I had a dentist who, when he was drilling teeth, used to sing, "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho. Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down."
The old American spiritual is historically accurate as far as it goes, but chapter 6 makes me think it more apropos to sing, "God fit the battle of Jericho." There was little that the people had to do, seems to me. The incident put me in remembrance of a situation hundreds of years later in which God told King Jehoshaphat, as the Moabites and Ammonites breathed down Israel's necks:
"You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf. . . . Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you" (2 Chronicles 20:17).
They say "90 percent of success is showing up." That's pretty much all that was required of Israel. Although there is one other bit of instructions that I wonder about:
"But Joshua commanded the people, 'You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout'" (verse 10).
I always understood that eerie silence of the marchers as a strategy to unnerve the enemy. Just imagine how you would feel as a citizen of Jericho, high up in your fortress that's suddenly feeling more like a tomb, having heard the rumors of the Red Sea and Jordan crossings, and of what Israel's God had done to the two Amorite kings Og and Sihon. And now here is this mysterious and unlikely war machine encircling your city---in dead silence. Spooky.
But God does not in fact tell us the purpose of the injunction to silence, and another possibility arises: We recall the reason for Israel's detainment of 40 years in a desert that should have taken two weeks to walk; it was because of her chronic murmuring, whining, complaining, negativity, faithless talk, and "bad reports" (Numbers 13:32). The tongue is a very consequential organ, leading the whole body either into the paths of victory or defeat in the spiritual realms, releasing the power of God or inviting Satan by agreement. It is as if Joshua, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, said, OK, this time around, let's not sabotage our venture with loose lips. Let's keep our mouths zipped so as not to risk breathing a word of unbelief.
Until the blowing of the trumpets! And then shout for all you're worth!
All blowing of trumpets in the Bible reminds us of the final blowing of trumpets. There are 7 in Revelation, chapters 8-11, these horns to end all horns. And as here on the shores of the Jordan, they announce judgment of God's enemies, all the Jerichos and Babylons that ever raised their fists against the Almighty.
Then suddenly there is Jesus, the selfsame "Angel of the Lord" who had startled Joshua 5:13-15 when he announced himself as the commander of the armies of God. "And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses" (Revelation 19:14).
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