The test of faith
Joshua got up early the next morning, and the priests again carried the Ark of the Lord. The seven priests with the rams’ horns marched in front of the Ark of the Lord, blowing their horns. Again the armed men marched both in front of the priests with the horns and behind the Ark of the Lord. All this time the priests were blowing their horns. On the second day they again marched around the town once and returned to the camp. They followed this pattern for six days. On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the town! Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. Joshua 6:12-17 NLT
The time to execute the plan to conquer Jericho had arrived. The Israelites began their march around the walls. Given the known size of ancient Jericho, which was about thirteen acres, a trip around the walls would have only taken about an hour. The text gives the impression that the first day’s march took place late in the day. When the ark of the Lord, which was emphasized in this conquest so many times, had made its trip around the walls the first day the soldiers returned to the camp at Gilgal where they spent the night (6:11). The march was repeated on each of the next five days. On the seventh day the procession marched around the wall seven times as God had commanded (6:12–15). The command that God gave the Israelites through Joshua was a test of faith. No doubt, they are eager to rush in and fight Jericho for they could not wait to enjoy the Promise Land. Probably some might think that to take down Jericho for seven days would be a waste of time. But God wants the Israelites to learn patience by exercising their faith demonstrated in their obedience to God’s command. It is through faith and obedience that the people of God will enjoy the inheritance God promised. “Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance” (Hebrews 6:12). God knows what He is doing and we have to learn to trust His timing. Faith must be tested. This is important so we will learn how to overcome our anxieties by casting our cares to Him. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7). When we are overcome by our worries, we can be an easy target to the enemy. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).