Who Fought the Battle of Jericho? (2)
Since that fateful day when Al Gore invented the internet, it has become extremely easy for students to turn in work that is not their own. Oh, students have always done that. I remember a kid in school who actually tore out a page from an encyclopedia, wrote his name at the top and turned it in as his report! But that was kind of obvious. Today plagiarizing schoolwork has become a bit more sophisticated. Teachers now use software systems like Turnitin and MyDropBox to analyze term papers to look for sections where students have cut and pasted work that is not their own. It is never right to claim credit for work that is not your own.
Yesterday we suggested that it was God who fought the battle of Jericho, and not Joshua like the old spiritual suggests. Of course, Joshua didn't write that song; he never claimed that he fought the battle of Jericho. In fact, in the days leading up to the dramatic battle, Joshua had a burning-bush experience where he met the One who was commander of the armies of Israel (Joshua 5:13-15). Joshua was the commissioned and recognized leader of the people, but He recognized that God was really in command.
Think for a minute about the night after the battle of Jericho was won. Do you think that the Israelites bothered to throw a big victory party afterward? After all, the battle of Jericho did not leave the Israelites a lot of room for braggadocio. What would they brag about around the campfire that night?
“Boy, I really struck terror in their heart with how fearsome I shouted!”
“Did you hear how I long I held that note when I blew my trumpet?”
“Did you notice how perfectly straight were the lines we marched in?”
No, there wasn't a lot to brag about in the victory over Jericho; the victory was God’s work, not theirs. Joshua didn't fight the battle of Jericho— God did! God gave Israel this very first victory in a dramatic and miraculous way so that His people would know that they could depend on Him. Unfortunately, the more successful they were, the more credit they took! There would be times (like the very next battle) where God would have to take them down a notch.
We need to understand that it is God’s power at work in us today. The power in our Christian lives is not through our intelligence or ingenuity or piety. If we have any power it is from God Himself. Sure we must obey God, just as Israel had to obey in walking around the city of Jericho. And Paul reminds that like Israel, we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). But ultimately, all we do is walk. Like Israel, our walk is important; it is by our walk that we show our faith just as Israel showed her faith by walking. But the power that made the walls of Jericho fall was the power of God. That is the power in our lives as well.
Spiritual pride is always out of place in those who would follow God. The Pharisees were "confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else" (Luke 18:9). Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector to emphasize that "all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted" (Luke 18:14). Paul says that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, not by our strength (2 Cor 12:9-10).
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God’s presence and power in our lives is seen amid our flaws and weakness. Paul struggled with a thorn in flesh, a flaw that showed his weakness. And so it is with us. We become powerful only as we focus on God, glory in Him and allow His power to be worked in us and through us. Why did Israel walk around Jericho? Because they couldn't win other way! And as we walk by faith in God today, His power and strength are seen in us despite our weakness and flaws… and even perhaps because of them! God works in the weak and lowly things of the world to accomplish His will so that no one would boast before Him (1 Cor 1:27-29)
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.
The Corinthians were not much when judged by the standards and status of the world. Like them, we are not powerful, prosperous or pretty enough. But God is. He is still the commander of the armies of Israel. Our victory is assured because, like at Jericho, the battle belongs to the Lord!