*This is a repost from August 27, 2012. I felt I needed the remindar in this post, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one. I may not know tomorrow, but I know the One who does! And that’s all I need to know.*
A man is in a foreign land. This land is full of enemies. Due to the death of a leader, the responsibility for millions of people has fallen on him. It is his land. He knows that. It is his people’s land. His people know that. It is not his enemies’ land. His enemies know that and melt in fear. But the man has a problem. All the most experienced fighters among his people have died. He is left with a new generation who has known nothing but the nomad life. Fighting isn’t exactly what they’re good at. But he knows they have to fight if they’re going to take back their land that they are just stepping on for the first time. First time, yet it was promised to them hundreds of years before. It’s now time to claim that promise. A bunch of nomadic, non-warrior people vastly outnumbered by enemies with fighting experience and walled cities and a most definite advantage. Sounds like the beginning of one of those hero underdog stories. And that’s exactly what it would be, if the advantage the enemies had was one that really mattered. This man knew their advantage meant nothing. It wasn’t him that needed to be convinced. It was everyone else.
Have you figured out who I was talking about yet?
You have to feel for poor Joshua. Here he was in a place he knew nothing about, save what was told to him since childhood of a good land promised to his people hundreds of years ago. He’s trying to fill the shoes of the great Moses, who led his people, the Israelites, out of bondage in Egypt, through forty years of wondering in the wilderness due to the ignorance of the people, and is left with a group that has done nothing in their lives but walked. Fighting? Yeah, right. Maybe little skirmishes here and there, but nothing close to the scale of what they were facing. And now, their first huge obstacle was before them. Jericho. With walls so thick people had HOUSES in them. Gates securely barred (ironically because they were fearing for their lives, thanks to the miracles of God on behalf of the Israelites they heard tell of ). No one goes in; no one goes out. Oh, how he must have been feeling!
But remember…I said that Joshua knew the tactical advantage his enemies had meant nothing. Who needs experience and forts and weaponry?! How in the world could Joshua think that? It seems insane to us. It may have seemed insane to him, as well, had it not been for a visitor. A strange vistor, too. Comes out of nowhere with a sword drawn! You can’t blame Joshua for asking “‘Are you for us or for our enemies?'” (Joshua 5:14) I’m not sure how comforted Joshua was at first when the visitor answered, “Neither.” Ah, well. Everyone loves a Switzerland. But then the visitor continued, and it got good.
“…but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
Joshua falls facedown to the ground. He’s a smart cookie. He knows who this visitor is. We may have visions of (forgive my irreverence) hot, winged men with trumpets and flashing swords gleaming in the sky when we think of messengers of the Lord, but since Joshua didn’t know who this man was at first, I’m going to gander a guess that the man didn’t have wings (insert some stupid red bull joke here). In reverence, Joshua asked the man, ‘”What message does my Lord have for his servant?”‘ Ah, but Joshua has to do something before he can receive his message. Forgive the pun, but he’s about to follow in the “footsteps” of his predecessor. The messanger said, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” Of course, Joshua complies immediately.
The statement that comes next, I believe, may be one of the most important statements ever uttered. Not for its insightfulness, depth, or humor, but for its verbal usage. I know, I know. All of you who despise grammar just groaned at the very thought of anything to do with a “verb”. Yet the tense of the verb the Lord uses in His message to Joshua is very profound. As many times as I have read this story, I never paid much thought to verbal tenses. You can bet I’m paying better attention now, for this is awesome. I thank Mark Batterson for making it a point in his book The Circle Maker (an incredibly amazing book that will make you look at your prayer life in a whole new way!). This was the Lord’s message:
“See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men.” (6:2)
Did you catch that? “I HAVE deliverED…” PAST TENSE!! Now, when we are using verbal tenses, we don’t use a past tense verb unless it’s something that’s already happened. This hasn’t happened yet. Jericho is still standing. There’s been no battle. Joshua still doesn’t know what he’s doing. The people still don’t know what they’re doing. His enemies are still huddled in the fetal position in their walled hidey-holes.
Oh, the sovereignty of God! When it comes to foreknowledge, we totally don’t give God enough credit. When our problems come barreling down the track at 100 mph with us as helpless as one of those women in old movies the bad guy would leave tied up on the train tacks, we rant at God like He hasn’t got a clue in the world what’s getting ready to happen to us, let alone see how He can possibly help us. We forget. In our fear, in our frustration, in our deepest heartache, we forget. We forget that, not only did God see this train coming, but He’s already seen where it’s going! And, not only has He already seen where it’s going, He knows where it’s going to end up! He’s already got the before, during, AND after in place long before we even hear the whistle!
God already knew the Israelites were going to take Jericho. That’s why the messenger didn’t say, “Well, IF you follow all the directions I’m about to give you, you will take the city,” or “IF the people of Jericho get scared enough, they’ll run like pansies and the city is all yours!” Nope. God said, “I HAVE.” He already paved the way. Joshua just had to walk the path to victory.
In our lives, there are issues we are facing that we can’t see a way out of. We’re oppressed, depressed, repressed, or any other kind of press there may be that causes pain. Sometimes our problems seem so overwhelming we can’t see God through the trainyard. But He is there. You may think He has no clue, but your problems are not a surprise to Him. He knew about them long before you did. And the good news? He’s already set up the solution! God is a God of precedence. All you have to do is keep walking. Know He’s waiting on the other end, cheering you on. He can’t wait to see you! Just keep walking. God has delivered this problem into your hands. You’ve already conquered it through Him! You just have to keep going. This, too, shall pass. It always does. And, as long as you keep your eyes focused on Him, it always will.
CHALLENGE OF THE DAY: Sometimes the road is very long when we are facing tough issues in our lives. We’re all fighting something. But take heart! The victory is already yours! It doesn’t mean the problem will be easy. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt. And there’s no guarantee of how long it will take to get through it. But if you keep pressing on, you will be delivered the victory. It’s going to require work on your part; God didn’t just Big Bad Wolf Jericho to the ground. He laid out the path. The Israelites had to walk it in an act of faith and obedience – a testimony of their love for God. It’s the same for us. But oh, how much easier it is facing the train knowing God’s already waiting on the other side!!
A must-watch video for those facing the issues of uncertainty and fear, wondering where God is: