The book of Joshua records the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. It takes eleven chapters to tell the story, with one of those chapters recounting Joshua’s transition into leadership and five dealing only with the capture of Jericho. It is a whirlwind tour.
Five to Seven Years
With the conciseness of the record, it is easy to think that the whole affair was accomplished rather quickly. However, the reality is that the Conquest took 5-7 years to complete. We know this because as the land was being divided, Caleb tells Joshua that he was forty years old when he initially spied out the land and that he was now eighty-five years old (Josh 14:6-9). With Caleb being in the wilderness forty years with the rest of Israel, that means there was five years for the Conquest. We may need to add another 1-2 years if we include Israel’s stay at Sinai as part of the forty years in the wilderness. Five to seven years!
So what difference does this make? For one thing, it coincides with God’s statement that he will not drive out the Canaanites in one year lest the land become desolate and overrun by wild animals (Ex 23:29). This shows God to be wise and practical. It also shows that God does what he says he will do.
For another thing, it gives us insight into how God works. God is seldom in a hurry, but instead he often takes time when accomplishing his purposes. We are in a hurry; God is not. We want things accomplished now; God typically uses process. We see the moment; God sees eternity.
Similarly, it gives us caution when looking at God’s work in history or in the life of others. We may mistakenly think that the things God accomplishes through others is quick and easy. This is especially troublesome when it seems that our own lives or ministry is terribly difficult and slow-moving. The reality, more likely, is that the work and success of others is also a long, difficult journey.
Be of Good Courage
So, take heart. Be of good courage. Don’t expect success in your ministry, spiritual formation, relationships, or business to happen overnight. This may happen, but typically it does not. Instead, understand that God is working things out wisely, in his own time, and for your benefit. It may take a while. Trust him.