And the Walls Came A-Tumblin’ Down
Almost everyone knows the story of the battle of Jericho. And with just a bit of spiritual liberty, we could say that there is much about the conquering of Jericho that relates to our lives as believers in Yeshua. For example, we could say that those walls are like the walls in our lives that keep us from occupying” more fully the “promised land”—the abundant life that God has told us, his children, to possess. Then if the walls of Jericho represent barricades, the collapse of those walls represents the miraculous ways in which God can tear down our barricades and turn the victory over to us.
Yes, everyone is familiar with the fall of Jericho—or rather, everyone is familiar with the fall of the walls of Jericho. Because we’re naturally drawn to the dramatic, it’s not surprising that the wonder-filled parts of the story remain uppermost in our minds. But there’s more to the battle of Jericho than crumbling bricks. We need to remember that the Israelites marched around those walls for a total of seven days before they crumbled to the ground.
I suppose that if it were up to most of us, we would be more than content to take a back seat while God went about disintegrating walls, parting bodies of water and providing manna and quail. But that’s not always the way it works. Oftentimes God chooses to work in conjunction with us. In other words, he couples his miracles with a lot of marching on our part! Of course, we must not forget even for a moment that the victories are his, and that the outcome always rests squarely upon the twin pillars of his mercy and grace. Nevertheless, we must always remember that :he response of faith is action. God told Joshua and the Israelites that the walls would fall. In response to that pledge from his mouth, he expected the obedience of their feet.
Something else occurs to me: As we obey God’s marching orders, why should we be surprised if we end up looking rather foolish to everyone else around? What do you suppose the defenders of Jericho thought as they watched the Israelites trudge around the city walls day after day? Whatever else crossed their minds, they must have thought, “These guys are not very smart!” They would have had good reason for such thoughts. Marching around a walled city for a total of seven days in full battle gear is not, humanly speaking, the wisest stratagem to employ. More often than not, the only result from such a tactic would be the utter exhaustion of the troops.
Why, then, does God have us “march” sometimes to the point of deep fatigue, and certainly to the point of looking foolish in the eyes of those who do not believe? I think it’s so that when the victory does occur, there will be no doubt that it transpired not by our might nor by our power, but by the Spirit of the living God (see Zech. 4:6). Another verse, I Corinthians 1:27, states: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”
So God wants to make certain that he gets the credit. Fine. And in response to his promise of victory, he expects obedience. So we march—but for seven days? That’s a lot of marching! Couldn’t God have crumbled the walls of Jericho after just one day of marching? Of course he could. But he told the Israelites to circle the walls for a total of seven days. Whatever else all that marching entailed, it must have been tedious!
Many times our day-to-day service for the Lord is also tedious. We long for a miracle to offset the commonplace, forgetting that the miraculous is often preceded by the mundane. God wants us to be faithful in the tedious, everyday “nuts and bolts” of our daily walk and routine responsibilities. And as we are faithful in the performance of our day-to-day tasks, we can trust him to honor and establish the work of our hands, not to mention the marching of our feet.
Have you chosen to take a back seat? Or are you marching and think you look foolish? Are you tired of trudging along? “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). Just keep marching. And don’t be surprised when, in God’s time, the walls come a-tumblin’ down!
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.