Hebrews 11:30


By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, etc. Let us endeavor to exhibit the principal features of this example of the exercise of faith.

I. FAITH IN THE DIVINE WORD OF DIRECTION AND PROMISE, Directions were given by the Lord to Joshua for the taking of Jericho, with the promise that on their fulfillment the wails of that city should fall to the ground (Joshua 6:2-5). This communication Joshua conveyed to the people; and they believed it, they received it as a message from God. They exercised faith

(1) in his righteous authority over them;

(2) in his power to fulfill his promises; and

(3) in his fidelity to his word.

In these respects their faith is exemplary; for his authority is supreme, his power is almighty, and his faithfulness infinite.

III. FAITH IN THE DIVINE WORD WHEN THERE WAS NO NECESSARY RELATION BETWEEN THE DIRECTIONS GIVEN AND THE RESULT PROMISED. Generally speaking, in the Divine arrangements the means ordained are wisely adapted to accomplish the ends for which they are employed. But it is quite the opposite in the case now before us. The course of action prescribed and the consequence promised cannot possibly be regarded as cause and effect. The marching round the city, the blowing of rams' horns, and the uttering of great shouts, cannot by any stretch of imagination be looked upon even as means for leveling strong city walls to the ground. Such proceedings have no necessary relation with such a result. If related at all, the relation is altogether arbitrary. The things enjoined upon the Israelites were simply conditions with which they were to comply - tests of faith and obedience; and the Lord guaranteed a certain result upon the fulfillment of the conditions. And without raising any objections or proposing any questions they believed his word.

"Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why." And if we are assured of his will in any matter, we should follow it irrespective of appearances and of probabilities as they present themselves to our minds. When he commands, it is ours to obey. When he promises, it is ours to accept the promise, leaving the method of its fulfillment to him.

III. FAITH MANIFESTED IN PRACTICAL OBEDIENCE. The Israelites proved the reality of their faith in the Divine communication by complying with its requirements. "It came to pass, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests," etc. (Joshua 6:8-20). Genuine faith always leads to a course of conduct in harmony with its own character (cf. James 2:14-26).

IV. FAITH LEADING TO PERSEVERING OBEDIENCE EVEN WHEN NO APPARENT EFFECT WAS PRODUCED BY THEIR ACTION. The Israelites went round the city as they were directed, "but not a brick of the walls fell; and they went round a second time, and a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth time, and still all the bricks were there, firmly cemented, and the walls stood. The defenders of Jericho would look on those wonderful walkers, and one can imagine them saying, 'It is a new mode of assault you are adopting. We wonder how long you will have to walk before the walls fall; Jericho will stand for a long time if it is to be taken by walking.' Nevertheless, the Israelites held in their hands the promise, and they felt it in their hearts," and they persevered in their obedience notwithstanding the utter absence of any sign of success. They completed the prescribed process, and then their obedience was rewarded with success. And in our case, faith and obedience must be persistent, though our discouragements be great. We are called to be "imitators of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." "Ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise" (cf. Matthew 10:22; Romans 2:7; Revelation 2:10).

V. FAITH COMPLETELY VINDICATED BY GOD. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down." When the Israelites had completely carried out the directions which the Lord had given them, "the wall fell down fiat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city." Thus the result fully justified their confidence and their conduct. And no one ever trusted God in vain. Faith, resting upon God's word or character, honors him and gratifies him; and he will not, he cannot, fail the soul that trusts him. If we honor him with our hearty confidence, he will honor us with his glorious salvation. - W.J.







