(Joshua Chapter 6)
There are times when I'll walk up to my wife and tell her "I'm gonna take a walk". After 15 years of marriage, she'll smile as I leave because she knows it's not me being disciplined to work-out (although that's needed), it's me needing to go clear my head.
I'm not sure what it is, but when I walk I think more clearly. It has the same effect that being near water does. It calms me. And when I can combine the two, that puts me at my ultimate happy place. And when I come back from a walk I can usually process whatever I'm dealing with at the time much better.
But I can't imagine taking one walk, much less a weeks worth, and coming back empty on almost every single one. That would be hard. It might feel like it would have been better had I not taken the walks all-together.
Imagining how that might feel is one thing.
Where the Israelites were at the start of Joshua 6?
That was about to be their current reality.
As they looked around it was obvious that the City of Jericho was closed for business. "No one going in, no one coming out." In those days there weren't fancy signs welcoming you to the area that talked about how many little league titles they'd won on the side of the road. These cities were fortified. They had HUGE walls, massive gates, armed guards, etc...
And then this from God to Joshua...
"Look sharp now. I've already given Jericho to you".
There. No problem, right? The city no one can get in or out of. Yup, that one. God said it was their city. Wait, what? How? That seems a bit crazy. Except for the fact that the Israelites had just seen God make a road in the middle of a river.
But the next instruction still had to seem a bit odd. It wasn't storm the gates! In fact, it was the polar opposite. It wasn't immediate, loud, or brash.
It was go march around the city once a day. Do it with priests carrying trumpets out in front of the Chest of God, and armed guards behind you. Do it for 6 days. And then...on the 7th day have the priests starting blasting away on the trumpets, and march around the city 7 times. Not just once like before. Not a handful for good measure. 7. On the last lap go all Dizzie Gillispie on the horn with one loud note. When that happens choir practice is gonna come in handy... SHOUT! As loud as you can...SHOUT!
Because when you do...
"The city wall will collapse at once."
The Israelites must have thought...that seems a bit odd, kinda drawn out and exhausting. But at least we know that God is saying if we do it, that is what is gonna happen.
Except that the only one who knew all the instructions was Joshua. And the only thing he told the Israelites was to walk around the city, and stay quiet. They didn't know if that meant once. They might have assumed that. They were likely hoping above all hope it was that. But it must have been crazy not knowing.
Every single day, out they'd go. A long walk. Come home. Nothing to show for their efforts. Then back at it the next day. And the next. And the next. Do you think at some point some of them started to doubt that Joshua knew what he was doing, or if he was really hearing anything from God at all?
I think those feelings would have been fair game, and very real.
And on top of all of it?
Joshua tells them "Don't shout. In fact, don't even speak - not so much as a whisper until you hear me say, 'Shout!' - then shout away!"
Have you ever been on a long family trip, and someone (usually an exhausted parent or an annoyed older sibling) suggests playing "the quiet game"? You know...first one who talks loses. The person suggesting it hopes everyone buys in, so that peace and quiet prevail.
Yeah, that's pretty much what Joshua was telling the entire Israelite nation to do. Only...he wasn't asking. He wasn't suggesting. He was mandating.
Joshua was telling them to zip it, and walk it.
I want to show you something now that almost knocked me out of my chair on the porch when I made the connection for myself.
As the Israelites approached the Jordan River, Joshua told them to KEEP THEIR DISTANCE from the Chest of God. Now, as they walked around the City of Jericho he was telling them to KEEP THEIR MOUTH SHUT.
Keep your distance so that you can see the route to take. STAY BACK.
Keep your mouth shut so that you can hear your next move to make. STAY QUIET.
Are you starting to sense that following the Lord's lead is what brings the breakthrough?
And we sit back and watch the obedience of an entire nation, lead to a moment that only God could bring to pass. They marched quietly. The moved forward obediently. When nothing changed, they stayed the course. They got up on day 2 the same way they did on day 1. And they repeated it on days 3, 4, 5 and 6. And just when it seemed like nothing would ever change?
They did what we'd all be well served to do when we face a challenge.
Double the obedience in the face of the resistance. (*15)
They had walked around the City of Jericho 6 times in 6 days.
They walked around the City of Jericho 7 times on the last day.
They ignored their preference to quit.
And then it happened.
The 7th lap completed...the trumpet sounded...and they sounded off.
"When the people heard the blast of the trumpets, they gave a thunderclap shout. The wall fell at once. They people rushed straight into the city and took it."
"The wall fell at once."
And if the story stopped here we'd clap politely and put the book down. Something very important might get missed if we do. Something that if we are being honest, we all struggle with from time to time.
