The Signs of the Times

April 14, 1881

The Taking Of Jericho


As Joshua withdrew from the armies of Israel to meditate and pray for God's special presence to attend him, he beheld a man of lofty stature, clad in war-like garments, with drawn sword in his hand. Joshua did not recognize him as one of the warriors of Israel, and yet he had no appearance of being an enemy. In his zeal he accosted him, saying, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” ST April 14, 1881, par. 1

The glory of God hallowed the sanctuary, and for this reason the priests never entered the place sanctified by the divine presence with shoes upon their feet. Particles of dust might cleave to them, which would desecrate the holy place. Therefore the priests were required to leave their shoes in the court, before entering the sanctuary. In the court, beside the door of the tabernacle, stood a brazen laver, wherein the priests washed their hands and their feet before going in to minister before the Lord. All who officiated in the sanctuary were required of God to make special preparation to enter the place where his glory was revealed. ST April 14, 1881, par. 2

It was the Son of God who stood as an armed warrior before the leader of Israel. It was the One who had conducted the Hebrews through the wilderness, enshrouded in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. ST April 14, 1881, par. 3

In order to impress upon the mind of Joshua the fact that his visitor was no other than Christ, the Exalted One, he said, “Put off thy shoe from off thy foot.” He then gave to Joshua instructions for the taking of Jericho, that mighty stronghold whose idolatrous inhabitants had so long defied the God of Israel. ST April 14, 1881, par. 4

Encouraged by this fresh assurance of divine support, Joshua proceeded to marshal the hosts of Israel. In the foremost ranks were placed a chosen body of armed men, not now to exercise their skill in warfare, but to believe and obey the instructions given them from God. Next followed seven priests with trumpets. Then the ark of God, surrounded by a halo of divine glory, was borne by priests clad in the rich and peculiar dress denoting their sacred office. The vast army of Israel followed in perfect order, each tribe under its respective standard. Thus they compassed the city with the ark of God. No sound was heard but the tread of that mighty host and the solemn peal of the trumpets, echoing among the hills and resounding through the streets of Jericho. ST April 14, 1881, par. 5

With wonder and alarm the watchmen of the doomed city marked every move, and reported to those in authority. They knew not the meaning of all this display; but when they beheld that mighty host marching around their city once each day, in all the pomp and majesty of war, with the added grandeur of the sacred ark and the attendant priests, the impressive mystery of the scene struck terror to the hearts of priests and people. Again they would inspect their strong defenses, feeling certain they could successfully resist the most powerful attack. Many ridiculed the idea that any harm could come to them through these singular demonstrations on the part of their enemies. But others were awed as they beheld the majesty and splendor of the procession that each day wound grandly about the city. They remembered that the Red Sea had once parted before this people, and that a passage had just been opened for them through the river Jordan. They knew not what further wonders God might work for them. They kept their gates carefully closed, and guarded them with mighty warriors. ST April 14, 1881, par. 6

For six days the host of Israel performed their circuit around the city. The seventh day came, and with the first dawn of light, Joshua marshaled the armies of the Lord. Now they were directed to march seven times around Jericho, and at a mighty peal of the trumpets to shout with a loud voice, for God had then given them the city. ST April 14, 1881, par. 7

The vast army marched solemnly around the devoted walls. All was silent as the dead, save the measured tread of many feet, and the occasional sound of the trumpet, cutting the blank stillness of the early morning. The massive walls of solid stone frowned darkly down, defying the siege of men. ST April 14, 1881, par. 8

Suddenly the long procession halts. The trumpets break forth in a blast that shakes the very earth. The united voices of all Israel rend the air with a mighty shout. The walls of solid stone with their massive towers and battlements totter and heave from their foundations, and with a crash like a thousand thunders, fall in shapeless ruin to the earth. Paralyzed with terror, the inhabitants of Jericho, with all their men of war, offer no resistance, and the hosts of Israel march in and take possession of the city. ST April 14, 1881, par. 9

How easily the armies of Heaven brought down the walls of that proud city,—that city whose mighty bulwarks forty years before struck terror to the unbelieving spies. ST April 14, 1881, par. 10

