• Jacob's Ladder Book Reviews

    JL Book Review: “The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom

    “You are my hiding place and my shield;
        I hope in your word. “

    Psalm 119:114 (NRSV)

    In choosing which book to review for our theme “Trusting God when He’s silent”,  The Hiding Place  seemed the ideal choice for me.  

    The Hiding Place was written in 1971 by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. It is Corrie’s personal memoir of her life growing up in Holland and her family’s involvement in helping persecuted Jews find refuge from the tyranny of the Nazis, who had occupied her country during the Second World War.

    Corrie’s personal account of trusting and relying on God through the horror of the Nazi occupation, as well as the brutality and despair of imprisonment and a German concentration camp, is a true reflection of the power of God to shine a light in even the darkest places of human suffering. It is a testimony that God is with us in the silence and does not fail us nor forsake us. 

    The plot of The Hiding Place

    Cornelia, otherwise known as Corrie, begins her true account in January 1937 in Haarlem, Holland, in the childhood home she shares with her sister Betsie and their elderly father, Casper.  The mood is festive, as the family watchmaking business is celebrating its 100th birthday. The entire village is participating in the festivities that will take place in the little in-house watch shop.  

    The birthday party takes a rather somber turn however, when Corrie’s brother Willem brings a Jewish man, who has recently fled from Germany after being attacked on a street corner in Munich.

    Corrie continues her narration by reminiscing on past incidents she had experienced while growing up in the narrow house that the family nicknamed the Beje.  One such memory she shares is of her trepidation of her first day of school. Understanding her fears, her father read aloud Psalm 119, where God provides a hiding place for His children (Psalm 119:114).  

    Corrie and her sister Betsie reach adulthood and lead a quiet but happy life as spinsters in their childhood home under the loving guidance of their father. The daily routine of the three occupants of the Beje provide them with the same comfort as the familiar ticking of the many clocks that surround them. However, their tranquil regularity is forever disturbed when the Nazis invade Holland in May 1940.  

    Life in occupied Holland takes on a sinister turn. However, the most alarming element of the Nazi occupation is the persecution of the Jews. After witnessing the Nazis ransacking a Jewish shop across from the Beje, the ten Booms begin to offer persecuted Jews asylum in their home, until they can be safely re-located to the countryside.   

    Thus, begins the family’s involvement in the Underground movement, an illegal resistance network system that helps Jews escape the tyranny of Nazi persecution.   Corrie becomes the head of the Beje branch.  

    However, on February 28th 1944, the ten Boom’s participation in the Underground movement comes to an abrupt end. Exposed as national traitors, the family faces extreme peril at the hands of the Gestapo.

    As they enter the darkest chapter of their lives, the ten Booms need to rely on the goodness of God and seek refuge in the spiritual hiding place He offers them.

    The meaning behind the title The Hiding Place

    Casper ten Boom’s reading of Psalm 119 provides an eloquent introduction to the meaning behind the title of this epic book. God is our spiritual hiding place, our refuge in times of trouble.

    Corrie is confronted with this during her time in a German concentration camp, in particular through her sister Betsie, who always chooses to keep her eyes on God, regardless of how appalling their circumstances are.

    Additionally, the hiding place refers to the safe house of the Beje that the ten Booms create for persecuted Jews; in particular, the secret room they use to hide their jewish contemporaries in during Gestapo raids.

    My reaction to reading The Hiding Place

    This book is admittedly a somber read, but it entails important information that every Christian, or anyone seeking Christ, should be aware of. 

    We live in a world that is just as broken and unjust as the Nazi occupied Holland described in this true account. Acts that transgress the decency of humanity occur unfortunately every day.  

    The Hiding Place is a necessary reminder that God is at work even in the darkest of situations, though we may not see it. He is with us as we fight the things that threaten to hurt us; He will never fail us nor forsake us.  

    However, on our part, we need to believe that God can make a way where we see no way. We need to put our faith and trust in Him and keep our eyes on Him, and not on our circumstances. We too, can take refuge in God as our own hiding place. By doing so, we can experience hope and encouragement under even the worst circumstances.  

    This book also encourages us to show compassion for those who seek to hurt and destroy us, especially when they do not know the love and mercy of Christ. Knowing that we cannot reach this level of love on our own, The Hiding Place describes how God meets us where we are; He bring us to a place of peace and ultimately, forgiveness – the latter of which is a constant theme of this book.  

    While reading The Hiding Place, your faith is tested – how can God have allowed such travesties to occur? And yet it shows such wondrous examples of God’s love for His children.  If you didn’t believe in signs, wonders, and miracles before reading this book, you will by the time you turn the last page. 

    Would l recommend The Hiding Place?

    I would highly recommend The Hiding Place for anyone, who is struggling with adversity and feels like God is not hearing their pleading and their prayers. This book will assure you that not only does God hear you, He is right there with you in your situation and is guiding you through it. 

    Put your faith and trust in God, and let Him be your refuge – your hiding place – while He works everything out for your good. 

    Where can l purchase The Hiding Place?

    You can purchase The Hiding Place through Amazon.com,  Goodreads, Christianbook.com, or inquire at your local book store. 

    What else has Corrie ten Boom written?

