This process of narrowing down vision is draining. I started believing I could (and should!) pitch a children’s storybook bible highlighting the life of Jesus before his life in the manger. You know – all the ways Jesus shows up, alive and well, in the Old Testament.
But somehow Rahab walked on stage, and then entered this idea of a promise fulfilled in the Promised Land, and the realization that to tell her story is really to tell of Him. Jesus. The Promised One whose promises are themselves fulfilled in the Promised Land.
And I’m left in the middle of my Robert Frost dilemma, looking both ways. To the idea of a storybook Bible that holds every page of Old Testament Scripture up to the Light, looking for watermarks of the Savior. And alternatively to the story of Rahab’s promise (a reflection of The Promise?) fulfilled in the Promised Land.
Do these two road diverge in a yellow wood? Should I be sorry I could not travel both? “And be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.”
Do they merge somehow beyond the bend? Beyond my current line of sight and out there in the future development of this vision? I know not…yet. But hope, that by writing out some key elements, I’ll find the clearing in these woods where lucid notions lie.
So, before I ask of you an opinion on which road you’d rather read, here’s a bit of the thoughts of my head regarding Rahab and the road she traveled:
Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. (Joshua 4:3)
Out from the midst of a seemingly impossible task, out from the very spot where the LORD God Almighty Himself stood guard (in the form of the ark of the covenant), came this bewildering charge: Pick up these stones.
Pick up these monuments to my miracle-wonders. Pick up these tributes to the fulfillment of my testimonies. Pick up your stones and follow Me, through the center of your presumed chaos, and out into the long awaited land of milk and honey – the Promised Land.
But why a stone, cousin? The answer, friends, is simply a sign pointing to a promise.
Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you….These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7)
A sign – a visible illustration of something that cannot be seen. Maybe even a image of someone who can not yet be seen? God places signs all over Scripture:
- The rainbow in Genesis 9:12-17 was a sign of the covenant between God and the earth – never again would He destroy all of life by the waters of a flood.
- The command to circumcise in Genesis 17:11 was a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham – He would be the father of many nations and the whole land of Canaan would be his everlasting possession.
- The blood of the Passover lamb in Exodus 12:13 was a signpost to the angel of death to pass over each house stained by the blood of the lamb.
Like a highway billboard advertising an agreement between God an His people, these signs proclaim the promise:
- I, the Ruler of all Creation (Revelation 3:14), am coming to rescue the world. I have set my bow bent on destruction and arrow aimed at evil up on the clouds. Never again will I destroy all life by the waters of the flood. I promise.
- I, the Righteous Judge (2 Tim 4:8), am coming to lead the faithful and the blameless into an everlasting possession. Like the skin you cut away, so I will cut away all those who walk in wickedness. I promise.
- I, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), am coming to take away the sins of the world. I promise.
So in Jericho, when God asked for twelve brawny men, one from each tribe of Israel, to pick up his boulder and deposit it onto the shores of the Promised Land, He was really saying:
- I, the the Savior of the World (1 John 4:14), am coming to tear down the Jericho walls of every rebel heart. I promise.
The funny thing about signs – even God’s enemies can read them loud and clear.
Even God’s enemies can read them loud.and.clear.
So why twelve stones? In the future, when the children ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ you’ll know the answer. You’ll know why the stones cry out, “Shhh, daughter, listen. And you, Jericho, be warned. I, the LORD God Almighty am coming! I promise.”
Might I Pray for Us?
Dear Jesus, the Promised One,
You are coming. You came for Rahab. You came for me. And You are coming again to judge the living and the dead. Help us to see not only all the times you promised to come. But all the ways you’ve already fulfilled that promise. And all the ways you will still fulfill every promise ever made.