The time between Hebrews 11:29, which speaks of the passing of Israel over the Red sea, and the event ofHebrews 11:30 is forty years. Much had transpired, between these two points, of the wonderwork of God in delivering Israel from Pharaoh and His bringing them into the promised land. The writer to the Hebrews selects the events very carefully to show the power and greatness of the faith of the fathers.
What Jehovah did at the Red Sea signaled the complete deliverance of Israel from Egypt. In our present passage from Hebrews 11 Israel stands before the land of Canaan proper. Now the Lord will, in a very wondrous and miraculous way of grace, give all the land to Israel. And what He does at Jericho is of fundamental and typical importance. It was the final fulfillment of the promise of God to Abraham. For this is a people which is now sanctified unto the service of the Lord. Joshua will bring them into the promised Rest. It will be a coming into the land as the fulfillment of the year of Jubilee.
Was Israel not sanctified? Had Joshua not at the hill of the foreskins, Gilgal; circumcised all the male members of the church? Israel has been restored into the covenant relationship with the LORD once more. They had subsequent to the circumcision also eaten of the Passover of the Lord. They might fellowship with the Lord and enter into the joy of the Lord’s salvation. And the reproach of Egypt was removed from them. They are no more the congregation which is wandering in the wilderness, aimlessly; endlessly, hopelessly as those who died in the wilderness because of their unbelief.
And the sin of the Amorite is full. The word of the LORD spoken by Noah in the testament upon his sons is being fulfilled, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren,” (Gen. 9:25-26). It is now the fourth generation and the children of Israel shall come again into the land according to God’s sure promise to Abraham. Israel may walk in the thick darkness for a while; however, the LORD will pass through the darkness and walk between the “pieces” of the sacrificial covenant all alone, (Gen. 15:17). That will happen here at Jericho as it did at the Red Sea and at Jordan. And great was the glory of the Lord of Hosts!
THE LORD OF HOSTS (Joshua 5:13-15)
Can you picture the scene? Jericho is straightly shut up! None went out and none went in. The city is besieged by the hosts of Israel. And the Captain of Israel is the great Jehovah God Himself as he manifests Himself in the Old Testament Christ, the Angel, Messenger of the LORD. He is the Personal God Himself as he comes in the person of the Son, as the Head of His people.
The “hosts” here evidently can refer either to the angelic Hosts in the heavens, the myriads of the ministering spirits of God sent out for the benefit of those who will inherit the promises. The term can also refer to the hosts of Israel, the camp of the Lord of hosts in their tents about the tabernacle, as they are the picture of the city foursquare, the heavenly Jerusalem. It would seem that although the former need not be excluded here the emphasis falls upon the multitudes of the thousands of Israel. The LORD here is the Captain of Israel; He is the chief captain of their salvation. He is the better JOSHUA who will lead the people into the final rest through His death and resurrection, and his ascension and final return to glory when he shall come with all his holy angels to redeem his saints, from the East and the West, and to bring them into the promised land of the heavenly Jerusalem!
Small wonder that Joshua is commanded to put off the shoes from his feet. Surely the place where he stood was holy ground. Joshua worshipped this Captain of the hosts of Israel and it was not idolatry. It was a believing acknowledgment that the LORD would be with him as He promised: “Nay; but as the captain (prince) of the host of the LORD am I now come.” Here is the LORD Himself with His glittering sword over Jericho. The city cannot be redeemed with a sacrifice; it is a devoted thing. Now we shall see that it is terrible to fall into the hands of the living God, who shall slay the wicked with the sword of His mouth.
And Joshua bows and believes in holy adoration.
THE WALLS OF JERICHO FALL (Hebrews 11:30;Joshua 6:20)
Jericho is the city of palm trees. It is also the accursed city whose walls and gates may never be built again with impunity. Of this city it is said, “Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho; he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates thereof.” (Joshua 6:26; I Kings 16:34).
Jericho stands in a very strategic position in the land of Canaan. It is a large city, with strong walls, which blocks the way into the land. It is a mighty fortress of the Canaanites. The walls of Jericho are the last bastion which Israel must conquer; it is the enemies’ stronghold. But they shall fall down before the face of Israel at whose head the Captain of the Lord’s host marches to victory. Nothing shall allay His onslaught on this mighty city. The Lord of Hosts is on Israel’s side. The victory is sure.