    Corrie ten Boom has written several faith-inspiring books such as Tramp for the Lord , In my Father’s House,  and  Marching Orders for the End Battle: Getting Ready for Christ’s Return

    I have also read Defeated Enemies, which l particularly enjoyed and can highly recommend. 

    Where can l learn more about Corrie ten Boom and her family?

    It is possible to visit the ten Boom house in the Netherlands, which has been transformed into a museum. For more information on guided tours, visit the museum’s website at Corre ten Boom House

  • 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”

  • Devotionals

    Take a breath, and allow God to make a change

    Written by Madeline Twooney

    Thought of the day: 

    Instead of procrastinating, l need to take a breath and allow God to make changes in my life. He will make all things work together for my good. 

    “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

    Romans 8:28  (NRSV) 

    This past month, l have known little peace. It feels like one thing after another is changing in the lives of my husband and l. Each day brings something new to deal with, and l feel like my head is spinning uncontrollably in an effort to keep up.  

    I understand that God is leading us through a series of transitions in order to bring us into a higher understanding of Him, as well as bring us closer to fulfilling the dreams that He has put in our hearts.  

    However, this month, l have been too pre-occupied with the here and now, with the challenges that are confronting us. l have not been able to think about the future benefits that our transitional period will make possible for us.  

    Yesterday afternoon, l went out to my garden with my little one-eared pussycat to catch the last rays of sun for the day. The wind was blowing gently in my face, and l drank in the tranquility and stillness that my green oasis always gives me.  

    I watched my pussycat stretch out on the grass and close his eyes contentedly; above him, a few doves had landed on the neighbor’s roof and were drinking from a rain pipe. People across the road were laughing as they hugged each other goodbye.  Everyone in my direct vicinity was at peace and allowing things to happen as they came – except for me. How could this be? 

    Then, l felt like God told me to take a breath – just take a breath and allow Him to make the changes in our lives that He wanted to make. He loves us and will make all things work together for our good. I need not be afraid, for we were safe with Him.   

    So, l did what God asked me to do – l took a breath, breathed out, and gave Him permission to do what He needed to do in our lives. 

    When l woke up this morning, l felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest. I had been holding on so tightly to what God wants to change, that l had failed to see that He had been holding on tightly to me this entire time. By handing my pain over to Him, He had given me peace and renewed my faith. 

    Prayer: 

    Loving Father, thank you that You always meet us in the midst of our insecurities. Forgive us when a lack of faith makes us hold onto things that You want to change in us. Teach us to let go and trust in You, for You make all things come together for our good. Amen. 

    Delve deeper: 

    Are you resisting changes that God is making in your life? Do you crave peace during this period of transition? Spend time with God in prayer, and ask Him to help you let go of what you’re holding tightly on to. Trust that all things will work together for your good because He loves you.  

    This devotional was published on the 2nd October 2019 on PresbyCan Daily Devotional.

    About the author:

    Madeline Twooney is a Christian writer and blogger. She has written articles for SheLovesConverge, and Ruminate Magazine and is a contributing writer for Crosswalk.comChristianity.com, and YMI Magazine.

    In her spare time, Madeline gets creative as a freelance Special Effects Makeup artist, and she loves dancing to Sister Sledge and Stevie Wonder whilst cooking. Madeline is British but lives in Germany with her husband and their one-eared pussycat. You can contact Madeline at madelinetwooney@gmail.com or tweet her at @MTwooney

  • Jacob's Ladder Bible Studies

    Part 1.2: Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6

    Faith, obedience, endurance, and praise – the secret behind God’s military plan 

    Part 1.2: Understanding God’s Word – Bible Commentary on Joshua 6

    Bible passages being discussed: (Joshua 6:3-20)

    In the first instalment of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6, we started this month’s study by reading about the pivotal events and preparation that led to the Israelite’s victory at the city of Jericho, where God caused the walls of this fortress city to fall down and the Israelites to establish themselves as the new rulers of the land of Canaan – the Promised Land. 

    We started our Bible commentary with Israelite’s successful crossing into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. Though Canaan truly is the land of milk and honey, as God promised them, it is also occupied by their enemies, the Canaanites.  

    As part of their 3-part military strategy to possess the land of Canaan, the Israelites are about to embark on what no one has done before – they are planning on conquering the impregnable military fortress city of Jericho, which had been strategically built to defend the access point to the central mountain ranges that divide the land from east to west.  

    However, the Israelites are not going against the seasoned warrior Canaanites alone – God has been preparing His people for victory by re-instigating His covenant with them and insisting on traditions and customs being observed that had been discarded in the wilderness. In addition, God has planted a weakness behind the enemy lines in the form of Rahab, a prostitute. Moreover, the Israelites believe in God’s promise to deliver Jericho into their hands (Joshua 6:2). If God says it’s a done deal, then it’s a done deal! 

    Now that their preparation is complete, the next thing that the Israelites need to do is carry out God’s plan to overcome Jericho – a plan that tests the boundaries of human logic and military expertise, because it simply does not make sense to us. And yet it worked!  

    Would you like to know what this plan was and why it led the Israelites to the capture of Jericho? Then keep on reading! 

    However, before we begin, let us take a quick look at why God chose Jericho, a city whose defenses were considered impenetrable, as a first point of victory for the Israelites in their military campaign on the Promised Land of Canaan. 

