Have you ever faced a set of circumstances that you honestly could see no way out of? Our family has faced a series of seemingly impossible circumstances in recent years, including an unexpected property tax bill we had no way to pay, a lack of transportation we had no solution for, and a reduction of income after losing our son last November that made it appear we would be a facing a deficit in money to cover our monthly bills. In each of these situations, God has made a way where we could not see a way. And God also has the answer for any insurmountable situation you may be facing.
When I opened a devotional I receive in my daily email Monday morning, ready to begin my morning quiet time, the Scripture was from Hebrews 11:30. It read, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” But as soon as I read the verse, I sensed the Lord speaking to my heart that faith – the subject of the devotional – was only one of the requirements for bringing down the walls of Jericho. Yes, faith is important, but alone it won’t do the job. So before actually reading what the author of the devotional had to say, I took some time to look back at Joshua 6, where this story is recorded in detail.
This account of the fall of Jericho begins with these words:
“Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.’” Joshua 6:1-2 (ESV)
With the city “shut up inside and outside” there was no way for Israel to get into the city of Jericho, definitely not to take the land that God was calling them to take. The huge city gates had been sealed shut, and no one could enter or leave the heavily fortified walled city. Joshua and the people he was leading had an insurmountable problem that was beyond their ability to resolve.
The stories recorded in the Old Testament are more than bedtime stories to share with our children. They are true stories that were written for our instruction, to give us hope when we face circumstances we can see no way out of. As Romans 15:4 tells us, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
If you haven’t read Joshua 6 for a while, I encourage you to take time now to pick up your Bible or open your Bible app to do so. As you read Joshua 6, look for the specific instructions the Lord gave Joshua, and be alert to any information given about his and the people’s response. Then come back and finish today’s Teaching Tuesday post.
So what was the Lord wanting us to learn from this rather bizarre battle story? I saw at least five important lessons we need to heed when we face situations we can see no logical way of.
- The first truth that stood out to me is that God’s ways are not like our ways. As Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” If I were coming up with a battle plan to breach an immovable wall, I don’t think it would include marching around the wall daily for six days and then seven times on the seventh day. If doubt my “weapon” of choice would be trumpets made from rams’ horns or late shouting at a pre-arranged time. How about you? But if God’s ways are not our ways, we need to be sure we are trusting in the Lord and not leaning on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
- The second lesson that stands out to me is when faced with impossible circumstances, Joshua listened to all of God’s instructions. God could have just given him the instructions day by day, as He sometimes does, but in this case He gave the entire battle plan before the implementation of it began. Joshua didn’t jump ahead of God. He listened to God’s full plan before he took the first step.
- Third, Joshua and the men he was leading followed the Lord’s instructions to completion. God could have brought down the wall in one day or even one hour, but that wasn’t His plan. He gave Joshua a detailed battle plan and Joshua led the people in following it exactly as it was given. Obedience was a key to the victory that was to follow. Genuine faith in God is shown by doing what He has told u to do. As it says in James 2:26, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
- Another truth I saw as I read this chapter is that God didn’t just give Israel His battle instructions and then leave. Behind the men of war (who were armed but not instructed to use their arms to bring down the wall), there were to be seven priests carrying seven trumpets made of rams horns. And after the trumpet bearers, the processional ended with some Levites (probably four, though the number isn’t included here) carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The significance of this is that the Ark was God’s dwelling place on earth – they took God with them as they were following these unusual battle plans.
- Finally, Joshua and the men of Israel did not bring down the wall. God did! He alone has the power to bring down the walls that are holding us back from fulfilling His purposes. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:57, God is the One who gives victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I don’t know if you are currently facing a situation in your life that looks insurmountable, but if you are I encourage you to take these five lessons from the story of Jericho’s walls coming down and apply them to what you’re facing. Remember, our God is still in control, and He has the power to bring us to victory. Seek His face, listen for His instructions, and walk in full obedience as you trust in Him to do the work only He can do.