(Joshua 1:1-18; 2:1-24; 3:1-17; 4:1-24; 5:1-15)
Joshua Leads the Children of Israel
The proverbial torch has been passed.
In today’s Bible readings, we learn how God encouraged, empowered and emboldened Joshua to lead the children of Israel to enter and take the Promised Land.
“[The Lord said]
‘No one will be able to stand against you
as long as you live.
For I will be with you as I was with Moses.
I will not fail you or abandon you.
Be strong and courageous,
for you are the one who will lead these people
to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors
I would give them.
Be strong and very courageous.
Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you.
Do not deviate from them,
turning either to the right or to the left.
Then you will be successful in everything you do.
Study this Book of Instruction continually.
Meditate on it day and night
so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.
Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
This is my command –
be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you
wherever you go.’”
(Joshua 1:5-9, NLT, emphasis added)
Stepping out in boldness
At the Lord’s command, Joshua rallied the troops from all the tribes to begin the God-directed conquest of the Promised Land. And the Lord guided their steps all the way.
Certainly, He will guide our steps as well, if we will simply trust Him and follow His leading. Have you ever felt as if the Lord was leading you into a wild and unknown wilderness? Are you facing troubled times? Does the future seem uncertain? Are you willing to believe in His promise to be with you, not matter what life brings?
Rahab Hides the Hebrew Spies
Stepping inside Rahab’s house
Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute, or at least, an innkeeper. Biblical scholars paint Rahab as a woman of questionable repute, who demonstrated exceptional faith. Rahab hid the Hebrew spies from the Canaanite soldiers, so they could return safely to Joshua with their report. For this, Rahab and her household would be spared from the coming massacre.
The spies instructed Rahab to tie a scarlet cord to the window of her house. By this, the Hebrew army would recognize her as an ally and refrain from attacking those within her home.
What faith Rahab demonstrated. Although she knew very little about the God of the Hebrews, she had heard of His mighty works in the past. She was willing to risk her own life for His people and to mark her home with a scarlet cord as an identification with the Lord.
How often do we exercise such bold faith? What marks do we wear to indicate we belong to the Lord and His people? What risks are we willing to take for God? Do we trust Him to protect us in perilous circumstances?
Crossing the River Jordan on Dry Ground
Stepping off behind the Ark of the Lord
Joshua mobilized the tribes for battle. The Ark of the Lord led the way.
At the bank of the Jordan River, the priests carrying the Ark stopped. God told Joshua to instruct them that He would make a way through the whirling flood-stage waters.
As soon as the priests stepped off the shore, lifting the Ark above the waves and placing their well-worn sandals into the water, the Lord stopped the river’s flow.
The priests and all the people crossed the riverbed on dry ground, arriving safely on the other side. Once the priests stepped onto the shore, the Lord restored the wild waters.
What a mighty God we serve. What tumultuous tides do you face today? Are you troubled by family matters, finances, health concerns or other issues? Do you need to see the Lord make a path through the perils? Are you willing to step into the waters in faith, and see what God can do?
Stepping onto holy ground
After crossing the Jordan River miraculously, Joshua chose twelve men (one from each tribe of Israel). Each man picked a boulder from the Jordan River bed to build an altar marking the site of the Lord’s wondrous demonstration of power and protection.
“Then [Joshua] spoke to the children of Israel, saying:
‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come,
saying, “What are these stones?”
then you shall let your children know,
saying, “Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land”’”
(Joshua 4:21-22, NKJV – emphasis added)
What a wonderful reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness and might. Joshua and the twelve tribes of Israel placed the stones at Gilgal, by the Jordan River, to commemorate God’s miracle there. The children of future generations would see the stones and ask what they meant. This would create teachable moments for faithful parents to explain the goodness of the Lord.
What altars have we built in our own lives, to mark the faithfulness of God for generations to come? How have we kept track of answered prayers and miracles we have experienced, so that we might pass on God’s truth to those we love?
At Gilgal, God instructed Joshua to circumcise the men, as this had not occurred during their wilderness wanderings. The people celebrated the Passover and enjoyed the fruits of the land of Canaan for the first time. The Lord ceased the provision of manna, as it was no longer needed.
Approaching Jericho, Joshua met the commander of the Lord’s own army, who offered this admonition:
“The commander of the Lord’s army replied,
‘Take off your sandals,
for the place where you are standing is holy.’
And Joshua did so.”
The Lord’s appointed leader was humbled, faithful, encouraged and prepared for battle. The Hebrew people were circumcised, consecrated and filled with conviction. Most important, the Lord's own army was on the job. Surely the stage was set for victory.
Will you pray with me?
Mighty miracle-making God,
You have demonstrated
Your great love,
Your marvelous mercy
And Your inestimable power
In the lives of those You love
Throughout human history.
How blessed we are
That You still desire
To work in our lives
And to live among us
And within us.
Guide our steps.
Remind us to remember.
Teach us to teach others.
And prompt us to praise You