I love, LOVE to hear my dad’s stories about then he was in Navy! Back when Bill Haley and his Comets were getting ready to Rock Around the Clock, Dad was off on some semi-covert operation overseas serving his country, doing the things that Uncle Sam thinks invincible 19-year-olds can do.
I’m thinking that, at the time of Dad’s tour, we weren’t technically at war with anyone, but we all know what that means. Realistically, we’re always at war with someone, even if it’s under the radar, especially for those of us back home. There are always enemies, and it behooves us to keep some operations covert, I suppose.
A prime example of this is Joshua and the conquest of Jericho. With help of the Expositor’s Commentary, I find some interesting parallels—
- The Israelites had not yet encountered a walled city like Jericho; this had to be intimidating to the roaming former Egyptian slaves. New territory can be scary!
- God says, “I have given to you…” which means it was already a done deal, but here’s the thing—they still had to fight for it. Yes, they had their priests (which would symbolize our worship), but they also had their warriors (which symbolized our spiritual warfare). An application: my children are “a heritage of the Lord”, they are part of my “land”. (Psalm 127:3) As such, I must fight for them as God gives me wisdom, but fight for them from the place of secured victory, not fear or anxiety.
- Joshua’s situation was a “religious event”*: “…the presence of priests, and the prominence of the ark all indicate that the conquest of Jericho was more than a military campaign; it was a religious event. Israel must always remember that the land was God’s gift to them.”* My circumstances aren’t merely about me either; it’s ultimately about God, His plan for eternity, His kingdom.
- Praise and declaration comes before the victory. The priests were very conspicuous in this procession, and they were also the ones sounding the trumpets. These can represent both praise to God and the sound of war. As God’s “holy priesthood”, we are to be involved in both. In fact, they are inextricably linked. Walking around that wall for six days was an act of obedient faith not based on prior understanding; so is praise and worship.
- God gave the people specific instructions that were not part of the normal battle plan of the day. Can you imagine Joshua’s mighty commanders when they received their orders? (“You want us to do what??”) Not unlike the family of Noah who had never heard of rain, or even the disciples of Jesus who couldn’t fathom their King nailed to a cross, God has ways of doing things that can be off the wall. To borrow from the secular: “Just do it.”
- The commentary also brings out the tedium of continued marching for six days. This was not a stroll in the park. They were in enemy territory, so there may have been arrows (and who knows what else) flying from the walls. Sometimes my obedient praying and obstinately living God’s plan for my life becomes tiring, even monotonous (I’m just being real, here). But God says I am not to grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). Persistent prayer and praise demoralizes the enemy: “This senseless marching may have completely demoralized the defenders, who would have been totally confused about what was going on.”* (I rather like that one.)
Covert or not, sometimes I just have to start walking. Because God always has a plan. Always.
*Expositor’s Commentary on Joshua 1.