The word of God was the only weapon used. The Mighty One of Israel had said, “I have given Jericho into thine hand.” If a single warrior had brought his strength to bear against the walls, the glory of God would have been lessened and his will frustrated. But the work was left to the Almighty; and had the foundation of the battlements been laid in the center of the earth and their summits reached the arch of heaven, the result would have been all the same, when the Captain of the Lord's host led his legions of angels to the attack. ST April 14, 1881, par. 11

Long had God designed to give the city of Jericho to his favored people, and to magnify his name among the nations of the earth. When he led Israel out of bondage, he purposed to give them the land of Canaan. But by their wicked murmurings and jealousy they had provoked his wrath, and he had caused them to wander for weary years in the wilderness, till all those who had insulted him with their unbelief were no more. In the capture of Jericho, God declared to the Hebrews that their fathers might have possessed the city forty years before, had they but trusted in him. ST April 14, 1881, par. 12

The history of ancient Israel is written for our benefit. Paul says, “But with many of them God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” ST April 14, 1881, par. 13

Many who profess to keep God's commandments, as did ancient Israel, have hearts of unbelief. Favored with great light and precious privileges, they will nevertheless lose the heavenly Canaan, even as the rebellious Israelites failed to enter the earthly Canaan. ST April 14, 1881, par. 14

As a people we lack faith. Few would in these days follow the directions of God, through his chosen servant, as obediently as did the armies of Israel at the taking of Jericho. The Captain of the Lord's host did not reveal himself to all the congregation. He communicated only with Joshua, who related the story of this interview to the Hebrews. It rested with them to believe or doubt the words of Joshua, to follow the commands given by him in the name of the Captain of the Lord's host, or to rebel against his directions and deny his authority. ST April 14, 1881, par. 15

They could not see the host of angels marshaled by the Son of God who led their van; and they might have reasoned: “What unmeaning movements are these, and how ridiculous the performance of marching daily around the walls of the city, blowing trumpets of rams’ horns meanwhile! This can have no effect upon those strong and towering fortifications.” ST April 14, 1881, par. 16

But the very plan of continuing this ceremony through so long a time prior to the final overthrow of the walls, afforded opportunity for the increase of faith among the Israelites. They were to become thoroughly impressed with the idea that their strength was not in the wisdom of man, nor in his might, but only in the God of their salvation. They were thus to become accustomed to putting themselves out of the question and relying wholly upon their divine Leader. ST April 14, 1881, par. 17

Would those who today profess to be God's people conduct themselves thus, under similar circumstances? Doubtless many would wish to follow out their own plans, would suggest ways and means of accomplishing the desired end. They would be loth to submit to so simple an arrangement, and one that reflected no glory upon themselves, save the merit of obedience. They would also question the possibility of conquering a mighty city in that manner. But the law of duty is supreme. It should wield authority over human reason. Faith is the living power that presses through every barrier, overrides all obstacles, and plants its banner in the heart of the enemy's camp. ST April 14, 1881, par. 18

God will do marvelous things for those who trust in him. The reason why his professed people have no strength, is that they trust so much to their own wisdom, and do not give the Lord an opportunity to reveal his power in their behalf. He will help his believing children in every emergency, if they will place their entire confidence in him, and implicitly obey him. ST April 14, 1881, par. 19

There are deep mysteries in the word of God, there are mysteries in his providences, and there are mysteries in the plan of salvation, that man cannot fathom. But the finite mind, strong in its desire to satisfy curiosity, and solve the problems of infinity, neglects to follow the plain course indicated by the revealed will of God, and pries into the secrets hidden since the foundation of the world. Man builds his theories, loses the simplicity of true faith, becomes too self-important to believe the declarations of the Lord, and hedges himself in with his own conceits. ST April 14, 1881, par. 20

Many who profess to be children of God are in this position. They are weak because they trust to their own strength. God works mightily for a faithful people, who obey his word without questioning or doubt. The Majesty of Heaven, with his army of angels, leveled the walls of Jericho before his people. The armed warriors of Israel had no cause to glory in their achievements. All was done through the power of God. Let the people give up all desire for self-exaltation, let them humbly submit to the divine will, and God will again manifest his power, and bring freedom and victory to his children. ST April 14, 1881, par. 21