• Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part Three: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Genesis 32

    Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings

    Part Three – Studying God’s Word

    Welcome to the third and last section of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Genesis 32 “Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings”. 

    In Part One, which we posted on Monday, we joined Jacob on his journey back to his homeland of Canaan. 20 years previously, Jacob had sought asylum with his uncle Laban, in order to escape the wrath of twin brother Esau, from whom he had stolen the latter’s birthright.  

    On the eve of his reunification with his brother, Jacob wrestles with an angel, who is in fact God.  It is in the throes of combat that God breaks Jacob of his self-dependence and craftiness. Only when Jacob finally concedes defeat that God blesses Jacob with a new identity as well as a new name – Israel. 

    In Part Two, which we posted on Wednesday, we explored the ways that we can apply our understanding of Genesis 32 to our everyday lives. 

    Part Three of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study is intended as a study guide for those of you who would like to delve deeper into the biblical and life themes presented in Genesis 32. 

    If you would like to know more about the benefits of studying the Bible, then l recommend that you read our page “Why study the Bible?” 

    The aim of this study section

    This study section of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study series is intended as a guide to promote discussion and reflection on Genesis 32.  

    As a start, I suggest that you read Part One and Part Two of the Bible Study on Genesis 32 that l posted this week, in order to fully appreciate the lesson portrayed in this biblical account and to consider the chapter’s themes.  

    Photo credit:  Ben White on Unsplash

    For whom is this study section intended?

    You can apply this section within a group setting, such as a house group, a Bible Study group, or a prayer group. 

    Alternatively, you can also study on your own. If this may be the case, l have written some suggestions below in the section “If you are studying on your own” to assist you in your learning.  

    I encourage you to customize this study preparation by taking out of it what you wish and adding your own ideas and insight. Have fun with it! 

    What you will need:

    • A Bible, preferable a study Bible. I personally use the  “The Everyday Life Bible” from Joyce Meyer Ministries 
    • An exercise book or journal and a pen 
    • As an alternative to pen and paper, you could use a tablet or a similar electronic device 

    This study section composes of five parts: 

    1. Discussion questions 

    2. Testimony 

    3. Suggested reading  

    4. Journal writing 

    5. Prayer 

    These are just guidelines to help you structure your group time. Feel free to add or take out elements as you see fit!

    Additionally, talk with your group and ask them for suggestions about what they would like to do. The more ideas, the merrier! 

    If you are studying on your own 

    If you are not in a group and you would still like to apply this study section of Genesis 32 to your own private study of the Bible, that is also great! Quiet time with God is valuable time, and you can learn a lot about Him during it.  

    The following are a few suggestions of how you can adapt the 5 sections of this study guide for private study purposes: 

    1. Discussion questions: 

    You could start a journal and write down your thoughts to the listed discussion questions.  

    1. Testimony 

    You could use our suggested topics in the Testimony section as stimulation to write down all the wonderful things God has done in your life by starting a testimony journal or a blessings jar

     3. Suggested reading  

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes. 

    4. Journal writing 

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes. 

    5.Prayer 

    You can speak the prayer at the end of this section over yourself. Your words have power, especially if you speak them over yourself: 

    “ So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
        it shall not return to me empty, 
    but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
        and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” 

    Isaiah 55:11 

    Let’s look at the 5 sections of our study guide. 

    1.Discussions questions

    The following are some discussion topics l have thought of to assist you in delving deeper into the themes of Genesis 32. There is no right or wrong answer; these topics are merely suggestions to stimulate conversation and an exchange of views within your group. Also, feel free to ask others if they have themes regarding this topic that they would like to discuss and go with it! 

    As each person experiences a different walk with God, it is interesting to hear other people’s perspectives and thereby learn from each other and grow together as a Christian community. Happy talking! 

    Possible discussion topics on Genesis 32

    1. Have you experienced a situation in your life where you tried to fix it yourself, yet only made it worse? Did you finally ask God for help? How did His intervention make your situation easier? 
    1. Are there areas in your life that aren’t serving you, such as fear, pride, or unforgiveness that you are finding difficult to let go of? Why do you think you are holding on to them (e.g. fear of change, conflict aversion). 

    Note: This might a be sensitive topic for people to address, so introduce it into a group situation at your discretion. 

    Photo credit: mentatdgt from Pexels

    2.Testimony

    Sharing your life experiences and the victories that God has vouchsafed you, is a verbal expression of your gratitude. It gives not only our Father glory, but it encourages fellow Christians who may be going through the same trial that you have undergone.  

     I will declare your name to my people; 
        in the assembly I will praise you.” 

    Psalm 22:22  

    Jacob’s testimony after his struggle with God was the acquirement of a new identity and a new name – Israel. With God by His side, Jacob could embrace a happy reunification with his brother (Genesis 33).  

    Possible testimony topics on Genesis 32

    1. Do you have a testimony of how God wrestled you free of something that you were holding onto, like a poor mindset, a toxic relationship, or even an addiction? How has He blessed you since?  
    1. Have you learned to lean more and more on God in your life? How has your quality of life improved by relinquishing your self-dependence and instead, putting your trust and reliance in God’s hands? 
    1. Share a testimony with your group of a blessing that God has given you this week. 

    Photo credit:  Jason Hogan on Unsplash

    3. Suggested reading

    Reading the Word of God teaches us about how much God loves us and gives us guidelines on how to live the life He wants us to live – a life of victory and joy.

    Scriptures: 

    Bible chapters about God blessing broken people 

    • Job 42 – God blessed Job twofold for what he had lost  
    • Acts 2 – Peter, who had renounced Jesus three times, was baptized in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and preached to the crowd, which commenced the movement of Christianity 
    • 2 Samuel 7 – After about 15 years of exile and persecution, God made David King of a united Israel and blessed him, his kingdom, and his progeny with love, rest from their enemies, and prosperity. 

    Interesting online articles relating to Genesis 32: 

    Crosswalk.com, “How wrestling with God will change you forever,” Dena Johnson Martin. 

    Desiring God, “Will you wrestle with God?” Jon Bloom 

    Inspirational quotes relating to Genesis 32: 

    “God is not looking for brilliant men, is not depending upon eloquent men, is not shut up to the use of talented men in sending His Gospel out in the world. God is looking for the broken men who have judged themselves in the light of the Cross of Christ. When He wants anything done, He takes up men who have come to the end of themselves, whose confidence is not in themselves, but in God!” – H.A. Ironside 

    “Whenever God means to make a man great, He always breaks him in pieces first.” – Charles Spurgeon 

    “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” Vance Havner 

    Photo credit:  Bethany Laird on Unsplash

    4. Journal writing

    Writing down all the good things that God has done in your life is a very powerful tool for a Christian. Not only does it help us to remember what God has done for us; reading over God’s past victories and blessings over you provides encouragement and empowerment in times of trouble. All you need to start is an empty exercise book and a pen. Alternatively, you can keep a digital journal. 

    There are a number of forms of journals, where regular writing in it will strengthen you in your walk with God: 

    •  A testimony journal 
    •  A dreams and visions journal 
    •  A blessings journal 
    •  My favourite –  a gratitude journal 

    Try to write optimally once a day. All you need is 5-10 min to jot down everything good that has happened to you during the course of your day, no matter how trivial.  

    Meditate upon what you wrote and acknowledge that it is God who was responsible for these good things happening today, and not you or your own works.  

     ‘”Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.’ 

    Zechariah 4:6 (NIV) 

    Journaling in your group: 

    You can e.g. allot 10-15min for journaling in your group, and afterwards share your written thoughts with each other. 

    An alternate suggestion is to incorporate journal writing as part of your quiet time with God, then discuss your results when you meet as a group. 

    Journaling on the Bible Chapter Genesis 32

    1. Are there mindsets, people, or situations that you need to separate yourself from, but you can’t seem to do it? Write them all down in your journal, and pray for God to break you free of these things that are holding you back. 
    1. Write down in your journal three great ways that God has blessed you this week. 

    As an extension, consider starting a gratitude journal, where you write down the great things God is doing in your life every day. I personally love using the Five Minute Journal from Intelligent Change.  

    Photo credit:  Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

    5.Prayer 

    If you wish, you can read the following prayer aloud as a group, or one person can read it aloud on behalf of the others.  

    Prayer: 

    Sovereign Lord, thank you that we can come before You today with our imperfections and weakness and lay them before You at the Cross.  

    Please expose the thoughts and purposes of our hearts to us.  Give us the humility to hand those things over to You which aren’t serving us in order that You can create a clean heart in us and renew a right spirit within us.  

    For only then when our spirits are contrite and our entire being is reliant on You, can we walk in the fulfillment of Your wonderful purpose for our lives.  

    Thank You Lord that Your ways are always good, for You are a good Father who will never fail us, nor forsake us.  

    In Jesus’ name, 

    Amen 

    Photo credit:  Ben White on Unsplash

    We hope that you enjoyed our first Bible study on Genesis 32 in our series Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies

    In July, we will be studying  Ephesians 1. We would love for you to join us! 

    Until then, my friends, be safe and may God’s love and blessings be upon you! 

    Madeline

    Sources:

    1. Bible.org , “Lesson 59: Broken, But Blessed (Genesis 32:22-32).”
    2. Blue Letter Bible, “Study Guide for Genesis 32.”
    3. StudyLight.org, “Spurgeon’s Verse Expositions of the Bible – Genesis 32.”

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part Two: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Genesis 32

    Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings

    Part Two: Living God’s word  

    Applying Genesis 32 to everyday life

    On Monday, we started Part One of our Bible Study of Genesis 32, where Jacob wrestles with an angel all night, only to find out that the angel is God.   

    Jacob, who for all of his life has schemed and been dependent on his wiliness, struggles to relinquish these qualities, which is demonstrated symbolically through his wrestling match with God. However, it is only when Jacob realizes that God is stronger than he is, can he let go of his past and allow God to bless him with a new name “Israel” and the identity and life that he deserves. 

    Not only reading and studying the Bible is an integral part of every Christian’s God walk; we should also try and apply its messages to our daily life. Luke states aptly in his gospel: 

    “’Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” 

    Luke 11:28 (NRSV)  

    Now that we understand the message behind Genesis 32, let us explore in Part Two of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study serieshow we can learn to let go of qualities, habits, and ways of thinking that aren’t serving us and instead learn to rely on God as our source of strength, salvation, and refuge. 

    Like Jacob, how can l learn to rely on God in my daily life?

    All of us have blemishes and imperfections – after all, we aren’t perfect.  They might be small foibles such as being untidy, not being able to align your shirt buttons to its corresponding buttonhole (that’s me) or always forgetting to check whether the stove is off before you run out the door.  

    Or, they could be more serious character flaws such as pride, selfishness, or an unwillingness to forgive others.  

    The first few examples are mere eccentricities: They may make our lives a tad more difficult, but they are not a reflection of our moral or spiritual fiber. The latter examples, however, can hold us back spiritually from being able to receive the blessings that God has spoken over our lives.  

    How? Because they lead us to focus on ourselves and keep our egos and our needs as the motivating force of our lives, instead of fixing our eyes on God and having Him as the nucleus of our existence. We become self-dependent, thinking that we can handle life ourselves, when in reality, we can’t. 

    This is the lesson that Jacob painfully learned and one that we would do well to keep in mind ourselves.  

    So, how do let go of those qualities that keep us from having a more intimate relationship with God? What do we have to do to become dependent on Him? 

    Photo credit:  Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    Learn to trust God every day – not just when you’re in trouble 

    When we face difficulties, our nature is to try and figure out everything out for ourselves. We lay awake at night tossing and turning, churning out possibilities. Only when we have run out of options, do we turn to God for help. 

    However, God wants us to rely on Him in our daily life and not just when we’re in trouble. So, whether it’s deciding on what to buy in the supermarket to leaning on Him while you or a family member goes through a serious illness, learn to trust God in the mundane things and the life-changing events of your life.  

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 
        and do not rely on your own insight.” 

    Proverbs 3:5 

    If you’re going through a difficult period in your life, and you’re struggling with making that leap of faith to trust God, try speaking to Him today about what is on your mind. God will meet you where you are at, and He will help you. All you have to do is seek Him.  

    “Do not fear, for I am with you, 
        do not be afraid, for I am your God; 
    I will strengthen you, I will help you, 
        I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” 

    Isaiah 41:10 

    Photo credit: Japheth Mast on Unsplash

    God should be your source of strength

    Life is tough and there are many hard lessons that we learn from it. Having survived hard times, we tell ourselves that we’re stronger as a result of what we’ve gone through. We wear our experiences like metaphorical medals of valor, grittily proud that we have survived warfare. We take the pain that we endured during those battles, and we tap into it as our source of strength. 

    However, our real source of strength should be God, not the resilience of our hearts and bodies to take life’s knocks. 

    “My flesh and my heart may fail, 
        but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” 

    Psalm 73:26 (NRSV) 

    By relying on God as our source of strength, we are already in His presence when challenges and adversity come. We can take refuge, knowing that we are where we should be – safe in the hands of our Lord who protects us. 

    “God is our refuge and strength, 
        a very present help in trouble.” 

    Psalm 46:1 

    Photo credit: Amar Yashlaha on Unsplash

    Allow God to change and refine you

    It is not an uncommon belief, even amongst Christians, that God punishes us when we do something wrong. That could be farther from the truth. Though we are sinners, God loves us and has forgiven us for all of our transgressions – past, present, and future – through the blood of Jesus Christ. 

    “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” 

    Ephesians 1:7 

    That doesn’t mean that God won’t sometimes allow us to go through seasons of adversity. However, these times are not designed to ruin us, but as in Jacob’s case, it is God’s way of refining us and breaking us free of qualities, habits, and attitudes that are not serving us.  

    “So that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 

    1 Peter 1:7 

    Thus, when God allows us to experience difficulties, He does so because He loves us. He wants the best for us and wants us to live the joyful, abundant life He has planned for us. However, He knows that we can only do that when we let go of those things that hold us back. Therefore, allow God to change and refine you, for it comes from a place of love, not wrath. 

    Photo credit: Hannah Gibbs on Unsplash

    What can l do this week to rely on God more?

    Here are three things you can do this week to help you to rely on God more: 

    • Surrender yourself to God 
    • Give yourself grace in the process 
    • Seek God in prayer 

    Let’s look at these three points in some detail.

    Photo credit: Noah Silliman on Unsplash

    Surrender yourself to God

    There is a difference in saying to God, “Change me and refine me, Lord!” and actually surrendering yourself fully to Him.  

    After praying and asking God for help, Jacob still sent Esau a portion of his livestock as a present to appease him. Jacob was able to surrender his possessions, however, he wasn’t able to surrender himself to God and allow Him to do His will in Jacob’s situation. 

    Open yourself to God during your quiet time, or even when you’re going about your day, and tell Him you are ready to give yourself, your situation, and your family into His loving Hands. Don’t be afraid, for He will make all things come together for your good. 

    “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” 

    Romans 8:28 

    Photo credit: Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

    Give yourself grace in the process

    Learning to surrender and trust God completely isn’t going to necessarily happen overnight, so don’t give yourself a hard time over it.  

