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.