When God shows up, miracles happen. Don’t you love how this story plays out? In the preceding chapter we saw Gideon as being a bit unsure. When God whittled his troops down to a few hundred men, I can’t imagine that did much for Gideon’s confidence. He certainly didn’t want to show up unprepared. But sometimes being overly prepared doesn’t allow for a miracle of God to be experienced to its fullest.
The LORD had proved himself to Gideon on more than one occasion since getting his attention in the winepress. Gideon was beyond asking for more proof, and yet God could sense there was some hesitation. God said to Gideon, “But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.”
The Promised Land is now ready and available for the Israelites at last. Sometimes it’s hard to put ourselves in the time and place we are reading about. This is one of those situations. I, for one, have never encountered warfare firsthand. I can just imagine how intense the rush of adrenaline must be.
What can we take away from these victories? To trust God’s process! Joshua knew what God had commanded Moses. Joshua was fulfilling that assignment. God was now empowering Joshua when he said, “Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men. Then you must cripple their horses and burn their chariots.” Joshua understood it was his role to be God’s hands and feet, leading the army to make it happen. Joshua only needed to remember “who” was in charge. It was God.
Joshua secretly sent two spies to investigate Jericho. Didn’t he trust God’s provision? Of course, he did. Even when we know we are doing exactly what God wants for us, and we’re living in his will, it’s up to us to do our due diligence. God has his part, and we have ours. Joshua wanted to be even more prepared so there would be no surprises.
Of all the places those men could have stayed, they found the perfect location. Rahab, as a prostitute, would have provided an unassuming place for a couple of guys, newbies in town, to go. However, somehow word had gotten out that the Israelites were on a scouting mission ahead of their battle to conquer. That was some good intel to be sure.
What does freedom mean to you? There are many people around the world who have never experienced freedom. Unfortunately, we often take it for granted. And as we’re seeing in the world right now, people are so focused on how their freedoms or rights are being violated they are forgetting the importance of their own responsibility. They go hand in hand. We need to take responsibility for our actions and be grateful for the blessing of freedom.
In God’s rant here, he is calling out the people of Israel as being stubborn. They are taking God for granted, and that is not pleasing to God. He warned them ahead of time what was going to happen so they wouldn’t be shocked or taken by surprise. I’m sure many chose not to believe because it sounded absurd. God is trying to get their attention in both instances where he uses this phrase, “Listen to me, O family of Jacob.” If you’re a parent, you know how frustrating it is when your children don’t listen!
Exactly! What happened to them? We know that Babylon doesn’t exist today. Its ruins lay in present day Iraq. But from our Biblical accounts, we understand that Babylon was once a bustling center of activity, had prominent status in the ancient world, and had taken the Israelites hostage for more than half a century. Babylon exists now as only a memory.
Today’s reading personifies Babylon into a beautiful woman. Imagine the Israelites hearing these prophetic words. What were they thinking? It’s like they were overhearing a conversation between God and Babylon. “Come down, virgin daughter of Babylon, and sit in the dust. For your days of sitting on a throne have ended. O daughter of Babylonia, never again will you be the lovely princess, tender and delicate.” For the oppression God’s people had endured, seeing Babylon described as tender and delicate seems odd, doesn’t it?