    Photo credit:  Adam Zvanovec on Unsplash

    The victory at Jericho was designed to give God glory and establish His might

    The victory of Jericho was going to be monumental, not only for the Israelites to drive a wedge into Canaan and set up a new ruling dynasty in the land, but for God to show His people, the Canaanites, and the surrounding nations how mighty He was.  

    This was God’s battle, and He was going to choose a divinely superior method of deliverance that would display His power and establish for the Israelites and the surrounding nations that He was the source of the Israelite’s victory – not man’s carnal intelligence or expertise at wielding weaponry. 

    So why did God seek out Jericho specifically? 

    Although it is true that the city of Jericho posed as a major obstacle for the Israelites in their pursuit of claiming the land God promised them, what really offended God were that the city’s inhabitants were worshipping pagan idols and holding occult practices that were offensive to Him (Joshua 6:18). This spiritual disobedience was an abomination to God and needed to be stopped and the Canaanites made an example of.  

    For that reason, God chose to pitch His people, who were inexperienced in warfare and ill-equipped for battle, against the Canaanites, who were superior to them in military experience and resources, in order that all would recognizable that the Israelite victory could only come through God’s might and power and not through human strategizing.  

    Additionally, this plan was unique in that it had never been implemented before, nor would it ever be used again to conquer a city. 

    Now, let’s find out what God’s military strategy for defeating the Canaanites at Jericho was. 

    Photo credit:  Juan Jose on Unsplash

    The art of war – minus the weapons and the fighting

    The Art of War” is one of the most renowned military treatises ever written. It is attributed to the ancient Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu. 

    When it came to ancient warfare, Sun Tzu and his contemporaries used their experience on the battlefield to form innovative and crippling strategies to gain victory over their opponents. These strategies were documented, resulting in the famous publication we know today. 

    Sun Tzu’s treatise includes tactical advice in conquering a besieged city, however the people of Ancient Palestine were also seasoned in this type of warfare. 

    The strategy behind invading a besieged city such as Jericho would have covered a timespan of weeks, if not months. There were various options that an attacking army could implement to force their enemy to surrender: 

    • They could starve the city inhabitants into surrendering 
    • They could assault the city with battering rams, moving towers or catapults 
    • The integrity of the fortress walls could be compromised by tunneling or using fire 
    • A dirt ramp could be constructed by heaping earth until it reached the most accessible point in the parapets 

    God’s military plan for the overthrow of Jericho

    However, God does not strategize as man does. First of all, His military plan was designed to achieve a victory in 7 days – an impossible timeline in ancient warfare. God reveals further details of His strategy to Joshua: 

    ‘”You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.” 

    Joshua 6:3-5 (NRSV) 

    Let’s break down God’s plan: 

    • The Israelites needed to march around the walls of Jericho once each day, for 6 days 
    • At the front of the cavalcade would be 7 priests bearing 7 trumpets made out of ram’s horns 
    • The priests were to walk ahead of the ark 
    • On the 7th day, the Israelites were to walk 7 times around the city walls 
    • At the sound of the priests blowing the trumpets, all of the Israelites were to give an almighty shout  
    • The walls of Jericho fall down 

    God’s presence is a formidable weapon

    God’s plan did not involve weaponry or a convoluted military strategy. It didn’t even require the Israelites to build trenches or erect battering rams. God’s plan comprised of a very simple strategy that entailed two key symbols of God’s presence: 

    The ark 

    The ark was to play a prominent role in the victory of Jericho.  God was showing His people that He was with them, leading them to victory. Seeing the ark before them would also have reassured the Israelites, reminding them of how they crossed the Jordan (Joshua 3:2-43:8-14). God also wanted the ark in front of them to keep the Israelite’s hearts and minds on Him, and not on their upcoming battle. 

    The trumpets

    The trumpets that the priests used were not the silver instruments traditionally used in ceremonies. These trumpets were designed to be used in battle. They were made out of ram’s horns and only ranged a few notes, which evoked spiritual overtones. When blown into, they emitted a dull, penetrating sound, which was designed to make the Israelites associate it with God’s voice.  

    Can you imagine how these trumpets sounded and the effect it had on the Israelites? And what about the Canaanites? The sombre resonance being emitted from the ram’s horns would have intimidated the Canaanites watching from the walls above them, making them think that the time of their doom was nigh. Talk about an added bonus!  

    What is also so unusual about this plan is that every Israelite was involved – not only the non-soldiers such as women and children, but also the priests, who traditionally were excused from warfare. God wanted a group effort for a group victory. 

    I wonder what Sun Tzu would have thought about this plan? 

    One thing is for certain: Though this strategy challenges our logic (and even our survival instincts), it is evident that God factored in details in His plan that we as humans may otherwise not have considered. Let’s find out what they were. 

    Photo credit:  Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

    Don’t fight the enemy his way – fight your way

    The Israelites could not engage in direct warfare, as they were ex-slaves and nomads, who had wandered the desert for 40 years. They were not warriors like the Canaanites, and they certainly did not possess battering rams, catapults and such to even launch such an assault. Their few swords and slings (though these were very effective – remember David versus Goliath [1 Samuel 17]?) would be of little use against the fortified walls of Jericho. And God knew that.  

    Therefore, God wanted the Israelites to fight with what they had. Let’s see what the Israelites had in their strategic assemblage.  

