When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he was obedient and answered the call dutifully. Both God and Moses knew he would not make it to the promised land. Deuteronomy 34: 1-4 tells us, “Moses climbed from the Plains of Moab to Mount Nebo…facing Jericho. God showed him all the land from Gilead…to the Mediterranean Sea…Then and there God said to him, [“This is the land I promised to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with the words ‘I will give it to your descendants. I’ve let you see it with your own eyes. There it is. But you’re not going to go in.”]” (MSG) God seeks obedience and the pursuit of excellence, not perfection. The role Moses played was a small (relative to time) but an important piece in His masterful mosaic created to bring His people back to Him.
The plan to get the Israelites to Canaan included raising up a young leader named Joshua. He was Moses’ understudy but was mentored by several people around him. Upon Moses’ death, Joshua took the helm, even though he did not believe he was ready for the assignment. In a leap of faith and a great act of obedience, Joshua did what he was told.
God gave Joshua an order to lead His people and a promise to protect him along the way. Joshua knew God was faithful and delivered on His promises because he witnessed the miracles worked by Moses through God’s hands. Joshua knew that whatever he might be lacking to complete his mission, God would provide in abundance. Joshua 1:1-9 says, “Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness…to the Great River, the Euphrates River…to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (MSG)
As Joshua set out to honor the God who called him and in memory of the man who trained him, he surrounded himself by the willing and the faithful. One of his first acts was to rally the tribal leaders. He prepared them mentally by reminding them that their mantra was strength and courage. He then let them know they were going to battle and gave them instructions to cross the Jordan River in formation. He had them to leap-frog their way towards Jericho, taking possession of every parcel of land they touched. As loyal soldiers, they executed the mission.
Joshua then sent two spies on a reconnaissance mission to gather combat intelligence. While out, they encountered a prostitute named Rahab who intuitively knew the spies were not ordinary men. The spies remained focused on mission while Rahab exposed her compassionate heart and open mind. Because of this, their actions were each pleasing to God and beneficial to His people. They paid her in conversation for her service of protection. They spoke and trusted while she listened and believed. A crimson cloth was the symbol of their covenant; an emblem of the spies’ safety and Rahab’s salvation. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us, “Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed).” (Voice)
Joshua 3:1-5, in relevant part, tells us, “Joshua was up early and on his way…Then Joshua addressed the people: ‘Sanctify yourselves. Tomorrow God will work miracle-wonders among you.’ ” He passed along instructions from God to the men of each tribe. They dutifully followed the guidance and carried the Ark of the Covenant across the Jordan River near Jericho. The entire nation was able to bear witness to God drying up a swath in the river wide enough for all of them to cross without one person getting even a toe wet. After celebrating the Passover with a meal, Joshua sat aside in stillness. Then God provided someone else to help him and to remind him that God is with him. “13 And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, ‘Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies’?” 14 He said, ‘Neither. I’m commander of God’s army. I’ve just arrived.’ Joshua fell, face to the ground, and worshiped. He asked, ‘What orders does my Master have for his servant?’ 15 God’s army commander ordered Joshua, ‘Take your sandals off your feet. The place you are standing is holy.’ Joshua did it.” (Joshua 5:13-15 – MSG)
Afterwards, with continued obedience, the faithful followed the instructions given. As promised, God delivered Jericho to the Israelites. It was a mighty battle fought with strength and courage by people who dreamed of freedom (from slavery, the desert, emptiness…). Casting Crowns tells us in Courageous, “We were made to be courageous. We were made to lead the way. We could be the generation that finally breaks the chains.”
My thoughts about this story have led me to question the following:
Do I follow the guidance from my leadership? Do I serve where I am needed? Am I willing to do the unconventional to provide a way for others? Am I willing to obediently, dutifully and faithfully pursue His plan with excellence and honor? Am I able to see the miracles that are worked out in front of me? Am I thankful and prayerful in all circumstances?
Moreover, what role am I playing in His plan in this moment on this day? [A person in a stretch assignment who, through obedience, led a nation to the Promised Land; An informant whose pursuit of excellence during reconnaissance provided safety and protection for God’s people; An empty soul who gained faith and then believed at the 11th hour; an honorable messenger masquerading as someone else.] Have I ever been placed in a position that I believed exceeded my capacity? Have I ever been two-faced? Am I willing to give away what I have to get what I don’t need? Have I ever been mistaken for someone or as something I am not? I challenge you to answer these questions for yourself. To the extent that any answer in the first set of questions is no or any in the second set is yes, remember this:
- Advancing His kingdom in our own neck of the woods is as important to God as the taking of Jericho.
- Now, as then, the people he calls upon are ordinary people who are able to do extraordinary things because they commit themselves to His plan.
- Our actions are the insignia of our covenant with Him.
- We come from all walks of life and have various talents.
- None of us is perfect. Each has character flaws and developmental deficiencies.
- The things we have in common are dedication and dreams.
As the retelling of Psalm 126 says in Men Who Dream, “Captives came back into Zion; from their freedom came a scheme. While the city, it lay in ruins; we believe they had a dream…When our souls were like the desert and we stumbled on the stream; and found revival in the water, we became like men who dream. And yes our mouths were filled with laughter; and our songs rushed like the stream. Where He washed our sorrows under; we became like men who dream. It shall be said among the nations, [There’s a God who shares our dream.] The Spirit moves our generation; Shed your tears, fill the stream – men who dream. We are shedding tears that flood the thirsty waters – Men who dream! We are planting seeds of Men who dream. God has done great things among us. Every eye now shines a gleam. A spark of light reveals the wonder. We became like men who dream…So let us go into the nations, plunging souls into that stream and singing songs that stir the angels. We became the men who dream.”
What is your calling? What is your dream? This is Jericho. Let’s take it!