    Strengthening yourself in the Lord is a gradual thing, and we can be thankful for the grace that He shows us as we become more like Him, from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18

    Therefore, give yourself some grace during the process of completely trusting God. Joyce Meyers, the co-founder of Joyce Meyers Ministries, sums it up so aptly when she says, “I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be.” 

    Photo credit: Ben White on Unsplash 

    Seek God in prayer

    God likes it when we communicate with Him. Whatever is bothering you, whatever you know is weighing you down and preventing you from receiving God’s blessings of a joyful life, know that you can lay it all before Him in prayer. 

    “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

    Philippians 4:6 

    Thank God for all the wonderful things He has done for you, and ask Him to show you the areas in your life where you still need to let go of those things that aren’t serving you. God hears your prayers and will always help you because He loves you!  

    “And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 

    1 John 5:14 

    Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that God is a little old benevolent man who is watching us from the lofty heights of Heaven, just lingering around until we need Him. 

    However, God is not like that at all. He is Emmanuel – God with us. He is Yahweh – the Great I AM. God wants to not be just on the outskirts of our lives, He wants to be the center of our existence. He is the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the One who sees all and knows all. 

    God wants a relationship with us. He wants the best for us because He loves us. And sometimes, that means He has to refine us by helping us relinquish those things that are damaging us. Instead of wrestling with God to hold onto those things that aren’t serving us, let us start from today to surrender ourselves to God and allow Him to change and refine us. Let us put our trust and confident reliance in God, for He is always good! 

    Photo credit: Ben White on Unsplash

    This concludes the second part of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study series on Genesis 32 “Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings”. 

    To see Part One of our Bible study of Genesis 32, click here.

     If you have enjoyed the series so far, we would love to have you join us on Friday, when l will post the third and final part of our series. 

    Until then my friends, take care and God bless! 

    Madeline

    Sources:

    1. Bible.org , “Lesson 59: Broken, But Blessed (Genesis 32:22-32).”
    2. Blue Letter Bible, “Study Guide for Genesis 32.”
    3. StudyLight.org, “Spurgeon’s Verse Expositions of the Bible – Genesis 32.”

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part One: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Genesis 32

    Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings

    Part One: Understanding God’s word  Bible commentary on Genesis 32

    Brokenness is the path to blessings

    As l was deciding on which Bible chapter l should choose in order to kick of our Bible study series, l wanted to focus on a biblical account that portrayed how the power of God can transform us.

    You see, God will change our situation, but He is more interested in changing us first. However, we as humans resist God’s attempts to change us, for it is our nature to trust ourselves. We take pride in our self-dependence and hold our ability to make our own decisions in high regard.

    However, God knows that it is only when we submit to Him that we can receive His blessings. For that reason, He at times need to break us, for it is only when we lose to God, that He can bless us as we cling to Him in recognition of our need for Him.

    Brokenness is the path to blessings.

    This is the powerful lesson that Jacob learned in Genesis 32. Over the course of this week, we will be studying how Jacob changed in one night from a self-dependent opportunist to experiencing God’s blessings, power, and a new identity. He did this by losing in a contest of wills against God Himself. 

    This bible commentary is part one of three in our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study series on Genesis 32. Part Two will come out on Wednesday and Part Three on Friday. 

    Before we delve into Genesis 32, let us form a brief character analysis of Jacob.

    Photo credit: by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

    Jacob the supplanter

    All of his life, Jacob had schemed and stolen to gain favor.  

    Jacob came into the world grabbing his twin brother Esau’s heel (Genesis 25:26) . Years later, he tricked Esau into exchanging his birthright for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34). As a consequence, Jacob received his father’s blessings, a great honor that was reserved for the first-born son and which was essentially Esau’s to claim.

    Jacob also tricked his uncle Laban into giving him the goats and sheep of his choice from Laban’s vast flocks (Genesis 30:25-43).  It is no wonder that Jacob’s name meant “Supplanter” or “Usurper”.

    Photo credit:  KEEM IBARRA on Unsplash

    God sends His angels ahead of us (Genesis 32:1-2)

    After working for his uncle Laban in Haran for 20 years, Jacob is returning to his homeland of Canaan. 20 years previously, Jacob had entered his uncle’s household in order to find himself a wife and to escape the wrath of his brother Esau, who had threatened to kill Jacob for stealing his birthright.

    Now, Jacob is coming home, with two wives, 11 children, and vast herds of livestock and servants. He is the epitome of the self-made man.

    However, despite his success, Jacob is still apprehensive about entering the land of Canaan, as he remembers his twin brother’s death threat against him. Jacob presumes that Esau still carries vengeance in his heart against him and is dreading a reunification.

    We see in Genesis 32:1, that angels meet Jacob as he is on his way home. Jacob recognizes and is comforted by them, for he calls them “God’s army” and names the place of his encounter with them Mahanaim (two armies). It is good to know that God is with us to comfort us and provide for us, as we go through difficult situations.

    Photo credit: Raychan on Unsplash

    Jacob prays to God for help but essentially relies on himself (Genesis 32: 3-20)

    Jacob sends messengers ahead to Esau, who lives in Edom, which is a land south of Canaan. This is the news that he sends with them:

    Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now and I have oxendonkeysflocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’” 

    Genesis 32:4-5 (NRSV) 

    Jacob’s motivation in informing his brother of his good fortune is not intended as bragging. Jacob wants Esau to know that he has not come to take anything from him, like he had done in the past – he has more than enough. Instead, Jacob hopes to lower his brother’s defenses by letting Esau know in advance that he, Jacob, poses as no threat to him.

    However, when messengers return with the information that Esau is already underway to meet Jacob and that he has 400 men with him, Jacob becomes very afraid (Genesis 32:6-7). 

    As a man of faith, Jacob prays to God for deliverance from Esau’s wrath. (Genesis 32:9-12). However, it is interesting to see what Jacob does both before and after he prays to God for help.

    Prior to praying: Prior to praying, Jacob divides his company, including the animals, into two groups (Genesis 32:7-8).  Where he has two God-blessed, superior armies at the beginning of this chapter to support him, Jacob now carves two human parties consisting of women, children, and livestock, who are dependent on him.

    Following his prayer: After he prays, Jacob sends Esau droves of livestock as gifts ahead of himself (Genesis 32:13-20).  

    Jacob’s action before praying to God is a defense tactic, a way to preserve at least a part of his hard-earned acquirements if Esau is indeed intent on attack his party. His action after praying is an appeasement tactic.

    Though Jacob loves and trust God enough to ask Him for help, his default setting is to be reliant upon his own strategies and scheming.

    Photo credit: Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash 

    Jacob fights God and loses (Genesis 32:21-30)

    Sending his brother Esau gifts does not make Jacob feel any more at ease about is impending meeting with his brother: He spends the night in his camp but sleep eludes him. He gets up in the middle of the night and sends his entire family, including his two wives, eleven sons, and servants over the ford of the Jabbok, where they will be safer. 

    Jacob is left alone in his camp, but not for long. An angel comes and wrestles with him until dawn (Genesis 32:24). 

    Jacob, having fought for everything he considered of value in his life, fights for his life against the angel. In fact, Jacob fights so resolutely that he and the angel are locked in a wrestling stance the entire night until daybreak. It is only when the angel touches Jacob’s hip and injures him, does Jacob finally concede defeat (Genesis 32:25). 

    Although God refused to reveal His name to Jacob, Jacob is very aware that he has wrestled with the Almighty and has been defeated by Him (Genesis 32:29). Jacob calls the location of his encounter with God  Peniel, meaning “the face of God” (Genesis 32:30). 

    Although God refused to reveal His name to Jacob, the latter is very aware that he has wrestled with the Almighty and has been defeated by Him (Genesis 32:29). Jacob calls the place where his encounter with God took place Peniel, meaning “the face of God” (Genesis 32:30). 

    Photo credit: Ian Espinosa on Unsplash 

    Why being defeated by God meant that Jacob could be blessed (Genesis 32:24-26)

    Jacob believes that his biggest adversary is his brother Esau. However, God wrestles with Jacob to show him that it is actually himself, who poses as his greatest opponent.  

    Jacob fights his inner man when he fights God. He fights the self-dependent schemer who seeks to take advantage over everyone under ever circumstance, instead of trusting God and handing the situation over to Him. 

    God knows that Jacob cannot enter into a proper relationship with Him until the young man realizes his own weaknesses. However, God allows Jacob to grapple with Him the entire night, in order to show Jacob the power of his own self-will.

    God wants to see whether Jacob will surrender himself to Him. However, when Jacob refuses to yield, God breaks his will with just the slightest touch on Jacob’s hip (Genesis 32:25). It is in this moment, that Jacob realizes that he is defeated.

    Broken and weak, Jacob clings to God, but this time in desperation. He recognizes his own weakness in the presence of God’s greatness. He is made meek by the revelation of how easily God has humbled him when he thought the fight had been evenly matched.  

    Though God asks Jacob to let go of him, he refuses. Being delivered of his own self-will and self-reliance has given Jacob a revelation of his need to keep God first and foremost in his life. He knows that he cannot face Esau without God by his side, especially as God has now crippled him.  Therefore, Jacob calls out, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).  

    Photo credit: Ravi Roshan on Unsplash 

    Jacob is given a new name and a new identity (Genesis 32:27-32)

    God wants to bless Jacob, but before He does that, He wants to make sure that Jacob can admit who he really is. God asks Jacob to state his own name (Genesis 32:27) in order that Jacob acknowledges who he is, with all his weaknesses, and with all that his name stands for.

    It is after this confession that God gives Jacob a new name and with it, a new identity. In Genesis 32:28, He says to Jacob, “’You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’” Consequently, God blesses Jacob.  

    As a reminder of his life-changing encounter with God, Jacob has the memorial at Peniel, as well as a permanent limp. 

    Jacob is ready to meet Esau (Genesis 33). He may be limping, but Jacob is now approaching his brother with God’s strength and in acknowledgment of his own weakness, which is more powerful than had he gone to his brother based on the strength of his meager self-reliance and craftiness.  

    As a reminder of Jacob’s life-changing encounter, many Jewish people to this day abstain from eating the area of the thigh where Jacob obtained his permanent injury (Genesis 32:32). 

    Photo credit; Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash 

    Be aware of falling back into old patterns

    Jacob in turn, asks God His name. However, God refuses to answer Him. Maybe God refuses to grant Jacob this request, because the question is being asked out of a fleeting curiosity. Alternatively, maybe God sees that Jacob is in danger of falling into old patterns of manipulation: By asking God for His name, Jacob could be trying to create an opportunity to try and control God for his own advantage in future. God wants to prevent Jacob from falling into the temptation of reverting back to his old self.   

    This situation shows us, that even when we have been humbled at God’s hands, we still need to be aware of our need to continue to submit to Him, rather than use Him as and when we need Him. The apostle Peter states:

    Discipline yourselveskeep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls aroundlooking for someone to devour.” 

    1 Peter 5:8 

    Coming into the presence of God means being confronted with our personal weaknesses. Because our flesh is resistant to change, God needs to wrestle with us at times to make us see that we need to let go of those characteristics which aren’t serving us.

    Only then, when we cling to God in acknowledgment that He is our source of strength, our salvation, and our refuge, can we be in a position for Him to bless us with the wonderful plans He has for us to live a life of abundance. 

    Photo credit:  NeONBRAND on Unsplash

    This concludes the first part of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study series on Genesis 32 – “Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings”.  

    I hope you have enjoyed reading about Jacob’s journey of self-discovery and revelation of God. 

     If so, feel free to join us on Wednesday, when l post the second part of our series. 

    Until then friends, be blessed! 

    Madeline

    Sources:

    1. Bible.org , “Lesson 59: Broken, But Blessed (Genesis 32:22-32).”
    2. Blue Letter Bible, “Study Guide for Genesis 32.”
    3. StudyLight.org, “Spurgeon’s Verse Expositions of the Bible – Genesis 32.”
  • List of Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies

    At Jacob’s Ladder, it is very much on our hearts that everyone who has given their life to Christ, or is seeking to know Him more, understands that the Bible entails important information that can enable us to live a life of faith and victory, as beloved Children of God.

    For that reason, we choose a Bible chapter for every theme we explore, and present a Bible Study on it for you.

    How we structure our Bible Studies

    Every Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study is composed of three parts:


    Part One – Understanding God’s Word

    In Part One, we break down the Bible chapter we are studying into verses and explain the meaning of each of them. We also discuss the history behind the chapter, what lessons we can derive from this biblical teaching, and other relevant information to help you understand God’s Word.

    Part Two Living God’s Word

    Now that we understand what the Bible chapter we are studying is about, we will explore how we can adapt the lessons we learned to lead faith-filled, joyous, and abundant lives, and fulfill the promises and blessings that God has for us.

    Part Three Studying God’s Word

    For those of you who would like to delve even deeper into the biblical themes discussed in Parts One and Two, either for private study purposes or for a group setting, then this section is for you.

    Included in this section are the following:

    • Discussions questions
    • Testimony topics
    • Praise and Worship advice including information about our Spotify playlists
    • Suggested reading topics including Scriptures, related Bible chapters, and related articles
    • Journal writing topics
    • A prayer

    List of Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies

    The following is a list of Bible Studies that we have written. They are in biblical chronological order:

    Genesis 32

    Part One – Understanding God’s Word: “Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings”

    Part Two – Living God’s Word: Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings

    Part Three – Studying God’s Word: “Why being defeated by God can lead to His blessings”

    Joshua 6

    Part One – Understanding God’s Word: As an exception, we have further divided this part of our Bible Study into three sections:

    Part 1.1: “Before the walls fell down: The promise and the preparation” 

    Part 1.2: ” Faith, obedience, endurance, and praise – the secret behind God’s military plan” 

    Part 1.3: “Victory, first fruits, judgement, and salvation –  The occupation of Jericho”

    Part Two – Living God’s Word: “Partnering with God to live a victorious life”

    Part Three – Studying God’s Word: “God does His best work in the silence”

    Ephesians 1

    Part One – Understanding God’s Word: “Knowing who you are in Christ”

    Part Two – Living God’s Word: “Knowing who you are in Christ”

    Part Three – Studying God’s Word: “Knowing who you are in Christ”

    We hope you enjoy our Bible Studies and that they help you deepen your understanding of God and enrich your faith walk with Him!

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  • Jacob's Ladder Artist's Page

    An interview with Land & Salt

    Jacob’s Ladder Artist’s Page is a space on our blog, which we have dedicated to showcasing Christian ministries that express themselves through creative mediums such as music, literature, photography, painting, and more.  

    We are humbled and thrilled to be able to come together with the British duo Land & Salt and share their music ministry with you.  

    We hope you enjoy learning more about them and their missional call to spread God’s Word, and we pray that their music will provide you with further revelation of God’s love, grace, and mercy. 

    Jacob’s Ladder: Thank you for being a part of our Artist’s Page. We are so grateful to have this opportunity to get to know you!  

    Charlie: Thanks for inviting us! (laughs) 

    Let’s start at the very beginning: Who is Land & Salt? 

    We are husband and wife – Charlie and Marie Collis. Music was the beginning of our relationship and we began playing music together long before we were married.  