The walls of Jericho fell down.
In the means employed by the children of Israel there was nothing adequate to so great and instant a catastrophe. There was surely no visible or real connection between compassing the city in procession and the falling of the walls which followed. We learn from the whole of this part of our subject, that whatever obstructs the march of the people of God, God not only is able, but is pledged and willing to remove. Rocks shall start from their places — rivers shall abjure their channels — the fire shall fail to burn — wild beasts, ravenous with hunger, shall refuse to devour — rather than one jot perish from the least promise that God has spoken, or one grace be exhausted from the least heart that God has sanctified by His Holy Spirit. When we see these great effects follow in answer to faith, it may be asked, Why use means at all, since the means were inadequate? By His prescribing means, He showed that He is and that He was present in the midst of them; by prescribing inadequate means, He showed that that presence was omnipotent, and that all the glory of the issue of the enterprise must shine and rest upon His name. In other words, He would show that, while might was used and power was wielded, the victory was not by might nor by power, but "by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Now let us look at this great lesson illustrated in the whole history of the Church of Christ — that magnificent and glorious results have ever followed in connection with the cause of Christ from weak and insignificant means. If I refer to a modern instance, there is no book in the English language that has given more tone to the English mind among the humbler religious classes than Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" — a book so simple that a child can understand it, whose theology is so rich that all the tomes of a Calvin and a Luther do not excel it; and there is no book, let me say, that has left a finer and a more substantial impression on the mass of enlightened Christian minds than the "Pilgrim's Progress" of John Bunyan. At Leicester he was appointed to stand sentry. A comrade came to him, and offered freely and gratuitously to take his place. The exchange was made, and a bullet struck the head of the comrade in three minutes afterwards; and if John Bunyan had been there, "Pilgrim's Progress " had never been written, and its blessed effects would never have been heard of. Thus a very incidental, microscopic occurrence became the hinge of very precious effects. I might notice other evidences of the same truth. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries perhaps the greatest obstruction to the progress of real religion was the want of books and the means of circulating knowledge — I say, before the era of the Reformation the greatest obstruction to the progress of real religion was want of books. A Dutchman, at Haarlem, was one day amusing himself by cutting out letters upon the bark of a tree, and after he had done so, the idea struck him that he might transfer impressions from the bark of the tree to paper. He did so; and in the course of a few weeks wooden types were carved, and printing was begun; and then literally the greatest obstruction to the progress of the truth, and the spread of living religion, was removed, when the walls of ignorance fell down before what the world would call an accidental thought, what the Christian would call the inspiration of his God, as unequivocal and as real as the command to blow the ram's horns, and to lay the walls of Jericho level in consequence. Another obstruction to the spread of religion was the fact of nations being so severed. Continents and islands were separated by broad and almost impassable oceans. The sailor never thought of going far from the coast, still less of navigating wide seas. Accidentally, the world would say — by an inspiration from on high, the Christian believes — a man discovers the polarity of a piece of loadstone; and that discovery, so insignificant in itself, led to that intercommunion between our own and the most distant isles of the ocean, which has made continents our next door neighbours, oceans ferries, and consolidated the whole world into one community preparatory to the cement of the gospel, which will consolidate it into one happy and united brotherhood. We see in all these little means used and blessed of God to produce very great results. I must refer to another instance in the rise and progress of different missionary societies. For instance, the Moravian Missionary Society, one of the most useful of all the societies we have, was originated as follows: Two poor Greenlanders arrived in Copenhagen, where there was a Moravian congregation consisting of about six hundred persons. They looked upon these Greenlanders not as curious specimens of a savage race, but as having immortal souls that needed to be saved, and the grand resolution took possession of the Moravian heart that they should be brought to the knowledge of the gospel of Christ. These six hundred persons instantly conceived the project of preaching the gospel at Labrador, in America, at the East Indies, and even in Africa. They set about a work so disproportionately great, that the world laughed, but God smiled upon them, and at this moment these means are crowned with the most magnificent results. I do not know a society more honoured than the Moravian Missionary Society. After the storm and chaos of 1793, a poor cobbler in his stall, of the name of Carey, conceived the first idea, in this country at least, of sending the gospel to the heathen. Wilberforce, who introduced so much Christianity into the higher classes of society, had the magnanimity to say of this, "I know not a more striking instance of the sublime than that cobbler on his stool conceiving the idea of carrying the gospel to the distant parts of the heathen world." That idea was conceived by that poor man, and at first the whole annual income of the Baptist Missionary Society was £13 2s. 6d.; it is now increased to some £30,000, if not upwards. Then the London Missionary Society took its rise very much from the preaching of Dr. Bogue. The Church Missionary Society, the Bible and Tract Societies, are all the creation of the last century, and all arose from the most insignificant of means, which have been crowned with the most magnificent results. Now, what does this teach us for the future? That if God has used the most despised of means for the accomplishment of the greatest and most precious results, we are to thank God that He has so honoured the past, and to look for that God to come unto us in the opening and veiled future, and to trust for triumphs of His presence, and monuments of what grace can do, that shall eclipse all that has yet been accomplished.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

