The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. (Joshua 4:19, MSG)
When I'm writing a book, I write the time at the beginning of each scene. For instance, the current scene for my work in progress takes place on Thursday, May 23rd. Otherwise I lose track of my timetable.
Today I noticed the passage of time. The Israelites crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. Now I know, of course, that the Jewish calendar is nothing like the gregorian calendar which I'm familiar with. But for the sake of considering the timetable, I'll call it 1/10.
1/10 The Israelites cross the Jordan River.
The men were circumstanced and took a few days to heal.
1/14 The Israelites celebrated the Passover - a week-long festival.
1/22 The earliest that the Israelites began marching around Jericho. They marched every day for a week.
1/29 The earliest that the Israelites marched around Jericho seven times and the wall fell.
As soon as Israel crossed the Jordan, God began a form of psychological warfare on the Amorites. They were terrified. Joshua 5 says "the courage drained out of them just thinking about the people of Israel."
The people had crossed the river. 600,000 soldiers--did an army that large ever go to battle? (You military history buffs will know.)
Inside the walls of Jericho, the citizens watched. And waited. And waited some more. After three weeks or so, the men assembled and marched on the city. The citizens stiffened. At last the action would begin. Perhaps they even felt relieved that at last they would face the enemy.
But the Israelites did nothing but march and play trumpets. One day . . . two days . . . six.
Doomsday fell on the seventh day.
Why the delay? Was it for the Amorites--to terrify them? Perhaps, to give them the opportunity to surrender, to announce their belief in Israel's God, such as Rahab did?
Was it for the Israelites--to teach them obedience?
During the delay, first the Israelites took the step that set them apart as God's people, the rite of circumcision, marking them as children of the covenant.
They also worshipped. They remembered what God had done for them in the past. A God who had delivered from the thumb of the world's greatest power would have no trouble swatting a petty Amorite king.
So often we are caught "in between." In between the start of a new chapter. We have crossed our Jordan! We expect to jump into battle (and win) right away. We keep asking--and God keeps saying "soon."
In case you don't know this already--God's idea of "soon" doesn't agree with ours.
But never doubt God is at work during that in between time. Let Him prepare you--and others--for what lies ahead.