We stop walking because we don't see anything changing.
For the Israelites the 6 days of marching consistently , remaining quiet, with no visual progress of any kind must have been hard. It must have been exhausting. How many times they must have wanted to SCREAM...to try and hurry the process up a little...yet they didn't.
Have you ever faced a moment like that?
Have you ever wanted to stop walking during a time you know you need to keep moving?
As much as the wall fell "...at once.", it wasn't that moment that tells the whole story.
Included in the moment of triumph that unfolded quickly was the obedience to instructions that happened quietly.
They took the City of Jericho because they first took instruction.
Obedience to instruction creates clarity of direction.(*16)
When it seems like quitting makes more sense.
When it seems like maybe we've mis-read the situation.
When it seems like all hope is lost.
Remember the promise God made to make it happen.
Remember the promise we made to walk it out.
Breakthroughs are built on a foundation of consistency.(*17)
What happened to me next on this Ocean Road journey was a head-scratcher.
Where we were staying was next to a street that caught my attention based on it's name alone. I can't remember ever seeing a street with this name.
East Luke Street.
My wife and I have talked from time to time how cool it would be to own a home in the Outer Banks. It is such a place of rest for our family. That moment is a long ways off, unless the Lord...well...makes an Ocean Road for it to happen sooner.
As I was thinking about that...I noticed the number on a house for sale on East Luke Street. And when I did...something hit me.
205 East Luke Street.
The numbers quickly mushed together in my head.
I don't know why...they just did.
2 + 5 = 7
And as God as my witness I felt a prompting. Not some big, booming voice...just a gentle nudge in my heart to do something.
Go read Luke 7.
I kid you not...and this is what I found when I did.
There is a story about Jesus and his disciples approaching a village. As they did they bumped into a funeral procession for a young boy who had died. He was an only child. And on top of that, his mother was also a widow. She was now completely alone.
And then this...
"When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her 'Don't Cry'. Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said 'Young man, I tell you: Get up.' The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother."
Do you see it?
At a moment when the mother felt COMPLETELY ALONE, Jesus met her GREATEST NEED. A need she didn't even know she had, because she knew the reality of her boy's death. She might have been hoping for the pain to slowly dissipate over time. But it would never totally go away. How could it? Her son was dead.
One touch of the coffin.
One word to 'Get up".
I think someone may be sitting on the death of a dream that Jesus would tell you...
He'd tell all of us that just because it looks like all hope is lost, it doesn't eliminate his ability to step in and move on our behalf.
Are you tired of walking?
Once, twice...three, four times. Five, Six...Seven. Just keep moving.
Does your dream feel like it has died?
"They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful - and then noisily grateful, call out among themselves, 'God is back, looking to the needs of his people!"
And there is the connection to Joshua.
A place in our lives of "...holy mystery."
"God was at work among them."
'...Quietly worshipful...', like the walk around the City of Jericho.
'...Noisily grateful...', like when the city walls fell.
A nation dependent.
A mother desperate.
When God showed me that on the front porch of a small house next to a vast ocean...it was almost too much to take in. Showing me that I can remain quiet in the calling, knowing that at an appointed time I will have a moment to shout with a joy that bellows from a deep sense of knowing God had it all along.
I can't force the process.
I can't move the needle faster.
I can't create a substitute that'll work for now until it comes to pass.
Moments in my life, your life...all of our lives...that we are to remain obedient while we wait. Walk when were tired. Stay quiet when we want to shout. When we'll need to double our obedience in the face of resistance, so that we can see the clarity of direction in God's instruction. Knowing full well that if we'll stay the course the foundation of consistency we are laying down is the breeding ground of...
Our greatest breakthrough.
15. Double the obedience in the face of resistance.
16. Obedience to instruction creates clarity of direction.
17. Breakthroughs are built on a foundation of consistency.
15. What can you do, with what you have, where you are at to increase your obedience? What can you give more of? Your time? Your finances? Your service to others? Where do you feel stretched? What can you double as you face resistance?
16. What do you need to act on that you've been hesitant to? What freaks you out so you haven't done it, even though you know God is prompting you to act on it?
17. What area of your life do you need to be more consistent in? What breakthrough are you waiting on? Is it possible your breakthrough not coming has something to do with your unwillingness to stay quiet, stay consistent, and walk out an area of your life you've been hesitant to? Will you commit to taking the next steps so that not only you...but those around you get to experience the breakthrough from your consistency?
About the book
Brett W. Gould
Author. Speaker. Teacher. Coach.