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Below you’ll find my thoughts as they pertain to each portion of scripture we read this week. My answers are quite lengthy only because I was incredibly excited about the stories I read. I’m still thinking about the battle of Jericho and all that can be said about God’s timing, but it’s 1 in the morning and there are only so many hours in a day so I’ll leave it here. Come back on Monday when we’ll continue our study on Faith & Provision.
Week 1 Conclusion
Do you know what I’ve noticed about most of my trials? There’s not so much pain in the trial itself, but in the fear of what the outcome might be.
Reading Acts Chapter 16, I was in awe of these men. After Paul and Silas were severely beaten, chained and imprisoned, they sang hymns to the Lord. Could I be that faithful? It’s so much easier to hang on to our misery and fear than it is to exercise faith. It’s easier to stress than it is to trust in the wisdom of God.
Let’s take a look at this verse:
“They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.” – Psalm 107:27-28
That’s how most of us go through life. We wait until we’re at wit’s end before we cry out to the Lord. Here’s an interesting little tidbit: the term “wit’s end” originates from that verse in the KJV translation of the Bible.
The original Hebrew word was chokmah – defined as wisdom. (Strong’s H2451)
The problem here is that we’re waiting until our wisdom runs out before we choose God. God’s wisdom doesn’t always make sense to us. How could it possibly make sense when we can’t see the whole picture? God sees today, He sees yesterday, and He sees tomorrow. He sees the heart and the flesh, He sees the struggle, He knows what next year will bring before the sun sets today.
What I found in our study this week is that men and women courageously followed God’s will, when it didn’t make sense.
Paul and Silas found peace in the midst of their trial because they believed that God’s wisdom was greater than anything they understood to be true. Abraham was tested in a way that most of us couldn’t even begin to imagine, but he courageously followed God’s call. Not because it made sense to Him, but because He believed that God would make sense of it all–in His own way and in His own time. And He did.
What I started to notice about God’s provision is that He went ahead of them to prepare. Let that sink in for a minute. Consider how God is at work in Your own life. He goes before you to fight the battle before you even arrive.
In Joshua Chapter Two, we see God’s provision again and again. He went ahead of the spies to prepare Rahab’s heart that she might hide and protect them. And then He provided for Rahab by keeping her family safe.
But here’s the thing. If you don’t step out in faith–if you don’t take that courageous step to choose joy, to give up that thing God requires of you, or to obey the Word of God when it doesn’t make sense, you’re closing the door to His provision and power.
Acts 16:16-40 – Paul and Silas in Prison
What I’ve learned about courageous faith this week is that we’re not the ones doing the work, God is working through us, just as He was working through each and every individual that we read about. All they had to do was show up for work. When we’re willing to be used by God, He will move through us.
In Acts 16:16 we see that Paul and Silas were going to a place of prayer. They weren’t going out to meet the female slave, nor were they going out to meet the jailer. God brought these people to them because He knew He could use them.
How many of us are willing to be stripped down and severely beaten with rods for the sake of our faith? Paul and Silas didn’t choose that for themselves, however they did choose their reaction to it, which speaks volumes about their faith.
Verse 25 says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (NIV)
Here’s a question for you. When you’re going through trials, what are the people around you listening to? Are they hearing you grumble and complain from a place of despair, or are they hearing you praise God for His goodness and grace?
Do you have more faith in the power of your trial or in God’s power to change it? We can’t dictate the situations we’re given, but we always have the opportunity to choose the way we receive them.
There’s a famous quote that says, “You might be the only Bible that some people read.” And so, we must give careful attention to the message we share. If you’re ever wondering what that might look like in your life, remember the fruit of the Sprit:
Looking at that list, it’s interesting to note that Paul and Silas exercised all of their fruit in this short portion of scripture.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
That word “pure” in verse 2 is translated as “all” in the King James Version. It means the entirety of the situation, not just the parts that feel good. It’s the parts that don’t feel so good that produce perseverance. It’s the struggle that nurtures our faith.
Our attitude through it all is the medium God is using to draw others to Christ.
Verse 30 is key to this chapter, when the jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved.”
It’s not merely about the courageous faith that was exercised by Paul and Silas. In fact, they wouldn’t have even been there if God hadn’t directed their steps. It’s all about allowing God to work through us as He draws others to Christ.
Here’s a short video by John Piper as he shares some thoughts on this topic. Wish I had a longer clip as he’s such an encouragement to me.
Genesis 22:1-19 – Abraham’s Faith is Tested
As I got to reading Genesis 22, I was reminded of my notes from The Beauty of Jesus revealed in the Feasts. My pastor pointed out to me how this chapter pointed to the coming Messiah and His relationship to the Father. God didn’t leave out any details—even the part about Abraham placing the wood on his son Isaac was a parallel to Jesus Who carried His own cross.
To the believer, the story takes on an incredibly deeper meaning that cannot be overlooked. Let’s discuss four of them.
1. The Father’s willingness to send His Son
In this story of Abraham and Isaac, Abraham, once told to sacrifice his miracle child, takes no time to begin his journey up Mt. Moriah with Isaac. God told him what to do, and despite the anguish in his heart, he obeyed God’s will. To the believer, we can clearly see how willing God the Father was to send His only Son into this world to become a sacrifice for our sins. For as Isaiah 53:10 proclaimed, “…it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” (KJV)
The second component we see from this story in light of Jesus is:
2) The Son was willing to accept His Father’s will
It is fascinating that nowhere in these verses of Genesis 22, do we ever see Isaac putting up any resistance to his father will. In verse 7 Isaac asks of his father,“The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering.” It didn’t take too long for this young man to understand what was about to happen. He saw the wood, he saw the fire, and very soon he understood he was about to become the sacrifice that God had commanded of his father.
