How do you handle a promise God directs specifically to you?
Are you impatient about its fulfillment? Think it should happen in its entirety right away?
God has other plans.
God’s guidebook for change
As I read Joshua 2–6 this week, God impressed upon me that the Israelites’ victory at Jericho was more than a great show of His power on behalf of His people. It’s a model for us to follow.
Everything that happened before Jericho’s walls fell is our guidebook for doing change God’s way.
Because change always accompanies a promise from God.
The planning and preparation behind God’s promise
For context, Joshua and the Israelites were camped at Shittim, about 10 miles east of the Jordan River and approximately 15 miles east of Jericho.
Nine major events happened over a period of weeks before Jericho was taken:
- Joshua sent scouts to scope out Jericho.
- The Israelites moved from Shittim to a spot closer to the Jordan River and consecrated themselves to God.
- During flood season, God rolled back the waters from the Israelites were to almost 20 miles upstream.
- Before the Israelites could pitch camp, God had Joshua erect two memorials—one on the Jericho side of the river and one in the middle of the dry riverbed.
- While camped on the west side of the Jordan (within eyesight of Jericho), all Israelite males were circumcised.
- The Israelites celebrated Passover.
- An angel of the Lord appeared to Joshua.
- The Israelites marched around Jericho once a day for six days.
- On the seventh day, after the seventh lap around the city, the priests blew their horns, and the Israelites took Jericho.
God’s roadmap includes plans we can’t fathom
God purposely didn’t have the Israelites cross the Jordan and immediately rush Jericho. The Israelites weren’t ready, and neither was He. He was still working for His greater glory. Plans beyond what we can see are always part of God’s roadmap for change.
People in towns up and down the river had heard of (or had seen) the Israelites coming. When the Jordan dried up, the Canaanites were so struck with fear that many of them must have crossed the Jordan in other dry spots. They fled to Jericho for safety, as it was fortified to endure many months of a siege. But the influx was another way that word of the Hebrews’ God would spread.
God had the Israelites prepare themselves inwardly and outwardly for what He would do next. On the east side of the Jordan, they set their hearts on God. On the other side of the Jordan—in the land God had promised them—they circumcised all the males. That painful, intimate act demonstrated outwardly that they were a people set apart. It also mirrored what Moses spoke in Deuteronomy 10:16 regarding “circumcise your hearts.”
Scottish minister John Baillie put it this way: “By your grace, O God … I will let no thought enter my heart that might hinder my closeness with you, nor let any word come from my mouth that is not meant for your ear. So shall my courage be firm and my heart be at peace.”
Crossing the Jordan represented the second-generation Israelites’ total leaving of their previous life. There was no option to turn back. God rolled back the Jordan during flood season long enough for the Israelites to cross and erect two memorials to Him. The one in the middle of the Jordan represented everything of the Israelites’ former lives that God buried in the waters after they crossed over. It foreshadowed today’s act of baptism: buried with Christ and resurrected to new life in Him.
By some accounts, Jericho is the world’s oldest city. Situated at a crucial commerce crossroad, it was also the best fortified city of its time. When the walls of Jericho fell, they fell outward—literally creating ramps the Israelites could walk upon to enter the city. Archaeological digs show that only one section of the inner wall was not destroyed, which many believe is where Rahab and her family lived. The strength of Jericho’s walls were no barrier to God!
Bringing it home
So what does Joshua 2–6 mean for today? Ask yourself:
- What do I need to memorialize?
God wants you to forever remember His gracious acts on your behalf.
- What plans of my own do I hold in reserve as a hedge in case God doesn’t come through?
Give them up to God.
- What old values, mindsets, or other possessions am I keeping that I shouldn’t?
God says get rid of them so He can work.
- Do I assume God will work without any effort on my part?
Bring your obedience to God. Then God will bring blessing to you.
- Do I ignore some of God’s instructions because they seem weird or superfluous?
To get big answers from God, you need to be an active participant, no matter what it looks like.
- Do I need to turn away from something in order to turn toward His promise?
God requires you to do a 180 on something for you to step into His promises.
What that looks like differs with everyone. But God’s way is always better!
Lord, thank you for this model from the book of Joshua. You intend for us to be active partners in Your blessings. Forgive me for the times when I stood back and waited as a passive bystander for You to work. Show me what audacious goals You want me to trust You for—plans that are so big they’ll fail if You aren’t in the center of them. Let that bring glory to You. Strengthen me so my courage will be firm and my heart will be at peace. In the power of your mighty Name, amen.
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