Well, those of us who live in New England, who were hoping for spring, are having a little set back today with a little more snow; but God is faithful and spring really is just around the corner. Today’s reading is another confirmation of that truth; Israel is crossing the Jordan and taking Jericho — the conquest has begun.
As Israel crossed the Jordan God had Joshua do something interesting that as an archaeology fan I would love someone to discover — a couple of piles of stones. While the ark was still in the Jordan River and “holding back” the water, Israel was told to gather 12 stones from the spot where the Levites were holding the Ark in the middle of the channel of the Jordan River. These stones were then stacked into a memorial at Gilgal to remember this miraculous crossing of the Jordan River at spring flood stage. Similarly, 12 stones were to be gathered from the west bank and stacked in the middle of the Jordan as another visual reminder of where the Levites stood on dry ground as Israel crossed into the Promised Land. It is probable that the 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan and stacked in Gilgal has been dismantled at this point in history. It’s the pile of stones in the middle of the Jordan that intrigues this archeology fan, because it is less likely that it might have been taken down by men. Why is this a big deal? It would be substantial evidence for both the Exodus and the miracle of the crossing of the Jordan. So, if there’s anyone out there with some ground penetrating radar who has an interest in archaeology, here’s a place to silence some doubters — for a while anyway. Now it might not be there any more — relics sometime become objects of worship. But just maybe…
And did you notice the appearance of the preincarnate Christ? It’s the Captain of the Lord’s hosts who required Joshua to take off his shoes for he was on holy ground — you never see an angel do that. Yes, Jesus the Son of God is not just a man “adopted by God” as the Jehovah’s Witnesses (so called) claim. He, as John 1:1ff tells us, was from the beginning with the Father.
Then, of course, there’s the taking of Jericho. What a battle plan! And what a result! Archaeology, by the way, believes that the wall of Jericho fell down outwardly. It’s not unusual to find felled walls in an archaeological dig, but the walls don’t fall outwardly, they fall inwardly because of the enemy on the outside penetrates the walls from the outside going in. Jericho’s walls fell outwardly, though, telling us at minimum that some really unusual went on — the Bible tells what that something unusual was, God felled them without any help from Israel.
The lesson here for us is that God’s ways don’t always seem quite right by the standards of worldly wisdom. Marching around a walled city silently for six days, then marching more on the seventh day ending with a shout is the height of doing nothing directly constructive — which was the point for Israel and us. It was and still is God who does great things — we need to just obey, as crazy as the obedience might seem. I wonder how many prayers we ourselves sabotaged by asking God to do something and then taking over. Yes, we need to do what we can, but sometimes we just need to give God room to work while we obediently do the “crazy” thing. More often than not, this takes the form of acting in faith, stepping out on the water, or taking steps as if God had already given us what we asked for. This gives God “room to work”, and He, not we, gets the credit.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.