Bible Study Opportunities
Falling Walls and Building Faith
By Jon W. Quinn
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days.” (Hebrews 11:30).
Jericho was a formidable fortress city. After crossing the Jordan, it would be the first city that one would come to in Canaan. It was encircled with two huge stone walls which appear to have been about 14 feet apart. Taking the outer wall would result in soldiers being exposed to extreme danger from archers on the inner wall.
God had promised to give this land to Abraham's descendants, and that time had come. The battle strategy was determined. Not a frontal assault. Not digging under the walls. Not a long siege. No Trojan horse. No battering rams.
The ordered strategy was for the warriors of Israel to march around the city once a day for six days. One can imagine the puzzlement and perhaps amusement of the defenders of Jericho as they watched this process for six days.
On the seventh day Israel marched around the city again, but then began a second circuit followed by a third. Finally, at the conclusion of the seventh trip around the city, the priests of Israel blew their trumpets as all the people shouted. They were simply following orders given to Joshua by God. What happened next surprised everybody.
The city fell to Israel that day. Archeologists in modern times have excavated much of the area. It appears according to reports that long ago something caused the walls of Jericho to collapse outwards. The Bible tells us what that cause was. In Joshua's words; “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.” (Joshua 6:16). Consider four faith building lessons we learn from these falling walls.
God's Ways Are Not Our Ways
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:8,9).
This was a battle tactic that had never been used before nor since. It has been said that God works in mysterious ways. That may be, but the point we should understand is that we need to obey God always, whether we understand why He commands a thing or not. If we do not accept this, then we will be missing out on a critical part of living by faith.
I do not know why the Son of God was laid in a manger. I do not know why Naaman had to dip in the River Jordan to be healed of his disease. I do not know why God chose to include “baptism for the forgiveness of sins” in the gospel any more than Joshua knew why God had Israel march around Jericho. I just know that God has done so (Acts 2:38; cf. Mark 16:16; Romans 6:3,4; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:20,21). That's all I need to know.
The Meaning of Grace and How To Benefit From It
“And the Lord said to Joshua, 'See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.'” (Joshua 6:2).
Some say that because salvation is a gift that we do not do anything to receive it. Jericho was a gift. God gave the city to Israel. But that does not mean they did not have to meet certain conditions to receive the gift.
Our salvation is also a gift (Ephesians 2:5), but again, there are conditions to be met in order to benefit from this great grace of God bestowed upon us. God's grace works exactly how He says it does. It was God's power by which the walls of Jericho fell, and it is by God's power that sins are washed away. “And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'” (Acts 22:16).
The Meaning of Faith
We have already noted that the Hebrews writer tells us that “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down...” (Hebrews 11:30). Today, we are saved from our sins by faith. “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1).
Does the fact that the walls fell “by faith” mean that Israel did not have to do anything but believe? Of course not. “By faith” does not disclude obedience, but rather demands it.
Likewise with salvation from sin. The fact that we are saved, or justified by faith does not mean that we do not do anything to be saved. Just as Jericho's walls fell completely by God's power, so too our sins are washed away by that same power. It is all by God's grace through our faith (Ephesians 2:8-10; James 2:20). It was not the power in the trumpets or the marching or the shouting that brought those walls down. It is not the power in the water of baptism that washes sins away. Rather, it is the putting of our faith in God's power when we obey Him. “...having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12).
God's Way Always Works
When God says a thing is to be done a certain way, faith trusts and obeys. This is what it means to live by faith. Even though there was no discernible benefit seen by Israel on the fifth day of marching, when the command came to march again on the sixth day, they marched. That is what trust is all about.
Sometimes we may find it difficult to discern the blessings of God during times of trial or loss. Faith answers these times of trouble by getting up and marching again. Faith lives in hope because it is convinced that the promises of God are valid. It believes that, in spite of present distress and seemingly overwhelming obstacles as high as fortress walls, that the day will come when those walls will tumble down. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois August 12, 2000