Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”
Over and over again, the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that true faith must, and always does, persevere until the end of life. One of the clearest presentations of this fact is found in Hebrews 3:7–4:13. You may remember from our study of this passage months ago that the author draws parallels between our present new covenant position and the position of the first generation of Israel who left Egypt. That first generation left Egypt gladly and professed faith by agreeing to be in covenant with God (Ex. 24:3).
However, that generation fell away because they did not have true faith (Heb. 4:2). They came to the edge of the Promised Land but then believed the report of the faithless spies who doubted God’s ability to give them Canaan. As a result, they were cut off from God’s promises and sent to wander for forty years in the desert (Num. 13:25–14:38).
The author of Hebrews reminds us of this story so that we will not fall away like the first generation of Israel but rather maintain our trust in the Lord. For all those with true faith will inherit the promises, and only those who persevere until the end have true faith.
Today’s passage again draws parallels with an early generation of Israel. However, this time it is not the faithless first generation but the faithful second generation of those who left Egypt. The walls of Jericho fell as a result of the faith of that generation (Heb. 11:30).
We read of the fall of Jericho in Joshua 6. In this chapter, the second generation comes upon the imposing city of Jericho with its fortified walls. God commands the people to march around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day they are told to march around the city seven days and then let out a shout. This might seem somewhat ridiculous, for how can the shouts of men bring down a wall? Nevertheless, the people are promised that the city will fall if they obey. And when they obey, the walls come tumbling down.
John Calvin reminds us that it was not man’s actions that destroyed the walls. He explains that “the walls did not fall through the shout of men, or the sound of trumpets; but because the people believed that the Lord would do what he had promised.” Persevering faith is like the faith of the second generation Israelite who believed, despite seeming impossibilities, that God honors the obedient faith of his servants.
John Calvin also writes that it is faith like that of the second generation Israelite that puts the enemies of God to flight and brings down the work of the Devil. Take some time to look at your situation and the ways in which Satan may be at work. In faith, confess your trust that God can destroy the works of the Devil where you are.
The Walls of Jericho, Copyright (2020), Ligonier Ministries.