Joshua

I believe that Joshua and the men of Israel were some pretty tough dudes.  They would fight many victorious battles against some of the most evil, tough guys of their day.  They fought to win the Promise Land.  So when Joshua and his people came up against Jericho, their first battle to take the Promise Land, we may find ourselves curios as why they paraded around the city for seven days.  You remember the story, the warriors in the front and back of the Ark of the Covenant, the priests blowing trumpets and for six days they marched around the city walls not saying a word.  On the seventh day, the priests blew the trumpets, the people shouted and the walls fell down.  Everyone moved in to the city and the city fell to the Israelites.  No one was spared except Rahab (that is for another blog as we wrestle with this surprising command by God).  So what was the marching around the city for six days all about?

There are many speculations about the purpose of the parades.  All good ideas and lessons we can learn from each of them.  I was thinking about it this morning and I believe one of the purposes of the parades was to humble, before the Lord, the warriors that followed Joshua.  The adrenaline rush and hype of the first battle was calmed and the men were forced to reflect, as they walked around the city with the Ark of the Covenant in their midst, on who was going to win this battle for them.  They could not knock the walls down.  They would have been forced to try and breach the city at the gates and this would have funneled them into a killing zone.  Only God could go before them and knock the walls down.  It was not enough to walk around the walls just once.  God wanted them to humble themselves in obedience to God first, then he would do what only he could do.  That took seven trips around the city.  After that, then the men could fight and do what they were trained to do.  Only then would the spiritual and physical battle be won.  The hearts of Israel would know that their strength comes from the Lord.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” I Peter 1:5,6.  Too often we are able to handle the battles in life.  We overcome obstacles and we are tougher than the difficult obstacles we face.  We may give tacit recognition to God but we are pretty adept at handling life.  The problem is that God’s goal for us was never to handle life but to bring him great glory in all things.  So we come to the Jericho walls in our life.  God humbles us as we are faced with a situation that our talents are unable to conquer.  We are forced to our knees.  We are forced to rethink the promises of God and how they are applied to our lives.  We begin to question what God is doing and if he has forgotten us.  We are forced to simply stop striving and know that he is God.  Just when we think we have learned the lesson, we are forced to walk around the walls one more time.  The difference with us and Joshua is that Joshua knew how many times he needed to walk around the walls.  We are forced to just keep walking and trusting.

Peter, though, gives us different advice.  He tells us to humble ourselves.  To recognize that even in the small battles that we believe we can handle ourselves, we should humble ourselves and recognize these as the mighty hand of God.  Cast, think fishing, all of your anxieties upon him.  Seek his deliverance and direction so that the problem is not only handled but spiritual truths are cemented firmly in your heart and God receives all the glory.  Then, when the walls of Jericho present themselves, you are all ready humbled and can patiently persevere as you wait for God to break down the walls.

John, in I John 1, warns us that we should not say in our hearts that we have no sin.  We do that, John tells us, by not confessing and repenting.  Not confessing or repenting is the same as saying we have no sin.  Let’s apply that to our discussion today.  When we fail to humble ourselves before God and we simply handle our worries ourselves, we are telling God we don’t need him.  We will pray, read the word, and come to him when he is needed.  For now, we’ve got this.  Is that what we really want to say to God?  Peter tells us that God cares and desires to lift us up.  Humble yourself today before the Lord.   Learn from the small battles so that when the big battles come, we are ready to fight with the power of God.  He promises, that in due time, he will exalt us.  No greater thing than to be exalted by him.

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