Cheryl and I just returned from a visit with Amy and Caleb so I am combining my thoughts on my reading of chapters 2 and 3.
In chapter 2, Joshua sends two spies to check out the land, especially Jericho, before the nation crosses the Jordan. Rahab is an incredibly interesting character, and even listed in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5, and I was struck by her comments to the spies. The author records, “Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.'”
Each of us probably remembers a time when we were faced with a situation where we were afraid, maybe of an animal or even another person, only to be told, “Don’t worry. He’s more afraid of you that you are of him.” Honestly, that kind of encouragement never helped me. But isn’t that what’s happening right here in this passage? How often do we fear the future, or a particular circumstance, only to later learn that God has already made a way for us and has handled the opposition we fear. God had promised Israel to give them the promised land and that no enemy would be able to stand against them. Now, Rahab tells the spies that God has already been at work, even before they crossed the river. Word of his mighty rescue of Israel from Egypt and his protection of the people on their journey has reached the nations and they are panicked and have already lost heart. What a perfect example of the the truth of Psalm 62:5-7: “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”
As I read chapter 3, two sections stood out to me. The first is an apparently insignificant fact at the end of verse 4 included in the instructions given to the nation on how they are to enter the promised land: “…for you have not passed this way before.” Israel was facing insurmountable odds except for the fact that God had brought them to this point, God would go before them, God would fight for them, and would fulfill his promises to them. Spurgeon notes, “Providence cannot have placed us in a wrong position; it must be right for us to be just as we are.” When we don’t understand why we are facing the circumstances and trials we do, we need to trust God and his providential plan. As David says in Psalm 31:15, “My times are in your hand.”
One last thought: did you notice as you were reading this passage what the priests who were carrying the ark were called to do? Verse 13 says, “When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord…come to rest in the Jordan’s water, its water will be cut off.” In other words, as they stepped into the river which was flowing at flood stage, and only when they stepped out into the water and the soles of their feet actually get wet, would God stop the Jordan and open a path to cross. Wow! What a step of faith! The priests would need to step out in faith before the Lord would work his miracle. How often might that be true of us, as well?