Armed with only their trust, their obedience and their silence, Joshua and his army walked the perimeter around the walls of the fortified city called Jericho; on the seventh day, at the end of their seventh lap around the city, the seven priests blew the horns and the people gave a shout, as if God had already given them the city. As we all know, the tightly guarded walls of Jericho came crashing down - at the mere sound of a spiritual victory.
Joshua 6:15-16 (NASB)
“Then it came about on the seventh day that they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. And it came about at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.”
The explosion of diaphragmatic freedom that burst out from within each and every person who had faithfully did as Joshua had directed them to do, surpassed this natural realm and shattered the strongholds of that strong city as they - without making a sound - walked around that monstrosity one time for six days straight before that incredible seventh day. Can we all just take a moment to imagine what that must have sounded like? For some of us we don’t need too much imagination, at some point in our lives we have experienced a gut wrenching moment when we let out in the form of a scream, a shout or a yell that which we had been holding in for far too long. It’s raw. It’s effective. And on that particular day, Jericho didn’t know what hit them. The sound was intense and we could go on and on about the type of yell it was - as that of a victory that had just been won, rather than a battle that had just begun; but we wouldn’t be living up to our UNUSUAL name if we didn’t point out an obscure (POWERFUL) factor that in this particular victory, was a significant move. See, in this God ordained win, Joshua and all of his army had to take a trip and stay a few days in SHUTTY TOWN.
Joshua 6:10 (NASB)
“But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard, nor let a word proceed out for your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ ‘Then you shall shout!”
If that doesn’t help the bulb to ignite, how about this…
Exodus 14:13-14 (NASB)
“But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
So here’s the scene, Moses and the large group of Israelites have been freed and allowed to leave their captors in Egypt. This is unheard of. Generations had come and gone inside of the captivity of Pharaoh’s kingdom, no one leaving. And now as a result of God’s miraculous display of power and might, Pharaoh releases them out of his own grief. The more time that passes, the more sober he becomes and the more his pride rises up from within him. So he decides to renege on the deal and now he and his army are pursuing these people and fast. Talk about being in need of a quick miracle! And so as God is communicating with Moses about doing a little better than the Universal Studios version of parting that Red Sea - He drops a subtle instruction to the people, like he’s about to walk off stage. He tells them to keep silent and in return He will fight for them. Can we say uncomfortable silence?! And once again, we see that when dealing with clever humans, God makes a continual point to silence their questions and concerns. For these two major miracles, God wasn’t interested in a Yelp review, He didn’t want to here about how their experience was going thus far, in fact their input was discouraged just before His power and authority took over. Of course, we are talking Old Testament here and we could easily just dismiss this phenomenon as being necessary when dealing with large groups of strong willed and opinionated people. Sounds pretty logical. But what if there were really something powerful attached to the silence? Perhaps there is a direct connection to our hearts and all that is in need of repair within us that is attached to the words that are coming out of our mouths.
Matthew 12:37 (NASB)
“For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”
This isn’t the first time that the Bible references our words in connection with hearts. Proverbs is big on cluing us in to the power of our words and the connection that these words have to the big reveal of who we truly are. Proverbs 4:23-24 (NASB) “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious lips far from you.” That heart to mouth connection is potent. We’ve experienced this at times when we’ve come face to face with a challenge that is bigger than what we thought we could handle. It’s the difference between rising up from within (our hearts) or taking off and ignoring that which we needed to confront and take ownership of. And it’s a BIG difference. It is within those moments that we find our communing with God and reading His Words and absorbing all of Him that we can, are all for the building strong, our hearts. Not because we need a strong heart to obey God’s leading (although it helps) - for that we need obedience - this strength of heart (in particular) is so that while we are in the thick of things, we can ascend to the level of SHUTTY so that God can do what He does to completion. This is exemplified in such an encouraging moment that Jesus gave us as a gift and just in time for Christmas! The gospels are unique accounts or perspectives from the men who knew Jesus the most during His ministry time. Matthew, Mark and Luke all have similar accounts of what Jesus spoke during His final moments on the cross “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” They all gloss over any further words spoken, because to them this was the most important moment - when Jesus’ humanity shown forth in a manner that would have surely surprised them - how could Jesus speak such a statement if He in fact were the Son of God? Then we have John’s account (remember, this is the guy whom Jesus loved). He writes a different account because he chooses to gloss over that moment of human nature in all of its discomfort during a painful ending; he writes Jesus’ words to His birth mother and His thirst and then His declaration. John 19:30 (NASB) “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head, and gave up His Spirit.”
