Thursday, March 6, 2014

Joshua 5-7

In Joshua 5-7, Israel's new leader is really making a name for himself because God is on the job!  After crossing the Jordan River on dry ground, the Israelites take a break from their conquest to get circumcised and celebrate the Passover.  It's a weird combination of events, I know, but circumcision was a symbol of the Lord's covenant with His people.  God wants to renew His vows with the Israelites since a brand new generation is about to enter the Promise Land.  God's people get to say good-bye to manna as they welcome fresh food from the Promise Land.  Things are changing for the better.  The walls of Jericho come tumbling down, and a man named Achan teaches us the hard way that we have to deal with the sin in our lives.

I want to focus on the walls of Jericho today.  Jericho was the oldest city in the world at the time.  It was well-established, heavily protected, and surrounded by huge, thick fortified walls.  The walls were tall and intimidating I am sure.    They were a huge obstacle. 

The walls separated the Israelites from God's best for them, the heart of Jericho, His Promise Land.

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

And wherever there's a wall, I am willing to bet there is fear.

Remember, forty years earlier, the Israelites didn't have a enough faith in God to break through those walls.  They didn't trust God enough to reach God's best for their lives.  They were too afraid of failing, focusing way too much on their own limited capacities.  

Now, after forty years of total dependence on God in the wilderness, the Israelites know God better than that.  This time, things are different for the Israelites.  They face Canaan with new strength and renewed faith, and it makes all the difference.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.

Instead of focusing on the problems in front of them, they focus on God.  He tells the Israelites exactly what to do, and they do it.  Obeying God guarantees blessings in the future, even when we cannot see beyond the huge impending walls right in front of us.

Here's the other thing I noticed today in my reading... 

Often God's way of doing things, the way breakthroughs happen, what we are called to do, how we are called to do it, and how long it takes seems crazy.  Just look at what God asks the Israelites to do for seven days in order to conquer Jericho.

12 Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. 14 So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days.
15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city...

20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.

Who would have ever thought that marching around the walls of the city with the priests carrying the ark of the Lord and blowing trumpets for seven days would lead to those giant, strong walls collapsing!

God is full of powerful surprises for us, y'all!

That brings me to one more awesome lesson I noticed in the reading today.

Obeying God empowers us.  It allows God to use us, and to transform our hearts.  It also gives God room to work in the hearts of those around us, even our enemies.  The people of Jericho were so terrified of the Israelites and God that they did not fight back.  

When we choose to live in God's purpose and let Him help us in the situations we face, He is able to breakthrough the strongest of barriers and the most established of stubborn people that stand in our way.  

God has a personal best for each of us, a Promise Land.  He will fight for us if we will walk with Him like Joshua and the Israelites at Jericho!  That's when we find ourselves on Holy ground.

15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.”And Joshua did so.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for leading me and fighting for me.  

Forgive me for all the ways I lead myself with my own imperfect thoughts.  I am sorry, Lord, for allowing walls and barriers to build up in my heart and in my life that keep me from Your personal best for me.

_____________ is a wall or obstacle that is weighing heavily on my mind today.  The situation seems and feels impossible.  It's been there a long time.  I give it to you, God.  I pray You will tell me what to do and exactly how to do it.  Be with me and all those involved.  Work in our hearts.  I pray for the walls to come tumbling down!

You are my Rock and my Redeemer.  

In the name of Your Son, Jesus, I pray,


*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more. 



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