    What does Land & Salt mean?   

    Land & Salt was a gift to us; in fact, it actually has a few meanings for us.  We prayed for a name that was grounding and strong. ‘Salt’ was the first word that God spoke to us. Where we live, we can see an estuary that fills with thousands of tonnes of seawater each day. The land literally shifts and changes twice a day.  ‘Land and Salt’ are the backdrop to our lives, so it seemed fitting.  

    Also, salt being the preservative and flavoring described in the Bible sat well with us. We felt the term ‘Land and Salt’ really was our calling – to go out into the world carrying the Good News from place to place and then to ‘land’ and add ‘salt’ to each life we come across. 

    I like how God spoke your band name into your hearts. So, how did you and Marie meet? 

    We met at music college; music really was the beginning of our friendship and our lives together. 

    What instruments do you both play?  

    Our core is acoustic guitar and vocals, but we both play other instruments. We like our songs to be able to ‘stand alone’ as good songs without having to add anything at all, so we begin with guitar and vocals.  

    When we record, we might add some concertina, banjo, piano, extra guitar, or percussion. We worked with a gifted violinist Robyn Welsby on our last EP Salve, and we love working with other musicians. Our time with Robyn was an incredibly blessed time of prayer and worship, and we are so thankful for these sessions. 

    When did you and Marie start playing music? 

    We are both from musical backgrounds. Our heritage spans from opera singers and orchestral players to Irish singers and country pianists.  

    Marie began singing in public at the age of 11, with her father’s traveling Irish and country band. She had a very raw introduction to having to capture people’s attention quickly. 

    As for myself, l  became enchanted by music the day my father bought me a harmonica from the fair at the age of four.  

    How early on in your musical career did you feel God’s influence? 

     All in all, God began a work of creating music in us long before we could even begin to perceive how He would bring it to fruition.  

    We both worked for many years as musicians in the secular music industry doing session work and writing for projects, until we set up our own label for independent artists. Although we were thriving, we were unhappy musically. Our lives had become self-driven. We were striving and playing for the wrong reasons, and we knew that something was wrong. We were burnt-out and longed for peace. 

    After taking a break from touring, we discovered that we were expecting our first child and this incredible news began a work in us that would very soon lead us to meeting Jesus in a powerful way.  

    And how did your encounter with Jesus lead you to your current ministry?  

    As I explained, we were musicians working in the music industry well before we became Christians, and we had well and truly given up music for what we thought was indefinitely. Music was driving us to compete with others, drive ourselves, and sell ourselves, and we didn’t like it. The more success we experienced, the further we drifted from our own sense of integrity.  

    We feel that the moment we gave up music all those years ago was ironically the moment our calling began, which sounds very upside down. However, our striving for our own ends was the thing that was holding us back from God.  

    Looking back, God had been tapping at our door for a long time. We both experienced very thwarted religious upbringings, we both came from homes with difficult marriages, and we both experienced the painful and sudden loss of a parent by the time we were teenagers. But through these difficulties, God gave us two constant things to cling to –  the ability to cry out to Him in prayer and the ability to play music. We hadn’t yet met Jesus, but we knew there was a God.  

    When we finally gave our lives to Jesus, it took a few years to discern what the calling on our lives was. We looked into missionary work, ordination, and other spheres of ministry, but in our hearts, we knew it would be music that God used in our lives. 

    Can you describe Land & Salt’s sound to us? 

    We are English hymnals. We are folk and blues – this is the genesis of our sound. Really, ‘folk’ is a stretch of the musical term, because our sound is more ‘cooked-up’ than that. We blend blues, fingerpicking, folk, and early gospel together to create an accessible way of ministering to the community around us. We like to describe ourselves as ‘gospel led folk for gospel led folk’, because we really are living a ‘gospel led’ life.

    Folk music has always been an aural expression of our surroundings, our past, our purpose, and above all, our culture. This is what Land and Salt is born from – we are just allowing God to use what He has shaped us into so that we can spread the gospel through music. 

    What creative roles do you and Marie assume in Land & Salt?  

    We both love using all of God’s gifts and so we balance out lots of creative roles together. Marie generally writes the melodies over guitar parts that I string together. We do our own artwork, photography, and filmmaking. 

    What is your music influenced by?  

    Foremost, Jesus. (smiles) We are so grateful that He has chosen us – firstly to know Him, but also now to create in His name. It’s mind-blowing that we get to play and sing to His glory, and He is honored by it.   

    How does the Holy Spirit inspire you creatively?  

    The Holy Spirit is so creative. We get to explore this every day in so many ways: We have six children, who inspire us; we live in a wood on the banks of a river, which inspires us; we have so many good people in our lives, who give and share even though they have little or nothing, which also inspires us. Also, seeing friends, who are facing a crisis with calm and love – well,  that inspires us as well. All of this fills our songbooks, knowing that the Holy Spirit is the author in all of this. 

    Do you have a key Scripture that motivates you to create?  

    God speaks through His Word in so many areas. Of course, the Psalms are our best friend for ancient lyrics, but we don’t have one scripture in particular – it is all thirst-quenching. 

    What are the creative challenges you face?  

    We are challenged by the practical parts of bringing our music to people’s ears and finding the time to spread our music so that it can reach new people and minister to people in the right places. The internet can be a blessing and a burden in this area, and it takes a lot of our time promoting and approaching radio stations and magazines.  

    But we are very blessed to be able to do all our own management from home so that we can balance out the calling of family and ministry. 

    What is the name of your latest album?  

    We released our debut EP – Salve in August of this year.  

    Salve is a beautiful name – so soothing. Can you tell us a bit about the EP? 

    Salve is a work of grace. It was written on our hearts for many years as we lived out our lives. This album really became a ‘salve’ for us: We were wounded from our former musical lives, and it took many years for God to convince us that we were being called back to create music once again. Salve is the culmination of this calling. 

    What song from Salve do you feel has made the most impact on your listeners?  

    ‘Homeless Hearts’ certainly has had some amazing responses – from being played in hospitals for the terminally ill to receiving airplay in Bible colleges in America. We have had some very warm invites to visit the USA and certainly feel it has a role to play.  

    Additionally, “Homeless Hearts” has reached the UK top ten charts and receives a lot of airplay on the radio.  

    That’s amazing how God has been working in the lives of so many people through “Homeless Hearts”. 

    Absolutely! It has been a real gift from the Lord. 

    “Homeless Hearts” has reached the UK top 10 charts.

    Do you have any upcoming material? 

    We have just begun recording our first album, which is due for release early next year. It’s all about being a follower of Jesus in today’s world, and how we can look beyond ourselves – even when facing difficulty – to bless those around us, by the blessings given to us.  

    Your new album sounds inspiring – I believe that people will be greatly encouraged by your new music. 

    It’s all in His word – we just proclaim it, set it to harmonies, and add the rawness of ‘gospel folk’. 

    What is the inspiration behind your new album?  

    It is a calling. We simply feel the Holy Spirit has inspired this new album. Each song is a gift, and we are still amazed that we have such a huge body of work ready to record. We even have the next album written! (laughs) 

     All of a sudden, we have been able to write, write, write….in the car, whilst cooking, or tending to the children, whilst working, or driving, or sitting waiting outside the library or shop. We can’t not write at the moment and that is the Holy Spirit at work in us.  

    What message has the Holy Spirit put in your heart to spread with your new material? 

    What God has brought out in this new work is really the ‘living out’ of this life that He calls us to; how as followers of Jesus, we can live and love, although every part of our ‘old self’ is still present in our being. The album also addresses how we treat one another and the people around us and what that says about Christians today. 

    We hope these songs reassure people of the promises God makes, the help He gives, the peace He has won, and the life to come – despite our broken ideas. 

    What was the spiritual journey you took to make this album?  

    It has not been an easy journey: We started on our knees, crying out for wisdom. There has been a lot of waiting, feeling confused, and then feeling blessed. And that is not over – it repeats itself again and again.  

    This week, we have just finished a song that talks about how we can drift away from prayer and talking with God, but He always waits faithfully until we come back to Him and cry out in prayer.  

    How do you incorporate the Word into your music? 

    We let the Holy Spirit be our guide and inspiration from conception to completion on all of our songs. We work on a passage of the Bible and see where it leads. The results are always interesting and often lead us in a completely different direction to what we first envisaged. 

    It’s worth mentioning that we really enjoy playing music as worship, and this encourages us because it’s a mark of the Holy Spirit – doing something for the Lord should bring deep joy. 

    I totally agree with that! (laughs) Do you believe in incorporating Scripture clearly in your music, or do you prefer to portray your message more discreetly?  

    It’s all in His Word! (pauses) His Word is power and we believe in using the power of God to change lives, so yes – using Scripture directly is the most precious thing we can do.  

    That being said, sometimes expounding the Word can be helpful to portray the meaning of it and to bring it to people, who are not really Bible readers. One of the greatest joys so far has been that non-Christians are listening to our music. Knowing that they’ve been spending time with God’s Word really amazes us. 

    How much does your choice of musical genre influence the Gospel that you wish to portray to your listeners?  

    We simply feel that God uses all that we are, including the parts of us we are personally challenged by.  

    Bringing Land & Salt to life meant just saying ‘yes’ to God and letting go of what we feel we should be doing musically. It’s through this trust that He can reach out and touch lives. We pray we can reach ears and touch lives with good music that speaks, especially to those who have not yet heard the Good News. 

    The musical genres of folk and blues speak with strength into people’s lives, regardless of the message. We really feel a call to use the power of this music to speak to folks who need to hear the Good News; whether in joy and triumph, or sadness and failure – it’s needed. 

    What role does social media play in informing the world of your ministry?  

    This is a good example of one of the things we’ve had to say ‘yes’ to, when we were called. We’ve always avoided social media, and it’s been both a learning curve and an eye-opening experience. 

    It’s abundantly clear that social media is a mission field in itself. We have been able to connect and have relationships with people all over the world – that’s been truly incredible.  

    We feel that social media should be used with caution – for all that is good with it, it can be a dark place. However, the thing is, it is essential that Jesus should be present in all places to shine light in the darkness, and social media is an effective vehicle for that. 

    What challenges do you face as a Christian artist, who is trying to make their mark in a mainstream industry?  

    Happily, we are not looking to make marks in the mainstream – we revel in being a part of the most incredible musical heritage – hymns and sacred church music of the past.  

    The Christian music industry only fails when it tries to mimic the secular one, which is a shame, as it doesn’t need to. We strive to encourage others to use their gifts for the glory of God and not for the glory of ourselves. 

    As Christians, we have our own inspired and inspiring culture; we need to be ‘culture makers’ not mimics. It is important for all Christian musicians to remember that we are building a Kingdom, not an industry.  

    That being said, we have seen that the larger Christian record labels and artists will get more airplay and coverage for obvious reasons, as in the secular music world, but we have also come across some really helpful people, who do want to encourage and introduce new independent Christian music.  

    I really like your response to this question, as this is a great reminder for Christians to keep their focus on furthering the Kingdom, and not get caught up in abiding by what their mainstream colleagues or even Christian contemporaries are doing. 

    Definitely! (smiles) 

    What is your listener profile?  

    I’m not sure that we have a ‘profile’, but many people have remarked that they can happily do creative tasks like painting or writing with our music on. And many have remarked that they use our music to ‘soak’ in God’s presence in their quiet and prayer time. We have also had people from all corners of the world listening and contacting us. 

    We are told in the Bible to ‘encourage’ each other, so along the way we try to always encourage other Christian musicians, and we appreciate and treasure any encouragement and comments we get; nothing is wasted. 

    How do you interact and respond to your audience?  

    We love to perform, but in this season of our lives with young children, we are concentrating on recording and releasing music. However, we feel that in the future, God is looking to use us in a setting of intimate worship and fellowship that gives glory and brings people closer to the presence of God.  

    That’s great that God is calling you to go out and reach people through live music in future. 

    It has been on our hearts for many years to find other settings to do ‘church and ministry’ and that taking the ‘church worship’ out into the world will help to reach more hearts. We have always been moved by the simplicity of the ‘Early Church’ to break bread, read God’s Word, pray, and sing songs. 

    We think this mode of simple itinerant worship is so powerful, for it begins in the most loved place of our lives – our homes – and pours out into the world through creativity. Where talking and preaching can fail, Art can speak.

    Do you have any upcoming events?  

    We have a few radio interviews that we are excited about. We will post more details on our social media links as they happen.  

    But mainly the upcoming album is the focus for us right now. This journey is like driving in the dark and the fog with the headlights on: God only wants us to see what is right in front of us so that we trust His navigation for what lies ahead, and don’t get too overwhelmed with the view. 

    Where is your music available 

    Our music is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, Tidal, iHeartRadio, and a few other platforms. We also put our videos on YouTube on our channel “Land & Salt”. 

    However, we appreciate our sales going through our  Bandcamp page, as it is a great independent music site that needs more support. 

    Additionally, our website is where we have our music and videos to listen to, but we also use the following social media handles: 

    Facebook: 

    www.facebook.com/landandsalt 

    Instagram: 

    www.instagram.com/landandsaltmusic 

    Twitter: 

    www.twitter.com@landandsalt1 

    “Tree to Tree” has been nominated for the JUMP Release Music Video Awards 2019 in 2 categories.

    What advice would you give someone, who would also like to start an artistic ministry?  

    Seek God’s wisdom in all things, and although other people can often offer some good advice, God’s calling on your life is an intimate thing.  

    Pray and spend time with Him alone until you can discern your direction. And look at your gifts – not just your current ones, but those God has blessed you with since the beginning of your life.  

    It is often when we look back over our lives that we begin to decipher God’s plan through the footprints that we have left behind. (smiles) 

    I like your last comment! Finally, what message would you like to pass on to your listeners that will encourage them in their faith walk?  

    Choose trust. (pauses) When you face obstacles and want to fear – instead choose to trust. When you cannot see the end of a problem – choose trust. When you doubt – choose trust. When you are angry and can’t forgive – choose trust. When you are ashamed or guilt-ridden – choose trust. When you are in need of something – choose trust. 

    In every situation we can choose to trust Jesus, for He is trustworthy: He has proven that in His actions here on earth.  

    Our old self wants to trust in our own feelings and emotions, but we have been given another choice – to trust in Jesus instead of feeling fear, hate, anger, sadness, guilt, shame, and bitterness. For we are told that in ALL things He longs to ‘prosper’ us and give us hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) – but it is our choice that makes the difference. 

    Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today and for sharing the ministry that God has placed on your hearts. We wish you all the best for your upcoming album, and our prayers are with your ministry. 

    Thank you! We too, wish you all the best with your ministry, and our prayers are with you too! 

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part Three: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    God does His best work in the silence

    Part Three – Studying God’s Word

    Welcome to the third and last section of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6. 

    In an extended version of Part One – “Understanding God’s Word”, we joined the Israelites as they stood before the impregnable walls of the fortified city of Jericho in the land of Canaan.  

    Having been promised the land as their heritage by God, the Israelites still needed to believe that God was with them and would bring them victory against a superior enemy – the Canaanites.

