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When the walls come tumbling down
by Rev. Howard Ray Carey

A well-known Negro spiritual has this ingenious refrain: ''Joshua fi't the battle of Jericho, and the walls came a tumblin' down.'' The biblical narrative behind this dramatic affirmation is found in Joshua, chapter 6. There it is reported that Joshua and his people, the ancient Hebrews, besieged the walled enemy city of Jericho ---- but not in the way we would expect.

First, Joshua had his army march once around the city each day for six days, with seven priests blowing their seven trumpets of rams' horns. Then on the seventh day this procedure was repeated seven times. At the climax of this complex ritual, all the people on command gave a triumphant shout of victory, and ''the walls fell down flat.''

What is the secret of all this? Is it the power of the number seven (so significant throughout the Bible) multiplied sevenfold? Is it the power of unified sound ---- with the trumpets blowing and all the people shouting in unison? Is it the power of affirmed faith? Note that while the walls were still standing Joshua commanded: ''Shout, for the Lord has given [not will give ---- HRC] you the city.''  Is it a combination of all these factors? One final question: is all this a symbolic statement, not intended to be taken literally as an actual happening on the physical level?

In any case I see this allegory as having a direct application to our world in this, our day. Consider the many dividing walls which need to 'come a tumblin' down', so that humanity may be united in love and brotherhood:

The glaring wall of missiles, tanks and bombs which separate East and West.   The walls of national greed and short-sightedness that divide North from South. The barriers of selfishness which ---- even within nations ---- stand between rich and poor. The ancient walls of bigotry blocking the way to union between Eastern and Western religions. The walls of lust and chauvinism between male and female. The barriers of tradition, prejudice and fear between social castes and classes. The walls of pride and ignorance erected between the aspirant and the common man.

The question we must face is this: what in the world will cause these walls to ''fall down flat''? We must know that nothing in the world will accomplish this, short of the divine Plan, to be worked out by us in putting into practice the Hierarchy's blueprint of love and sharing, justice and brotherhood. Do we honestly believe that this will accomplish the Herculean task before us?

It appears to me that we had better believe it, understand it, and work at it with all our resources, for there is no other alter-native.  Let us searchingly ask ourselves: are we intended to be among the heralds of this Plan ---- to issue a clear trumpet note that all may hear? And dare we share in the 'shout' of victory, even while the tottering dividing walls are, nonetheless, still standing? We are told that when ''Joshua fi't the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumblin' down,'' there was unified action, the expression of unity of purpose. Can we, the aspirants and disciples of the world, achieve such unity of purpose and such united action? The answer, my fellow pilgrims, lies within us ---- and the tremendous resources of faith and love which are at our disposal.

This article is a chapter from The Joy of Christ's Coming This book by the late Rev. Howard Ray Carey was published by Share International Foundation in 1988. It is not currently available in hard copy form. Copyright © Share International Foundation.  Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard version unless otherwise indicated. 

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005