: — A great many really good people laugh at the story of Jericho's fall, as something impossible, and count the whole transaction as one of those semi-mythical events that find their parallel in the siege of Troy which Homer sang. But whether history, or myth, or poetry, the conquest of Jericho emphasises a great principle. Considered as a piece of military tactics, the whole performance seems the height of the ridiculous. Considered as an act of faith, it stands sublime. A pious rationalism has tried to explain the so-called "miracle" by the vibration of the walls at the trumpet blasts. But this seems to my mind to increase rather than to diminish the marvel The best explanation is, God foreknew that an earthquake was impending, and so ordered the marching and trumpeting that they should be finished at a moment coincident with the shock produced by the forces of Nature. But this is neither here nor there; His methods are none of our business. We have simply to look at man's part of the work, and the Bible does not explain this upon the "vibration theory," nor upon any known laws of physics or aerostatics. On the contrary, it ascribes Jericho's overthrow not to a physical, but to a purely mental and spiritual cause. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down." Joshua and his soldiers did not stop to theorise nor rationalise, nor yet to discuss the relation between cause and effect. They just did what they were told, and left the rest to God. This is faith. Not the mere subscription to a creed, but such implicit and absolute trust in God, as leads men unquestionably to obey His commands and to believe His promises, without stopping to argue, or debate, or discuss. No ordinary battle was ever won, in which the private soldiers presumed to criticise the plans and tactics of the commander-in-chief. On the contrary, the prime condition of victory is absolute trust and confidence in the leader, and all the host acting as an unit. Jesus declares that "through faith His disciples may remove mountains"; and history is lustrous with thousands of apparently impossible feats wrought by men no different from the rest of the race, save in the greatness of their faith. As the topic of missions to the heathen occupies so large a space in our services and preaching, according to our Lord's command, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," believers and unbelievers in Christianity sadly or sneeringly ask the question, "Why are not the heathen converted after all these hundreds of years? Why do not the walls of these pagan Jerichoes fall down?" Read your Bible, friends. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down," and just so soon as we Christians have somewhat of the same faith that possessed these Jews, just so soon will the strongholds of error be overcome. As a matter of fact, it is only during the last fifty years that any effort worth speaking of has been made by Protestant Christianity to convert the heathen. Men complain of the vast sums squandered to convert these pagans. Well, which is better, to send a million dollars to make men of our own flesh and blood moral, decent, respectable, as befits souls for whom Christ died, or to send a million dollars' worth of rum to debauch them and make their savage condition more densely savage still? And how vast are these sums, think you, sent to foreign lands to teach men of their Heavenly Father and loving Saviour? Ten million dollars is the largest amount ever given in a single year to Foreign Missions, and this distributed among one hundred million Protestants, averages about ten cents for each soul. Here is munificence! Here is faith I Here is love to God and to man for you! And yet, despite the indifference and hostility of the Church at home, what hath God wrought? Behold the walls of Jericho that have fallen in less than fifty years, and this with a Christianity merely playing at missions, and not playing very hard at that. A few royal sons of God have had the faith through which alone all this has been done. Grand old Doctor Livingstone had faith enough to dwell thirty-three years in Africa, where glorious Bishop Hannington has lately laid down his life. Bishop Selwyn had faith enough to spend the best of his days among the South Sea savages, and his successor, Bishop Pattison, had faith enough to find in that same field a foremost place in the noble army of martyrs. I tell you it all sifts right down to a matter of pure faith, this business of Foreign Missions. Why is this? Simply because that the more truly religious a man is, the more he grasps the supernatural idea of Christianity, the more real become all the prophecies of God, the more binding all His commands. The armies of the living God march round the pagan Jericho, and blow the gospel trumpets. This is man's part of the business. The throwing down of the walls, this is God's work. Not, "the Lord will give," but, "the Lord hath given you the city," The fall of Jericho was a mathematical certainty, just so soon as the conditions had been complied with. And so again, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down." By the same faith, too, the walls of China, the walls of India, the walls of Africa shall fall, can fall as well as not in our lifetime as a hundred or a thousand years hence. Oh! it makes me sick to hear people praying for the world's conversion. Stop praying and convert it now! It is as easy as breathing, if you have faith in God. "Why criest thou unto Me?" methinks I hear God say. "Speak unto My people that they go forward."

