No doubt most of us have heard the sound of a vuvuzela during the World Cup soccer matches in South Africa. These very distinctive noisemakers announce clearly that a soccer match is in progress. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about the trumpet call to battle, a very clear, distinct sound (see 1 Cor. 14:8). Israel could distinguish the sound of the various sounds of the trumpet, or shofar; some announced battle, and others announced festivals.
The Foursquare Church heard the clear trumpet of the Lord in Atlanta: “Be strong and courageous.” God spoke those words to Joshua when he was getting ready to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the promise of their future. The journey would be filled with the miraculous, but the Israelites would encounter multiple challenges that would test both their faith and their faithfulness.
They were reminded they had never traveled that way before (see Josh. 3:4). They were also comforted that the Lord would do amazing things among them as they consecrated themselves to His service (see Josh. 3:5). They faced three very distinct crises just as they were beginning to claim God’s promise.
- They encountered the great walled city of Jericho. The Lord gave the Israelites clear direction regarding their first challenge. They were to march around the walled city for six days, and then, on the seventh day, they were to march around it seven times, with the priests blowing the shofars. After the final lap, the Israelites were to give a great shout. When they did that, the mighty walls of Jericho crumbled. Even though we are walking in a prophetic future designed by the Lord, we will encounter strongholds that will only be torn down as we walk in obedience to the Lord’s commands.
- They experienced as a nation the consequences of one man’s sin. Israel was told by the Lord to not take the spoils of war, but Achan disobeyed. He took articles from Jericho and hid them in his tent. When Israel engaged the next city in battle, Israel was defeated. Joshua had to deal decisively with Achan’s sin or allow all of Israel to continue to experience God’s judgment. Courageous decisions keep the flow of God’s blessings coming.
- They encountered the treachery of the Gibeonites. Claiming to be foreigners, the delegation from Gibeon asked for a peace treaty with Israel. Joshua accepted their offer without inquiring of the Lord and signed the treaty. The Gibeonites were actually close neighbors and should have been conquered along with the other Canaanite peoples. The results of not seeking the will of the Lord affected Israel for generations to come. Leaders desperately need the counsel of the Lord at all times and in all matters.
We do not know all of the challenges that we will face as we boldly claim our future, but we can be assured that, just as the Lord was with the Israelites, He will surely be with us. We must simply commit to let His presence lead us as we consecrate ourselves to His service.
I am intrigued by fact that God told Israel build a monument in the middle of the Jordan River. The monument was to be constructed of 12 stones—one from each tribe of Israel. When future generations saw the stones, they would remember that God had stopped the flow of the Jordan River so that Israel could walk across on dry ground and claim the land of promise. As we possess the future and the promises of God, let us determine to build memorials so that future generations will know of His faithfulness.