And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat…”
To all of you military historians reading this, do any of you think the military strategy to breach the fortified walls of this city which is outlined in the passage above would have met the approval of Dwight Eisenhower, U.S. Grant or Robert E. Lee? I can’t easily imagine George S. Patton, faced with the German counterattack at the Battle of the Bulge, saying to his troops, “Wait until they get close, men, and then blow your trumpets and shout at them! That will bring us the victory!”
It is easy for us, with the benefit of knowing from the biblical record that God miraculously brought Israel victory, to not appreciate the faith it must have taken for Israel to agree to follow God’s plan to breach the walls of Jericho (Hebrews 11:30). If we had been in their shoes, I’m pretty sure all of us would have thought that walking around a city, playing instruments, and then shouting at the wall would probably accomplish nothing but making ourselves a great target for the archers of Jericho. Human nature being what it has always been throughout history, it is reasonable to conclude that the Israelites likely had these same fears.
Yet they persevered and decided to obey God, and God kept His promise to them (Joshua 6:20). That’s the thing about the promises of God. When He makes them, they are as good as done (Numbers 23:19). There’s a reason God spoke to Joshua about giving the city to him as if it had already happened (Joshua 6:2). God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), which means His Word is always good. He had promised Israel that if they would trust Him and do what He told them to do, even though it seemed like a very silly and irrational course of action, they would take the city…and that’s exactly what happened.
He has made a promise to us also, and that promise is eternal life (Romans 6:23; 1 John 2:25). He gave us His Son to be the only way to this eternal life (John 14:6; 1 John 4:9-10; 5:11-13, 20), and His Son died while we were still His enemies so that this reconciliation with God resulting in eternal life could happen (Romans 5:6-10). Yet just like His promise to give Jericho into Israel’s hands, this promise of eternal life also comes with conditions. Like Israel, we must trust Him enough to obey His commands to receive the promise.
What must we do to receive the promise of eternal life? We must believe in the gospel – the good news – of Jesus Christ (John 3:16), the good news that He came to earth, lived a sinless life, died for our sins on the cross, was buried and then came back to life through the power of God three days later (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus promised concerning this gospel, “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, but whoever does not believe shall be condemned (Mark 16:15-16). The Bible promises that Jesus will save all who are baptized into His body which is His church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 5:23; Romans 6:1-5; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21). His apostle Peter preached this same good news to Jews in Jerusalem and told them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, which they did (Acts 2:1-41).
What about you? God has promised you eternal life, but that promise requires something of you. Do you trust Him? If so, prove it by your obedience. Believe in Jesus, repent of your sins, and be baptized…and receive the promise of salvation.