(L. S. Osborne.)

One striking feature in Christian faith is that it is a most persevering faith.

1. No failures daunt it.

2. No difficulties alarm it.

3. No troubles quench it.

4. No taunts shame it.Now the particular property and work of faith we are called upon to examine and contemplate is this persevering nature of it. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about seven days." Let us examine the full spiritual force of this.(1) The city of Jericho was strong.(2) The host which besieged and took the city of Jericho was a large and strong host, well tried and disciplined by the trials of the wilderness, led on by their leader Joshua. So the power which must besiege the wicked heart of man, and the sinful inclinations harboured therein, must be the soul well tried by sorrow and well schooled in adversity, strengthened by the Spirit of God.(3) And the way they took the city was by encompassing it seven times, as God had appointed; so at length the walls fell down, and they entered. So also the enemies which our hearts contain must be subdued only in certain appointed ways — by prayer, the Sacraments, the Word of God, His public service, self-denial, and repentance. This, then, is the spiritual force and application of the text to ourselves.And before I proceed to the particular examination of the subject let me make some general remarks on it.

1. It reminds us that our hearts, like Jericho, do harbour the enemies of God.

2. We are reminded how we must drive them out. by the grace and the guidance of Christ. Men adopt many ways, but there is but one way. Some try to drive out bad passions by philosophy and learning. Another will try and overcome his bad heart by living away from the world. Another will try to overcome his sinful heart by works of charity, self-denial, and benevolence. Some people seem to think that natural kindness and morality makes up for, and so subdues the bad heart. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about seven days." Nothing but the grace of God's Holy Spirit, applied to us through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, and gained by faith, can enable us permanently and really to subdue our hearts. But let us examine the more particular working and view of faith which this text suggests. Let us, then, see what this perseverance is —

1. Perseverance requires a continual struggle, only to be ended with life itself.

2. But again, what is perseverance applied to? First, the repressing sin; secondly, the doing good.

(E. Monro.)

First of all, observe here that Jericho had mighty walls, and trusted in these walls; or else they would have come out and have made conditions of peace with Israel. And next you see here, that God overthrows their walls; and by what means? By poor and base means, by trumpets of rams' horns. From hence, by analogy and proportion, we may see, first of all, that carnal men they build up walls, and put their trust in them. The second is, that God confounds these courses. The third is, that God doth it by weak and silly means, believed by faith. The last point is, that faith in the use of these means overcomes all.

