“The greatest battle that Jesus has won was not the fall of Jericho but his conquest of sin by dying in our place on the cross. Just as Joshua’s greatest day was when he met Jesus Christ, our greatest day is when we believe in Jesus and trust him to forgive all our sins.”
Most Christian children know how “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho… And the walls came tumbling down!” And it’s true! Joshua did lead Israel in obeying God’s commands so that when the priests blew the trumpets and the people shouted a great shout, “the wall fell down flat” (Jos. 6:20) How great is our God who cast down the walls of Jericho and gave his people the Promised Land!
But if we asked Joshua about the fall of Jericho, I do not think he would consider it the greatest moment in his life. Years earlier, when Moses was still leading Israel, Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent to the land of Canaan to see what was there. When ten of the twelve spies came back fearing, saying the Canaanites were too strong, Joshua was one of the two spies who believed in the Lord. Joshua told the people that while the enemy was very strong, God was stronger still: “If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us… . Only do not rebel against the Lord” (Num. 14:8-9). Because of Joshua’s faith in God’s Word, he was one of only two men from the generation of Israelites who left Egypt (Caleb was the other) who was allowed by God to enter the Promised Land. What a great day it was for Joshua when he trusted the Lord and urged all the people to trust him, too!
Joshua had another great day when he finally led the people of Israel across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. They had waited and wandered for so long: forty years! And now God performed a miracle for Joshua just as he had done for Moses when Israel passed through the Red Sea. The waters of the Jordan parted and Israel crossed over on dry ground (Jos. 3:16-17)! It was such a great day that Joshua had each tribe take a large stone from the river and with them he built a memorial mound so that future generations would remember the great day when Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land (Jos. 4:21-22).
But even that was not Joshua’s greatest day. After Israel had crossed over the Jordan, God told all Israel to gather to worship him. This was the second generation of the Israelites who came out of Egypt in the exodus, after the first generation died in the desert. The men of this generation had not been circumcised. Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with his people, the cutting away of the male foreskin to signify the consecration of their flesh from sin. What a great day it was for Joshua when all the men were consecrated to the covenant of the Lord! For Christians, baptism means the same thing that circumcision does, only by remembering the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins (see Col. 2:11-12). What a great day it was when Christian children or adult converts were baptized and thus entered into the covenant people of God! Then, after the men were circumcised, the whole nation celebrated the Passover meal – their first meal together in Canaan looked back with thanks for how the blood of the Lamb had saved them from the angel of death (Ex. 12:27)! Christians look back on the true Lamb of God who takes away our sin – Jesus Christ – when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the church. What a great day it always is when we join together at the table of Jesus Christ!