(Joshua 6:1-5) It may be one of the most shared quirks in humanity. It is illustrated in the familiar quip, “Put ten people together on a project and you’ll get ten opinions on how to best complete it.” Frank Sinatra’s hit “My Way,” released in 1969, clearly stated this thought in the final verse of the song, “For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught; the right to say the things he feels and not the words of one who kneels; the record shows I took the blows and did it my way!” Many a person would amen Frank’s sentiment.
However doing all things “my way” may not be the best way. Such is the story of the Battle of Jericho found in Joshua 6. In this story Joshua found that when it came to a strategy for defeating the fortress city of Jericho, fighting the battle God’s way would be by far the best.
The story opens, “Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand…’” (vv.1-2). The Israelites successfully crossed the Jordan River and the reputation of their God preceded them. The king of Jericho would take no chances in the field when confronting his advancing enemy. Instead he secured his city and prepared to make a strong defense. As Joshua looked over the city he no doubt wondered how he could take it with the least number of casualties. It was at this point that God stepped into the story. He had a plan.
God’s plan. With all that could be said about it the very least might be that it was an odd one. “You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.” (vv.3-5)
I suspect that no manual on military strategy includes the one given for the defeat of Jericho. I wonder if Joshua wondered. Maybe, but one thing this man of faith had learned was faith. Time again and He had watched God do things in very strange ways to accomplish His plan for His people. Joshua had seen water from a rock, food from dew, waterways open at the Lord’s command, and slaves become a mighty nation. So if God wanted him to march his army of more than 600,000 around the city in silence thirteen times in seven days, then so be it. Marching they would go.
How does the story end? If you haven’t heard it from the biblical account you probably have from the child’s song “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” which recalls, “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho; Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down!” That’s right, those walls just fell at the end of round thirteen on the seventh day as the trumpets sounded and the army of Israel shouted. Strange no doubt; successful without question.
The story of the Battle of Jericho is more than a simple historical account of the first battle of the conquest of the Promised Land. It is symbolic of how God does so many things. Here are some other events that illustrate the words of the prophet Isaiah who wrote, “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9) God had Jehoshaphat’s choir lead out in a battle against a horde that came against Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 20:21). He took a shepherd named David and made him the greatest king Israel ever knew, not to mention the most accomplished singer/songwriter in God’s Kingdom. God used Esther, an exiled Jewish young lady turned queen of Persia to rescue His people from annihilation; an Egyptian slave called Joseph to save the nation that had enslaved him and his brothers who had sold him. He used a fugitive to lead His people out of Egypt, that would be Moses. Looking back through the Bible and I guess we find that which seems odd to us is normal for God as He works out His will.
The greatest of all of God’s unusual ways has to be Jesus. In Christ, God Himself came to free humanity from the bonds of sin and give us eternal life through Him through dying for us. Might it had been with in amazement that Paul wrote, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)? It ought to amaze us as well.
So what do we take from the story of the Battle of Jericho. Perhaps it is this simple thought. We must learn to fight battles God’s way. Even better, we must learn to trust God as He leads us into our daily conflicts. We must allow Him to set the strategy that will bring us victory in the battles we face walking in this fallen, broken world. Fighting your battles God’s way is the only sure guarantee for defeating our Enemy.