The Fall of Jericho

"The people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him.' —Joshda vi. 20.

In the former paper we have seen a strange, protracted trial of faith. Here we have the sudden victory which explains and vindicates that trial. On the seventh day the host encompassed Jericho seven times. That day was probably a Sabbath, for one of the seven days must have been a Sabbath, and it is improbable that it would be one of the undistinguished six. At the end of the last circuit Moses bade the people shout, for Jehovah had given them the city. That was a shout, we may be sure, in which the week's silence was avenged, and repressed emotion gained utterance at last. The yell from many throats, which startled the wild creatures in the hills behind Jericho, mingled discordantly with the trumpets' clang, which proclaimed a present God, and, as these rung out their summons to surrender, the walls toppled into ruin, and over the piles of fallen stones the warriors clambered, each man, in that terrible circle of flashing steel that ringed the doomed city, marching "straight before him," and so all converging on its centre.

We can discover good reasons for the first incident in the campaign being marked by miracle. The fact that it was the first is a reason. In God's progressive revelation each new stage is inaugurated by miracles, which do not continue throughout its course. For instance, in the Acts, the first example of each class of incidents recorded there, such as the first preaching, the first persecution, the first martyrdom, the first expansion of the Gospel beyond the Jew, its first entrance into Europe, has the stamp of miracle impressed on it and is narrated in detail, while other events of the same kind have neither of these distinctions. The first martyr, for example, saw the heavens opened and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. We do not read that the heavens opened when Herod slew James the brother of John with the sword, but was Jesus the less near to help His servant? In like manner, it was fitting that the first occasion on which Israel crossed swords with the dreaded enemies should be marked by a miraculous intervention to hearten God's warriors.

But the supernatural intervention then was not meant to part that occasion off from common life as exceptionally favoured, but rather to unveil, in a manner adapted to sense, the perennial fact of God's presence with His servants, when no miracle announces that He is near. The miracle is a transient revelation of an eternal fact. It does not empty the "natural order " of God, but declares it to be full of Him.- It hallows the common by showing for a moment its usually unseen source. The Cause of causes and the effect are brought close together in the miracle, that we may understand that, even when a chain of many links intervenes between them, it is the energy of the divine Cause which ever produces the "natural" effect. In miracle God makes bare His arm that we may be better able to trace it, when it is draped and partially hid, as by a vesture, by the natural order. God is as much with us in our struggles as He was with the Israelities when they marched round Jericho, and He will help us as really as He helped them, and, if we patiently obey and do the weary day's duty, even when it is protracted and seems producing no result, we too shall know the rapture of the sudden victory.

The probability that the day of the fall of Jericho was a Sabbath may suggest that there is for us too a week of work, to be followed by the great "Sabbath-keeping " which "remains for the people of God," when we shall enter into the "city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God." The old interpretation, which saw in the fall of Jericho a type of the final fall of the apocalyptic Babylon, has poetic felicity, if not dogmatic truth, for the same Presence which shook and shattered the walls of the little city that barred Israel's entrance to the Land, shall overthrow " by the brightness of its coming " the city of Confusion at the last. Paul links together the two sounds that signalised the fall of Jericho, when he says, "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God "; and when the crash and dust of that catastrophe have quieted, the New Jerusalem come down from heaven, like a bride adorned for her husband, shall be seen in the place where Babylon had stood.