Your Battles and the Walls of Jericho
With thanks for Kelcy for the initial idea - Joshua 5-6
By Paul Robison

“The ancient city of Jericho stood on the western side of the Jordan, opposite Mt. Nebo.  It was near the camp of the Israelites.  This city was ruled by a king, was surrounded by a great wall, and had a massive gate which was closed at night” (Kelcy).  Jericho was an oasis with a spring and was called 'the city of palm trees' (Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 3:13).  After the conquest of Jericho by Joshua, the city lay in ruins until it was rebuilt in King Ahab's day” (Kelcy).  This sermon has to do with the fall of Jericho's wall, which took place in about 1400 B. C.  This fascinating historical incident provides many lessons.  Remember how Paul tells us that things written in the Old Testament can be useful for our instruction (Romans 15:4).
 
The first lesson is this: Your battle is part of a greater battle.  Let's read 5:13-14: “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand.  And Joshua went to Him and said to Him: 'Are you for us or for our adversaries?'  So He said: 'No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come.'”  Joshua sees a divine Being bearing a sword.  Why is that Being doing this?  God's punishment is about to fall on Jericho.  Why is that?  One commentator observes: “The moral cancer of Canaan was, at that point in time, out of control, and there was no other recourse available to terminate the wicked debaucheries and immoralities of the people running wild, unrestrained, in utter rebellion against their Creator” (Coffman).  You see, the battle at Jericho is not just the Israelites fighting with the Canaanites; it is really the Commander of the army of the Lord fighting for justice against Satan and his forces who fostered the wickedness.  Your battle is part of a greater battle.  Jesus and Satan are still in a great cosmic battle where good is continually combating evil.  Remember this: There is no weapon stronger than the sword which Jesus possesses: “And the rest [of Satan's allies, whether human or spirit] were killed by the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (Revelation 19:21)!  Your battle is part of a greater battle in which Jesus Himself is engaged!
 
The next lesson is: Your battle should begin with worship, submission, and reverence to God.  Let's notice 5:14-15: “And Joshua fell on his face and worshiped, and said to Him: 'What does my Lord say to His servant?'  Then the Commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua: 'Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.'  And Joshua did so.”  Doesn't Joshua's worship to this Divine Being show us that it is either God or Jesus, and not just an angel?  This Divine Being must have looked very majestic, powerful, and awesome for tough Joshua to lay prostrate on the ground and render worship to this Being.  Then notice how Joshua acknowledges the lordship of the Divine Being and his own position as a servant.  This is true submission.  Then notice that the Commander tells Joshua to remove his shoes to show reverence, just as God had ordered Moses to do at the burning bush.  Your battle should begin with worship, submission, and reverence to God.  “Instead of [jumping] into battle, we must 'take time to be holy'” (Wiersbe).  A holy person is a powerful weapon in God's hand!  We need to worship before warring, to submit before starting the battle, to reverence before rushing (Gangel).  “The last four words of this chapter are powerful: 'And Joshua did so.'  ... Wherever [Joshua] found himself and whatever God asked of him, Joshua did it.  Circumcise the troops—yes, Sir.  Celebrate the Passover—yes, Sir.  Take off your sandals—yes, Sir.  [This is] hardly the typical position for a great military commander, but it is precisely where God wanted Joshua—and where He wants us [as well]” (Gangel).  Your battle should begin with worship, submission, and reverence to God.
 
The next lesson is: Your battle needs God's plan.  In the battle of Jericho, God's plan is described in 6:1-6.  It can be summarized in this way: “The army of Israel, [along with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant], was to encompass the city one time each day for six days [in silence], and then seven times on the seventh day.  After this, the priests were to blow the trumpets, and when the [soldiers] heard the blast of ram's horns and trumpets, they were to shout [very loudly].  These instructions were followed by the promise that 'that the wall of the city will fall down flat' (verse 6)” (Kelcy).  Now in all military history, this must be one of the strangest ways to bring down a wall, but this just clearly reveals to us that God's ways of doing things are not man's ways of doing things.  Your battle needs God's plan.  When God gave instructions to the Jews to put blood all around their door posts in order to survive the slaying by the death angel, they must have thought: “This is a very unusual way to bring about our liberty!”  God's telling Moses to make a serpent of brass to heal snakebite went contrary to any medical practices.  Jesus' birth is very different from men's myths.  The cross is a very unusual instrument to bring about salvation.  God's plan may not seem to make any earthly sense.  “Becoming a child of God is not the result of human ingenuity.  What man would have ever thought of baptism as the culminating act of obedience to become a child of God?  Yet Jesus named it as a condition in Mark 16:16: 'He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.'  Forgiveness of sin is promised to all who will repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38).  Baptism is the time when our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16).  Many stumble at the command of baptism because it is not in harmony with human reasoning, but God's plan can be very different and unusual.  Your battle needs God's plan.  Can't you just hear Joshua's commanders asking him, “Now are you sure that God said the walls would fall flat just by our marching around them?”  Even though God's plan may seem very strange at times, your battle needs God's plan.
 