What a strange battle-strategy. It is the strategy of God and of His faithful covenant dealings. Israel will not break down these walls by the power of the sword, nor shall she storm the ramparts. Israel must walk the walk of faith and childlike confidence. Seven times she must surround the city. It is a priestly battle. The Ark of the Testimony must go in the lead, carried by the priests. Seven priests must walk before the LORD blowing the trump of God. They blow the typical trumpet, inaugurating the Day of the LORD! Did the inhabitants of Jericho tremble with terror and fear at the testimony of Israel’s crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, and did they melt in fear at the report of what Israel did under God to Og, the Ring of Bashan, Sihon, the king of the Amorites beyond Jordan? Much more are the hearts of these godless Amorites, whose iniquity is full, filled with anguish and fear at the noise of the trumpet of God proclaiming that His Day had come. God will come to his sevenfold rest, to His Eternal Sabbath, to tabernacle amongst His people in the land! Seven times Israel marches, and on the seventh day is the grand finale of Israel’s faith.
And on the seventh day after the seventh time about the city Israel must shout! And after Israel has shouted with a mighty shout of triumph the walls come tumbling down. God will shake the earth to bring in an immoveable inheritance. One day he will not only shake the earth but also the heavens. Here is the mighty voice of the LORD! God is, as it were, shouting in His people. They shout by the working of the power of His might.
THE WALLS OF JERICHO FALL BY FAITH(Hebrews 11:30)
Yes, these walls fall by faith. They fall by the means of the faith of Israel. This is the faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. That is the teaching of Hebrews 11:30, where we read, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.”
This was a faith in the word of God and in His sure promise. It was not mere idle faith, some superstitious speculation. It was not trusting in the arm of flesh, either. It was believing that God is and that he is a rewarder of those seeking Him. It was clinging as to the Rock of ages; the Rock of Israel, His faithfulness and power, and might was the only expectation in this mighty battle at Jericho.
In faith Israel conformed to the battle-strategy of the LORD. They marched ever so silently, waiting upon the LORD and His salvation. God will drive out the heathen with his outstretched hand. He will plant Israel, the vine of His choosing, in the land. Yea, he will afflict not only Jericho, but all the people of the land. He will cast them out! And now Jericho is the very stronghold which typifies the strength of the enemy which shall be broken. When Jericho falls, the back-bone of wicked Canaan is broken.
Yes, faith is in action about the walls of Jericho! Faith looked to the LORD and sang, “Through thee will we push down our enemies.” Glory and joy is in the soul of Israel while Jericho is subdued under Israel, (Psalm 44:5)
By faith Israel sings, “God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet,” (Psalm 47).
Such was the faith of Israel of old. And this is the faith which the saints, to whom the writer to the Hebrews writes, need. They must have a faith which presses forward to salvation and which does not fall back into perdition.
THE TYPICAL ENTRANCE INTO THE LAND
Yes, here we have typology. It is a real entering into the land of Canaan, and the manner is also typical of the entrance of the church into final glory. Did not Abraham dwell as a stranger in this land of promise looking for a better country, a heavenly country? Was that not the clear testimony of the faith of the patriarchs? (Hebrews 11:16) God was not ashamed to be called their God. They looked beyond Jericho and its tumbling walls. They looked for the city which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.
Thus here, too, we see that Israel is entering into the rest. Yet, the rest is more than some spoils of a city. O, Achan, had you but seen what the holy patriarchs saw and sought after! Achan receives but a heap of stones for himself and for his children. But the believing people of God enter into the Rest.
We see this in the number seven. Was it not seven priests carrying seven trumpets? And did they not need to walk about the city seven times on seven different days? And was not the last day the Sabbath day on which they walked about the city seven times? And was this not a living exhibition of laboring to enter into the rest?
They entered by faith! This was real Sabbath-keeping, was it not? It was the typical rest which they achieved. Yet, there remained a better rest. There remaineth a rest for the people of God! If we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, all the walls and obstacles will be removed and cast into the sea!