Daybreak: Joshua 5:1 through 6:27
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.” (Joshua 6:2)
We sat on a bench in front of the huge tabernacle, watching the people walk by while we visited. One couple smiled as they walked briskly along. They were walking for their health! About twenty minutes later they walked by again. As they came around the third time, we joked that on their sixth time around, we would move well away from that building — especially if they appeared with trumpets in their hands!
We were referring to the Biblical account of the battle of Jericho. God had told Joshua that when he followed His instructions, the walls of that city would fall down, and Joshua and the Children of Israel would be able to go in and take the city as promised. Joshua and the people did as God told them. His army marched around Jericho six days, and on the seventh day, they marched around seven times, then shouted and blew the trumpets they carried, and the walls fell down flat! God’s promise was fulfilled.
When we find a promise in God’s Word that fits what we need, God requires the same obedience and persistence that Joshua and the Children of Israel manifested on that occasion. We don’t have to make a lot of noise. We don’t have to talk it over among ourselves. We don’t even have to share the need, except perhaps to ask someone to join us in prayer. Then we must keep “marching around” that need with our prayers, until we receive the fulfillment of that promise.
God’s promises are guaranteed when we obey His instructions. God cannot lie, because He is God. His promises are not meant to tease us. They are meant to provide for us when we have a need. He is able to tear down walls.
Find a promise in His Word that fills your need today and start “marching.” It is guaranteed to make the enemy nervous, and victory is sure.
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years due to their lack of belief in God’s power. The Canaanites, however, were terrified when they heard of the power of this God. When they realized that the Israelites had crossed the Jordan River, their last natural protection, on dry land, the Bible says “their heart melted” from fear (Joshua 5:1). God was preparing the enemy for defeat even before the Israelites stepped into the Promised Land.
There were several preparations God required of His people. First, God reestablished his covenant with the Israelites by commanding all the males over eight days old to be circumcised. God had suspended this ritual during the wilderness wanderings and, therefore, all of those under forty years of age now underwent this procedure. This included the soldiers: a test of faith considering they were camped about two miles northeast of Jericho, and this procedure left them physically unable to participate in combat for a time.
Circumcision also qualified the men of Israel to observe the Passover, the second part of God’s preparation. This occasion was only the third such celebration, the first observed the night of the exodus from Egypt and the second at Mount Sinai before moving toward the Promised Land thirty-nine years earlier. Remembering the victories of the past gave the Children of Israel confidence for the victories of the future.
The appearance of the “Captain of the host of the Lord” to Joshua (beginning at 5:13) was the final ingredient for victory. Jewish scholars consider this being an angel; however, some Christian commentators believe this was one of the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus. Joshua worshiped this Captain and removed his sandals, as Moses had done in the presence of God at the burning bush. This meeting would have given Joshua the confidence he needed, as a leader of the people of God, to follow a strategy considered militarily ridiculous.
Jericho, in a strategic location, was a logical starting point for conquering Canaan. Protected by high, thick surrounding walls, the city was a symbol of military strength and power; defeating it was not likely. God’s instructions to Joshua, on the other hand, would never be considered logical from a human standpoint.
In His battle plan, God called for an unusual lineup of recruits: soldiers, followed by seven priests with rams horns, then the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, and finally the rear guard, a group of soldiers whose particular duty was to pull together any stragglers. This group was to march around the city once a day for six days without a sound other than the priests blowing the horns. On the seventh day, they were to circle the city seven times. On the seventh time, the marchers were to shout when the priests blew a longer note on the horns, and God promised the walls would fall down flat, at which time the army could take over the city. With Israel’s population more than two million, over 600,000 of which were able to bear arms (according to the military census in Numbers 26), most of the people remained in the camp at Gilgal.
There were several benefits to God’s unprecedented battle strategy. Certainly He made it unquestionably clear that Jericho was His victory, not that of the Israelite military. This event was a clear indication of God’s support for Joshua as the leader of His people. It was also a test of the faith, patience, and self-control of the Children of Israel. Additionally, it may have been a tactic to increase the fear of those living and taking refuge in the city of Jericho, making them easier to defeat once the walls fell.
It is interesting to note that the priests were to use trumpets made of rams’ horns. These instruments were typically reserved for celebrations, while trumpets made of silver usually signaled an important event. In the year of Jubilee, the priests used the rams’ horns to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land” (Leviticus 25:10). It seems that God wanted the Children of Israel to approach Jericho not as the beginning of a war, but as a celebration of the victories He had promised.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The land contested
A. The preparation for the conquest
3. The crossing of the Jordan
d. The result of the crossing
(3) The fear of the inhabitants (5:1)
4. The spiritual renewal at Gilgal (5:2-15)
a. The rite of circumcision renewed (5:2-9)
b. The Passover feast observed (5:10)
c. The cessation of manna (5:11-12)
d. The appearance of the captain of the Lord’s host (5:13-15)
B. The history of the conquest
1. The central campaign
a. The fall of Jericho (6:1-27)
(1) The instructions from the Lord (6:1-5)
(2) The destruction of the city (6:6-22)
(3) The preservation of Rahab (6:23-25)
(4) The curse upon the city (6:26-27)
A Closer Look
- When and why did God stop providing manna for the Children of Israel, and what did they eat from that year on?
- Why were Rahab and her family saved and honored to be part of the lineage of Christ? If they had wanted to, could other Canaanites have been saved?
- What are some victories God has promised you? How can you prepare yourself to be able to receive those victories?
Knowing they had followed God’s plan explicitly, the Children of Israel could celebrate the victory at Jericho, even before the walls fell. It is important to remember that obeying God will always bring victory, no matter how strange the instructions may seem.