So Joshua told the Israelites, “Come and listen to what the LORD your God says. Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you. (Joshua 3:9-10 NLT) Today you will KNOW! If there has been any question or doubt that God is among you, today that will be settled – once and for all! Today your “hope” will no longer be a “wish”; it will have become a confident trust. It will no longer simply be a longing or desire; it will have become the source of your longing and desire. Today your “faith” will no longer be based upon sincere intention; it will be founded on immutable truth. Your faith will no longer be based on an idea or an ideal; it will be firmly planted in the Person of the Almighty God.
The Israelites had seen God’s activity throughout their journey. Those who were adults, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, had either been children at the time of the exodus from Egypt, or had been born during the wilderness journey. And the children had no memory of the exodus. But they had all heard the accounts of God’s deliverance – the plagues, the angel of death passing over, and the parting of the Red Sea – and how God had given Moses the Law written in His hand on the tablets of stone. And all of them had seen God’s daily provision of manna and heard of His miraculous provision of water and quail. But many of them only had a secondhand knowledge of who God was and the promises He had given. As they prepared to enter into the land that had been promised by God, Joshua told the people to draw close – to come and listen – so they might know.
Before you see His works, hear His words. They were standing before a river that they needed to cross over, and they had no means with which to do it. Upon entry into the land, their first encounter would be with a foe who was protected by impenetrable walls. They were about to see God order events and provide for their needs in very “unconventional” ways – ways that could only be described as supernatural. And God did not simply want the people to be amazed by His wonders; He wanted them have such faith and trust in Him that they were expectant of His wonders. When every fact of science, military convention and human wisdom indicated a different outcome, He wanted His people to have unwavering faith and rock-solid trust in Him, and what He was about to do. He wanted them to be able to look at the circumstances ahead through His lens – the lens of Who He is and what He has said.
God wanted the people to know Him, to know His voice and to know the fellowship of His presence. And that was not solely a “collective” knowing; He wanted that – He wants that – for each and every individual. He sacrificed His Son on a cross so that we might be able to have that intimate relationship with Him – and He might be able to have it with us. That’s how much He desired it. That’s how much He desires it! And He did not want the people to know Him through secondhand knowledge. He wanted them – and us – to know Him personally, to know His voice intimately, and to know the fellowship of His presence warmly.
Because once i truly know Him, Who He is and what He has said, i can then have the everlasting assurance of His presence and His promise. When the storm comes up (because it will!), i can have confidence that the One who is Sovereign over the storm is there in the boat with me (Mark 4:35-41) – or as Joshua says in this passage, “is among you”. When we come to that place of assurance, the storm is no longer the absolute reality; the absolute reality is the One who is sovereign over the storm. And i must be far more focused on who He is and what He has said about the storm – or the river, or the walled city – than i am on the situation or the circumstance itself.
Yes, as His children, He will allow us to see and experience His works, but as we hear His words – as we meet Him face-to-face – we will experience something even more precious than His assurance, we will experience the intimacy of His presence.
After you have heard His words, see His works. “He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you.” He will drive out the enemies ahead of you – or those that surround you. More often than not, our real enemy is not flesh and blood, it is principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12-13) and apart from Him we are defenseless against them. Perhaps your enemy is spiritual strongholds that are causing your family to crumble, or backbiting by a coworker that is making your life at work unbearable, or the persecution you are receiving from your unbelieving family for your relationship with Christ. Only He can drive out the enemies, so i must walk in the intimacy of His presence. (And if there is ANYTHING in my life that is disrupting the intimacy of my walk with Him, i must immediately deal with it – 1 John 1:9.) Only He can drive out the enemies, so i must walk in the knowledge and assurance of His promise (John 15:7). Only He can drive out the enemies, so i must walk confidently, steadfastly and unwaveringly in the reality of His Person (Phil 1:6).
He will give you possession of the promise He has made. His arm has not grown short; that which He has promised He will fulfill (Deuteronomy 11:2; Hebrews 10:23).
And through it all, God was at work to make His Name known to all the nations that His Name be glorified among every tongue and tribe – through the works of His majesty and through the testimony of a people wholly His. So it wasn’t sufficient for them just to see His works; they must know His words, know Him and know the intimacy of His presence. God is still at work through the lives of His people – through the works of His majesty and the testimony of our lives. He is at work to conform each of us more into the image of His Son that He is glorified in and through us (Romans 8:29).
So there is much more at stake. There is much more than the defeat of your enemies. There is much more than the possession of the promise He has given you. “Come and listen to what the LORD your God says. Today you will KNOW”…!
(Excerpt from “Lessons Learned In The Wilderness — Possessing The Promise”. For more information about the book see http://www.wildernesslessons.com/Possessing_The_Promise.html.)