Canaanite Daylight Savings Time

May 11, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Joshua | 1 Comment
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In Chapter 9 Joshua concluded an uneasy peace treaty with the Gibeonites. Previously, God used a failed attack on Ai as the springboard for a greater victory that followed. Now He would use Joshua’s mistake in failing to pray for wisdom and in falling for the trickery of the Gibeonites as the basis for a much easier and faster campaign of conquest against the southern nations of Canaan. These nations lived in walled cities, so a series of seiges would have proven costly and time-consuming, but:

Wherefore Adonizedec king of Jerusalem, sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.

Joshua 10:3-4

What was supposed to have been an alliance to oppose the Israelites turned into a revenge-team-up against Gibeon. The leaders of Gibeon, naturally, turned immediately to their newly-formed covenant with Joshua and called for help.

And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.

Joshua 10:6-9

How would the Israelites defeat the concerted forces of all these nations at once? They would do it the same way they had accomplished everything that had been successful for them since crossing into Canaan: by courageously believing God’s Word and acting upon it in faith.

These principles of courage and conquest are linked in the Christian life , as well. We believe God, we act in accord with our belief, and we overcome our enemies (sin and Satan) in God’s power.

How did God demonstrate His power in this particular situation? First, He physically and miraculously and personally joined the battle.

And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.

Joshua 10:10

The Lord is metaphorically described as the warrior doing the actual fighting. He threw the enemy into confusion and chased them.

And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.

Joshua 10:11

At first it sounds like God threw boulders from the sky, but then they are revealed to have been hailstones. These accounted for more deaths, although the Israelites were still fighting too. This was a quadruple-miracle: (1) the supernatural confusion of the enemy troops; (2) the successful fighting of the Israelites against presumably superior numbers; (3) the hailstorm itself; and (4) the fact that the hailstones somehow only hit their oppoenents and not the Israelite soldiers.

Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

Joshua 10:12

This was bold on the part of Joshua, but also astute. Whatever conditions existed were favorable for the complete annihilation of the entire southern alliance of Cannan, if only the day were long enough.

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

Joshua 10:13

What exactly happened is not clear. Did the sun and moon stop shining? Did their movements change to follow the rotation of the Earth? Did the Earth’s rotation stop or significantly slow down? Did God do something supernatural concerning the refraction of light? Did He miraculously alter the tilt of the planet? God controls all elements, celestial bodies, astronomical principles of movement, light itself, and all of creation, so, however He did it, this was clearly a miracle… and yet the Bible makes it sound as if there was an even greater miracle that day: God did what He did in response to the prayer of a mortal man!

And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel.

Joshua 10:14

In a sense, Joshua was a shadow or a type of Jesus. He pointed to a time when God would answer the greatest prayers of a Man (who was also God).

And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal. But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.

Joshua 10:15-16

Joshua had these kings trapped, and he allowed them to remain there while the battle continued, but he had great stones rolled into the mouth of the cave so they not escape, and he set guards.

And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.

Joshua 10:21

All their enemies were silenced, and (note the pun) none dared open his mouth or move his tongue until Joshua commanded that the “mouth” of the cave be opened.

Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.

Joshua 10:22

He put them face-down on the ground and had the captains put their feet on their necks to demonstrate the totality of the victory, but also for an action sermon to encourage the people that this was how the Lord would cause them to treat all their future enemies in the land.

And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.

Joshua 10:25

Joshua told the people what God had told him. He didn’t elaborate or embellish. He didn’t try to “freshen up” God’s Word or get fancy with it. I hope that you are passing along to others what God has told you in the Bible. It’s worth memorizing it, or at least understanding it fully and faithfully. Paraphrasing God’s Word can be very dangerous.

Joshua put the kings to death and hanged their bodies just as he had done with the king of Ai. Then he put them back in the cave and made another memorial out of stones at the cave entrance.

And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.

Joshua 10:42-43

The Devil’s Favorite Children

May 6, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Joshua | 1 Comment
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In Joshua Chapter 8, having dealt with the sin of Achan, God’s people implemented God’s sophisticated battle plan in a second attack on Ai. This time they were successful in wiping out Ai, and God allowed them to keep the plunder. They captured Ai’s king, put him to death, and hanged his body. That chapter shows us the need for God’s wisdom not only in great endeavours, but in every endeavour. It also teaches us about the importance of killing all the sins in our lives, including the “king” of our sin – our biggest (or most favorite or most intimidating or oldest) one.