Isaiah reminds us in chapter 53:7, that the Messiah would be, “like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he (would) not open his mouth.”
The story of Isaac on the alter clearly depicts the willingness, not only of our Father willing to sacrifice His only Son but also the complete commitment of the Son willing to lay down His life for us.
Jesus said in John 10:18 regarding His life; “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my father.”
The third component of this story that clearly reflects the sacrifice of Jesus is:
3) Isaac carried the wood for the offering
In Genesis 22:6 we read that, “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac.” This may seem a rather insignificant detail, but again we can see a clear connection with the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Himself. In John 19:17 we read; “Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).”
The significance of this detail cannot be overlooked. Isaac (who was a symbol of Jesus) carried the wood for his execution, and Jesus, the Son of God also carried the wood that His body would be laid upon. Again, giving us a very clear and expressive detail of what type of suffering our Lord was willing to go through in order to redeem humanity unto Himself. His death was cruel, His execution was gruesome, yet so was our sin that put him there.
The fourth and probably the most profound connection between Isaac and Jesus is:
4) Substitutionary Atonement
The New Testament is full of scriptures that refer to the reality of substitutionary atonement for our sins. As children, the very first scripture that most of us were taught to memorize was John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not parish but have eternal life.” Right there we see the reality of the substitution. God loved us… so he gave his son… so that we would not have to die.”
That Jesus was willing to die in our place so that we might live is so beautifully expressed in this story of Abraham and Isaac. Jesus became that “ram in the thicket” that was sacrificed in place of Isaac who symbolically represents all of us. Right there, God was revealing to the world what He was going to provide for us through His Son, the Messiah Jesus. A sacrifice in which the Son of God Himself would place upon Himself the sins and iniquities of us all, and die in our place. (Isaiah 53:6)
This event was so significant to Israel’s spiritual DNA that hundreds of years later King David’s son Solomon would build the actual temple on the very top of that same mountain that to this day is one of the most contested pieces of real estate on the face of the earth.
Joshua 2:1-21 and Joshua 6:21-22 – Rahab Hides the Spies
As we examine the courageous faith of Rahab, let’s consider this: in Numbers Chapter 13, twelve men were sent out to spy on the land of Canaan and come back with a report for Moses and Aaron. Moses wanted to know what they were up against. Were the people strong? Was their land good? Was the wall fortified? Upon return, only 2 of the 12 men were courageous enough to return to the land.
Joshua chapter 2 was the second expedition at which time two spies were sent back to the land. When the king heard that they were at Rahab’s house, he commanded her to send them out to him. Instead of obeying the king, Rahab exercised courageous faith by hiding the spies.
This mission didn’t merely take courage, it took both strength and an exceeding amount of courage on behalf of Joshua, the spies, Rahab, and the Israelites.
We see in chapter 1:7 that God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. Again, in verse 7 He says, be strong and very courageous. The word “very” here comes from the Hebrew word “m’od” (strong’s H3966) which means exceedingly or mightily. What’s interesting about this little word is that it’s from the root word, “’uwd” (strong’s H181) which refers to either a burning piece of wood or a poker for turning and gathering embers.
And so, we see that God was asking them to courageously exercise faith as they stepped into the fiery trial before them. We see this over and over again in chapter 1 as God urges Joshua to be strong and courageous.
While Rahab may have feared the king to some extent, it was obvious that she feared God more.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28, NIV
In addition to all of this, something incredible stood out to me as I was reading this chapter. Perhaps it stood out to you too. I have goose bumps just thinking about it. And, as I started reading more, it made all the more sense.
Rahab makes an oath with the spies securing her protection, but here’s the thing—there was a condition to that oath.
“This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down.” (verses 17&18)
I grew up thinking that they did this so that they had a way back into the city when they returned. That was foolish of course because we know that after the Israelites marched around the city for seven days, the walls collapsed and the army marched in.
So, what was the significance of the scarlet cord? And why is the color mentioned at all?
We’re given a hint in Joshua 5:10, “On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover.”
The very next day and for the six days following, they launched their attack on Jericho by marching around the city. On the seventh day, the walls came down.
Do you see the parallel there? God’s timing is incredible as He orchestrates even the finest details in scripture. In Exodus chapter 12 we see two things taking place on the fourteenth day of the first month. 1) The Israelites applied the blood of a lamb to their door frames and 2) They celebrated the first Passover meal.
“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” – Exodus 12:13, (NIV)
The scarlet cord in Rahab’s window was a symbol of her faith in the blood of the coming Messiah.
The following 6 days after the Passover while the Israelites were marching around Jericho? This was Passover week, during which time the Israelites celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread (also commanded in Exodus 12 as the Israelites marched out of Egypt). This feast of unleavened bread represented sanctification–the process of ridding sin from our lives. Why they marched around the city for those six days has me puzzled. I mean, I do understand that they marched in obedience to God’s will. Perhaps the answer is as simple as that? Part of me wonders if there is a deeper meaning I’m missing. For now, I’ll pray about it. Sleep on it. And wait on the wisdom of God.
Maybe you’d like to weigh in? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂
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That’s all for today. Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back on Monday for Week 2 of Faith & Provision.
You are loved by an almighty God,
The Time-Warp Wife
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