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Posts Tagged Joshua
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.”
In reading the Pentateuch I was greatly blessed and decided to continue with the next historical book—Joshua. The movements of this Army and their responses to God’s commands say so much about what God had accomplished among the people. If you remember, shortly after leaving Egypt the people had complained about everything from lack of water to being sick of Manna without meat. They complained constantly right up the point they were to enter the land. Their lack of faith was evident in their response to the report of the spies, so God drove them into the desert to wander and die handing the promise to their children. Now, forty years later we meet the same nation, but a changed people. They have been fed by God for forty years and seen his provision over and over. As they come towards the land from a different direction God puts certain people’s into their hands and they conquer the lands northeast of the Jordan.
As they keep moving in obedience to God we see some amazing things. Their invasion force, including men, women and children, is not led by the infantry but by the ark of God. God’s presence must lead them into the land. As they progress we see another detail of who leads into battle. Those who had already been given land east of the Jordan—those already blessed by God—are to take the lead into the battle itself. This should speak to us today. When it comes to sacrifice and service, “who should act?” is answered by the question, “Whom has been blessed by God? We who have experienced the blessings of God in our lives should be the first to seek ways to pour these out on others.
In chapter 5 we see the people’s devotion exposed again. The children born in the desert had not been circumcised. Now the army was entering the field of battle, only a few miles from the enemy city, with no great terrain or river between them to stop an attack and the people stop to take flint knives and circumcise the entire army. The chapter says they stayed put until they had all healed. This procedure done on grown men would have left them in considerable pain and would have made defense very difficult—they were being left exposed to attack from a human standpoint. A cautious person would have put off circumcision until after they were secure. Now this people who were unwilling to trust God to bring them into the land forty years before was willing to enter the land and right in the presence of the enemy put aside their ability to defend themselves, and do so in the name of God.
Of course we all know the praises for this people will not last. They will show their fallen natures before long, but to see their self-less obedience at this time is inspiring. They, whose parents crossed the Red Sea out of bondage, now crossed the Jordan into blessing. The desert lay between as a tool used by God to purify his people and prepare them for the blessings he was going to give them. So whether you find yourself in Egypt, in Sinai, in the desert, or crossing Jordan, keep walking in obedience of God’s Word.