Joshua brings us back to the edge of the promised land, just like 40 years prior. Having been one of the twelve that spied out the promised land then, he now is the one sending two spies to investigate, especially the city of Jericho. How amazing then is it that they hear these words from Rahab in chapter two:
I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
The spies return, only with the help of Rahab who has had also saved them from their enemies, and they bring the message that the people melt away because of Israel. It must have been a bit humbling to hear greater conviction in the ability of God to deliver the land to Israel from the mouth of a prostitute than from the God’s own people a generation ago. At that point, the Israelites were overwhelmed with fear at the size and strength of the people and the spies (not including Joshua and Caleb) convince the people to act on that fear.
As this was happening in the Israelite camp, as they were figuring out a plan B so they wouldn’t have to match up against the supposed giants of Canaan against whom they thought they were no match, the Canaanites were melting away in fear. Israel couldn’t trust that their God, who had already done so much for them, would take them to the land he promised. But Israel’s enemies could. They knew of God’s power and were frightened.
Fear was the appropriate response, but only for one of the groups. For those who should have put their trust in the Lord, there was no need to fear.
Now Israel approach the Jordan and Jericho, the promised land, probably wishing they had heard from Rahab 40 years earlier.