Holy Land Day Six (Thursday): Jericho


Today as part of our Holy Land pilgrimage, we'll be spending some time at Jericho, and reading from Joshua chapter 6 in the Hebrew Scriptures

This is, of course, the story of how Joshua and the Hebrew people conquered the great walled city of Jericho without a siege.  The text tells us that all they did was march around the city, as God commanded them, and the walls miraculously fell down.

In the 1980s the Irish band The Call recorded a wonderful song entitled "The Walls Came Down" that included these lyrics drawn directly from Joshua 6:

Well they blew the horns
And the walls came down
They'd all been warned
And the walls came down
They stood there laughing
They're not laughing anymore
The walls came down... 

Then the band shifts from singing about Jericho to a topic that was pressing during the time the song was popular:


Well they blew the horns
And the walls came down
They'd all been warned
But the walls came down
I don't think there are any Russians
And there ain't no Yanks
Just corporate criminals
Playin' with tanks

I've always loved that last verse.  It makes me think of a strange, little-known part of the story of Jericho that has always intrigued me.  It's found at the very end of chapter 5:

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”May this give you great hope and courage today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.
14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does  my Lord have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

And that's it.  The chapter ends right there.

So, what does this teach us?  What can we learn from this strange interlude in the Jericho story?

I think it speaks to us about how we don't really understand the complexity of reality, and how we tend to believe that the only struggles between good and evil are the ones that take place where we can see them.

And that our attempts to place things in easy dichotomies, good vs. evil, our side vs. their side... are not that simple.

There's a spiritual side to these struggles.  The Apostle Paul himself noted that we are not wrestling against "flesh and blood" but against "principalities and powers" who are "in the air," which was an ancient way of describing an expanded view of reality.

Let me break this down.  You are not alone in your struggle against the darkness in your life.  We are not alone in our collective struggle to resist evil in the world.  The God of the angel-armies (to coin a popular Christian song) is on our side.

May this give you great hope and courage today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.

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