The next lesson is: Your battle involves faith.  Hebrews 11:30 informs us: “By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.”  Encircling walls to make them fall makes no earthly sense does it?  Will the Jews and us trust God enough that we will act upon His plan?  Aren't we encouraged by Joshua's words in verse 7: “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord.”  Joshua had walked with God for many decades, and there was no doubt in his mind that the Commander of the Lord of hosts would follow through and bring about the fatal consequences of God's instructions.  You see, where is our faith?  Are we willing to do what may seem to us as unreasonable?  Are we willing to march into battle according to God's plan?  Someone made this interesting comparison: “When people invite you to their house for dinner, you do not dictate the menu.  You don't ask them to cook this or that.  You eat what they serve or you don't eat at all.  You come to eat the meal, but it is not really your meal.  In the same way, Israel approached God's promised land table as His guest.  He would serve them, but He would also choose the menu and call the shots” (Gangel).  Jesus said in John 10:16: “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”  “Christ's [comparison] in John 10 declares that the church is the flock of Christ and is made up of all the sheep that belong to Him. ... His comparison has only one flock and one Shepherd.  Either we are in His flock, under one Shepherd, or we are not.  Either we are in His church, the NT church, or we are not” (Cloer).  Is our faith strong enough in this truth that we are willing to act upon it and teach it to our religious friends?  You see, your battle really does involve faith.
 
The next lesson is: Your battle involves unusual weapons.  God or Jesus had promised supernatural help, so conventional weapons were not necessary for the wall's fall.  The apostle Paul states in 2 Corinthians 10:4: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”  One brother noted that that cross of Jesus is the only weapon that can destroy a person's pride (Thompson), and another brother stated that Jesus' teachings are the only weapon that can destroy a person's wickedness (Coffman).  Your battle involves unusual weapons.  The Holy Spirit's sword is God's Word (Ephesians 6:17); the New Testament is our offensive weapon!  “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  Your battle involves unusual weapons.
 
The next lesson is: Your battle involves endurance.  Was God's battle plan designed more to scare the people of Jericho or more to test the faith of His people?  It's interesting that the text doesn't reveal very much about the reactions of either group.  Maybe Joshua is wanting us to realize that this really is God's battle!  We can only speculate as to what might have happened on the Canaanite side.  The first days, the people of Jericho may have said nothing as they observed this mysterious march.  About the middle of the week, they probably started ridiculing the Israelites and taunted them to attack their wall.  On day six and seven, they probably paid little attention and went back to business as usual.  Your battle involves endurance.  Now let's speculate as to what happened on the Jewish side.  Notice that Joshua did not give the soldiers God’s entire plan in one setting.  He gave them their marching orders daily.  After the first day's march, a soldier might have said: “Hey comrades, did you see anything unusual happen?”  After the second day, “What is God trying to prove?”  After the third day, “What is Joshua waiting for?  You heard how our enemies made fun of us!”  After the fourth day, “Hey, has anybody heard a crack in the wall yet?”  After the fifth day, “Why do we have to march silently?  The enemy must think we're crazy.”  After the sixth day, “Don't you think this is pointless?  Nothing is happening!  Our enemy isn't even watching anymore.”  Someone rightly observed: “In some ways these six days demonstrated as great a faith as we have seen thus far in the history of Israel” (Gangel).  It takes endurance to keep marching and to keep following God's plan.  “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2)!  Your battle involves endurance.
 
