Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee of never being hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking.
Joshua 5 & 6
Joshua 5 & 6:
The hill of foreskins
I imagine all the men reading this portion of Scripture cringed a little when they read about flint knives, circumcision, and “the hill of foreskins.” And all of us women who complain that we somehow have it harder need to remember this passage and others like it.
This was a huge step of faith, since this mass circumcision made them very vulnerable to attack.
In the natural, it was a risky decision. Risk is often a reality when we step out in faith. When you forgive and turn the other cheek, you risk being struck again (Matt. 5.39). When you stand up for the truth, you risk being persecuted (Matthew 23:34-36). When you do what’s right, some people are not going to like it. The world does not like the light. And sometimes persecution, pain, and rejection come from our own families and those closest to us.
When it does, it hurts deeply. But we must be quick to forgive and keep our eyes on the Lord. Otherwise that hurt can be the seed that grows up into a root of bitterness. Hebrews 12.14-15 (NLT):
14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
In 5.3-15 we meet the “Commander of the army of the LORD.” This is a Christophany, an Old Testament appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ. He appeared in the form of a man with His sword drawn confirming to Joshua that He was going to give him the victory at Jericho.
As I’ve said before, even though the word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible, we see evidence of the triune nature of God throughout.
In chapter 6 the story of Rahab continues to unfold as she and her family are protected and saved. We will see later in our reading that not only was she spared, but her life was completely changed because of her faith in the One True God. She would later marry an Israelite and become one of the women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ. What a merciful, awesome, life-changing God we serve!
Life’s waves and billows
The psalmist understood God’s sovereignty—that He is completely in control and that trials ultimately come from Him—either because He caused them or because He allowed them. Verse 7b, “… All Your waves and billows have gone over me.”
Even so, he trusted in God’s love and care for him through it all. Verse 8, “The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me—a prayer to the God of my life.”
We, too, need to understand that whatever God has allowed in our lives, He has our good in mind—part of which is conforming us to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8.29) by developing the fruit of His Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5.22-23).
The companion of fools
Verse 20, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” We can never underestimate the power of associations. 1 Corinthians 15.33 says, “Do not be deceived. ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'”
When we get saved God does not remove us from the world. Jesus said we are to be salt and light. But, if you are walking with, hanging out with, and developing close relationships with people who are either not believers or not sold out to pleasing God with their lives, they are much more likely to pull you down than you are to pull them up. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen!
If your spouse is not a believer, or is not committed to growing, that is all the more reason why you need friendships with believers who will love you enough to challenge you in your walk with God. If your friends tell you what you want to hear and not what God says, you are putting yourself in a dangerous position.
When Peter’s “encouragement” to Jesus was not in keeping with God’s plan and truth, Jesus said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! you are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matt. 16.23).
The glory of God in Christ
What a scene that must have been on the Mount of Transfiguration! The three disciples had been asleep so this was probably at night. It says that Jesus’ face changed. It shone with the glory of God. It says His robe became white and glistened. The word “glistened” means “emitting light.” According to John MacArthur it suggests a “brilliant flashing light like lighting.” Picture that!
While Peter, James and John are still trying to get the cob webs out of their brains and process what they are seeing, a brilliant cloud (Matt. 17.5) envelops them and God speaks to them out of it. Once again we see God the Son and God the Father—one God, two different personalities.
What about you?
Is there someone who has hurt you? Have you truly forgiven?
Are you willing to have risky faith?
What is God allowing in your life right now?
What character quality of His Spirit might He be developing? … love … joy … peace … longsuffering (patience) …kindness …. goodness … faithfulness … gentleness … self-control … (Gal.. 5.22-23)?
Is there anyone you are listening to who merely tells you what you want to hear and not what you need to hear?
Let’s remember what God said to Joshua, “meditate in the Word day and night.” I pray we will all meditate, chew on, think about His Word today and everyday and that we will observe to do all that is written therein (Josh. 1.8). And then, like Joshua, we will make our way prosperous and have good success—not just what we consider success—but what brings glory to Him and moves His kingdom forward.
The prodigal. The wanderer. The skeptic. The rebel. Each of us knows someone who has walked away from God, and it is heartbreaking and bewildering. We wonder how to reach out to them and bring them back, but often it seems impossible. Maybe you yourself are the one who has walked away and sees little reason to return to faith and the church.
The invitation of this book is this: come home. It invites the departed to return and offers the promise of the gospel – that all wrongs and sins can be forgiven through Jesus. There is no expiration on the promise of forgiveness and the open arms of Christ, so no matter how long the wanderer has wandered she is still welcome. All hurts can be healed, all brokenness mended. Just come home.
Whether you are a family member or friend of the prodigal or whether you are that person, this book offers hope and an open invitation to return to the safety of forgiveness and restoration in Jesus.