The Religion Racket
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Now With The Lord
© 2005 James H. Dearmore/Gospelweb.net

The Late Dr. Norman H. Wells

[GospelWeb.net Globe]

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Chapter 12

Wishy-Washy Warriors

Moses had died and Joshua had assumed leadership of the congregation of Israel. Joshua's main task was to lead his congregation into Canaan and possess the land. After crossing Jordan the first big obstacle that Joshua and his people faced was the strong, fortified city of Jericho.

God gave Joshua the instructions on how he was to conquer the city of Jericho. Joshua was to line up his congregation with the armed men going first, followed by seven priests with trumpets. Next in line was the ark of the Lord which was to be followed by all the people. Every day this procession was to march around the city of Jericho one time. The seven priests were to blow their trumpets each day but all the people were to remain silent. They were to do this for six days. On the seventh day they were to walk around the city seven times and on the seventh trip the priests were to blow the trumpets and the people were to shout a great shout. The Lord's promise was that the walls of the city would fall down flat and a great victory would be theirs.

Joshua, the new leader of the congregation, had to carry these instructions to his people. This is a striking picture. It would be interesting to know what kind of reaction the congregation of Israel expressed to these unusual commands. It would be more interesting to try to contemplate what kind of reaction a modern congregation would have to the instructions given by Joshua. Let's try to picture it. Joshua has just given his instructions on how to take Jericho. How would a modern congregation react?

Typical reaction number one.

"Well, I'll tell you one thing. Joshua is not like Moses, our old pastor. Moses would have had more sense than to try to take a city with a stupid plan like that. Joshua just hasn't had enough experience. Before we make fools out of ourselves we had better form a Pulpit Committee and start looking for a new pastor ... one like Moses."

Typical reaction number two.

"Now I just don't see why we have to march around the city seven days. If we are going to take it, why not do it today? Why wait seven days? That's a big waste of time."

Typical reaction number three.

"Line up and march around the city blowing trumpets! That's no way to capture a city! Anybody knows that much. What we have to do is get better organized. We'll form a steering committee to lay the framework for a 'Society For Knocking Down Walls.' I'll serve as chairman."

Typical reaction number four.

"That's not the way we used to do it. I don't trust these new ideas of Joshua's. If we are going to take Jericho we will have to use the 'old fashioned' ways. Now when Moses wanted to cross the Red Sea he just held out his stick over the sea and when he wanted water from the rock he hit it with a stick. I say if we are going to capture Jericho we are going to have to get some sticks and start hitting the wall."

Typical reaction number five.

"Now I don't hold with Joshua's plan but I can't go along with this crowd that wants to knock down Jericho's walls with sticks. One time we were in a battle and we were getting beaten. Our old pastor Moses held up his, hands and we started to win. When he got tired and his hands would come down we would again suffer defeat. Finally, Aaron and Hur took hold of Moses' arms and held them up and the victory was ours. I don't care what Joshua said ... tomorrow we ought to get out there and hold his hands up. We'll need at least three men. One to hold Joshua and one each for his arms. This will get the job done."

Typical reaction number six.

"I suppose Joshua knows what he's doing but you can count me out. I see no sense in getting up before dawn. I've got to get my sleep. We could start this thing at noon just as easily. Tomorrow's the only day I get to take it easy and I'm not about to get up that early."

Typical reaction number seven.

"Now I wouldn't mind getting up and marching around Jericho one day ... but seven days! That's too much. Joshua is trying to turn us into a group of fanatics. One day out of seven is enough. It's none of his business what we do with the other six."

Typical reaction number eight.

"I'd tell Joshua just as soon as I'd tell you . . . I'm no going to march in that parade around Jericho. I'm unalterably opposed to the entire plan. It's doomed to failure. Did you see those seven men he picked to blow the trumpets? That's favoritism. Why, I can play a trumpet better than any of them. No sir. Count me out."

Typical reaction number nine.

"You see? What did I tell you? We got up and marched around Jericho a whole day and nothing happened. I knew it wouldn't work. There is absolutely no, sense in going on with this for six more days. It didn't work today and it won't work then."

Typical reaction number ten.

"I'm not going to get out there and march around that city. I'm a singer ... not a soldier."

Typical reaction number eleven.

"I've called all of you other ladies together to form this discussion group. We need thoroughly to go into Joshua's plan for capturing Jericho. I'm sure all of you are familiar with this plan, but there are some things of which you may not be aware. You all know about the march around the city, the trumpets, the ark, etc. But did you hear what else Joshua said? Well ... he said not 'to make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth.' Now that's censorship. Joshua must think he is a dictator. Well, I'll tell you one thing and I'm sure you ladies will agree. I'm not going to keep quiet for six days. I don't care what Joshua might think ... I'm going to have my say."

Typical reaction number twelve.

"I've been an officer in this army for a long time. I was here before Joshua came along. I'm going to sit back and let some of the younger fellows take over. Besides I might get my uniform dirty marching around that city."

Typical reaction number thirteen.

"What do we need Jericho for anyway? We've got a nice little congregation and things haven't been going too bad. Why don't we just settle down and wait awhile? Jericho isn't going anywhere. After a while, if we still want to, we can always capture the city. Mat's the big rush? Let's think it over."

Typical reaction number fourteen.

"What's all this going to cost? Our treasury is already low. Joshua is going to run us so far in debt we'll never get out."

Typical reaction number fifteen.

"Boy! That Joshua! He's something else. Can you imagine what those people in Jericho are going to think when we take this ragtag mob and march around their city? They'll laugh us all the way back to Egypt. They'll think we're crazy. What we need to do is send a delegation into Jericho and work out an agreement. These people are just like us. Let's get together with them and stop all the fighting. The way I hear it, things are pretty good inside Jericho. I wouldn't mind joining up with them. How about you?"

Typical reaction number sixteen.

"The one thing I don't like about Joshua's plan is that he doesn't have enough music. Think of it. Just seven trumpets for the whole congregation. Personally I could do with less talking from Joshua and more playing from the trumpets."

Typical reaction number seventeen.

"All my life I've been training to use a sword and shield and now Joshua comes along and says I'm not going to need them to take Jericho. I don't know about the rest of you but when he's out there marching around the city, I'm going to be right here polishing my shield and sharpening my sword. I know what I can do with them and I'll trust that any day before I would Joshua's plan."

Typical reaction number eighteen.

"If I understand it right we are not supposed to take any of the gold and silver out of Jericho for ourselves. If this is so, what I want to know is, what are we going to get out of it? What's in it for us? Joshua can't expect us to go out there for nothing. I bet he's going to get his."

It doesn't take much to see that if Joshua's congregation would have reacted in this manner he would have had a crushing defeat rather than the glorious victory he did experience. It certainly pictures to us why religion is failing today.

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