    By obeying God’s commands and praising Him before they saw one stone be dislodged from the mighty wall of Jericho, the Israelite’s kept their faith and endured when the odds looked heavily against their favor.

    The result – God made the walls of Jericho fall down! 

    In Part Two – “Living God’s Word”, we explored the ways that we can partner up with God, the way the Israelites did, in order to live out the blessings and promises He has for our lives. 

    Part Three – “Studying God’s Word “ is intended as a study guide for those of you who would like to delve deeper into the biblical and life themes presented in Joshua 6.  

    If you would like to know more about the benefits of studying the Word of God, then l recommend that you read our page “Why study the Bible?”

    The aim of this study section

    This study section is intended as a guide to promoting discussion and reflection on Joshua 6.   

    As a start, I suggest that you read Part One and Part Two of this Bible Study on Joshua 6, in order to fully appreciate the lesson portrayed in this biblical account and to consider the chapter’s themes.   

    For whom is this study section intended? 

    You can apply this section within a group setting, such as a house group, a Bible Study group, or a prayer group.  

    Alternatively, you can also study on your own. If this may be the case, l have written some suggestions below in the section “If you are studying on your own” to assist you in your learning.   

    I encourage you to customize this study preparation by taking out of it what you wish and adding your own ideas and insight. Have fun with it!  

    What you will need:

    • A Bible, preferable a study Bible. I personally use the  “The Everyday Life Bible” from Joyce Meyer Ministries  
    • An exercise book or journal and a pen  
    • As an alternative to pen and paper, you could use a tablet or a similar electronic device 

    This study section composes of six parts:

    1. Discussion questions  

    2. Testimony  

    3.Praise and Worship 

    4. Suggested reading   

    5. Journal writing  

    6. Prayer

    These are just guidelines to help you structure your group time. Feel free to add or take out elements as you see fit! 

    Additionally, talk with your group and ask them for suggestions about what they would like to do. The more ideas, the merrier!  

    If you are studying on your own

    If you are not in a group and you would still like to apply this study section of Joshua 6 to your own private study of the Bible, that is also great! Quiet time with God is valuable time, and you can learn a lot about Him during it.   

    The following are a few suggestions of how you can adapt the 6 sections of this study guide for private study purposes:  

    1. Discussion questions:  

    You could start a journal and write down your thoughts to the listed discussion questions.   

    1.Testimony  

    You could use our suggested topics in the Testimony section as stimulation to write down all the wonderful things God has done in your life by starting a testimony journal or a blessings jar.  

    3.Praise and Worship 

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes. 

     4. Suggested reading   

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes.  

    5. Journal writing  

    Applicable in a group setting as well as for private study purposes.  

    6. Prayer  

    You can speak the prayer at the end of this section over yourself. Your words have power, especially if you speak them over yourself:  

    “ So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;  
        it shall not return to me empty,  
    but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,  
        and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”  

    Isaiah 55:11  

    Let’s look at the 6 sections of our study guide. 

    Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

    1.Discussion questions

    The following are some discussion topics l have thought of to assist you in delving deeper into the themes of Joshua 6.

    There are no right or wrong answers to these topics; they are merely suggestions to stimulate conversation and an exchange of views within your group. Also, feel free to ask others if they have ideas regarding this topic that they would like to discuss and go with it!  

    As each person experiences a different walk with God, it is interesting to hear other people’s perspectives and thereby learn from each other and grow together as a Christian community. Happy talking! 

    Possible discussion topics on Joshua 6

    1. As their first place of conquest in Canaan, God sent the Israelites to the most fortified city in the entire land – Jericho. There was no way they could avoid this if they were to take possession of the land. 

    Why do you think that God sent them to Jericho? How does this correspond to a difficulty that you are currently facing? 

    2. Watching the Israelites march around their walls for 7 days, the Canaanites must have thought their military strategy to be ridiculous. Most likely, they even jeered and mocked the Children of God.  

    Have you been met with disbelief whilst in the process of acting in obedience about something that God has put on your heart? Have others even mocked you for it?

    3. In Joshua 6:21, the Israelites destroy every living thing in Jericho according to God’s commands. 

    Considering what we learned in Part 1.3  about the devoted things – charam in ancient Hebrew – what do you think about God’s punishment of the Canaanites? 

    4. God told Joshua of the promise to bring down the walls of Jericho, however, He also made it clear that the Israelites were to do their part and fulfill His commands in absolute obedience (Joshua 6:2-5).

    Do you think that God would have brought the walls of Jericho down if the Israelites hadn’t obeyed Him?

    How much is our own obedience dependent on God’s fulfillment of His promises over our lives? 

    5. Whilst marching around the walls of Jericho, the Israelites refused to get distracted by the enormity of the challenge that lay before them. Instead, they kept their hearts and minds on God and focused on what He could do to help them (Joshua 6:8-16). 

    What are ways that we can keep our focus on God when faced with adversity, instead of becoming distracted by the enormity of our situation?

    6. Are you waiting on God to work in a particular situation in your life right now? Is He working in a way contrary to how you thought He would work? Is His solution to your problem far better than the solution you were originally hoping for?

      7. The Israelites praised God before they saw a change in their situation (Joshua 6:5Joshua 6:20). 

     How important a role does praise and worship play in your quiet time with God? Have you experienced a major breakthrough after dedicating time to God in praise and worship? Share this experience with the other members of your group. 

    8. We know that God makes the impossible, possible. He provides us with signs, wonders, and miracles (Hebrews 2:4). With one shout of praise, He made the impregnable walls of Jericho fall down (Joshua 6:20). 

    Could it be that when God blesses us with signs, wonders, and miracles in our own lives, that it still comes as a surprise to us? Why is that so, do you think? 

    Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash

    2.Testimony

    Sharing your life experiences and the victories that God has vouchsafed you is a verbal expression of your gratitude. It gives not only our Father glory, but it encourages fellow Christians who may be going through the same trial that you have undergone.   

    “I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
        in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

    Psalm 22:22   

    Possible testimony topics on Joshua 6

    1. Aware that the Israelites were outmatched physically and that they lacked military experience, God gave the Israelites victory at Jericho through unconventional means – faith, obedience, endurance, courage, and praise. 

    Give a testimony of a time when God used unconventional means to give you victory in an area of your life.  

    2. Upon entering the land of Canaan, God gave the Israelite’s what looked like an impossible challenge – overcoming Jericho, a fortified city that was famous throughout the land for its impregnable walls.  And yet, God chose this city for the Israelite’s to conquer, when He could have made it easier for the Israelites to claim their inheritance. 

    Have you also faced what seemed like the biggest challenge in your life? How did you keep your eyes on God during this difficult period? Are there any Bible passages, books, or worship songs that you can share with the group that helped you and which will encourage others? 

    When God brought a breakthrough in your situation, what did you learn about Him from your experience? What did you learn about your own faith walk? 

    3. Prior to them entering Canaan, the Canaanites had already heard of the Israelite’s faith and knew of God’s power and provision for them (Joshua 2:9-11). The Israelite’s reputation as children of God preceded them.  

    How do you think that people recognize you as being a follower of Christ? What are some of the actions or mindsets you have that can encourage someone, who doesn’t know Christ, to pick up their cross and follow Him? 

    Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

    3. Praise and Worship

    Spending time with God in praise and worship is an integral part of every Christian’s faith walk.  By praising God, you are honoring His majesty, His goodness, His love, and His kindness.  

    By worshipping God, You are honoring His presence and are inviting Him to be a part of your life. Also, praise and worship is an expression of thanks for the many times He has offered you grace when you were undeserving of it. Alone for His gift of Salvation, He is worthy of our praise and worship! 

    Basically, if you love God, praise and worship is the way to show Him it! 

    The Bible calls for us to praise and worship God: 

    “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, 
        and his courts with praise. 
        Give thanks to him, bless his name.” 

    Psalm 100:4  

    “Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; 
        worship the Lord in holy splendor.” 

    Psalm 29:2 

    In Revelation 4:11, it states that we were created for the purpose of praising our Creator: 

     “You are worthy, our Lord and God, 
        to receive glory and honor and power, 
    for you created all things, 
        and by your will they existed and were created.” 

    Revelation 4:11 

    How to praise God every day

    So, how do you praise God?  

    As you would start a church service by giving thanks to God through praise and worship, you can start off your day, as well as your prayers, by thanking Him for all the wonderful things He has done for you, as Psalm 100:4 commands us. Also, you can thank Him throughout the day for the mercies He gives you, no matter how big or small they are.  

    Additionally, you can start a gratitude journal. I highly recommend “The 5 Minute Journal” from Intelligent Change. 

    How to worship God every day

    Worship is a physical manifestation of your praise. You can express yourself by dancing, marching around your home and praising Him loudly, playing an instrument, or singing to worship songs. Alternatively, you can bow down on your knees to Him and worship Him that way. God is pleased with every form of worship you express to Him. 

    Finally living a God-intentional life, where we do our best to abide by His commands, walk in love with others, and honor Him by respecting our bodies, hearts, and minds, is the best form of praise and worship that you can show God. 

    How to implement praise and worship in your Bible study group:

    You can start off your Bible Study session by each member of the group expressing gratitude to God for something that He did for them that week. 

    Following that, you can play some worship music and sing.  If someone in the group plays an instrument, it can be used as a musical accompaniment. Together with a tambourine, you have the making of a great worship session!  

    Alternatively, you could play worship songs from the internet or a CD. 

    Play worship songs with our Jacob’s Ladder Blog account on Spotify!

    If you would like to have a ready-made list of worship songs available to you at a mouse click, l have set up our own public Jacob’s Ladder Blog account on Spotify.  

    The music in our account is organized according to our themes for transparency, but feel free to jump between playlists as you please. 

    To find our account, type in Jacob’s Ladder Blog in the search bar at the top left hand corner of your Spotify screen.  

    If you don’t have Spotify and you would like to download it, here is the link to their main page. They offer free and premium accounts. 

     Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash

    4. Suggested reading

    Reading the Word of God teaches us about how much God loves us and gives us guidelines on how to live the life He wants us to live – a life of victory and joy. 

    The following is reading material that relates to the themes we have been discussing in Joshua 6. 

    Scriptures:

    Listening to God in the silence 

    The voice of God 

    Resting in God’s presence during adversity 

    Obeying God 

    Partnering with God 

    Faith 

    Courage 

    Endurance 

    Praise 

    Bible chapters on trusting God in the silence

    Interesting online articles relating to Joshua 6:

    charismamag.com, “How to Recognize God’s Still, Small Voice,” Dr. Mark Virkler.

    crosswalk.com, “How to Obey God, Even When You Don’t Feel Like It,” Dawn Wilson. 

    shegznstuff.com, “Identifying the Strongholds in Your Life (5 Areas to consider),” Segun Aiyegbusi. 

    ymi.today, “Three ways to push through a dry season,” Madeline Twooney.

    Inspirational quotes relating to Joshua 6:

    • “I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you’re able to be more patient. Patience is not just about waiting for something… it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.” – Joyce Meyer 
    • “I believe if you keep your faith, you keep your trust, you keep the right attitude, if you’re grateful, you’ll see God open up new doors.” –  Joel Osteen 
    • We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Theresa 
    • “God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go.” – Tony Evans 
    • “God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile.” – Max Lucado 

    Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

    5. Journal writing

    Writing down all the good things that God has done in your life is a very powerful tool for a Christian. Not only does it help us to remember what God has done for us; reading over God’s past victories and blessings over you provide encouragement and empowerment in times of trouble. All you need to start is an empty exercise book and a pen. Alternatively, you can keep a digital journal.   

    There are a number of forms of journals, where regular writing in it will strengthen you in your walk with God:   

    •  A testimony journal   
    •  A dreams and visions journal   
    •  A blessings journal   
    •  My favorite –  a gratitude journal   

    Try to write once a day in your journal. All you need is 5-10 min to jot down everything good that has happened to you during the course of your day, no matter how trivial.    

    Meditate upon what you wrote and acknowledge that it is God who was responsible for these good things happening today, and not you or your own works.    

     ‘”Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.’   

    Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)   

    Journaling in your group:

    You can e.g. allot 10-15min for journaling in your group, and afterwards share your written thoughts with each other.   

    An alternate suggestion is to incorporate journal writing as part of your quiet time with God, then discuss your results when you meet as a group.   

    Journaling on Joshua 6

    1. From our reading section, write down 5 key scriptures that resonated with you. Read these every day for the following week and try and commit these to memory (Psalm 119:11).  

    2. Rahab was the only inhabitant of Jericho who sought repentance in the Lord when the two Israeli spies did a reconnaissance of Jericho. Her Salvation meant that she and her family survived the slaughter at Jericho and that her progeny carried the line of David, and ultimately Jesus.

    Write in your journal of your own journey to Salvation. How has being in a relationship with Jesus changed your life for the better? What blessings and opportunities has He provided you with that would not have been realized if you hadn’t have given your life to Christ? 

    3. Are you currently going through a season of adversity? Are you weighed down by worry, ill health, or fears for the future?  

     Write down all that is troubling you, and hand it over to God. Then, leave a few lines free at the end of your entry and place a bookmark or some kind of place marker on the page. 

     From personal experience, God will work in your situation and will give you breakthrough in the specific situation you have written about. Use that space that you have left free to write the date of that breakthrough and write down how He worked in your situation.  

    I assure you, that feeling of relief, victory over triumph, and confident reliance in God is amazing! Remember that feeling and tap into it when you are confronted with your next challenge. It will fortify your faith that God has helped you before, and He will do so again!  

    4. As an extension of No. 3, start a journal, where you can record every breakthrough that God has given you. I call mine my “Miracle Book”.

     As a friend once described it, writing in this book is akin to giving a deposit in the bank; every time you are feeling worried or overwhelmed, you can read over your previous entries and gain encouragement from all the times God has helped you in the past. By doing so, you make a spiritual  “withdrawal” that will fortify your faith that God will help you in your current situation.

    I do this and it gives me comfort and encouragement to keep my eyes on God, and watch with hope and expectation for His timing. He is a way maker and a miracle worker!

    Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

    6. Prayer

    What is your personal Jericho? What situation are you currently facing that is burdening you and where you can’t see a feasible solution in sight? 

    Let us bring your concern to God in prayer, for what is impossible for man, is possible with God! 

    Normally l write prayers that can be read aloud in a study group; however this time around, I have written this prayer to be prayed over individually, out of respect for the sensitivity of individual situations. 

    That being said, if you are seeking God’s help as a family, or a church group, then feel free to use this prayer in a corporate capacity. 

    Some final pieces of advice before you speak our prayer:

    *Be specific in your prayer request. Tell God exactly what is challenging you currently. He, of course, knows what is going on in your life, but He wants a two-way communication with you.

    +Additionally, tell God how you are feeling. Give all your emotions to Him. In 2 Kings 20:5, it states that God hears our prayers and sees our tears; He will heal us.

    Prayer:

    Merciful Father, wonderful Savior, 

    Father, You came to me in the darkness, when l was dead to You in sin. You saved me through the blood of Your precious Son, in order that l may become Your child, a son or daughter of the Most High. 

