Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.’”
There are several things in these verses that establish their context. First, this happens when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. Which means that Joshua obeyed the last instruction he received from God. Second, the Israelites crossed the Jordan, which indicates their entry into the Promised Land. Third, it is all the nation that crosses the Jordan, which tells me — before the later verses spell it out — that Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh were included in the number that crossed the river.
What caught my attention this morning is not so much the fetching of twelve stones — I have heard teachings on that many times and some of them popped right back to mind when I read these verses — as it was that God did not give Joshua further instruction until he had first obeyed the instruction he had been given. The sequence of events is (1) all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, then (2) the LORD spoke to Joshua. Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan as God had instructed him to, then God gives the next bit of instruction to Joshua.
In Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the general says that no one in the army should know all of the leader’s plan, but each should know exactly as much as is necessary to fulfill his part. So, too, does God often order we who are His own. He gives us as much as we need to understand the next step in our part of His plan, then reveals what comes after that only when we have obeyed the preceding part. Joshua obeyed and was told what to do next.
In my own life, I need to examine whether or not I have obeyed in those things where I know what it is that God wants me to do. If I have, then I can expect that God will reveal what comes next when it is time for me to know. If I have not, then I can expect no further revelation until I am obedient to what I already know.
Father, please work with and in me to make me obedient to what You have already instructed me to do so that I, too, might hear what You have next in Your plan for my life.