I have always loved Christmas. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Today, I love it because I enjoy doing for other people and watching the excitement of the people I care about as they get a gift they truly wanted. However, like most kids, Christmas was exciting because I was receiving. Do you remember counting down the days until Christmas? Maybe picking up a package with your name on it, shaking it and trying to figure out if that gift is the one thing you wanted more than any other? We lived for expectation of what Christmas morning would bring us. Sometimes we might have received that expected, longed-for gift and maybe other times we did not. However, when it comes to the promises of God, we can live with great expectations because when God promises, He delivers. We don’t have wonder IF he will deliver; we can know it with confidence. In fact, once God makes a promise, it is as good as done. Joshua learned this when he encountered and angel just before conquering Jericho.
Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one went in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” – Joshua 6:1-2
Jericho was part the Promised Land. God first promised the Land of Canaan to Abraham in Genesis 12:1. “The Lord said to Abram: ‘Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” As generation passed to generation, God renewed the promise through Abraham’s genealogy. When the Israelites approached the land after Moses led them out of Egypt, they sent ten spies into Jericho to see what the land was like. That’s when they learned there were giants in the land and their fear took root and grew quickly spreading throughout the Israelites. However, there were two spies, Joshua and Caleb, who stood their ground and stood firm in their faith and told the people that God would give them the land. As a result they spent forty years wondering around in the wilderness and from that generation, only Joshua and Caleb would live long enough to enter Jericho.
Jericho was one of the first and major cities in Canaan that would need to be conquered for the Israelites to take possession of the land God promised. At the end of the forty years of wandering, Moses passes the mantel of leadership to Joshua and Joshua leads the nation across the Jordan river….not across a bridge. They didn’t all get on a boat and cross over. Instead, God parts the river and they walk across on dry land, just as the previous generation had done at the Red Sea as they left Egypt. The people living in Jericho heard about the incident and now this great nation was camping out on their side of the river. Joshua 5:1 says, “When all the Amorite kings across the Jordan to the west and all the Canaanite kings near the sea heard how the Lord had dried up the water of the Jordan before the Israelites until they had crossed over, they lost heart and their courage failed because of the Israelites.” The kings of these cities were scared and so they closed the gates to the cities and locked them up tight. In fact, it was so tightly shut that no one went out of the city and no one went in. So if you are Joshua and your first duty once in charge of God’s chosen nation is to conquer this city and all the people are looking to your leadership skills to get them inside, what do you do? We already know that Joshua is a man of faith as we saw 40 years earlier when he entered the city as a spy. Because of that, I like to think that Joshua prayed and asked God what he should do. Whether he did or not, he got a most unexpected visitor.
In verse 13, an angel of the Lord appears to Joshua; but not just any angel. It’s the commander of the Lord’s army that comes to have a conversation with Joshua and he gives Joshua a most peculiar battle plan. Some theologian argue that this being that visits Joshua is the pre-incarnate Jesus while other say it was a powerful angel that God sent to Joshua. Either way, the messenger tells Joshua to remove his sandals for he is standing on holy ground and we see Joshua bowing out of reverence and respect and worshiped the messenger.
As exciting as would be to have such a messenger appear to me and have a conversation with me, the part that is most telling is found in the first two verses of Joshua, chapter 6 where this angel brings a message from God that says, “See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” What do you notice about the word delivered? Yes, it is past-tense. As if it were already done! And then the angel gives the battle plan.
My friend, when God gives a promise, you can stand firm in your faith and know that He will deliver! In God’s eyes, it’s already done. The battle is won before it even begins! Because of God’s faithfulness to keep his promises, we can live our lives with great expectations knowing that at any moment of any day the deliverance of his promises could be manifested in our lives. There are times when it might be years from now or maybe not even in our lifetime. Yet still we can rest assure that what God promises, he will do!