Over my years of pastoral ministry, one of the things that people often battle with is hearing God. As we read these accounts of God’s people moving into the Promised Land, into their promised inheritance its all too easy to pass over some profound little phrases…
“The Lord said to…” (Joshua 1:1, 3:7, 4:1, 4:15, 5:2, 5:9 &6:2…)
That phrase makes one want to say; “Wait, how? More information please!” In my personal experience, despite an absolute rock solid conviction that God does speak, that God wants to speak and wants me to hear Him speak to me/us, despite this, hearing God is not always easy.
And yet all through Scripture, it is assumed as normal for God’s people that we will hear God speaking to us, guiding us, encouraging us, exhorting us…
In our passage today, Joshua calls God’s people to embark on a military strategy that had never been tried before to overtake a city, and has never been tried again successdully either. The only reason God’s people took this action was that; “The Lord said to Joshua…”
When our personal experience doesn’t match up to the clear testimony of Scripture we are faced with two choices:
- Either we adjust our interpretation of Scripture based on our experience of lack thereof (never a good idea)
- We call on God, asking Him to align our experience with what we see revealed in Scripture (go for this option!)
Jesus promised that we will hear His voice, we will recognise it as His and so we will be able to follow His leading and guiding (John 10:27). Sometimes I think the problem is we only start asking God for His help, His voice of guidance when we face a Jericho moment, a large challenge or decision.
But Joshua has been practicing listening to God for years and years prior to this moment. It was his practice to follow Moses into the Tent of Meeting, to witness God speaking to Moses, and even after Moses left Joshua used to remain the in tent with God (Exodus 33:7-11). Joshua knew God’s voice by the time he stood before this great first challenge of Jericho as he lead God’s people into their inheritance.
We need to develop a habit of listening to God, waiting on Him in our private lives. We need to learn this habit in peacetime, when there isn’t an apparent urgent need SO THAT we will be able to hear God when there is…
Why not make Jesus’ promise (John 10:27) your own?
Ask God to speak to you, trust that He will, and obey Him when He does.
And when God speaks, even if it means doing things differently to the way they have always been done, or the way others think you should, decide to obey Him and watch what He will do through your obedience.