Here in Kansas over the past ten days we have had some extreme winter weather, as have many of you around the nation. We knew it was coming thanks to modern weather forecasting. We were able to prepare as best we could for sub-zero temperatures and even worse wind chills and snow. What a blessing it is to be able to look ahead and to be ready when the storm hits!
Some of you know that I have been reading and studying through the book of Numbers. This book isn’t exactly known for super passages full of encouragement, but I have discovered, with the help of Raymond Brown’s book The Message of Numbers, that there are indeed many blessings and promises in this often-neglected book.
I finished Numbers yesterday. The last verse was amazing, and I wanted to share it with you today.
“These are the commandments and the ordinances which the Lord commanded to the sons of Israel through Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho.” (Numbers 36:13)
I believe I know what you’re thinking. Nothing in that verse reaches out and grabs you, does it?
But don’t be so quick to assume that this is just another dry verse from a rather dry book.
All throughout the book of Numbers, God had given His people commands to obey in order to survive the trip through the desert – but more importantly, in order to live victorious lives. Their lives would only be successful if they obeyed God. It was a lesson they learned over and over as they left Egypt and entered the desert.
Obedience brought victory and blessing.
Disobedience brought defeat and curses.
Now at the end of this book, after taking care of matters concerning land distribution and inheritances, there stood the nation of Israel on the east side of Canaan.
They stood in the plains of Moab, and what was ahead?
God had confirmed his commandments “…by the Jordan opposite Jericho.”
God had given them so many victories over their desert wanderings…so many lessons learned…so many providences.
Then He confirmed all His final commands to His people whom he loved when there, just ahead, were two HUGE difficulties.
The Jordan River, in flood stage and impassable.
Jericho, a well-fortified city that far outweighed any hope of defeat by a nation that had no real army.
God had given Israel the land upon which they now stood, but up ahead were seemingly impossible situations.
What was the key to victory?
Obedience. God’s presence was with them and His power was theirs if they but simply obeyed Him.
The Jordan River parted. Jericho fell. The stories are so fascinating in the book of Joshua. But the key, always, was for Israel to obey God.
“How could anybody possibly convey this huge contingent of nomadic people across that fast-flowing river, and how could an untrained army capture a well-fortified city like Jericho? The secret was in total obedience. Neither barrier was to be overcome by intellectual skills, geographical proficiency, crowd manipulation, army intelligence or military strategy. Two doctrinal factors prompted their obedience: God’s presence and God’s power.” (Raymond Brown)
What is ahead of you today?
Have you been walking in life, doing the best you can to obey God and live right?
But are you now looking ahead to a forecast that is anything but encouraging?
What huge thing in your life is looming ahead, causing you to lose sleep and to feel fear?
Whether our issues are national in scope, or personal in nature, each of us has plenty to keep us anxiously glancing at what is ahead on our horizons.
Please know that God’s presence and His power are fully yours if you know Him, and if you are obeying Him step by step, day by day.
God has not brought you to an impassable river to watch you drown.
And He has not brought you to a strongly walled city to watch you die.
You may be standing near…or in…some very tough situations. But like Israel as they stared at Jordan and Jericho, listen to what God says to you:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Look in God’s eyes as you listen to Him, not over His shoulder at your Jordan and Jericho that are looming large.
Be strong in God’s strength and rest in His presence.
Let God do the fighting and trust Him for the finish!