Just Shy of Jericho

“Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valour. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the LORD. You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. Then seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually and blew with the trumpets. And the armed men went before them. But the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. And the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. So they did six days.
But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times.” (Exerts from Joshua 6:1-15 NKJV)

Well, they were supposed to march around the city seven times but after the sixth time around strangely things started to go wrong…

Abe suddenly stopped short and a whole line of people bumped into him with some falling over.
Ben asked Abe, “Why did you stop?”
Abe whined “My feet are sore.”
Ben suggested “Then how about you go and sit down over there and rest for a bit.”
Caleb and Dan piped in “If Abe’s going to rest, we’re coming too.” So Abe, Caleb and Dan went off to the side and sat down.

Just as the Israelite soldiers were in their marching rhythm again there was some whispering up the back.
“Shhh!!!” Eli yelled! “No talking in line! This is supposed to be a silent march!”
“Except for the trumpets!” yelled back Gideon “They’re making a right old racket. They’re giving me a headache!”
“Be quiet!” Eli yelled in cranky voice.
“Wanna come and make me?” Gideon said, putting up his fists.
The next thing you know Eli comes back and tries to sock Gideon in the jaw but gets Jonah instead and the line falls over again.

Leaving Eli, Gideon and Jonah to their fight the soldiers start marching again, when suddenly a rotten tomato comes out of nowhere and hits Obadiah right in the face!
“That’s it!” Obadiah shouts. “This marching is not making any difference and I’m sure the Israeli Soldiers Union would expect us to strike under these conditions! I’ve got my rights!” Obadiah stomps off, with many people leaving with him grumbling “Me too!” “I’ve had enough of this!”

There’s only two soldiers left Zac and Mali.
Zac turns to Mali and says “What do we do now?”
Mali shrugs “I dunno. Everyone else has left. We can’t do it on our own. Maybe God has left too. Let’s go home.”
“Where’s home?” asks Zac
“I dunno. The Wilderness? Egypt?” Mali and Zac leave still trying to figure out where home is.

Consider for a moment – what if this was the real story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho? What if thousands of soldiers had disobeyed God, given up and gone home? Would this story have been recorded as a failure like the battle of Ai? Or would it have been left out of the Bible altogether? Would that been the end of the Israelites as God’s chosen people, giving up at the first challenge in the Promised Land? How would history have changed if they had quit just shy of Jericho’s victory? There definitely wouldn’t have been the amazing miracle of a wall falling into the earth. There wouldn’t be songs about God’s miraculous power sung by children all over the globe.

Consider for a moment how the soldiers, well they weren’t really soldiers at that point in their lives, this was their first battle – ever. Maybe we should call them nomads.

Consider for a moment if the nomads walking around Jericho had given in to fatigue, given into fear, lost their faith in God and trust in Joshua that he actually had received this crazy plan from God.  Thirteen laps of a city is a pretty big walk, particularly weighed down with weapons, especially when you can’t utter a sound, specifically when wall perched spectators jeered, taunted and threw rotten tomatoes at you while you trudged in the heat.

You and I may not have marched around a city but we’ve all faced situations that seem as hopeless as Jericho. In the last minutes of the march; when there seems to be no way that this miracle will happen; when it seems like we’ve prayed too long and there are no answers; when we’ve given the ministry all we’ve got; when it seems like we have no strength left; that’s when the temptation to quit is the strongest. Just then, just shy of Jericho, just before the miracle.

I’ve been there a few times and it can feel like quitting is the only thing left to do. But let me encourage you, urge you to not quit. Don’t quit! Not just before a miracle! Keep going! Keep marching. Keep praying, obeying and trusting God. Things will change soon. Walls will fall and blessings will flow.

An old song I remember from my childhood says:

“Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle
Don’t give in; God is still on His throne
Don’t give up; you’re on the brink of a miracle
Don’t give in, remember you’re not alone.”

Whatever situation you’re in today; whatever miracle you’re praying for – don’t quit, don’t give up, keep marching, keep obeying and trusting God.

Don’t quit just shy of Jericho, your miracle is coming!


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