And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof;

Joshua 9:1

The alliance of these normally-antagonistic nations is a clue that Israel was now going to be facing not only earthly, military enemies, but unseen enemies in the spiritual realm. The world, the flesh, and the devil are the three main enemies of Christians, and they often join forces in concerted attacks against us.

That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.

Joshua 9:2

Satan is a divider, and he likes to try to divide the Church, but he does not mind if – and even encourages – his followers to work together in a sort of unholy unity, which is why we have to be on our guard against attempts to unify spiritual beliefs and methods through compromise.

And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;

Joshua 9:3-4

The gathering of intelligence reports and a plan involving craftiness do not, by themselves, necessarily indicate demonic activity, but the deception involved in the Gibeonites’ plan does strongly imply it. They were acting on information that was readily available through natural means, and they were pretending to be distant foreigners when in fact they were true-blue Canaanite pagans who were clearly on Joshua’s hit-list for extermination. Instead of a battle strategy, they devised a strategy of deceit. Satan is evil and illogical, but he’s not unintelligent.

And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us.

Joshua 9:5-6

The Gibeonites were lying, but their lie was supported by a kind of superficial, shallow visual evidence. I don’t want to tell you never to believe your eyes, but don’t believe your eyes to the exclusion of seeking God’s wisdom. Things are often not what they appear.

And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you? And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye?

Joshua 9:7-8

The instructions for the Canaanite conquest, found in Deuteronomy, clearly forbade making treaties and entering into covenants with the pagan inhabitants of Canaan. The instructions were courage, carnage, and conquest – they did not include compromise.

And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth.

Joshua 9:9-10

This was a smart tactic on the part of the Gibeonites. If they had really been from a faraway land, they wouldn’t have known about the destruction of Jericho and Ai, but they would have known about Egypt, Heshbon, and Bashan. They may have even known about Rahab’s successful conversion from enemy to Israelite ally, although her profession of faith in Yahweh had been genuine, and the one made by the these Gibeonite ambassadors was part of a ruse. These were sneakers masquerading as seekers, and infiltration, rather than initiation, was their goal. The devil has children of whom he is proud. They are the ones who want to hurt Chrsitians and the Church. He has other children of whom he is ashamed, such as addicts and criminals and obvious devil-worshipers who only want to hurt themselves. This is the first really clear indication that the Gibeonites had inside (probably Satanic) information. They knew about the rules in the Deuteronomic Covenant which addressed with what sorts of nations and tribes God’s people could, and could not, make treaties and covenants. They were forbidden from making treaties with their close neighbors, although they were allowed to make treaties with very distant tribes and nations.

Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy: And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.

Joshua 9:11-13

This is another clue indicating Satanic deception: a little truth was mixed in with their lies to make them palatable, and even able to withstand some shallow scrutiny. Their clothes WERE old, and their shoes WERE patched and ragged, and their wineskins WERE worn out, and their bread WAS crusty and moldy… because that’s what they brought when they left home, not because it became that way over the course of a long journey.

And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord.

Joshua 9:14

Snap decisions, unconsidered in prayer and Bible study, are very dangerous. We praise people who have the ability to “think on their feet,” but Godly wisdom comes from thinking on our knees.

And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes.

Joshua 9:18

Now Joshua and the leaders were faced with a tough decision: honor their oath which bound them to a violation of God’s will, or break their word which itself was a violation of God’s Word.

But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.

Joshua 9:19-20

They decided to honor the treaty, but:

And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them. And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us. Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.

Joshua 9:21-23 (emphasis added)

Was this really a curse, though? From the Gibeonites’ point of view, they didn’t get to keep their freedom, but they did get to keep their lives, and, in a great instance of God taking evil and sin and error and Satanic scheming, and using them for good, these Gibeonites became servants providing firewood and water for use in Tabernacle worship, continually exposing them to the great and glorious truth of Godly worship. We can only speculate, but perhaps so much proximity to the truth led at least some of them to true salvation.

Where to Find Courage

August 28, 2019 at 11:28 am | Posted in Joshua, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

Joshua 1:1-4

Moses had been used by God to lead God’s people out of bondage in Egypt. He had led them through the Red Sea. When their disobedience had caused God send them wandering into the wilderness rather than entering into the promised land, Moses had led them in the wilderness – always subject to God’s guidance, protection, and provision. All of the Israelites who had come out of Egypt and gone into the wilderness for 40 years had died – except for three: Moses himself, Joshua, and Caleb.

