This guest post by Elizabeth Vince is excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
Childhood lessons about the consequences of bragging have stuck with me. As I learned about humility and modesty, I became afraid of being seen as conceited. When presenting myself at a job interview, I was hesitant to speak of my successes. I was especially careful when I talked about my faith or told people about God. I didn’t want to offend their beliefs. I didn’t want to come across as a know-it-all Christian.
When I read the book of Joshua, I knew my caution was misplaced.
Joshua contains some of the greatest pep talks in history. God’s repeated calls for Joshua to “be strong and courageous” (Josh 1:6, 7, 9) underscore the Israelites’ fear of finally entering and conquering the promised land. The Israelite spies even boast: “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands . . . all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before us” (2:24). Although the Israelites faced the task of defeating city after city, they didn’t see failure as an option. Their confidence soared—even bordered on arrogance.
The right kind of bragging
Yet their pride was well placed. The Israelites didn’t boast about their military skill or might, but about their God. Reminding each other what God had done for them in the exodus assured them he would fight for them now. The Israelites’ boasting about the God who delivered them, provided for them, and would fight for them spread throughout the promised land and paved the way for their victory. As their enemies heard of God’s mighty acts, “their hearts melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them” (5:1).
Even Gentiles (non-Israelites) began to proclaim the might of Yahweh. Rahab told the spies, “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt . . . As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below” (2:10–11). Such statements on the lips of non-Israelites enabled Joshua to proclaim, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (3:5).
The Israelites didn’t share my fear of offending others with their claims about God. They weren’t afraid to boast if it meant Yahweh’s name would be exalted. May we, like the Israelites, be unafraid to speak boldly about what God has done for us. May we, like them, wait in expectation for the Lord to work wonders among us. And may we, too, see the hearts of our enemies melt in the recognition of the one true God.
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