Progress Is Hindered by Unbelief
We understand from history that the walls of Jericho were built solid and secure. Every idea that man had at that time was used to make them sturdy and high reaching. According to Deuteronomy 1:28, the spies said the walls reached to heaven, but by faith they fell down.
First Corinthians, the tenth chapter, tells us that these things happened to them for our example, our learning, and our admonition. There's help that we can gain from the fact that the walls of Jericho fell down. The things which happened there can be a benefit to you and me.
Israel had gained freedom from the land of Egypt. We read in Hebrews 11:29, "By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned." By faith the old yoke of bondage was broken, and it took the same faith to obtain the land of Canaan. This is a point on which we need to dwell: the same faith that brought them out of the terrible servitude they had been in for many, many years was necessary to obtain the land of Canaan. By this type, we're taught that the true life of the Christian is one of faith from beginning to end. We're saved by faith, we make progress by faith, and everything we receive from God, we receive by faith. Certainly, the writer of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews was trying to portray that the walk of the Christian is by faith. Without faith, no progress can be made, no victories can be gained, and no fruit can be brought forth for the glory of God.
As we read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, it's a solemn note to realize there was a duration of forty years between verses 29 and 30. Israel spent forty years in the wilderness because they murmured and complained against God. They allowed unbelief to so work on them that they stirred the wrath of God. The Bible tells us that God told Moses to take the people back into the wilderness and let them stay there until their carcasses fell. Everybody twenty years old and up, except Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness. According to Hebrews, the third chapter, the judgment of God was put on them because of their unbelief. For forty years, those people lived with no faith in God. They died under the terrible curse and judgment that God had placed on them for complaining.
After those people died off, God wonderfully led Israel across Jordon to the borders of Canaan. The people of Israel had been there before. Moses had led them there, but because of unbelief, they sent spies to spy out the land. They doubted what God said was true about the land; because of their unbelief, God sent them back into the wilderness for forty years. Then though Joshua, along with Caleb and their children, they safely crossed the river Jordan by faith. However, they couldn't enter into the land of Canaan that God had promised them because there was a might walled city built on the edge of Canaan. As soon as they came to the land, that great walled city stood as a fortress, hindering them from moving in and laying hold of their possession.
Jericho was one of the cities that frightened those who spied out the land. You can read about it in Numbers, Chapter 13, and also in Deuteronomy 1:28. When those spies came back, all but two (Joshua and Caleb) were of a different spirit, and they came back and said that the people were giants, much taller than they were, and their cities were walled to heaven. The city of Jericho was the enemy's leading stronghold in Canaan. The people of Canaan, as well as much of Israel, felt that Jericho was invulnerable. The walls reached to heaven, and they were wide and sturdy. The enemy inside the city felt perfectly secure, and the Israelites outside felt there was nothing they could do about it. They thought they had run into an impossibility.
If we live the life of faith, it won't be long until we'll run into the strongholds of the enemy. The enemy will set himself in one position or another in such a way that, unless we have real faith in God, he will frighten us into backing up. In salvation we can rest and have God fight our enemies while we eat the good fruit of the land and enjoy the experience that God has given us.
Faith Reaches Beyond Human Reasoning
The city of Jericho greatly frightened the spies. There was no city in Canaan like Jericho, and it sat right on the border of the land of Canaan. I repeat, the people of Jericho thought the city was quite invulnerable; yet the Bible tells us it fell. God's people didn't fire a gun, nor were they a trained army. That which was invulnerable fell, and the Scripture says it fell by faith. According to Scripture, all the people had to do was fully respond to God's orders. We can read in the latter part of Joshua, Chapter 5, that when Joshua met with the Lord, he asked Him, "Are you for us or against us?" He answered, in so many words, "Neither, I am Captain of the Lord of Hosts, and I am here to give you orders." Joshua's orders were to take all the people of Israel and march around the city of Jericho once each morning for six days; then on the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times, and the seventh time around, the people were to shout and the walls would fall down.
