Archive for September 9th, 2009

Joshua 6

Joshua 6 tells us the story of Jericho.  It is a familiar one for most of us, but let’s look at what happens.  Jericho was “shut up tight” – no one could come out or in.  It was well fortified and the fight to overtake it would have been very long and drawn out.  After all, they knew the Israelites were coming for some time so they had plenty of time to prepare for a siege.  But God is not about waiting them out.  He instructs Joshua to have his army march around the city once a day for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day.  Can you imagine the response from the people?  You want us to get up and walk around the walls of the city again today?  We walked this yesterday?  It is high and there are no weaknesses.  Why are we doing this?  But not only were they to walk, they were to do with with “not so much as a whisper”.  So for six days I get up and get in line to walk around the city with my mouth shut.  This is not a fifteen minute walk either.  It is a long ways around.  But the people did it.  Joshua was “up early the next morning” each day preparing for the trek around the city.  Day seven comes and the people do their walk seven times, only this time at the end of round seven the priests blow the trumpets and the people all shout in unison.

 So what happens?  The walls came tumbling down.  The spies who had stayed with Rahab earlier immediately get her and her family out of town safely.  Everyone else is killed and the spoils all put into God’s house.  But the “walls fell at once” when the people completed the task God gave them to do.  This would not have happened had they not been obedient.  The result occurred because they obeyed God completely.  If they had only done it 6 times, my guess is they could have shouted all day and nothing would have happened.  God is really focused on obedience – complete and absolute obedience – His way, not ours.  Joshua knew that and led the people that way.  And the results were as advertised.  God was true to His Word.  The walls fell, they took over the city that many believed could not be taken, and they were well on their way to having the Promised Land God had promised to their parents and grandparents.  The key statement in this chapter comes as we wrap up: “God was with Joshua.  He became famous all over the land”.  God’s power goes with His obedient people.  God was with Joshua because he obeyed and walked with Him.  It continues to be with him, just like it was with Moses, because of obedience.  That is the key.  If we want God’s power in our lives, the formula is pretty darn simple.  We need to obey.  We need to walk with Him and do what He instructs us to do.  We need to get up each day with that as our mission for the day.  We serve the same God.  He has the same power and desire to pour that out on us.  We just need to focus on the obedience part of the equation.

Joshua 5

Joshua 5 is another step in preparing God’s people to take the Promised Land.  They have safely crossed the Jordan river and are now on the other side.  The kings that occupied this land heard of their passage and “their hearts sank, the courage drained out of them”.  They knew that resisting would be of no profit – after all if God is for this people how can they possibly stop them.  Joshua is instructed to “make stone knives and circumcise the people of Israel a second time”.  Remember that all the men who had been old enough had died on the journey, so none of these men had been circumcised.  I can only imagine the whining and struggle that would have been happening.  Men are pretty lousy as patients, so Joshua had quite a task on his hands.  And Using stone knives really wouldn’t have been all that convenient either.  So they stop and take care of this task – every last man.  After spending some time healing, they celebrated Passover and then “started eating the produce of that country”.  No more manna, and soon as they started to eat from the land, “the manna stopped”.  God had faithfully provided for them for over 40 years and now they were changing diet to the food of the land.  Can you imagine the excitement going on here?  No more eating the stuff they had loved to hate. 

After Joshua had finished the task God gave him, he “looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword.   That had to be a bit of a surprise.  Joshua asked who he was and learned he was “commander of God’s army”.  That really got Joshua’s attention.  He “fell, face to the ground and worshiped”.  No more questions, no discussion, no talk of strategy.  He realized who this was and the power he had being God’s commander.  Joshua didn’t stop – he just worshiped.  When Joshua finally got his wits and asked what to do – he was ordered to “take your sandals off your feet….the place you are standing is holy”.  That is not exactly what he probably expected, but it was God’s command.  Get your bearings straight about who is in charge of this operation Joshua.  God will lead the way.  It isn’t about your might, your leadership or your ability as a commander.  All that is already under control. This is all about obedience to God.  Do you live that way?  Realizing that God has already handled the difficult stuff and all you have to do is obey?

Joshua 4

Joshua 4 records what happened when “the whole nation was finally across”.  Can you imagine this trek.  The priests walk out into the middle of a flowing river and the water stops and then all the people are to step into the dried up river bed and head to the other side.  Remember that none of these folks save Joshua and a few others were around for the crossing through the Red Sea some 40 plus years earlier.  So they likely had heard of it, but this had to be a bit intimidating.  But they did cross and Joshua wanted to make sure they didn’t forget it.  He selected one man from each tribe to go into the middle of the river and collect a stone to “mark the occasion…a permanent memorial” to God’s presence.  They were to deal with the question that children were bound to ask: “what are these stones to you”?  The poor priests had to continue standing in the middle of the river “until everything God had instructed Joshua to tell the people to do was done”.  That has to be a rather overwhelming task.  Can you imagine how that water looked backed up raging and waiting to be able to resume its flow.  But these guys stood firm and stayed until Joshua commanded them to come up out of the river.  “As soon as the soles of the priest’s feet touched dry land, the Jordan’s waters resumed their flow”.  How’s that for God’s power.  Soon as their feet touched the water it stopped, and as soon as they left it things flowed.  Unbelievable and powerful God we serve.

