Noah shielded his eyes against the brilliant light. He’d opened the window when his floating zoo had come, with a decisive thump, to rest against the mountainside. He hadn’t seen peaks—or sunshine—for a long time. The air smelt blue not green, like water not grass. The birds he loosed came back, unable to find a place to land.
So he waited, opening the window and looking out every day, curbing his impatience. All the inmates were restless, anxious to get out, to feel solid ground under their four feet, two feet, ten feet, three hundred and fifty-four feet, or no feet at all.
They were all that was left, too few to afford to make a mistake and leave the safety of the ark before God had made adequate provision for them. Everything else was gone, a world scrubbed clean by the brush of the Almighty.
They would have to start again.
But the birds had kept coming back.
Then the last one didn’t.
Like an old hound, Noah sniffed green on the breeze, heard the Voice, and turned toward his traveling companions bunched up behind him.
Years later another old man stood outside the entrance to the great city, staff in hand, watching a floodtide of humans and animals flow past, heading toward the wilderness.
They carried, carted, or drove everything they owned—along with bags and chests of items that their “hosts” for the last four hundred years had eagerly thrust on them. Was it compensation for years of ill treatment? Or desperation? The cries of bereaved Egyptians could still be heard even above the tramp, shuffle, and creak of the Hebrews.
When the crying stopped and the anger set in, Moses knew that they would be pursued. He shaded his eyes, looking to see if the end of the column was visible yet. They had to hurry, get as far as they could as fast as they could.
For Moses, what was happening on this day was a kind of redemption. Years ago he had tried to do what God had done today—rescue his people. He’d failed miserably. He carried that failure into the desert. Now, a better and more humble man, Yahweh had brought him back to Egypt, to do it right, to take His people toward a brighter day and greater prospects.
Forty years later Moses was dead. Joshua felt his absence. For all those years he had followed the old man, listened to his instructions, obeyed his orders, and seen God work through him. Now, the newly-minted leader stood on the shores of the Jordan and wondered if he was capable of wearing Moses-sized sandals…or if he wanted to.
He’d witnessed the stubbornness of the people Moses had led out of the Egypt. Just because those he was leading were of a new generation didn’t mean much. They still had the same genes, and the same propensity to want to do their own thing their own way.
Across the river lay fortified cities, and people stronger and more numerous than the Hebrews he led. He had seen them. Though he knew that Yahweh would give them what He had promised—a homeland—he also knew that gaining it wouldn’t come cheaply.
Still, it was a new beginning. At long last, entrance into the land promised to their forefather, Abraham, awaited them.
The priests stood at the edge of the river. Between them, carefully carried, was the Ark of the Covenant that represented the promise the great I AM had made to them—and the commitment they had made to Him.
They waited for Joshua’s command. Behind them, still and silent, were the soldiers and the citizens of this new nation.
He shrugged off the heavy cloak of his fears, remembering that late night encounter with Someone much senior to him. He may have succeeded Moses as leader but he knew he wasn’t the real commander.
He raised his spear.
Yes, cross—another new beginning.