Memo 998: Faith Strategies
Let's move on to another Old Testament story that can help us accomplish the title of this series, Unlocking the Power of Your Faith. This week, we examine the story of Jericho and Israel's victory there when "the walls came a-tumblin' down." Let's get started right away.
These are the instructions the Lord gave concerning Jericho:
Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in" (Joshua 6:1-5).
You notice in this passage that Joshua and the army did not march around the city seven times as many people think. They marched around it seven days but on the last day they went around seven times for a total of 13 orbits in one week's time. After the thirteenth circling of the city, the walls fell and the army of God swept into the city. There was no long siege, no prolonged battle, and no military strategy. The people came to Jericho and saw how fortified it was, but the Lord told them not to look at all that. He said to them, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands." Is that what you would have seen if you were standing there with Joshua?
No, you probably would have seen the walls, You perhaps would have seen the protracted war that you assumed would be required to bring about victory. Instead of all that, the Lord immediately shifted their focus to one thing: His promised victory. Then so Israel would not boast of their military prowess, God outlined a bizarre plan that involved marching (something the soldiers knew how to do), but not to battle but to carry the ark and blow the trumpets. How silly that must have seemed to the army. Yet I suggest this is always how the Lord works, and if you and I are going to unlock the power of our faith, we are going to have to see what God sees and do what God says.
THE WAY UP IS DOWN
It seems that God always instructs us to do the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish. In order to get, we are to give. In order to defeat our enemies, we are to love and forgive them, and perhaps even serve them. In order to be promoted, we have to humble ourselves and take the lowest position. If we want to find the way up, we have to take the way down. All this is so that the battles will be won by and through God who is protecting us from us, for He knows our propensity to make an idol or camp around our successes and techniques used to bring about victory. Perhaps it is what Paul described in 2 Corinthians 4:17: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
When we unlock the power of our faith, the goal is not for us to understand our way, but to understand the way God wants us to take. While the way may seem counterintuitive or even take us in the opposite (or wrong) direction, that is all the more reason why we must exercise faith. For seven days, Joshua and the army had to do what seemed foolish, having plenty of chances to change tactics and attack. Instead, they stayed faithful to the plan and on the seventh day, the walls fell and the power of their faith was truly unlocked for it released God to do what only He could do. God is asking you to do the same. This is the same faith Abraham had when he sacrificed Isaac, David had after his anointing when he honored Saul, and Daniel had when he served his oppressors in Babylon. In each case, their strategy to receive the promise of God was to walk in the opposite direction from the promise of God.
Where is God directing you to do the simple thing? You lack but God has directed you to give away what little you have. You desire a promotion but He has shown you that you are to serve those above you who may be using you for their own ends. You need healing and God has you praying for others and they are healed—while you are not. You are wounded and you forgive the wounder only to see them thrive while you limp. If you want to unlock the power of your faith, and it has tremendous power, then you must put your faith in Him and nothing else, otherwise you may assume what you did was the deciding factor that won the day. Perhaps it's time today to start marching around your Jericho in obedience to God's plan with faith that when your number of trips around the perimeter are fulfilled, then the walls you face will come a-tumblin' down—but in ways you never expected it to happen. Have a blessed week.