Some people today think that believing and receiving the promises of God is so difficult. If we're going to operate by faith, we must be free from human reasoning. Faith reaches beyond human reasoning. The people of Israel didn't have a book to read that told them about the walls of a city falling down by faith. Never before had the wall of a city fallen in that manner, and none have ever fallen quite like that since then. Nevertheless, they had divine orders from God. Certainly, those orders seemed unreal and unreasonable, but when they obeyed them, the Bible says "the walls fell down flat."
One lesson we can learn from this event is very simple but needful. God's ways are entirely different from our ways. Some try to put their trust in God by mixing God's ways with their ways. Who, before or since then, has ever heard of mighty walls falling down because some peasant people marched around them by faith in the promise of God. It was unheard of. A mighty fortress was completely demolished by a company of people just walking in the light as God revealed it to them.
God delights in straining the pride of man. The second Psalm tells us that God laughs at anyone who set up something and thinks that He can't move it or tear it down. In Exodus, Chapter 2, we can read how God raised up a leader for Israel. He took a little babe who had been hidden in the bulrushes and caused the king of Egypt to educate him and raise him at his own expense; then God used him as a mighty leader to bring Israel out of Egyptian bondage.
First Samuel, Chapter 17, tells us about the Philistine giant who made all of Israel shake in their boots for fear of him. Even King Saul, who stood head and shoulders above every man in Israel, was afraid to go out to meet Goliath. But along came a shepherd boy who said, "I will go and fight him." God enabled David to destroy the giant with a sling and a stone. Time after time, we can read in the Bible how God brought men down when they tried to exalt themselves. The Bible says those things which are highly esteemed among men are an abomination in the sight of God.
If we want to see God move, we must learn that God's ways are entirely different from our ways. Oftentimes, people's opinions are hindering their faith. There was not a man in the crowd of Israelites who come up with the idea of marching around the city. There might have been some who would have said, "We need some battering rams in order to knock the doors down," or "We need to make some ladders so that we can climb over the walls." However, God just told them to march around the city. God's ways are past finding out. Man doesn't always know why God does what He does, but God does what He does because it is right and because it will work. No matter what God prescribes, it will work when He says it.
God Is Independant of All Natural Means
Another lesson we can learn from the walls of Jericho falling down is that God is independent of all natural means. God sometimes uses natural means; nevertheless, when we see God by faith, we will realize that He is independent of all natural means and that He is superior to all natural laws. God gave the laws of nature for man to live by, but He's not bound by them. He is omnipotent and all powerful. Some people want to bind God to the laws of nature, and they will not accept anything else. However, miraculous works go beyond the realms of nature.
When Sarah gave birth to a baby after Abraham had turned one hundred years old and she was past the age of childbearing, that was beyond the realms of nature. How could God say to Abraham, "You are on hundred years old, but I am going to let you have a baby"? Because He is not bound by the laws of nature; within our selves, we are, but He is not. Human reasoning and human thinking limits God and kills people's faith in God. I say again, God is independent of all natural means, and His power is superior to all natural laws. Even though there are times when He uses natural means, He is not bound by them.
Many traditions and ideas of men teach that God has to work through medical science or a doctor. On the contrary, God is not bound by anything. He may work through them at times, but He is not bound to work through them. When you begin to operate faith in God independent of medical science, some people (even some who claim to be Christians) will begin to scorn you and tell you that God only works through the doctors. That's not true! God healed people long before doctors were ever practicing.
Some may ask, "Do you think God works beyond natural means?" What natural means were used when Israel crossed the Red Sea? What natural means were used when they crossed the Jordan River? What natural means were used when the wall of Jericho fell down? Not only were these things far beyond natural means, but they were also contrary to natural means. We need to get to the place of knowing that what God says is true; not what men say, but what God says. When God ordains a plan and lays it before us, we need to line up with it fearlessly. If God has ordained it, it well work, and we don't have to be afraid of it.
Overcoming Challenges By Faith
Another lesson we can learn is that formidable difficulties and powerful oppositions are encountered in the welfare of faith. One won't follow the path of faith for very long until he comes face to face with a challenge. If we overcome these challenges, we'll go beyond natural resources and natural powers. Faith reaches beyond natural resources.
