I realize that some of you are anticipating the next installment of Worship in Spirit and Truth. The thought of having to wait an additional week for part 3 is just too excruciating to bear. However, I am going to take a detour today, so you are going to have to be patient. All joking aside, I do want to thank you for taking time to read this weekly correspondence. I appreciate the feedback and encouragement that I have received from some of you. I pray that this exercise will prove fruitful in helping all of us to draw near to God in worship and to treasure Christ above all things.
So, for those of who are reading this and did not delete it or send it to spam or junk mail, I would like to share my thoughts on a passage I read this morning, Joshua 2:1-14. In this passage, we have Scripture’s first mention of Rahab, a prostitute who ended up in the lineage of King David and, ultimately, Jesus Christ. The nation of Israel, for the second time, has drawn near to the Promised Land. Joshua sends out two spies to view the land. They end up at the house of Rahab, where she hides the men from those sent by the king of Jericho.
“I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11
Take note of her statement and then compare it to the following response of the 10 spies in Numbers 13:27-29, forty years earlier. “We came to the land to which you sent us; it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Yet the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”
Then, the nation of Israel followed with their response in Numbers 14:1-4, in spite of the positive testimony from Joshua and Caleb. “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry; and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why does the Lord bring us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?’ And they said to one another, ‘Let us choose a captain, and go back to Egypt.’”
The Lord had brought them to the doorstep of the Promised Land, and the people rejected it and called for a return to slavery in Egypt. And yet, from Rahab’s statement 40 years later, it was evident that the people of the land were terrified because of what they had heard. “For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea…” “Our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
This pagan nation in the Promised Land recognized these dramatic events and saw that there was a mighty wave coming their way, even after forty years. Rahab acknowledges the God of Israel as the God of the heavens and the earth. And yet, the people who personally witnessed the hand of God, rejected the promise of God in favor of captivity in Egypt. Suddenly, the God Who had done all of these marvelous things for them was unable to fulfill His promises.
So often, I fear, I behave like the Israelites on the border of the land. I have seen God’s provision. I have seen the work that He has done. I can recite the promises that He has given us through Jesus Christ. And yet, when faced with some new or recurring situation, my faith falters. I lose sight of the only One Who can bring joy and peace and victory, regardless of how things appear. I forget that my God loves me beyond my ability to comprehend. He also loves all of those who are dear to me. He promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
On my way to church today, I listened to a song from one of my favorite artists, Fernando Ortega. The lyrics of the chorus are a great reminder of the faithfulness of God. “Take heart, my friends. The Lord is with us, as He has been all the days of our lives. Our assurance, every morning. Our defender, in the night.” (“Take Heart, My Friends” from the album Fernando Ortega). What a great and simple reminder of the faithfulness of our God.
Trusting in God can be a very difficult thing to do. When things are not going well, we are so quick to jump in with our own answers and solutions. We want to fix it – right now! Many times, however, God’s best requires endurance and waiting. Maybe we won’t have all the answers right away. Maybe the answers will never come. Maybe they will. Maybe things will be harder before they get better. Maybe God is working on changing us in the midst of our circumstances, rather than changing our circumstances.
What we can be certain of is that the Lord is with us, all the days of our lives. Our assurance is in Him alone, our crucified and risen Savior. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). We can trust in his unfailing love, for He is the same, day after day, for all of eternity. So, we can learn from the pagans, who saw the hand of God clearly. However, we need not flee in terror. Our God calls us to draw near to Him (Hebrews 10:19-25). So let us draw near with confidence, trusting in the One Who holds all things in His hands.
Together for His glory…