(Joshua, Chapters 1 & 2)
The first two chapters of Joshua tell the backstory. They fill us in on a few details. To our finite thinking, some can seem inconsequential. I assure you none are. The rest will make you want to warn the people in the book of Joshua to turn tail and run. You can't. It already happened. So...instead...we sit back, read, and take in what must have been an enormously nerve-wracking time for the people of Israel.
I'll give you the cliff-notes version.
Moses used to be in charge. He's dead. Joshua is now. God tells Joshua to cross the Jordan River, but he doesn't divulge how. I imagine Joshua was thinking about boats. Spoiler alert. Boats were not involved. The mode of transportation was found in the promise God made to him. "I'm giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on." Wait...feet and water? Notice it didn't say feet threw, as in swimming. It said "feet on". Huh? I don't get it. Keep reading. It'll all make sense soon enough.
God proceeded to give Joshua one of the best pre-game locker room speeches of all time. "Go get em'!" That's the short version. And Joshua didn't hesitate. No sooner was God done speaking to him, Joshua began to give orders to the leaders of the Israelite people. He gave them a three day heads up. Marching orders given. Moving on...
Joshua then turned his attention, specifically, to two and a half tribes. These were people that had already been given their plot of land. The good news for them was that it was on the side of the Jordan River they were currently standing on. The bad news? Joshua told them they had to come with, so that they could help their brothers get theirs. The kids and the women could stay home. But the dudes had to man-up and fight. After that they could come back home to their land to re-join their families.
We could learn a lot from these guys. Without hesitation they were all in. Even though they had already gotten theirs, they were ready to go with, to make sure their brothers were taken care of as well. They gave their word. They prayed. They went.
We live in an I got mine, I'm good world.
This is a reminder that I'll stand with, so that others are taken care of should be our posture of choice. At a heart level, so that it becomes how we live everyday.
That's the end of Joshua 1.
As we start Joshua 2, it starts to go a little Hollywood on us.
Joshua sent out two spies to check things out ahead of time. The first place they end up? The house of a harlot. Betcha' didn't see that one coming. Go forth! Fight for God! Oh, and stop at a prostitute's house. Huh? Wait...it gets better.
The King of Jericho found out. Yeah, that's not good. They were as good as dead. No way Rahab (the prostitute) was going to risk death by covering for two spies, right? Except that's exactly what she did. Why? What would make someone do that? It's almost like she knew something no one else did. (sarcasm).
She sent the King and his men on a wild goose chase. She told the King they'd been there and gone, and his men went on in pursuit of them. Towards the Jordan they ran...looking for the two spies. The city gates shut behind them. The spies had bought some time because of the boldness of a prostitute that could have been killed if she were caught in the lie.
Like I said...Hollywood level stuff here.
Rahab hid them in her roof. No, not on it...in it. Like, under the "stalks of flax that were spread out on her roof". Phew. I bet those spies were thankful for primitive building supplies. You couldn't pull that move off today!
Once the King's men had left, Rahab ran up to the roof. Here is the part that starts to explain why she risked death to hide them. "I know that God has given you the land." Well, hello there curveball! Sounds like just as Joshua heard from God...so did the prostitute. If that doesn't burst a lot of people's bubbles as to how God moves, I don't know what will. I love it. Mostly that it ruffles the feathers of uptight, pretentious people that believe God only speaks to them because they are real Christians. But that's a vent for another day. Suffice it to say, this is awesome. Epic, really.
The story of this night wraps up by Rahab asking for protection for her family when the spies, and their men, come take the land. The spies honor her for what she did for them. They made arrangements to protect Rahab and her family once the land was taken over. There were strict guidelines for how it would happen though.
They were told to stay in the house. If they left it for any reason while the take-over was happening, and something bad happened...it was their fault. If they stayed in the house, they'd be protected.
I wonder if sometimes when we wander off and try things our way in life, we walk right into outcomes that are less than desirable. I've been there. Where I sense the Lord's prompting to do/not do something...and proceed to do the opposite. And then when the result wasn't what I thought it would be? I act genuinely shocked. The reality is, if I had been paying attention, I could have avoided it.
Has something like that ever happened to you?
Pretty solid reminder for all of us to be obedient, even if it seems like we know better.
And as Joshua 2 ends...it finds the men repelling down a rope from Rahab's house on the outside wall of the city to get away. Per Rahab's instruction they had to hide in the hills for three days so the King's men would return to the city not having found them. That would be their sign the coast was clear to head for home.
When they arrived back at camp they confirmed what God had spoken. They found Joshua and said "Yes! God has given the whole country to us. Everybody there is in a state of panic because of us."
As we end this post together...ask yourself a fews questions.
How did "Everybody" (where Rahab lived) know what was about to happen?
Why were they panicking?
How did the men (Joshua's) know God had given the land to them?
And then let this sink in...
God spoke to a man of God on one side (Joshua), and confirmed his word through a prostitute on the other (Rahab).
How many churches/ministries do you know would be comfortable with that being their confirmation to move forward?
If it was God's plan, it was good enough for Joshua.
We could learn a lot from that. We don't need to polish up or make sense of God's plans...just walk em' out in obedience. And we need to can the idea that only some people can be used by God. Yes...some people actually believe that. It's a load of crap.
I'd bet the moment the city fell (stay tuned for that part), and Rahab's family was protected, was all she needed to know that God was real. He was her God. For her. Crazy about her. In love with and willing to bless her, way before she was cleaned up...simply because she was willing to step out in one crazy act of faith. She probably didn't refer to the moment as an act of faith either so much as I'm scared out of my mind...so whatever...I've got nothing to lose.
And that is absolutely perfect.
The Lord loves the heart of a desperate person who calls on His name, so that He can act on their behalf.
That means the Lord loves people we aren't like and can't understand. And that's a really good thing! Why? Because I imagine that is what I seem like to some people.
It doesn't matter what side of the coin we see ourselves on...He sees value in us all.
I hope that if you were to stop reading after this post, that you are encouraged. That you know you are loved by the God of the universe. That you are special. That you are unique. That He loves you. And even more than that...He is head over heels in love with you, because He created you. JUST. AS. YOU. ARE.
I also hope you'll keep reading, and stay with us on this journey.
Very cool moments ahead...
We'll pick up at the start of Joshua 3 in the next post.
It's where the phrase Ocean Road comes into play.
Believe me...you don't want to miss it!
About the book
Brett W. Gould
Author. Speaker. Teacher. Coach.