The walls of Jericho fell by faith in God. Jordon Rivers, Jerichos, and mighty fortresses still exist in this day. They are those things which appear impossible to us and we don't have the least idea of what to do about them; however, there's One who knows. If we are truly living for God and our trust is in Him, He has promised that he will fight our battles and make a way where there seemingly is no way, if we'll look to Him.
The dimension of these things which move into our vision is determined by how much our heart is engaged with God. How big or how great they are in our vision is measured by how deeply our heart is hooked into the heart of God.
The ten spies came back with the report, "We cannot do it. There are giants and cities with great walls. We can never get through them." But there were two men who lived close to God. They said, "Let's go at once. We can overcome them!" The way things look to us (how much they blur our vision, how much they tear us down, how much darkness they bring in upon us, or how helpless they make us feel) is all determined by how close we're living to God. Joshua and Caleb were living close to God. In the eyes of the others, it was summed up on one word: IMPOSSIBLE; but with Joshua and Caleb, not only was it possible, but also they were ready to tackle it. The Bible tells us they had a different spirit.
Most difficulties that come our way are placed there by God. If we live for God and are true to Him, there won't be a difficulty come into our life unless God has allowed it. He allows things to come into our life in order to train and teach us, just as he did old Israel. Many would like to have faith poured out on them like water. We can't get it that way. We receive faith through the training and learning that comes from the tests and trials of life when we prove God to be true. The enemy was using Jericho to stop Israel, but God was using it to let Israel see just how mighty and powerful He is and to see what He could do for them. This is exactly the way God looks upon our trials, our Jerichos, our situations that seem impossible. God merely wants to use them to reveal Himself to us and show us that he can take us through.
Faith in God Will Remove Satan's Strongholds
Another lesson we can learn from this event is that one of Satan's strongholds can stand before a people who are obedient and fully relying on the living God. No matter how great, how mighty, or how powerful they are, it's impossible for them to stand. This fact is clear to us after reading Joshua, the sixth chapter. The Canaanites were under the dominion and power of the evil one. Jericho was one of their principal fortresses, but it tumbled down like a frail building made out of cardboard.
You can read in Acts, Chapter 16, about Paul and Silas in the Philippi jail. They had been mistreated, and God only put up with it for so long; then He shook the whole foundation of the prison. These things seem like fairy tales to some people, but they are true happenings recorded in God's Word. To unbelievers, that city walled up to heaven was impregnable, but faith laughs at such things, knowing there's nothing impregnable when God is on the scene. Nothing is impossible with God. Faith laughs at such impossibilities, because they can't stand against God.
If we study history and the Acts of the Apostles, during the early days of Christianity, the citadels of paganism crumbled under the faithful ministry of the Apostles. The people continued in the Apostles' doctrine and the walls that paganism had built up that were seemingly impregnable fell. Paganism gloated that no one could tear down its traditions and teachings; but the Apostles, who faithfully preached the Word of God, and the morning-time church, who lived it, tore down the walls of paganism, and its power was destroyed.
Likewise, the citadel that sprang up after paganism, Papal Rome, also fell. God used Martin Luther and a few other contemporaries, and they took the Gatling gun of truth and obeyed God. When those people walked in the light of the message that was declared, the walls of papalism fell, and Rome lost its power and its force.
Too many don't believe these things. It's sad to read in the newspaper about so-called Christians who are fighting. Christians are not fighting. Christians never will go to battle against an enemy with carnal weapons. Jesus said that we who are of His Kingdom will not fight with carnal weapons. If His Kingdom were of this world, His servants would fight with carnal weapons; but His Kingdom is not of this world. Everyone who is fighting is looking for a worldly, earthly kingdom.
When God brought the walls of Romanism down, He reached right down in Romanism and brought out a monk who had been raised in it and was deep in it, and He unfolded the truth to him. This monk had backbone, and through the power of god, he tore down the walls of papalism.
