April 12, the Thirtieth Day of Lent

April 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.

-Hebrews 11.30-

The author of Hebrews continues his march through Israel’s history, shifting his focus from the events of the Exodus to the conquest of the Promised Land. We will leave Moses, the great intermediary, behind; the author would like to draw our attention once again the faith of the nation of Israel as a whole.

We saw yesterday how the author minimized the role of Moses’ faith in the previous verse. Today, he does something similar with the leader of Israel at that time: Joshua. Having been Moses’ servant and understudy during the time of the wilderness wanderings, Joshua assumed the same position of leadership when Moses died. If we read this story in Joshua 6, we can see Joshua functioning much as Moses did; he speaks directly with God (see Joshua 5.13-15 for an example), carries out God’s commands, leads the people, and inspires faith in them.

However, once again, our attention is drawn to the faith of the people and Joshua is not mentioned. When we consider the position of the people, as we did yesterday, we can see how they demonstrated faith. Jericho was located at a strategic point of entry into the Promised Land; the Israelites would have to conquer the city before they could go any further. They surround the city and begin a siege. However, God commands them not to engage in normal tactics of siege warfare; there is to be no tunneling, no weakening of city walls, no fire set to the town. Instead, God tells them to get the Ark of the Covenant, a few priests, a few trumpeters, and the armed forces of the people… And walk around the city. Hardly typical battle tactics.

So they did this. And they did it again. And again. Six days they marched around Jericho; on the seventh, they shouted, the walls collapsed, and the city was taken. We may wonder what it would have been like to be a soldier or a priest walking around Jericho every day for a week, believing that the walls would fall on the seventh day.

Perhaps we can relate in a way; perhaps God has promised us victory in an area of our lives, something that requires nothing less than a breakthrough. We have surrendered our hearts time and again, placed the matter in his hands, and yet nothing seems to happen. We feel like we’re walking in circles. This passage reminds us that in these situations, while we anticipate the breakthrough of the seventh day, we may be walking through the third or fourth day at the moment. There is no need to be discouraged; God will accomplish his will on his timetable. It is our place to accept this fact and live in the strong belief that he will.

As we journey through Lent together, may we wait for God’s timing.

“Dear Lord, I repent of the times when I have asked you to hurry or when I have been frustrated because I felt you were moving slowly or not at all. Please help me to rest in patience as you work in your time; help me to continue on in prayer, study, and devotion even if I cannot see immediate results in my life. Thank you Lord for your work and your timing. Amen.”

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