The next lesson is: Your battle involves obedience.  Joshua 6:2-3 reports: “And the Lord said to Joshua: 'See! I have given Jericho into your hands.  You shall march around the city, all your men of war ...”  “The city was a gift from God.  It was by His grace that they were to posses it” (Kelcy).  That was God's part.  But then notice that God spells out the Jewish soldiers' part and give them some conditions.  He says in essence: “I'll put this city in your hands if you will obey My plan of action over the next week.”  You know, this is sort of like our daily bread isn't it?  “It is by the grace of God that we have food.  We ask God to give us bread, and we thank Him for it” (Kelcy).  However, there is also a condition: we must either produce or procure that food.  As the old proverb states: “God feeds the birds, but He doesn't put food in their nests.”  Your battle involves obedience.  Now listen carefully.  “Our salvation is by grace: “By grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5).  Many cannot seem to understand how salvation can be by grace if there are any conditions (such as repentance and baptism) to be met.  But if we see that Jericho was a gift, even though the Jewish soldiers had to meet certain conditions [through obedience], and if we can see how our daily bread is a gift of grace, even though we have to work to obtain it, why can't we see that salvation is still an unmerited gift even though there are certain conditions to be met by us [through obedience]?  And if we do not earn or merit salvation, then it is a gift of God even though there are certain commands we must obey in order to appropriate the gift” (Kelcy).  Your battle involves obedience.  Now look at verse 20: “And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat.”  What caused the wall's fall?  It was the finger of God.  But what moved God's finger to act?  It was the Jewish soldiers' obedience to His conditions!  Had they failed in their obedience, that wall wouldn't have had even a crack!  When we obey God's will, the impossible can happen, just as Jesus' resurrection shows us as well!  Your battle will involve obedience.
 
The next lesson is: Your battle will involve keeping promises.  Look at verse 25: “And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had.  So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.”  Amid the destruction of all living things in the city, there was also the salvation of one family.  Rahab had hidden the spies, but more importantly she had confessed her faith in the God of Israel as the only true God.  She believed that God would defeat her people, so she begs that she and her family be spared for her kindness (2:9-13).  Now, it's interesting once again that the spies promise her safety based on three conditions: none of her relatives must tell about why they came, the scarlet cord they used to escape must remain in her window, and all her relatives must be inside her house.  Your battle will involve keeping promises.  We learn in 2:15 that Rahab's house was part of Jericho's wall.  You see, when God's finger toppled that wall, it spared the house of Rahab.  Rahab was obedient to the conditions given by the spies, and the spies kept their promise, and her family was brought to safety.  In fact, we see how Rahab remain converted to God's people, and her name actually ends up as being part of the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).  “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17).  Certainly, keeping our promises would be a good action in others' eyes.  Your battle will involve keeping promises.
 
The next lesson is: Your battle involves avoiding temptation.  Look at verse 18-19: “And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.  But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; and they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.”  Even for the spoils of war, God had certain rules.  The Jewish soldiers were not to take any gold, silver, bronze or iron objects.  Your battle involves avoiding temptation.  When the Jewish soldiers try to take the smaller town of Ai, they are defeated.  Do you remember why?  That's right, a man named Achan had succumbed to temptation and had kept back some gold and silver for himself, and that brought God's curse upon the entire nation!  For his sin, Achan, his family, and all his property were stoned and burned.  Your battle involves avoiding temptation.  Two verses provide us great hope during temptation.  1 Corinthians 10:13 affirms: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  When tempted, we can look immediately for the way of escape.  And James 1:12 declares: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  When tempted, we can look ahead to God's reward!  Your battle involves avoiding temptation.
 
The next lesson is: Your battle involves remaining faithful.  Look at verse 26: “Then Joshua charged them at that time saying, 'Curse be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds the city of Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his first born, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.”  Whoever rebuilds Jericho will lose two sons in death!  One commentator noted: “It is a dangerous thing to build up what God wishes to be destroyed” (Coffman quoting Henry).  Your battle involves remaining faithful.  A man named Hiel suffered the consequences of Joshua's curse during King Ahab's reign (1 Kings 16:34).  In some way, he lost two of his sons.  You see, he did not remain faithful to what God wanted because God wanted Jericho to never be rebuilt.  Your battle involves remaining faithful.  We must remain faithful to all Jesus' and the apostles' teachings in the New Testament.  “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21)!  Your battle involves remaining faithful. 
 
The fall of Jericho's wall provides us many lessons, but the victory all started with the Commander of the Lord of Hosts revealing Himself to Joshua.  Jesus is God's only begotten Son reveled to us.  Have you made Him the supreme Commander of your life?  Are you listening to His marching orders daily?  Are you obeying His teachings?  As we have seen very clearly, your soul's salvation rests upon your obedience.  Put on Jesus in baptism and let Him guide your battles!