Sunday, April 13, 2008
Joshua Warns the Leaders – Joshua 23:1-16
Joshua 23:1-16 (New Living Translation)
Joshua’s Final Words to Israel
1 The years passed, and the LORD had given the people of Israel rest from all their enemies. Joshua, who was now very old, 2 called together all the elders, leaders, judges, and officers of Israel. He said to them, “I am now a very old man. 3 You have seen everything the LORD your God has done for you during my lifetime. The LORD your God has fought for you against your enemies. 4 I have allotted to you as your homeland all the land of the nations yet unconquered, as well as the land of those we have already conquered—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 This land will be yours, for the LORD your God will himself drive out all the people living there now. You will take possession of their land, just as the LORD your God promised you.
6 “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. 7 Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. 8 Rather, cling tightly to the LORD your God as you have done until now.
9 “For the LORD has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the LORD your God fights for you, just as he has promised. 11 So be very careful to love the LORD your God.
12 “But if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, 13 then know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the LORD your God has given you.
14 “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the LORD your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! 15 But as surely as the LORD your God has given you the good things he promised, he will also bring disaster on you if you disobey him. He will completely destroy you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the LORD your God by worshiping and serving other gods, his anger will burn against you, and you will quickly vanish from the good land he has given you.”
There was a bumper sticker from years ago that said, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” The order of that is backwards. It should read, “God said it, that settles it, and I believe it.” It doesn’t matter whether you believe God or not for His word to be true. We see that the Israelites are told to read Moses’ book of Instruction and to not deviate from it. If they deviate, then God’s anger will burn against them and that they would vanish from the land that God has given them.
God is not only a loving God. He is a just God. He has said laws and promises in place. If we do not obey Him, He will do like any good parent would do and that is get us back in line with His word.
We have to remember that we are in the Lord’s army and we are fighting in His battle. It is better by far to fight in His battle than to fight in our own. We will have the best available if we are fighting in his battle. He is the best quartermaster that we can ever have. He saves the best for us.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The Longest Day – Joshua 10:1-15
Joshua 10:1-15 (New Living Translation)
Israel Defeats the Southern Armies
Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel and were now their allies. 2 He and his people became very afraid when they heard all this because Gibeon was a large town—as large as the royal cities and larger than Ai. And the Gibeonite men were strong warriors.
3 So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent messengers to several other kings: Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon. 4 “Come and help me destroy Gibeon,” he urged them, “for they have made peace with Joshua and the people of Israel.” 5 So these five Amorite kings combined their armies for a united attack. They moved all their troops into place and attacked Gibeon.
6 The men of Gibeon quickly sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.”
7 So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon. 8 “Do not be afraid of them,” the LORD said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”
9 Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. 10 The LORD threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the LORD destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword.
12 On the day the LORD gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the LORD in front of all the people of Israel. He said,
“Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,
and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.
Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. 14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the LORD answered such a prayer. Surely the LORD fought for Israel that day!
15 Then Joshua and the Israelite army returned to their camp at Gilgal.
2 Peter 3:8 says, “But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” I was talking to my co-worker yesterday about this verse. What God showed me is that when we are at our best; we can only put in an hour’s worth of work in one hour. It doesn’t matter how good I get or how efficient I get, I can only put one hour of work in one hour.
On the other hand, God can squeeze a thousand years worth of work into one day. God is so powerful and mighty and awesome that something that would take us months to build, God can do it in a day. We see this principle in the passage. God caused the sun to stand still in order for the Israelites to destroy the Amorite kings and heir armies. This is then instance where God allowed man to squeeze more than an hour’s worth of effort into one hour. And what the Israelites couldn’t get to, a hail storm got the rest.
We need to realize that we need to be fighting in God’s battle and not our battles. We need to focus on God’s priorities and not our priorities. When we get aligned with God, then things can happen at a rate that will blow your mind. Things that we try to manipulate and schedule will take time. When God manipulates and schedules things, we need to put our seat belts on and hang on.
Our church is in the process of starting a huge medical ministry. Right now, we are in the vision, organization, and information gathering stage. We are looking at several mobile medical ministry units operating at one time. This is huge. The state of Texas has 24% of its residents who have no medical insurance. In 2004, Harris County had a rate of 31% of its residents without medical insurance. That is who we are looking at serving. People are coming out of the woodwork. When we talk to people, they say that they have been praying for this already and we have some who give us names of doctors and professionals who are looking at getting involved.
We can see that God is at work in this area already. It will be something to see how fast this will be organized and operating.
Tomorrow: Joshua Warns the Leaders – Joshua 23:1-16
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Ultimate Consequences – Joshua 7:1-26
Joshua 7:1-26 (New Living Translation)
Ai Defeats the Israelites
1 But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the LORD. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the LORD was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.
