When God led the Nation of Israel across the Jordan River to the Promised Land, the first big obstacle was the ancient City of Jericho.
The walls around the city were forty feet thick at the bottom and sloped inward on both sides, which made them stronger than if the sides went straight up. The top was twenty feet wide – wide enough for chariot races.
No enemy had ever been able to penetrate those walls. The reputation of Joshua and his army had preceded them so all the inhabitants of the Jordan valley were holed up inside Jericho, secure in their belief that the walls would keep yet another invading army at bay.
Joshua approached those massive walls wondering what God’s plan was for overcoming the seemingly impenetrable defenses, he didn’t know how God would do it, but he believed God would. And God gave him instructions, he told Joshua exactly what to do. Imagine how he must have felt telling the people to walk silently around those enormous walls, silently except for blowing shofar, a ram horn.
And the people of Jericho undoubtedly lined the tops of the walls and laughed and shouted at the Israelites.
As he carried out God’s plan, Joshua ignored the people on the walls (he probably heard enough criticism from his own people) and did what God told him to do. Joshua is a great example of learning to fight life’s battles God’s way. Here are three important principles we can learn from this story.
Fight with worship and prayer: for six days the army, the priests, the people and the Ark of the Covenant paraded around Jericho in silence, except for blowing the shofar. The shofar represents God’s call to worship and silence reflects our openness to hearing God’s voice.
Fight according to God’s rules of engagement: the Lord told Joshua exactly what he wanted his people to do and how he wanted them to do it. This was not going to be a typical military strategy, it would be a God strategy.
Fight – but the battle belongs to the Lord: in the end, God only needed the army to mop up, the battle itself was fought and won by the Lord in a way that Jericho could not resist. God calls us to faith and expects our obedience but the battle belongs to the Lord.
Joshua and the People of Israel attacked Jericho God’s way, they trusted him and followed his plan. The impenetrable walls collapsed and the city that could not be defeated was theirs. “This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (Chronicles 20:15).