‘And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot.’
That’s how The Message translates Joshua 3:17.
I love it! Not one wet foot.
When God works a miracle, he works a miracle. He doesn’t half-do the bizness, nearly accomplish his wonders, almost achieve the impossible. HE DOES IT.
If you were sitting with me over the last day or so, you would have heard little yelps of delight, and small noises of wonder and surprise. I’ve been reading the book of Joshua. I mean, come on, you lot – have you read it recently? It’s amazing! Joshua, what a man! Not without his complications (but that’s men for you) and some of his story is gory in the extreme – rated 18 and over for definite sure – but what an amazing witness to the faithfulness and power of God.
Now I discover that I have to go back and read Numbers to get the whole picture, so I think that will be next week’s ‘job’. But, listen, “Not one wet foot.”
This crossing of the Jordan was the second ‘parting of the waters’ that we read about – the first (Moses pursued by the Egyptian Army) is presented with huge drama and tension, it’s nail-biting, edge-of-seat stuff as the waters of the Red Sea were held back. This one, the River Jordan, is altogether more low-key. But it’s still a miracle! It’s still a bloomin’ miracle, innit? And then.. and then…roll of drums…. we get the whole damn universe standing still in chapter 10 – or just the sun – or maybe we should say more correctly that time stood still – who knows? Listen:
On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
You know what grabs me in that? Joshua said those words to God, in the presence of the Israelites! He had such faith in answered prayer that he openly, vulnerably, put his prayer out into the world, to his followers, to the rabble that was Israel. He didn’t mutter the prayer quietly to himself, just in case it wasn’t answered, just in case he’d got it wrong and God wasn’t going to answer. He KNEW what God could do and he believed that God would do it, and he put everything out there, on the line. He knew that he was praying in the will of God and he knew that God, our God, is a great great God, and that his power and his faithfulness will never fail.
He didn’t give himself the insurance policy of secrecy, he didn’t think “If I pray it out loud and everyone hears, and then God doesn’t come through, I’ll have a riot on my hands, I’ll lose face, not only will we lose the battle, but I’ll be a disgraced laughing stock.” Those Israelites were a tough crew , and he knew there would be no mercy from them, you just have to look at what happened to Achan (the thief who plundered) to see that; not only was he stoned, but his entire family was stoned, even his animals were stoned! And then they went to the battle of Ai… “So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. He impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.”
Tough blokes, them Israelites.
He knew that to put one foot wrong with his followers would result in mayhem, in the most brutal of revenge punishments, but he had faith in God, and he prayed aloud, for all to hear. He wasn’t praying for the life of a loved one, or a new church, or Brexit to be sorted, he was praying for a universal cataclysmic weird and once-only miracle. To have that much faith you have to be in tune with God, filled by the Spirit of God so that you know His will for sure, and so that you pray in complete submission, complete and utter humility, the words given by God, heard by God, fulfilled by our wonderful God.
Joshua, my man! Wouldn’t you want to follow a leader like that? You’d say “On you go, Macduff, I’m wi’ ye.”
It strikes me that Joshua had lived so faithfully in God’s will, serving Moses first of all, even acting as a spy, and then accepting the role of leader, and having the faith to cross the Jordan, and doing all the hard stuff (the blood thirsty battles, the deaths and sufferings) in obedience, that when it came to asking a huge huge thing of God, he was able to step into that prayer in complete faith. The daily round of his life, the holiness he practised, the obedience that must have become a second skin to him, they all made that command “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, ” something he could say with total faith.
We have our Joshuas today. God appoints leaders to shepherd his people, to shape his church. Sometimes we can be so busy clamouring for our own preferences to be heard, rather than the preference of God, that we shout them down. But they are our Joshuas. We shout them down at our peril and it doesn’t please the God who placed them there. Our role is to have faith, to listen, to pray, to ensure that the leaders are Bible based, and once we know they are, then our mission is to follow. Not to lead. Not to put our preference first. Just to check the commitment and faithfulness of our leaders and then to be led.
I believe that if our leaders are trusting God, and we are trusting God, and being guided as He leads us all, there will not be one wet foot. God will do all we ask of Him, if we ask in humility and in His Spirit. Nothing is too big for God to sort it.
Yesterday I wrote about a tiny group of believers raising the huge funds needed to serve a neglected community. I had a great email from a bloggite in America, and I quote “My wife and I have been working for the last five years to help lead our congregation to transformation”. When I read that I sort of crowed. To think of all these people, in every corner of our world, seeking God’s will, diligently heading towards the goal He holds out…. it’s a fabulous thought. His work is being done. ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Our amazing God. Really, truly, wonderfully present. And yes, there are knock-backs, and sometimes it’s hard, but lead on MacDuff…. all you Macduffs, here and in the US and in SA and everywhere. “On you go, Macduffs, we’re wi’ ye, so we are.”
*Am I burbling? Sorry.
A bit sorry.
I feel God’s hand on this world. I have a sense of great things rumbling under and about to erupt. And it’s really hard to keep that quiet.