Just about everyone has heard the story about Joshua and the walls of Jericho, probably because of the song line, “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, and the walls come tumblin’ down.” But the story is no legend or myth. About 40 years after the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt, they fought a decisive battle at Jericho in order to establish a beachhead in their new homeland. Jericho, a walled city, presented a major obstacle to the Israelites because it was right in their path into the Promised Land. It had to go! Because they looked to God in faith, He miraculously removed Jericho and the conquest of the Holy Land was able to proceed. Joshua 6 gives us the dramatic account of this most unique battle; but read chapters 1-6 to see all the important steps leading up to the climax when the walls of Jericho collapsed. This is important history because it is the divine record of how the Israelites received the land that God had promised them long before (Gen. 15:18). Through this nation and in this land would come the Savior for all mankind!
Important Spiritual Lessons
Besides the important history contained in Joshua, there are valuable spiritual lessons to be learned as well. There is the practical and devotional side to Joshua as well as the historical. The records of the battles that the Israelites fought contain spiritual principles for Christian warfare. We know from Scripture that Christians are involved in spiritual struggles with the devil, the enemy of our souls (Eph. 6:11-17). Satan wants to keep Christians from enjoying the spiritual blessings which are available to them in Christ. There really is love, joy, peace, rest, freedom, hope, security, and intimate fellowship to be experienced in the “Promised Land” of the Christian life. But Satan puts up his “Jericho walls” to keep us out of that land. The walls of doubt, discouragement and despair become major obstacles in the way. A particular sin or hangup in the Christian’s life can become a Jericho. The barriers seem insurmountable, and Satan laughs as we cringe in fear or are content to live in the “wilderness” of Christian experience. Are there any Jericho walls in your life?
The Israelites were God’s earthly people. He gave them an earthly inheritance and promised them earthly blessings (Josh. 1:3). All they had to do was possess the land (1:11). They had been in the wilderness for 40 years because of murmuring, complaining, disobedience and unbelief (Num. 32:13; 1 Cor. 10:5-11; Heb. 3:15-19). Now God wanted them to move out and claim the land that “flowed with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:8). The Lord promised them victory over Jericho and all the land. He also promised His constant presence with them (Josh. 1:5; 6:5). There was no need for them to be afraid or dismayed (1:9).
What a picture of the Christian life! We are God’s people and He has given us a heavenly inheritance and spiritual blessings. We see from this picture that there are reasons why we fail to enjoy the “milk and honey” of Christian living. Murmuring, complaining and unbelief are bound to result in desert-like conditions. Failure to claim our “Promised Land” will lead to the same. We are not to wait until we get to heaven to enjoy our heavenly inheritance. God wants us to cross our “Jordan” and claim the blessings which we have in Christ right now. This is what Ephesians 1:3 means when it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:4-14 lists some of our spiritual blessings. Are you enjoying them?
The good things of the “Promised Land” are ours for the taking, but we must claim them and appropriate them before we can call them our own (Josh. 1:3). A Christian who is afraid to die has not really claimed his security in Christ (Heb. 13:5). A Christian who is worried about the future has not really appropriated the “rest of soul” available in Christ (Mt. 11:29). A Christian who is always complaining has not really experienced the joy and peace of the kingdom (Rom. 14:17). A Christian who never gets along with his brothers and sisters in the Lord has not really walked in the land of overwhelming love which is available to every Christian. Read John 15:9 and think of how much love exists between the Father and the Son; that’s how much is given to us!
But what about our Jericho walls? They are there because Satan knows that a frustrated Christian is an ineffective Christian. He also knows that a Christian who is enjoying the blessings of Christ is a Christian who is spreading the kingdom of God. Therefore, Satan will do anything in his power to keep us defeated and ready to give up. But God has promised us victory (Rom. 8:37) just as he promised Joshua. He has also promised us His constant personal presence (Heb. 13:5) just as He promised Joshua. There is no need to fear (2 Tim. 1:7). There are no Jericho walls too high or too thick for God. What Jericho wall is keeping you from fully entering the land of blessing that God has in store for you? The walls of doubt, fear, temptation, secret sin or bad attitude are not impregnable!
Victory over Jericho was guaranteed, but it was not automatic. The Israelites had to follow the instructions God had given them to be sure of victory. And we too must follow His instructions to us if we are to see our walls come tumbling down (Josh. 6:20). In the steps leading up to the fall of Jericho we see some spiritual principles which bring sure victory when applied. Let’s look at two of them.
Two Important Principles
The first principle is to know and apply the Word of God (Josh. 1:7-8). The “Law” here means the first five books of the Bible that the people had at the time. We must do more than just read a bit of the Bible each week. We must study God’s Word until it characterizes our walk (1:8). We must obey it without compromise to be successful (1:7-8). This is the secret of success for the Christian.
Another principle for victory that emerges from these early chapters of Joshua is to follow the ark (Josh. 3:5-7). This principle may sound pretty far out until we realize that God is painting a picture to illustrate the principle He wants us to learn. The ark mentioned in Joshua 3-4 was not a big boat like Noah’s ark; it was a large-sized sacred box that the priests carried as the Israelites journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. It was kept in the most holy place – the tent of worship. The ark represented the meeting place between God and man. Once a year the blood of Old Testament sacrifices had to be presented on the ark before the Lord. This ark opened up the way through the Jordan River into the Promised Land (Josh. 3:13-17). This ark was carried in the midst of the Israelites when they marched around Jericho (6:8-9). In the illustration God has drawn for us, the ark pictures Jesus. He is the meeting place between God and man (Jn. 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5). He is the One whose blood was presented once and for all before God to settle the problem of sin (Heb. 9:11-15). He is the One who opened the way into the “land of blessing.” He is the One who must be at the center of our faith march around our Jericho walls. Our faith walk must be Christ-centered for the walls to fall!
There are many other spiritual principles of victory contained in Joshua, but these two are big enough to get us “into the land” where we can start to enjoy our inheritance in Christ. It we put Christ where He belongs in our lives and soak up His Word until it characterizes our lives, there will be no room for Jericho-wall type obstacles. Those barriers will just disappear. They may take a little time to fall, but remember the walls did not fall until the Israelites encircled the city by faith for seven days! If the principles are really applied your walls of Jericho will fall down!
By David R. Reid
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org