As I am reading through the Old Testament book of Joshua again, I am savoring the stories I first learned in childhood. I am also seeking to discover more of God’s story behind those Sunday School lessons I loved; however, this time I want to enter the story at a different depth.
Too often we never connect the Old Testament with the New Testament and miss how they flow into and confirm powerful hope-filled messages. If we read these stories too casually, we will miss the evidence of grace that we tend to associate with the New Testament. My commentary states it plainly: “Joshua is a story of grace.”
God’s covenant with Abraham was one of grace and his promise to bring the descendants of Abraham into territory of their own and to become a great nation still stood. It stood despite the years in Egypt or the forty years wandering in the wilderness as a result of disobedience.
It was a story of grace. They did not earn this gift from Him. (We don’t earn it either.)
Over and over again God affirms his promises. Moses is gone and God speaks clearly to Joshua to attest to what He declared and then gives him clear direction for the crusade into the land that was promised:
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:6-7 (ESV)
I love how the Lord makes sure Joshua understands the part he is to play in this because a few verses later He reminds him again as God is giving the battle plan.
Once the Jordan is crossed, the first battle objective is Jericho. It is in Jericho that God used Rahab when Moses sent spies into the land. Though a Canaanite and a prostitute, a woman of seemingly no consequence, Rahab exhibited faith that God was the true king and would conquer the city and the land set before the children of Israel. She hid the spies and they promised her safety when they returned to take the city. She became a means of grace and her story followed into the line of the Messiah and gets mentioned in the New Testament as well.
As Joshua leads the people into the plains of Jericho, God gives them the first battle plan to take the city of Jericho. It’s noteworthy that Joshua doesn’t question the means or method, but rather sets out to obey.
I wonder if we take time to apply the lessons of this story as well as others in Joshua. As believers, each of us has been given a place and purpose to fulfill in the Kingdom. There is territory we are to take, hold, and use for Him. He encourages us as He did Joshua.
It is too easy many times to be docile and passive and ignore the call, the place, and the purpose He has called us to inhabit and use for Him. We want to focus on peace, love, and all things nice, but over and over again the Word reminds us we are in a battle.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
Marauding bandits intent on our brokenness and destruction have seized the territory that is ours many times. They have used abuse, abandonment, betrayal, disappointment, isolation, addiction, and more to silence us and cause us to cower and forget whose we are. These things have terrorized us and turned us around so we forget who the enemy is. They have caused us to forget (if we ever knew) that we are called to be warriors.
The Lord invites us into wholeness and healing, freedom and joy. He encourages us to stand and hear his battle plan and walk toward Jericho to take the territory He says is ours through Him.
“Healing cannot be inherited or caught from someone else; we must take the death-defying pilgrimage of restoration for ourselves. This involves engaging our stories, telling ourselves the truth about our conditions, grieving out suffering, and choosing to break unhealthy patterns in our relationships.”
Andrew J. Bauman in Stumbling Toward Wholeness
What is your Jericho?
The battle is the Lord’s, but the obedience is ours.