After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10 NLT) God has blessed me with a godly heritage. i was raised by parents that loved the LORD and reflected Him not only in what they said, but also in the way they lived. i came to faith in Christ at the age of six in the basement of my paternal grandparents’ home. They hosted a Bible Club in their home for many years so that their grandchildren and other children in the neighborhood could hear the stories of the Bible and learn God’s Word. My paternal great grandfather was a homebuilder and developer in our family’s homestead city, and some of his most significant projects were the building of a large church in the center-city, a Bible conference center outside of town, a site for the annual Easter Sunrise service, etc.
Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. You will destroy them as you destroyed Jericho and its king. But this time you may keep the plunder and the livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the town.” Josh 8:1–2 NLT
A s a part of laying down roots in our new land of promise, we recently purchased an outdoor dining table and chairs for our deck. Since our old set served us well for over thirty years, i am planning that this one is our “last” set. This set came with those frightful words — “assembly required”. It is a well-known fact that the main difference between men and women is most clearly seen when they encounter those two words. Women, most frequently, will follow the wise course of action of reading and following the instructions. In so doing, they know each step to take — in the correct order — using the appropriate part. And the finished product tends to look just like the instructions show you that it will — and there are usually no leftover parts. Men, on the other hand — at least some of us — can’t seem to be bothered with reading the detailed instructions. We’re men! We intrinsically know how things go together! We can’t be distracted by the instructions. And we achieve great economies in that we frequently do not need to use all of the parts!
When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.” So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. (Josh 7:3-4 NLT) The situation had changed, and Joshua and the Israelites had no idea. The memory was fresh of their absolute defeat of Jericho. The imposing walls of Jericho had proven to be no problem at all! The men bringing this recommendation had just returned from spying out Ai. And Ai looked nowhere near as imposing as Jericho! Defeating Ai would take no effort. And though they didn’t say this, the confidence in their remarks communicates – “we don’t even need God to do this; we can handle it ourselves!” “We can leave 597,000 of our fighting force back in the camp. We only need 3,000 warriors. And they won’t even break a sweat.” Obviously i am putting words in their mouth, but i believe it fairly expresses their sentiment.
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.
“…When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them. Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you….” “…Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:3-5 NLT) The big day – the day they were to enter into the Promised Land – was now just one day away. Over fourteen thousand days had passed since their journey began, and only one day remained. i have no idea the journey that you are currently on, but i would venture that for most of you, the journey has been a whole lot less than fourteen thousand days. And though it may seem that you have been walking this path for that long – or longer – and whether God is now enabling you to cross over into the promise He has given you – or that time is still in the future – be mindful that you have not passed this way before.
Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them. “The LORD has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.” (Josh 2:23-24)
One of my favorite movie scenes is from the 1989 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Henry V”. The English noblemen and their outnumbered and less-skilled troops stand in the moments before the bloody Battle of Agincourt. The noblemen are lamenting the overwhelming odds that the French have over them and are maligning the many Englishmen who have chosen to stay at home in their warm beds instead of join their fellow countrymen on the field of battle. Morale is at a low; the English are all but defeated before the battle has even commenced. Having heard these laments from the shadows, Shakespeare’s King Harry (played in the movie by Kenneth Branagh) steps forth and begins to rally his troops with an impassioned speech. By its conclusion, his troops are celebrating that they are few in number, and are inspired to advance “once more unto the breach”. Though the speech is a work of fiction, it evokes the contagious spirit of courage and conviction with which King Harry led.
When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan….” We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” … He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.” (Josh 4:1-24)
Eight years ago i began to create an annual book of photographs highlighting our family’s special memories for the year. Digital desktop technology makes creating a book like that so much easier than printing individual pictures and putting them in an organized album – at least for me. We entitle each year’s book “A Year To Remember…” with the respective year. It has three benefits.