So he had the ark of the LORD carried around the city, circling it once. And the people returned to the camp and spent the night there.
When we are in great religious moods, in sublime spiritual ecstasies, in immediate and vital touch with God, we are not afraid to adopt apparently impracticable measures in carrying out the purposes of righteousness and wisdom. What could be more ridiculous, from a purely military point of view, than the directions given for the capture and overthrow of Jericho? They had no relation to the event. The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. We cannot always judge things by appearances. We ourselves are often startled by the want — apparent, at least — of adaptation of means to ends. The religious method may always be called impracticable. It is very slow; it does not seem to work with any immediate effect. What can be duller, slower, than what is generally understood as teaching? Yet it is by teaching that the kingdom of heaven is to be prepared for. It is a very slow method. One gleam from heaven's own midday would startle the world more surely t Why not this sudden outburst of intolerable glory? Because there is no lasting in it, no power of duration and sustenance. Men cannot live upon such visions. Things that are not are employed to bring to nought things that are. Foolish things, little things, contemptible things, are used by the hand almighty to shake down towers and walls and temples and capitals, and bring them to nought before the throne of righteousness. Thus religion is not afraid of the impracticable — at least, of what may appear to be impracticable to those who look only upon the surface. Religion has never been afraid to claim prayer as one of its very pillars — the signature of its very power. What can, from the outside, be more futile and ridiculous than to be speaking into the vacant air — to exclude all living things upon the earth, and to speak to One we have never seen, and pour our heart's penitence, woe, hope, into an ear we cannot detect amid all the clouds which float through the heavens? Yet religion says, "Continue instant in prayer"; you have no other hope. Besides, processes may be long, and results may be brought about in startling suddenness.()
- The Red Sea; a land where there was no water; want of food; terrors of the spies; the warlike people of Bashan; Jordan impossible; a Jericho impregnable. Such are the successive strains made on the faith and resolution of Israel. God's people go from st
Now Jericho was straitly shut up.
An old writer says that every carnal heart is a Jericho shut up; God sits down before it and displays mercy and judgment: it hardens itself in a wilful security and saith, "I shall never be moved." What numbers of men there are who close their hearts and keep them barred against God! God might have thrown down the walls of Jericho at once, but you must remember that He uses means to accomplish ends. God required Israel to walk round Jericho. That was their part. God is not usually in a hurry. He can afford to wait until the seventh day before bringing down the walls. I don't read that the Israelites grew tired of waiting on this occasion. They went at it day after day quietly marching ahead. Here is a lesson of perseverance for us, We sometimes grow impatient. We see no good resulting from our own labours, and are disposed to murmur.
Seven trumpets of rams' horns.
was, in the Jewish feasts, the solemn proclamation of the presence of God. And hence the purpose of that singular march circumambulating the city was to declare "Here is the Lord of the whole earth, weaving His invisible cordon and network around the doomed city."
1. Here is a confidence in the Divine presence, manifested by unquestioning obedience to a Divine command. Joshua had spoken; God had spoken through him. And so here goes; up with the ark and the trumpets, and out on to the hot sand for the march. It would have been a great deal easier to have stopped in the tents. It was disheartening work marching round thus. The sceptical spirit in the host — the folk of whom there are many great-grandchildren living to-day, who always have objections to urge when disagreeable duties are crammed up against their faces — would have enough to say on that occasion, but the bulk of the people were true, and obeyed. Now, we do not need to put out the eyes of our understanding in order to practise the obedience of faith. And we have to exercise common sense about the things that seem to us to be duties. But this is plain, that if once we see a thing to be, in Christian language, the will of our Father in heaven, then that is everything, and there is only one course for us, and that is, unquestioning submission, active submission, and, what is as hard, passive submission.
2. Then here again is faith manifesting itself by an obedience which was altogether ignorant of what was coming. We, too, have to do our day's march, knowing very little about to-morrow; and we have to carry on all through life "doing the duty that lies nearest us," entirely ignorant of the strange issues to which it may conduct. So, seeing that we know nothing about the issues, let us make sure of the motives; and seeing that we do not know what to-morrow may bring forth, nor even what the next moment may bring, let us see that we fill the present instant as full. as it will hold with active obedience to God, based upon simple faith in Him.
3. Then, here, again, is faith manifesting itself by persistency. A week was not long, but it was a long while during which to do that one apparently useless thing and nothing else. Familiarity would breed monotony, but notwithstanding the deadly influences of habit, the obedient host turned out for their daily round. "Let us not be weary in well-doing."
The seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times1. The posture was a walking posture, as it had no direct or probable tendency for subduing the city, so it likewise seemed ridiculous to the rude citizens, who might well scoffingly say, "What are these foolish people doing? Have they not had a walk long enough for forty years in the wilderness that now they have a new walk round about our walls, and that once every day for six days together? They desire indeed to possess our city, but they may compass it long enough before that posture can conquer it," &c. Besides, this posture seemed perilous as well as ridiculous. Yet God will make Jericho as well as His Israel know that He can give victory to their feet as well as to their hands. God oftentimes delighteth to go some way of His own (which is not man's way) and worketh His own will by such means, and in such a manner, as the world judges both perilous and ridiculous. As the greater was God's glory in effecting this great work, wherein Israel contributed nothing to it, so the stronger was Israel's faith in believing it should be effected, notwithstanding both the difficulty, danger, and improbability of means and manner.(1) The term of place or space of ground they walked was, negatively, not an acre, or furlong, or any such measures of miles, nor was it a half-turn, but positively, it must be a whole turn, a compassing the city round about. Had they not gone round about, all had not been their own. They had conquered no more than they had compassed, so had done their work but to half part. It looks more like children's play, in treading a maze, than any stratagem of warriors. All this was to teach Israel not to expect success from their own prowess or policy, but merely from the prescription and favourable presence of that God who can work what He pleaseth, even by the most contemptible ways.(2) The term of time unto which this action was extended, this compassing the city, must be done once every day for six days together, but on the seventh day they must surround it seven times successively (vers. 3, 11,13-16). Israel walks their circuit six times over for six days, and on each day return into their camp. Nothing was effected in order to Jericho's overthrow, so long a time they are held in suspense, for the exercise of their faith and patience.
()God taught His people to work six days, apparently doing nothing. It is easy enough to work for Christ when ground is manifestly being gained. Fighting is not hard work when souls are won to Christ; when an enemy goes down at well-nigh every blow, and many captives are delivered. It is far harder work to toil and do nothing. Thus Carey laboured for a lifetime marching round letters and languages and dialects, and probably some wondered how he could call that work for Christ. So David Livingstone spent his life in walking up and down Africa, and some well-meaning and good men asked, "How can he call himself a missionary? He is merely a geographer," they said; "he has been discovering the water-shed of a continent instead of carrying to its thirsty inhabitants the Water of Life." So little did they know of what was being done; so little, perhaps, did Livingstone himself sometimes know. We can see now that in all that, to some, aimless marching, England's sympathy, America's sympathy, the sympathy of all Christendom, was being won for Africa; and that the heart of the whole Church of Christ was being brought to feel, "Those men must no longer be made slaves; those men and women must hear the gospel; the work of the great man who died upon his knees for Africa, and whose heart lies buried in Africa, must not be suffered — under God, shall not be suffered — to fall to the ground." It is very hard, however, to learn to do what seems to be nothing. It is hard for parents to teach their children, when all their labour seems so useless; fruitless work is hard for other teachers, and hard for preachers. God shows us here that it is enough for us to say, "Am I doing faithfully and prayerfully and zealously what my Lord has bidden me to do?"Was it not contrary to the spirit of the law to make no difference on the Sabbath? As the narrative reads we are led to think that the Sabbath was the last of the seven days, in which ease, instead of a cessation of labour, there was an increase of it sevenfold. Possibly this may be a mistake; but at the least it seems as if, all days being treated alike, there was a neglect of the precept, " In it thou shalt not do any work." To this it has usually been replied that the law of the Sabbath being only a matter of arrangement, and not founded on any unchangeable obligation, it was quite competent for God to suspend it or for a time repeal it, if occasion required. The present instance has been viewed as one of those exceptional occasions when the obligation to do no work was suspended for a time. But this is hardly satisfactory explanation. Was it likely that immediately after God had so solemnly charged Joshua respecting the book of the law, that it was "not to depart out of his mouth, but he was to meditate therein day and night, to observe to do according to all that was written therein," that almost on the first occurrence of a public national interest He would direct him to disregard the law of the Sabbath? What seems the just explanation is, that this solemn procession of the ark was really an act of worship, a very public and solemn act of worship, and that therefore the labour which it involved was altogether justifiable, just as the Sabbath labour involved in the offering of the daily sacrifices could not be objected to. It was a very solemn and open demonstration of honour to that great Being in whom Israel trusted — of obedience to His word, and unfaltering confidence that He would show Himself the God of His chosen people. At every step of their march they might well have sung — "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help." The absurdity of their proceeding, to the eye of flesh, invested it with a high sanctity, because it testified to a conviction that the presence of that God who dwelt symbolically in the ark would more than compensate for all the feebleness and even apparent silliness of the plan. It was indeed an exception to the usual way of keeping the Sabbath, but an exception that maintained and exalted the honour of God. And, in a sense, it might be called resting, inasmuch as no aggressive operations of any kind were carried on; it was simply a waiting on God, waiting till He should arise out of His place, and cause it to be seen that (Psalm 44:3).