    Photo credit:  Michael Uebler on Unsplash

    The weapons of our warfare are spiritual, not carnal

    Based on what we’ve just read, this was always going to be a spiritual battle, not a physical one. Hence, instead of using the meagre supply of weapons in their arsenal, the Israelites were going to fight with far greater weapons – their faith, obedience, courage, and endurance.  

    Faith

    The Israelite’s declaration of faith in God’s assurance of victory starts with Joshua. He not only listened to what God told him about the imminent fall of Jericho, he believed that God would deliver the city into the Israelite’s hands (Joshua 6:2). 

    Then, with continued faith, Joshua told the plan to the Israelites, who in turn, accepted this untried and illogically-sounding strategy with their own faith. This was highly commendable on their part, considering that Joshua intentionally only told them God’s plan in increments. Joshua wanted the Israelites to focus on God and be dependent on Him throughout every part of the process to achieving victory and the prize of capturing the city.  

    Thus, the Israelites marched around their enemy’s camp trusting God’s promise, which only Joshua had heard directly. They believed in the battle plan. 

    This was a tremendous leap of faith for the Israelites, for they didn’t have the reassurance of a tried and tested strategy to gauge their odds, nor could they rely on their limited experience in warfare. They had to put their trust and reliance in God.  

    Courage

    Despite the battle plan being fraught with danger – walking around a highly defended city being observed by battle-hardened giants for 7 days – the Israelites gathered their courage and walked.  

    Going around and around the city walls, the Israelites would have been able to see clearly what they were up against – giants armed to the teeth in weaponry, impenetrable walls with ramparts wide enough for chariots to ride across, and a looming stone tower that rose 28 ft above them.  They also would have made themselves vulnerable to attack from the Canaanites. And yet, the Israelites refused to let themselves be intimidated. They walked in courage, knowing that God was Jehovah Nissi – their battle standard. 

    Obedience

    Joshua and the Israelites followed God’s strategy down to the last detail. For 6 days, every man, woman and child walked in absolute silence around the walls of Jericho in the cavalcade that God had decreed – even when they saw nothing happening.  

    It was only on the 7th day, that the Israelites shouted once – again in obedience to God at Joshua’s command. 

    The Israelites demonstrated their obedience by fulfilling Joshua’s instructions as he issued them, without having an overview of God’s strategy.  

    Additionally, the Israelites most likely would have marched on the Sabbath. However, they chose to obey a God, who didn’t allow Himself to be restricted by His own laws, as opposed to strictly following a religious practice. We see this repeated in Mark 2:23-28, when Jesus countered the Pharisee’s accusation that His disciples plucked at heads of grain to still their hunger on the Sabbath.  

    Instead of relying on their own human logic and carnal strategizing, the Israelites chose to completely obey God, without questioning His plans, nor His timing. 

    Endurance

    The Israelites exhibited tremendous endurance by persisting in following a plan day by day that didn’t make sense to them. This was remarkable, especially when you consider that walking around the walls of Jericho only exposed the Israelite’s apparently futile situation to the Children of God, which could only have attempted to whittle away at their insistence in obeying God. 

    These elements, together with the presence of a mighty and powerful God, made up the winning military strategy required to make the walls of Jericho fall down. 

    Photo credit:  Joshua Earle on Unsplash

    The sound of silence

    Have you ever heard of the phrase “Speech is silver, but silence is golden?” Well in the Israelite’s case, silence played a key role in their victory. 

    Although it doesn’t specifically state in the Bible why God wanted the Israelites to march in silence – He could have equally required of them to sing and dance in worship, or march around praying loudly – the Israelite’s observation of silence demonstrates an important precedence for us all to come to God in silence. Instead of running around trying to solve our problems with our own strength, we need to come to rest and be still in God’s presence and draw on His strength.  

    “Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” 

    Zechariah 2:13 

    In addition, by being silent, while at the same time not exactly being told why, was a further act of obedience from the Children of God. 

    Finally, through the silence, the Israelite’s could better hear the trumpet fanfare that represented the voice of God, which helped them focus on God’s promise of victory for them. 

    Photo credit:  Kristina Flour on Unsplash

    On six and seven* – the significance of the numbers 6 and 7 in the Bible

    When you read about God’s strategy for the Israelites to conquer Jericho, did the number 7 keeping popping out at you?  

    • 7 days 
    • 7 trips around the city walls 
    • 7 priests 
    • 7 horns 
    • The Israelites shout on the 7th day 

    Well, that is not a coincidence on God’s part. Numbers play a significant role in the Bible.  

    The number 7 is found 735 times in scripture. It represents completeness, perfection and the foundation of God. 

    When you think about what you already know about the number 7 from Sunday school or your own study of the Bible, the significance of this numeral makes sense: God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th – the Sabbath. Passover is celebrated in Israel, according to biblical tradition, for 7 days.  

    The number 7 is also represented in other ways in the Bible: 

    • According to the Hebrew calendar, God created Adam in the 7th month 
    • The bible is divided into 7 divisions:  

    1) the law 

    2) the prophets 

    3) the Psalms 

    4) Gospels and Acts 

    5) the (general) epistles 

    6) Paul’s epistles 

    7) The Book of Revelations 

    In comparison, the number 6 symbolizes man and his weakness: 

    • God created man on the 6th day 
    • In ancient times, Hebrew slaves were to serve 6 years and be released in the 7th year 
    • 6 (x3) is associated with Satan 

    For 6 days, the Israelites walked around the walls of Jericho and nothing happened. It was only when God intervened on the 7th day, did the walls fall down, thus completing the Israelite’s victory. 

