God clearly and repeatedly promised Joshua that the land of Palestine would be theirs for God was with them and was giving it to them. So then why did Joshua send spies into the land to check it out before they entered (Joshua 2:1)? Does this mean he didn’t trust God’s promises? Or was he just trying to help God out? Why didn’t he just march into the land in faith, trusting God to give it to them? Wouldn’t that have been an act of faith? It certainly would have been, but that isn’t what God wanted in this case. Sometimes He wants us to totally trust Him and move ahead in faith, but most of the time He wants us to use common sense and do our best while trusting Him. Clearly Joshua was not out of God’s will in this. It wasn’t lack of faith on Joshua’s part. His faith was just as strong for he knew that no matter what the spies found, they couldn’t win without God’s help.
Even thought we depend on God 100%, we still have human responsibility to do our part, to do our best. Sitting back and letting God do it all usually isn’t an expression of faith but of being irresponsible. When Moses led the Jews to fight the Amalekites, he prayed depending 100% on God, but the people did their best fighting behind their leader Joshua. Nehemiah trusted God for His help in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, but he set a guard and made sure all his workers were armed. We trust God – but we lock our doors, we buy insurance, we leave a light on when we aren’t home – we take common sense precautions all the while knowing God is in sovereign control over everything.
Any army must know its adversary and how they work. Paul tells us to not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. James 1 tells us to ask for wisdom and god will give it. God works in and through us, not instead of us. Jericho was a formidable opponent, and God will give Joshua the battle instructions (march around the city…). Still, God expects Joshua to use wisdom and common sense, to make good judgments and to be responsible to do their best. God works through our wise choices and best efforts, He doesn’t always override our irresponsibility and carelessness.
God didn’t need the spies and their help. Actually without His help they would have been captured and killed, but He led them to Rahab and safety. We expect our children to try their best even if we know they will fall short without our help. We teach them wisdom and common sense, but we know they will need our assistance. The same is true of God. It’s been said we are to work as if it all depended on us but also trust knowing it all depends on God. Faith is no excuse to keep us from doing our best. So trust God – but send out your spies as well!
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)