Joshua had been Moses’s chief military general, his close friend, and a loyal helper. When loyalty among the people had been in short supply, Joshua was the exception. He loved Moses, and, although Joshua was no longer the young man he had been when the people left Egypt, he still looked up to, and admired, Moses. Perhaps you have or have had a spiritual mentor or even sort of a hero like this in your life.

Now Moses died, too, leaving Joshua to lead in his place. How this must have devastated Joshua! Of course, God’s plans are not dependent upon even the greatest of human beings, and Joshua, although I’m sure he FELT alone, was far from BEING alone. God gave Joshua a tremendous promise.

I hope as you read this that you have been born again. If you have, then this is a promise for you, too, and it is a promise that we all desperately need, whether we realize it or not:

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.

Joshua 1:5 (emphasis added)

This promise alone would enable Joshua to do what the Lord was about to command him to do. The land across the Jordan River was not uninhabited. Spies had previously gone there to scout the terrain, and they brought back reports. Tribes and nations of warlike people lived there: Hittites and Hivites and Jebusites and Cannanites and parasites and mosquito bites and tighty whites and all sorts of less-than-friendly people. Some of them were huge warriors, giant in stature, living in walled and fortified cities designed to defeat and annihilate anyone who would challenge them. Joshua would need the promise God gave him in Verse 5 in order to do what God commanded him to do in Verse 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.

Joshua 1:6

Courage is often misunderstood. We contrast courage with fear and we believe they are opposites, but they are not. Courage does not cancel out fear, nor vice versa. Fear must be present for courage to exist. Fear is the sine qua non of courage. The Bible does not condemn the existence of reasonable feelings of fear, but it does exhort us to find the courage to OVERCOME fear. The Bible does not promise us the absence of fearful circumstances, but it does encourage us to act in faith despite our fear, rather than responding with paralysis or retreat.

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.

Joshua 1:6 (emphasis added)

1. The first place to find courage is in the promises of God.

What God has decreed will come to pass. He is not only faithful in character – which makes it impossible to for Him to lie and break His Word – but He has the omnipotent power to perform what He has promised.

There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

Joshua 21:45

And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

Joshua 23:14

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

I Thessalonians 5:24

Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

Jeremiah 1:12

The Lord stands outside of time at the place of promise and at the place of fulfillment. He comprehensively and minutely supervises His promises so that they come to pass perfectly in His impeccable timing and through His brilliantly organized, ordered, and executed circumstances. By remembering and believing in the demonstrated trustworthiness of God, you will find courage to overcome fear.

2. The second place to find courage is in obedience to the Lord’s commands.

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 withersoever thou goest.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.

Joshua 1:7-8 (emphasis added)

We tend to think of God’s commands of righteousness as burdensome and fearful things – as though they are given to us as a trap, so that, when we inevitably stumble into disobedience, God can rejoice in shaming or punishing us. This is not accurate, though. God’s commands are given to us for our safety and comfort. They are the commands of a loving Father, not a cruel and sadistic taskmaster.

But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Joshua 22:5 (emphasis added)

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

Psalm 119:97-98

God’s love and care for us are not at odds with His desire for our obedience and submission to Him. Our obedience and submission glorify Him, yes, but they are objectively the best things for us, too. We were expressly created to glorify Him, and, in doing so, we find our greatest fulfillment and freedom. Obedience to the commands given by God to you in the Bible will assure you that God loves you, and will give you the courage to overcome the fear that the world tries to use against you when it tells you that sometimes you just HAVE to cheat and disobey God to escape trouble or to prosper.

3. The third place to find courage is in the presence of the Lord even in our trials.

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.

Joshua 1:9 (emphasis added)

Joshua had lost Moses. Moses would not – could not – be with him any longer “withsoever he would goest.” No human being can give you the assurance of constant loyalty, consistency, or steadfastness, but God can – and He does. The promise of Jesus that so many of us like to claim (Hebrews 13:5) does not mean that He will start out with us, then forget about us for a while, and then come rushing back just in the nick of time (although it may seem that way from our sinful, lack-of-faith perspective). No, this is a promise to attach us to Himself permanently and to be there in the midst of our worst trials and troubles.

