In our church we have twelve stones piled up on the side of stage. They were a gift given to us by our church members on Pastor Appreciation Day, and they are very special to us. These stones signify that we have crossed over the Jordan and are taking the Promised Land. As a church, they represent the promises of God individually as well as the land we want to take for Jesus – our entire community.
Such symbols were common among the Jews. They became reminders that God had a plan and He was working it. The same is true today, and if we choose to be in on His plan, we can be.
After the crossing and the gathering of the stones, the Israelite males had to be circumcised.
Under the New Covenant, the circumcision is of the heart. We have to have a holiness in our lives if we are going to take the land, and that holiness is not an outward thing. The fruit of a circumcised heart can be seen by others, but the heart itself is only seen by God. He knows every crack and crevice of our inner being – every thought, every attitude, everything.
So we allow God to circumcise our hearts, and we are ready to take Jericho – that formidable, walled city which seems so impossible. In fact that fortress is impossible in the natural. But when we are obedient to His commands, we see God move in unprecedented ways. With Him, we are well able!
The hearts of the Canaanites melted when they saw the works of God. In the same way,when heart-circumcised, faith-filled children of God come on the scene, demons tremble in fear.
Again I say, with Him, we are well able!
I love the way each gospel account varies its emphasis. Many of the same stories are told in each one, but with a little different slant.
Luke’s gospel adds to the birth of Jesus by including the miraculous birth of John the Baptist. Zacharias and Elizabeth were a holy couple, but they were barren – and well-advanced in years. (Does that sound familiar? Abraham and Sarah?)
While Zacharias was ministering in the temple, an angel appeared to him and prophesied of a son who would come to them. But Zacharias doubted. “How shall I know for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”(v.18).
What a rebuke! The angel, Gabriel, proclaims that Zacharias will not be able to speak until the child is born – since he didn’t believe what was told him by God’s representative.
Today, in the story of Jericho and in this story, we see people who were not to speak for a time. Why would that be so?
Words matter – whether we realize it or not. God created the world through words. Our words can create or destroy. They can open and close doors. They can change the circumstances for good or evil.
So when there is doubt – or a chance for doubt – and God wants to accomplish something important, He prescribes silence. Silence for the people as they circled Jericho for seven days, and silence for the doubting Zacharias. God is determined that His plan will not be nullified by the unbelieving, idle words of man.
Put a guard over my mouth, Oh Lord!