    And now, that l am Yours, You will not loosen Your hold on me. You will not fail me nor forsake me in my hour of need. For my heart is heavy with worry, and my soul is weary with carrying around the burdens of the problems l face. I look around for a solution, but all l see are walls; l yearn for even the slightest sliver of light to fill me with hope of a better future.  

    Therefore, l come to You and lay my situation before You.* All the worry, fear, and anxiety that is threatening to overwhelm me, l lay at Your feet.+ I will cast my care on You and trust in You to help me.  

    Tell me how l can best obey You during this season of my life; teach me to walk with faith and trust that You are working in my situation, even when l don’t see any change. Give me courage to face each new day and provide me with endurance to keep on fighting the good fight, even when the odds seem against me.

    And lastly, put a new song in my heart every morning, in order that l may sing Your praise before l see the victory that You have already planned for me. 

    Precious Lord, You always make a way, where there is no way, for nothing is impossible for You! We thank You that by Your Spirit, You will make the walls that are surrounding me fall down.  

    In Jesus’ name, 

    Amen.

    Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

    We hope that you enjoyed our Bible study on Joshua in our series Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies.   

    For our next theme, we will be studying 2 Samuel 9 and exploring the theme of grace through King David’s act of kindness to Mephibosheth, the son of David’s dear departed friend, Jonathan.   We would love for you to join us!   

    Until then, my friends, be safe and may God’s love and blessings be upon you!   

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)”  

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho”  

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?”  

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”   

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan”  

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?”  

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?”  

    ligonier.org, „Why Did God Command the Children of Israel to Kill Every Man, Woman, and Child in the Promised Land?” 

    biblehub.com, „1 Kings 16:34“ 

    churchofjesuschrist.org, „Joshua 1-24” 

    answersingenesis.org, “The Walls of Jericho” 

    focusmagazine.org, „Devoted Things” 

    compellingtruth.org, „Why did God give the Mosaic Law? What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law?“ 

    rccg.org, „First fruit offering“ 

    biblestudytools.com, „First fruits“ 

    openbible.info, „Tithe In The New Testament” 

    compellingtruth.org, “What does the Bible say about spiritual strongholds?” 

    gotquestions.org, “Spiritual strongholds – what is the biblical view?” 

    christianity.com, “What Is a Tithe? – Meaning and Importance of Tithing in the Bible” 

    biblestudytools.com, „Tithing in the Bible“ 

    ryanhart.org, “27 Inspiring Bible Verses About Tithing and Offerings” 

    crosswalk.com, “Tithing in the Bible – Is Tithing for the New Testament Believer?” 

    gospelweb.net, “Partnership with God” 

    mmnbs.com, “Lesson 6 – Joshua 6” 

    studyandobey.com, “Inductive Bible Study on Joshua 6“ 

    foundationsforfreedom.net, “Bible Study Questions on Joshua 6,” Paul J. Bucknell.

    ministrymaker.com, “What is the Purpose of Praise and Worship?” Dr. Gary Linton.

    winninggodsway.com, “Winning God’s way” 

    allaboutgod.com, “All about…Praise and Worship” 

    biblestudytools.com, “Obedience Bible Verses” 

    bible.knowing-jesus.com,  “30 Bible Verses about partnership” 

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part Two: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Partnering with God to live a victorious life

    Part Two: Living God’s Word – Applying Joshua 6 to everyday life 

    Last week, we finished an extended Part One of our Bible commentary on Joshua 6. We discovered how the Israelites penetrated the impregnable walls of the city of Jericho and thereby took over the city from the hands of their enemies, the Canaanites (Joshua 6: 20).

    Although they were outmatched in military experience and weaponry, the Israelites had an ace up their sleeves that assured them victory before the battle had even begun – the blessings and favor of God.

    The Israelites knew that God had promised them the land of Canaan as part of their inheritance. However, they also knew that the land was occupied by their enemies, who owned the land. In order to come into the fulfillment of the plans that God had laid out for them, they needed to trust God, obey, have faith, and praise Him before they saw victory.

    Now that we have studied Joshua 6, let us explore how we can take the lessons of this phenomenal Bible chapter and apply them to live a victorious life full of faith, praise, and fellowship with God.

    Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

    See with the eyes of faith

    “For we walk by faith, not by sight”

    2 Corinthians 5:7

    Before the Israelites approached the formidable walls of Jericho, the Bible states that Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, was by the city (Joshua 5:13).

    Looking over the arid plains to the formidable fortress walls of Jericho, one wonders what Joshua was thinking. For to the human eyes, Jericho could not be compromised – especially not by a nation of former slaves with no military experience and inferior resources.

    However, God encouraged Joshua to look at his situation with eyes of faith. He himself came to speak to Joshua – what is known as a theophany – who proclaimed that Jericho had already been given into the Israelite’s hands (Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua 6:2).

    By God’s spirit, the walls of Jericho would fall down, but Joshua not only had to believe it for himself, he had to convince the entire Israeli nation to believe it too. They had to see the walls of Jericho flattened to the ground by faith, before they saw it with their human eyes.

    This is exactly what happened:

    “By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.”

    Hebrews 11:30

    As a modern translation of this principle, living a victorious Christian life not only means to have faith that God exists and that He loves us. It also means that we need to believe that God can make all things work out for our good – especially when the odds look like they are against us. We need to see with eyes of faith.

    God does not think like the world does. He is not bound by the expectations of society, nor is He motivated by likes on Instagram or thumbs ups on Facebook. God always has the final say in our lives – not people, not bad breaks, and not adversity.

    So, the next time you face a difficult situation, don’t worry about how it’s going to work out. Don’t spend sleepless nights trying to figure out a solution. Like God promised the Israelites a favorable outcome with Jericho, so He is promising you a favorable outcome to your dilemma. However, you need to accept that promise and believe it will come to pass – you need to see with eyes of faith.

    The power of the believer’s weapons

    “For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

    2 Corinthians 10:4

    The battle the Israelites faced as they stood in front of the walls of Jericho was not a physical one. If so, they would have failed dismally in penetrating the impregnable walls of the fortress city. They were former slaves, who had spent the last 40 years wandering the desert; their lack of military expertise would have cost them their lives at the hands of the Canaanites, who were seasoned warriors and armed to the teeth in weaponry.

    No, this battle against the Canaanites was a spiritual one. Therefore, in order to incur a spiritual victory, the Israelites had to engage in spiritual warfare.

    The warfare we face today is also spiritual: sickness, financial struggles, marital discord, just to name a few.

    They are brought on by an enemy – the devil – who wants to see us live a life of defeat and misery.

    “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

    John 10:10

    However, God wants us to live a victorious life, full of joy and fulfilment. Look at the second part of this Bible verse:

    “I came that they may have life,  and have it abundantly.”

    John 10:10

    God provided the Israelites with spiritual weapons to fight, and we can use these same weapons to live out the blessings and promises that God puts in our hearts.

    Let’s explore what these weapons are and how we can wield them:

    Faith

    We talked in the previous section about seeing with eyes of faith. Joshua and the Israelites acted in faith by following God’s plan to walk around the walls of Jericho for 7 days.

    As a further step to seeing, God wants us to step out in faith. This means that we follow a course of action with the belief that God is going to make things right, even if we aren’t sure how the end is actually going to pan out.

    Instead of fretting and plotting our own course through the landmine of troubles in your life, hand over your situation to God today. God is faithful: If you reflect on past problems, did they not all work out in the end? That was not the result of luck or coincidence – that was the favor of God in your life.

    Therefore, put your faith in Him again – if He’s helped you once, He will do it again!

    Courage

    Often in life, situations arise that can daunt us. People can say things that can make us feel threatened or afraid. The pain of past experiences makes us fearful of stepping out of our comfort zones.

    As they walked around the walls of Jericho, the Israelites had to gather their courage. They had a prime view of the defense fortifications of the walls, including a 28 ft stone tower. The Canaanite giants were kitted out in weapons and were probably within distance to launch offensives from the safety of the parapets. However, the Israelites just kept on marching, because they knew that God had their back.

    When faced with adversity, we too need to confront the problem with courage and confidence that God is with us. He will not allow us to face a difficult situation on our own. In fact, He goes with us.

    One particular Bible verse that gives me courage is Deuteronomy 31:6:

    “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

    Obedience

    Listening to God and fulfilling His instructions is not always an easy thing to do for us. God has given us free will, and as humans we are accustomed to being in charge of making our own decisions in our everyday lives.

    However, God is omnipresent: He can see situations from multiple perspectives simultaneously and is not hindered by space or time. So, when He asks us for example, to wait, or to not follow a certain path, He is only doing it out of  concern for us.

    Obeying God doesn’t always mean it makes sense to us.

    The Israelites didn’t likely understand why they had to walk around for 6 days around the walls of Jericho – in silence. However, they did it. When God told them to shout on the 7th day, well they did that too. And what happened? The walls of Jericho came tumbling down!

    God knows what is best for us. So, the next time God asks you to do something and you don’t understand the point of it, just remember that He is asking you to trust Him. Put your human reasoning behind you and just try obeying Him. You will be amazed at how things turn out bigger and better than you thought they could ever be!

    Endurance

    Do you know the excitement you feel, when you start a new project or even a new diet? You’re full of enthusiasm and can almost reach out and grab that positive future picture you have of yourself.

    However, as time goes on, the project ends up consuming all of your free time, and the lack of significant progress frustrates you. Eating green salads for every meal becomes monotonous; you start fantasizing about eating carbs again. You begin to doubt whether you have what it takes to keep going to realize your goals.

    Can you imagine how the Israelites felt walking around the formidable walls of Jericho for 7 days, especially when it didn’t make any sense to them? I wonder if some of them got up on day 4 and thought, “Do l really have to spend my day walking around those blasted walls, getting jeered at by my enemies, who are obviously stronger and bigger than us? I mean, what’s the point? Everyone knows the walls can’t be breached.”

    And yet, the Israelites continued to get up every day for 7 days and walked around the walls of Jericho. They endured through their adversity and their endurance paid off.

    What would have happened if the Israelites had stopped walking on day 6? They would never have known that their victory was waiting for them the next day.

    Be like the Israelites: Keep on persisting when you don’t see a change in your situation, keep on enduring when you feel like giving up. You never know, you might be on day 6 of your own walk. Endure through it and walk into day 7, where your breakthrough is waiting for you!

    Praise

    This particular weapon is something that God has been especially putting on my heart this year.  He has been teaching me the importance of praising Him before l see a breakthrough in my convalescence with depression and burnout. Why? Because He wants me to remember that He is greater than illness, or any problem on this earth, for that matter.

    ”Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

    1 John 4.4

    After 6 days of walking in silence, God asked the Israelites to give one almighty shout on the 7th day, as they stood positioned in front of the walls of Jericho. So, as the low bellowing sound of a single ram’s horn reverberated throughout the Israelite formation, the children of God raised their voices in praise – and the walls of Jericho fell down.

    By praising God during the midst of your current strife, you’re showing Him that your focus is on Him and not on your problem. It tells Him that you trust Him to make a way for you where you see no way. It shows God your faith.

    There are other situations in the Bible where people praised God before they saw a breakthrough in their situation.

    In 2 Chronicles 20:22, the combined armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir turned on each other, when King Jehoshaphat of Judah appointed singers to praise and worship God.

    In Acts 16:25-32, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God in prison. In response, God brought about an earthquake that shook the foundations of their confinement, released captives from their chains, and brought a Philippian jailor to Christ.


    If you too are looking for a breakthrough, l can only recommend that you lift your hearts, voices, and hands and praise the Lord, the One who makes all things possible and that no spirit, might, or power can stand against!

    I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
        I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
     I will be glad and exult in you;
        I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

    Psalm 9:1-2

    Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

    Tear down strongholds

    “Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in.”

    Joshua 6:1

    When the Canaanites first discovered that an attempt was being made to besiege them, they shut themselves in – physically and spiritually.

    Firstly, they positioned themselves behind a physical stronghold – the fortified walls of Jericho – so that the Israelites could not compromise their position.

    Secondly, they set up a spiritual stronghold of pride in their hearts, refusing to repent for their idolatry and adamantly refusing to accept Yahweh as their one true God.

    So, what exactly is a spiritual stronghold and how does it apply to us today?

    A stronghold can mean two things. It can be a fortified place to take refuge in whilst under duress. In  Psalm 27:1, David makes us aware of the importance of making God the stronghold of our lives in times of adversity:

    The Lord is my light and my salvation;
        whom shall I fear?
    The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
        of whom shall I be afraid?”

    However, a spiritual stronghold can also be a mindset, philosophy, or opinion that goes against the knowledge of God.

    As we mentioned earlier in our section on seeing with eyes of faith, the warfare we wage today is spiritual. And although we have an enemy who wants to see us live a life of defeat and fear, we can’t always give him the blame for everything that goes wrong in our lives. There are times when our mindsets, more explicitly, our thinking or belief systems, can also cause problems in our lives.

    So, how can our mindsets cause us problems?

    First of all, strongholds find their origins in pride. We are all prone to it.

    Furthermore, we can make life difficult for ourselves when we prioritize the things of this world over God’s values. This includes pursuing materialism, giving too much importance to our appearance, or even seeking to further ourselves instead of helping others.

    As long as we continue to follow such thought patterns, we are erecting spiritual strongholds in our mind that prevent the truth of God to come in.

    Paul accentuates the need to tear down such strongholds and make ourselves obedient to the will of Christ in 2 Corinthians.

    “For the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

    2 Corinthians 10:4-5

    Therefore, in order to be able to hear God more clearly and fulfil His wonderful plans for your life, try looking inside yourself today: See where there are any mindsets that you are insisting on pursuing that go against God’s Word. 

    Photo by Micheile Henderson @micheile010 // Visual Stories [nl] on Unsplash

    Seek God’s voice in the silence

     “Be still, and know that I am God!
        I am exalted among the nations,
        I am exalted in the earth.”

    Psalm 46:10

    The world we live in is a busy one. As soon as the alarm goes off, it is a race to get out the door, pack the kids in the car for the school run and rush off to work for that first meeting. When we try to put aside time to spend with God, we get distracted by our phones or by the nagging mental to-do list that we need to work through.

    As a consequence, God’s voice gets drowned out through the noise and hectic of our lives.

    The Scriptures say that the voice of God is small and still. Elijah the prophet experienced this firsthand (1 Kings 19:12 (KJV)).

    Therefore, in order to hear God, we need to find a quiet moment of the day and slow our minds down in order to receive His Word.

    “For God alone my soul waits in silence,
        for my hope is from him.”

    Psalm 62:5

    The Israelites knew the importance of seeking God’s presence in the silence. While they marched around the walls of Jericho, they literally didn’t say a word – not even the children in tow.

    Instead, they used that time of marching to keep they eyes on God, listen to the trumpet fanfare that represented His voice, and seek His presence.

    So, how can we develop our own cone of silence to hear God’s voice?

    Set aside time in the day for God

    God time is also known as “quiet time”. Therefore, block out a specific amount of time in the day to spend with God and guard that time preciously. During this time, put your phone away, disconnect the house phone and encourage a quiet atmosphere around you.

