I had the strangest dream last night. I tend to dream entire books, and odd things like showing up for an appointment late and in inappropriate clothing, like wearing my nightgown to the office. But this dream was different, because it was about a metaphor from the way we live life, and the way the Hebrews lived life in the shortly after the death of Moses.
All of us know the story of Joshua and the fall of the walls of Jericho. If not, here is a short summary.
Battle of Jericho – Story Summary:
The battle of Jericho featured one of the most astounding miracles in the Bible, proving that God stood with the Israelites.
After the death of Moses, God chose Joshua, son of Nun, to be the leader of the Israelite people. They set about to conquer the land of Canaan, under the Lord’s guidance. God said to Joshua, “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Spies from the Israelites sneaked into the walled city of Jericho and stayed at the house of Rahab, a prostitute. But Rahab had faith in God. She hid the spies from the king’s soldiers, and when the time was right, she helped the spies escape out a window and down a rope, since her house was built into the city wall.
Rahab made the spies swear an oath. She promised not to give their plans away, and in return they swore to spare Rahab and her family when the battle of Jericho began. She was to tie a scarlet cord in her window as a sign of their protection.
Meanwhile, the Israelite people continued to move into Canaan. God commanded Joshua to have the priests carry the Ark of the Covenant into the center of the Jordan River, which was at flood stage. As soon as they stepped into the river, the water stopped flowing. It piled up in heaps upstream and downstream, so the people could cross on dry ground. God performed a miracle for Joshua, just as he had done for Moses, by parting the Red Sea.
God had a strange plan for the battle of Jericho. He told Joshua to have the armed men march around the city once each day, for six days. The priests were to carry the ark, blowing trumpets, but the soldiers were to keep silent.
On the seventh day, the assembly marched around the walls of Jericho seven times. Joshua told them that by God’s order, every living thing in the city must be destroyed, except Rahab and her family. All articles of silver, gold, bronze and iron were to go into the Lord’s treasury.
At Joshua’s command, the men gave a great shout, and Jericho’s walls fell down flat! The Israelite army rushed in and conquered the city. Only Rahab and her family were spared.
My dream picked up where the army had started marching around the city, with only the priests blowing ram’s horns. I was standing on a hillside with several other people, one of whom was a sort of teacher. As we watched, the people of Jericho stood on the wall laughing and jeering at the Hebrew Army. They were throwing rotten food and rotten meat at the men as the marched, but other than the priest’s noise, the Hebrews were silent and did not so much as look up at the wall.
I assumed this was the sixth day of the march, because after they were done, they all went back to their encampment and settled in for the night. While the people inside the walls were celebratory and such, the Hebrews still remained quiet. I asked the teacher if they knew what was going to happen the next day, and he said that some did, but most did not. However, they trusted that Joshua and God knew what to do, so slept peacefully.
At that point, I pondered about following God’s plan, even if it didn’t make a lot of sense. Soldiers are trained to fight, it must be a very frustrating thing to be prepared to do so, and yet being told to simply march and stay quiet. I know that every soldier I know would be frustrated at not being able to do what they are trained to do. Then, a metaphor sparked in my mind about how we, like the soldiers, often have to slog through miserable times, not knowing why, but trying, with all our inner strength, to keep moving – even if stopping and taking a different route would make us feel better.
Because we are trying to follow God’s plan, and not our own or that of mankind, we know we just have to keep going. Some of us will, but some will simply walk down another path because it is easier. They think that eventually they will go back to the path they know God wants them on, but what they don’t know is that the further they go down the path of man, the further they diverge from the path of God. The apex never comes back together and they will have to find a way to cross from one path to another – and that will mean a long hard battle across no mans land. Each crossroad will be a decision that can take a person further away or toward the main path, and those decisions will make all the difference in their lives.
The next day when the horns started blowing and the Hebrew Army started circling the city, the citizens of Jericho were on the walls, as usual. But when the army kept marching after the first time around, they sensed something was going to happen, however, until the army showed signs of a willingness to fight, they wouldn’t do more than throw things and jeer. After the seventh round, all of us held our breath as the great shout went up from the soldiers, and the walls fell, allowing them to enter the city and slay all but the prostitute and her family.
This brought to mind the issues of following commandments, even when it seems there is no purpose to do so. Everyone else is breaking the rules, and seem to get away with it on a regular basis, but if we break the rules, we will fail at the task set before us when we came to earth to gain our place in eternity.
I think the whole issue of, “it isn’t fair” needs to be tossed out of our lives. Nothing was ever said about fair, as each of us is supposed to be on an individual path. Since we are not competing against anything but ourselves, what does fairness have to do with anything? There are people in the church, however, who feel that they must qualify as experts in everything including how others live the gospel. You know them, the members who complain because things aren’t done their way, or the Utah way, or the way we have always done things. It is those kinds of people who drive off a lot of members with their constant criticizing and finger pointing. God sees us as individuals with individual lessons to learn, and individual paths to explore. Why can’t other members remember that?
At the end of the day, those who survive turn themselves over God and live His plan. Our obedience and willingness to take the harder road to redemption and salvation keeps us in play for our full potential being accomplished. Those of us, myself included, who wander from the road God set before us, just add to our difficulty by trying to take the short cut, or easy way, in life. And end up at the crossroads filled with peril and discordance with The Lord.
The adversary wants us to suffer that discord because chaos in our lives gives him power to overcome the rules set before us as children of God. He wants us to take the path of least resistance so he can put obstacles in our way, tripping us with every step forward. Although the path may look smooth, the pitfalls are well hidden until we fall. Strict obedience to the laws of God help us to remain strong within the perils of life. But straying too far will leave us unprotected and destitute in spirit.
In my dream, I stood with Joshua and his army on the hill over Jericho, seeing the thousands of people who had died in defiance of the laws of God, and the debauchery that brought about the downfall of the wall. That wall represents the Lord’s protection from the things that would harm us, it also represents how living with in it can tear away our decency and let us be burdened with blood lust and hate.
We must stand firm in what God wants us to do, follow orders, stick with the plan, and deal with the bumps and dips in the road before us, even if it feels constricting. We may want to do it the easy way, but there is no easy way, only God’s way and the adversary’s way. Our choices are what makes the path in front of us straight, crooked, or short. Are you obeying God’s commands, or are you doing to try to do it on your own? Make a choice.