2 Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. 3 When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”
4 So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai 5 chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.
6 Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the LORD until evening. 7 Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign LORD, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! 8 Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? 9 For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”
10 But the LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12 That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.
13 “Get up! Command the people to purify themselves in preparation for tomorrow. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Hidden among you, O Israel, are things set apart for the LORD. You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.
14 “In the morning you must present yourselves by tribes, and the LORD will point out the tribe to which the guilty man belongs. That tribe must come forward with its clans, and the LORD will point out the guilty clan. That clan will then come forward, and the LORD will point out the guilty family. Finally, each member of the guilty family must come forward one by one. 15 The one who has stolen what was set apart for destruction will himself be burned with fire, along with everything he has, for he has broken the covenant of the LORD and has done a horrible thing in Israel.”
16 Early the next morning Joshua brought the tribes of Israel before the LORD, and the tribe of Judah was singled out. 17 Then the clans of Judah came forward, and the clan of Zerah was singled out. Then the families of Zerah came forward, and the family of Zimri was singled out. 18 Every member of Zimri’s family was brought forward person by person, and Achan was singled out.
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.”
20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. 21 Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.”
22 So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achanad said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. 23 They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the LORD.
24 Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. 25 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The LORD will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. 26 They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the LORD was no longer angry.
This is the passage I have been waiting for since Sunday. Our pastor preached on this passage during our worship service this past Sunday. This passage is so rich with insight into the laws of God.
First, the Israelites just pulled off a stunning victory with the defeat of Jericho. However, they came away with nothing or so they thought. Remember, God’s law is that the first of everything belongs to Him. So, they go on about the business of claiming the Canaan land as their own. They go to the next town. Joshua sends spies into Ai. They come back with the report that it will be a cinch to defeat Ai so they will only need about 3,000 men.
They head off to battle and before they even get to the town they are routed and 36 men are killed. Apparently, the Israelites didn’t have that many killed at Jericho because verse 5 says that they were paralyzed with fear. Joshua and the elders start mourning and asking God why they were brought out of Egypt. What they actually did was start whining. I don’t think God likes whiners too well. He proceeded to tell them to get up and stop your whining. That’s my paraphrase. He told them that there was sin in the camp.
If they didn’t address the sin in the camp then He would leave them. God doesn’t put up with those that violate His explicit laws. Never since the day of Moses was there a census like the one Joshua took. The Israelites came by Joshua tribe by tribe, clan by clan, and family by family, until the sinner was found. Achan confessed as to exactly what he took.
Not only was Achan sentenced to death by stoning, but his whole family and all of his livestock. Everything and everybody was killed. Then everything he owned and all of his family were burned. Achan thought he would gain a little by disobeying God’s law, but he lost everything. So the question comes to us. Are we whining to God about things that aren’t going right when we have sin in the camp? Can we look to this one law and see where God isn’t getting the first of everything? Do we give the first ten percent or tithe of our paychecks? Do we give ten percent of our time? If we are struggling from paycheck to paycheck, can we say that we take ten percent of our gross salary and give it to God? Or do we take the leftovers after the bills are paid and give it to God as a token?
God said that if we would give Him the first of everything, we would see success in all we do. Don’t go whining to God or whining to your pastor or elders until you take stock of this law of God. If you can assure yourself and others that you are completely following this law, then ask for prayer of whatever situation you have.
Tomorrow: The Longest Day – Joshua 10:1-15
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
The Battle of Jericho – Joshua 5:13 – 6:27
Joshua 5:13-6:27 (New Living Translation)
The LORD’s Commander Confronts Joshua
13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.”
At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
15 The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told.
The Fall of Jericho
1 Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. 2 But the LORD said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. 3 You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. 4 Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. 5 When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”
6 So Joshua called together the priests and said, “Take up the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant, and assign seven priests to walk in front of it, each carrying a ram’s horn.” 7 Then he gave orders to the people: “March around the town, and the armed men will lead the way in front of the Ark of the LORD.”
8 After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the rams’ horns started marching in the presence of the LORD, blowing the horns as they marched. And the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant followed behind them. 9 Some of the armed men marched in front of the priests with the horns and some behind the Ark, with the priests continually blowing the horns. 10 “Do not shout; do not even talk,” Joshua commanded. “Not a single word from any of you until I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 11 So the Ark of the LORD was carried around the town once that day, and then everyone returned to spend the night in the camp.