    God has given the Israelites a purpose in Canaan, as well as a plan by which they can claim the land of milk and honey for their own. The Israelites know that they have to accept God’s plan with faith and carry it through with obedience, if they have any chance of conquering Jericho. However, there is one final thing they need to do, before they see the walls of the city fall down. 

    They needed to give an almighty shout of praise to their God! 

    *(From Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde) 

    Photo credit:  Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

    Praise God before the breakthrough

    Every Israelite – from the 7 Levite priests before the ark to the smallest child – obeyed God and walked in absolute silence around the walls of the fortified city of Jericho for 6 days. 

    The city encompassed an area of about 6.5 acres, so it didn’t take the Israelites long to march around the perimeter. However, it did give them ample opportunity to do a thorough reconnaissance of their enemy’s layout.  

    Being so close to Jericho’s infamous impregnable walls, the Israelites were confronted with just how colossal the task ahead of them was. Their proximity to the walls would have most likely put them in danger from an airborne attack of spears, slings or arrows from the Canaanites manning the parapets. At the least, the Israelites probably had to endure ridicule and jeering from the Canaanites, with the intention of intimidating them. Yet through all of this, they did not break their silence. 

    Until the 7th day.

    On this day, God wanted the Israelites to shout – just once – before He made the walls fall down. And the shout was to be a response to the sound of the ram’s horn, which was supposed to be akin to His voice.

    Why did God ask His people to that?

    We established earlier that this was a spiritual battle and that God wanted to use the victory of Jericho to set a precedent for the surrounding nations.

    God didn’t need the Israelite’s help – but He did want their partnership, which required them to show Him a visible sign of their faith. And what better way to show God your faith than by praising Him before you see a breakthrough?  

    This is what the Israelite’s one and only shout symbolized – that they believed God would keep His promise of victory, before they saw one stone from the wall of Jericho being dislodged and that He was their Lord, who would never fail them, nor forsake them. 

    Praising God before a breakthrough is also demonstrated in other biblical accounts: King Jehoshaphat sent men to sing and praise God before his battle against the combined armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir (2 Chronicles 20:20-22). 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 the prison, released captives from their chains, and brought a Phillipian jailor to Christ. 

    And so, the Israelite’s raised their voices on Joshua’s command and shouted their praise to the Lord in faith: 

    So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it.” 

    Joshua 6:20 

    And in response, God caused the walls of Jericho – the infamously impregnable walls of Jericho – to fall down.  

    Photo credit:  Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

    However, the lesson of God’s promise doesn’t end here. The Israelite’s still need to fulfil God’s final commands in the captured city of Jericho, before they can claim their inheritance as the new leaders of the land of Canaan.  

    If you would like to learn more about what the Israelite’s get up to in their first days as the victors of Jericho, then feel free to join us in our next and final instalment of Part One of our Bible Study on Joshua 6, which we will publish soon.  

    In the weeks to come, we will be publishing the remaining parts of our Jacob’s Ladder Bible Study on Joshua 6: In Part Two – Living God’s Word, we will share with you how you can implement the lessons learned in Joshua 6 in your own life. In Part Three – Studying God’s Word, we will be offering study and discussion questions, reading material, and a prayer that you can use in your own small group or adapt to your own private study of Joshua 6. 

    Until then, stay 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?” 

  • 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

    3 ways that God is using a dry season to strengthen my faith

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    Three years ago, l entered a dry season regarding my health. Until that time, l had been a private school teacher for 14 years. I had worked 75 hours a week, including on the weekends and during school holidays, until my body and my mind gave out and l had a breakdown. Consequently, l was diagnosed with burnout and depression and had to resign.


    During the first weeks of my convalescence, l was optimistic that with a bit of rest l would soon get back on my feet. However, as time has passed, it is evident that the damage to my health is greater than what l had initially realized.


    Completing everyday tasks overwhelm me. I get panic attacks in open spaces and have therefore been diagnosed with agoraphobia. Severe headaches leave me bedridden, and l experience stabbing pains in my left arm. I fall into deep pits of depression that last for weeks, and l have become a social recluse.


    Although l regularly seek the advice of a psychotherapist and other medical experts, l believe ultimately in the power of God to heal. Thus, through prayer and thanksgiving, l lay out my petition of a full recovery to God (Philipians 4:6) every day. However, it’s like the sky over my head is made out of bronze (Deuteronomy 28:23), because l can see only a little improvement in my health.


    Jesus says in John 10:10 that He has come in order that we may enjoy life until it overflows, so l just don’t understand why God isn’t healing me. In my darkest moments, l even despair whether l will ever experience what it feels to enjoy a healthy, joy-filled life.


    However, after much struggling and griping, I have come to realize that God is using this journey in the wilderness to teach me to completely trust and rely on Him, because l can’t recover unless l put my absolute faith in Him.

