I'm known among my family and friends for having a terrible sense of direction. It doesn't matter whether I am driving or walking. It doesn't matter whether I'm in Sydney or in some other part of Australia. It doesn't matter if I'm in the United States in big cities like Chicago. I often feel like I know the right way, but then I end up heading in exactly the opposite direction. It's uncanny. You'd think that I would learn to trust other people's directions. Even when I'm given directions from people who know what they're talking about, people who are locals, there's always a part of me that thinks, I'm pretty sure I know a better way. I've got it wrong before, but I think this time I'm right.
That's what we see happening in Joshua, particularly in chapters 7 and 8. It's a story that involves disregarding clear instructions and then underestimating the seriousness of that decision. But this isn't just a matter about getting lost in the streets of Sydney or Chicago. These chapters show us what it means to come before the holy God, underestimating who he is and the seriousness of our sin.
By the end of chapter 2 the Israelites are poised to enter the Promised Land. Then in chapters 3 and 4 we read about that miraculous crossing of the Jordan, and it's reminiscent of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. It was miraculous enough to cross the Jordan River, which is a deep river. But they crossed it at the time when it was at flood stage, and all the people crossed on dry land. Chapter 4:24 summarizes it this way:
The Lord your God did to the Jordan just what he did to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord ...
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