    Let other people in your household know that this is your time with God and that they should not bother you during it. You can also encourage the entire family to use that time for their own “quiet time” – even the children. Everyone can go to their own designated area of the house and develop that routine of spending time with God.

    Alternately, you could get up 30 minutes before the rest of your family does, or have your “quiet time” after everyone goes to bed.

    Create a peaceful space

    In order to promote a feeling of stillness and quiet, make your space peaceful and tranquil. That could mean setting up some big cushions on the floor or lighting a few candles. Make your designated space a haven that you look forward to going to every day to be with God.

    Prepare yourself for God’s voice

    Get yourself mentally prepared to hear God’s voice by playing some worship music. Also, read some verses from your Bible.

    By doing this, you slowly lay aside the hectic of the day and prepare yourself mentally and spiritually to receive God’s voice.

    Pray

    Prayer is communicating with God. For me personally, l talk to God like l would to my own biological father – simply and directly.

    l always start my time with God by expressing my gratitude to Him for all the good things He has done for me that day or that week. Following that, l praise God for the many ways He is good – His mercy, His grace, His understanding of my weaknesses, to name a few.

    “Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
        and his courts with praise.
        Give thanks to him, bless his name.”

    Psalm 100:4

    Write down what God tells you

    Have a pen and a journal on hand and write down what God speaks to you about.

    How do you know when God speaks to you? It’s like a sudden idea that pops into your head, or a spontaneous flow of thoughts. They are great, encouraging, and beyond what you would have thought of on your own.

    Read back regularly what you have written down and most importantly, act upon it! These are in part the plans and promises that God has blessed you with. He wants you to live them out!

    Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

    Give God your first fruits – the importance of tithing

    “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

    1 Chronicles 29:14

    In ancient times, God proclaimed laws to the Israelites through Moses. These decrees became known as the Mosaic Law.

    These decrees were designed to give God’s children revelation of who He was, how to worship and honor Him, and live in a manner that was pleasing to Him. However, the laws had also been written to protect them and set them apart from other nations.

    One of these laws was the law of tithing. According to the Old Testament, God required His people to set aside the choicest agricultural produce of the new harvest – the “first fruits”.  

    Why the first fruits of the harvest?

    Gold or other forms of currency were not given as offerings, as it was about giving God the first and best of the agricultural fruit from the promised land of Canaan, the inheritance given by God to the Canaanites.  

    “The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.”

    Exodus 34:26

    The amount of their produce that the Israelites were required to set aside for tithing purposes was 10%.

    “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.”

    Deuteronomy 14:22 (NIV)

    In fact, the word “tithe” derives from an Old English word to mean “a tenth”.

    Is tithing still relevant today?

    There is dispute amongst Christians today, as to whether tithing is still relevant according to the covenant of the New Testament.

    However, Jesus states the following:

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.”

    Matthew 5:17-18

    The New Testament doesn’t command us to tithe, as was the case in the Old Testament. Instead, we are encouraged to be “cheerful givers”.

    “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    2 Corinthians 9:7

    Tithing for us today is done with our finances – we are no longer required to offer animal sacrifices and many of us don’t earn our living through agriculture.

    Giving a financial offering is an act of gratitude towards God – a thank you for all He has done for us. The more we grow in our faith walk, the more we want to show God our appreciation for His salvation, His provision, His mercy, and His grace.

    With increased revelation of God, tithing becomes less of a duty and takes on a quality of joy. You honestly become happy at the prospect of giving back a part of what belongs to God in the first place.

    For me personally, l know that everything l have in my life – my home, my loving husband,  my little one-eared pussycat, the food that l eat and the clothes that l wear – are through the grace of God. By tithing, l show Him how much His love and provision mean to me.

    One reason people tend to tithe is because they believe God will bless them over and abundantly for their sacrifice.

    I personally believe that God does honor our offerings:

    “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”

    Malachi 3:10

    This promise of abundance is repeated in the New Testament:

    “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

    Luke 6:38

    That being said, l believe that tithing is best approached from a position of gratitude and not entitlement (Luke 18:9-14). Tithe because you love God and you want to show Him that – not because you want something in return from Him.

    How much do l tithe?

    This is a good question. As we have already established, under the Mosaic Law, the amount of offering was pre-determined at 10%

    However, since we have a new covenant with Jesus, the New Testament does not specify an amount. Instead, we are encouraged to give with our whole heart.

    “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    Matthew 6:21

    What does this mean? Whether we give 10% or any other amount, is not so important as showing God our heart to honor Him.

    Consider the following Bible verse, where Jesus watched people tithing:

    “He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.  For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

    Mark 12:41-44

    Although the poor widow tithed less than her wealthier contemporaries, her sacrifice cost her more to make, as it was literally the only money she had. And yet, she gave it all to God.

    Now, no one is saying you must give your entire next month’s paycheck as a tithe. But if you do, seek God in prayer and then do it with a heart of love for Him. The same goes for any amount of money you offer. Remember it’s not about the amount, it’s about the heart.

    My former pastor used to say about tithing, “Give an amount that hurts a little to part with.” I have remembered these words of advice every time l tithe, because it is that point of discomfort, like the widow experienced, that makes my financial gift a worthy sacrifice to God.

    To whom do l tithe?

    I think it’s good to give your tithe to your church. After all, it is the place that gives you spiritual nourishment, and it’s where you have experienced good fellowship.

    Churches need funds to keep running. The flyers and pamphlets they give out, the communion bread and wine (or sometimes it’s grape juice!), the cleaning of the church and the monthly electricity bill all need to be paid for.

    Tithing to your church does require trust, as you don’t have a direct say in how the funds are being used. However, as a giver, your commitment is to honor God. The church’s commitment is to use the funds you give in a responsible fashion to promote the spreading of God’s Word.

    Therefore, give your tithe to your church in faith. If you want to give financially to an additional ministry, then you can always make the decision to make another offering in that direction.

    If you haven’t yet found a church, then l suggest you give your tithe to a ministry that is dedicated to bringing others to a knowledge of Christ.

    Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

    Partner-up with God

    “God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    1 Corinthinans 1:9

    When Jesus chose His son to be the bearer of our sins, it was so that we would enjoy eternal fellowship with Him.

    God performs many good works, but He chooses to perform them through us. So, in order to do that, He needs us to partner-up with Him.

    God’s military plan to bring down the walls of Jericho was contingent upon the willingness of the Israelites to carry out His instructions. He didn’t need them to show the surrounding nations His might and power; nevertheless He wanted His children to be the vessels through which the enemies of God would bow down in awe and acceptance of Him.

    Also, God doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves during times of trouble. Just as He helped the Israelites with His favor, so God helps us today, if we call on Him for help.

    God offers you a partnership – it’s up to you whether you take it or not.

    God has great plans for your life, and He also has great plans that He needs people to carry out for Him here on earth – but He won’t force you to live all these out if you don’t want to.

    That being said, if you have the chance to live a more fulfilled life than what you are living at the moment, if you have the opportunity to be a source of hope and encouragement to others who are suffering, wouldn’t you want to partner-up with the One, who can make all that possible?

    Partnering with God is like being one half of a ballroom dance couple – one person needs to take the lead. In order to live a life of victory and fulfillment as a Christian, let God lead you as you dance through life together. Seek Him in prayer, listen to what He tells you, and put that guidance into action.

    I assure you, if you work together with God from today, He will open doors that no man can shut and make your future paths direct and straight.

    In order to partner-up with God fully, we need to surrender ourselves to Him. Let us discuss this in our last section.

    Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

    Accept Jesus’ gift of salvation

    “Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

    Romans 10:9-10

    Being a Christian is more than going to church or praying. It is more than trying to live a moral life and giving regular donations to the poor. All those things are important, but these things aren’t what make us Christians.

    God isn’t religion – He is a relationship.

    This relationship is made possible through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross of Calvary. Before His crucifixion, we were all condemned to be eternally separated from God, as we as humans are sinful and God cannot be near sin.

    However, Jesus willingly came to earth and died for our sins.

    “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

    2 Corinthians 5:21

    Jesus’ blood that was spilled was the ransom He paid for our transgressions – past, present, and future. It is this gift of salvation that enables us to enter into a relationship with God.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

    John 3:16

    Here’s another verse that further proclaims this:

    “And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.”

    1 John 4:14

    God wants to be in a relationship with you today. He loves you and considers you His precious child.

    In order to enter into this relationship, all you need to do is accept Jesus’ gift of salvation.

    There is no complicated ritual involved: All you need to do is ask God out loud for forgiveness of your sins, acknowledge Him as your Savior, and ask Him to enter into your heart.

    “God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

    God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”

    1 John 4:15-16

    In order to make it easier for you, l have prepared a prayer that you can speak over yourself; it includes the necessities you need to declare in order to be saved.

    What is important, is that you speak these words with faith, for it is by grace that you are saved, not by works.

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—  not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”

    Ephesians 2:8-9

    If you have been unsure for a while, whether you want to give God a chance, make the decision for Him today. I promise you, your life will change so much for the better!

    By being in a relationship with God, you will experience peace, know joy, and have revelation over your life in ways you never can imagine. Most importantly, you will know what it truly feels like to be unconditionally loved.

    Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

    This concludes Part Two of our Bible Study on Joshua 6 – Living God’s Word.

    If you have been enjoying the series so far, we hope that you can join us for our upcoming third and final part of our Bible study – Studying God’s Word.

    Until then, l wish you peace, joy, and an abundance of God’s blessings.

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)” 

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho” 

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?” 

    ligonier.org, „Why Did God Command the Children of Israel to Kill Every Man, Woman, and Child in the Promised Land?”

    biblehub.com, „1 Kings 16:34“

    churchofjesuschrist.org, „Joshua 1-24”

    answersingenesis.org, “The Walls of Jericho”

    focusmagazine.org, „Devoted Things”

    compellingtruth.org, „Why did God give the Mosaic Law? What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law?“

    rccg.org, „First fruit offering“

    biblestudytools.com, „First fruits“

    openbible.info, „Tithe In The New Testament”

    compellingtruth.org, “What does the Bible say about spiritual strongholds?”

    gotquestions.org, “Spiritual strongholds – what is the biblical view?”

    christianity.com, “What Is a Tithe? – Meaning and Importance of Tithing in the Bible”

    biblestudytools.com, „Tithing in the Bible“

    ryanhart.org, “27 Inspiring Bible Verses About Tithing and Offerings”

    crosswalk.com, “Tithing in the Bible – Is Tithing for the New Testament Believer?”

    gospelweb.net, “Partnership with God”

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1.3: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Victory, first fruits, judgement, and salvation –  The occupation of Jericho



    Part 1.3: Understanding God’s Word – Bible commentary on Joshua 6

    Bible passages being discussed: (Joshua 6:21-27)

    In our previous instalment of our Bible study on Joshua 6, we learned that the Israelites were preparing to launch at attack on the fortified city of Jericho in Canaan. God had assured them victory at this first point of their three-part military plan to conquer the land (Joshua 6:2), whose occupation God had promised to them as their inheritance (Genesis 5:18-21).

     And yet to the human eye, the odds were severely stacked against the Israelite’s favor. Not only was Jericho considered impregnable, but the Canaanites were experienced warriors with an expanse of military resources at their disposal. The Israelites were former slaves, with no military experience, who had been wandering the desert for 40 years.

    However, God makes a way, where there is no way. He had a plan to thwart the military expertise and reinforcements of the Canaanites. However, in order to realize this plan, the Israelites were to obey God, trust Him, have faith, and praise Him with a great shout at the imposing walls of Jericho, before their victory was even realized.

    All this they did and as God promised, the walls of Jericho fell, and they were able to charge into the city and capture it (Joshua 6:5).

    “By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.”

    Hebrews 11.30 (NRSV)

    However, although victorious, the Israelites still had work to do in Jericho, if they were to maintain their strategic advantage and take the land God had promised them from the hands of their enemies.

    God exacts His judgement on Jericho

    What the Israelites did after taking over Jericho was in accordance to the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 13:12-18:

    „If you hear it said about one of the towns that the Lord your God is giving you to live in,  that scoundrels from among you have gone out and led the inhabitants of the town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods,” whom you have not known,  then you shall inquire and make a thorough investigation. If the charge is established that such an abhorrent thing has been done among you, you shall put the inhabitants of that town to the sword, utterly destroying it and everything in it—even putting its livestock to the sword.  All of its spoil you shall gather into its public square; then burn the town and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall remain a perpetual ruin, never to be rebuilt.  Do not let anything devoted to destruction stick to your hand, so that the Lord may turn from his fierce anger and show you compassion, and in his compassion multiply you, as he swore to your ancestors,  if you obey the voice of the Lord your God by keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.

    The Mosaic Law had been provided to the Israelites by God to give them revelation of who He was, how to worship and honor Him, and live in a manner that was pleasing to Him. However, it had also been written to protect them and set them apart from other nations.

    God wanted the law to teach His people and others that He was mighty, holy, and to be feared. For that reason, there were ironclad decrees in place for anyone or anything that violated the holiness of God and the sanctity of His ways.

    This was especially the case for anyone or anything that had been set aside as being “devoted”. Devoted has two meanings: The ancient Hebrew noun cherem translates devoted as a “devoted thing” – a pleasing offering to God. The verb charam on the other hand, means “devoted to destruction”, God’s judgement.

    Because the Canaanites had indulged in wicked practices and had refused to devote (cherem) themselves to God, He declared them to be devoted (charam) to divine judgement. Canaan was God’s property to do with according to His will. God had made His decision and Jericho, with its inhabitants, buildings, and resources was doomed for destruction.

    Let’s us look at the ways that God instructed the Israelites to carry out his divine judgement on the Canaanites – the devoted.

    God commanded the Israelites to destroy every living creature in Jericho

    Prior to causing the walls of Jericho to fall down, God specifically instructed the Israelites to destroy every living thing that lived within the refuge of the fortress city walls in His name.

    “The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.”

    Joshua 6:17 

    Why would a God, who is supposed to be merciful, demand that the Israelites execute His death sentence on the people of Canaan?

    If you notice in the above verse, the word “devoted” is expressed. God had a reason for hardening His heart towards the welfare of the Canaanites.

    God punished the Canaanites for their spiritual disobedience

    The slaughtering of the inhabitants of Jericho admittedly raises some challenging issues for Christians and non-Christians alike.

    The fact is, God cannot be in the presence of sinners. And the Canaanites were sinners, who kept idols and followed practices such as child sacrifices and sacred prostitution that were an abomination to God. Hence, God exacted a punishment for their spiritual disobedience. And this meant death.

    As we mentioned earlier, the Mosaic Law had specific instructions for any violation of the Holiness of God. Observe the following decrees:

    “No human beings who have been devoted to destruction can be ransomed; they shall be put to death.”

    Leviticus 27:29

    Exodus 22:20 provides further confirmation of this:

    “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.”

    The presence of the Canaanites also posed to spiritually sully the Israelite’s faith. The Israelite’s were God’s chosen people – His children. Thus, in order to sanctify them and maintain their spiritual virtue, God needed to eradicate the Canaanite threat. Hence, he made them devoted (charam).

