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.” So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.
Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days. Joshua 6:8-14 ESV
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:5-8 ESV
“Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, the battle has just begun.
Intimidate and dominate, for we are number one!”
The cheerleaders were leading the crowd in chanting at a high school football game. They were trying to encourage the fans to make a lot of noise to encourage their team to play hard and win the game. Rallying chants are very common in sports, and they are also common in war. When soldiers go into battle, they often chant a battle cry together to give each other courage and to try to intimidate the enemy.
It was very different when the people of Israel followed God’s instructions for defeating Jericho. They were to walk around the city once each day for six days, and during that time they were supposed to be completely silent. It must have seemed strange to them not to chant and yell as they were walking around the city. But this was a way of reminding them that the battle belonged to God, not to them. It didn’t depend on their strength or hard work or yelling.
There was another reason for them to be silent. God was punishing the people of Jericho for their sins. When God judges some people, others should be silent. It’s not for us to judge or gloat over others. At that time in history God used Israel to judge some other people who had been turning their backs on God for a long time, but Israel needed to remember that the judgment was God’s, not theirs.
There are some good things for us to remember when we hear this story. It doesn’t please God if we laugh or feel happy or satisfied when other people have trouble, even if we think they deserve it. We also shouldn’t assume that people are having trouble because God is punishing them for their sins. God sometimes allows people to have problems, but he often uses hard times to bring people closer to him. We are all sinful people who deserve God’s judgment, but God sent Jesus to take all our punishment on himself. Because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and we can share that forgiveness with other people.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to take all our punishment on himself. Please forgive our sins and help us to share that forgiveness with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.