Bringing Down the Walls
Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. - Joshua 6:1-2
The other day a woman, who was admittedly non-religious, told me the world seems to have gotten particularly crazy the last year or two. I think she is right. I trust that everyone has been paying attention and realizes the world has been growing crazier by the day. It has gotten so crazy that even people who don't have spiritual eyes can see it. But no matter how crazy it may be, the story of Jericho serves to prove that God, the creator of everything, has never lost control of this world. Indeed, the central idea of the text is: God is sure to bring about His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. God's people will be victorious when they seek to obediently bring about His kingdom.
But when I'm visiting with godly people who are walking obediently with God, the question arises in my mind, “If you're in control, God, why are your people suffering?” Sometimes it seems that the pathway is blocked, so it'simpossible for the person I am praying with to be whole again. Sometimes it seems that Satan’s kingdom has so occupied the land that God’s kingdom can't take it back. When this happens, the obstacles in our lives loom just as large and are just as insurmountable as the walls of Jericho. It may be a health situation; it may be a financial situation; or it could be a relational problem. We know what God would have for us, but it seems that He leads us right up to an obstacle rather than to a solution to our problem. Couldn’t God have led us another way into our inheritance or made another way for us by a miracle?
There's no doubt the Israelites had some similar questions rolling around in their heads when they strolled up to the impassable barrier of Jericho. This fortress was built so that anyone crossing the Jordan River at the middle point of Canaan’s east side had to first subdue Jericho. Israel would not be able to enter their inheritance if they failed to conquer the city.
I know from the stories of Jericho and God’s dealing in my own life, however, that God uses these times to prove Himself most faithful. The great 19th century preacher Charles H. Spurgeon states in his devotional book, Morning and Evening, “When the dark clouds gather, the light is more brightly revealed to us…. The spade of trouble digs the reservoir of comfort deeper and makes more room for consolation.”
God often brings us to these walls so we'll be in a position to experience a level of grace and comfort we could not otherwise enjoy. We experience God’s infinite strength when He uses the foolish things of earth to bring about our deliverance; we experience His infinite wisdom when He uses our foolish methods to solve an impossible situation; and we experience His infinite goodness when He chooses to include a sinful people in His holy plans. God purposes our circumstance so His strength, wisdom and goodness will be evident.
And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. Joshua 6:16
You can rest assured that God is sovereign, and He has never given up control of His kingdom; God is still stronger then the toughest enemies His children might face. I can't explain the existence of suffering, but I can say that God is good and that He has never left me ... even in my direst of circumstances.
But still, why must we endure distress? I don’t know all the answers, but I do know this: if we never experienced trials, we could never know God as a deliverer. It's like the difference of knowing what it's like to have a child by watching someone or by having one yourself. Likewise, there's something different between reading about God’s deliverance and experiencing it for yourself.
There's also a difference between God delivering Joshua and God delivering you. You might know that God loves you from the Jericho account, but you really know it, when you're the one He's delivering. While our hearts are stirred with joy when we hear how God delivered the Israelites, they are even more stirred when God delivers us. The accounts of Joshua then take on a whole new level of meaning, because our deliverance lends a deeper level of credibility to the stories.
I know that God brought down the walls of Jericho, because He brought down the walls in my life. I was facing an impossible situation like Joshua, and He delivered me as well.
Friend, God delights in giving us the joy that comes with knowing Him as deliverer. When God brings about His deliverance, His children can’t help but praise Him; they can’t help but sing of His might when God displays His glory. And that is the purpose of our trials and God’s deliverance.
So what are you trusting in today? Any defense you can trust in that is not of God can be torn down by God. Any defense that God establishes will bring him glory and will be the ultimate source of your joy.