Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The ancient Canaanite city of Jericho, a short distance North of the Dead Sea, was the first formidable obstacle in the Israelites’ path of conquest in the land that God promised them. A walled city, it was well fortified: “Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in” (Joshua 6:1). In the military language of today, it was a “high value” target because of its strategic location as the gateway to the central highlands and its abundant water supply, furnished by the Jordan River to the East and by tributaries from the Central Mountains. The key to an Israelite victory at Jericho was rather simple. It takes no in-depth analysis to figure it out. It consisted of two elements: Faith and obedience. Under Joshua’s command, the people were to follow the marching orders the Lord gave them (Joshua 6:1-5) and trust that He would, in turn, give them the city (verse 16). This is exactly what happened, as we read in Joshua 6:20, “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.” Hebrews 11:30 confirms that what happened at Jericho was the reward of faith: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.”

The great truth we learn from the battle of Jericho is surely applicable to our Christian life today. Though far removed in time from Joshua’s day, we nevertheless face equally formidable powers that stand as obstacles to our spiritual progress in our journey to inherit the promises that God has given us. These adversaries are described in the sixth chapter of Ephesians: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (v.12). At my church we haven’t abandoned the great hymns sung by Christians for generations. One that we often sing is called, “Faith Is the Victory”. We sing it confidently because we know it to be true. God honors those who put their faith in Him, especially in the darkest hour, when all hope seems gone. Faith is a key to victory in such times, but faith must be accompanied by obedience. The Israelites were led by Joshua, to whom God said: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:7). The material and spiritual prosperity of the nation of Israel was dependent upon their covenant loyalty. Although believers are no longer under the law of Moses, our faith in Christ should be an obedient faith. We see this kind of faith in our spiritual forefather Abraham, who, “when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8). Charles Spurgeon used to say that the kind of faith, which produces obedience, is truly a royal faith. In Galatians 6:2, the Scripture speaks of the fulfillment of “the law of Christ,” manifested by bearing one another’s burdens.

I believe it can be adequately demonstrated from Scripture that obedience is the work and fruit of faith. “Trust and Obey” should not be just a song we sing in church; it should be the desire of our heart reflected in every part of our life. To obey God in a world set against Him demands courage and integrity. It takes a radical commitment. However, the benefit is well worth the commitment. This is the key to spiritual victory as we face the walled cities of Jericho in our lives. Biblical archaeologist Bryant Wood, who did field work at the site of ancient Jericho comes to the same conclusion. He writes: “There are times when we find ourselves facing enormous ‘walls’ that are impossible to break down by human strength. If we put our faith in God and follow His commandments, He will perform ‘great and mighty things’ (Jeremiah 33:3) and give us the victory.”[1]

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

May God’s grace ever be your sufficiency,

Pastor Tom

[1] Found in an article on the walls of Jericho in the Creation Archive at Answers in Genesis.

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