Devotional: ‘Marching in Silence’

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Have you ever seen a football team just before the game begins? Most of the time there is one player who is a leader and he’s shouting words of encouragement in the faces of his teammates. He’s pumped and he’s trying to get everyone else on the team pumped. But sometimes getting over-pumped can become a problem. Often a team begins the game playing rather poorly because they’re being guided more by their emotions than by the skills they have been taught in practice. Often it is the team that is able to exercise self-control that ends up winning the game.

Consider Joshua’s strategy for marching against Jericho-

Joshua 6:10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” ESV

God’s plan for defeating Jericho was rather unorthodox. Each morning Joshua would arouse his army and have them prepare for battle. Then he commanded them to march around the city in total silence and not say a word. Even when the enemy tried to taunt them, they were to remain silent. The only sound that could be heard from the army of Israel was the sound of priests blowing their rams’ horns.

Why do you suppose God chose to use such a strange method? What affect do you think it might have had upon the inhabitants of Jericho as they stood and watched this unusual event? Perhaps on the first day they questioned what the Israelites were doing. Maybe on the second day they began to mock them. By the third or fourth day they probably began to discount any threat of an attack. But maybe by the fifth or sixth day, a slight tinge of fear could began to develop in their hearts. The Bible says – “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Pr 17:28 ESV) There is great power and strength in self-control. I wonder if by the end of the week, the silence of Israel began to seem more like a roar.

What affect do you think the silent march might have had upon the army of Israel? Perhaps on the first day their adrenaline was running so high they were unaware of what was happening. Maybe on the second day they began to question what Joshua was doing and by the third or fourth day they were probably questioning his ability to lead. But by the fifth or sixth day they were perhaps beginning to feel a growing sense of confidence. And by the end of the week, they were ready to do whatever Joshua told them to do.

Joshua 6:10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” ESV

How loud do you think their shout really was? I’m sure that it was far louder than it would have been if they had been allowed to shout at the beginning of the week. It was louder to the ears of inhabitants of Jericho and it was louder to hearts of the soldiers of Israel. Their shout was more than just noise. It was the cry of victory!

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