When Jericho Stands in the Way


I had only been the pastor of a church for 3 months when the agent visited my office. There was an outstanding balance due the IRS for unpaid payroll taxes, a substantial sum accumulated before I was called to the church. She served notice that the church had 5 business days to settle with the government. If we did not, our assets would be seized and our accounts frozen. After she left, I sat stunned. It was another problem among a dozen other crises of leadership. I knew the story of Joshua and Jericho.  He was charged with leading God’s people into the Promised Land but a fortified city stood in the way, one that the Israelites were unequipped to conquer. That day I felt a little like him, confronted with a problem for which I had no solution.

But God had a plan! It seemed like a silly one. “But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.” (Joshua 6:2-5, NLT)  March around the city? Not once, but for 7 days?  I can only imagine the kind of faith it required in Joshua to issue that command.  I wonder if his generals laughed at him?

Obedience brought victory, releasing the power of God!  Seven days later, after the seventh circuit of the city, the priests blew their trumpets. “When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.” (Joshua 6:20, NLT)

After prayer, long and earnest, I invited the IRS agent to return the following day and opened the church’s books to her, honestly explaining my dilemma. It seemed foolish to me to tell her that we had no money, no way to pay the thousands owed. Wouldn’t it better to stall, to try to find funds somewhere?  But, I felt the Spirit urging me to be transparent, to trust Him like a child.  That day, as we talked, God turned an IRS agent into our ally. A year later that church was solvent again and, in the faithfulness of the Lord, the IRS forgave thousands of dollars in penalties.  All these years later whenever I remember that miracle my faith is renewed for the challenges of the day.  It was a Jericho experience for me.

Are you facing an impossible situation?
Has your life stalled, a ‘Jericho’ standing in the way of forward progress?

Jesus reminded His disciples of a principle that all pilgrims on the heavenly way must not forget – “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  The context of that statement regards salvation. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  Jesus told them that the only way to enter into the Kingdom of God was with complete dependence on faith. As long as a person holds onto an illusion of saving himself, he cannot fully experience the transforming work of the Spirit!

Are you radically dependent on God’s Spirit, readily obedient to His directive?  That kind of life demands daily communication.  We are invited to counsel with Jesus! From His wisdom, we gain insight and are led to overcome our Jerichos.  He says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:20-21, NIV)

Before you panic, before you do something stupid just because you think you have to act now, sit down with Jesus. Tell Him about that thing- whatever it is.  Does He already know? Of course He does, but He asks us to pray, to commune with Him.  Listen for His direction, then obey.

Here is a word from the Word, a song of David. Meditate and go march on your Jericho.
“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?

 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

 You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.
You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet.
You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet.”
(Psalm 18:25-39, NIV)


By My Spirit

 Is there a mountain in your way?
Do doubts and fears abound?
“Press on” Oh hear the Spirit say,\
“This mountain shall come down.”

 Is there a river in your path,
A river deep and wide?
Step in, the waters will roll back,
You’ll reach the other side.

 Is there a fiery furnace trial,
Far more than you can bear?
Behold the blessed Son of God
Is walking with you there.

 Then trust alone the mighty God
He speaks the winds obey.
Take courage then, Oh fainting heart,
For you He’ll make a way.

 “Not by might, not by pow’r,
By My Spirit” saith the Lord of Hosts.
“Not by might, not by pow’r,
By My Spirit” saith the Lord.
This mountain shall be removed,
This mountain shall be removed,
This mountain shall be removed,
“By My Spirit,” saith the Lord.

Almeda Herrick | Cyril McLellan
© 1957. Renewed 1985 Gospel Publishing House (Admin. by Lorenz Corporation)
CCLI License # 810055

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