Monday, May 15, 2006


Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have given Jericho into your hand, ... (Joshua 6:1-2)

See, I have given Jericho into your hand? This city, with high, stone walls and locked gates? This city where no one comes in or goes out? This city with no point of entry? This city with armed watchmen...guarding the city specifically against the people of Israel? All this, God sees and says "See, I have given Jericho into your hand?"

We may never be called to conquer a city or claim a land, but we will each have some moment in life (if not many moments) that resemble what the Israelites faced when they came upon Jericho. What, to you looks like a city, fortified and armed against you? What is your inpenetrable stone wall? I believe the message of Jericho is not, don't see how this city, this issue, this situation, this person is set against you and don't ignore the obstacles in your way...see them, see them clearly, and acknowledge your inability to do a thing about it...but don't stop there.

And...don't take matters into your own hands. Take the matter to the Lord. Cease from striving long enough to hear and He will speak and give direction and instruction.

The people of Israel were accustomed to taking things by force. They had been called upon to do it before, I am sure, when they came upon Jericho, they were prepared to do it again. But that is not what the Lord directed them to do. Rather than organizing an army and attacking the city, Joshua took time for the Lord to speak and direct. His direction was, essentially, to worship Him for 7 days and then raise a shout of praise, full of faith for what He had promised, and God caused the walls to collapse, and the city was given into their hands.

Strange orders indeed and not generally what we would plan to do in the same situation. Whatever our respective Jericho's are, there is always the temptation to make a plan and attack it, put our hands all over it and make it work out the way we believe it should. But, "there is a way that seems right to a man and the end, thereof, is death." Our ways are inherently sinful because they are generally motivated by or at least tinged with self-seeking. God's ways alone are perfect, holy, always purposed for the greatest good.

But, how great is our God! A God who can look at an impossible situation and say "See, I have given it into your hand..." He can look at our Jerichos, through the obstacles and our fear and limitations and say that same, because our lives and its happenings and the details of each day are not determined by circumstances or subject to chance or our will, but ordered and ordained and arranged by the Lord according to His holy, sovereign and perfect will.

Because of this we can rest in His ways, even if (for the moment) that looks like a deck being stacked against us or feels like our hands being tied behind our back...and even if that particular wall never comes down. He will accomplish His good purposes. He knows the plans He has for us...we don't...and they are wonderful plans. However, those plans do include dashed hopes, disappointments...even bumps, bruises and beatings. These, too, are ordered and purposed for further His plan and conform us into His image.

Proverbs 27:22 says, Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. This crushing is meant to bring about death to self and the surrender of our plans and our will to Christ's. It is what we are called to do, daily. Each day, we face that choice...submit to the will of God or pursue our own way. Often it is not until we feel the rod of God, by way of a denial or stumbling or deep conviction, that we realize we have not been submitted. Yet even in that, we have an option in our response. The rod should bring forth repentence, but as scripture says, the foolish person will only justify it and think of new ways to get what he wants. But, by the grace of God, when denial or delay or disappointment come upon a wise, God-focused person, his folly will depart from him and will be replaced with righteousness...and they will see the walls opposing God's purposes for their life collapse amid shouts of praise.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent thoughts! There is nothing like finding encouragement in the middle of the day!