I’m not sure how many times I’ve read the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho. It’s a perennial preschool ministry favorite. Grab the cardboard blocks and a few kazoos, build a wall, and act out the story. You get to talk about how awesome God is, plus knock down a wall and spend a few minutes in little-boy heaven.
It’s a win-win.
But this time I saw something different in the story:
Israel won the Battle of Jericho through worship.
Let’s set the scene. The nation of Israel is at the end of their Exodus wanderings. The generation that fled Egypt has perished in the wilderness. Now their children and grandchildren are ready to take the land and inherit the promise that was given to their fathers. God himself threw open the door to the promised land, holding back the floodwaters of the Jordan River and leading the people across on dry land. They’re ready. Now one thing stands in their way.
When God give Joshua his marching orders, the Lord leaves no doubt that he is the one giving them the city. Jericho, and all the land, belong to the Lord. He and he alone has the power to grant them to his people. So God’s instructions to Joshua don’t have anything to do with besieging the city. God tells them they will take the city through worship.
God tells Joshua to gather the people and march around the city once each day for seven days. The priests are to lead the procession with the ark–a visible symbol of the Lord’s presence with them. 7 priests with 7 trumpets are to go before the ark. On the 7th day, they are to march around the city 7 times. Then the priests will blow the trumpets, the people will shout, and the walls will fall.
That’s not warfare. That’s worship. And it’s not the only time in Scripture that we see it. 2 Chronicles 20 tells how King Jehoshaphat led the people of Judah into battle with singing. As the people worshiped their enemies fought among themselves and destroyed one another. Acts 16 records how Paul and Silas were thrown into jail in Philippi. That night Paul and Silas sat with their feet in the stocks and sang songs of praise. God sent an earthquake, the prison doors were flung open, and the jailer got saved.
When we face our Jerichos–our places of battle–sometimes we’re tempted to fight the war with the world’s weapons. We resort to manipulation, gossip, and deceit. We grasp for power and jostle for position, prepared to fight for our seat at the table. But these aren’t the weapons God gives us for our battle.
We have an enemy–Satan and the spiritual forces of darkness that stand in opposition to God and his people. We can’t win that battle by fighting on his terms. God gives us a different set of weapons to use. Prayer. Testimony. Worship. The Word of God, and the precious blood of Jesus by which we have already won the victory. We can’t win our battles the world’s way. We win through following God’s battle plan.
We win by living out radical worship.
What are the challenges before you this week? What battles are you facing? Know that our God has already given you victory–a victory won not in battle but on a cross. Stand in obedience on the truth of his word. Bathe your battle in prayer. Listen to stories of victory, and move forward in worship. Then look to see what God will do–for he is faithful.
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