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Friday, March 25, 2016

Entering a New Phase of Life

When God opens up a new phase of your life, how should you begin? Joshua had warned the people, “you have never been this way before” (Joshua 3:4). They were about to enter a new phase of life. What will God require of Israel as they camp at Gilgal as they prepare to enter Canaan? Chapter four reveals four clear truths for making the transition to a new phase of life. 

A new phase of life requires dedication. After the children of Israel cross the Jordan, now within easy attack by their enemies, God requires them to go through the painful rite of circumcision. This action will leave them vulnerable and thus will require faith that the God who calls them to obedience will protect them as they obey. In response to their faith God names the place Gilgal because their reproach has been rolled away.
The new phase also enjoins celebration. After this difficult time of dedication God leads Israel to celebrate the Passover. Passover celebration reminds Israel of God’s deliverance by power and by bloodthe innocent on behalf of the guilty. Israel again remembers God’s miraculous redemption. 
God, in this the phase, creates motivation. The manna that had been their staple for forty years—many in this generation had never eaten anything else—ceased after they celebrated the Passover. In order to eat, they had to take the land. 
Finally, God, in this transition, provides illumination. No longer does He lead Israel by cloud and fire; rather He reveals that He is the commander of the army of the LORD. And make no mistake, this is the LORD Himself for He demands that Joshua remove his shoes just as He had commanded Moses to remove his forty years earlier. God demonstrates that His illumination is always what His people need when they need it. When they need light by night, He is cloud and fire; as they prepare to go into battle, He is the warrior God. 
Are you facing a new phase of life? That new phase of life will require dedication to do His will, celebration to remember His goodness in the past, motivation to trust Him to provide your needs, and illuminationa fresh word from the Word. 

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 "March around the city with all the armed men. Do this for six days . . . On the seventh day, march around the city seven times . . . have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in" (Joshua 6:3-6).

This is the only time in history that a battle has been won by marching around the enemy once a day for six days and then marching seven times on the seventh day. Everyone knows that battles are fought and won by those with superior strategy. This is God's battle and He has His own strategy and it doesn't conform to man's logic.

The source of this strategy: This strange illogical strategy arose not from the mind of Joshua but from the heart of God. As Joshua prepares for the battle he experiences a Christophany--a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. The Lord Jesus gives him a clear, definite strategy that makes no sense (march around the city and shout). 

The only way to hear from God consistently is through the Word. For your every unique battle God has a particular strategy from His Word to handle that situation. Others may not understand it but when God makes it clear to you, you believe it and turn faith into action.

The strength of this strategy: It relies upon God. Jericho is securely shut up. Israel cannot pull down its walls nor pull down its gates. If God does not act, the conquest of Canaan is doomed even before it begins. The tide of the battle turns when God acts.

The success of this strategy: Doing things God's ways brings God-sized results. It may not always look like victory; the cross certainly didn't. But it always honors God and in the end, God always grants ultimate success to those who walk with Him by faith, believe His Word as more true than their situation and watch walls of fear, doubt, and failure crumble.

Armies don't win battles by marching or shouting. Success, then, is determined by God's ability not man's. The people of God discovered that God doesn't fight fair or normal, that God's strategy for victory doesn't rely upon human logic but upon obedience. The battle is the Lord's.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Joshua 3:1-6:27
  • What does God do to validate Joshua's leadership? What does this tell you about God and His leaders?
  • What does Joshua do to memorialize the crossing of the Jordan and why?
  • What was the first thing Joshua leads the people to do once they've crossed the Jordan? What does this do for the people?
  • How does Israel conquer Jericho? Why does God choose this particular method?
Turning truth into prayer:
Are you facing a fortified enemy? Ask the Lord to speak to you in your situation. Listen closely and even if His instructions seem illogical obey anyway.