Weekly Reflections: Shout that brought walls down


“So the priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the people heard it, they gave a loud shout, and the walls collapsed.” — Joshua 6:20

Great Wall of China

A distinguish Chinese theologian, C.S. Song, has written a very fascinating booklet entitled, “The Tears of Lady Meng.” It is an attempt to formulate a people’s political theology using a folktale. The story of Lady Meng is one of the so many folktales about the Great Wall of China. The setting of the story is the reign of the wicked, unjust Chinese Emperor Chi’in Shih Huang-ti.

The Emperor was afraid that the Huns would break into the country from the North and not leave him any peace. Thus, in order to keep them in check, he decided to build a wall along the whole Northern frontier of China. But no sooner was one piece built than another fell down and the wall made no progress.

A wise man told the Emperor, “A wall like this, which is over ten thousand miles long, can be built only if you immure a human being in every mile of the wall. Each mile will then have its guardian.” It was easy for the Emperor to follow this advice, for he regarded his subjects as mere grass and weeds, and the whole land began to tremble under this threat. Plans were then made for human sacrifice in great numbers.

But then at the last minute, an ingenious scholar suggested to the Emperor that it would be sufficient to sacrifice a man named Wan, since the name Wan means ten thousand. And so, soldiers were dispatched at once to capture Wan, who was at that time sitting with his bride, Lady Meng, at their wedding feast. The heartless soldiers carried him off, leaving his bride in tears.

Heedless of the fatigues of the journey, Lady Meng traveled over mountains and through rivers to find the bones of her husband. When she saw the great wall, she did not know what to do, how to find the bones of her loved one. And so, she just sat down and wept. Her weeping so affected the wall that it collapsed and laid bare her husband’s bones. Because of the tears of Lady Meng, the Great Wall of China collapsed.

With this folktale, C.S. Song developed the theology of tears. He discovered that people’s tears are so powerful that they could overcome even the very symbol of man’s tyranny, the Great Wall of China.

Walls of Jericho

The Old Testament Scriptures also talk about a wall that collapsed (Joshua 6). But it was not because of tears; rather it was because of a shout! This is a story of the Israelites who were freed from slavery in Egypt, and were now on their way to the so-called Promised Land. They were able to cross the Red Sea and the Jordan River miraculously, meaning with God’s guidance and empowering. They passed through various difficulties, temptations, trials and betrayals in the wilderness. And now, they were about to enter the Promised Land.

Entering the Promised Land, however, was not that easy. There were people already occupying the land. There were cities built by the Canaanites. And so, it was necessary for them to assert their rights to the land. Yahweh did not give the land to them on a silver platter; they had to do something to possess it.

Jericho was the first city they had to enter on the Western side of the Jordan River. They sent spies into the city. The confessions of Rahab, the prostitute who hid the two spies in her house, would show that the people of Jericho were indeed terrified when they learned that the Israelites were coming. They came to know how the Lord saved the Israelites from their enemies. And so, the gates of Jericho were shut and heavily guarded to keep the Israelites out.

The story goes that the Lord said to Joshua, “I am putting into your hands Jericho with its king and brave soldiers. You and your soldiers are to march around the city once a day for six days. Seven priests, each carrying a trumpet, are to go in front of the Covenant Box. On the seventh day you and your soldiers are to march around the city seven times while the priests blow the trumpets. Then, they are to sound one long note. As soon as you hear it, all the men are to give a loud shout, and the city walls will collapse. Then, the whole army will go straight into the city.”(Joshua 6:2-5).

The Israelites obeyed the Lord’s instructions. And indeed, the great wall of Jericho fell down into ruin.

Affirmation of faith

We would like to look at the story of the walls of Jericho not as a strict historical account, but as a confession of faith – an affirmation of Israel’s deep trust and confidence in Yahweh their God. The walls of Jericho symbolize all the things that hinder the attainment of God’s promise. The Israelites had to destroy not only the physical walls, but also the invisible walls that they symbolize, like the walls of selfishness and greed, the walls of injustice and oppression, the walls of indifference and unconcern. All these walls must be destroyed in order to realize God’s promise of “a land flowing with milk and honey”.

The Israelites did not use cannons or a grenade launchers to destroy the walls of Jericho. It was not a strong army or powerful weapons that destroyed the walls of Jericho. The peoples’ one loud single shout was enough to cause the walls to collapse.

The long years of Martial Law had taught our people to shout in the streets of EDSA. The protective walls of dictatorship collapsed because of the shouts of people in the streets. It was also the shouts of people in the streets that destroyed the walls protecting the “second envelope” in the impeachment trial that led to the downfall of the Estrada Government accused of massive graft and corruption.

However, after all those shouts, still it seems that there is no genuine change in our society today. The great walls of greed and selfishness, of graft and corruption, of oppression and injustice, preventing us to experience genuine peace, freedom, and justice in our land are still there. And we begin to wonder what kind of shouts the Israelites had that caused the walls of Jericho to collapse.

We are not very sure about the exact words the Israelites uttered. It may not be “resign!” or “impeach!” or “ibagsak!”. We are not very sure about it. But if we would look closely what they did, we would notice that their shout was not just an ordinary shout. They did not shout just for the sake of shouting.

Obedience to God

The shout of the Israelites had caused the walls of Jericho to fall, because first of all, it was a shout done in obedience to God. The Israelites knew that it was impossible for a wall to collapse by just shouting. But nevertheless they had to do it because it was God’s command.

There are various kinds of shouts we are hearing everyday in the streets in our country today. But are these shouts done in obedience to God’s will for our people? Or, are these done for vested interests and therefore designed to prolong rather than to alleviate our people’s sufferings? Let us bear in mind that Christ was crucified because of the shout of the crowd motivated by those who were drunk with power.

Moreover, the shout of the Israelites was also a unified shout. Their single shout showed their unity in God. Perhaps, one of the reasons why Christians are not yielding much influence in our society today is because of the fact that they do not have a single shout. One group is shouting one thing, while others are shouting another thing.

Furthermore, the shout of the Israelites was also persistent. It was born out of a firm conviction that God’s purpose will triumph in the end. Like the Israelites, we do believe that we could also bring down the walls that hinder the realization of God’s promise in our land by means of a shout. The walls of greed and selfishness, of graft and corruption, of oppression and injustice will collapse if and when our shout as a people is indeed unified, persistent, and done in obedience to God. God and God alone can make all things new! # nordis.net


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