♪♪♫ Around the walls of Jericho, around the walls of Jericho, around the walls of Jericho, the army went ♫♪♪. A devotion classic, for those that went to school at the Primary level in Jamaica. When the section in the song came for shouting the entire school would be filled with the sound of children shouting at the top of their lungs because it was so fun to do. Similarly, as believers, we will lift praise unto God and sing so beautifully, because it is just what we do when we gather together, and are quite often lead to believe that victory is in our praise. The magnitude of songs sung should have ensured we never lost a battle but the truth is quite different, many are stressed, tired, and even very depressed. To figure out what may be the issue with our praise, let us examine the lifting of voices in the bible. 1 Samuel 4:1-10,
1 Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3 When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”
4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5 When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6 Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”
When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has[a] come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”
10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
Looking at this scripture we can highlight a few things, God became important to the Israelites only after a defeat. Having suffered this defeat the Elders asked the right question, came to the right conclusion but had poor execution. They asked why did the Lord bring defeat to them, they concluded because the lord was not with them in battle, and they attempted to solve the matter by summoning God as if he was confined to the ark. As believers, we need to understand how hypocritical it was to have the ark of the covenant among people that continually broke the covenant they had with God. Thinking that the problem was now solved the Israelite army gave a shout that shook the battlefield and the philistines army became terrified. If this was the end of the story we could say well done, however what is important to note here is that the enemies of God are very organized with generals that can access in battle accordingly. Having accessed the Israelites they hardened their stance on the battlefield and as such the Israelites were defeated.
In contrast to this defeat let us look at the victory at the Jericho. When the scripture of Jericho is being taught, quite often as believers we focus on the shout because that is when the walls came down, the truth however is knowing when to shout. The shout is the easy part, everyone can shout, but can you collectively march around in agreement with God’s will for the entire week and not just on church days, lets look into that. Joshua 6:1-6
1 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. 2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” 6 So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” 7 And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.”
The rest of this scripture reveals that Joshua and the Israelites followed the instructions given to them by God and were successful in taking the city of Jericho. The city of Jericho was defeated long before the Israelites made the first sound. Having accessed both situations we can determine that a shout from the heart of disobedience is not only hypocritical but can not change the mind of God to give us victory over our situations. What is also important to note in both these scriptures was how important leadership is. To make a comparison to what is happening in today’s Christian leadership climate, church leaders today are so invested in the sound that is coming from the church that they would rather have good singers that are rebellious than bad singers that love the Lord. For example it is usually when a pregnancy is revealed that these persons are asked to step down, as if to say the situation caught the leader by surprised. Additionally so much investment of resources are placed into the sound equipment, lighting, and comfort amenities, but ask “when is prayer?” and nobody knows. Joshua had armed men sent ahead of the ark of the Lord, protecting God’s covenant with the Israelites, but believers today easily deny Jesus with our worldly activities and behavior, how long will God put up with us?
In conclusion, obedience everyday of the week is a key component in having victory. It makes no sense we hide our sins’ as God sees and knows them all. Let us therefore as believers of Christ Jesus examine ourselves daily through the eyes of the holy spirit, from the moment we wake to the moment we rest our heads, allowing the holy spirit to highlight the areas that need improvement and repenting of the matter. So that when we gather to honor God, it is not just our lips that are singing praises but our hearts also, because this is where real victory resides.