1. Natural men, since the fall, they must have somewhat to trust to. Since man lost his first confidence, and communion with God, he turns to the creature; and men leave God in what measure they trust that. Every one will have some castle and wall of Jericho to trust to. Riches are the rich man's stronghold (Proverbs 11:16). Ahithophel trusted to a shrewd head and policy that proved his ruin afterwards. The Jews had outward sanctity to trust to, opposing it to the righteousness of Christ (Romans 10:6). Man will have a holiness, a wisdom, a strength, and power of himself in the things below here. Now the Spirit of God in the Scriptures takes notice of this proneness to false confidence (1 Timothy 6:17). And man, when he sets his heart upon false confidence, the issues are more dangerous; he will come against God; he doth not only set up these holds that he hath in rebellion against God, but he proclaims, as it were, defiance to God, and His word, and His ordinances, till afterwards God destroy all his false confidence, and bring him to shame. There are three mighty things in every natural man.(1) This false reasoning and sophistry. There is no man will go to hell without reason. "God is merciful," "Christ is come," and "others are as bad as I," and "I hope in time to repent"; this vile reasoning must be turned out of a man before he can be saved.(2) Then there are proud thoughts. What, shall I yield to such a one as He? I am better than He; I understand these things as well as He. As that proud cardinal in Germany said, "I confess these things that Luther finds fault with are naught; but shall I yield to a base monk?" The proud rebellious heart of man is lift up in proud thoughts against God.(3) And then there be forecasts. If I do thus, this danger will come of it; I shall provoke such an enemy; I shall lose such a friend; I shall endanger myself. Now, when the truth of God comes, down goes all these sophistries and all these forecasts; they all lie fiat when the Spirit of God comes in the power of the word. But naturally every man hath these; he builds up some castle against God; he builds up the walls of Jericho, and trusts in them too.

2. God first or last overturns all vain confidence in the creature. The walls of Jericho, down they must; and whatsoever exalts itself against God, either it shall end in conversion or confusion, because the time must come that God must have all the glory. Therefore let us make that use that Jeremiah doth (Jeremiah 9:23). Let a man joy in none of these; but if he will joy, let him joy in this, that he knows the Lord, that he is in covenant with God.

3. God doth this by base and weak means. And the reason is clear, that He may have all the glory.

4. It was by faith in the use of means that the walls of Jericho fell down. If they had not depended upon God in their going about seven days, the walls had stood still. But here were other graces likewise that sprang from faith, that helped them also. There was a great deal of patience to go about after that silly fashion with rams' horns seven days together. Here was patience, and perseverance, and hope. But, because faith doth enliven, and stirs up all, therefore that is named. In the whole chapter the exercise of other graces is attributed to faith, because they draw strength from that to quicken them all to their several offices. Strengthen faith, and strengthen all other graces whatsoever.

5. Now, let us by way of proportion raise them higher, and make use of them to other things. The walls of Jericho represent to us many things.(1) The kingdom of Satan in general, the power of the devil in himself and in his instruments, who hinders what he can, our coming out of Egypt to Canaan. He labours to come between us and heaven; to hinder us all he can by all means. He hath walls of many kinds; the strength of tyrants, the subtilty of heretics. But Christ came "to destroy the works of the devil," as it is said 1 John 3:8; and He Himself overcame Satan and triumphed over him, as it is Colossians 2:15. He triumphed over Satan himself, and He will triumph over Satan in all His members (1 John 4:4).(2) But besides Satan, there is in us much opposition that must be subdued before we come to Canaan. So it is with our own corruptions. There be these wails within us. Satan could not hurt us but that we betray ourselves. Now, by little and little all these walls shall fall; not all at once, as the wails of Jericho did. God by degrees will perfect the work of mortification and sanctification till He make us like His Son Christ, like our husband and head, that we may be fit for so glorious a head.

(R. Sibbes, D. D.)

I. SEE HERE THE DISCOURAGEMENTS OF FAITH.

1. The difficulty of the undertaking.

2. The inadequacy of the means.

3. The strangeness of the delay.

II. SEE HERE THE MANIFESTATIONS OF FAITH

1. In their joyous expectation.

2. In their undaunted perseverance.

3. In their utmost preparedness.

III. SEE HERE THE FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH.

1. The fact of God's presence.

2. The fact of God's command.

3. The fact of God's promise.

(C. New.)

