The Battle of Jericho
Joel S. Heckendorf
The stadium sound system played the familiar trumpet prelude. Then the stadium roared, “CHARGE!” as the slugger stepped to the plate.
The boys were ready. They shouted, “Da-da-da-dah-da-dah! CHARGE!” Running forward, they raided their fellow neighbors’ snow fort.
If only ballfield and backyard “battles” were our only worries.
Joshua knew significant battles awaited God’s people as they approached the Promised Land. What was Joshua thinking as he peered at the mighty walls of Jericho, the first city God’s people would have to conquer? Perhaps he was drawing up battle plans. Perhaps he was dreaming up his “da-da-da-dah-da-dah” speech to inspire the soldiers to charge. Whatever was going on in his mind, Joshua’s thoughts were soon halted as the real “commander of the army of the Lord” stood before him (Joshua 5:13, 14).
Joshua initiated the conversation, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
At first, this seems to be an unsettling answer. But as the battle of Jericho plays out, the commander’s answer provides a tremendous lesson for any battle we face.
Read Joshua 5:13–6:27.
Remember who’s in charge
In his mercy, God has tremendously blessed us with gifts and abilities. He encourages us to utilize those gifts as we plan for the future. Our plans are influenced by God’s Word and the wisdom of Christian advisors. We often ask God to bless our plans. But in the midst of these God-pleasing actions, it’s easy to forget that our plans are just that—our plans.
Which is why God’s reminder to Joshua is so timely. Joshua was a faithful follower of the Lord. Four decades earlier, he was confident that God would give them victory in the land of the giants (Numbers chapter 14). That was as a spy; now he’s the leader. Even though his position was God-appointed, he could have felt the pressure: It’s up to you, Joshua, to lead the people to victory! No, it wasn’t. God was in charge, not Joshua.
As we face “battles” or new endeavors, the question is not, “God, are you with us? God, will you bless our plans?”
The real question comes from God, “Are you with me?”
God’s in charge. By nature that is not an easy thing to say. That’s not a natural way to live. But it’s the truth, and it brings us so much comfort to know he’s in charge
Remember God’s victory is assured
The old spiritual says the walls of Jericho came tumbling down because Joshua fought the battle of Jericho. Unfortunately, the lyrics don’t match the lesson. Before outlining the strategy for Joshua, before Joshua relayed the strategy to the soldiers, before the soldiers laced up their boots or the priests readied their trumpets, the Lord said, “See, I have given Jericho into your hands, with its king and its fighting men” (Joshua 6:2). Not “will give,” but “have given.” God speaks. His action follows. God declared victory, and the walls fell. Singlehandedly, the Lord achieved victory. Joshua and his troops simply received victory.
God’s victories aren’t limited to Joshua. He also won a battle for you. On the cross, Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” Not “will be” but “is.” With his last breath, the strife was over and the battle was won. Singlehandedly, the Lord achieved victory, and the just judge of heaven and earth declared us “not guilty.” Because of Jesus, the wall of sin that separated us from eternal life with him came tumbling down.
As a result, when that last trumpet sounds, “Da-da-da-dah-da-daaah,” we can joyously shout, “CHARGE!” as we enter into our Promised Land.
Exploring the Word
1. Tell the story in your own words. Then read the account. Which details did you omit or mistakenly add?
Answers will vary. Typically, people may not mention Joshua’s encounter with the commander of the Lord’s army.
2. Why do you think this story is one of the most popular stories included in children’s Bibles?
Answers will vary. Anything that includes a miracle is fascinating story-telling. Likewise, children’s books lean toward stories where the “good guy” wins.
3. Give other examples of “God speaks. His action follows.” What comfort does this provide?
From the very beginning, we see the power of God’s Word. At creation, “God said,” and it was. God told Noah there would be a flood, and there was. God also told Noah there would never be such a flood again. To this day, his Word holds true. Or consider the many prophecies concerning the coming Savior. God said it would happen and it did. Apply God’s 100 percent fulfillment of his Word, and we have tremendous comfort as we look at all his promises to us (e.g., “Never will I leave you,” “I will give you hope and a future,” etc.)
4. Explain what it means to say we fight from victory instead for victory.
There is a tremendous difference if the tune we sing for this story is “I’m in the Lord’s Army” instead of “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.” Being in the Lord’s army is fighting from victory. To realize that we have the Commander who defeated death gives us confidence, no matter the battles we face on a daily basis. If the emphasis is fighting for victory, we will likely overemphasize our role or we will needlessly worry.
Contributing editor Joel Heckendorf is pastor at Immanuel, Greenville, Wisconsin.
This is the second article in a 10-part series on the top ten stories include in children’s Bible and how they apply to our lives today. Find answers online after Jan. 5 at wels.net/forwardinchrist.
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Author: Joel S. Heckendorf
Volume 103, Number 01
Issue: January 2016
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