Points to Ponder: You Can Have It For a Song
Points to Ponder
You Can Have It For a Song
The sixth book in the Old Testament begins with over 600,000 Israelite men and their families, poised to take hold of the promise which God had made to Abraham almost 500 years earlier (Genesis 15:13-21). Joshua, in command since Moses' death, is ready to lead the second generation. Since the Exodus from Egyptian slavery, they had wandered in the wilderness for four decades because of the first generation's disobedience (see Numbers 13-14).
Forty years earlier, the committee of twelve spies had voted 10 to 2 against taking the land. They had spent over a month scouting out the land their ancestors had only dreamed of seeing. They had apparently forgotten the words of Moses' first hit song. Crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, watching God bring that wall of water down on the Egyptian army, then marching onward with heads held high, they sang as a people empowered by God Almighty. "Watch out, you heathens out there, here we come!" Moses wrote the song; his sister Miriam did choreography (Exodus 14:20-21). It was a musical testimony of God's grace and power and how they knew He would lead them in victory against the enemies and obstacles ahead.
"You in Your mercy have led forth . . . The people will hear and be afraid . . . Trembling will take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away. Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of Your arm they will be as still as stone, till Your people pass over, O Lord . . . You will bring them in and plant them . . . " (Exodus 15:13a, 14a, 15c, 16b, 17a)
God can do the impossible to make a way for His people.
But, a year later, the committee of twelve spies and the Moses Tabernacle Choir apparently hadn't been singing that golden oldie from the Red Sea days. They whined:
"There we saw the giants . . . and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (Numbers 13:33)
Ten only saw the size and power of the obstacle between them and God's promise. The minority, a much younger Joshua and his partner in faith, Caleb, saw that God was far bigger than anything that could oppose them. The majority saw only themselves and their human limitations. The two saw only the Lord and His limitless power.
Consequently, the faithful Caleb and Joshua roamed the wilderness for forty years along with the disobedient generation whom God had condemned to die there. How tough it can be to hang on to your strong assurance of what God can and could do. The majority around you have sung the songs with gusto, but never really embraced the truth their words proclaimed. How sad, too, for God, whose grace is abundant and whose power is beyond our imagination. He can lead His people in amazing ways that bring Him glory and can redeem countless souls from all manner of bondage. But, He saves by grace through faith. How glorious it could have been, but for the faithlessness of God's people.
Forty years later, facing the Jordan River at flood stage, Jericho is ready to fall. Rahab, the harlot who hid the two scouts Joshua had sent there, reported that the people of Canaan knew about the Lord parting the Red Sea and how He had defeated mighty Egypt. She practically recited the lyrics of that old Ballad of the Red Sea:
"And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath." (Joshua 2:11)
Upon hearing this report, Joshua could have said, "Forty years ago, I told you so." When Moses had led them through the Red Sea on dry ground, the victory song proclaimed the sovereign power of their God. But, can you walk the words as well as you sing them?
They say the eleven-day journey took forty years because the man, Moses, didn't ask for directions; however, like most men and women, the Israelites had refused to follow the directions they had. God made them wait (Deuteronomy 1:2-46).
Sometimes blessings are withheld, goals are not achieved, answers to prayer aren't heard because God knows we can't handle the responsibility which comes with them.
If we can't trust God with the impossible, is it because we really don't trust Him that much with anything else? Do we believe the words of our victory songs or do we just like how it feels to sing them?
In Joshua 3:7-17, the priests bore the ark as God said, and Joshua commanded, and stepped into the flooding Jordan River. Immediately the water backed up, becoming a wall. Everyone went across. Impossible? Of course; but this time that didn't stop them.
The idea of waiting until conditions were right did not come up. Conditions are right when we believe the song. It's only then that we really know the conditions; when our feet march in time with our words.
"For we walk by faith, not by sight." (II Corinthians 5:7)
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com