You will experience no greater pain or shame than what He experienced in the Cross, and He is able to comfort you and fortify you so that you can continue to trust Him through absolutely anything.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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.

Romans 8:34-39

When you feel fear, don’t try to deny it. Don’t opt for some distraction. Don’t give up and retreat. And don’t let the devil intimidate you into paralysis and inaction. Be courageous and strong by:

1. Remembering the strength of God’s promises;
2. Remembering that God has given you an assignment that is worthy of obedience;
3. Remembering that God is with you and will not forsake you.

Passing over the Passover?

October 5, 2018 at 9:28 am | Posted in Joshua, Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: It looks like the Jewish people didn’t observe the Passover any more after leaving Egypt. Why not?

Answer: I believe they did observe the Passover the very next year, but it is not clear whether they kept doing it during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Remember, they lived mainly on manna (and later quail) during that time. Joshua 5:5-15 seems to indicate that they did not celebrate it again until they entered the promised land, but the Bible doesn’t specifically state for sure whether they did or not.

What Do You Have to Do with God?

February 8, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Joshua, Luke | 4 Comments
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And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

Luke 4:33

The description “unclean devil” sounds redundant, but Luke the physician was interested in the cause of illness.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

Luke 4:34-35

Jesus sometimes warned others against making a proclamation about Who He truly was during His earthly ministry. Satan, whether or not he knew that Jesus’s great act of salvation would come “in the fullness of time” and that He was on a God-ordained schedule as He headed toward the Cross, did seem to have a desire to see Jesus arrested by the religious authorities sooner rather than later. Therefore, Jesus rebuked the demons to stop them from calling Him “the Holy One of God,” although that’s Who He truly was.

Their question, “What have we to do with thee?” was a plea to postpone their inevitable judgment, but the way it is worded in our English translation makes it sound to our modern ears like a challenge for us to consider how we are to interact with Him. In one sense, it sounds like what we say when we don’t want to be bothered by someone else: “I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” But in the other sense it sounds like we have a problem to deal with: “Now, young man, what am I going to do with you?” Let’s take a brief look at three times in Scripture when similar wording is used.

What do you “have to do do” with God?

1. You have to live in His presence and to give an account of your life to Him.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Hebrews 4:13

 

God is omniscient, but His omniscience is not a cold distant omniscience. He is also omnipresent, and His omnipresence is an intense searching omnipresence. One day, everything we’ve done will be “manifested” before Him – brought out into the open. All our deeds will be naked and open.

And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?

Luke 5:17-21

The scribes and the Pharisees weren’t interested in the power to heal. They were worried about how this healing prophet could forgive sins – because that would mean He knew what those sins were.

But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?

Luke 5:22 (emphasis added)

That He could “perceive their thoughts” is exactly what they feared!

Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

Luke 5:23-25

Not all sickness is in a one-to-one ratio with sin in the life of the sick person, but a person – like this man who was sick with palsy, and his friends – would not be deterred by pride. God forgives the sins of those who humble themselves in repentance and confess their sins. Our sins cannot be hidden from God. He knows about them already. Yet they still need to be confessed to Him.

2. You have to give an account to your loved ones of why you love Him and fear Him.

And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?

Joshua 22:24

The was a dispute between the tribes of Israel over an altar, and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh protested their innocence and appealed to their future posterity as proof that they recognized their part of the Covenant with God. The people you go to church with know you (hopefully), and the people you work with know you, and your neighbors and the parents of your kids’ friends know you, but nobody (except God) knows you like your family. If someone asked your kids, “What does your dad ‘have to do with God?’” (and you weren’t there to monitor the answer) what would they say? If someone asked your spouse, “What does your spouse ‘have to do with God?'” (and you weren’t there to monitor the answer) what would he or she say?

In Luke 5 Jesus was teaching and preaching on Peter’s fishing boat, And He commanded Peter to launch out into the deep where it was unlikely they would catch fish during the day. Peter obeyed and let down the net even though he had been fishing all night the night before and hadn’t caught anything. When he did this he caught so many that the net broke.

For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.  And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Luke 5:9-11 (emphasis added)

And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. 

Luke 5:27-28 (emphasis added)

What do you think they told their families? What do you think their families thought that they “had to do” with Jesus? They forsook all for Him. He said “follow Me,” and there was no doubt in their minds about whether they should “follow,” because they had caught a revelation of the “Me.”

