The story of Joshua leading the Israelites to bring down the walls of Jericho is a powerful account that demonstrates the faithfulness and might of the Lord. This narrative is part of the fulfillment of the greater promise that God made to the Israelites that they indeed would enter the Promised Land.
Before Moses died, he declared that Joshua would be his successor and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Upon crossing the Jordan, Jericho is the first city the Israelites conquer with Joshua as their leader. This ancient biblical passage is full of relevance for believers today. Here are seven significant lessons from the story of the walls of Jericho for believers today.
What Are the Walls of Jericho?
The account of the walls of Jericho falling is found in the Book of Joshua, which is one of the historical books in the Old Testament. It is named after Joshua, the worthy successor of Moses, who led the Israelites. This book contains action-filled conquests of the Israelites defeating the Canaan cities and obtaining the Promised Land. It also tells of the obedience and faithfulness of the Israelites, and their enjoyment of the Promised Land. The Book of Joshua ends with Joshua’s farewell speech as an old man nearing his death.
Jericho was the gateway city to Canaan that the Israelites came to when they entered the Promised Land. The city of Jericho was surrounded by walls so that no one was able to get in, and the walls served as solid protection against attacks. The gates had been locked to keep the Israelites out (see Joshua 6:1). This moment is incredibly important because the Israelites have finally entered the land promised to them by God and they go on to successfully conquer the first city along their journey. The fallen walls of Jericho became a key affirmation that God was fulfilling His promise to them, and that God would be with them as they took possession of the Promised Land.
How Did the Walls of Jericho Fall?
God had given Joshua very specific instructions on what to do to cause the walls of Jericho to collapse, so that the Israelites would defeat Jericho and claim the city.
“On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in” (Joshua 6:4-5).
Joshua gathered the army and priests just as God instructed. For the first six days, the armed men marched around the city once while the priests had trumpets and carried the ark of the covenant. They did this for six days. On the seventh day, as God instructed, they marched around the city seven times, the priests blew their trumpets, and the army gave a loud shout.
“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city” (Joshua 6:20).
To Joshua, the army, and the priests, this may have seemed like a very different approach to overthrowing the city of Jericho. However, Joshua led the Israelites to do what God had instructed. According to the Lord’s promise, and the Israelites being obedient to what God instructed, on the seventh day the walls of Jericho fell in an amazing victory for the Israelites by the power of God.
7 Lessons from the Fall of the Walls of Jericho
1. Follow God, even if the journey seems impossible or unexpected.
The walls of Jericho should have been impenetrable. What Joshua and the Israelites were up against may have seemed impossible to overcome. But they followed God anyway with full trust and hope in His promise, and faithfulness that He would indeed fight for them to claim the land that was promised to them. All believers can rest assure that even if the path seems impossible, or is not what we expected, when we prayerfully follow God’s good plans for us, it will be worth every step of the way. This biblical story reminds us how crucial it is to lean on God and put our trust in Him, because that is when the impossible can happen.
2. When we listen, we can hear God speaking to us.
A radical component to this biblical narrative is that God spoke to Joshua. And Joshua listened. Because Joshua took the time to listen to God and seek His direction, he heard clearly from the Lord what steps to take. Christians today learn a valuable lesson about the importance of making the space to hear from God. When we stop and take the time to listen – reading Scripture, spending time in prayer, being still, worshipping, and journaling – we may hear from God and discern how the Spirit is guiding our steps.
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3. God is purposeful, not random.
God did not instruct Joshua and his army to storm the city upon arrival. He had meticulous steps for them to take to achieve the desired outcome of victory. God was very specific and purposeful in how He orchestrated the walls of Jericho falling. If God is that purposeful about helping the Israelites claim the city, we can be confident that God is also that purposeful in each of our lives. The ups and downs of life may feel unexpected and catch us off guard, but God knows what is coming and will make good out of all circumstances for those who love Him (see Romans 8:28). Our lives are meaningful and significant because God is writing each of our stories purposefully.
4. The outcome may not be instant, so keep waiting on the Lord.
The Israelites were not given permission by God to simply storm the city when they were ready. They had to wait seven days. They marched, they camped, and they waited on God to move. Perhaps some of the armed men wondered as they were marching around the walls if this was really the way to claim victory over Jericho. Maybe others thought it would be best to win the city with a proven military strategy. We may find ourselves thinking similar thoughts when it comes to waiting on the Lord. The answer is to keep waiting on the Lord. Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). Waiting on the Lord deepens our faith, increases our trust in Him, and while we wait with faith, God will certainly transform and renew us.
5. We are not sufficient in and of ourselves. We need God.
The Israelites could have marched around the walls of Jericho a million times, they could have blown a thousand horns, and shouted until they lost their voices, but without God’s power, the walls of Jericho never would have fallen. We are not entirely self-sufficient; we truly need God. We need God to win our battles, to empower us to love others, to overcome obstacles, and to make a lasting impact in the world. We need God in our friendships, our careers, our marriages, and our families. We need God. When we are tempted to think otherwise, let us find wisdom from this biblical story that we do indeed need God in all areas of our lives.
6. Obedience in God matters.
If the Israelites had resisted the instructions given by God to Joshua, the walls of Jericho would not have come down. The Israelites would have lost and been forced out of the Promised Land. Their obedience to God mattered. This is still true for believers today. Living righteously according to God’s ways, rather than our own ways, makes a difference. We find encouragement from this narrative to be obedient to God and the assurance that obedience will result in blessing (see Luke 11:28).
7. What God promises, He will fulfill.
God promised the Israelites this land. The fall of the walls of Jericho is a grand reminder that God fulfills what He promises. A huge amount of time passed between when God initially promised the land to the Israelites, and when they actually came to enter and claim that land. Regardless of how much time passes, God will always make good on His promises. We can trust that God is faithful to His promises and be at peace while we wait for a promise to come to pass.
A Reminder of God’s Power
The account of the walls of Jericho coming down is a significant part of God’s promise coming to pass that the Israelites would indeed enter into and possess the Promised Land. This incredible passage in the Book of Joshua holds many valuable lessons that we as Christians can learn from and apply to our lives and understanding of God. Perhaps you are waiting on God, or maybe you are wondering if He’ll come through. Whatever your situation, the fallen walls of Jericho remind us of God’s power and faithfulness that we can believe in and put our hope in.
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Pamela Palmer is a writer, chaplain, and the founder of upheldlife.com, the platform on which she produces weekly devotionals and faith resource articles to inspire keeping faith at the center of it all. She lives and thrives on Jesus, coffee, and music. She is in pastoral ministry and gets to share in the emotional and spiritual lives of many people, being a small piece of each journey. Pamela married the perfect man for her and they have two beautiful kiddos. She has been published on herviewfromhome.com and you can follow her at upheldlife.com, or on Facebook.com/upheldlife.