BOTTLED

  • "Beauty is the secret sound of the deepest thereness of things." John O'Donohue

Monday, May 19, 2014

BATTLES OF OBEDIENCE

The telephone rang Sunday morning. It was for me.

It was our Sunday School Gospel Doctrine teacher, “Can you please tell the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho – in 1st person, as if you were there?”

(illustration from a Bible card published 190
by the Providence Lithograph Company)

I accepted, but I fight my own battles with such assignments.

I, like Joshua and the children of Israel, can also overcome.

Seated by my husband, I listened as the Sunday School lesson recounted multiple scriptural details covering Joshua 1-5. I pondered why the teacher picked me. Out a room full of more than 50 people, why would I be called?

Shaking visibly, I clutched a few notes, yet I stood.

And I spoke.

This is a story about obedience. 
I wondered how many of us are obedient.

In little daily everyday ways, am I obedient to God and his appointed servants - those called to serve Him, and me?

Site speculated as Jericho 

First I explained that I would speak, at the teacher's request, in first person. I paused, looked at the listeners and tried to imagine that the reason they were all looking at me was because I was from hundreds of years in the past, and had come to give them a message. As I spoke I looked directly at them. As I began I felt an unusual strength calm me. 

I knew I could testify of truth as found in the Bible. I know it is the word of God. I know we learn of Him as we read from its pages and listen to teachings there.

I spoke carefully. 

“My grandmother came out of Egypt. My mother told me many times about the 12 spies, a leader from each tribe, that brought back the the reports of a good land. The spies searched the land 40 days. My father saw the giant cluster of grape that was so large it had to be carried between 2 of them using a staff (Numbers 13:23).

But they were frightened when they heard how we were as grasshoppers compared to many of the people who were giants. They decided to go back to Egypt to save their children. I am of that  generation.

Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in fear of God. Joshua and Caleb rent their clothes and told everyone that the Lord would bring us into the land but, even though the people had seen many miracles, they tried to stone Joshua and Caleb. (Numbers 13 and 14).

For 40 years, one year for each day of searching, Israel wandered in the wilderness for this rebellion. They were told that everyone that was disobedient could never see the promised land, but that God would bring their 'little ones . . . [and] they shall know the land" (Numbers 14:22-23; 31-33).

I was one of those little ones.

Our spies were almost caught. They only escaped because Rahab, the harlot, hid them and let them out her window over the wall.

Rahab, The Harlot of Jericho
by J James Tissot

I crossed the river Jordan and saw the twelve stones gathered and placed as God instructed Joshua. We followed about a kilometer behind the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant and saw the waters pile up. We camped safely on that side of the river because the people were so afraid when they saw how God helped us.

After we left Egypt the men weren't circumcised anymore. Joshua insisted all the males be circumcised. We were encamped on the plains of Jericho, at Gilgal, until everyone was strong and well. (Joshua 5:1-8).

The day after we kept the Passover, on the 14th day of the month, we ate cakes made from the old corn of the land. The next morning, for the 1st time in 40 years there was no manna. Since then we have eaten the fruit of the good land.

Joshua talked with the captain of the Host of the Lord, and was taught how to conquer Jericho. They had closed up this stronghold; no one came out or went into the city.

 At first it seemed like we weren't really a threat to such a fortification.

The Seven Trumpets of Jericho by J James Tissot

Early in the morning the armed men gathered to follow Joshua’s instructions to march all the way around the city. They were followed by seven priests, each with a ram’s horn. The priests  continually blowing the trumpets were right in front of the Ark of the Covenant.

The Taking of Jericho by J James Tissot

Joshua commanded the people to be completely silent, not speaking at all, until the day when he would command us all to shout.

The trumpets were loud even from where we watched. Every day for 6 days we saw and heard this.  And each day all the men and the priests with the Ark of the Covenant returned to camp. What was the plan? When would Joshua command us to shout? And what would happen then?

On the 7th day Joshua roused everyone earlier than usual. He warned the armed men that when they conquered the city they were to take nothing. Everything and everyone there was cursed. They were to only save Rahab, the harlot that helped the spies, and her household. My friends and I thought she should have been stoned. Why were those men in her house anyway? I suppose people there commonly saw strangers enter her home.

By dawn the men were already marching, their weapons ready. As usual, they silently went all the way around the city. This time, instead of coming back to camp, they kept going. They went around and around and around. Seven times they marched around the city, and then - finally - at the seventh time Joshua commanded, ‘Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.’ 

Joshua at the Walls of Jericho
by James Edwin McConnell
We all shouted!

‘So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword’ (Joshua 6: 20-21).”

Aerial view of Jericho showing ruins of Tell es-Sultan
circa 1990

This battle was won by obedience to God, and his prophet's leadership.

All my battles are won likewise.