Homilist.
1. It is the prerogative of God to do whatever He pleases, and by whatever agency He chooses.

2. It is man's solemn duty to do whatsoever God commands.

3. Faith in God is indispensable to the fulfilment of God's command.

I. THE FAITH OF MAN.

1. It was not faith in —

(1)their benevolent sympathies;

(2)moral institutions;

(3)their notions of adaptations;

(4)merely the Divinity of the command.

2. It was faith in God — in His wisdom, righteousness, and power.

II. THE ENERGY OF GOD.

1. Whatever God commands, however it may seem to clash with our notions or intuitions, we should attempt.

2. Whatever Divine command we attempt to carry out, with faith in Him, we shall accomplish.

3. Whatever we accomplish, it will be through His energy, as the reward of our faith in Him.

(Homilist.)

The impulse of nature was to attack that city; to try upon its bulwarks the skill of military science, as then understood, as by them possessed. The power of faith was shown in curbing that impulse; in submitting to an unexplained, unintelligible, severely trying, edict of inactivity; nay, in consenting to play what must have seemed a ridiculous part in the face of a warlike and disciplined host waiting to see what this intrusive, this presumptuous horde of rovers had to say for itself. How often has the Church, as a body, failed to understand the duty of refraining! How often has she rushed headlong upon some dimly-descried or imaginary Jericho with weapons quite carnal! What shall we say of the religious press, of the religious platform, of the religious controversy, of the religious conversation, so called, of this present age and country? Is it not a matter of simple fact, of sorrowful notoriety, that the armour, whether of attack or of defence, worn in this warfare, is of precisely the same material, and the same make, and all but the same colour, with that of the world's quarrels and the world's antagonisms? Certainly if the giant Jericho of this world, with its lying vanities, its covert or open infidelities, its harmful lusts, its crying sins, is ever to be brought low before the revealed presence of Jesus Christ, it will not be by the use against it of weapons forged in its own workshops — weapons of sarcasm and invective, weapons of strife and debate, weapons of insinuation and repartee, weapons of rhetoric and oratory, weapons of man's wisdom or man's strength. It will be — and, in whatever degree that victory has been foreshadowed, it always has been — by the quiet march, round the walls and towers of human pride and human luxury and human sin, of the ark of the holy covenant, of the Word and Sacraments of the New Testament, ministered and heralded by devout and devoted pastors, "showing out of a good conversation their works with meekness of wisdom." And if this be true on the large scale, and with reference to ages and nations and communities, how must it be with individuals? How large a part of the action of faith, viewed as an instrument, as an influence, as a power, for God, lies, in their case also, in refraining! Show me the Christian wife, the Christian sister, the Christian daughter, who knows how to refrain, and I will predict for her an eventual success in influencing the husband, the brother, the father, towards her gospel. Not to answer again — not to urge matters of discord — not to insist on externals — not to wear a look of offence — not to irritate by a disdainful composure — not to speak against faulty but loved ones as though exiled from sympathy — always to pray, never to faint — seeking refuge, when refuge is necessary, from the strife of tongues, not in isolation, not in moroseness, but in the sweet tabernacle of God's Presence — this sort of refraining, within the walls of homes, is worth all the "testifying "in the world for Christ against evil — nay, it is the noblest and the highest and the most ancient of testimonies — "by faith," thus refraining, the walls of Jericho fell, not undermined, and not assaulted, but just encompassed for seven days.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Links
Hebrews 11:30 NIV
Hebrews 11:30 NLT
Hebrews 11:30 ESV
Hebrews 11:30 NASB
Hebrews 11:30 KJV

Hebrews 11:30 Bible Apps
Hebrews 11:30 Parallel
Hebrews 11:30 Biblia Paralela
Hebrews 11:30 Chinese Bible
Hebrews 11:30 French Bible
Hebrews 11:30 German Bible

Hebrews 11:30 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Hebrews 11:29
Top of Page
Top of Page