Forty years after the Israelites marched out of Egypt and escaped to freedom through God’s parting of the Red Sea, they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. But every person who had been twenty years old or more at the time of the Exodus had died on the journey -- except for two men. Moses did not enter the Promised Land either. At the end of his life, Moses was led by God to the top of Mount Nebo where he looked out and saw the Promised Land spread before him. Then, at the age of one hundred and twenty years, he died. Only two men remained from the Exodus generation, Joshua and Caleb, and they lived to make the journey because of their faithfulness. (You can read about this in Numbers 13 -14.)
Joshua led the new generation across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. The river was the first obstacle he faced as the new leader of the Israelite people. By faith he carried out his task, and would now face his second obstacle: the imposing walled city of Jericho. God gave Joshua clear instructions for taking the city, but this was to be a strange sort of battle. “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that 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 of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead” (Joshua 6:2-5).
Joshua faithfully relayed God’s instructions to the priests and the people and then gave the order, “Go forward and march around the city…” (Joshua 6:7). By faith, every person obeyed Joshua. The people marched silently around the city of Jericho once a day for six days. You can imagine the heckling, insults, and ridicule they endured from the people of Jericho who felt safe and secure looking out over the imposing walls of their city. But the people of Israel marched on, in silence, by faith.
All those who marched had been teenagers or younger when they left Egypt. Some had not been born yet, but they knew how God had brought their families out of slavery and they had experienced His miracles while marching through the wilderness. They had miraculously crossed through the Jordan River into the land God had promised to their Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and now they faced their first challenge in taking the land as their own. Perhaps it was not quite what they expected. Marching silently around the city walls was definitely unconventional and probably felt a little weird and uncomfortable, maybe even an impractical gesture to some. But they obeyed God - they obeyed Joshua’s command. And on the seventh day they got up early in the morning and marched in silence around the walls of Jericho, not just once but seven times. On the seventh time, the priests blew the trumpets and every person shouted as loud as they could. And the walls of Jericho fell down flat (Joshua 6:20).
Joshua and the people marched by faith for seven days and then watched God accomplish the impossible. They showed their faith through obedience to God and His word, and victory was theirs. The Scripture gives us many verses that cite the importance of obedience to God.* It is through obedience that we give feet to our faith and march ahead each day of our Christian lives, even when it's hard work, even though we may be tired, and even though there may be some who ridicule us and put us down and victory seems impossible. It is through obedient faith that victory comes. And victory will not come without it.
As we get up out of bed each morning and put our feet on the ground, let’s remember to use our feet to follow God in obedience wherever and however He calls us. Let’s pray for ourselves and for each other to have faith as courageous and committed as Joshua and the people of Israel. For
“faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield” (John H. Yates, 1891).
with love in Christ
*Here are a few of my favorite verses about obedience.
Exodus 19:5 - Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.
Deuteronomy 11:1 - You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.
Luke 11:28 - ….Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.
John 14:15 - "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
Hebrews 13:17 - Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.
Revelation 14:12 - Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.