Day 26  Joshua 2 ... This Time with Courage

Often, as we have seen, the Israelites offer examples of what not to do.  The books  of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy contain many negative lessons and Moses’ speeches hint at further failures to come.  But the Old Testament does contain a few bright spots of hope, with the book of Joshua representing one of the brightest.

Joshua’s opening scene replays an earlier scene.  After listening to Moses’ swan song speeches, the refugees amassed again beside the Jordan River for a test of courage and faith.  Were they ready to cross into the Promised Land?  Forty years before, their forefathers had panicked in fear.  Now, without their legendary leader, Moses, would the Israelites panic again?  They had no chariots or even horses, only primitive arms, an untested new leader, and the promise of God’s protection.

But an entirely new spirit characterized this group, and the spy story in Joshua 2 expresses the difference clearly.  Forty years ago, sparking a revolt among the Israelites, only two of the twelve spies had held out any optimism.  But the older generation with its fearful slave mentality had died off, and the new generation was now led by one of the original optimistic spies, Joshua.

This time, Joshua handpicked his own scouts, and the report they brought back makes a sharp contrast with the spy report in Numbers (13:31-33).  The new scouts concluded, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”  Thus Joshua begins as a good-news book, a welcome relief from the discouragement of Numbers and the fatalism of Deuteronomy.  What a difference forty years had made!

The heroine of this chapter, Rahab the pagan prostitute, became a favorite figure in Jewish stories and was esteemed by the Bible writers as well (see Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25).  She proves that God honors true faith from anyone, regardless of race or religious background.  In fact, Rahab, survivor of Jericho, became a direct ancestress of Jesus.

Point to Ponder: Two sets of spies (Moses' and Joshua's) surveyed the same land, but brought back radically different reports.  When you confront obstacles, are you more likely to see them as problems or as opportunities?