Text: Joshua 2:1-24, Joshua 3:1-17, Numbers 13:25-33, Hebrews 11:31
We’re in that phase of family where at least one, if not all three, of our children end up in our bed by the time the sun comes up. At some point in the night one of the little people in our home will inevitably wake. Rather than rolling over and going back to sleep, he or she will stand up, drag his or her sleepy self down the stairs, round the corner into our room, and climb into our bed, right between my husband and me.
Other than the growing amount of room they take up in our comfy bed, there’s something else I’ve noticed about this nightly ritual. Our comfort-seeking kiddos always crawl in our bed and lie down facing their papa, every single time. Whether the culprit is a bad dream in their heads or a raging storm outside the window, their response is the same: they face their father.
I love the juxtaposition of the stories we find in chapters 2 and 3 of Joshua. Two very different stories of God’s children choosing to face and follow their holy heavenly Father in the face of impossible circumstances. And in both situations, He proves Himself worthy of their unabashed trust and holy fear.
Rahab, a woman known primarily by her sin, met the one true God in a precarious time in the history of her homeland. She’d heard the stories of God’s stunning faithfulness to His people, and she knew they were coming to possess the land. Her neighbors were frightened by the evidence of His greatness; in Rahab’s own words, they were panicked (Joshua 2:9). But a different kind of fear was taking root in Rahab. She was coming to fear the Lord.
Believing the God of Israel was “God in heaven above and on earth below” (Joshua 2:11), Rahab risked everything to offer refuge to the two spies sent by Joshua into Jericho. In a culture of faithlessness, she dared to face full-on the holiness of God and follow Him in a bold act of faith. Later, her family would be spared because of it (Joshua 6:17).
Israel had seen God’s rescue not from afar but up close. When Joshua said to them, “The Lord will do wonders among you tomorrow,” they knew he meant it (Joshua 3:5). So Israel faced the ark of the covenant, which symbolized the very presence of the Lord (Joshua 3:10-11), and moved forward to take possession of the “land flowing with milk and honey” (Numbers 13:27). Even following the ark among the masses required faith. Surely the people remembered the time the scouts reported back to Moses, Aaron, and all of Israel that the promised land was inhabited by a people impossible to defeat. “They are stronger than we are!” the scouts cried out (Numbers 13:31). But they were not stronger than Israel’s God.
Isn’t this what it’s like to follow the Almighty Lord? Sometimes, like Rahab, you walk the road alone, stepping out on nothing but faith and a holy fear of the God who rescues His people. Sometimes you move with the masses, direction clear as day, but a nagging doubt nonetheless. What if we aren’t strong enough? What if we’re defeated? Then the God of the impossible dries up a riverbed for your feet to walk across, just as He did when your wilderness journey began (Joshua 3:17; Exodus 14:22).
From impossible to impossible, the road of faith is under the command of our sovereign God, beginning to end. A people with an impossible future and a harlot with an impossible past—both fixed their eyes on the only true God and neither were beyond the reach of His rescue.
No situation is beyond the sovereignty and strength of our God. He is the God of Abraham, of Moses, of Joshua, of Rahab. He is the same—yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Fear Him in His awesome glory. Face Him in His limitless compassion. Follow Him wherever He leads, no matter the scene to your right or left. Fix your eyes on His presence and His promises.