As soon as the Israelites crossed the Jordan they were
faced with the problem of Jericho, a walled city of the
Canaanites. Although the exact symbolism of Jericho may be
somewhat obscure, there is no doubt that the city's destruction
prefigures the destruction of this world, which, like Jericho, is
under sentence of God's judgment. The situation of the
Israelites corresponds to that of the believers, who, having
become dead to sin and raised to walk in a newness of life, find
themselves to be still surrounded by those who are enemies of
God. The typical picture presented in the first twenty verses of
the sixth chapter of Joshua is not so much an indication of how
the world is to be brought to judgment as it is a demonstration
of how Christians should live in the world surveyed by hostile
eyes and carry on their fight against principalities, powers,
rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual
wickedness in high places. See Ephesians 6:12.
In Joshua 6:7, Joshua said to the people:
"Pass on before the ark of the LORD."
Pass on literally means to walk. Victory over Jericho is won by
our walk - not by our talk!
The Christian warfare is not fought on the level of flesh and blood, and although the armed men passed on before the ark of the LORD, we shall see that victory did not come through their weapons or strength. When the people walked as God commanded, he gave them victory in due season.
As the Israelites marched about the city there is little doubt that their unorthodox military tactics were the object of ridicule and scorn from many of the people of the city. A true believer is so different from what a worldling thinks he ought to be that he is an object of contempt and ridicule. Yet, Israel must go on marching, oblivious to the taunts of those on the walls.
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The victorious walk must be a walk of witness or testimony. It must be a walk in which the ark of the LORD is the central feature and our witness must call attention thereto. It has already been established that as the coffin of God, the ark was an anticipative symbol of the death of Christ, God the Son. Therefore we might regard it as the gospel of Christ in a symbolic form. In our walk of victory the ark (or gospel of Christ) must have the place of honor and our entire walk be centered around it. Verse 11 of Joshua six, says:
"So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once and they came into the camp and lodged in the camp."
There can be no doubt that the ark was the focal point of the
procession. Moreover, seven priests with rams' horn trumpets
walked just before the ark and blew them continually so as to
call attention to the ark.
Trumpets are symbolic of testimony. When a ram's horn trumpet was blown, it signified, at the very least, that a ram had died. Since these particular trumpets were borne and blown just ahead of the ark, they drew attention to the ark. The Hebrew word translated blow is taqa, which literally means to smite. Besides being applied to the sounding of a trumpet, it also means to drive a nail, and to thrust with a sword or spear. In Judges 4:21 we read:
"Then Jael, Heber's wife, took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went unto him, and smote the nail into his temples."
The word smote is taqa in Hebrew. Again in Isaiah 22:23 we find taqa used in the sense of driving a nail:
"And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place."
In II Samuel 18:14 we find taqa used in the sense of thrusting with a weapon:
"And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absolom."
Blowing the trumpet, then, not only called attention to the ark,
but testified also to the driving of the nails and the thrusting of
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Jericho was taken, not by the usual weapons of warfare, but by the blowing of trumpets. In II Corinthians 10:3-4, we read:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;)"
This passage sounds as though Paul had the battle of Jericho in mind when he wrote it. If the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, they must be spiritual; and when it is remembered that the trumpet is a wind instrument, and that the Hebrew and Greek words for spirit also mean wind, the analogy is irresistible. Our method of warfare is essentially the same today. It is a matter of blowing the trumpets of testimony as we walk, so as to call attention to the ark - the death of God the Son in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The priests were commanded by Joshua:
"Take up the ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear
seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD."
Both the verbs take up and bear are the same in Hebrew, nasa,
to lift up. As priests of the LORD it is our duty to lift up both
the ark and the trumpets of testimony.
Let us note the warriors of this army:
"The armed men went before the priests."
The word translated armed is the verb chalets which has the
following meanings: to draw out, to strip or disencumber, to
withdraw oneself, to set free, to deliver, to strengthen. As warriors
in the army of the LORD we are those who have been drawn
out from the world, delivered or set free from the bondage of sin
stripped or disencumbered of the baggage of sin, strengthened by
the power of God, and who have withdrawn themselves from
the contaminations of the world.
The latter part of verse 9 says:
"...And the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets."
The word translated rereward (Hebrew - asaph) means to gather
or to receive. Thus the army of the Lord might be described as
an assembly of received ones, who were following Joshua (Jesus).
Faith of course, was the keynote of this victory. All was done in faith. With their carnal weapons the Israelites could never have battered down the walls of Jericho, but when they acted in faith, taking God at his word, his power gave them victory. This is still the secret of victory today.
John H Mattox