How many licks does it take to get to the middle of a tootsie pop, 1, 2, crunch, 3. I still remember that commercial from when I was a child. The point of the tootsie pop was not the outside of the sucker but the center of it. I imagine many a tooth has been broken attempting to get to that tootsie roll in the middle. For me, that owl in the commercial and countless others the center was the point of the sucker. The same is true of this strange parade around Jericho, if you want to see the point look to the middle.
The ark of God is in the middle of this unusual battle march around the city. Over and over and over again the ark is seen by the citizens of Jericho as it circles their city and Israel itself knows where they are to march in this parade based on where the ark is located. The ark is mentioned 10 times in this chapter as part of the instructions given for taking Jericho. The point is very clear, the presence of God is the point, the center, the reason for the victory they are about to receive.
God wants to make sure that the people do not mistake what is happening and begin to believe they are somehow responsible for this victory. Moses had told them long before that the reason for their victory had nothing to do with them and everything to do with God’s love for them and the sinfulness of the peoples they are going in to displace, you can read his pep talk over in Deuteronomy 9:5. When people think that they are responsible for their victories they forget God and attempt to forge their own paths, which leads to all sorts of troubles. We will read about how Israel makes this very mistake in Joshua 7 despite God’s best efforts to prevent their misunderstanding.
The need to see God as the reason for our success is true not just of Israel but for every believer in Christ, even the great Apostle Paul. Paul talked about how God reminded him of his need for grace in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. He said that he had been given amazing revelations from the Lord. These visions Paul had were so overwhelming that God had to give Paul a, “thorn in the flesh,” which was a constant source of suffering. This thorn was given to counterbalance the pride that might arise from the truths Paul was entrusted with to teach others. Through his suffering, Paul found true strength which he learned came from total dependence on the Lord. Trust in Christ became the center of Paul’s life, he did not live one moment of the day without the presence of the Lord at the very middle of his parade.
Make God’s grace for you the center of your life. Order your life so as to ensure that the presence of the Lord is the center of your parade. Focus all your efforts on pointing your gaze away from your perceived accomplishments back to the source of your blessings, the God of Heaven and Earth. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Do not downplay your weaknesses rather thank the Lord for giving you the grace to overcome them and have success despite them. When you realize that your continued success is completely dependent on your right fellowship with Jesus then you will guard your relationship with Him above all others, He will be your center.
Let’s pray for an awareness of His presence right in the middle of our lives today as we attempt to follow Him and show His grace to the people He puts into our lives.