We all come across situations in life which seem to have no way out, big challenges, problems which seem insurmountable, walls we need to bring down to be able to move forward. Maybe it’s related to a school exam we have to pass, or a project we need to deliver, or repairing a family relationship, resolving a conflict with a dear friend.
Joshua teaches us the way to handle such challenges, by trusting and obeying God.
First, he acknowledges the Lord is the One who will bring down the Wall. Everywhere in the Bible where the Angel of the Lord appears (Joshua 5:13-15), he is an agent of God’s commitment to his people and to the mission ahead, while the army of the Lord is the force God commands when judging or protecting. It is obvious from the start that God will be the One fighting for Joshua and the Israelites. Joshua acknowledges that if the walls were to come down, the initiative would belong to the Lord, that the Lord will do what is needed, and the outcome of the action to be taken is totally in God’s hands. He submits his plans, wishes and objectives to the Lord. The Angel tells Joshua that He did not come to take sides, He came to take over!
Secondly, Joshua trusts God’s plan even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The battle plan described in verse 3-5 of chapter 6 is at most an intimidation maneuver or ritual. Nevertheless, Joshua did not ask the Lord for clarifications but trusted the Lord and His plan, as his priority was to obey the Lord and do His will. In working to bring down the walls in our lives, the Lord might ask us to give up the perceived safety of “human logic” and rely upon His guidance. Do we trust our power or do we trust His promise and His plan? Think of Abraham who was called to leave his country and move to another one, and in Hebrews we read that he “obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going”. Moses and Aaron were asked by God to take a staff and hit rock for water to come out and still the thirst of the people. David had the chance to kill his enemy, Saul, in the cave where Saul fell asleep, but God prevented him from doing so, as His Name would not have been glorified by this action. Ananias of Damascus – God called him to go and minister to Saul, the man who had come to Damascus to arrest, torment and even kill Christians like Ananias. It didn’t make sense yet it turned out to be the first step in unleashing the most powerful ministry the world has ever seen.
Sometimes things happen in our lives that defy explanation. No matter how hard we try we can’t make any sense out of the things God puts in our path. Yet if we remain faithful and patient, God often puts all the pieces together and reveals his purpose.
When God doesn’t make sense, there are 2 things I know for certain. First, the problem is not with God but with me. It is the result of my limited ability to see the whole picture, as we have seen in the example above. Second, those times when God doesn’t make sense are the times when his power shines. He does this so that we cannot boast in ourselves, and so that all the glory and all the praise are placed entirely on Him. There is nothing about Jericho that would allow a single Israelite to think that this victory was because of what he did. God does not want us to think that we can deliver ourselves but to rely on him.
Third, if we want God to bring down the Walls for us, we must remove the “things devoted to destruction” (Joshua 7:13) from our lives and we must consecrate ourselves to the Lord by fulfilling our commitments, our promises to the Lord, and staying true to our faith. As the verse says, we cannot stand before the enemies, we cannot stand before our walls and expect them to fall, unless we come clean and consecrate ourselves to the Lord fully. It’s not enough to allow God to take control and trust His plan, we must do our part by fulfilling our commitment to Him, consecrating ourselves and working on our holiness —- staying away from sin, from bad habits, from bad companies, all “things devoted to destruction”.
Jesus followed the exact same path when faced with the prospect of crucifixion. He acknowledged this was the Father’s will and the Father would accomplish His plan for humanity through him. Then Jesus trusted the Father’s plan which included crucifixion. He asked, at least twice, if there was no other way around it, but He obeyed to the end. And after He was crucified, he fulfilled His promises of raising from the dead the 3rd day, He gave us his Spirit as a guarantee of His promise, and so many other prophecies have been fulfilled since. He has one more outstanding commitment: to show us the place He’s preparing for us in Heaven.
What kind of walled city are you facing right now? Does it appear to be unconquerable? Do the walls look too high and do they appear too thick? Let us come before Him with whatever our need is – Jesus excels in doing the undoable! We need to take a lesson from Israel and start handling our Jericho’s God’s way.
When faced with a task beyond his power, and understanding, Joshua acknowledged the Lord was going to bring down the Wall; believed God’s plan without fully grasping it; and consecrated himself to the Lord. The ABC of dealing with insurmountable challenges.