Today’s Reading: Joshua 1 – 5
Greetings from the other side of the world! But we are all working on keeping up with our reading.
Today a brand new beginning with the history of Israel. God instructs Joshua to be strong and very courageous and in light of the responsibility of leading the people of Israel into the land, what good advice that was. Not only that, but he was instructed to carefully mediate on God’s words because following God’s instructions allows God to give the children of Israel good success in the conquest that God has given them to embark on. This is a major key for us in our lives as well. When God gives us a job to do, then wouldn’t following HIS instruction be a sure bet to success?
Joshua’s first move is to send spies in to peek at the land. Here a new character, Rahab, the prostitute, snatches the opportunity for blessing because she is convinced from hearing the stories and seeing the miracles that God did for Israel. She has concluded that Israel’s God is the one and only true God and so is willing to risk hiding the spies and assisting them in their escape. Here she is courageously banking on the spies and Israel’s God to save her and her family from what she believed was impending destruction. Later in the book of James, God uses her as an example and couples it with Abraham’s example to point out that faith has to have works. God illustrates the important of faith in conjunction with works through this odd pair of the famous ‘father of faith’ and a lowly prostitute!
The scarlet cord in the window marked her dwelling as a safe haven from God’s judgment. Maybe the scarlet colour is supposed to remind us how we are sheltered by the blood of Christ.
Next, they cross the Jordan River. The priests go first (were they afraid to step into the Jordan river?) carrying the Ark to the middle of the river, but when they stepped in, the water backed up and left a dry path for Israel to hurry along. One man from every tribe picked up a stone from the riverbed and carried it to the bank so that a memorial could be set up for the coming generations of Israel to ask about and be told of the great deliverance of Israel. Even more interesting to me is that there is another memorial which remained in the Jordan River where the priest had stood and soon would be seen only by the eye of God due to the water returning to its flooded condition again!
Note: Don’t forget the fact that once again God has kept His promise! Even God looks back as no human can, and is reminded of His own never-failing faithful love! How reassuring for us that we have a faithful God Who keeps His promises. A verse in the Bible says that not one word of His promises has failed!
Then, the fighting men who had never been circumcised were circumcised at Gilgal, the first camp site across the Jordan. Do you remember that God wanted to kill Moses because his sons weren’t circumcised? To be circumcised was the sign that Israel truly belonged to the Lord, and they were no longer slaves to Egypt. Similarly, before our conversion, we were slaves to sin and the world but through salvation we now belong to the Lord and no longer to sin or this world. Baptism is the public sign that we belong to God. This act is a public confession of our decision to make Jesus the head in our lives and through baptism, His name is placed on us! What an honour to publicly belong to Him!
Finally, just before Joshua is to enter his first challenging battle for the Promised Land, he meets a man with a drawn sword! Was Joshua afraid? I don’t know but Joshua asked the man whether he was for or against them. Interestingly, the man says “Neither,” but as COMMANDER of the army of the Lord, has He come. Joshua recognizes that this is the Lord God Himself and responds by throwing himself on his face before his commander. (Have you come to that same realization that it is God that is in command of this world? Isn’t it a relief to realize that the real commander of our life and battles is the Lord?) Did you notice that Joshua received the same instruction as Moses; “Take off your shoes for the ground on which you stand is holy ground” (Any place can become holy ground when we sense that we are standing before our leader too! – a sacred and precious experience!) Like Joshua we too have the promise that He will neither leave us nor forsake us. Try to remember this today even when you encounter conflict in the daily battle of living in a world filled with evil temptations! God will be your victorious commander in life if you follow his instructions!