THE FAITH OF THE ISRAELITES
Hebrews 11:29-30 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
Here we have two incidents that demonstrated faith in God by the entire nation of Israel. The first occurred immediately after the children of Israel began their journey out of Egyptian bondage, and the second happened soon after they crossed over the Jordan River into the promised land of Canaan. As we read about the Hebrew nation in the Old Testament we find numerous instances of unfaithfulness toward God. We find many instances of doubt and derision, of abandoning God and worshiping idols, and many instances where it is said that the children of Israel "did evil in the sight of the Lord." With the Jewish nation, as a whole, there seemed to be many more occasions of unfaithfulness than there were occasions that demonstrated faith and trust in God. But here are two such instances of faith.
By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. When the Egyptian Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go, God led them, by His servant, Moses, into the wilderness to an encampment by the Red Sea (See Exod. 13:17-22). The lesson text takes up here and is fully explained in Exodus, chapter 14. Although Pharaoh let the Israelites go, he soon considered it a mistake, and pursued after them with his army to force them to return to Egypt as bondservants. Seeing the vast army behind them and the Red Sea before them, fear and panic raged within the Israelites, and they cried out to their leader, Moses. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever (Vs. 13).
Immediately following this, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided (Vs. 21). It was then by faith in God, as their Deliverer, that the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left (Vs. 22). And, true to His promised word, when the Egyptians attempted to pass through the Red Sea, the Lord said unto Moses, stretch forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its banks, totally destroying Pharaoh and his armies. And the word of God tells us that there remained not so much as one of them (Egyptians) (See Vss. 26-28). Adam Clarke, in his Commentary, tells us "The Israelites walked by faith, and was saved, while the (Egyptians) walked by sight, and perished."
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. With God directing them,Jericho was to be the first city taken by the Israelites after entering the promised land of Canaan. However, before crossing the Jordan River, Joshua sent two men to spy secretly the city of Jericho (See Josh. 2). With the help of a woman named Rahab, they did so and returned to Joshua with this message: Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us (Josh. 2:24).
With this confident assessment, the children of Israel, led by Joshua, crossed over the river Jordan and prepared to take the city of Jericho. Now Jericho was a city that, for protection, had a huge wall that completely surrounded it. Because of the great number of Israelites, the people of Jericho feared them and closed all gates to their city so they could withstand any invasion. Then God gave Joshua this plan of attack: ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him (and take the city) (Josh. 6:2-5).
No human military strategist would have ever devised such a plan of attack. This would seem to be an improbable strategy; even an impossible military plan. This was a great trial of their faith. To successfully implement such a plan would be to completely rely on God to deliver the city into their hands. This, Israel did, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people (Israelites) went up into the city, ...and they took the city (Vs. 20b).
What great lessons of faith! In our darkest hour, let us hold firmly to our faith in God to deliver us from the trials and temptations of the world. Faith is necessary to see God's promises fulfilled!