If we are honest, as we read the Scripture there are times when God’s ways seem to not make sense to us. This is not only true in the stories of Scripture, but in our lives as well. At one time or another we most likely have had the experience where we understood God’s command but were left scratching our head as to how it could ever work out for good. God has a long history of asking His people to carry out actions that do not cohere with human wisdom. We see this illustrated in three stories in Hebrews 11:29-31.
Verse 29 of Hebrews 11 describes the events that take place in the narrative of Exodus 13:17-14:31. When God delivered his people out of Egypt, it appeared to the people that He made a serious tactical error – He literally guided them to a dead end at the Red Sea. As you read the story, you see how the people questioned the leadership of Moses. What were Moses and God thinking to corner these newly freed slaves between the sea and the advancing Egyptian army. Have you ever felt “between the devil and the deep blue sea?” The author of Hebrews summarizes what happened in verse 29: The Israelites crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. Read the story from Exodus to see the amazing details which reveal God’s plan to display His power and glory over Egypt.
The second illustration in verse 30 summarizes the events of Joshua chapter 6. After spending 40 years wandering in the desert, a new generation of Israelites entered the land of Canaan which God had promised to give them. One of the first strongholds they faced was Jericho, an impenetrable city surrounded by great walls. Jericho posed a political and military threat, standing in the way of Israel’s possessing the land. Instead of laying out a brilliant military strategy to lay siege to the city, God gave Joshua the bizarre and unexpected instruction to march around the city for seven days and on the seventh day blow a ram’s horn and shout. No scaling walls, no sledgehammers, no fire to burn down the gates; no, rather by faith, Joshua and the people obeyed God, and the walls came a-tumbling down!
Prior to Jericho’s destruction, it was the faith of a prostitute, Rahab, that set the stage for the city’s demise as she helped two spies to escape. Read the details of this story in Joshua chapter 2. Rahab’s action was utterly counterintuitive; she could have easily turned the spies in, but because she had heard about the great exploits of Israel and their God, Yahweh, she chose to save the spies, who in turn saved her own life when Jericho fell.
There are times in life when we do not understand what God is doing until we can look back with 20/20 hindsight; but amid it, all we can do is trust God. Consider why it is that God at times operates in this fashion; we will look at some reasons in the sermon on Sunday.