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Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. - Joshua 1:2-3 (NIV)
When I was a middle school boy in 1994, the NBA was shining with gargantuan personalities and, just as sizeable physiques. David Robinson, Shaq, Dennis Rodman, and Grant Hill towered over the courts and riddled the highlight reels that my buddies and I would watch on VHS tapes that we recorded at Steve’s house (Steve had cable, that lucky son of a gun). But those bigs weren’t my favorite. My favorite player was Muggsy Bogues. Not only did Muggsy have an awesome name, he was also a petite 5’3” of power on the court. I, myself, was a lil’ fella in the sixth grade. So Muggsy had my empathy and my endearment. During Muggsy’s rookie year, he was teammates with Manute Bol, who stood 7’7” tall. They were the shortest and tallest players in the NBA at the time. I still remember their picture standing next to each other in Sports Illustrated.
This week’s devos are all about this guy Joshua. In Joshua’s opening chapter, we have a Muggsy/Manute moment. Moses and Joshua had been teammates. Moses was, well, Moses. The Moses. Joshua was just his lil’ buddy. Then all of a sudden, Moses is gone. It’s like Muggsy’s dribbling down the court, looking for his big man and the big man just isn’t there. He’s got to face his giants on his own. Every play he’s memorized, every memory of victory, becomes useless without Manute. So what did Joshua do?
He listened to God’s words in verse 3. “I will give you every place where you set your foot…” God assures Joshua, “I’m going to tell you where to go, just like I did for Moses.”
Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. - Joshua 3:15-16 (NIV)
There’s only been one moment in my life that I thought to myself, “This is the end. I’m about to die. God, I’ll see you in a minute. I hope Angie finds love again. I just hope he’s not taller than me.” And, at that moment, I really did think I was going to die. I was whitewater kayaking in a flooded river and was pinned underneath a downed tree. The bow of my boat had caught an eddy and dipped its nose under this tree. And the force of that water wasn’t going to pause to let me out. In fact, it pressed on me with so much power that I instantly went under. I made my peace with God and a quick recollection of my life insurance policy, then gave up. But the second I gave up, the water pulled me under that tree and popped me out on the other side.
I gained respect for the river that day. There’s power there. The Jordan River was similar. In Joshua’s time, you could usually just walk through the Jordan. But during flood season, it was to be respected. The word “Jordan” means, “river that descends rapidly,” and during flood season some of its banks would be as wide as two miles. So when did God tell Joshua and his million followers to cross the Jordan? Boom. You nailed it. Flood season.
Yet, God doesn’t prep the river before their arrival. He waits until Joshua’s accompanying priests step into the water to do anything. Did you catch that?
When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in. - Joshua 6:3-5 (NIV)
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in parenting. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve accidentally thrown away homework. I’ve sent my kid to school in pajamas because I wrongfully assumed it was pajama day. But no mistake has been as bad as the harmonica purchase of 2015. Four kids, four harmonicas. For days without ceasing, my house sounded like Blues Traveler and Bob Dylan wrestling in a clothes dryer. Lesson learned. I’ll never bring another mouth organ into my home again. And while I will be the first to admit how annoying those harmonicas were, I knew that it was my sanity in jeopardy, not the walls of my home.
Yet, for some reason, God chose similar instruments as weapons of war for Joshua as they approached Jericho. It wasn’t horses, chariots, swords, and arrows that would bring down the fortitude of Jericho. It was trumpets and the shouts of God’s people.
I mean this will all due respect of our God--but that’s ridiculous! Can you imagine being a soldier about to go into battle and they take your guns, knives, and explosives and hand you a harmonica? You wouldn’t just shrug your shoulders and say, “Cool. This is a strategy now? Let’s go kick some tail.” You’d resist. You’d be angry. You’d be scared. And frankly, if it were me, I don’t know that I would’ve followed through with it. Luckily, Joshua did.
Too often we limit God to use us in ways that make sense. God would want us to accept the promotion or be in the bigger house, right? But He wouldn’t ask me to do something ridiculous like give up a job or move to a lesser neighborhood, would He? Y’all, that’s exactly the type thing God will say to us. Spend a few minutes processing the things that God has asked you to do that didn’t make sense. Ask Him if there’s a decision that you need to make today that falls into that category.Share Tweet
When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. - Joshua 6:20 (NIV)
When I was a kid, there was a lot of things on 80s television that seemed impossible to me. I never thought you’d actually be able to talk to your car like David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider. But just the other day my buddy asked his car to find the nearest gas station and got a very courteous reply. Or I’d watch the Jetsons where George had this futuristic video phone that allowed you to see the person you were talking to on the other end. How impossible is that? Well, anymore, I video chat with my wife and kids more than I actually just use that regular ol’ voice to voice function on my iPhone. The biggest impossibility of my childhood sitcom daydreams? Kissing a girl as hip and as beautiful as Kelly Kapowski on Saved by the Bell. I mean, Zack Morris could do it but that was completely unfeasible for me. I had more in common with Alf than Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Yet, here I am today married to a beautiful blonde who gives me a kiss before I walk out the door every morning.
Things are only impossible until someone actually does that thing. And my friend Gary Black said it so well the other day when we were discussing this passage; “When we’re in a partnership with God, we’re in a partnership with someone who’s pretty adept at doing impossible things… things like creating the universe and everything in it.”
Have you been up against the impossible recently? God can break down the fortress of an impenetrable city with a trumpet and loud holler. He can help you face down your giants, too.
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. - Joshua 17:10-13 (NIV)
We’ve spent all week in the book of Joshua, looking at this guy who was once on the junior varsity team, become something great in God’s story. But I want to end the week’s study with a look back at the beginning of Joshua’s journey and a call for us to all invest in the next generation.
Moses, as he grows older, is still watching over the next generation of leadership. He’s too long in years to be in the battle. So he goes up on a hill and prays for his young friend, Joshua. Are you advocating for the next generation or are you holding tightly to your own journey and fighting to keep your place? It doesn’t matter if you’re 75 or 25 as you read this. One day, you need someone to take over your kingdom work. We should be advocates and encouragers, not obstacles.
There’s also a beautiful example of friendship as Aaron and Hur hold up Moses’ arms. I don’t think Moses thought, “Man, if I’m not in the battle, Joshua’s going to get all the glory. I will begin to fade away and Joshua might do things differently than me.” Insecurity is usually suppressed by encouragement, love, and support from others. And Moses had that in Aaron and Hur. As we age, we have a tendency to gather with our peers and talk about that next generation that does things the “wrong” way. We’d serve the kingdom better by celebrating one another, holding one another up and going to God on behalf of those up and comers.