The fortified city of Jericho was the first city overthrown by the nation of Israel after they crossed the Jordan river under the leadership of Joshua. Jericho was shut up because of the children of Israel (Josh. 6:1). Yet, God promised Joshua that He had given Jericho into his hand (Josh. 6:2). Then, God gives Joshua the instructions for how he is to take the city. The army of Israel are to compass the city once a day for six days and then on the seventh day, seven priest shall bear before the ark seven trumpets and the army shall compass the city seven times. The priests shall blow the trumpets, all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city shall fall down flat (Josh. 6:3-5). Under Joshua’s command, the children of Israel carry out the instructions of God and the city falls as God said it would (Josh. 6:6-20). Many years later, the writer of the book of Hebrews says in what is called “Faith’s Hall of Fame” (Hebrews chapter eleven), “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days” (Heb. 11:30). What we would like to bring to light here is the harmony found in true faith and obedience to God.
True Biblical faith is not some blind leap in the dark where one believes something for which they have no sound evidence for its reality as some would have us believe. The apostle Paul stated, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). We notice first of all in our observations about the fall of Jericho, how God gave a promise of something to be desired. He promised to give them the city of Jericho which was the first step in taking the land that had been promised. There is a definite connection between the word of God and faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, thus the walls of Jericho could not have fallen by faith, as the Hebrew writer said, without God’s word on the matter being heard. Faith required they accept that God would give them the city, but it also required they accept all instructions given concerning how to overthrow the city.
This brings us to our second point. True Biblical faith requires that whatever instructions God gives, they must be followed to the letter. It matters not if the instructions seem unreasonable to us or if they do not sound logical to us. No military leader would ever come up with the strategy of marching around a fortified city, blowing trumpets and shouting in order to make the walls fall. But, that was what God instructed and if they believed God, they would follow His instructions. They had faith when they compassed the city the first day, but that faith did not bring down the walls, for they had not yet done all that was commanded. It was not until they fulfilled the commands of God that the walls fell. As the Hebrew writer stated, the walls of Jericho fell “after” they were compassed about seven days (Heb. 11:30).
Obedience comes as a result of true faith. Obedience to God’s commands is the true test of one’s faith. When God gave Abraham the command to take Isaac through whom the promise given to Abraham was to come, and to offer him as a sacrifice upon an altar, it took true faith for Abraham to proceed to do that very thing, yet he did. After staying the hand that held the knife, Abraham was told, “…for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Gen. 22:12). The Hebrew writer said of that event, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…” (Heb. 11:17). When there is a refusal to obey the commands of God, there is no real faith in God.
When one is obedient to the commands of God, God is faithful to deliver His promises. The walls of Jericho fell. For our time, God has promised salvation in Christ Jesus (II Tim. 2:10). Without a doubt, if one is to have such salvation in Christ Jesus, faith will have been involved. Peter wrote, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (I Pet. 1:9). Since faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17), then we know that such salvation by faith comes from God having given instructions for such. Paul wrote that the gospel of Christ is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). Yet, as we have already seen, in order for that faith to be true Biblical faith, it will of necessity require obedience on the part of the one who has it. True faith will require one to obey the gospel of Christ. In fact, Paul said that when the Lord returned, He would come “…taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:7-8). One might begin to reason with himself and determine that some command of God doesn’t seem reasonable or logical in order to have remission of sins, but it matters not. What God instructed must be obeyed if we desire the promised eternal home in heaven. Just call it a test of your faith, a compassing of the city.
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]