In ancient times, the city wall was a symbol of strength. A finely constructed wall could ward off one’s enemies, keeping the inhabitants of the city safe. The more advanced the construction and the higher you could build the city wall the more secure you were. And when the Israelites came to the city of Jericho on their conquest of the Promised Land, they faced something they had likely never seen before…a walled-system so grand in scheme that it would dishearten the most elite of would-be invaders.
Archeological discoveries have shown that Jericho was built on a large mound surrounded by an embankment. This embankment had a stone retaining wall at its base that was 12-15 ft. high. On top of that retaining wall they had constructed a mud brick wall that was 6 ft. thick and another 20-26 ft. high. At the top of the hilly embankment they had constructed another similar mud brick wall. So it would seem Jericho actually had a double wall system…extra insurance, just in case. (For more info and some cool diagrams and pictures about this click here.)
I’m sure the people of Jericho thought they were invincible. Nothing short of an act of God could penetrate or bring down such a well- conceived wall system. Oh…wait…an act of God? Oops. Turns out, God was mightier than the wall. We read in Joshua 6 that He supernaturally brought down the invincible walls of Jericho and the Israelites were able to conquer the city.
If you have followed the last several posts in this series, you may recall that in “Wealth…Your Strong City” I positioned the accumulation of wealth as something that brings security and stability to our lives. We can put financial mechanisms in place such as budgets, insurance and investments to protect against personal financial collapse. In this way, I wrote that we can defend ourselves against unexpected life events.
So you may be a little confused at this point because we have just seen an unexpected life event have a devastating impact on an entire city. It completely brought them to ruin. Are we now seeing that it all may be in vain? I mean, what’s the point in constructing the financial wall if it can just be knocked down? Should we not build wealth because the security and safety that comes from it is nonexistent?
I think the issue for us is the same as it was for the Jericho-ites. It’s not that we shouldn’t plan to protect ourselves by strengthening our financial position. It’s really boils down to our perspective and our attitude towards the wealth we accumulate.
The citizens of Jericho fell victim to their own conceit. They failed to understand the warning Solomon would later give in Proverbs 18:11 when he said, “The rich man’s wealth…[is] like a high wall in his own esteem.” The wording used here for “esteem” is to highly regard something basically to the point of overdependence. In essence, you esteem wealth too highly and become proud in the accumulation of it.
The people of Jericho imagined that no one would be able to scale their wall and that nothing could destroy it. Their pride in and their over reliance on their mighty wall led to their downfall. In essence, they overvalued what the wall could do for them. They found out there are life events – some supernatural in power – that can bring down even the most fortified of cities.
Likewise, we can become too dependent on our wealth and not dependent enough upon God. We put our trust in our riches and lose our perspective about who actually is providing for us and where our ultimate source of strength and security comes from. We imagine that because we have built hedges of financial protection around our life, that nothing can harm us.
It is this pride and arrogance that leads to our downfall. Solomon knew something about this too. Remember this proverb, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”? (Proverbs 16:18)
So, it’s OK to build your strong city. It’s OK to build walls around your city to protect you. I think this is wise planning and being a good steward of the resources you have been given. Just don’t lose your perspective. Maintain the appropriate attitude about wealth and towards the One who provides it.
Do you ever find yourself getting overconfident in your net worth? How do you keep your personal financial situation in perspective?
Next Post: How Do You Define Success?
Prior Post: Does Poverty Itself Destroy the Poor?