Coming up to this century, the high places of heathenism have fallen by the onslaught of faithful missionaries around the world. It has become difficult to find a place where the Gospel has not affected people to a certain degree. The walls of heathenism have been torn down by people who had God-inspired messages on their hearts and felt burdened to go across the sea. Many of them left without a penny in their pockets; but by faith in God, they went to preach the Gospel to people who were in deep heathenism. Those walls were destroyed by people who obeyed God's Word and walked in the light of it.
Grieving and Quenching the Spirit of God
Why aren't we witnessing many of the great spiritual triumphs in our generation? We thank God for all we are witnessing, but we're not witnessing the triumphs that the church has had in past ages, even fifty years ago. Why are we not witnessing as many mighty deliverances and great walls being destroyed today? There are more walls being built up today than the church is destroying, and Satan is having "a heyday".
Why is it that on many foreign fields the forces of Satan are advancing instead of retreating? There was a time when Satan was bound and his forces were hindered, but now he's advancing.
Why is it that in our country the Jerichos defy us, and we're not seeing the walls come down? Why are there so many invulnerable Jerichos? They're growing in number. It seems as if we no more than get deliverance from one circumstance and several others spring up in its place. Why are we not seeing the walls of these things crumble and fall? These are questions worth considering. Is it because God's arms are waxing short? No. Is it because the Scriptures are obsolete and unfitted to the needs of people today? No, the Word of God is steadfast to every generation.
The Book of Romans tells us that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. God has never changed His mind. Any gift that he ever gave to operate in the church will still be there when comes again. God hasn't repented of divine healing. We can't say that the Scriptures that deal with healing, help, and deliverance by faith are obsolete to us. No one can truthfully arise and say that. God's hand is not shortened. His Word is still true for us today.
Why then are we not seeing the walls fall in a greater way? It's because there's a grieved Spirit in our midst. We can't play around with God and His Word. Once we realize a need in our life and the Spirit of God "woos at us", yet we refuse to do anything about it, we're quenching and grieving the Spirit of God. Then when a great need arises, or we meet up with a Jericho, we can't get the walls to come down.
God has definitely ordained that if we let the Spirit of God have liberty, He will work the gifts of the Spirit and the miracles of the Spirit. However, when we hold out for our own selfish ways, what are we going to do when we get to the Judgment? Suppose someone dies of cancer and God tells us at the Judgment that He would have healed him, but we grieved His Spirit because we were bound to go our own way? No one lives to himself or dies to himself. The attitude we take toward God's Word will affect the whole congregation, as well as the workings of the church. Too many times, God's Spirit is grieved and quenched. We can't have the mighty working of God's Spirit in the midst and quench Him at the same time. The consequence of His Spirit being grieved is that His power will be withheld.
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, in 1 Thess. 5:19, "Quench not the Spirit." When we quench the Spirit, we won't have any power in our life. We may say, "Oh, I have God's power working in my life." Well, if we do, we'll be visiting the sick, praying for them and talking Bible to them so they can get delivered. Oh, we may visit some, but I mean we should visit them and really pray with them and encourage them. You see, we can slip right along and think we have power with God, but we only have what we can demonstrate.
There's too much grieving the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of many people. We may think nobody else knows about it, but God knows and the Holy Spirit knows, and if we get down to pray in this condition, our prayer won't get through. God is saying, "Look, I called and called, and you didn't pay attention to Me. You wouldn't do what I wanted you to do, so why are you calling on Me now?" God has a law that every one of us must live by: if we will honor God, He will honor us. Too often, the Spirit of God is being grieved in too great a way for Him to show Himself mighty and strong.
Faith Requires Full Obedience
Instead of encompassing the walls after the divine order, many have resorted to worldly attempts to remove the walls. In too many cases, people are seeking to win the Canaanites by worldly attraction. We can't expect to have Israel's victories until we're ready to follow Israel's example, nor can we expect apostolic progress unless we get back to using apostolic methods. None of man's methods ever worked like the Apostles' methods.
In Zechariah 4:6 God said, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." The true power of the Spirit will never be manifested in our midst as we desire until each one of us enters the path of full obedience. We must do God's work in God's prescribed way and confidently count on Him to honor and bless our efforts.
