Word of the Month

The walls of Jericho

August 2006

At the time of Moses and Joshua, Jericho was a fortified city, a veritable fortress. And here the Israelites, a nation of half-nomads without any sort of military knowledge or training, had just come out of the wilderness and wanted to – had been instructed to – take the city. They stood before this fortress with no idea what to do. Then the Lord intervened and told them what to do. He gave instructions that would have made military experts shake their heads: the soldiers of the Israelites, along with seven priests equipped with horns and carrying the Ark of the Covenant, were to walk around the city in silence once each day for six days. On the seventh day however, they were to walk around the city seven times, also in silence at first. But then the priests were to blow their horns and the entire nation was to join in a war cry. They did exactly as they had been instructed, and success followed: the walls of Jericho fell in a miraculous way, and the Israelites were able to take the city (cf. Joshua 6:1-16, 20).

Let me come back to the present. Are there not at times also “fortresses” of a spiritual nature that seem impossible to conquer in our own lives? Perhaps there is something that weighs upon us and depresses us, and we no longer know what to do. Perhaps there is something that prevents us from going our way in freedom and joy. It might be any number of things – perhaps a conflict in the family which we no longer know how to handle. Perhaps there is a disagreement at work, which burdens us and which we cannot resolve. Whatever it may be – let us do things differently: let us take a lesson from the account of Jericho’s fall. Let us heed the word of God and permit the Lord to guide us. Let us not approach the matter with reason – otherwise we will soon have to concede that we were unable to make any progress. Let us go to work with God’s help. For this it is necessary to trust in God’s guidance. In addition, it is important to practise patience. At the time, the Israelites had to walk around the walls for a total of seven days.

Now, one might object that seven days is still a manageable amount of time, but sometimes it takes a long time for things to happen even though God’s will is behind the developments. For this reason, let us lay all our concerns and needs into the hand of the Lord. Let us permit ourselves to be led by Him, so that we may recognise what we must do in order to clear up these matters and cope with them.

Even when we sometimes have the impression that nothing is happening – when we sometimes think that it is all in vain – let us wait for the divine answer. The Lord will help and provide all that we need in timely fashion, so that we can gain the victory.

Recently I read a proverb I found very beautiful and easy to remember: “Great victories are achieved by courage. Greater victories are achieved by love. But the greatest victories of all are achieved by patience.” Let us become more patient and consciously place everything into the hands of the Lord.

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)