“And the Lord said to Joshua…You shall march around the city…This you shall do for six days. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times……all the people shall shout with a great shout then the wall of the city will fall flat.” Joshua 6: 4,5
“And he said to the people…..You shall not shout or make or make any noise with your voice, not shall a word proceed out of your mouth until the day I say to you shout!” Joshua 6:10
There are two famous sayings by two people who are prized for their wisdom in these modern times. First, reportedly Albert Einstein said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” (I say reportedly because there is quite a bit of discussion about whether or not Einstein actually said this or not). Second, Thomas Edison is reported to have said: “I have not failed, I have found 1000 ways that don’t work.” (Again some renditions are 5,000 or even 10,000 attempts until he was able to finally invent the light bulb).
So which one is correct? Which one describes how I am to be? I do what seems to be the same thing again and again, hoping for success but it doesn’t seem to come; am I not insane to keep trying? But what if I’m giving up too soon? Would I be now typing in the dark or at best by candlelight if Edison had stopped at number 500? For Benjamin Franklin said: “Energy and persistence conquer all things”
Imagine you’re one of the Israelites. You have just come from the wilderness. The older generation, the one that first left Egypt has passed away before coming to the promised land. Why? They wouldn’t obey God. But you’ve heard about God. You’ve also heard about Joshua. He was Moses right hand man. So now you’ve come into the promised land; the land dripping with milk and honey, the land that God has sworn to give to you and what stands before you? A huge obstacle. A mighty fortress city whose walls are six to eight feet thick and they have several layers of walls. You can’t settle in the promised land with that fortress blocking your way.
Now back to Joshua. Moses has died and been buried. That means Joshua is in charge. Joshua will have a plan. Yes Joshua! Let’s hear your plan. Right! We’re going to storm the city; right? We’re going to lay siege to the city for months and starve them, right?
March? March around the city? March around the city and then sneak attack, right? March around the city as a diversion while some sneak over the walls, then we attack; right? Go home? Go Home!!!! We march around the city and then come back to camp?????
But this is Joshua; so you can imagine the first day; people are probably completely behind him. “If Joshua says go; WE GO!” shout the Israelites; except they can’t shout or make a sound around the city. Tromp, tromp, tromp, go all the people. “Are they looking down on us from the walls?” some think. “Bet their quaking in their sandals !”, others think. Then back to camp. “Well that was different!”, some think to themselves. But this is Joshua; he knows what he’s doing.
Day two: Now we attack, right? They’re in trouble now, right? March? Again? Silently? Are you sure; Joshua? But hey this is Joshua, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Day three – six: What?!?!?! March Again!?!?!?! Did Joshua get hit on the head???? This is crazy!!!!???? Can’t we get Moses back or someone else? Same thing day after day is nuts!!!! I can imagine these could have been thoughts that some would have had following Joshua; especially with our society’s demand for instant action.
Day seven: Let me guess; we get to March!!!!! Oh and seven times around today; Oh JOY!!!! But today is not the same and there is another difference besides the number of times they go around the city. At the end of the seventh time, Joshua will give a signal. Mighty horns will blast and all the people will shout as loud as they can. Imagine the dismay inside and outside the city; as the walls came crashing down.
One can imagine that on day three through six some thought that what they were doing was insane. They could not see how the marching around was making any impact. In the book of Joshua, chapter 6, there is no indication that Joshua told the entire plan to the people ahead of time. Might there have been some frustration? Might there have been a feeling like we’re just wasting time? I feel like I’m hitting my head against the wall (or at least wish I were because then I’d be doing something). And if there was not any grumbling or complaining the reason there was not is they knew they were not executing Joshua’s plan. They were executing God’s plan.
You and I have been praying. Maybe we have felt a calling. Maybe we feel that we have been told that we’re heading for a “promised land” but today seems frustratingly just like yesterday and the day before. We think we’re going insane because we’re doing the same thing and praying for a different outcome. The first, days, months, years, maybe even more; we had that sense of persistence. We say to ourselves: “Well it may have been 300 days but that just brings us one day closer!” But we’re tired. The world wants us to quit. If we don’t quit, the world calls us crazy.
If it’s our plan alone, our family’s plan, our boss’s plan, any human plan; maybe we need to rethink. So we pray in the Name of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit will reveal to us whether the calling is God’s or our own. If it be Our Heavenly Father’s, dear brothers and sisters, be patient, be persistent, know that you and I are not crazy. We are led. We are chosen. We are blessed. And we are Loved by the Creator of the Universe; the omnipotent and omniscient God. Through Him, we will destroy all walls the world puts in our path.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we admit we live in a world that wants instant answers, immediate return for our actions. Yet You have shown us again and again how faithful patience and persistence will lead us along the path that You have chosen for us as well as to the destination You have in store. Please pour out Your Strength upon us so that we can resist the temptation to turn from Your Plan to go after our own. Through the Holy Spirit, give us peace in our souls to rely upon You and You only. That in our persistence and patience, we will live lives of praise to Your Holy Name. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen