Study 1 THE TRIUMPH OF FAITH - JERICHO
MORE STUDIES IN HEBREWS 11
by Francis Dixon
Scripture References: Hebrews 11:30; Joshua 3:1-17; 5:1,13,15; 6:1-21
In this second series of studies in Hebrews Eleven we commence at Hebrews 11:30, where we read that “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.” We notice in Joshua 6:20 that the walls of the city collapsed; and it is well to remember that modern archaeological and geological research have established the fact that there was an ancient city called Jericho and that the walls of this city did fall down.
Forty years elapsed between the crossing of the Red Sea and the capture of Jericho, during which the Children of Israel were in the vast and dreadful desert (Deuteronomy 8:15). Why was this? From their standpoint it was because of failure and unbelief - look up Hebrews 3:8 and 12. From God’s standpoint it was because of His purpose in chastening His children - look up Deuteronomy 8:2-5, and compare Hebrews 12:5-11. We would have thought that after the Red Sea deliverance the Israelites would have said, ‘We will never doubt God again!’ Probably they did say that, but they had evil and unbelieving hearts, as we all have - look up Hebrews 3:19. How frail we are, and how faithful He is!
After the Israelites had passed over Jordan “on dry ground”, the effect upon the surrounding nations was very great, and Jericho was ‘a closed city’ - compare Joshua 5:1 and 6:1; but, by faith, they were to capture Jericho. God promised to give it to them (see this in Joshua 6:2); and they had to trust Him to fulfil His word - read Joshua 6:3-5. It may be that you are seeking victory over sin, self and Satan and you want to learn the secret of the triumphant life - look up 2 Corinthians 2:14. If so, read Joshua 6:1-21 and notice from this graphic incident the characteristics of a faith which triumphs over every obstacle and difficulty.
1. It is simple in its activity.
We sometimes imagine that faith is a difficult and a mysterious thing. Is it? Just think for a moment. Jericho was to be captured. It was a walled city, and it would be impossible, even with a gigantic army, to overthrow the walls of that city - and yet that is exactly what the Israelites were to do, not with an army but by faith; they were simply to trust God to do it for them. Could anything be simpler than that? All they had to do was to ”stand firm and you will see the deliverance of the Lord” - look up Exodus 14:13. This is faith’s way of victory over all our enemies, whether our enemy is the world (1 John 2:15-16); the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21); or the Devil (1 Peter 5:8). Human resources are quite insufficient, and the arm of flesh is altogether inadequate - look up Philippians 3:3. The way of victory, for life and for service, is to take the victory which God gives - look up and compare Joshua 6:2,16 and 1 Corinthians 15:57. Victory is not achieved by struggle and by effort, it is received and experienced and enjoyed by faith - look up 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.
2. It is foolish in its explanation.
Ask Joshua how this great victory is to be achieved, and what does he reply? - look up Joshua 6:15-16. ‘But Joshua, that is foolish!’ ‘Yes, but the wisdom of God is foolishness with men. This is how God is going to accomplish the victory. We have His word for it!’ – look up Joshua 6:2-5 and compare 1 Corinthians 1:25-29. How foolish to compass a city seven times! How foolish for the people to shout! How foolish for the priests to blow the trumpets! - look up Joshua 6:20. But foolish though it may have seemed, “the wall collapsed.” God’s way is the best way, and the only way, however foolish it may seem. ”It is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the prudent will I reject. For consider, what have the philosopher, the writer and the critic of this world to show for all their wisdom? Has not God made the wisdom of this world look foolish? For it was after the world in its wisdom had failed to know God that He in His wisdom chose to save all who would believe by the ‘simple-mindedness’ of the gospel message” (1 Corinthians 1:19-21, JBP).
3. It is complete in its obedience.
A careful reading of Joshua 6 reveals that God’s instructions were carried out. Joshua, the priests and the people did what God commanded them, and this is an important mark of the faith that triumphs. How often we are slow to obey the Lord! And even when we intend to obey Him our obedience is sometimes only partial. He wants our full unquestioning obedience, and how pleasing this is to Him, and how profitable it is to us! For an Old Testament illustration of this kind of obedience, see 2 Samuel 15:15; and for a New Testament illustration, see Acts 8:26-30.
4. It is perfected in its testing.
It must have been a tremendous test of faith for Joshua and the Children of Israel to wait seven days before they saw the victory. Think how fatigued the men of war and the priests would be after compassing the city seven times on the seventh day - read Joshua 6:15-16. Their strength was at a very low ebb and their human resources were nil - and these are the conditions necessary before God can give His victories. Why? - the answer is in 1 Corinthians 1:29. How hard it must have been for the people to remain silent and to leave the whole situation to the Lord! But waiting time is never wasted time when faith is operating and when it is God’s will that we are waiting for - compare Joshua 6:15-16 and 20-21 with Isaiah 28:16.
5. It is terrible (and wonderful) in its achievement.
It is terrible for the ungodly, but it is wonderful for the people of God. God’s deliverances are always accompanied by His judgments - carefully read Joshua 6:15,16,20,21. It was so in the case of the ark and the flood (Genesis 7:23); it was so in the case of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:28-30); and it was so in this case in the destruction of Jericho and the salvation of those who trusted Him. It will be so when God’s next victory is given; it will mean glory and triumph for His people (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17); but it will mean terrible sorrow and tears and eternal separation from the Lord for those who, like Jericho, are under condemnation - look up John 3:18; 3:36 and 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
How grateful we should feel to the Lord if we have been led, through grace, to trust Him as our triumphant Saviour and our God!