And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: "Shout, for the LORD has given you the city!" ...
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
Let's face it: most of us American Christians are very timid people. There are very few of us who would dare to raise our voices or our hands during a church service, very few who would dare to make any sort of noise of joy or triumph except perhaps while watching a football game. We applaud with others when a performance is finished, or we personally thank a pastor for a moving sermon, but we wouldn't be caught dead clapping our hands WITH the performance or hollering "AMEN!" or "HALLELUJAH!" during a service. We are a people of great decorum, and we have taken Paul's advice to the Corinthians--"Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40)--and we have expanded it into a commandment to keep quiet in all our Christian lives. How many times have we heard "We just don't do things that way" when we have proposed something raucous for the Lord, when we have asked for something a little more contemporary, something to which we could clap our hands? Worse yet, how many people have left a church--saying "I don't like the worship here"--when the worship team DID make such changes for liveliness and noise?
1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
2 Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
4 Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!
It just doesn't get any clearer than that, folks. Does that sound like a typical worship service in America? A trumpet is not a quiet instrument, and yet how many worship services ever feature a trumpet? Loud cymbals? Clashing cymbals? Timbels (tambourines)? And let's not get started with DANCING for worship! Dancing, in a church service? Egad! And yet the Psalmist tells us we SHOULD be doing ALL those things when we praise the Lord our God.
2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
3 But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
When we praise Him with all that "noisy stuff"--singing and lutes and trumpets and cymbals and dance--then He is enthroned, He dwells in our praises! How could we NOT shout to the Lord?
As their first task in clearing the Promised Land for themselves, the Israelites took on Jericho, historically one of the most fortified cities of ancient times. The Lord told them it was theirs, and He told them just how they were to participate in the victory He declared. (Joshua 6:1-5) God set the order of battle, the timing, and the tasks that the Israelites must perform. They were to drag this out for seven days, but on the end of the seventh day, at the end of their seventh circuit of the city, when the seven priests blew an especially long blast on the trumpets, then they were to do one very important thing: SHOUT!
Read the verses above from the book of Joshua. Did you notice what happened when they shouted? They had been silent for six days, marching around Jericho once each day with only the seven trumpets making any sound at all. And then on that seventh day, they shouted with all they had, releasing God's power on that wall and bringing it down flat. God did nothing until they had shouted.
1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
2 For the LORD Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
3 He will subdue the peoples under us,
And the nations under our feet.
4 He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah
5 God has gone up with a shout,
The LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.
8 God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
9 The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.
When we shout, how does God answer? He ascends with a SHOUT! He reigns over all the earth, over all nations, over all things. And God doesn't answer us timidly, nor with great decorum: God answers with parted seas, the sun stopping in the sky, drought and rain, and food for five thousand. God answers with inconceivable things, with miracles we cannot fathom or explain. He answers with new life!
43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!"
44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
When we shout out, the Lord gives us victory even over death!
The command to the Israelites that day at Jericho was not to simply wait and see what the Lord would do, but to shout, to make some noise, to join the trumpets in declaring the triumph of the Lord God.
American churches are remarkably silent because we have had so many generations raised that way, but the one time we seem to get loud is when we are asking for something for ourselves. But that is not what we learn from the Bible. What we learn from God's Word is that He wants us to be loud FOR HIM, to declare His gospel, to make known His praises. What we learn from the "battle" of Jericho--which wasn't much of a battle at all--is that the Lord wants us to follow His order of battle exactly, and to declare His victory over all kings and princes and mighty men. What we learn is that we are to SHOUT!
Heavenly Father, please forgive this timid and selfish generation, and help us to be loud for You. We praise You for having answered us with such unmistakable strength and majesty. Please, give us the discipline to be silent when You desire, but give us the boldness to be loud as we shout Your praises, as we shout for Your victory over sin and death, as we shout, Lord God, for the new life You have given us. PRAISE THE LORD! Amen!