After the Israelites have crossed into enemy territory and prepared themselves for battle in some pretty interesting ways, it’s time to overcome the obstacle of Jericho—a fortified city with some strategic importance. If you’re at all familiar with the story of the Battle of Jericho, you know the ‘highlight’ is when the walls collapse, leaving a once impregnable fortress ready for the taking. It’s an incredible picture of God demonstrating his divine power over the human effort of the people of Jericho. But this ‘flashy move’ of God isn’t where the Israelites find victory. In fact, far from it:
1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.
2 Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
Even after the wall was destroyed, the Israelites still had to quickly move in to fight so that the people of Jericho wouldn’t escape and the Israelite army wouldn’t be routed. Even though God had moved in an unmistakable way, there was still danger involved for Joshua and his people: as said before, Jericho knew the Israelites were coming, so they were prepared and anxious for a fight.
In our own lives, we often look for a miraculous, overwhelming, shock-and-awe end to our struggle. We wish God would just *zap* our enemies and troubles away. We forget that most of the time, however, when God shows his miraculous power or performs a miracle of such incredible wonder there is no doubt it has been his hand at work, you and I still have a part to play. Even when God does something huge which demonstrates he is with us, that he has already made a way, that he is for us rather than against us… the ‘us’ factor still remains in the equation: for the Israelites it’s seen in the fact that the power of God destroying the walls of Jericho did not mitigate the responsibility of military to move in and overtake the city.
In the areas of our lives where we are crying out for victory, it’s important to question if we have simply asked God to *zap* our problems away, or if we have asked to be equipped to face the challenges at hand in his way so we can be prepared for the next part of our journey without avoiding this part of our journey. The difference here is profound:
- “God, fix my family.” Vs. “God, help me to love my family the way you love them and transform us by your Spirit to being more like you.”
- “God, give me a better boss.” Vs. “God, help me to honor you and my leadership as an employee.”
- “God, fix my finances.” Vs. “God, please teach me the way to be the kind of money-manager you call me to be.”
It’s a difference between a ‘genie-in-a-bottle’ kind of God and the God of the Universe who is able to work all things (including the battles we face, and the dark aspects of our journey) for his glory and the praise of his Great Name.
Would the Israelites have won the Jericho battle without God’s miraculous hand at work? Absolutely not. Would they have won if they refused to their part? Nope.