 Something else happened during this crossing that is important.  It was Joshua’s first gig as leader.  “God made Joshua great that day in the eyes of all Israel….they were in awe of him”.  This is a big deal for a new leader.  God started him out on the right foot and he was given the gift of achievement with an exclamation point.  No one would challenge his leadership now.  Who else save Moses can stop the water and do what Joshua did.  But Joshua doesn’t take the credit.  He makes it clear that it happened “so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong God’s rescuing hand is and so that you would hold God in solemn reverence always”.  Joshua knew his place as leader, and that was not to take the glory or credit for what had happened.  He recognized his role was that of being an instrument in God’s hand, not the one who made it happen.  That is a very important distinction for all of us to keep in mind.  We don’t really make anything happen as a leader.  We are given the opportunity to be used by God to change the world as He directs and intends if we are walking humbly in obedience.  But we must never take credit for what happens on our own.  It isn’t us, it is Him.  He alone is worthy to be praised.  Joshua gets that right and creates a marker to make sure the people don’t forget it either.  That is one of the key roles of leadership – to point people to the ultimate truth and make sure they remember!

Joshua 3

Joshua’s big day has arrived in chapter 3.  This is the day he is to lead the children of God across the Jordan.  He “was up early” and got after it.  Big day means get started early.  He led the people to the Jordan where they camped for three days.  Joshua instructs the priests on what they were to do – to carry the Covenant-Chest of God to the waters edge.  He instructed the people to “sanctify yourselves.  Tomorrow God will work miracle-wonders among you”.  It is going to be a big day.  He also has 12 men, one from each tribe, prepared to lead the processional across the river.  But from that point it is all God.  Joshua’s instructions stop when the priests and leaders get to the water.  All they know is it will be a big day and God will be showing up.  God tells Joshua “this very day I will begin to make you great in the eyes of all Israel”.  Can you imagine the excitement.  God compares this young leader to Moses.  That is quite a statement.  But this is the beginning of his leadership and God sets him up to succeed in a big way.

 As the priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant approach the Jordan, it is showtime.  “When the soles of the feet….touch the Jordan’s water, the flow of water will be stopped”.  Did you catch that?  The water doesn’t stop until they step into it.  There has to be some level of faith put into God here.  They begin to walk across a very flowing and dangerous river before God steps in and stops the flow.  And He doesn’t just slow it down – it backed up “a long way off” and created a situation where “the river went dry….and the people crossed…..on dry ground”.  Talk about a miracle.  God showed up in a big way for His children and Joshua, His chosen leader.  God did all that He had promised and more.  “The whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot”.  Did you catch that detail – not one wet foot.  You would think that there would have been some puddles or low spots that would have water standing in it – but not according to scripture.  God dried it all up and gave them free passage.  They walked across on dry land and arrived safely into the Promised Land.  Joshua led them well, and God set his leadership for the future.  Would you have stepped into the flowing river if God instructed you to do so?  Would you take that step?  Often God calls us to step out in faith and be obedient before He takes action.  Are you willing?

Joshua 2

Joshua chapter 2 begins the leadership of the new guy on the block.  Joshua wastes no time in getting a lay of the land.  He “sent out….two men as spies” and instructed them to “go look over the land”.  He wants to know what lies ahead as they prepare to cross the river and enter the Promised Land.  The spies went and arrived “at the house of a harlot named Rahab and stayed there”.  Interesting choice of lodging.  Their arrival wasn’t secret as the locals figured out who the two were and some to Rahab’s home and demand she present them.  She had hidden them well up on the rooftop, so they were spared from capture and likely death.  Rahab tells the spies that “everyone in the country feels hopeless….we have heard how God….”.  Certainly the way God has blessed the children of Israel had gotten around and the locals here are overwhelmed by the apparent danger they are in.  They feel helpless and hopeless and have had “the wind knocked out of us”.  Rahab cuts a deal with the spies to assure that her entire family would be spared when the invasion happens.  She wants them all given a pass and to be guaranteed freedom and life.  So the spies and Rahab work out a deal and she drops them outside the city wall to safety. 

 The men hide out for three days as the local pursuers had been out there chasing a story that Rahab had told when they came to capture them earlier.  As the spies are able to come “down out of the hills, crossed the river and returned to Joshua”, they have a report that says “God has given the whole country to us.  Everyone is in a state of panic because of us”.   Joshua already knew that, he had been one of the original spies that went 40 some years earlier to spy on the land and report that they should go take it then.  Can you imagine the flutter in his heart when these two come back and verify thet same.  There were 2 of the original 12 that gave that report the last time they went in, and now both verify it.  Joshua now gets the privilege of leading the people into the Promised Land that he had spied on prior, now as the leader of the people and not just a spy.  He does the wise thing and assesses the situation before just moving across the river.  He gets the facts and makes sure his ducks are in a row before just pushing forward.  Wise leadership from a very new leader.  So many would just have taken off based on the things they thought they knew and try to make a grand impression by their first act.  Not Joshua – he takes the time to assess and be sure the plan is still as expected before committing people and resources.  We can learn from his style here.  Are you paying attention to what God wants you to do?  Do you know what territory He wants you to take from the enemy?

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