Josh 2:1 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. "Go, look over the land," he said, "especially Jericho." So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there....8 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them, "I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you...11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death"...24 They said to Joshua, "The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us."
Despite the promise of His presence and success God gave to Joshua, he nevertheless sent out the two spies to "look over the land, especially Jericho." No one would doubt that Joshua was a man of faith, but why then did he send his spies to "check it out" first? I can think of three possible reasons:
1) Survey the Terrain ("Look over the land"): As a good military commander, Joshua needed to know the terrain. No commander fights a battle without knowing the enemy's terrain and how to deploy his troops. In other words, good planning is not opposed to faith, or we may say that faith is not a license for irrationality. The greater our faith, the greater the need to plan because planning is faith in action. In any ministry or mission, we need a good knowledge of the ground conditions so that our strategies match the actual ground situations. Every ministry takes place in a context - political, cultural, social and economic. When a ministry leader uses the same strategy in every context, he is likely to fail because each context requires different strategies to optimise the deployment of the troops & weapons.
2) Survey the People ("especially Jericho"): Joshua also needed to know specifically the kind of enemies he would be facing - viz., the people dwelling in Jericho. In spiritual as in military warfare, we need to know our enemy and their true state. Our enemy is the devil and his demons. While we should not underestimate their power, neither should we be intimidated by their schemes, because they are defeated already at the Cross. Like the people of Jericho, whenever they know that the children of the Kingdom of God are coming their ways, they "melt with fear." Unfortunately, there are still Christians who will freak out and become paralyzed with fear when they are confronted with the enemy. Instead of the enemy melting with fear, such Christians simply melted -- away! But we need to remember what Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 10:18-19, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." May we the People of the Lord, march boldly into enemy territories and not stay within the safe confines of the church and do only war games on Sunday with no real enemies in sight.
3) Save the Lost ("show kindness to my family"): We go into enemy territory not on a "search and destroy" mission, but "search and save" the lost who want to come out of the enemy's power. God's mission is always a mercy mission in even the midst of judgment. Joshua's military objective was to destroy the enemies and their infrastructure and to redeem the land and the people for the Lord. Wherever faith is found and there are those seeking salvation, our mission is to help them come out of darkness into the light of the Kingdom of God. Rahab represented those who are doomed for destruction but found grace because she believed that the Lord is the "God in heaven above and on the earth below."
God has called His Church to move into enemy territories, not to seek and destroy but to seek and save. If there is only one soul to be saved, it's worth our time, energy and money.
Lord, deliver us from our selves - our indolence, excuses and inertia. Grant us grace to move out of our comfort zone into enemy territories for it is there that the lost are found. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.