Posted by: lepages | February 28, 2011

God prepares the way for his people

Was really looking forward to updating my blog whilst I was away at Life in the Spirit (brilliant conference – book now for next year!!). Unfortunately my Netbook threw a wobbly and couldn’t find either my favourite Ubuntu Operating System, or the horrible Windows 7 one…

Fortunately on Sunday we had some good friends around for dinner after church, and one of them, Simon Bell, a computer genius was able to restore my system – so I’m now sitting here happily tapping away! πŸ™‚

So, time to post the second of my preaches from Joshua. At some point I also hope to post some reflections from my time at Life in the Spirit and subsequent time with God, as well as a training diary update (looking forward to my first race of the season on Saturday – the Dunmow Duathlon)

So preach 2 from Joshua based on Joshua 2

If you’d like to hear the preach, you can do some from here.

God prepares the way for his people

Joshua 2

Introduction
Last week we looked at Joshua 1 and the call to commit to God and the purposes of his Kingdom, and we reflected on the wonder of God’s commitment to us. This week we see some of those principles being worked out in a real live situation with all the complexities of real life when living in an imperfect world.

Joshua 2 shows again God’s commitment to his people and we have the helpful heading for the week God prepares the way for his people – because he does – if we keep in step with the Spirit then you can be sure that God is preparing the way for you in life.

Ephesians 2:10, in talking about God’s grace says:-
β€œFor we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

This past week, where you were a blessing to another human being, God made it possible for you to be able to be that blessing – in the week ahead, maybe today, maybe after the service, maybe even as the service goes on this morning, there will be blessings, good works, which God has prepared in advance for you to do.

In Joshua 2 we see how God prepared the way for his people to take possession of land. Its not easy reading for our comfortable Western mind sets, but I guess if you lived in Sudan, as the prospect of a homeland for the largely Christian south looms large, you might be able to identify with the thoughts of having a safe country of your own.

Aside from the political situations being portrayed here, there are underlying themes about the way God prepares situations to work out his purposes in all sorts of contexts; themes which we can take and apply to our lives, in the knowledge that he has a plan and purpose for our lives, personally and together as a body of his people, things that he has prepared in advance for us to do, things that will help us see his Kingdom coming, his will being done, on earth as it is in heaven – as Jesus encourages us to pray.

I want us to be able to enter into the experience of how that worked out in the situations we read of in Joshua 2. Sometimes the best way in which we can enter into something is to hear testimony from someone who was there, so this morning I’m going to stop being ‘Steve’ for a while and enter into sharing the testimony of one of the spies – his name has been withheld for security reasons!! You might like to follow the account as it’s recorded in Joshua 2, as I will take a little poetic license beyond the scripture to try and help us enter into the events recorded here.

Please give a warm welcome to our international spy…….

(In role)

Well, thank you – it’s not often that I’m introduced in that way! And I hope you understand that it’s appropriate for my name to be kept secret as there are still tensions, all these thousands of years later, in the region I went to spy on.

I remember the occasion well.
We were camped in Shittim, just east of the land which Joshua had just affirmed to us was to be ours, under the hand of God, when a call came to me and one of my colleagues to go and meet with Joshua. This was a surprise and an honour. We knew he was a strategic thinker. We knew we were at the top end of some of the forces, but what was he going to ask of us?

Well, when we met with him – he didn’t waste anytime – he was direct and to the point –
β€œGo look over the land,” he said, β€œespecially Jericho.”

So we did. We didn’t waste any time.
But how were we going to get into Jericho without arousing suspicion?
No matter how much we adapted our clothing, voices, the reality was that we would be seen as being different and with the hordes of our people over in the region of Shittim, tension was going to be in the air and people would be on the lookout – a bit like some of your people were after the sad events of 9/11 as you refer to it.

We knew that there would be prostitutes operating in a city like that. Perhaps if we were to call in at her place it wouldn’t arouse suspicion? Two young men travelling – everyone knows the sort of thing they get up to….

We were concerned about the prostitute too though. We knew that she might fear some guys from out of town (not the normal crowd) given the current situation. Would she fear that we’d rough her up, abuse her, leave without paying her? Would she seek to betray us if there was any fear? She’d certainly have had the ear of some of the top guys in the city.

We decided that we were going to surprise her by being exactly what she would not expect 2 young men arriving at her door to be.

When she opened the door, she was her normal, beautiful, seductive self – she welcomed us in – as she would any paying man – oh, and she was so beautiful…. it would have been so easy to take advantage of all her services…. but we chose not to.

She said, ‘I know where you’ve come from…. but work is work…’

We said, ‘We’re not here as you’d think… just to have a good time.
We want somewhere to stay for the night. We’re not going to hurt you. We’re not going to abuse you. We’ll pay you your normal rates, as long as we can just stay here for the night.’

She said, ‘Okay.’ But then added, ‘You know that if I’ve recognised you as you arrived here, probably some of the other men seeing you coming in will have done so as well. But don’t worry, you’re welcome to stay. You’re treating me differently to what I expected.’
The woman’s response, Rahab was her name, was the first sign that God had gone before us and prepared the way – someone who was prepared to help us out, even though there was risk involved – given what she’d just said.

Unbeknown to us, news of our arrival had already reached the King of the city.

Rahab was a sharp lady. Her network of contacts soon revealed that trouble was ahead.

