Friday, July 29, 2011

The Walls

My guess is that anyone who grew up attending any kind of Church/Sunday School would recognize a children's song that goes like this: "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down."

Joshua 6:1-5 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.

The children of Israel, after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, had recently crossed the Jordan River into the land that God had promised to Abraham over 700 years earlier. Now it was time for them to occupy the country as God commanded them. But the first obstacle in their way was the city of Jericho and its walls. The inhabitants of Jericho had decided to trust in their walls to keep the Israelites and their God out, rather than to come out and fight or to negotiate.

What about these walls? Earlier Moses had sent scouts into the land and they had brought back word that "the cities are great and walled up to heaven". Now, obviously this was a bit of an exaggeration, however, the fact that they used such a description gives us a pretty good indication that these were very formidable walls. Certainly the inhabitants of Jericho felt that their walls were impregnable. With that in mind, what do you think the natural reaction of the Israelites to the method that was presented to them for overcoming the city of Jericho would have been? It just does not seem reasonable. Bringing the walls of a city down by marching around it, and then blowing horns and shouting just doesn't seem to make sense. No ladders, no ropes, no battering rams. Just horns and shouting.

Why would anyone believe that would work? Only because God said it would and they believed God

Joshua 6: 15-16, 20 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city....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.

The children of Israel were obedient in following God's instructions as to how they were to take the city of Jericho, and God fulfilled his promise to them. Despite how impossible it seemed, how miraculous, it all played out exactly as God had said.

Clear at the other end of the Bible it says this: "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days." (Hebrews 11:30)

The bringing down of the walls of Jericho was an act of God, but it was also an act of faith. Had the Israelites refused to follow the Lord's directions for overcoming the city, the walls would not have come down. That's what it teaches us in Hebrews 11: by faith the walls of Jericho fell down. It was required of them that they believed God would do what he said he would.

The same it also true of salvation. In fact, you might look at sin as a towering wall that separates you from God.

John 3:14-18 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The question then is, do you have faith? Do you believe what God said in these verses? Do you believe that whosoever believes in Jesus will not perish, but will have eternal life? Do you believe that God sent his Son into the world that through him you can be saved?

If you have a biblical understanding of your own sin, then you will see salvation from that sin, and gaining eternal life, to be as monumental a task as bringing down those towering walls of Jericho. And God's plan for how to rid yourself of that sin may seem just as unlikely as the method he gave the Israelites to bring down those walls. Man's natural inclination is to try to make up for sin by doing right; to try to earn eternal life by doing good. But what does the Bible say?

Romans 4:2-5 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

In the Bible, God makes it clear we are not to follow our natural inclinations to try to earn our way to heaven, but rather that the only way is by faith in the fact that Jesus Christ paid for our sins.

A little further in the same chapter and still speaking of Abraham we read this:

Romans 4:20-25 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Faith is the simple answer to that towering mountain of sin that is on our shoulders. It doesn't seem to make any more sense than God's method of bringing down the walls of Jericho does it? But God has promised it, and if you believe, he will deliver forgiveness of sins and eternal life just as he delivered the city of Jericho to the Israelites.


Dan said...

Well said Lee

Dennis said...

Another great message! Thanks.