The Lord had given Joshua the command to take Jericho and His instructions were very specific: the army should march round the city once every day for six days in silence, but on the seventh day they should march round seven times, with seven priests blowing rams’ horns. When they’d done that the priests should blow a long blast of the trumpets and all the people should shout loudly and the walls would fall down.
We might think that was a very unusual way to capture a hostile city, but the Lord’s plans were perfect as always. Why the silence? Perhaps because grumbling is infectious and can sow doubt and unbelief. While the Israelites were in the desert for all that time they often grumbled: about the lack of water and food, and when God miraculously provided daily manna and quails for them to eat, they grumbled about the lack of variety in their diet. When Joshua and the other spies went to survey the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb came back with clear vision of the land, and that they could take it with the Lord’s help. The rest of them grumbled about the giants in their way, unbelief grew among the people (Numbers Chapter 14) and the Israelites had to remain in the desert for forty years until the unbelieving generation had died out.
It’s easy to become discouraged when we’re faced with a seemingly impossible obstruction, but if God has told us to overcome it, then, with His help, we can. The problem lies within ourselves when we begin to voice our doubts, and the words we speak out, even to ourselves, can be very powerful. How wise then, of Joshua, and the Lord, not to allow the army to speak, because it’s easy to imagine the doubts spreading: “this is no way to breach those thick walls,” “we can’t do it”, “this won’t work” – all the negative thoughts which would destroy their faith. As the children of Israel obeyed God and carried out His instructions implicitly, in the words of the old song: ‘the walls came tumbling down’.
When we’re faced with challenges it’s wise not to let unbelieving words fall from our lips, as they can demoralise us. We can’t help what we see and hear, but our refusal to speak doubt and fear will keep our hearts more inclined to what God can do, rather than what we can’t.
Prayer: Father God, There are times when I allow unbelief to hold me back from doing the things I believe You have called me to do. When You give the command to move forward, then, no matter what the obstacles are, You will make a way. Please help me to believe that and trust You to take me forward in Your strength, not my own. Thank You, Lord, Amen.
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