She came to us and said,
‘They’ll be coming for you soon. I hear news of your arrival has reached the king of the city. Come up to the roof. I have piles of flax there that I am drying out. Come! I can hide you under them. I’ll tell them when they come that you were here. That we’ve conducted our business and you’ve gone your way.’

To trust her or not? She could just expose us.

Sometimes you just have to trust God in life and that means trusting him to oversee situations where you’re not in control.

She didn’t need to warn us of the coming visit, but she’d chosen to do so. Just as we’d felt God had prepared the way in our initial conversation, so we had to trust that God was preparing the way for our deliverance through this woman that we might not expect help from – sometimes God arranges for help to come from the most unexpected sources.

Who would have expected a prostitute, in a foreign city to be the one who would bring deliverance to us as God’s people – and in reality, spies in her land…..

We were hidden in the flax on the roof. We could hear the sound from the street below… the sound of the arriving officials from the king of Jericho… we tensed up… we heard the knock at the door below, Rahab answering it, and then the direct words of command:-
β€œBring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

We were holding our breath, tensed with fear, ready for fight or flight…. would she prove true to her word?? Praise God, she did.

What a great God we have to lead us to a woman like this – a woman whom many would look down on and yet who was true to her word to us.

We heard her words from below:-
β€œYes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.”

The men turned and set out straight away, heading down the roads that led to the ford crossings on the Jordan River – assuming that we were returning towards the Shittim region.
The city gates were shut.

We let out a sigh of relief and began to breathe easy again.

A quick word of thanksgiving, ‘Thank you Lord!’

We lay down to rest – there was no point leaving this safe point at this time, besides which we were supposed to check out the city and needed to wait until our pursuers were well clear of us.

We were just settling down when Rahab came up to us… and gave us all the information we needed to know.

Indeed our God had been preparing the way for us, in ways we had not imagined!
Even our investigations were to be easier than anticipated as a result.
We were not expecting her opening words….

β€œI know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.”

We knew that the LORD was going to give us the land, but we weren’t expecting this lady to acknowledge as such, even before it had happened…. nor were we expecting to hear that the people of the land were melting in fear of us… we knew there would be tensions… just as there are in many areas of political change across your world today, but to hear that the people were melting in fear was news to report.

She went on:-
β€œWe have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts sank and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

Testimony to what God has done is a powerful thing you know!
Words are powerful things.
Be careful how you use them.
But use them to declare what God has done in your life.
Who knows how God may use your testimony to move others – which is why I am here sharing mine.

Truly our God had gone before us to prepare the way – in ways we had never imagined – the people being in fear, just because of the stories that they’d heard of what God had already done for us.

It was wonderful to hear this woman testifying that the LORD our God, was and indeed is, the God of heaven and earth, the one who reigns over all things.

Fantastic news, people living in fear, people acknowledging the reality of who the credit lies with – our God, the LORD!

She then asked us to protect her and her family from death when the inevitable invasion came.

β€œOur lives for your lives!” we assured her β€œIf you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.”

Her descendent, the Messiah, many generations later was to say, ‘be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves’. That’s what we sought to be.

Having assured one another, she let us down by a rope through a window as her house was built into the city wall.

We gave her a scarlet rope, and told her to tie it in her window and to bring all her family into her home, and that would be the means of ensuring their protection.

Scarlet (red) has always been the colour of deliverance. It was when we were delivered in Egypt, when our people painted blood on the door posts and lintels of our homes as a protection. It had been for us as we had offered sacrifices after Moses gave us the Law,
the blood shed covering our sins.

It still is today, as that descendent of Rahab, Jesus, the Messiah was sacrificed to deal with the problem of the sin of the world, and you have on the table before you small glasses of wine, of grape juice, symbolic of his blood shed for your deliverance.

That scarlet cord would be the deliverance of her and her family.
She tied it there and then, and as we left she said:-
β€œGo to the hills so that the pursuers will not find you.
Hide yourselves there for three days until they return, and then go on your way.”

We did as she said, scarpering away quickly to the hills, avoiding the roads. We moved around, maintaining the high ground where we would have a good view should they attempt to seek us away from expected routes. As we moved around we talked, how amazing was it that God should oversee things in ways we could not imagine…. how amazing that he should choose to use the least expected to help bring about his purposes… how amazing that he should turn a woman like that around to himself…

We went down out of the hills after three days, by which time those who had been searching for us had returned to Jericho, headed towards the Jordan River, forded across and went and shared the news of all that had happened with Joshua.

I remember clearly the pleasure it gave us to say to Joshua:-
β€œThe LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”

As I conclude and hand back to Steve, can I just say to you, never be surprised at whom God might use to bring about his purposes and his blessings in your life; never think that anyone is beyond God’s ability to reach out to and turn around to himself, and remember that God can always use the testimony of what he’s done in your life powerfully to touch other’s lives.

Thank you for listening to my testimony of how God prepared the way for us in ways we did not anticipate. The Lord bless you all.

Conclusion

Well, big thanks to our international spy for sharing something of his experience of God preparing the way in his life. Let’s praise our God because he is with us always, he is working out his purposes in and through our lives and let’s testify to the way he’s been doing that in us, as we’ve been encouraged to do. Let’s go into this week expecting to step into the things that God has prepared in advance for us to do. Let’s go into this week conscious that he may work in ways we don’t expect and conscious that no-one is beyond his reach.

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Responses

  1. […] athletic side of life tomorrow…. possibly!! My preach takes us to Joshua 7, leaping along from my preach from Joshua 2. If you’d like to hear what went inbetween, you can listen in at Rutland Road […]


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