Sunday Sermon: ‘And the Walls Came Tumbling Down’

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Joshua 6:1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.

4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD. 7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed – pass on before the ark of the LORD.

8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets  of rams’ horns passed on before  the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed  them. 9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. 11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.

12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward [rear guard] came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing  with the trumpets. 14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. 15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. 20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city,  every man straight before him, and they took the city.

I. Problem

A. Jericho

Jericho was one of the oldest cities in civilization. Archeologists estimated that its roots date back to around 9,000 BC. It was one of the greatest challenges Joshua and the people would face, yet it was in a strategic location. If the Israelites could take Jericho, they would divide the land of Canaan. For those of us familiar with the layout of VA, it would be like taking Lynchburg instead of Bristol. If you started at Bristol, the enemies would soon start gathering together and maybe outnumber you. But if you took Lynchburg, then you would divide the enemies on the west from the enemies on the east and those from the north.

Jericho was also well fortified. It is estimated that it was approximately 8 to 9 acres in size with not one, but two sets of protective walls around it. The city itself was built upon a mound with a wall that was 20 to 30 feet high and almost as thick around it. Then at the bottom of the bank, another wall had been build for added protection. From ground level, the top wall may have been eight to ten stories high.

In addition, it had a continuous source of fresh water coming into it and archeologists have discovered vast amounts of earthen jars filled with grain. Normally an enemy would attack a city like Jericho by building a siege ramp around it so that they could march over the walls. Therefore, those inside had to be prepared to hold up for maybe a year or more. The jars are still full because it didn’t take six months to a year to defeat Jericho. It only took one week!

Verse 2 of this passage tells us also that Jericho had many ‘mighty men of valour.’ Jericho hadn’t existed for thousands of years by accident. Up to this point they had defeated every enemy that had come against them.

B. Impossibility

Humanly speaking, defeating a city like Jericho was an impossibility. But may I remind you that with God – nothing shall be impossible.

II. Plan

A. Normal Plan

The normal plan for overcoming a city like Jericho would have been to build a siege ramp against the walls and march in with your entire army. Such an undertaking might have taken six months to a year, yet while you’re doing so, you could be starving out those inside. During the time just before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, scripture says that parents ate their own children.

For Joshua and his army, there must have been a terrible temptation to use brute force and power. As I have studied this week for this message, I have learned that the estimated population for Jericho was somewhere between one and two thousand. Yet we are told that the nation Israel numbered over two million with over 600 thousand in the army alone. Joshua outnumbered Jericho 2000 to 1. Even his army outnumbered them 500 to 1. Perhaps the greatest battle Joshua and his men had to fight that week was not the one on the outside of them, but the one on the inside of them. It’s hard to follow God’s plan when you’ve got one of your own.

B. God’s plan

Which brings us to God’s plan. What was it? March around the city in silence for six days and on the seventh day, march around it seven times and shout! In other words, put your total dependence in the Lord.

III. Purpose

Why does God do things like this? Why does God put us up against impossible situations and then tell us to sit quietly and wait? I don’t like that, do you? I’m the Type A personality I was talking about last week. I always show up early because if there’s something to get done, let’s do it!

A. The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Many of you grew up singing the song about Jericho. “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.” That’s a cute song but it’s not biblically correct. Joshua’s fighting didn’t bring down the walls, nor did an earthquake or the shout of over 2 million people. Consider what God’s Word says –

Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

Faith brought down the walls!

B. We talk a lot about faith here at Twin Oaks

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is , and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

What is faith? Faith is the confidence and trust in God that causes us to obey. Study the heroes of Hebrews 11 and you will find men and women who were given difficult and impossible situations, yet who had such confidence in God that they obey whatever He told them to do and as a result, they saw God perform miracles. That’s why God gives us walls like Jericho. God wants to be glorified through our faith in Him.

C. The Greatest Miracle @ Jericho

What was the greatest wonder at Jericho? Many would say the walls collapsing. Yet the greatest wonder was not the walls crashing but the people obeying.

Joshua 6:10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.

Finally, after forty years of wandering in a wilderness, the people were ready to trust God and obey. I’ve thought this week about how hard of a temptation it must have been for them to talk. You would expect to read something like this in scripture –

Day 1 – “I’m sorry, were you talking to me? I was busy discussing this with my friend.”

Day 2 – “Didn’t we do this yesterday?”

Day 3 – “I’m too tired to march today.”

Day 4 – “Hey Josh! What are we waiting for? Christmas? Let’s just take it and be done with it!”

Day 5 – “I’m not sure Joshua is the best leader.”

Day 6 – “Is this going to take all day? I’ve got other plans”

Day 7 – “Hey buddy, didn’t you ever read the Ten Commandments? This is supposed to be a day of rest!”

Yet they didn’t do any grumbling or complaining. I tried to do a little bit of calculation on the enormity of this miracle. If you would take an army of 600,000 men and line them up, giving them two feet in front and two feet behind, they would stretch out nearly 455 miles. If you line them up, ten shoulder to shoulder, it would still be a line of 45 miles. According to Yahoo Answers.com, the average walking speed of a young adult is right at 3.5 miles per hour. If you have a line 45 miles long and and walk 3.5 miles an hour, it will take you a little over 12 hours from the beginning of the line to the end of the line for everyone to go around the city. I don’t know how Joshua did it or how long it took, but it must have been all day. It’s hard to believe that many people could be that obedient for seven days in a row. Yet consider what God can accomplish in just one week if His people will determine to be completely obedient.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude with some verses on the importance and power of our obedience to God.

Isaiah 40:28 Hast thou not known ? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary ; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Jeremiah 17:5  Thus saith the LORD; Cursed  be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh  flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth  from the LORD. 7  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD,  and whose hope the LORD is.

Psalm 46:10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted  among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Heb 11:30  By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

God has a plan for every problem and He has the power to see that His plan always gets done. However, what’s often lacking is our patience to wait upon God and His perfect timing. God could have torn the walls down on the first day, but He didn’t. Nor did He do so on the second day, or the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth day. Joshua and the people could have prayed until they were blue in the face, but it wouldn’t have hurried the will of God. It was God’s will for the walls to come down on the seventh day, after the people had compassed the city seven times. If Joshua and the people had decided at any point that they had a better plan that could have hurried things along, they would have failed. But as they waited upon the Lord and were completely obedient, God brought the walls down with nothing more than a shout.

Perhaps today is a day for you to shout. Perhaps today is a day for you to patiently wait.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

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