“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:9
I have been thinking lately about the different ways instructions are given and the manner in which a person receives and follows them. If you are part of the military, it is clear that these are called “orders”, to be followed exactly. There is no room for choosing what part of the order will be obeyed, and what part will be conveniently ignored, just because. The instructions are followed as they are given.
I love that we have freedom to think for ourselves and to challenge instructions, finding different ways to reach a successful end. Yet, there is something to be said when we can hand the thinking and planning over to someone more qualified, trusting that they will know what will be best. Sometimes, problems appear impossible to overcome and instead of a plan to succeed, anxiety and fear creep in leaving unbelief and doubt.
In the Old Testament, we learn the Israelites experienced both success in conquering Jericho, but not before, they gave into fear and doubt. It took 40 years for the Lord to return them to Jericho where they were told, now was the time they would enter the fortified city. A young man named Joshua, was put in command, because Moses had died. He was given the instructions that he was to lead these people and that God would never leave him nor forsake him, but just as he was with Moses, so he would also be with Joshua.
Coming up with a battle plan was not one of the responsibilities that Joshua had been given. Neither he nor his military commanders needed to strategize the attack. Instead, he would receive the battle plan from one more qualified — from the Lord. God reminded them, not to turn from the left or the right regarding His plans. He was not to add to them or to take away. If he followed all that was commanded they would prosper as Joshua led his people into the promised land given to them by God.
Before they could enter though, they needed to breach the walls of Jericho that were higher and thicker than any other. Their instructions were not to knock it down with their battering rams, nor were they to pull it down. No, they were instructed to march for 7 days, 7 times each day in silence around the entire city. On the 7th day, after marching they were to blow on their rams horns and shout for victory, before the walls had even begun to crumble, because the Lord had given them the city. It was this response of faith that so easily gets lost in our own conquering journey.
To any battle strategist, these instructions would not be considered normal. Yet, Joshua did not question them, instead, he and the Lord’s people trusted God to do what he said he would do and grant them access and ownership. I had participated in Lysa TerKurst’s “Unglued” study a few years back. It was during this time, that I first received the image of Jericho and its walls very differently. Instead of these foreboding, impenetrable walls, it was like I was being given a description of one tidily wrapped present. Neatly bound on all sides. Whatever was waiting within, was securely protected, being kept as a secret, until the moment when the Lord would place Joshua’s gift before him, giving him the instructions that now was the time to open it.
Life can feel very much like that when we face situations seemingly impossible to overcome. What wall of Jericho are you staring at today wondering, how am I ever going to defeat that? Are you seeing your Jericho as the Israelites originally did, with that insurmountable obstacle meant to keep you out? Or will you take the time to change your perspective; instead of an obstacle too big to overcome, I encourage you to view it is a neatly wrapped present, God has placed before you, just waiting to be opened. In faith, do so expecting to reveal the treasure inside? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Give me eyes to see my Jericho moment as one bought, wrapped and delivered to me, waiting to be opened. Help me to trust that you have not brought me to this wall to fail, but instead to show yourself to me as the giver of good gifts. Lord, may I faithfully shout with all my heart, believing that I will discover the treasure you have for me inside.
In Jesus name, Amen
Additional Scripture: Deuteronomy 12:32; Joshua 1:7-8; Deuteronomy 6:1-5; Proverbs 30:5