PeopleIsraelites, Joshua, Nun, Rahab
TopicsArk, Camp, Carried, Caused, Circling, Compass, Compassed, Encompassing, Lodge, Lodged, Returned, Round, Spent, Tents, Town
Outline1. Jericho is shut up
2. God instructs Joshua how to beseige it
12. The city is composed
17. It is accursed
20. The walls fall down
22. Rahab is saved
26. The builder of Jericho is cursed
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJoshua 6:1-21
8131 guidance, results
1653 numbers, 6-10
7306 ark of the covenant
'And Joanna paved Rahab the harlot alive... and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day.'--JOSHUA vi. 25. This story comes in like an oasis in these terrible narratives of Canaanite extermination. There is much about it that is beautiful and striking, but the main thing is that it teaches the universality of God's mercy, and the great truth that trust in Him unites to Him and brings deliverance, how black soever may have been the previous life. I need not tell over again the story, told with such …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Siege of Jericho
'And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, ... until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. 11. So the ark of the Lord compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp.'-- JOSHUA vi.10, 11. The cheerful uniform obedience of Israel to Joshua stands in very remarkable contrast with their perpetual murmurings and rebellions under Moses. Many reasons probably concurred in bringing about this …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Shout of Faith
"And when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up, every man straight before him." The shout of a steadfast faith is an experience that is in direct contrast to the moans of a wavering faith, and to the wails of discouraged hearts, both of which we have been considering in our last two chapters. In the history of the children of Israel there were many occasions when they indulged …
Hannah Whitall Smith—The God of All Comfort
We read, that this city was not only wasted by Joshua with fire and sword, but cursed also. "Cursed be he before the Lord, who shall rise up and build that city Jericho," Joshua 6:26. "Nor was another city to be built (says the Talmudists), which was to be called by the name of Jericho: nor was Jericho itself to be built, although to be called by another name." And yet I know not by what chance this city crept out of dust and rubbish, lived again, and flourished, and became the second city to Jerusalem. …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
Whether it is Lawful for Clerics and Bishops to Fight?
Objection 1: It would seem lawful for clerics and bishops to fight. For, as stated above (A), wars are lawful and just in so far as they protect the poor and the entire common weal from suffering at the hands of the foe. Now this seems to be above all the duty of prelates, for Gregory says (Hom. in Ev. xiv): "The wolf comes upon the sheep, when any unjust and rapacious man oppresses those who are faithful and humble. But he who was thought to be the shepherd, and was not, leaveth the sheep, …
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica
Five Kings in a Cave
TEXT: "And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight."--Joshua 10:24-25. The history of the …
J. Wilbur Chapman—And Judas Iscariot
The Assyrian Revival and the Struggle for Syria
Assur-nazir-pal (885-860) and Shalmaneser III. (860-825)--The kingdom of Urartu and its conquering princes: Menuas and Argistis. Assyria was the first to reappear on the scene of action. Less hampered by an ancient past than Egypt and Chaldaea, she was the sooner able to recover her strength after any disastrous crisis, and to assume again the offensive along the whole of her frontier line. Image Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief at Koyunjik of the time of Sennacherib. The initial cut, …
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 7
Memoir of John Bunyan
THE FIRST PERIOD. THIS GREAT MAN DESCENDED FROM IGNOBLE PARENTS--BORN IN POVERTY--HIS EDUCATION AND EVIL HABITS--FOLLOWS HIS FATHER'S BUSINESS AS A BRAZIER--ENLISTS FOR A SOLDIER--RETURNS FROM THE WARS AND OBTAINS AN AMIABLE, RELIGIOUS WIFE--HER DOWER. 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.'--2 Cor 4:7 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.'--Isaiah 55:8. 'Though ye have lien among the …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
He Does Battle for the Faith; He Restores Peace among those who were at Variance; He Takes in Hand to Build a Stone Church.
57. (32). There was a certain clerk in Lismore whose life, as it is said, was good, but his faith not so. He was a man of some knowledge in his own eyes, and dared to say that in the Eucharist there is only a sacrament and not the fact of the sacrament, that is, mere sanctification and not the truth of the Body. On this subject he was often addressed by Malachy in secret, but in vain; and finally he was called before a public assembly, the laity however being excluded, in order that if it were …
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh
The book of Joshua is the natural complement of the Pentateuch. Moses is dead, but the people are on the verge of the promised land, and the story of early Israel would be incomplete, did it not record the conquest of that land and her establishment upon it. The divine purpose moves restlessly on, until it is accomplished; so "after the death of Moses, Jehovah spake to Joshua," i. 1. The book falls naturally into three divisions: (a) the conquest of Canaan (i.-xii.), (b) the settlement of the …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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