Hebrews 11 is known as the faith chapter and I’d like to focus on Hebrews 11:30 and go back to the story of the fall of Jericho (story found in Joshua chapters 2-6). “It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.” (Heb 11:30). First a definition of faith: “belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same.”
Now, let’s review the story from Joshua 2-6. The Israelites have walked through hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt and have now just finished a season of 40 years in the desert. They are experienced and hardened to desert life, but they are entering a new season: a season of war as they enter the promised land. It was one type of faith to trust God for their daily provisions and protections in the desert; now they must face enemies solidly entrenched behind impressive walled cities, something not to be found in the desert nomad life.
The first time God led the people to the promised land, they refused to go forth out of fear (Numbers 14). The desert faith was perhaps more passive as God provided their daily food and clear guidance for their travels. Now they must become more active as they push into the promised land. This season will require a renewed faith and trust in God. God leads us from one season to the next using the faith built and the lessons learnt in the previous seasons. Often the challenges become harder and more faith is required.
The Israelites learned to trust God for all they needed in the wilderness and they learned to follow him on the wilderness journeys. Now they must trust God to provide them the promised land against all odds. They could not have a better leader than Joshua who you might remember as one of the 12 spies who originally surveyed the promised land (Numbers 13). Joshua was one of only 2 spies who had faith that with God the Israelites could conquer the Promised Land. Now, after 40 years in the desert Joshua is finally leading the people into God’s promise.
After crossing the Jordan River miraculously, the first major obstacle is the city of Jericho. This is no wilderness camp of unorganized tribes. Jericho is an impressive, walled city presenting a serious challenge even to a well-equipped army. Jericho is indeed perhaps the oldest walled city in the world. The Israelites are toughened from their desert experiences, but it is unlikely that they are equipped or experienced to handle the siege and conquest of a large walled city. This obstacle will only be overcome with God and faith in his ability to win the battle. Have you ever faced a time in life where you faced what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles?
Getting back to Jericho the instructions to the Israelites seem strange. March around the city once each morning and then on the final morning march around the city seven times, finishing with a blast on the trumpets and a loud shout. Sometimes God’s instructions don’t seem to make sense, but in this situation he is, at least in part, testing the faith and obedience of the people. Will they do what he asks? Do they trust him to handle the situation? God is faithful to his promise and on the seventh day as they blow the trumpets, the city walls collapse. The Israelites march in and conquer the now defenceless city.
There are different seasons and stages of life and it can be challenging to apply the lessons of faith to changing seasons. For the Israelites the desert season and the season of entering the promised land were very different, but the lessons of faith learned in the desert helped them as they moved into a new season. God had taught them that he would lead them and not forsake them. However, history teaches us that we are slow learners. A demonstration of God’s power in the past doesn’t always seem to help us trust him now.
The first time God led the people to the promised land, they refused to go forth out of fear (Numbers 14). We may say ‘well God did that in the past, but what about tomorrow’? The Israelites even became dangerously consumed with nostalgia on their journey towards the promised land (Ex 16:3). They remembered the past in Egypt with idealized nostalgia, remembering only the good portions of an overall terrible life. So, how do you find faith in changing seasons without getting stuck in nostalgia or mired in fear?
Know that God has different things for us at different times. Different seasons teach us different lessons. Recognizing that seasons come and go it’s important to embrace the season that you are in. In a COVID season we can become nostalgic, looking to the past with fond memories and hoping for a return to the old normal. Then maybe we turn to fear of the future yet to come. Of course we can neither predict nor control the future. Planning is generally good, worrying is generally unhelpful, faith is better. Faith in God will lead us into a new season with the ability to see what God is doing right here, right now.
Trust God and have faith, he can and will continue to provide. Don’t live in an idealized nostalgic past. The memories are great, but we cannot go back there. Don’t fear the imagined future. We don’t know what will happen and fear of the unknown can cripple our options now. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present through faith. Jesus has a plan and the plan is good! Just as the destination for the Israelites was good, the promised land, so Jesus is leading us towards a good destination, eternal life with him, should we choose to follow him. There are seasons and challenges along the way, but Jesus will not abandon people on the road.
 Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
 If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”