    Burn the city and curse it

    God demanded that the Israelites burn the city. This was to not only ascertain the complete destruction of the city, but to also offer a burnt sacrifice (charam) to God.

    “All of its spoil you shall gather into its public square; then burn the town and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall remain a perpetual ruin, never to be rebuilt.”

    Deuteronomy 13:16

    Furthermore, Jericho wasn’t supposed to re-built (Joshua 6:26): On God’s instructions, Joshua laid a curse on any man who tried to re-build the city.  Hence, a spiritual cleansing was necessary to prevent revenants from returning and resurrecting the city – which actually  happened when Hiel the Bethelite attempted to resurrect Jericho, most likely under the patronage of King Ahab (1 Kings 16:34).

    The Israelites were to stay away from the property of the Canaanites

    God specifically instructed the Israelites to keep their hands off any idols or any other objects that God had declared as accursed (Joshua 6:18). They were devoted artefacts and were meant to be destroyed. God knew that having such objects in their possession would taint the purity of the Israelites.

    Additionally, according to the Law, God would turn His anger upon anyone who violated this specific request: They in turn would be devoted.

    This is exactly what happened.

    Following the victory at Jericho, 3000 Israelites were sent to attack the city of Ai. However, they were forced to retreat by the inferior numbers of the men of Ai, who slaughtered 36 Israelites in the process (Joshua 1:5).

    It was an unnecessary loss, but one that occurred because one of the Israelites Achan had stolen a devoted object during the destruction of Jericho. By this act, he had caused God to remove His compassion and instead, incur His judgement (Joshua 7:11-13).

    Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

    Was it necessary for God to incur such merciless wrath on Jericho?

    It is true that the fate of the Canaanites at Jericho was harsh, but there were unique times in the Bible when God did this, for example with He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:23-25).

    Moreover, the Canaanites were not only shut-in physically behind the city walls, their hearts were closed to God. Not at any point did the Canaanites consider surrendering to the Israelites, nor did they sound a parley. There weren’t even any deserters.

    In fact, the Canaanites were well prepared for a siege. The attack on the city took place around harvest time (Joshua 3:15) and within the walls was a spring to provide water for the inhabitants. There was no way that they were going to budge.

    If the Canaanites had repented, there may have been a chance that God could have spared their lives. After all, He spared those of Rahab and her family (Joshua 6:23). God always offers each of us a chance to enter into a relationship with Him – but it is up to us to take it.

    God didn’t want the Canaanites to become a future threat to the Israelites

    Whereas we have a limited perspective of our lives, God’s perspective supersedes ours. And He knew that if the Israelites didn’t clean up the city of Jericho when they claimed it, then the threat was real that any Canaanites could return to challenge their conquest of Canaan. This actually happened, as the Israelites spared the lives of a minority of the Canaanites, thinking that they might prove useful as servants.

    Instead of focusing on the wrath of God in this situation, it is important to remember that God is indeed good. Remember that He sacrificed His one and only son, in order that we may know Salvation and enjoy a loving relationship with God for all eternity. The biblical accounts that declare His love, mercy, and grace far outnumber God’s acts of judgement.

    Additionally, God offers to save anyone who comes to Him and repent (Romans 10:13). Only one person in the entire city of Jericho was prepared to open her heart for God – the prostitute Rahab.

    Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

    Rahab’s salvation paves the way for our own redemption

    Just as God commanded that the Israelites destroy Jericho in its entirety, so He also reminded them to honor their promise to Rahab and spare her life and the lives of her family (Joshua 6:17).

    Rahab had faithfully followed the instructions of the two Israelites by binding a scarlet cord to the window of her house. When the Israelites entered the city to kill the inhabitants, the cord at the window was a sign for them to spare the inhabitants of the people who were inside.

    Rahab’s house was built against the north side of the city wall, so there is postulation as to whether that part of the wall remained intact or if the wall somehow fell outwards.  Scientists claim that the entire wall construction consisted of an inner and an outer stone retaining wall, with Rahab’s house being part of a mud wall that had been constructed on top of the outer wall.

    Whatever the case may be, Rahab and her family survived the fall of the wall and the Israelites brought them out of the city and set them outside their camp. They were saved not only by Rahab’s kindness, but by her faith.

    “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.”

    Hebrews 11:31

    Rahab’s salvation and ultimate survival had a more consequential effect on the Israeli nation than anyone at the time could ever have imagined. Rahab secured the line of David when she married Salmon and had a son Boaz, who was David’s grandfather. Jesus was born out of David’s genealogy, which is why He is sometimes referred to as “the son of David”. 

    Therefore, Rahab’s salvation made it possible for us to know redemption from our sins through Jesus.

    The importance of giving God your first fruits

    Earlier in this Bible study, we discussed the difference between cherem and charam – the devoted things.

    Whereas the Canaanites had been set aside as charam – to be destroyed – God required that the treasures of Jericho be devoted to him as cherem – a pleasing offering. This offering was called the first fruits. Hence, the Israelites had to set aside all the gold, silver, and iron and bronze vessels and dedicate them to God’s treasury.

    “But all silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.”

    Joshua 6:19

    This decree of offering first fruits is established again in the Book of Leviticus:

    Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.”

    Leviticus 23:10

    So, where does the term “first fruits” actually come from?

    It derives from providing God with the choicest agricultural produce that your harvest brought in. It was about giving God the first and best of your blessings, as everything was created by Him and belongs to Him.

    “The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.”

    Exodus 34:26

    Many of us know this as tithing, which we are encouraged to do in the New Testament, for example in Matthew 5:17-20 and 2 Corinthians 9:7.

    Although the city of Jericho had been given into the Israelite’s hands, it was not theirs to benefit from the riches of the spoils of war. God did not want them to use what belonged to Him to further themselves. God had enabled their victory and all the honor and glory belonged to Him.

    By giving the first fruits of Jericho to God, the Israelites would remember that it was not by their might nor power that Jericho had fallen into their hands, but by God’s spirit.

    “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

    Zechariah 4:6

    Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

    This concludes the final part of our Bible commentary on Joshua 6. We hope you enjoyed reading our extended 3-part analysis of this fascinating Bible chapter.

    Next week, we will be moving on to Part Two – “Living God’s Word” of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6.

    If you would like to know how you can apply the lessons of Joshua 6 to your everyday life, then feel free to join us for our next instalment, which is coming soon.

    Until then, stay be blessed my friends.

    Sources:

    bibleorg.com, “5. Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)” 

    enduring word.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho” 

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?” 

    ligonier.org, „Why Did God Command the Children of Israel to Kill Every Man, Woman, and Child in the Promised Land?”

    biblehub.com, „1 Kings 16:34“

    churchofjesuschrist.org, „Joshua 1-24”

    answersingenesis.org, “The Walls of Jericho”

    focusmagazine.org, „Devoted Things”

    compellingtruth.org, „Why did God give the Mosaic Law? What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law?“

    rccg.org, „First fruit offering“

    biblestudytools.com, „First fruits“

    openbible.info, „Tithe In The New Testament”

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1.1: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Before the walls fell down: The promise and the preparation 

    Part 1.1: Understanding God’s Word – Bible Commentary on Joshua 6

    Bible passages being discussed: (Joshua 1- 5), (Joshua 6:1-2 

    The fall of the city of Jericho in Joshua 6 (NRSV)  is one of my favorite biblical accounts, as it provides a wonderful testimony about what God can do when we act in obedience and faith. It also gives a clear insight into the difference between how we perceive our circumstances, in comparison to how God sees them.  

    We start this epic biblical account in the land of Canaan. Under the anointed leadership of Joshua, God has brought His people, the Israelites, out of their 40-year wilderness period in the desert of Sinai, by crossing over the Jordan River into Canaan (Joshua 3). Safe on the other side, the Israelites have set up camp in Gilgal, which borders to the east of the fortified city of Jericho.  

    The land of Canaan is significant to the Israelites, as it is the Promised Land, the heritage of the Israelites, that God had promised to Abraham when He made a covenant with Him (Genesis 15:18-21).  

    The only things is, the Promised Land is still occupied by the Canaanites, who are their enemies. In order to stake their claim as the new owners of the land, the Israelites need to defeat the Canaanites by taking the city of Jericho and claiming the fortress city for themselves. 

    The momentous task is the final and decisive step for the Israelites on a long journey to receiving the promise of God’s inheritance.  

    The Israelites had been enslaved in the bronze fetters of Pharaoh for 430 years in Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41). After their exodus from Egypt, they were then nomads for 40 years in the wilderness, which severely tested their faith (Numbers 32:13). Their steadfast leader Moses died and didn’t get to see the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1-8), and all males who had been born in the desert had to be circumcised, even the adults (ouch). 

    One the other hand, the Israelites had also experienced signs, miracles and wonders of God’s provision: God parted the Red Sea for them so they could escape Pharaoh and his army (Exodus 14), and He provided them with manna and quail in the desert when they were hungry (Exodus 16). Through Moses, He gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments and the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized God’s holy presence amongst His people.  

    Finally, God promoted Joshua, Moses’ second-in-command and one of the original 12 spies who scouted Canaan (Numbers 13:1-16), as the new leader of the Israelites. It was Joshua’s faith and obedience towards God that played a monumental role in the Israelite’s triumphant campaign in conquering Canaan, which lasted a total of 7 years.  

    Now, the Israelites are about to bear witness to another of God’s miracles – He is going to give them the city of Jericho – a fortress city which is reputed as being impregnable (Joshua 6:2-5) and is manned by a race of people well accustomed to warfare.  

    However, despite God’s promise of victory to make the walls of Jericho fall down, the Israelites still need to prepare themselves spiritually by obeying God’s laws. Moreover, they need to exercise their faith by holding on tightly to the promises that God has made them. 

    As an exception to our conventional layout of the Jacob’s Ladder Bible Studies, this month, we are going to break down Part One further into three sub-segments, with each part analyzing a section of Joshua 6.  Many of us are going through adversity right now and it is on our hearts to explore in depth how God is in fact with us, making walls fall down and providing the path to breakthrough, when all the while we hear is His silence.  

    We hope that this deeper analysis of Joshua 6 will give you comfort and encourage you that God hears your pleading and prayers, and has already made a way when you don’t see a way.  

    We will post the two remaining sub-segments on Thursday and next Monday respectively. In the following weeks we will also be looking at Part 2 – “Living God’s Word”  and Part 3 – “Studying God’s Word” to complete our Bible study series on Joshua 6.

    Photo credit: eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

    The importance of Jericho for the Israelites

    So, before we look at how the Israelites overcame Jericho, we need to know why, out of all the cities in Canaan, did the Israelites choose this particular city as their first launch of attack in their campaign on the Promised Land? 

    Conquering Jericho was important to the Israelites for two reasons: 

    1. Jericho was part one of a three-part military campaign on Canaan

    The northern and southern parts of Canaan were separated by a ridge of mountains running east to west. Jericho was situated at the gateway to this mountain ascent. In order to prevent a hostile approach into the hill country from the east, the city had been built as a military fortress with 12-17 ft walls, which were wide enough to cater chariots as an added defense feature. Inside the walls was a stone tower about 28 ft high. 

    The first part of the Israelite’s military strategy was to capture Jericho and thereby gain control of the central mountain ridge. This would effectively divide a wedge between the northern and southern parts of Canaan, thus dividing their enemy’s army in two. It would also ensure that the Israelite’s didn’t have any enemy forces right at their back once they entered the high country.  

    Map Courtesey of: Free Bible Land Maps – New Testament Christians.Com, “Conquests of Joshua.”

    Following their conquest of the center of the land, the Israelites planned on executing the second part of their campaign, which was to attack the Canaanite armies to the south. Their third and final military goal was to overcome the more remote armies to the north.  

    2. God uses the fall of Jericho to show His power and that He keeps His promises

    Ancient warfare tactics required weeks or even months to capture a city, however God delivers Jericho into the Israelite’s hands in just 7 days based on: 

    •  His power  
    • His promise to His people to give them every place where they set foot and to always be with them (Joshua 1:1-5
    • The Israelite’s faith in God and their obedience in following His instructions 

    This is especially significant when you consider that the Israelites had previously failed to enter Canaan and confront their enemies due to a negative reconnaissance report from Moses’ spies (Numbers 13:25-29). They feared the Canaanites, believing them to be physically superior to them and their cities to be well fortified (Numbers 13:28). The inhabitants of Jericho were also seasoned warriors, armed to the teeth with military resources, whereas the Israelites were a nation of ex-slaves with no military experience. 

    This was indeed all true, but God uses these odds to show that the walls of Jericho can only fall down through His power and not by man’s prowess or strategizing. This should be an unusual achievement, a unique triumph that highlights the majesty, goodness, and might of God. 

    The victory of Jericho should not only be to encourage the Israelites that they can face anything that opposes them in Canaan, but it is to also send a message to the other nations of the glory and power of God. 

    God also wanted to show the Israelites the fulfilment of His promise that they would inherit Canaan, the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey (Leviticus 20:24). And God always keeps His promises.  

    Photo credit:  Valdemaras D. on Unsplash

    Why the battle was won before it even began

    When God leads you to experience a breakthrough or enter into a new level of spiritual promotion, He will line everything up in your favor. In the case of the Israelites, we see in three ways, how God had been laying the groundwork for their victory at Jericho long before they arrived at the fortified walls.  

    1. God has already given us the victory 

    The Israelites are preparing themselves for what could be the most impactful battle of their lives. Looking up at the walls and seeing their enemy leering down at them from the high parapets, l guess we can safely assume that they are feeling just a little bit nervous about the outcome of their undertaking, despite their faith in God. It’s only natural right?  

    However, God is totally relaxed, because He considers the battle to be already won. He says the following to Joshua: 

    ‘“See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers.”’ 

    Joshua 6:2 

    Did you notice how God said, “I have handed Jericho over to you?” (emphasis mine). God is reassuring the leader of the Israelites that He has delivered Jericho in their hands, before they have even left their camp in Gilgal! 

    Hebrew scholars refer to this term as the prophetic perfectIt is a literary technique, which is most distinguishable in Hebrew and Aramaic translations of the Bible, where a future event is so sure to happen, that it is referred to in the past tense, as though it has already occurred.  

    This reassurance of God is a gift, an unmerited expression of God’s mercy and love. However, in order to receive this gift, the Israelites need to obey God’s commands to the letter.  

    2. God renews His covenant with the Israelites and prepares them for victory

    God likes to plan – we just don’t always see it.  Sometimes, when it appears that God has instantaneously answered our prayers, He has actually been preparing us for His provision and grace.   

    Since arriving in Canaan, God is preparing the Israelites spiritually for their onslaught on Jericho and consequently the rest of the land. Not only does He want the Israelites to commit to a covenant relationship with Him, He wants to train them to put their faith and obedience in Him. This is how God achieves this:

    God instructs the Israelites to set up 12 memorial stones in Gilgal 

    The Canaanites regarded the River Jordan as a natural defense. However, not only did the Israelites chose this route to enter into Canaan, they wanted to cross it during the harvest time, when the banks of the river were flooded over.  

