As Israel camped in the shadow of Jericho, on the foreign side of the Jordan River, and circumcised themselves in obedience to the Lord's commands, we'd be foolish to think that the men of Jericho weren't watching. We'd be foolish to think they didn't notice that this army that they were so afraid of had crossed over the river...and stopped. Just...set up camp on the shores of a river in flood stage.
We don't know how much the men of Jericho were able to see or hear of the Israelite camp. We don't know if they heard the shouts of pain and the groaning as the men submitted themselves to the Lord's command. We don't know if they saw the men lying around in pain, doing very little at all. We don't know what they saw or what they thought about what they saw.
But we know that the one thing they were certain they didn't see...was weakness.
At the point at which Israel was her most vulnerable, her enemies did not seem to notice her weakness at all.
We know that because the men of Jericho didn't take the initiative. They didn't come out against Israel. There were no shouts or cries of Israel being disabled, no notions that this was their chance to strike first. The men of Jericho, terrified of the Israelite army, watched as they crossed the Jordan and then moved no further, and there was no talk at all about how to take advantage of the situation. None. Not one man seemed to get a wild hair and think this was their moment.
Rather, all they could do was watch...and wait...and know that whatever was happening over there in that camp, the Lord was among them.
It's remarkable. It's not often that we comment on something that didn't happen, but this is truly remarkable.
And what a tremendous encouragement it is to those of us who are tempted to think that our righteousness is a vulnerability.
It can be tempting for us to think that when we make the decision to do what God desires of us, when we choose the faithful road instead of the obvious one, when we put ourselves in what seem like vulnerable situations, that our enemies are just sitting there, waiting to pounce on us. That the world can't wait to take advantage of a moment like this. Most of us would have crossed the Jordan, heard that God wanted us to circumcise ourselves, and then crossed right back over to the safe side to follow His commands. There's just something in us that wants shelter, not exposure. Something in us that wants certainty of safety. Something in us that doesn't want to have to be looking over our shoulder, knowing that the men of Jericho are watching us...and knowing that if we were them, this would be our moment.
That's the difference, I guess, between the men of Jericho and the men of Israel. Even in their weakened state, the men of Israel knew this was their moment. They knew, even while incapacitated, that their victory was certain. They weren't watching Jericho with nearly as much intensity as Jericho was watching them and yet, they feared nothing. Their eyes were on God, and when they looked at God, they saw something that we, staring at Jericho, too often fail to see:
That God's eyes were on them, too.
How can you be afraid in a moment like that?