Joshua and the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)
BATTLE OF JERICHO
After the death of Moses, God appointed Joshua to be the leader of the Israelites. Under God’s guidance, Joshua and the people of Israel were preparing to conquer the land of Canaan. One of the first strongholds that they had to tackle was the walled city of Jericho. Earlier some Israelite spies had sneaked into the city where they hid in the house of Rahab, who protected them from being captured. The plan that God had for the battle of Jericho was rather unusual. He commanded Joshua to make all the people and the soldiers march around the city once every day for six days. Also, the priests were to carry the Ark of the Covenant and blow trumpets while marching around the walls, while everyone else kept silent. Joshua and the people did everything that God had commanded them to do. Then, on the seventh and final day, God told the people to march round the walled city seven times. After this, at Joshua’s command, all the people gave a great shout and as God had promised, the walls of Jericho fell down flat! The Israelites rushed into the city and conquered it, only sparing Rahab and her family.
Without meaning to, we often build walls around ourselves that stop us from having a good relationship with God. These walls may be our pride, selfishness or anything that upsets God. Our free will allows us to decide who or what takes top priority in our lives. So, if we choose to satisfy our worldly desires rather than our soul’s real thirst for God’s Spirit, we are building barriers between ourselves and God. Deep down, what our hearts really long for is a close relationship with our Creator; each one of us has a space in our hearts that only the person who actually created us can fill. Unfortunately, while the walls of sin that we’ve built up exist, it’s not possible to fully experience God’s presence in our lives. This is why God has given us the very special Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through this extraordinary Sacrament, God can break down every barrier that is stopping us from living a Christ-centred life. The only condition that God sets is that we should confess our wrongdoings with sincere regret and make a firm decision not to turn back to our old ways. When the priest grants absolution for our sins, it is Jesus himself forgiving and forgetting those sins and breaking down the walls of sin that had been stopping us from completely surrendering ourselves to God.
THEY LOOKED CRAZY
To those watching, Joshua and the Israelites marching around the walls of Jericho, the people must have looked crazy and their actions very strange. Despite this, Joshua and the people of Israel were willing to look foolish because they knew that it was what God had commanded, and by doing His will God would lift them up and give them the glory in the end. In the same way, we are called to bear witness to Jesus in our lives, even if that means that we look foolish and people mock us. By evangelising those who don’t know Jesus, we are giving them the chance to encounter the same love of God that we have been blessed to experience and we are helping to break down the walls that they have built up between themselves and God. Helping others to come closer to God is the duty of every baptised Christian.
We may want to tell everyone about Jesus but it is easier said than done. When we’re among friends and people who don’t share the same beliefs as us, it’s very difficult to put across our views about how important it is to have Jesus in our lives. We feel embarrassed and scared about how people may react or judge us, even if in our hearts we want to try and convert everyone! Eagerness to evangelise is important; at the same time, since evangelisation is a very gradual process, trying to forcefully make others understand and believe in our Christian faith can cause more problems than benefits. However, we can all take the first steps to cautiously bring others to Christ, which may mean being willing to be a fool for Jesus. Our reward for evangelising will be in heaven. This is a great motivation to be a donkey for Jesus and to carry others to Him!