12 Joshua got up early the next morning, and the priests again carried the Ark of the LORD. 13 The seven priests with the rams’ horns marched in front of the Ark of the LORD, blowing their horns. Again the armed men marched both in front of the priests with the horns and behind the Ark of the LORD. All this time the priests were blowing their horns. 14 On the second day they again marched around the town once and returned to the camp. They followed this pattern for six days.
15 On the seventh day the Israelites got up at dawn and marched around the town as they had done before. But this time they went around the town seven times. 16 The seventh time around, as the priests sounded the long blast on their horns, Joshua commanded the people, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the town! 17 Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the LORD. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.
18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. 19 Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the LORD and must be brought into his treasury.”
20 When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. 21 They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys.
22 Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, “Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.”
23 The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.
24 Then the Israelites burned the town and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the LORD’s house. 25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.
26 At that time Joshua invoked this curse:
“May the curse of the LORD fall on anyone
who tries to rebuild the town of Jericho.
At the cost of his firstborn son,
he will lay its foundation.
At the cost of his youngest son,
he will set up its gates.”
27 So the LORD was with Joshua, and his reputation spread throughout the land.
Some people think that the destruction of Jericho was too harsh. Why would a loving God call for the destruction of people, animals and buildings? Isn’t that a waste of valuable resources? We have to remember that God is a just God as well. He has set principles and laws into motion since the creation of the world. One of the laws that God set in place was the law of the first fruits. We are to give God the first part of everything. This is the principle of the tithe. The first ten percent belongs to God; that is the first, not the last.
There are some things that God had called unclean and some things that are clean. God had said to redeem everything that was unclean such as a donkey with something that was clean such as a lamb. Or if you didn’t redeem it, you needed to break its neck. That kind of seems harsh as well. Except God’s law basically states that whatever belongs to God doesn’t belong to me. If I have something that belongs to God and I haven’t redeemed it, then it is worthless in my hand. However if I redeem it, then it is of good use to me.
Jericho was the first of many cities to be defeated. There would be many more cities and plunder to be used for personal use. Since Jericho belonged to God, it was unclean to the Israelites. This was God’s fight and not the Israelites. We’ll see tomorrow where somebody breaks this law of God and the curse that is brought upon the camp.
We all need to take stock and see what we are using and keeping that belongs to God. We need to look at our time, our treasures, and our talents. Are we giving the first part of everything to God? Are we redeeming our time, treasure, and talents by giving it to God? Just think, the first ten percent belongs to God and He lets me keep ninety percent.
Tomorrow: Ultimate Consequences – Joshua 7:1-26
Monday, April 07, 2008
The Invasion of Canaan – Joshua 3:1-17
Joshua 3:1-17 (New Living Translation)
The Israelites Cross the Jordan
1 Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing. 2 Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, 3 giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them. 4 Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”
5 Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you.”
6 In the morning Joshua said to the priests, “Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.” And so they started out and went ahead of the people.
7 The LORD told Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites. They will know that I am with you, just as I was with Moses. 8 Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’”
9 So Joshua told the Israelites, “Come and listen to what the LORD your God says. 10 Today you will know that the living God is among you. He will surely drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, G i r g a s h i t e s, Amorites, and Jebusites ahead of you. 11 Look, the Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River! 12 Now choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 The priests will carry the Ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”
14 So the people left their camp to cross the Jordan, and the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them. 15 It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, 16 the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea[c] until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho.
17 Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
When the Israelites left the land of slavery, God parted the waters. Now, when they entered the land of promise God parted the waters. We have to remember that this is a new generation. All of the original people who fled Egypt had died in the wilderness. This generation was experiencing God’s greatness in a personal way. We will see in a couple of studies how this effects the Israelites after the battle of Ai.
We need to experience God’s greatness personally. We can’t live on our parents’ relationships with God. We can live on our grandparents’ relationships with God. We each have to ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. When we do this, Jesus abides in us and we in Him. This is great. Just as the Ark of the Covenant led the children through the river, God will lead us.
Some of us are leaders or are going to be leaders. We need to take heed to the Levites carrying the Ark. When Joshua gave the command, the Levites stepped into the water and as soon as the sole of the first foot touched the water, the river dried up. It wasn’t like when God parted the Red Sea. There wasn’t a wind that blew all night and dried it up. This was instantaneous. They couldn’t wait for the river to dry up first before they walked. They weren’t even told that the river would dry up. So, how much faith does it take to step into the storm? It is like going into a burning building to rescue somebody and as soon as you enter the house, the house fire stops. Consider the faith that it takes to do that.
We have to know that when God is on our side, He will take care of us. If we are in a prison cell and God wants us out, He will make a way. Just ask Paul and Silas.
Tomorrow: The Battle of Jericho – Joshua 5:13 – 6:27
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