Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town” (Joshua 6:1-5 NLT).
The Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness for forty years. They had seen God provide for their every need. They had experienced the Great I Am in ways they never could have outside the wilderness, but there was always the hope of the beautiful future God had promised in the land of plenty. And, finally, the time had come to enter the long-awaited Promised Land.
Only the Jordan River stood between the Israelites and the Promised Land. As the priests picked up the Ark of the Covenant and stepped into the waters of the Jordan, the water stopped flowing and the Israelites walked across on dry ground. It was reminiscent of Moses parting the Red Sea forty years earlier.
As the Israelites walked out of the river bed, there must have been a sense of awe as they stepped onto the land. They had waited so long, endured so much. A wave of emotion must have flooded over them as they realized the promise was finally coming true. All of the years of waiting and hoping were finally culminating in the fulfillment of God’s promise.
Near the town of Jericho, Joshua was confronted by the commander of the Lord’s army. Joshua fell on his face out of reverence, expressing his willingness to be completely obedient. The command was simple: “Take off your shoes for the place you are standing is holy ground” (Joshua 5:15). This was God’s territory.
There before the Israelites stood Jericho, surrounded by a great wall with the gates shut tight. As they contemplated the wall and what it would take to enter the city, Joshua received the battle plan from God. It was simple: march around the city for seven days and the walls will crumble. Joshua called the priests and explained that they were to march around the city. There’s no mention of him telling the warriors that the walls will simply crumble before them.
As day one dawned bright and sunny, the Israelites assembled. The priests took the horns and the Ark of the Covenant and began the trek around the city, with the warriors going in front of them and behind them. They were instructed not to talk, but I bet they were praying silently.
Day two came, and they repeated the process. Marching endlessly, praying silently. The people of Jericho were probably wondering what kind of battle plan they had. The Israelites were probably beginning to wonder the same.
Days three, four, and five. More of the same. Marching. Praying. Questioning. Doubting. Feeling foolish. Wondering how God would ever come through. Growing weary. Hadn’t forty years in the wilderness been enough?
Day six brought more of the same. More marching. Exhaustion and frustration were probably beginning to set in. Prayers were growing old and stale. The heat beat down on them. How much more of this can we take?
The people of Jericho might have begun to feel confident, growing complacent inside the walls of their city. These fools don’t have a battle plan! They think that they can frighten us by simply walking around our city! We are safe and secure within our fortress!
And then came day seven. It started just like the previous six days. But the atmosphere was different. There was a sense of excitement in the air, an anticipation that something big was ahead. There was a restlessness among the troops. They began their trek around the city yet again, knowing that this day would require even more of them. They bounced between expectation and doubt, anticipation and fear, excitement and confusion. Everything was on the line as they waited for total and complete redemption from the years in the wilderness.
Finally, after seven trips around the city on the seventh day, the priests sounded the trumpets and all the people gave a loud shout. And just like that, the walls came crumbling down. The fortress was gone, and God allowed the people to take possession of the first city in the Promised Land. What a joyous day, a day of victory, a day of seeing God’s miraculous display of power!
The Israelites experienced full redemption on that day.
I feel as if I understand the mixed emotions the Israelites must have experienced in those days marching around Jericho. I have been in the wilderness for a number of years, wandering through the desert while seeing God provide for my every need. He has done a mighty work in my life while I’ve been in the wilderness. He has humbled me and tested me (Deuteronomy 8:2). He has taught me to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). And then he taught me to trust him with my whole heart (Proverbs 3:5).
The wilderness has been an amazing experience, an amazing opportunity to be completely dependent upon my Savior. But I know the Promised Land is near.
Last year, God told me to consecrate myself because he would soon do mighty things in my life (Joshua 3:5). As I entered 2015, I had an overwhelming sense that God is about to pour out his power in my life, to usher me into the long-awaited Promised Land.
Today, I feel God telling me that I have crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. I am standing on holy ground! Some days I simply want to fall on my feet in worship, knowing that I am about to take possession of all God has planned for me. And yet, there in front of me stands my Jericho, walls towering over me and the gates locked tight.
I have been marching around the city for six days, praying endlessly, begging God to bring the walls crashing down. I feel as if I am on day seven, as if the walls will soon crumble before me. I am restless. I alternate between expectation and doubt, anticipation and fear. Some days the journey seems never-ending. I wonder how much longer I must keep walking. And yet, I have my orders. Just keep walking.
My spirit is restless. Something big is coming! Full redemption is near!
Each day, I wake up, carrying the scripture before me, saturating my mind. I continue walking and praying, reminding God of his promises and his faithfulness. I do my best to focus my mind completely on him so that he can keep me in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Some days I walk in excitement and joy, hardly able to contain myself. The next, I’m overwhelmed with doubt and feelings of foolishness. It’s a battle to keep the mind of Christ, to constantly live in that place where I trust him completely.
And yet, I know that’s where he wants me. I know that he wants me walking forward in faith even when I can’t see the completed picture. I know he wants me to keep marching on this, the seventh and most critical day.
Very soon, I will make that seventh circle around the city. With a shout, I will begin praising God as the walls begin to crumble. I will take possession of this first city in my Promised Land.
Until then, I will keep walking.
What about you? Have you been camped in the wilderness, anxiously awaiting the promises God has made to you? Do you sense that redemption is near? Are you praying and waiting expectantly? Are you fluctuating between excitement and fear, anticipation and anxiety? Do you feel as if you have marched around the walls in prayer repeatedly, as if you can’t keep going?
God sees. He hears. He knows that the walls will come tumbling down shortly. He is calling you—calling you to take up his word, step into the flooded waters of the Jordan, and march around those walls. He is calling you to continue in obedience, to trust him to fight the battle.
He is calling you to keep walking.
Dena Johnson is a busy single mom of three kids who loves God passionately. She delights in taking the everyday events of life, finding God in them, and impressing them on her children as they sit at home or walk along the way (Deuteronomy 6:7). Her greatest desire is to be a channel of God’s comfort and encouragement. You can read more of Dena’s experiences with her Great I AM on her blog Dena's Devos.
Publication date: June 16, 2015