Consider Israel's condition and their faith. For centuries they had been a nation of slaves, and God miraculously delivered them. However, they allowed unbelief to work; so God sent them back into the wilderness for forty years until everybody twenty years old and older had died, except Joshua and Caleb. Moses, their leader in whom they had great faith, died also. Then a new leader was in control, and he stood between them and God, hearing what God had to say and telling them what God said.
Israel didn't have a trained army, and they were without military experience. God wanted them to understand that they weren't left to themselves. The living God would fight and work for them as long as they fully responded to His will. In like manner, God will work for us as much or more than He ever did for any other people if we will fully respond to His will. When something comes upon us, when an impossible situation (our Jericho) faces us, let's not allow the enemy to put us into a quandary, questioning, "What am I going to do?" God hasn't left us to our own devices. The Christian life isn't lived by man's devices or man's ways. God will miraculously save us, lead us, and reveal His will to us in a plain manner.
There's no place for carnal planning, human reasoning, or human scheming if we truly see the mighty power of God. God's orders often seem unreasonable and absurd to men. The Jericho walls reached to heaven and were wide enough on the top to drive chariots around them. How absurd the message must have seemed when Joshua appeared before the congregation and said, "I just heard from God, and He said to march around the walls once each day for six days, and seven times around the seventh day; then we are to blow the rams' horns and shout, and the walls will fall." How absurd this was to human reasoning; nevertheless, that was God's message and God's plan.
Many of God's plans to deliver His people were absurd to human reasoning. Naaman, a captain of the Syrian army, was a leper. The little girl that worked for him said in 2 Kings 5:3, "Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy." So, Naaman went over there, but the prophet didn't even come out to see him; instead, he sent his servant out to tell him to go dip seven times in the muddy Jordan River. Naaman went away in a rage. He said there were better waters than that back home. (Today too many think they have a better idea than God. Any time we think we can come up with a better idea than God, we need help. Our own human reasoning will cause us to react as Naaman did.)
One of his servants finally got him calmed down and said in verse 13 of the same chapter, "If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?" In other words, he told him, "What have you got to lose? Why not go and dip in the Jordan River and be clean." so Naaman went into the Jordan, and after dipping six times, he was just as leprous as he was before; but the seventh time, he came up with skin as clean as a newborn babe.
The battles we have are against faith: just simply believing what God said. We must do whatever God tells us to do carefully, wholeheartedly, earnestly, and sincerely and expect God to move just as he said He would in His Word.
It's unreasonable to professing Christians today when they're told to cast away their worldly devices and exchange them for prayer and fasting. However, this is still God's prescribed plan. Not too many will take that prescription today. How long has it been since we fasted for souls or for the sick ones we want to see get well? When half of our hope is built on what the doctors can do for them and the other half is built on what we hope God will do, it won't work. If we want to have faith in the doctors, that's our privilege; let's not try to have half-and-half faith, because when we do, we won't have faith in the doctor or God.
Notice the obedience of faith. In order for faith to really work, even after we lay hold of it and we're ready to believe God, there must be obedience to faith. In Joshua 6:10 we read, "And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth [for six days], until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye [everybody] shout." Their silence in the beginning for six days was just as necessary as their shouting on the seventh day.
Murmuring and Complaining Kills Faith
Why did Joshua tell them that he didn't want one word to come out of their mouths for six days? Those people lived with grumbling parents who complained so much that God let them die in the wilderness due to their complaining. So Joshua said, "I don't want a word coming out of your mouth," because he knew what would come out.
The second reason there's not greater faith among people today is, they won't keep still and let faith work. How did the walls fall? The people obeyed exactly what the leader had received from God. God knew if He would have allowed those people to talk that not one of them would have any faith left by the seventh day. When God prescribes a way for deliverance today, what happens when we start saying, "I don't think that's the way to do it"? The walls don't fall down.
Some have worked to get their faith built up, but it only take one or two who profess to be Christians to complain and murmur against the truth of God's Word and the way God prescribed to do something, and that will kill all the faith they once had. We must keep still if we want faith to work. We must get it settled that God's way is the right way, and then don't allow anything to come out of our mouth.
