February 10, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: ‘Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan at this point to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your very own land.’” (Joshua 1.10-11)
So, the storyteller in me reads that “third day” acknowledgement and imagines that the timing is quite intentional on God’s part. Of course, God’s timing is always intentional and perfect. God’s timing is a “top down” reality. It is difficult to see “what time it is” when we are in the midst of the world. We put our requests in front of others and God with the sincere desire that someone will hear them, listen to them and provide for us what we are not able to access or achieve ourselves. And when there is a delay in the response, our first inclination is “no one cares enough to hear me, listen to me and help me.” That belief is extended into the heavenly realm to apply to God. From this very human perspective, God is a distant and uncaring entity. For some it becomes evidence that God does not even exist. All of this is considered because it does not match our perfect timing which is “Right NoW!” This was evident when Elisha was surrounded by his enemy seeking to end his life. His servant was struck by fear and in his trembling doubted there could be a good end to the situation. Elisha prayed to God to open his eyes so he could see what Elisha knew to be true. (2 Kings 6.17ff) When the servant’s eyes were opened, he could see a fiery heavenly host surrounding those who surrounded them. It was an evidentiary sign only. The fiery army was the confidence builder that God was always ready to show His presence and His will to save that which is His. But, it was not the time for the fiery army to act apart from being present. There was another way of action which Elisha, with God’s assistance, was able to engage. Turning the attacking army into blind men, Elisha then led the entire attacking army into captivity at the hands of the Israelite king. We might say that the new generation which surrounded Joshua was blinded to the truth of the promised land. None of them had seen what Joshua, Caleb and the ten spies of old saw “for better and for worse.” Yet, what they could see was that anything was better than where they were. Even Joshua was made to wait thirty-eight years for the perfect timing of answered prayer. In God’s right time, the word was given. It was a time of deliverance and transformation.
Now if the following scenario had been true, I have no doubt that it would be explicitly revealed in the presented Word of God. Still, many things are left as a mystery for us to discover. Bear with me, if you will, and consider the following as just one example of learning from God’s perfect timing. Of course, as I mentioned yesterday, when we as Christ followers hear “on the third day” we think almost immediately of the promise of resurrection. Jesus’ declaration of “the third day” was not a focus on death but life. In order to gain the fullest blessing of life (for Him and for us) there had to be a death. The Hebrews, as ancestors and current generation, were beneficiaries of the Passover. Passover occurs on the fifteenth day of Nisan. For us that occurs in March or April depending on the lunar calendar and the first day of Spring. When it happened that year when Joshua was commanded to take the nation of Jacob Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land is not so important. That it could have been that time of year presents an interesting look at the providence of God for His people. What if that “third day” was indicative of the season of Passover? The power of those three days would be significant to the whole transformation of the nation of Israel from desert squatters to Promised Land re-acquirers. We have to remember that as descendants of Jacob Israel, and back to Abraham himself, this Promised Land actually was their true homeland. Warring tribes and nations took advantage of their four hundred year absence to claim the land as their own. It was a primitive “finders keepers, losers weepers.” But, now the land that had been promised to Abraham and his descendants who would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens or the grains of sand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee was being re-given to those very descendants. You can imagine the angst of those who were the true Promised Land squatters who long had forgotten the presence of Abraham and his God. They were being removed and kicked out of their “ancestral” home. This moment in time was the affirmation and confirmation of God’s promise to the Hebrew ancestors in the first Passover. This would have been the fortieth Passover and thus a very special celebration. Why? Because forty designates a time of deliverance by the Spirit of God..
Imagine, if you will, as the people were beginning to celebrate their past deliverance out of the bondage in Egypt where the Spirit of God moved over the “face of the deep,” they were on the precipice of entering in that new era of prosperity promised generations before. The first day of Passover was a preparation day to consecrate what God had done. The second day was a day of worship and sabbath rest to allow everyone to contemplate what God was doing. Then there was the third day. The third day, the first of the week, was always a “moving” day. No one knows that better than the community of faith in Jesus as the Christ. They were moved out of death into life. They were moved out of powerlessness into powerfulness. They were moved out of the shadows and into the light. They were moved out of the past and into the future. They were moved out of despair and into joy. They were moved out of possibility and into opportunity. They were moved out of bondage to sin and into the freedom of the Spirit. There is a real truth to holding fast to the tradition of the past where it concerns Passover, Sabbath and Resurrection. What if that “third day” for Joshua and the nation of Israel was indeed a part of that Passover season?
What if it were the very season we are preparing to move into in less than two weeks beginning with Ash Wednesday on February 22 and continuing on for forty days until we arrive at Passover on April 6: “the third day” possibility of moving into our promised future? It is something to consider as God reminds us not of our past but preparing today for our most certain future!
Father, Your timing is perfect. We pray for the wisdom and the strength to be of good courage to embrace Your timing for our lives. We commit ourselves to prepare for our “moving” day knowing the message of resurrection is both Your joy and our strength in Jesus’ name. Amen.