    Here are three ways that God is using my current dry season to strengthen my faith:

    Praise God before you see a breakthrough

    When l feel afraid or fall into a miry pit of depression, l raise my hands and thank God for healing that l haven’t seen manifest yet. The effects are instantaneous: My spirits lift, and l feel a sense of peace wash over me. I remember that God is in control, as l keep my eyes on Him and not on my circumstances.


    To emphasize the importance of praising Him before a breakthrough, I believe that God has been showing me the spiritual foundations behind the Israelite’s victory over the fortress city of Jericho in Joshua 6.


    I find it amazing how the Israelites, commanded by Joshua, shouted before the walls of Jericho fell down: This took more faith than shouting in jubilation after they had seen God give them the city (Joshua 6:16). I admire how the Israelite’s believed that God had given them victory over their enemies before they actually saw it.


    This season has taught me that words have power. If l voice my praise to God preceding a victorious recovery, l know that my words shall not return to me void, but shall accomplish the purpose of reviving my health (Isaiah 55:11).

    Photo credit:  Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    Get to know God by studying the Word


    During this dry season, there have been times when l have wandered around aimlessly as the Israelites did in the desert. I was confused and doubtful as to whether my circumstances would ever change. Like Job, l felt that God had left me alone to fend for myself (Job 23:8-9).


    However, God has been with me the entire time in this arid wilderness: My mind and heart just weren’t attuned to hear His voice. Thus, instead of hoping for rain, l had to dig deep inside myself and ask Jesus to stir up His living waters in me (John 4:14).


    Studying the Bible has been a revelation for me: It’s been like discovering a Get-to-know-God manual (2 Tim 3:16). Through His Word, God gives me courage when l am afraid (Isaiah 41:10), strength when l am weak (Isaiah 40:29), and corrects me when l mess up (Hebrews 4:12). On days when l feel disheartened, God meets me where l am (Matthew 11:28).


    Knowing the Word helps me realize that l am fearfully and wonderfully made in Christ and that l shouldn’t believe the lies of the enemy that say otherwise (John 8:44).

    Photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    A dry season is an opportunity to grow spiritually

    Last summer, l started working out at the gym. At first, l found it strenuous, and my body felt stiff and sore after every workout. Nowadays, my body is accustomed to the physical exertion, and l can see muscle definition forming.


    Similarly, l feel like God is using this dry season to grow my spiritual muscles. When l get a panic attack or become depressed, l am learning to hand the situation over to God, instead of allowing it to overwhelm me.
    Though it’s hard, l appreciate that God is using affliction to purify me of emotions that aren’t serving me, such as fear (Isaiah 48:10). I believe that God wants me to start a writing ministry, and is using this time to build up my resilience to tackle future trials and teach me obedience as preparation for His promotion.


    When l first became sick, l was convinced that this trial was designed to fail me. However, the further l push through this season, the more l see God cheering me on, as l learn to seek His face. Through this process, He has renewed my fallen spirit, given me a heart that is hungry for Him, and changed my mindset from that of a victim to that of a victor.

    If you are experiencing a dry season right now, let me encourage you that your time in the wilderness is a temporary layover, it is not your final destination. Stay the course, keep your eyes on God and ask Him to show you what you need to learn from Him to move on through. On the other side of your trials lies the Promised Land, with all the blessings for your life that God has planned for you.

    You’re going to make it!

    Photo credit:  Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash

    Blog banner:  Alexei Scutari on Unsplash

    This article was first published on YMI Magazine on the 11th February 2019.

  • Devotionals

    My soul will be still, for the Lord is in control

    Written by Madeline Twooney

    Thought of the day:

    When faced with adversity, l will be still and rest in God’s presence, knowing that He is in control. 

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

    Psalm 46:10  (NRSV)

    One of my favorite experiences in church is Praise and Worship at the beginning of each service. Our church worship team plays contemporary songs with concert flair, complete with visual effects and loud beats, which enhances my worship experience. I love it!  

    Last week, the worship team played Be still by Hillsong Worship.  In the past, l found the song encouraging and the lyrics poignant, but l didn’t ruminate past these initial impressions. However, on this day, something shifted inside of me as soon as the first words of the song reached my ears: 

    “Be still and know
    That the Lord is in control
    Be still my soul
    Stand and watch as giants fall”

    These past few months have been extremely difficult for me healthwise. I have experienced a severe relapse in my convalscence from burnout and depression that has left me feeling emotionally drained, physically weak, and spiritually vulnerable to lies and accusations from the enemy about who l am in Christ.

    When l am feeling particularly morose, l question whether l will ever travel again to distant countries, take part in social interactions, or even be able to laugh out loud again – activities which require the physical and mental vitality that l haven’t possessed in years. Sometimes, l get really frightened that l will always be watching others enjoy their lives, while l waste away behind an invisible mental barrier of depression, fatigue, and loneliness.

    And yet, when l heard the words of this beautiful song, l felt like God was telling me to stop what l was doing – to stop feeling melancholy and afraid – and just be still in His presence.  

    “I won’t be afraid
    If You are here
    You silence all my fear”

    God assured me that He sees my situation, and He is working in it.  He reminded me that when l had faced adversity in the past, He had been there to support and guide me. Every time, He had brought me out of the valley.

    God had been in control then, and He was in control now. He is the God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow:  I did not need to be afraid. 