That John heard something very different than the other men, is truly remarkable. It isn’t so much that He didn’t hear every word out of the mouth of His friend on the cross; it is more so what He didn’t hear or rather, what He chose not to hear. These separate accounts show us more about the authors than about what actually took place. See, Jesus wasn’t preaching one final sermon to those standing around; He spoke very little.
Isaiah 53:7 (NET)
“He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth.” And so what He spoke resonated within each person in accordance to their own hearts. There are times when speaking the TRUTH and declaring that TRUTH aloud and in the middle of situations that are beyond our control are crucial. Equally, however, there are times when silence is what our stand requires. After all, our enemies HATE our silence (Ecclesiastes 3:7). When Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego told King Nebuchadnezzar that they had no need to respond to His question of what they will do when they are required to bow to worship him and what god could possibly exist to save them, Daniel 3:16 (NASB) “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.” They of course, go on to explain just what kind of faithful God they served and placed ALL of their trust within. It outraged that king, he couldn’t even fathom that type of faith, that type of confidence and that type of silence, as they refused to give away this moment that they had already given over to God.
To make it to the end, to completion, is to remain confident that God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. It is to refuse to give up that trust that we have that NO MATTER WHAT it looks like, God will come through. It is to speak the TRUTH and KNOW that this is our ultimate REAL reality, and then it is to say nothing more. When TRUTH is established in our hearts, we no longer need the reminders, at this point we KNOW that God is fighting for us. God’s methods are never what we expect, when we march around a city because God says to, we think He is going to help us win the battle through guiding our swords as we slay our way to victory; we don’t think that He is going to cause a stable infrastructure to collapse because we yelled at the top of our lungs! And yet, more UNUSUAL things have happened. The questions are going to be making the rounds in our thoughts, “Where is He?” or “How is this possibly going to work out?” and although we mean well, sometimes we can inadvertently limit His more than capable ways, when we begin to frantically pray for things to happen YESTERDAY! This is when SHUTTY TOWN becomes the only destination for us all.
Matthew 10:19-20 (NASB)
“But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you.”
And through these verses we can see that SHUTTY TOWN isn’t quite what we thought it would be. It isn’t about confounding the enemy by no longer talking (although this happens) Proverbs 19:19 (NASB) "When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise;" it isn’t even about appearing to be wise when we feel like fools, by virtue of keeping our mouths shut (although this too, happens) Proverbs 17:28 (NASB) "Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is counted prudent;" the ‘coup de grâce’ is ours when we shut down our own words, to make room for God’s words to be spoken through us just in time, every single time we need it (Psalm 81:10). See, the power of SHUTTY TOWN isn’t so much about the SHUTTY, as it is about that which we KNOW taking over. Jesus clued us in many times when revealing that His own words came not from Him but from His Father. This explains the short distance between that which Jesus spoke and the miracles that took place immediately. And what exactly did He know? What exactly do we know?
PSALM 27:14 (TPT)
"HERE'S WHAT I'VE LEARNED THROUGH IT ALL: DON'T GIVE UP; DON'T BE IMPATIENT; BE ENTWINED AS ONE WITH THE LORD. BE BRAVE AND COURAGEOUS, AND NEVER LOSE HOPE. YES, KEEP ON WAITING-FOR HE WILL NEVER DISAPPOINT YOU."
The walls of the fortified systems of this world have begun to crumble. As we close in on the end of a year that has changed everything, we must be people who stand our ground and then keep standing, as we still ourselves on the inside and KNOW that He truly is God. Let’s be people who allow Him to go before us and make a way for us, especially when it seems like there isn’t anymore room. In case we haven’t noticed, our God has been proving His faithfulness for a while now and He is not only the Alpha but He is most certainly the Omega as well; this means He is just as incredible with the ending as He is with the beginning. So fear nothing because of the perfection of His LOVE for each one of us, enabling us to sit back, awestruck, as we watch all the seemingly impenetrable walls come tumbling down.