3. You have to tremble before His holiness.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

Mark 1:24

Peter and the Disciples were going to follow Jesus, but they weren’t going to be “partners.” As already noted, they were more motivated by the “Me” than by the “follow.”

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

Luke 5:8

The most glaring difference between Peter and Jesus is the same glaring difference between Jesus and me. Jesus never sinned; I sin all the time. Peter recognized that Jesus was God and immediately became horrified over his own sin. Maybe the better question than what do “I” have to do with God, and even better than what do I “HAVE” to do with God, is what do I have to do with GOD? Is He my kind and loving Heavenly Father? Yes! Is He merciful and gracious toward me? Yes! Is He longsuffering and patient with me time and time again? Yes! But He is also the sovereign Lord of Glory, the maker of Heaven and Earth, the Alpha and Omega – beginning and end – and I dare not forget that He holds me in a hand so holy, so righteous, so worthy, so powerful – that it would dangerous to lapse into a careless familiarity, or to casually presume upon His grace.

Lord, help us to love and to fear you. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

 

Beware of Forsaking Formalities

November 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Joshua, The Fives | 3 Comments
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New Testament Christianity is predicated upon each individual having a real relationship with Jesus. You do not become a Christian by joining a church, reciting an oath, signing a document, getting baptized, or performing any type of rite, ritual, or work.

Under the Old Covenant, however, the rite of circumcision was a key part of being one of God’s people. In fact, God required that all Jewish male babies be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth. During the time of the “wilderness wandering” after their deliverance from Egypt, this rite, though, was not practiced. Therefore, when the existing generation had died out, and Joshua finally led the people into the promised land of Canaan, God commanded that they re-institute the procedure.

Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

Joshua 5:5

Christians today are not required to be circumcised or uncircumcised, but we may still apply a spiritual principle from the original purpose for the procedure. God’s people are supposed to be set apart from the world around us when it comes to our “conversation:” the way we live our lives on a daily basis. We are supposed to be holy, and we should be known for practicing certain “formalities.” Do your neighbors see you heading to church each week at the same time? Are you known for giving thanks for your food before you eat it? Are you in the habit of answering questions about moral matters with quotations from Scripture? We don’t want to stumble into legalism and act as though we achieve a higher standing with God because of our “good works” or spiritual disciplines. Nor do we want prayer, worship, and Bible study to be mere formalities (without any substantive impact on our lives). However, it will be good for us to remember that the things that God has commanded us to do in response to His grace, and in response to His love for us, may sometimes be improved by a little solemnity and ceremony as we seek to be consistent in our walk with Him.

The Stones of Curiosity

February 15, 2013 at 10:36 am | Posted in Joshua, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 17 Comments
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Joshua was leading a new generation out of the wilderness and into the promised land of Canaan. Only he and Caleb were still alive from the old generation to see God’s chosen people finally cross the Jordan River. Despite what many of the old hymns proclaim, this is not a picture in Scripture of making it to Heaven. There were still battles, wars, enemies, and obstacles to be overcome in Canaan; there will be no wars in Heaven. No, the crossing over into the promised land is a picture of believers claiming their inheritance in the Lord, and receiving the promises of confidence and assurance by faith.

The priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant went down into the Jordan and God stopped the waters like He had done at the Red Sea. The people crossed as on dry land. Then the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him to choose twelve men – one from each tribe – to gather big stones and put them in the river at the place where the priests had stood.

Some Bible scholars believe that this was to be a symbol of faith in the unseen. Once the stones were in place, the waters of the Jordan would cover them up, and future generations would believe by faith that they were there. Others argue that the stones would only become visible in times of drought when the water went down – to remind people to be faithful during hard times, and to trust God to send water – life-giving water – which would once again conceal the stones.

http://daughterbydesign.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/a-memorial-to-gods-faithfulness-josh-4.jpg?w=365&h=260

It is generally agreed that these stones were to be some kind of memorial, and, as they say, either of those interpretations “will preach.” As Christians today, we should set up memorials in our own lives to remind us of the great things God has done, but we must not make idols of God’s past accomplishments. God can do even greater things in the future.

What I want to do is look a little closer at the passage of Scripture.

And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: 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?

Joshua 4:5-6 (emphasis added)

We can imagine children asking their fathers, “Dad, what mean these stones? Dad, I want to know about those stones – there in the river. People still talk about them. Tell me again why they’re there.” But that is not precisely what Joshua 4:6 is telling us.