Those people's parents, no doubt, were among the greatest grumblers on earth. At one time, some of their ancestors complained so much that God decided to take them out in the desert and let them live there until their carcasses fell. We will grieve the Spirit when we complain and murmur.
Joshua told the people to keep their mouths shut for six days and not to speak a word; then on the seventh day, when God said it was time, everyone was to shout. The people did just that. It's the little things, that our own human reasoning make us feel doesn't amount to anything and doesn't hurt anything, that hinders God working in the midst. Why did God go into such detail and tell them not to speak a word? Because he knew they were prone to speak their own opinions. Speaking our own opinions will bring confusion, division, and kill faith. This is not to say we must bind our own opinions and not express them; nevertheless, when God has spoken and we know what His will is, we must then forget about our own opinions and work to do what God said to do and have confidence that He will answer.
Those people were the immediate descendants of grumblers and complainers. Bringing it up to date, when parents grumble, murmur, and complain, their children will grumble, murmur, and complain. What confusion would have existed at that time if everyone had opened their mouths and spoken their own opinions.
If Jerichos that you and I, as the people of God, face are to be captured, the mouths of the murmurers must be stopped and all leaning to our understanding must be abandoned. The Bible says not to lean to our own understanding. It tells us in the New Testament that there will be murmurers and complainers in the last days. It also lets us know that God hates that as much as He did back in the Old Testament, because it hinders people.
How often the sinews of faith have been severed by the criticisms and the opinions of those who were supposed to be Christian friends. How often have men of God been hindered by dishonoring doubts and carnal suggestions of bystanders? Only God has the record. How many times has God laid the groundwork to build up the faith of an individual, but we allowed something to come our of our mouth that severed the sinews of faith and destroyed it? This is why God wants us to keep our mouth shut. When God has spoken and told us what to do, let's keep our mouth shut, busy ourselves at doing what God said to do, and the walls will come down.
Greater Victories for God's People
Joshua, the sixth chapter, was recorded for our learning. The walls of unbelief, superstition, and ungodliness will yield to no earthly armor of power. These walls will never come down by the arm of man or the force of man. They cannot be destroyed by compulsion, human reasoning, or any other weapon that this world could supply. These walls can only be destroyed by the will of God. His will is the Bible declared in faith, received in faith, and lived in faith by God's people. All God needs is men of God who will faithfully blow the trumpet with a certain sound and people who will believe, obey, and line up with their leader and march as God says to march; then God will take care of the Jerichos. There aren't any impregnable walls as far as God is concerned.
The enemy cannot prevail against the true Church, and he cannot stop her progress. No matter how many walls he tries to build or how secure he builds them, if God can find people who will hear and obey His voice and walk as He has ordained them to walk, they can march on to victory.
Many things we face today will cause us to cry as the Psalmist did in Psalm 60:11-12 and 61:1-2: "Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." There are greater victories in store for the people of God. Some situations that we face may be hard. They may be walled up like Jericho, but God has a plan. He's looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward Him that He might show Himself strong in their midst.
The Bible says in Mark 16:20, "And they [the disciples] went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming that word with signs following." That Scripture is for us. We are as much a part of the Church today as they were, and there is only one church. Let's go forward, the Lord working with us.
It was the Lord who brought the walls of Jericho down. Their faith put the Lord to work, and He brought the walls down. The enemy inside thought that no one could ever get in, and God's people on the outside probably thought they were shut our forever; but they obeyed God's simple plan, and the walls fell down flat. If we study God's Word, we'll find that all God's schemes and strategies are just simple plans and not great exalted ideas that man has tried to come up with.
Walking around walls doesn't affect them in any way. That would not knock out any of the mortar. However, obedience to God will bring the power of God on the scene. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down. Every wall that we, as God's people, face can come down by faith in God's Word. How is your heart toward God? Do you have faith to believe God's Word and fearlessly act on it, move by it, and expect God to confirm it?
[ The End ]