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Trust God and take the land

Moses was dead, the Jordan was at flood stage (Joshua 3:15), and the men of Israel needed to be circumcised (leaving them vulnerable to attackJoshua 5). It was not a good time for Israel to invade the land of Canaan, right? It would be prudent to postpone such plans until circumstances changed and they were better prepared. It didn't matter that they had already waited 40 years, they would just have to wait a little while longer.

From God’s perspective, Israel was perfectly prepared. He wanted his people to understand they were helpless without Him. If they were to enter the promised land (not the earned or deserved land)it would be due to Yahweh, not Israel. 

We see this emphasized repeatedly. In Joshua 4, they're told to raise up some stones to remind them of how and why they were able to cross the Jordan. In Joshua 5, an angel appears to Joshua to remind him that he isn’t the one who is (ultimately) in command of things. In Joshua 6, Israel takes the first city in the land (Jericho), without lifting a sword. The message should be clear—possession of the land is the result of faith in God, not the force of man! This was the way God planned for the land to be taken a generation before (see Numbers 13:26-33 with 14:8-9), and this was the way it would be entered by the generation Joshua was now leading. God was in control!

There’s more to the story. Since God is in control, Israel needs to learn to trust Him. There are multiple instances where God seeks to develop their faith in Him. He tells the priests the moment their feet touch the waters of the Jordan, a portion of the river will stop flowing and they’ll walk through on dry ground (3: 13-16). This didn’t take a lot of people (the priests), and they didn’t have to demonstrate a lot of faith (just enough to get their feet wet), but when they did, God immediately acted and reinforced their show of trust. Stones were taken from the river and placed as a witness to future generations of God’s faithfulness (4:1-9).

He takes Israel to another level. Those born in the wilderness had not been circumcised and He commands them to do so. In enemy land, Yahweh had them do something to themselves that left them unable to defend themselves (5:2-8). This is a significant upgrade in terms of a challenge: they’ve just crossed into enemy territory and all of the men are incapacitated. They have placed themselves and their families in a vulnerable position, trusting in Yahweh to protect themand He does.

The invasion of Jericho follows. Although Israel had more than enough men to successfully invade the city (Ai, another fortress city, had 12,000 people8:26), God had them walk around it 13 times over seven days. This time everyone was involved and they could see their enemy. They walked around the city for a week, completely silent and fully exposed. That could not have been easy. The Hebrew writer recognizes this as an act of great faith (11:30).

It’s not all good news though as God required that all of the treasure taken be given to the Him (6:19). This was a principle of lawthe first fruits belonged to Yahweh. Giving that to Him signified their belief that He was responsible for the abundance of harvest and that He would continue to bless them. Once again, the compliance of everyone was required and the failure of one meant failure for the nation (7). Faith is more than an individual matter, it is a community concern.

In all of this, it was God’s desire for Israel keep Him at their center of their lives. When they were in the wilderness, the tribes set up camp in such a way so that the tabernacle was always in the center. It was to be no different in the promised land. It is to be no different in the church.
It's still our mission to trust the Lord and take the land.
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