“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1:25). When Paul wrote these words to the Corinthians, he could have been describing the battle of Jericho. After spectacularly crossing the flooded Jordan River, Joshua was preparing for his first battle in the conquest of the Promised Land. Certainly, he missed Moses’ company and guidance, but he was gone. Joshua needed a plan so early one morning as he was meditating, the Lord appeared to him in full battle-dress with his sword drawn. Joshua fell facedown and worshipped the Lord (Josh 5:13-14).
Joshua received instructions from the Lord on how to conduct the battle. There was to be a procession around the walls of Jericho led by soldiers, followed by seven priests blowing rams’ horns called shofars. Then the Ark of the Covenant was carried by priests, a delegation from each tribe, and finally, a rearguard of soldiers. The march from Gilgal where they were camped was a 1 ½ hour march and another ½ hour march around the city walls. They were to march once around the walls each day during the first six days, maintaining absolute silence while the priests blared on their shofars. On the seventh day, they kept silent as they circled the walls seven times – until Joshua gave the command to “shout.” Then the walls would fall.
To anyone looking on, these instructions had to seem ridiculous! Whoever heard of conquering a city by marching around it for a week. The enemy is defeated by force because it is the sword that wins battles. Strong walls do not just fall because a group of priests plays shofars. Imagine how the Canaanites must have mocked the procession with their laughter. This whole plan must have seemed so absurd to the onlookers.
I have witnessed that absurdity with which the world looks at us and says, “You think something is going to come out of this?” I have seen that whether it was a tent campaign in Argentina or believing that a church that had come to the brink of financial disaster could survive and even flourish. Then there is the absurdity of giving part of your income each week to God’s Work! Tobiah mocked Nehemiah’s building of Jerusalem’s walls (Neh 4:3). Goliath mocked David, who came to fight him with only a sling (1 Sam 17:43-44), and both proved their mockers wrong.
The plan certainly seemed absurd to anyone outside, but it worked. True faith obeys God and his Word, even when it looks ridiculous. True faith focuses upon God in obedience. It was God who brought the walls down, but it was Joshua’s faith and the people who brought it about. Here are the results of Joshua’s obedience: “When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city” (Josh 6:20).
When we live out our faith today, it will seem absurd to the world. Let them mock us. We know that God will fight for us. Today we are seeing marriage mocked as out of date. We are witnessing the nuclear family mocked. Sexual purity is mocked. Biblical values are mocked! Our faith may be absurd to the world, but it is real to us!