Stones vs Walls1
On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan.
- Joshua 4:19-20
The imagery in today’s passage only works if you know something about Jericho. Jericho’s fortification stood a little over 40 feet tall. They were made of two layers of walls and embankments and would have created a formidable shelter for several thousand people. With a freshwater spring and a fresh harvest, they could have held out against an occupying force for a long, long time.
On one side, there’s Jericho with the power of their walls.
On the other side, there are hundreds of thousands of Israelites. And their pile of stones. And their God.
That pile of stones would have looked mighty puny in the face of the gigantic walls of Jericho. The Israelites would have outnumbered the people of Jericho 300 to 1. But what good would that do them in the face of such an imposing structure?
Over and over again throughout the Bible and throughout the history of God’s people this pattern is repeated: God favors people over structures, even going to great lengths to make it possible for people to prevail.
With God, amazing things are possible. Don’t lose heart. If you compare your small pile of stones to the great structures that cast shadows over you, you’ll miss out. All around you are God’s people, filled with God’s Spirit, pursuing God’s purposes in our community. Be strong and courageous.
When the Lord encourages us to remember his goodness toward us and remain faithful to him, we often find ourselves doing this in the shadow of challenges and obstacles. We set up our pile of stones in the shadow of Jericho’s walls. But at the end of the story – spoiler alert – only one of these will remain standing.
As you tell your stories of God’s goodness toward you and as you listen to others’ stories of God’s goodness toward them, what shadows loom over you? Where do you need God’s help to remain strong and courageous this week?