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…
When the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been compassed about seven days" (Hebrews 11:30), he sets his seal to the supernatural character of this event. Not by any kind of natural force - undermining, storming, or even earthquake - but by the faith that lays hold on the unseen power of God, was the effect produced. It was a link in the chain of marvellous Divine manifestations by which those times were signalised. The miraculous element is inseparably interwoven with the fabric of the history. It can be denied here only by those who are prepared to relegate the whole to the region of fable and romance. The fall of this fortified city of Jericho had a peculiar meaning, and stood in important relation to the events that followed. As the strongest fortress of Canaan, its conquest was the key to the possession of the whole land. As pre-eminent, probably, in its wickedness, its doom was a prophecy of the unmitigated judgments of God on the abominations of Phoenician idolatry. The solemn procession of the ark, time after time, around the city was a significant declaration of its sovereignty over it and all that it contained; and when at last it fell, it was as the first fruits of the harvest field, "accursed" - devoted - to show that the whole land was His. Thus were the Israelites taught that an inheritance which they had not won for themselves by their own skill and strength, but which had been given to them by the Lord (vers. 2, 16), must be held in unreserved allegiance to Him (Psalm 44:3). We see in this event a typical representation of the Divine conquest of the powers of error and evil in the world. It prefigures the assault of the kingdom of light upon the kingdom of darkness, and sets forth, as in acted parable, the apostolic truth, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4).
I. IN JERICHO ITSELF WE SEE A TYPE OF THE STRONGHOLDS OF INIQUITY IN THE WORLD. - The city was "straitly shut up; none went out and none came in" (ver. 1). The combination of the passive and active forms here indicates how the natural strength of the fortifications was supplemented by the resistive spirit of the people. We are reminded of those conditions of the human soul in which it is impenetrable by the influence of Divine truth; resolute in its unbelief, impenitence, corrupt affection, evil habit; closely shut against the powers that would bring into it a new and nobler life. But the picture of the closed city suggests not so much the resistance of the individual soul to redeeming influence, as that of the conspicuous forms of evil existing in the world - false systems of thought, corrupt institutions, pernicious social usages; strongholds of infidelity, vice, tyranny, superstition, idolatry. We are reminded how deeply rooted they are, how strong in the radical tendencies of human nature and in the traditionary custom of ages. Like Jericho, the very hot bed of Canaanite pollution, in the midst of its glorious palm groves, so do these forms of evil stand as blots on the fair creation of God, and cast their deadly shadow on the otherwise glad life of man. It is against these that the kingdom of truth and righteousness wages an exterminating war, "casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
II. THE MODE OF THE CITY'S FALL IS SUGGESTIVE OF THE RELATION EXISTING BETWEEN THE HUMAN INSTRUMENT AND THE DIVINE POWER IN THIS SPIRITUAL CONFLICT. Note the apparent impotence of the means used in view of the end to be answered. This silent procession of the ark and the armed host round and round the walls, the silence broken only by the rude music of the priests' rams' horns - what a solemn farce it must have seemed! We can imagine with what derision it was greeted by the men of the city. If that is all the power that can be brought against them, they have little need for fear. The spiritual analogy is plain. To men destitute of faith, incapable of discovering the resistless force that lies behind them, the instruments of the kingdom of Christ seem very feeble. The workers of iniquity, within their refuges of lies, bold in the strength of "blood and custom," laugh at weapons such as these. "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" (1 Corinthians 1:18). But outward appearances are a very false rule of judgment. The sovereign power can work through meanest, simplest instruments. Their efficacy is often in inverse ratio to their apparent feebleness. "We have the treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us (2 Corinthians 4:7). "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise," etc. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
III. THE DELAY OF THE ISSUE AFFORDS A LESSON IN THE PATIENCE THAT WAITS ON GOD IN THE PATH OF OBEDIENCE AND SERVICE. The seven days' process, in addition to its symbolic meaning, was a trial of the faith and constancy of the people. "By faith the walls fell down," because it was confidence in the unseen Power that kept both priests and warriors steadfast in their seemingly meaningless and profitless round till the appointed time. All great issues in the onward progress of the kingdom of Christ - the fall of corrupt institutions, the doom of reigning iniquities - have their appointed time. This applies pre-eminently to the grand final issue: "Of that day and hour knoweth no man." But in the fulness of the time the glorious vision shall appear. The slowness of the process of destruction and restitution is strange to us. We cry, in our moments of impatience ?
"Oh, why these years of waiting here,
These ages of delay?"
But "he that believeth shall not make haste." He knows how to wait, "For the vision is yet for an appointed time," etc. (Habakkuk 2:3, 4). Faith, on its watchtower, sees the grand procession of events moving on to the end of the days, when "the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God," to lay the last stronghold of Satan in ruins, and "create the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Peter 3:13). - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: So the people shouted, and the priests blew the trumpets. It happened, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, that the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.