“Before the spies lay down for the night, [Rahab] went up on the roof 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.”” – Joshua 2:8-9
“[The spies] said to Joshua, “The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”” – Joshua 2:24
“Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the coast heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted…” – Joshua 5:1
When Scripture repeats itself, that is when you need to pay attention. It’s the Bible waving at you, yelling, “LOOK HERE! SOMETHING IMPORTANT IS HAPPENING!” And within the first few chapters of Joshua, the idea of melting with fear, either the heart or the whole person, is mentioned three times.
I know that something repeated three times is nothing compared to the 365 times “do not fear/fear not”, but it still struck me as interesting. And then convicted me of my sin.
What struck me as interesting was that these people, the citizens of Jericho in chapter 2, and all of people in Canaan, was how quickly and how completely they fell apart at the report of God working.
Slow down. Think about what I just said.
Thousands of people emotionally fell apart, were overcome with fear and dread, because they saw? No. Witnessed? Not yet. Felt? Nope. They HEARD tell of the LORD God doing miraculous things, and their hearts melted.
I have to be honest. I do not have a heart that melts very easily. I don’t. I’m not proud of that. I am saying that I know myself well enough that when I hear stories of God doing things in peoples’ lives, my heart is not melting. And that is not good.
I can recall my sister-in-law telling the church a story about how she prayed for someone and their leg was healed. It went from broken to whole, miraculously. And my first thought, my gut reaction was “Oooookay.” (For those that don’t know me super well, imagine that this was said with a great deal of sarcasm and disbelief.)
Some of you may sympathize with my reaction. Miracles don’t happen like they did in the Bible. Sometimes people see what they want to see. Well, how do we know that it wasn’t already healed before the prayer? And these are not bad questions, but the reality of those three verses shot down all my questions.
It wasn’t the nation of Israel that melted. It wasn’t the faithful and obedient servants of God that trembled at the story of the LORD’s miraculous work. It was the nonbeliever. It was the faithless. It was the man or woman that prayed to another god, some other deity that melted with fear at what the God of Joshua and the nation of Israel was doing.
How can I call myself a believer in the one true God, the God that raised Jesus from the dead, the God that did stop the Jordan River and let Israel cross into the Promised Land, if I can’t believe that my sister-in-law saw God heal someone’s leg?
It’s logically inconsistent for me to believe in such great miracles in the Bible, all done by the hand of the LORD God, and completely dismiss every miracle that I hear about now.
I need a heart that melts. The Church needs a heart that melts. A heart that crumbles at the mention of the work God is doing, that falls prostate at the news of the LORD actively working in our world. We need a heart so soft and reverent towards the miracles of our God that it changes everything.
Is it easy to do this, to change a heart of stone into one that melts? No, in fact, you or I can’t do it at all.
What we need to do is go to God with our hearts of stone, as He says in the Prophets,
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27