Theme: The Importance of Preparation
This week’s lessons teach us how Israel was going to achieve their victory over Jericho, and what things God wants from us as well.
So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”
And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.”
That’s a most unusual set of instructions for taking a city. One might even say that it was utterly unreasonable to think that the walls of Jericho would fall in such a manner. But Joshua obeyed the Lord, and the people obeyed Joshua. The city was encircled according to God’s precise instructions. And on the seventh day at the end of the seventh encirclement, the horns were blown, the people shouted, the walls fell down, and the city was taken as God told Joshua it would be. It was a great victory. It was the time to shout. It’s interesting, however, as you read this story that even here in the sixth chapter of Joshua, we still find the people in a time of preparation. The people had been prepared in one way or another during 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Certainly Joshua and Caleb had been prepared, going back that far. They were great men of faith. And they exercised their faith during that long delayed conquest. The armies were prepared. They had been prepared in the wilderness. And when the people had crossed the river, there was still further preparation that we looked at earlier, involving the rite of circumcision and the observance of the Passover. God was very concerned that the hearts of the people be right before Him before the assault began.
Sometimes preparation does take a very long time. I heard about a revival which was taking place in the South American country of Argentina. The Lord seems to be moving strongly. Thousands of people are being converted day by day, in response to effective preaching mostly in large, open-air meetings. One thing I was told impressed me a great deal. It is that those who were leaders in the church in Argentina began to prepare for the revival, not six months ago, or even six years ago, but about 20 years ago.
As they were praying about this, they said to one another, “What are we going to do when God finally does send revival to our land?” They then said, “After all, some preparation should be made. If we are praying for revival in faith, believing that God will send it, we should be starting to prepare for it. What are we going to do with all the people God is going to send? How are we going to disciple all those who become Christians through the preaching?”
And so they began to work on that. They began to prepare leaders because they said the church is going to need them. And especially they began to train families to work with other families because they said, “Not only are families an effective way of working with people, but we even have a facility problem. When all these people become Christians, our churches aren’t going to be able to hold them. The only place we’re going to be able to deal with them is in people’s homes.” The church in Argentina needed to prepare well in advance of the needs they would have because they believed God would answer their prayers for revival.
So here on the eve of the conquest before their first and greatest victory, we find that preparation is still going on because it can hardly fail to escape our notice that though they were in the presence of Jericho and were about to begin the assault, they still had to follow God’s directions in this conquest over a period of seven days. At this point we might wonder, “Well, what is it that God used to prepare them in this final week before the assault?”
How was Israel to prepare for the battle against Jericho?
From the lesson, why did God have the preparation extend over such a long period of time?
Think of a time when God caused you to go through a lengthy period of preparation for something He was planning for you. What lessons did you learn along the way?