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Posts Tagged Jericho
As the people near the Jordan and prepare to enter the land, God’s chosen leader send’s spies to gather intelligence. Unlike forty years earlier, when Moses had sent out twelve spies publicly, this mission will be very different. This will not be the people’s spies, but the leader’s personal spies. Joshua was not about to relive that. He secretly chose and sent two men with instructions to concentrate on Jericho. In Joshua 2 we can follow this mission.
The differences are evident from the beginning. In the first mission twelve men were chosen, one from each tribe, to spy out the land and bring back information on the people, the land and the strength of the cities. The tribes knew spies had gone out and saw this group as being their eyes and ears on the ground. They believed their report was for the purpose of determining whether they should try to take the land. This time was different—the people had nothing to do with picking, or sending out the men. They were hand selected by the man who would lead them into the land—a man, who had been one of the twelve earlier spies, and had been one of two not cowed by what they found. The people were not to be allowed to interfere with plans and were to be given no excuse for disobedience.
This mission also differs because he only sent two men. The earlier group of twelve was unwieldy, but probably necessary because they were to spy out the whole land. This small band was to concentrate on the first target—Jericho. With two there is less chance of the herd mentality when it comes time to report. Joshua was not going to risk another forty years in the desert. Another benefit of sending two—the two were able to get into a city and speak to the people. Twelve strangers showing up are likely to set off alarms so the earlier party probably had to stay outside the cities, simply seeing their strength from without. They had no way to determine the morale of the enemy as this smaller detachment did.
The conclusion of the spy mission is the most telling. While the first mission concluded with fear that they would be unable to take the land. This smaller, more direct, secret mission reported to Joshua: “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting because of us.”
How quickly things change. Shortly after the greatest delivery they could imagine in which the very walls of a strong city had crumbled before them, the people now questioned God’s motives. Even their ordained leader lay on his face asking God, “Why did you bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us?”
After forty years of wandering the people had finally crossed the Jordan. God did a great miracle by stopping the river, during flood stage. This boosted the morale of Israel and demoralized the enemy. The enemy had already expressed fear of Israel and their God in the words of Rahab the harlot: “When we heard of [your conquests] our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God of heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11).
Their first campaign had been Jericho, one of the strongest defended cities of ancient Canaan. Rather than humanly besieging the city, they marched around the city once a day for six days then retired to their camp. On the seventh they walked around the city seven times blowing trumpets and shouting. Siege work was so difficult that it often took years to subdue a well defended and supplied city. A perimeter would be set up to keep out supplies and starve the city into either submission or a weakened state, for a costly assault. Not this time. God handed the city to Israel in a week. But how quickly people change when the situation changes.
Before assaulting their next target, Ai, Israel got proud. Spies reported they had no need of the whole people, only two or three thousand were needed. This force was dispatched but was quickly routed by the enemy. Now rather than asking what had prompted God’s punishment, they longed to be back on the other side of the Jordan (Joshua 7:7). We do the same thing in our own lives today.
We get wrapped up in situations and allow the moment to dictate our faith and feelings about God. When things go well, we feel warmly about God and his love for us. When things go wrong we quickly question God’s love and forget all the good things. God’s response to Joshua is something we need to hear, “Stand up! What are you doing on your face? Israel has sinned . . .” (Joshua 7:10f). Yes, it would be good if God would speak to us in this way and I don’t doubt that he can and that with some he does, but he can also speak to us through this story and his words to Joshua.
When the situations around us turn bad it is acceptable for people of faith to question our conduct and wonder if God is punishing us. If we find something, the situation can lead us to repentance. The problem comes when we doubt God’s love and wallow in self-pity. Scripture tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us” (Romans 5:8). Paul goes on to tell us in Romans 8:38f that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Even when he punishes us it is as sons being corrected. God is not vindictive to his children; everything done is for their good—everything done is for our good. When you see the world pressing in, remember that his love will not falter and He will be there. He will permit things in your life to rebuke, to correct, to teach, or strengthen you. Rather than falling on your face in fear and trembling, fall on your face in awe that God loves and will never leave you. Keep in mind that you have something they did not have. You have God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, who came and died for you t rise again. Such apocalyptic love is all consuming and unwavering—never changing faltering. Rest in it and thank him for it. Express your love to him in the darkest moments and remind yourself of the good things He has done.