    Hearing this message in the heightened atmosphere of corporate worship instantly comforted me.  I felt like the doubts and fears that had slithered into my head were silenced by God’s reassurance of His love. Out of nowhere, I had a sudden surge of hope that everything would work out for the best. It was an unfamiliar sensation to experience – and yet, it felt comforting.

    Later that day, l spent some quiet time with God and played “Be Still” again.  For the first time in a long while, l actually felt the stillness of being in His presence. Finally, I could rest.   

    “Surely love and mercy
    Your peace and kindness
    Will follow me
    Will follow me”

    I learned an important lesson last Sunday: I need not search for God’s love, mercy, and kindness, for it is always within my reach – in fact, it follows me. It is a gift that God gives me, together with His peace, which transcends all understanding.

    All l need to do is stop, be still, and rest in the Lord.

    He will take care of the rest.  

    Prayer: 

    Loving Father, thank you that we can find true rest in the stillness of Your presence. When troubles overwhelm us or we feel doubtful and afraid, help us to remember that You are in control. You will not fail us, nor forsake us. Amen.  

    Delve deeper: 

    If you need to rest in the stillness of God’s presence today, spend time with Him in prayer.  Ask God to show you how you can lay all your problems and your busy schedule aside and just rest in the love, mercy, and kindness of His presence, where you will find peace.

    Blog banner:  Adam Zvanovec on Unsplash

  • Personal testimonies

    Solid as a Rock – When Life Crumbles

    Written by Sarah Keith

    “Oh Lord, preserve my faith. Preserve my faith, O Lord!”

    I found myself praying that prayer – again. You see my husband Bob, of 32 years, fainted and fell October of 2013; he sustained a traumatic brain injury. Twelve days later my mother died.

    My world crumbled. The grief was unbearable.

    I thought l would die of a broken heart. During those dark days it was almost impossible to think, let alone pray. Most days, l could only utter a one-word prayer, “Jesus.” I pleaded with God to heal Bob, but l also found myself praying, “Oh God, preserve my faith.”

    I wrestled and struggled with doubts about what l believed. Did l really believe all that l had taught or had written to encourage others in their faith?

    But where could l go? To whom could l turn?

    Who else is there besides the Lord?

    And who else has opened the gates of heaven to sinful mortal souls and holds the words of eternal life?

    Then God in His providence preserved my husband’s life, and over the course of seven months brought him back from death’s door.

    Bob still has many physical and mental deficits. He can’t be alone. Even so, he has made much progress, and this gives me hope!

    But it is not clear whether he will be completely restored on this side of heaven. I question, “Are you there Lord? Do you care?”

    My daughter has been urging me to do something for myself. So, l took her up on it. She would “watch” dad, while l went for a bike ride – something normal!

    I took my familiar route to the ocean inlet. It was a beautiful morning with bright, clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, and an easy breeze for biking. As l peddled, l prayed, “Lord, preserve my faith. I need you to help me. I can’t do this!”

    When l reached the inlet pathway, l noticed it had been re-landscaped. It was beautiful but now unfamiliar. At the mouth of the inlet, just before it spills into the ocean, sits my prayer rock. When l stepped onto it, a thought came to me, “Everything else might look different, but my rock hasn’t changed. It’s fim and secure. And is this not what the Scripture says about God?”

    My soul groaned deep within, and l cried out, “Lord, l need to hear from You; I need to know that You are there, and that You care. Please let me hear from You today. Don’t remain silent! Please Lord, speak to me!” Then, as is my custom, l turned to the passage in Psalms that matched the date – Psalm 31.

    I read:

    In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
        let me never be put to shame;
        deliver me in your righteousness.
     Turn your ear to me,
        come quickly to my rescue;
    be my rock of refuge,
        a strong fortress to save me.
    Since you are my rock and my fortress,
        for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
    Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
        for you are my refuge.
    Into your hands I commit my spirit;
        deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

    I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
        as for me, I trust in the Lord.
     I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
        for you saw my affliction
        and knew the anguish of my soul.
     You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
        but have set my feet in a spacious place.

    Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
        my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
        my soul and body with grief.
    My life is consumed by anguish
        and my years by groaning;
    my strength fails because of my affliction,
        and my bones grow weak.
    Because of all my enemies,
        I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
    and an object of dread to my closest friends—
        those who see me on the street flee from me.
    I am forgotten as though I were dead;
        I have become like broken pottery.
     For I hear many whispering,
        “Terror on every side!”
    They conspire against me
        and plot to take my life.

     But I trust in you, Lord;
        I say, “You are my God.”
     My times are in your hands;
        deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
        from those who pursue me.
     Let your face shine on your servant;
        save me in your unfailing love.
     Let me not be put to shame, Lord,
        for I have cried out to you;
    but let the wicked be put to shame
        and be silent in the realm of the dead.
     Let their lying lips be silenced,
        for with pride and contempt
        they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

     How abundant are the good things
        that you have stored up for those who fear you,
    that you bestow in the sight of all,
        on those who take refuge in you.
     In the shelter of your presence you hide them
        from all human intrigues;
    you keep them safe in your dwelling
        from accusing tongues.

     Praise be to the Lord,
        for he showed me the wonders of his love
        when I was in a city under siege.
     In my alarm I said,
        “I am cut off from your sight!”
    Yet you heard my cry for mercy
        when I called to you for help.

     Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
        The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
        but the proud he pays back in full.
     Be strong and take heart,
        all you who hope in the Lord.

    Psalm 31:1-24 (NIV)


    Had l ridden my bike the day before or after the 31st of the month, the passages in Psalm 30 and Psalm 1 say nothing about a rock.


    But God in His mercy reminded me that He knows what is happening – and cares!

    He is teaching me to trust that He is the One in whom l can rest and depend! He is working out His plan – in His time.


    Dear friends, if you too are walking an unfamiliar path in life. I urge you to step onto the Solid Rock. Call on the Lord Jesus, take refuge in him; He is our Sure Foundation!


    Update:

    It is now the summer of 2019. Bob has come a long way in speech, understanding, and the ability to walk. Yet, he still cannot be left alone. These past five years have continued challenging my faith.

    I struggle with doubts, insecurities, fear, and burnout from care-giving. My health has been adversely affected too. Even so, God continues to show up in unique and undeniable ways. He continues preserving my faith when l think l can’t take one more step.

    The Lord continues to prove His faithfulness, even when l am faithless – because as the Scriptures promise, “He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

    That’s God’s promise to His children when we are weak in our faith!

    This article was first published by Sarah Keith on her website The Sunday School Network.com. Also, check out the website’s vast array of biblical-based teaching resources designed to help children to get to know Jesus.

    Blog banner:  Will van Wingerden on Unsplash

    About the author:

    Sarah Keith is the founder of SundaySchoolNetwork.com. She has been writing Christian adult devotionals and Bible curricula for teachers of children since 1999. In 1981, she graduated with honors from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a degree in Psychology and Religion, and she holds a degree in Fine Arts from Palm Beach State College.

    Sarah is passionate about the importance of teaching children about Jesus, having them memorize God’s Word early and often. She has worked in children’s ministry for over 30 years

  • 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.  

  • Devotionals

    The Trust Factor

    Written by Lynne Phipps

    Thought for the day: Trust in God is first and foremost a fact and not a feeling.   

    Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
        therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
    For the Lord is a God of justice.
        Blessed are all who wait for him!”

    Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

    Every day, my seven canines get a treat to help them maintain strong and healthy teeth. They never receive the treat at the same time on any given day. I hand them out when l fill up their food bowls for the evening meal. Sometimes, l do this early in the day, sometimes later.

    My seven canines used to be eight. And it was this eigth one that reinforced a valuable lessone for me, day in and day out, the older he got. By the time he was twelve, he was totally deaf. And by the time he was fifteen, his sight had greatly deteriorated. His cataracts were so thick, l doubt that he was able to see very much. He was such a happy little fellow though, always full of joy right from the first day he came to live with me and was still quite spry at the age of sixteen.

    And every day when it was treat time, even though he was deaf and basically blind, he always seemed to know. I would reach for the biscuits from the cupboard and turn around – and there would be seven dogs gathered around in expectation. I would dole out the goodies one by one until l had one left, which was Casey’s.

    And where would number eight be?

    Always sitting, waiting patiently in complete trust behind everyone else. He never barked or whined or tried to get his treat first, even though it would have been easy for him to walk under the bigger dog’s legs to get to the front of the line. Rather, he had learned over the years that he was never forgotten and he was never left out – he would receive that for which he hoped.

    Casey died just before Christmas, shortly after his sixteenth birthday. He suffered a stroke during his sleep and though it did not take him, the time had come to say goodbye.

    Now, every day when l turn around with the treats in my hand and see all of my friends gathered in anticipation, l remember the wonderful gift Casey left me: the trust factor.

    I also remember that the Lord longs to be gracious to me, for the Lord is a God of justice and blessed are all who wait for Him.

    Perhaps today, you may be feeling left out or forgotten. The Lord seems to be blessing everyone else but you. You feel that God has been silent and wonder will you ever hear His voice again. If so, fear not. Instead, embrace Casey’s gift: the trust factor. Trust in the promises and the goodness of God. Wait patiently for Him, and you will not be disappointed with the blessing He has in store just for you.

    Prayer: Father God, thank You so much that You long to be gracious to us, Your children. Thank You that You show compassion and are a God of justice. Thank You that we are blessed when we wait for You, for never will You leave us nor forget us. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

    Delve deeper: There is probably not a single Christian in all history, who has not struggled with trusting God when He seems to be silent, no matter how hard we try to reach Him. But trusting in God is not so much about our feelings but about standing upon the facts of Scripture.

     Consider these verses: 


        For I am with you, and I will take care of you.
        I, the Lord, have spoken!”

    Jeremiah 1:19 (NLT)

    Great is his faithfulness;
        his mercies begin afresh each morning.

    Lamentations 3:23 (NLT) 

    I will never leave you nor forsake you.

    Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) 

    So today, if you are struggling because God seems to be silent in your life, remember Casey and the trust factor. Then, begin to dwell upon those Scriptures that promise God is faithful. He is with you and will never forsake you!

    Additionally, think upon all His faithfulness to you in the past, and begin to praise God for His continued faithfulness, not only for today, but also for all the days which lie ahead for you throughout eternity.

    This devotional was originally published at PresbyCan Daily Devotional on 11th March 2019.

    Blog banner credit:  Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash