in Jericho (Josh. 2.1), a strongly defended city they would have become familiar with during their days of wandering in the desert. The city is mentioned twelve times as a reference point for location and events that occurred during the Hebrews’ time in the desert. The spies determined the people were fainthearted because of what the Lord had done for the Hebrews (Josh. 2.24). Yet impenetrable walls surrounded the city. Gaining access would be no easy task.
Can you imagine Joshua’s response when God told him to walk around the city once a day for six days and then to walk around the city seven times on the seventh day, armed only with the ark, trumpets, and shouts? I can envision a Bill Cosby comedy routine. But this was not comic fodder. God was serious. He would give His people the victory in a most unusual manner if they were obedient to do as He instructed.
Scripture contains no indication of Joshua’s response when God communicated His method for granting the victory. Nor is there any indication of how the people responded when Joshua communicated what God had told him. To Joshua’s and the people’s credit, they carried out the instructions just as God specified and realized the victory just as God promised.
Hebrews 11, often referred to as the Hall of Faith, points to many people who acted in faith. In fact, the phrase by faithis used eighteen times in this chapter. In every instance save one, it is followed either by a name or a pronoun. Only in the instance of Jericho’s defeat is the reference restricted entirely to an event. Why is this? Perhaps because there were too many people to name.
Acting in Faith
God had commanded all the people to circle the city. How effective would it have been if Joshua had circled the city by himself? How effective would it have been only the priests had taken God at His word and circled the city? In this instance, God’s promised victory would be realized only if the entire nation took Him at His word. They experienced their first victory in the Promised Land when they had faith in God’s unconventional method of defeating Jericho.
Today we live in a culture that is highly individualistic. Over and over we hear messages telling us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, make something of our lives, show something for our time. In some circumstances those responses may be appropriate. Yet God may want to give us the victory not because of what we do as individuals, but because of our participation in a larger body of people, a body where we are one of too many people to name? The most obvious place this could happen is in our churches. Just as God has a plan for us as individuals, He also has a plan for the body of Christ to which we belong. He may want to do something unbelievably amazing in our church when we, as a collective group of believers, take Him at His word.
Is there an area in which God is calling you, along with other believers, to act in faith and take Him at His word in order to see an amazing victory realized through unconventional means? Are you willing to take the steps God is asking you to in order to realize an amazing victory?