Saturday, March 6, 2021

Disabling the Army

Let me ask you a question: let's say that you've spent forty years building an army, talking about the conquests you're going to have, painting for them a picture of the victories to come. The first group you tried to put together fizzled out, but now, you've got a winning team. Everyone's excited. They're ready to go. They're armed for battle and confident in victory, and they can almost taste the milk and honey on the other side. 

The question now is, at what point is it best to completely disable your army?


You read that right. At what point is it best to completely disable your army?

We're of course talking about Israel. And we're talking about the Promised Land. 

Remember how the first time Israel came to the Promised Land, they chickened out? Moses sent spies into the land, and they came back and told everyone what a great land it was and how beautiful and lush and fertile and fruitful. But they also told the people about the strength of the peoples who already lived there, how they were certain to be crushed if they even tried to take the land, how it was best if they all just turned around right now and went back to Egypt. 

So Israel spends 40 years wandering in the wilderness until they can amass a new army out of the next generation, an army that doesn't remember what Egypt was like but instead, tastes the victory of the Lord already on their tongues. An army that's ready to march across the Jordan and take what's promised to them. An army that believes that God is on their side and that the battle is theirs for the taking. 

A generation passes, and Israel's got her army. She's got her young men who are ready to do this thing. So her priests and Levites step into the Jordan River, the water parts, and Israel marches across, into the shadow of Jericho's walls. 

Jericho knows they're coming. They know the new set of spies has already been there, and they've had their eyes on Israel for awhile. The whole city, Rahab tells them, is in fear of them. The men of Jericho are sleeping with one hand on their swords. The lookouts in their watchtowers give hourly reports about what's happening in the camp of the Lord just across the Jordan. So you can bet that it causes a stir, that tensions are boiling, that something's about to give when Jericho sees Israel - finally - coming. 

And then, as the Levites come up out of the water and the Jordan washes back down over its banks, God says...wait. 

In the shadow of Jericho...wait. 

While your enemies watch you, swords in hand...wait. 

While the people you're about to defeat plot your demise...wait. 

Because none of the Israelite army had been circumcised in that wilderness. None of them had been set apart for the Lord. And, well, now's as good a time as any, isn't it? So the Lord commands Israel to camp on the enemy's side of the Jordan, in full sight of Jericho, and circumcise themselves. And then wait until they recover before they move on. 

Maybe it's just me, but this seems like something better suited for the safe side of the Jordan, don't you think? 

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