    When God separated the waters and dried up the river bed in order for His people to cross over (Joshua 3:16-17), He instructed the Israelites to set up 12 memorial stones where they first set foot in Canaan, which was Gilgal. The stones were to serve as a reminder for future generations of the miracle of the River Jordan crossing and to let all the people of the earth know how mighty and fearful God was (Joshua 4:20-24) 

    God requests that all males born in the wilderness be circumcised.

    The rite of circumcision was first performed by Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14), establishing the covenant relationship between God and Israel. However, the Israelites who had left Egypt had not continued with this covenant tradition in the wilderness.  

    Therefore, it was necessary for the Israelites to undergo circumcision in their camp at Gilgal, in order to seal a covenant with God and distinguish themselves as His chosen people. God also wanted to remove any taint of their former lives as slaves (Joshua 5:9). For this reason, Gilgal means “rolling”, as it was here that God rolled away the Israelite’s past.  

    Though undergoing circumcision meant that the Israelites needed a time-out in order to heal from their wounds, God was more concerned with establishing a spiritual bond between Himself and His people, rather than having the Israelites go to battle without His presence.   

    The Israelites were to observe the Passover

    The Passover commemorates God’s deliverance of the Israelite’s from Egyptian slavery, as well as their new-found liberation as a nation. It comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, which means to pass over.  

    It was first observed while the Israelites were in Egypt, where God passed over the blood-smeared doorposts of the Israelites to kill every firstborn – human and animal alike (Exodus 12:1-28). It was God’s tenth and final plague against Pharaoh, a judgement issued to Egypt because Pharaoh refused to release God’s people from the bonds of slavery (Exodus 11:4-8). With the demise of his firstborn son, Pharaoh conceded defeat and released the Israelites from their bondage (Exodus 12:31-32).  

    39 years had passed since the Israelites had last observed the Passover, which had taken place in their second year in the wilderness. However, before the Israelites could face their enemies at Jericho, God required them to take up the Passover tradition once again (Joshua 5:10). 

    Not only did God want the Israelites to obey His laws as He had decreed them when the Israelites were on the brink of freedom, He wanted His people to remember how He had delivered them from their enemies in Egypt, before doing the same at Jericho. 

    God stopped providing manna and quail

    As part of the keeping of Passover, the Israelites were required to have a feast. While they were in the wilderness, God had provided them with manna, which was similar to bread, as well as quail from heaven (Exodus 16:12). However, for Passover, they ate the rich produce of the land. From then on, God ceased providing them with manna and quail. 

    Why did He do this? For 40 years, God had generously provided the Israelites with a constant, albeit limited food source. Now, God was teaching them that there was abundance to be had in Canaan, but instead of it being presented to them every morning and twilight, God was training them to be self-sufficient (Philippians 4:11-12). 

    Joshua receives a Heavenly visit

    This point is an important one. In Joshua 5:13-15, a Man with a drawn sword appeared near Joshua, as he was by Jericho. This was no ordinary man, but an angel of God’s army. Theologians call this kind of encounter a theophany, which is a heavenly visit from God in the Old Testament, where He takes the form of, but is not limited to, a human. Similar theophanies are to be found in Judges 6:12-22 and 2 Kings 6:17

    Joshua needed to take his shoes off, because he was standing on holy ground. Moses experienced the same in Exodus 3:5 when he was on Mount Horeb. Being on holy ground meant you were in the presence of God in the Old Testament, which was a rare and privileged experience.  

    Not only did the angel appear to reassure Joshua in his role of leader, but He wanted to make it clear to Joshua, that He was not there to be on the Israelite’s side; rather, the Israelites needed to side with God if they wanted victory.  

    The angel also wanted to make it clear that this was God’s battle and consequent victory and would therefore be won on His terms, for His glory (Joshua 6:16-17).  

    Photo credit: Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash 

    God has already planted a weakness behind the enemy lines

    If Jericho had been nigh impossible to penetrate in the past, it was even more so now. On seeing the Israelites, the inhabitants of the fortress city have gone into lockdown mode.  

    Word of the Red Sea parting and the miracle of the Jordan River crossing have reached the ears of the citizens of Jericho (Joshua 2:10). Though the Israelites may not be seasoned warriors such as themselves, the Canaanites acknowledge that the Israelite attack is not to be taken lightly.  

    The people of Jericho don’t want to follow God, and yet they know of the promise He has made to the Israelites to take their land away from them, which has them shivering in their leather sandals (Joshua 2:9).  The entire city of Jericho is determined to shut the presence of God out – literally and spiritually and is thereby on full alert.

    However, what the Canaanites don’t know, is that God has already compromised the impregnable defences of the city in a manner that no one could have reckoned with – through a prostitute named Rahab.  

    After Moses’ failed attempt at a reconnaissance trip (Numbers 13:25-29), Joshua sent two men on a second scouting expedition – but this time in secret (Joshua 2:1)).  The presence of the two spies was quickly found out and the king of Jericho issued orders for the men to be found. 

    At the risk of her own life, Rahab offered the two Israelites refuge by hiding them on the roof of her house under stalks of flax. When the king of Jericho sent his men to Rahab with the request to hand over the men, she told the king’s officials that the Israelite’s had already left. 

    God literally placed a weakness in the wall, as Rahab’s house was built into the defensive stone exterior (Joshua 2:15). After the city’s gate had been shut for the night, Rahab let a rope out of her window, which the two Israelite’s used to flee the city.

    Why did Rahab decide to help the spies?  

    • She was the only one in Jericho that understood that God reigns supreme above all powers in heaven and on earth (Joshua 2:11
    • She knew that with God on the Israelite’s side, the fall of Jericho was inevitable
    • With that in mind, Rahab wanted to switch sides and declare her allegiance to God in faith (Joshua 2:11
    • Rahab was securing her family’s survival: In return for helping the spies escape the city, Rahab wanted the Israelite’s promise that they would spare her life and the lives of her family once Jericho was theirs (Joshua 2:13).  

    Due to Rahab’s assistance, the 2 spies were able to make it back safely to the Israelite camp and pass on the intel they had gathered, including Rahab’s allegiance. They now had a (wo)man on the inside! 

    Photo credit: Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash

    We hope you enjoyed reading Part 1.1 of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible commentary on Joshua 6 “Before the walls fell down: The promise and the preparation”.

    If so, feel free to join us when we post Part 1.2 “Faith, obedience, and praise – the secret behind God’s military plan”.

    Until, then may God’s blessings be upon you!






    Sources: 

    enduringword.com, “Joshua 6 – The fall of Jericho”

    blueletterbible.org, “The fall of Jericho”

    bible.org, “Destroying Fortresses; Victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:1-27)”

    thetorah.com, “How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt?” 

    christiancourier.com, “Joshua 6:2, 16 – The Gift of Jericho”  

    desiringgod.org, “The Conquest of Canaan” 

    gotquestions.org, “Who was Joshua in the Bible?” 

    thejc.com, “What is Pesach?” 

  • Articles

    9 Hopeful Truths for When God Seems Distant

    Written by Madeline Twooney 

    Two months ago, l felt like l experienced a breakthrough in my 3-year convalescence from burnout and depression.

    I was trying to fall asleep when l felt like my head opened up, and all the heavy, dark thoughts and anxiety came out and drifted upwards. It was like l was handing all of them over to God. I remember thinking, “Papa, l think you’ve healed me!” Shortly afterwards, l fell into a deep, restorative sleep. 

    Unfortunately, my recovery only lasted for about two days. The depression and anxiety returned, and God’s presence, which l had felt so intensely that night, remains but a beautiful memory for me now.  

    “Where is God?” l have been asking myself since my heavenly encounter. “Why does He feel so far away?” 

    If you’re like me, and you’re feeling like God is maintaining radio silence, l hope that these 9 tips will give you encouragement that God is very near – in fact, He’s closer to you than you think.  

    God is close to the broken-hearted 

    “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
        and saves the crushed in spirit. ” 

    Psalm 34:18 

    We have all encountered sorrow and loss at some point in our lives, may it be a family estrangement, receiving a negative doctor’s report, or the passing away of a loved one. It’s a heartbreaking process to go through. 

    God’s empathy for our heartache is demonstrated through His Son. When Jesus first began His ministry, He stated that the Lord had sent Him “to bind up the broken-hearted” (Isaiah 61:1). 

    Jesus Himself experienced great sorrow on earth. His feelings upon hearing of the death of His friend Lazarus are demonstrated with two words – “Jesus wept” (John 11.35 NIV).  

    Furthermore, knowing that His moment of sacrifice was nigh, Jesus said to three of His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34 NIV). 

    In addition to His own personal experiences, Jesus showed compassion for those who suffered, through His many acts of healing.  

    Photo credit;   Alex Boyd on Unsplash

    God promises to never fail us, nor forsake us

    ‘ “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” ‘

    Deuteronomy 31:6

    It is repeated throughout the Bible that God will never leave us to fend for ourselves. 

    Therefore, when it feels like God is far away and we’re feeling vulnerable and alone, God is actually right there with us, protecting us and keeping us safe in the midst of what we are going through.  

    God will not let anyone or anything harm us, and He will not leave us to face difficult times on our own – that is His promise to us.  

    Photo credit:  Dan Meyers on Unsplash

    God’s assurances that He is with us are reflected in His names

    ‘ “Therefore I am surely going to teach them, this time I am going to teach them my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord.” ‘

    Jeremiah 16:21

    God is known by many names in the Bible. Here are a few that apply directly to His character: 

    • Yahweh, meaning “The Lord” (Genesis 2:4
    • Abba, meaning “Father” (Mark 14:36
    • Jehovah Rapha, meaning “The God who heals” (Psalm 147: 3
    • Jehovah Jireh, meaning “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14
    • Jehovah Nissi, meaning “The Lord is my banner” (Exodus 17:15
    • Jehovah Shalom, meaning “The Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24

    If you would like to learn more about the names of God and the relevance of their meanings for us today, then click here to read our article on this topic.

    God’s many names reflect an assurance that He is always with us. They bear a promise that God will always protect us and provide for us.  He is not only the Lord God Almighty, He is our Father, who loves us and brings us peace.  

    Photo credit: eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

    God is working behind the scenes

    ‘At the seventh time he said, “Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.”’

    1 Kings 18:44

    Sometimes, we feel like God is far away because we don’t see a change in our situation or an answer to our prayers. In such times, God is actually behind the scenes, working in our circumstances. 

    This was the case for Elijah in 1 Kings 18. After three years of famine in Samaria, the prophet told King Ahab to expect an abundance of rain. However, despite Elijah sending his servant six times to check for signs of precipitation on Mount Carmel, not one drop was to be seen.  

    Though it looked like nothing was happening, God was sending a cloud as small as a man’s hand out of the sea towards Samaria. Only after Elisha’s servant checked a seventh time, did he see a visible manifestation of God’s promise of rain. 

    Photo credit:  Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

    God wants to test your faith

    “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance;  and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”

    James 1:3-4

    The Greek transliteration of the word “test” in the scriptures is peirasmóswhich means a trial or a proving. When we feel like God isn’t near, it is actually when He is closest to us; His apparent absence can be a test designed to strengthen our faith.  

    How can that be? 

    Testing is associated with purification – to cleanse out those things that aren’t serving us and produce perseverance by strengthening our belief that God is greater than any adversity we face (1 Peter 1:7).  

    Testing is designed to bear fruit by bringing us up to a mature level of faith. For that reason, James assures us that “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). 

    Photo credit:  Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash

    God adheres to His own schedule, not ours

    ‘ “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” ‘

    Acts 1:7

    TV evangelist and author Joyce Meyers once quoted, “God is never late, but generally  He isn’t  early either.” 

    The omnipotent power of God transcends space and time. Whereas we have plans that we want to achieve during our short visit on this earth, God’s agenda spans all of eternity.  

    God’s schedule runs differently to ours, so when we wonder why He isn’t responding to our requests, prayers, and petitions, His assumed distance can only mean He is sorting things out in His own perfect timing.   

    In Acts 1:7 it states that it is not for us to know God’s timing. However, He does assure us that all things work out for good by Him because we love Him (Romans 8:28).  

    Photo credit:  JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

    God makes a clear declaration that He is with us

    ” Do not fear, for I am with you,
        do not be afraid, for I am your God;
    I will strengthen you, I will help you,
        I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

    Isaiah 41:10

    When thoughts and emotions start to rise to the surface that God is far away, His Word assures us with bold declarations that He is always with us and that we should not fear, neither should we be dismayed.  

    In Psalm 46:1, God even encourages us to seek refuge in His strength when we face troubles, for He is always with us.  

    What is so wonderful about God is that He not only offers us the comfort of His presence in our time of need, He always helps us over and above our expectations.  

    Photo credit:  Alexei Scutari on Unsplash

    Remember all the times that God was with you in the past

    “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

    Hebrews 13:8 

    I keep a journal which l call my “Miracle Book”. In it, l record all the times God has touched my life with His supernatural favor, mercy, and kindness. 

    During times when l feel that God is far away from me, l get out my “Miracle Book” and l read my previous entries. Not only do they encourage me that God is indeed working in my life, they remind me that what He has done in the past He will do again, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  

    Photo credit:  Angelika Spanke on Unsplash

    Feeling distant from God has helped me connect with others in my situation 


    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

    Galatians 6:2

    When l first got diagnosed with burnout and depression, l was optimistic that with a bit of rest and a change of lifestyle that the Great Healer would make me whole. However, as the months went by, it became obvious that my convalescence was going to take longer than l thought.  

    Three years later, I sit in church and hear regular praise reports of people who have been healed from depression, and l ask God sometimes, why l can’t be one of those people whom He miraculously heals. I start to criticize and question myself if my faith is strong enough to warrant a full divine-appointed recovery. 

    However, God works in mysterious ways. He has been using my infirmity to reach out and be a comfort to others, who are also waiting on God for their healing – either through my writing as a blogger and writer or in my daily interactions with people. In return, these wonderful people comfort and encourage me in my faith.  l feel truly blessed that they are in my life. 

    I’m not saying that if l had the chance at a do-over that l would choose to be sick again. Nor am l saying that l would voluntarily choose to go through those feelings of doubting God’s presence and enduring self-chastisement again. However, if l hadn’t gone through all of that, l wouldn’t have been able to connect with the people who have enriched my life and l theirs. 

    God does not only show us His presence during good moments, such as through a glorious sunset, the carefree chuckle of a child’s laughter or the blooming of a beautiful rose. God is always near – in the valley and on the mountain top.  

    However, when we start to doubt this, we need to hold onto God’s promises that He reveals to us in the Bible – that He loves us, He will never leave us, and that He will fulfil His purpose over our lives with His perfect timing for our good.  

    God never goes back on His Word.  

    This article was first published on Crosswalk.com on the 14th June 2019.

    Photo credit:  Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    Blog banner credit:  Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    About the author:

    Madeline Twooney is a Christian writer and co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She has written articles for SheLoves, Converge, and Ruminate Magazine and is a contributing writer for Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, and YMI Magazine.

    In her spare time, Madeline gets creative as a freelance SFX Makeup artist and dances to Sister sledge whilst cooking. She is British but lives in Germany with her husband and their one-eared pussycat.