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?

Joshua 4:6 (emphasis added)

That’s the question for us today, dads, grandpas, Christian men. The question is not, “What do these stones mean?” The question is, “What do these stones mean TO YOU..?” Because that’s what our children are really wanting to know. “Dad, what does that Cross mean to you? Is it just a decoration? Just something to wear on a chain? Just a design on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker? A bookmark in your Bible? A tattoo for rock stars?” I don’t think we should ever stray from the theological truth of the Cross, but our children need more than a theological discourse. They need to know more than what the Cross means. They need to know what it means TO ME.

Whenever God has entrusted you to fulfill some responsibility for your family the right way, and you don’t want to do it, the devil or the world has someone waiting in the wings who will be glad to do it the wrong way. Satan could explain the theological meaning of that Cross far better than any of us could. He could tell us exactly what that Cross means. He could tell us more about that Cross than we ever thought we knew. What your son – your daughter – your grandchildren – want to know is, “What means this Cross TO YOU?”

“Why do we go to church, Dad?”
“Because of that Cross, and what happened there.”

“Why do you sing songs about God and Jesus, Dad?”
“Because of what happened to Jesus on that Cross – and what happened to Him after they took His body down.”

“Why do we do things differently from the other kids at school, Dad? Why can’t we go to those kinds of movies? Why can’t we listen to that kind of music? Why can’t we dress like everyone else? Why can’t we say some words? Why do have to have a Bible study in our house, Dad? Why do we have to say our prayers and pray before we eat?”
“Because of that Cross. Because of what that Cross means to me – and what I want it to mean to you.”

The King of this universe – the One True God – the Creator of everything – came to die on that Cross for me – and for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your children – your whole family – are not watching you. They want to know what is important to you. You must have a desire for your Father if you want to be “a” father.

We must bring the Cross of Jesus Christ into our daily lives and everyday conversations – especially with our children.

“Dad, they told us in school that the earth revolves around the sun, and the earth rotates.”
“That’s true, sweetie, but did your teacher tell you that the earth doesn’t just rotate – it ‘repents’ – over and over again – it turns to darkness, and then back to light. And the sun is like God – it shines its glory. Did she tell you about the moon? We want to be like the moon. The moon reflects the glory of the sun onto the part of the earth (the world) that’s turned away from the sun. We need to be ‘moonlight’ Christians. We don’t care about shining our own light. We just want to reflect God’s light on a dark world.”

You can have conversations like this with your children if you are prepared – if the “stones” that memorialize what Christ has done in your life provoke your children to curiosity.

Watch Out for Pretenders

June 4, 2009 at 9:26 am | Posted in Biblical neighbors, Joshua | 16 Comments
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Joshua was the great general, who had, by faith in God’s promises, led God’s people into Canaan, the Promised Land. Joshua had a “hit-list” of enemies. God’s instructions were to not appease his ungodly neighbors, but rather to conquer and destroy them.

The Gibeonites, hearing of this (possibly through the influence of Satan), devised a plan to trick Joshua. Taking on the disguise of weary but friendly travelers, they pretended to be something that they were not. The Bible describes Joshua’s dealings with them:

And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them.

Joshua 9:15-16

God ultimately blessed Joshua for keeping his oath, by using these circumstances to bring about a great victory. However, it is clear that Joshua’s discerning by sight, rather than faith, had been a mistake. We must learn from this. Although the Christian’s orders today are not to destroy our neighbors, we must beware of “sneakers,” who are pretending to be “seekers.” Take time to consult the Lord in prayer before placing your trust in strangers, regardless of how harmless they may appear.

Spending Your Retirement on Your Children

May 20, 2009 at 9:39 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, Joshua | 10 Comments
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At the age of 85, Caleb, who, along with Joshua, had survived the wilderness wandering in fulfillment of the promise of the Lord, might have felt a desire in his flesh to retire. However, instead of seeking an earthly “retirement plan,” he continued to wholly follow the Lord.

And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.

Joshua 14:10-12

Caleb apparently had little desire for physical “rest,” preferring instead the spiritual rest that comes with conquering mountains and overcoming giants in the name of the Lord. Caleb’s faith allowed him to claim valuable property for his family. Even his daughter, no doubt influenced by her father’s Godly leadership, followed his example of faith.

And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.

Joshua 15:18-19

We must never underestimate the effect that our walk with the Lord has on our children.


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