After first sending in the priests instead of storm-troopers, and then stopping to do the bronze-age equivalent of posting selfies on social media, the Israelites are still not going to carry out an invasion in the normal way. They next thing they do is put every single one of their soldiers out of action for a couple of weeks following elective surgery. It would have been a great time for the Jericho army to have attacked them.
In some ways, the circumcision of the Israelite men was like the consecration we have already talked about – it was an outward sign of dedication to God, reminding them of the covenant with Abraham. The Israelites invading the Promised Land were far from being foolhardy in having surgery which would incapacitate them for a fortnight or so. They were in fact demonstrating their trust in God to protect them and to fight for them when they couldn’t fight. Much as we would talk about walking by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). And this group went on to trust God for their victories over the coming years, notably in the conquest of Jericho which they would soon go on to take without even needing to land a blow.
What would be the equivalent for us of being circumcised just as we enter a war zone? What would that look like in the context where we work? To follow God with a little more unpredictability rather than always trying to play it safe? Hudson Taylor pointed out that if there is no risk in our ventures, there is no need for faith. Yet in our increasingly risk-averse and litigious culture, it can be hard even to entertain the concept of risk when we feel we should be minimising it.
Life involves risk, mission more so. The places where people don’t know Jesus can be some of the most dangerous places on the planet for us to go. It’s not that we deliberately seek out danger, as if we were seeking a thrill to enliven meaningless lives, but if following in the footsteps of Jesus takes us into dangerous territory, we proceed in faith rather than turning back because the risk is too great. We trust God daily for our income, our safety, our visa renewals (just about!) and many other things. Let us reflect at the start of another year what else we can manage without organising for ourselves but by trusting God to take care of it for us.