Rosh Hashanah 5759
For the week of September 26, 1998
6 Tishri 5759
Let the Walls Come Down!
When the shofars sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the shofar, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed (Joshua 6:20).
One of the purposes of this High Holiday season is to remember. That is why the shofar (ram's horn) is blown. In fact the shofar itself reminds us of many things in the history of Israel. Perhaps one of the most dramatic of its uses is the story of the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6).
Jericho was a strong walled city. It was the first of the cities in the Promised Land that Israel was to overcome. In human terms this was an impossible task. But with God all things are possible!
God commanded the people to march around the city, while the priests blew the shofars. On the seventh day, after they marched seven times, the priest blew a long shofar blast, the people shouted, and the great walls fell.
The people needed to see here at the beginning of their conquest of the land, that it was God who was providing the victory. Many of the battles ahead would not seem so obviously miraculous. Yet it was God who was at work on their behalf.
We face great walls today. We have personal walls of sin and oppression as well as the societal walls of division and prejudice. For many there is still the greatest wall - the one that continues to separate us from God, our creator and heavenly Father.
But God can tear them all down! We can try, but the task is too great, in fact, like the Jericho walls, many of the walls we face are impossible to tear down - but not to God.
Another intriguing thing in this story is that the people had a part in it. Obviously the sound of the shofars and the shouts of the people did not bring the walls done. Nevertheless they had to do these things. While their actions did not accomplish the task at hand, they participated in it. It would be great pride to think that our feeble actions can accomplish such great things. But on the other hand, it is necessary to do the things that God commands us to do.
As we face great walls in our lives, God is asking us to do our part, feeble as it may seem. A prayer, an expression of forgiveness, the giving of gift - little tokens can accomplish great things - if God is in it.
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