Monthly Archives: January 2013
Sometimes I have to wonder if Joshua had any doubt about the plan that God laid out for him. After all, in Joshua chapter 6, here is what God told him would happen.
Jos 6:2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
Jos 6:3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
Jos 6:4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
Jos 6:5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
If I was going to be going to war against a city with giant walls, I think that I would be bringing battering rams and catapults.
Instead, God told them that they really didn’t have to do anything militaristic. March around the city once per day, and on the seventh day, blow the trumpets, make all of the people yell and the walls will fall down.
I know that I tend to over complicate things, and Joshua was smart not to do that. He could have obviously tried to overrun the city with military force. That would’ve been the world’s wisdom. After all, you take an army to conquer a city.
However, God had a plan. This plan would not only help the Israelites conquered Jericho, but it would also demonstrate that the honor obviously went to God. The people could not have done that on their own.
I think that is something that I need to remember. God provides many solutions as we look through the Bible. His wisdom is much greater than the world’s wisdom.
I had forgotten about the angelic encounter in Joshua chapter 5. Let me give you the verses right away, and then we can take a look at them.
Jos 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
Jos 5:14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
Jos 5:15 And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
Joshua apparently did not realize this was an angel right away. The reason I say that is because he did not respond with the terror that most people exhibited when they met angels.
As soon as they began speaking, the angel explained who he was, and Joshua all of a sudden bowed down and asked what God wanted him to do.
He knew that the angel came to him for a reason. Angels don’t generally appear spontaneously. God has a purpose for sending them to talk to people.
This particular angel only had one thing to say. If you look ahead to the next chapter, the angel had gone away. All that he had to tell Joshua was that the ground was holy.
It is kind of funny that the message was so simple, but I think that the angel was preparing Joshua for what would happen next. As we all know, we are getting very close to the battle of Jericho which wasn’t very much of a battle.
Perhaps God just wanted to remind him that this land was not only given by God but also blessed by God. All of the success that the people of Israel were about to have was also directly from God. It is not that Joshua was arrogant whatsoever, but maybe God just wanted to emphasize without a shadow of a doubt that He was there and was powerful.
Joshua chapter 4 made me think about the importance of leaving a legacy. Obviously, it is important to help others and make a difference while we are actually engaged with people, but it is possible to have an even longer term impact.
Jos 4:6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
Jos 4:7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
Of course, these verses bring up something that I purposely did not mention in my opening paragraph. The legacy that we leave should point people directly to God.
It is nice to have people remember us as individuals positively, but it is ultimately more important that they remember that we followed God. Maybe they will remember that we were always kind to people who were not kind to us, or maybe they will remember that we had some type of peacefulness that no one could explain but was always there.
This is the type of legacy that we all should want to leave behind. We should want people to remember something through us that would point them to God.
As a slight digression, our legacy does not need to wait until we die. When we meet someone and perhaps will never see them again, what they remember about us is somewhat our legacy. I am using the term here to mean what people remember about us whether we are alive or not.
I would challenge all of us to think about what we are doing in our lives. When people think about each one of us, are we helping to point them towards Jesus, or are they really not noticing anything different? Even though it is often easier to fit in, I hope that we all stand out.
The first real signal that Moses was in charge of the Israelites came when God parted the Red Sea. Obviously, there were all of the plagues in Israel before that that Moses was intimately involved in and had knowledge of, but I would argue that parting the Red Sea really demonstrated that God was with Moses and wanted him to lead the people.
In Joshua chapter three, a very similar event takes place. God told Joshua said that he would let the people of Israel know he was still with them and particularly with Joshua.
Jos 3:7 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
God’s plan involves parting the Jordan River this time.
Jos 3:14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
Jos 3:15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
Jos 3:16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
Jos 3:17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
I think that we all need this type of reminder every now and then even though we probably shouldn’t. Sometimes, our faith can be shaken, and we need assurance that God is still with us and has not forgotten us.
Now, in my life, I have never had a river simply open up in front of me. I think that would be really awesome, and I kind of hope that does happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.
However, I think that God can also work in much more subtle ways. Sometimes, all it takes is a Bible verse that we find when we randomly open our Bibles that speaks directly to our situation. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people provide similar experiences, and it reminds me that God has a purpose. It wasn’t random for Him.
Miracles happen every day, and sometimes we don’t notice them because of our perspective. We need to be aware and understand all that God can and wants to do for us.
Joshua chapter two contains one of the more well-known Bible stories. The Israelites spies snuck into Jericho, and Rahab protected them from the soldiers that were looking for them.
Of course, in effect, she was committing treason. I don’t know a lot about the law in Jericho, but I assume that she would have faced a severe punishment if they knew that she was hiding the enemy.
However, she still decided to go through it, and she explained a little bit of why she went through with that.
Jos 2:9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
Jos 2:10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
Jos 2:11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
Jos 2:12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token:
Jos 2:13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.
The Israelites and specifically God has already acquired a reputation. She knew that whenever they came to a city, they overran it. In fact, even though Jericho had giant walls, she apparently knew that somehow, those defenses would fail.
She recognized that God had more power than any city. Even though she surely did not worship God at this time, she recognized that there was something different about the God of the Israelites. She knew that whatever god she was worshiping at the time in Jericho was virtually powerless.
Even someone who would surely not have identified as a follower of God recognized His incredible power and knew that it was better to be on His side.
How much more then should those of us who know God have faith in his power? Shouldn’t we realize that He can get us through anything? If Rahab was willing to commit treason, we should at least be willing to trust God Himself to control our lives.
