Choosing When To Speak
by Kevin Twombly on November 09, 2021
It’s one of my favorite Old Testament stories. The Battle of Jericho. Which in reality is no battle at all. At least, not a battle we think of…
“So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.” And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.”” -Joshua 6:6-10
The instructions that Joshua presented to the Israelites seems odd for what you would do when preparing to conquer a city. Often times our own wisdom is not what is required to win the battles we face. Understanding the context here is good for us. The Israelites were grumblers. They. Complained. About. Everything. Literally everything. Throughout the journey from Egypt to the promised land that would be given to them by the Lord the never once shared gratitude for the provision of the Lord. The wanted food - the Lord provided - they complained. They wanted variety in their diet - the Lord provided - they complained. They wanted freedom - the Lord was providing - they complained. They complained, even to the point of making a case to return to slavery in Egypt because they had it so good when they were there.
If the Israelites could be identified as a people with a commonality it would be that they were complainers.
God knew this. Joshua knew this. Hence, the instructions. “Hey guys, we’re going to walk around this walled city. We’re going to do this once each day for six days. On the seventh day we’re going to march around the city seven times. When we’ve completed our march the priests are going to blow their trumpets and we’re all going to shout and proclaim glory to the Lord. Then God will give us this city. But please, please, please. Don’t say a thing while we’re walking around the city. Just keep your mouths shut.”
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians shares some instructions to those who have been faithful to live out what he has taught them. In chapter 2 of his letter he writes this, ““Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16
Paul knew that grumbling and complaining does not glorify God. Those who grumble and complain remove the direction of their hearts from the Lord and place them back onto their own self. They make things about themselves. Joshua knew this also. Joshua was all too aware that if the Israelites would complain to one another as they took their daily walk around the city it would dishonor the Lord. When God is dishonored He is slow to act on our behalf. Grumbling and complaining spreads. It’s like a cancer that invades and destroys; not only the one grumbling but also the one who listens to it.
As you read the end of the story you see the Israelites faithfully walking seven times around that city on the seventh day. The priests blow their trumpets. The people shout. The walls come tumbling down. Victory! Victory that is accomplished through shouting that proclaims His glory.
Are you remaining faithful to the instructions given to us in Joshua and Philippians?
How has your grumbling and complaining caused God to withhold His blessing from you?
How will you choose more wisely the words you speak?
I’m praying for you today. Praying that the Lord would give you deep insight into how your words can be used for good. May we all be open to His correction and win the battle of choosing when to speak and when not to.