Read: Joshua 3
The forty years of wandering were almost over and the nation of Israel now stood at the bank of the Jordan River, waiting to cross into the inheritance promised to Abraham.
Although they were not perfect by any means, the Hebrews had learned much from the mistakes of their parents and grandparents. They were no longer a tattered nation of slaves, fearful of the Canaanites and unprepared for battle with their enemies—they were desert hardened, tested by the elements, and well-trained warriors who had already fought and won battles against some of the most fearsome warriors on the earth on the east side of the Jordan. Instead of the Hebrews being terrified like they were forty years ago, now the Canaanites were terrified of them!
They knew that once they stepped across that river, they were in enemy territory, and that their presence in the land was a declaration of war. Jericho is only about a two-hour walk from the Jordan River, so you can be assured that the King of Jericho was well-aware that they were on their way to his doorstep. But as we learned yesterday, Rahab said that the Canaanites were not only scared of the Hebrews, their “hearts melted” (Joshua 2:11) and all courage had fled them.
Yahweh goes to great lengths to encourage the Hebrews, giving them a confirmation that he is with them in this fight by stopping the flow of the Jordan River at the height of its spring flow. By placing the Ark of the Covenant at the head of their company, he shows them that although the Cloud of Fire is no longer leading them on the journey, the Ark is now the visual reminder of God’s presence among them and the good and perfect laws contained within.
This time, unlike on the shore of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:11), the people did not rebel, they did not demand that Joshua provide another safer route into Canaan, they did not panic when they no longer had a Fire Cloud going before them. The Bible says they simply crossed the Jordan, stepping forward in faith into the battles that lay before them, no matter the cost. They are now ready to do battle as the set-apart and holy people of Yahweh with his protective laws as their guide to national and personal righteous living.
The Israelites were not only fighting a physical fight against their enemies, they were engaged in a spiritual battle, a battle against the forces of sin and death that were constantly working to draw them away from Yahweh, to water down the truth with false worship practices, and to thwart the long-term plan of salvation in Yeshua (Jesus).
The enemy has not changed. We are still fighting many of the same battles that the Israelites fought so long ago. We still walk in enemy territory, we still are threatened on every side by spiritual forces that seek to destroy us, to pull us away from the truth and confuse us with man-made worship practices, and to keep us from living holy, righteous lives that draw others to the truth—that salvation can only be found in Yeshua.
But we can take courage in the fact that because he invites us into battle with him, Yahweh is there every step of the way. He is faithful. He promises to go before us and behind (Isa. 52:12). He promises that we will overcome through the Blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11). He promises that he will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:8) no matter how long or wearying the fight may be. Hold fast to those promises as you step off the sidelines and take the fight to the enemy.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How are you encouraged by the story of the Hebrew’s steps of faith into the land of Canaan? What lessons have you learned from the successes and failures of the people of Yahweh as they went into battle against their enemies? Are you willing to step forward and take up the fight for the Kingdom, no matter the personal cost?
What role does the Word of God play in your daily life? Does it lead every decision you make? Are you spending regular time searching both the Old and New Testament for truth and direction? If not, what is hindering obedience in this area?
There are thousands upon thousands within the Body that are on the physical front lines of the war against the Enemy all over the world. Are you actively engaged in intercessory prayer for those whose lives are in peril? What steps can you take to fight alongside those faced with persecution and death every day for proclaiming the name of Yeshua?