Welcome to Joshua. In chapter 1, Joshua had just been handed the power to lead Israel into the Promised Land. I have a feeling that he must have been a little bit nervous. After all, leading an entire nation involves a lot of responsibility.
However, it must’ve been good for him to hear God telling that everything would be all right. Literally hearing from God would do something for my confidence.
Jos 1:5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Jos 1:6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
Jos 1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
Jos 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Jos 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
I know there is a lot here, but let’s break it down by verse. Verse five guarantees military success. No one would be able to stand before him and the people of Israel. That was probably one of his biggest fears since the people of Israel trembled in fear last time they considered going into the Promised Land.
Verse six then guarantees this success one more time. He told Joshua that he would be the one to allocate the land to the tribes of Israel. He could only do that if he was able to conquer the entire land. That is one more assurance there would not be a problem.
Verse seven does add a condition to this success. He needed to continue following God. I would hope that this would be rather obvious given all that we have been talking about through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Particularly, everything at the end of Deuteronomy where you can receive blessings for following God and curses for not following Him should make this self-evident.
The same thought is kind of continued in verse eight. Joshua is instructed to learn the law. This is a lot like how we are assigned to learn the Bible. Obviously, it is a good thing to know the word of God so that you can follow Him. After all, how can you follow what you do not know?
Finally, verse nine wraps everything up with a summary of all that we have talked about. You do not need to fear because God is with you.
As much as this applied to Joshua, it applies to you and me as well. We have God dwelling in us, and we do not need to fear anything. I really liked this passage, and I’m sure that Joshua did too.
Well, today is our final day in Deuteronomy which also marks our final day in the Books of the Law.
In chapter 34, Moses finally passes away, and the final verses of the entire book speak to the service that Moses had performed for Israel and God.
Deu 34:10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,
Deu 34:11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,
Deu 34:12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.
There were a lot of prophets who would come down the road in Israel. However, Moses was the only one who literally knew God face-to-face. He led the nation of Israel through what was one of the most difficult times in their history, and he almost always did what God told him to do.
The final verse stood out to me as well. Moses might have been a powerful man on earth, but he still showed God all the respect that He deserved. He was able to keep his perspective and recognize that all of his power came directly from God. He knew that he was blessed, and he knew that he had a subsequent responsibility to follow God’s will.
I just have a few takeaways then as we depart from the first five books of the Bible.
I have been struck by the synergy between these books and the New Testament. Obviously, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ changed everything in terms of the sacrificial system, but at the same time, many of the same attitudes of praising God, living rightly and loving other people have been almost identical to their New Testament counterparts.
I know that it can be easy to fall into the trap of somehow believing that the Old Testament is not important. After all, Jesus is what really matters, and He is in the New Testament.
I would argue however that I have tried to point you to clear references to Jesus from all of these books. By reading the whole Bible, we can have a better understanding of the entire character of God. We still cannot comprehend the entire character of God, but the Old Testament, and particularly these five books, have helped me so far.
Deuteronomy 33 was obviously written far before the birth of Jesus, but I found a passage that felt very much like it could have fit into the New Testament with a few modifications.
Deu 33:29 Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.
The modification that I was referring to is obviously the fact that we can all be people saved by the Lord now. The gift of salvation is available to Jews and Gentiles.
Because of the similarity, I think that we can see a very important truth. We are people saved by the Lord, so we should be happy. We all try to pursue happiness in a variety of ways, but God is the only one who can provide unlimited and eternal happiness.
Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Now, if we combine my previous thought with this verse from Isaiah, it is possible to conclude that the happiness that we receive from being a child of God is also satisfaction.
I think that this is an important distinction.
In earthly terms, there are always more things that we could want. We might want a new house, a new car or really anything else.
However, when we are saved by God, we have all of God that we will ever have. We will definitely learn to recognize the will of God more strongly, but God is with us all the time. It is not like we can want to have more of Him. That is why God can be satisfying.
So, even though the verse I gave you from Deuteronomy was speaking to the children of Israel, we can think about the same thing today. God brings us happiness, and we should not be trying to find that same feeling anywhere else.
I like how God essentially issues a challenge in the middle of Deuteronomy 32. He obviously knows that He is the only God, but not everyone believed that.
Deu 32:36 For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
Deu 32:37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
Deu 32:38 Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
Deu 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
This is very much like Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In a similar way, he challenged them to actually have their own gods answer their requests. Needless to say, they did not respond, and when Elijah prayed to God, He did respond.
In verse 39, it is also interesting that God holds life and death. That encompasses the whole of the human experience. We really don’t have any other option. Therefore, it logically follows that there is nowhere we can go and not have God with us.
Now, that can be a comfort for those of us that know and love Him.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
He is not just one of many gods. He is the only God.
Deuteronomy 31 is the beginning of a transition. Moses is beginning to hand over the leadership of the Israelites to Joshua, but he has a few words to say before he is actually done with his mission.
Deu 31:2 And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
Deu 31:3 The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said.
I like this passage because it speaks directly to the number one problem plaguing Israel and the reason that they had not already claimed the Promised Land.
They were afraid. Even though God had promised them a long time ago that they would have this inheritance, they continued to doubt and worry about everything.
Moses is saying here that you cannot do that anymore. In verse three, he is saying what God will do. Notice that there is no doubt there. He is not talking about what God might do. He knows that God will do it, and he knows that the people of Israel will have their inheritance.
We also have promises from God, and there are hundreds of them interspersed throughout the Bible. Therefore, we do not need to fear either. God does indeed have a plan for our lives. How do I know that?
He promised it. Given His track record on fulfilling promises, I have no reason to doubt.
Isa 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.