Faithlife Sermons

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6
*Time to Shout*
*Joshua 6:1–27*
/When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city.
They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.…
So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land./
Joshua 6:20–21, 27
According to Lieutenant Colonel Faris Kirkland, former professor of military science at the University of Pennsylvania, the most exciting lecture he ever heard was on an ancient general’s military tactics.
The lecturer was a visitor to his class, not even a regular teacher.
But he held his students spellbound as he described this man’s military strategy: */a sudden strike into the heart of the enemy’s territory, thus dividing his forces, then campaigns to the south and north./*
He described techniques of psychological warfare, the elements of speed, surprise, and terror.
Who was this ancient military genius?
The students suggested Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun.
It was only at the end of the lecture, after all possible names had been exhausted, that the teacher revealed the identity of the one whose battles he was describing: */Joshua/*.
*The First Obstacle: Jericho*
At one time the brilliant */British field marshal Edmund H.
Allenby must have studied this book too, for Joshua’s strategy was the one he adopted in his successful liberation of Palestine in World War I/*.
Palestine is a hilly country, and the major passage through it is a connecting road that runs from south to north through the highest portions of the land.
*/Joshua’s strategy (and Allenby’s) was to drive westward from the Jordan Valley to that high road, thus dividing the country.
Then, when the enemy forces were divided, they would first destroy the opposition to the south and then the opposition to the north/*.
This is the outline of the campaign described in Joshua 6–11.
Before the country could be divided, a wedge had to be driven from the Jordan River valley to the mountains.
*/The first obstacle was at this point: Jericho.
Jericho was a military fortress built to defend the eastern approach to the high country.
It could not be bypassed; to bypass Jericho would mean leaving a large military force at one’s rear/*.
But, on the other hand, conquering Jericho was a dismaying challenge.
Jericho’s walls were high, its position advantageous.
What was Joshua to do with an obstacle of these proportions?
If Joshua had held a council of war, it is not hard to imagine the advice he might have been given.
One adviser might have argued that the way to take fortified cities is by siege ramps.
An approach to the top of the walls must be constructed.
(This was the way the Romans took fortified cities more than a thousand years later.)
Another might have argued for starving Jericho’s defenders into submission.
“Seal up the city,” he might have argued.
“They cannot hold out forever.
Eventually they will come to terms, open the city gates, and surrender.”
*/The story shows that Joshua adopted none of these counsels; in fact, he did not even seek them.
He was already in touch with one who was the true strategist and commander./*
*/The true commander, whom we met at the end of chapter 5, had a unique plan for this battle.
He told Joshua:/*
See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.
March around the city once with all the armed men.
Do this for six days.
Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark.
On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.
When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.
Joshua 6:2–5
*/From a human point of view, nothing could have been more useless, in spite of the obvious necessity of attacking this outpost.
High walls do not fall to the noise of tramping feet.
Cities are not won by trumpets./*
Yet this is precisely what happened.
The story tells how the people followed the commands of the Lord.
Each day for six days they walked in silence around the watching city, and on the seventh day they repeated this apparently futile exercise seven times.
No one spoke.
The only noise was the sound of the rams’ horns blown by the priests.
Then, on the seventh circuit on the seventh day, when the city was entirely surrounded by the Jewish armies, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout!
For the Lord has given you the city!” (v.
16).
The people did shout!
It was the time to shout! “When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city” (v.
20).
Jericho was destroyed in accordance with God’s command to Joshua.
Only Rahab and her family were spared because of her having saved the two spies.
*/Preparation: The Path to Victory/*
/I was in a meeting in which a pastor was reporting on the revivals that have been taking place in the South American country of Argentina.
That country is wide open to the gospel, and tens of thousands of people are coming to faith in Christ regularly in large open-air meetings.
What is so striking about this revival, as it was related to me, is the preparation that had been made for it as long as twenty years before.
At that time, the leaders of the Argentinian church began to pray for revival and ask themselves what they should do to prepare for the blessing they were asking God to send.
Where would they put the people they were asking to be converted?
How would they disciple the anticipated additions to the church?
Their plan was to train leaders for greatly expanded churches and to establish strong Christian homes in which counseling and discipling could be done./
I think of that report as I study the account of the Jews’ conquest of Jericho, for one thing that is unmistakably clear is that */there had been preparation before the shout of victory/*.
·         Some of that preparation had started forty years earlier in the preparation of Joshua and Caleb and the soldiers that had been trained in the wilderness.
o   The lessons learned when God provided water, manna, quail, the ten commandmenst, when God chasitised them, etc
·         More preparation had taken place after the Jordan River had been crossed.
o   There was a reinstitution of the covenantal rite of circumcision
o   and a new observance of the Passover.
o   The hearts of the people had to be right before there could be a full outpouring of God’s blessing.
*/But the preparation did not stop there/*.
In fact, it continued right up to the very moment of the shout.
Everything before that moment was preparation of the hearts of the people.
The story stresses three steps.
*/Silence, Initial Obedience, Obedience to the very end/*
1*/.
Silence./*
This morning I urged you to go to God when troubles come---and cry out---this is still a good idea.
But at some point---and especially after you know what God wants---it is time for silence-----
 
*/The first step in the preparation of the people for this climactic week was the command to keep silent./*
They were to be utterly quiet as they encircled the doomed city.
*/Their lips were not to speak a word.
The text says, “Joshua had commanded the people, ‘Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout.
Then shout!’ ” (Josh.
6:10)./*
*/This must have been a difficult thing for the people to do./*
For one thing, there were several million people, and it is hard to imagine any large group of people moving anywhere without an increasingly noisy hum, then roar of voices.
There were soldiers to get in line, children to keep track of, a route to be pointed out and taken.
How this could be accomplished in silence I do not know, but this is what the people did.
Moreover, the people would have had difficulty ignoring the taunts of the encircled citizens of Jericho.
On the first day the Canaanites would probably have been quiet too, watching to see what the encircling armies would do.
It would have been bizarre: a silent attacking force watched by silent defenders.
But silence would hardly have lasted beyond the second day.
By then, the defenders would have begun to mock the Jewish soldiers: “What do you think you’re doing, marching around our walls?
Do you think we’re so foolish as to have left a door open somewhere?
Are you afraid to fight?
Why don’t you try to get in?
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