Marching Orders

I’m about to make you uncomfortable. 

In Joshua chapter 6, we see an incredible event take place.  The people of Israel had just crossed over the Jordan River and into the land of Canaan.  This land was the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to give them possession of some 500 years prior.

Imagine their excitement!  They had heard stories from their ancestors for as long as they could remember of how God would finally deliver them and give them their own land, a place to be, a wonderful place full of everything they could ever want or need!  They had just spent 40 miserable, exhausting years aimlessly wandering the same plot of desert.  They had children, and those children had children, and all the while they had told them the story of the land flowing with milk and honey.

And now they were here!

And they were prepared for battle. 

They had rallied the troops, so to speak.  They needed to be ready, because the walls of Jericho were thick, impenetrable walls.  These walls were roughly 11 feet high and 14 feet thick.  These walls would not go down easily.  It was going to take a battering ram, a lot of muscle, and most likely there would be a substantial loss of life to win this battle and take possession of the city.  Winning this kind of battle would have taken months of planning, and weeks of consistent fighting.  The walls of Jericho wouldn’t come down without a fight!

Or would they?

The people were prepared for a battle to be certain.  Imagine their surprise when Joshua gave them the word from the Lord.  They were to march in silence around the city, something that would have taken roughly an hour.  The priests were to blow their horns, but no battle cries, no shouting, just marching.  I can imagine that this was most difficult for the fighting men.  I imagine that they were amped up and ready for battle, so the idea of marching in silence must have seemed odd.  Even foolish. 

They did this for six days.  Each day they rose and marched around the city in silence.  All the while, some were probably questioning the odd battle plan that the Lord had given Joshua.  Possibly even doubting that it could work.  Maybe even feeling foolish as the inhabitants of the city jeered and mocked them and their God. 

But they did it.  Faithfully.  Obediently.

There’s that word.  Obedience. It makes us uncomfortable. It’s not a popular word in today’s society is it?  In a society where some like to give children freedom to make their own decisions.   In a society full of social unrest.  Obedience has an overtone that we just don’t really care for or like to talk about.

But God told the Israelites to be obedient to His instructions, and to simply march.  So they marched.

Close to home

And what happens next is absolutely incredible!  On the seventh day, they were told to march around the city seven times.  Seven hours.  Seven hot, tiring, hours.  Seven hours on the seventh day of absolutely NOTHING happening.  The people inside the city walls must have had more confidence on this day than ever, that the God of the Israelites was not powerful enough to do anything, much less defeat the impenetrable walls of their fortified city.

But after that seventh time around, Joshua commanded the people “Shout!  For the Lord has given you the city!” Joshua 6:20 tells us what happened next, as a result of their obedience.  “When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.” Can you say CRAZY?

I strongly encourage you to read the full story of this incredible battle. You’ll find it in Joshua chapter 6.

But don’t miss the lesson.  It was not the swords, the fighting men, the battle plan, the strong force of weaponry or a genus military strategy that brought the victory.  It was obedience.  Plain and simple.  Obedience.

I think too often, we try to “do more” for God when what He really desires is that we trust and obey His word.  1 Samuel 15:22 says “But Samuel replied, ‘What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice.’”  The word obedience can make us uncomfortable.  But there is freedom in obeying God.  If you imagine obedience as chains, holding you back, shift your focus. 

Obedience is peace. 

Obedience is victory.

Obedience is protection.

If God can bring down the mighty walls of a fortified city with first marching and then a mighty shout, think what He can do for us when we follow more closely and listen to Him more faithfully.

What situation in your life do you need God to handle?  What battle are you fighting on your own? Do you need to hand it over to Him? Are you fighting, or marching?  Are you charging or waiting? Sometimes we need to “march around the city” so to speak.  God will knock down the walls, in His time, when we obey. Then we will have victory!

Dear Lord, my humanity often struggles with the concept of obedience.  Since The Fall, we have wrestled with doing life our own way.  Remind me often of the story of Joshua and the Jericho walls.  Remind me of the power I can have over difficulties in my life and heart when I surrender to you and allow you to lead the battle.  Show me where I need to trust and submit to you more.  I know you want what is best for me always.  Your love for me is greater than I can imagine.  Help me to honor you in my heart first, because I need my heart to be right with you to allow you to work out your plans for me.  

Try reading Psalm 51

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