Last week, we witnessed the Israelites miraculous crossing to the Promised Land via the dry Jordan River.  After this amazing incident, God instructed Joshua to command twelve men to each pick up a stone and place them together as a memorial to show all generations of God’s mighty act.

Soon, the echoes of this Israelite phenomenon and the God who rescued them reverberated throughout the Promised Land and people started shaking in their boots (or sandals). We witness a major shift, a complete reversal in the hearts of Israelites and the inhabitants of Jericho. Instead of God’s chosen people being afraid of them, the inhabitants of Jericho were the ones who were fearful! Fear was so prevalent that even the strong city of Jericho was on lock-down.  Quite a turn of events from the time when the spies secretly visited and hid in Jericho, don’t you think?

Let’s take a look at Jericho.* Jericho was surrounded by an embankment with a stone retaining wall at its base. The retaining wall was 12–15 feet high. On top of that was a mud brick wall six feet thick and about 20–26 feet high. At the crest of the embankment was a similar mud brick wall whose base was roughly 46 feet above the ground level outside the retaining wall. An artists rendition is found below.

This is what loomed high above the Israelites as they marched around the city each day for seven days. Humanly speaking, it was impossible for the Israelites to penetrate this city of Jericho.

Now, think about what the entire area looked like. The upper wall was an area of approximately six acres, while the total area of the upper city and fortification system was 50% larger, or about nine acres. Based on the archaeologist’s rule of thumb of 200 persons per acre, the population of the upper city would have been about 1,200. However, from excavations carried out by a German team in the first decade of this century, we know that people were also living on the embankment between the upper and lower city walls. In addition, those Canaanites living in surrounding villages would have fled to Jericho for safety. So, we can assume that there were several thousand people inside the walls when the Israelites came up against the city. It looks like impossible odds and it would have been without God by their side.

Soon the Lord gave Joshua specific instructions on how the priests and the armed men were to circle the city for six days and then on the seventh day, the people were to “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord.”

And as we know, the wall collapsed, quickly and completely. Miraculously smashed. Gone. Destroyed. One minute strong, the next second destroyed. A few months ago, this wall represented a major obstacle and its inhabitants caused trepidation and fear to Israel, but now their stronghold is shattered.

In Ephesians, we read about another stronghold that was completely torn down through the body of Christ on the cross.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:14-18

Through the blood of Christ, the wall of hostility that once separated us, now ushers us into the presence of God. All strongholds in life have been destroyed. Insecurity, fear, depression, lack of hope, strife, jealousy, envy, addictions have been taken care of by the blood of Christ.

Sound a little bit too simplistic?  Perhaps it is because we all have things in our life that weigh us down. Sometimes those strongholds have lived with us for so long that we think they are normal. And like the inhabitants of Jericho, they are powerful. But what would happen if we truly believed that those strongholds have already been shattered? Would we live differently? Would it change our perspective on the grip they have on our lives? Let’s go back in time to the walls of Jericho and see God’s heart when facing impenetrable walls.

Have you ever had a challenge that was so big, you knew you could never face it alone? What did you do? How did you respond? How did God show himself to be in control of the situation? Spend some time this next week thinking about the strongholds in your life and then think about the extent that Christ went through to break them.

*I want to credit Answers in Genesis with the work they did on Jericho. You can find more info at http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v21/n2/the-walls-of-jericho

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