Joshua 24

In this 24th and last chapter of the Book of Joshua, the man Joshua is aware that his life is near its end. Knowing that this might be his last chance to address, encourage and inspire the Israelites, he gathers the nation together and reviews with them God's history with the nation and renews the covenant between God and His people. I see a few things in this event that are worth noting and, most importantly, imitating.

  • At this time of change and transition (maybe even doubt and fear as the Israelites contemplate the loss of Joshua as their leader) the people are encouraged by looking back and rehearsing God's faithfulness and activity on their behalf and are reminded of His promises for them in the future.
  • Remembering the covenant is not just a history exercise. As the people consider God's promises to the people, they are also reminded that obedience is the required right response to God - it is their part of the covenant to keep.
  • Joshua points out that, in their own strength, the people will be unable to fulfill the covenant and that they will need to rely on God's power to live in right relationship with Him.
  • Joshua's life and leadership caused the nation to serve God faithfully throughout his lifetime.
  • Joshua leaves behind a legacy of godly leadership in the elders that he mentored and trained to lead the Israelites when he passes on.

Maybe today we could all renew our covenant with God. Take some time to look back at God's promises and faithfulness in your life. Look anew at God's will for us as it is revealed in the word. As we discern who God is and what His plan for our life is, let us consider - in view of all of His goodness - "How now shall we live"? As we seek to live lives of holiness in response to God, may we remember that only by relying on the power of the indwelling Spirit can we ever hope to know God's heart and walk in His ways. Let us encourage each other and spur one another on to good works  Finally, let us pass on these things to our children and their children. in such a way that provides the Church with godly leadership, strength and vision for generations to come.

Joshua 23

Joshua's address to the Israelites is a reminder to them and to us that serving God is a daily decision.  We can never live off of our past devotion to God, each day we make a conscious choice to serve Him and love Him.  How often so many of us live in the past glory of our relationship with God.  We revel in how it was when we were first Christians and we have stopped growing in our relationship with Him.  We have slowly begun to ally ourselves with the "nations" that God told us to drive out completely and now because we are not consciously and purposefully seeking Him out we are taking on the ways of the world around us.  Joshua warns the Israelites and it serves as a warning to us to - do not become complacent in our devotion and obedience to God, it will be detrimental.

Joshua 22

Yesterday I experienced a taste of fellowship as we encouraged one another in sharing the faithfulness of God.  Thank you all for sharing and if you would like to you can still post about the faithfulness of God.  It was encouraging.  On to today's reading...

Suspecting some form of idolatry and therefore of “rebellion against the LORD,” the West Jordan tribes reacted strongly. At a council held at Shiloh they decided to declare war against the two and a half tribes. Fortunately, on further consideration, they decided first to send a delegation, led by the son of the high priest, to inquire into this rumor of rebellion against God.  On the assumption that the two and a half tribes had really built an altar, the delegates expressed astonishment at their so soon falling into so hateful a crime as that of violating the Lord’s instructions about the worship of him.  The reaction of the remaining tribes to the problem reflects the nature of corporate responsibility within the covenant community.  (New Commentary on the Whole Bible)

The tribes took the rebuke of the delegation with a proper spirit. With all seriousness and submission to one another they proceeded to give an explanation for their actions. Reverence of God is expressed in the form of their appeal. They express great confidence of their integrity in the matter of their appeal. “God knows it,” for he is acquainted with the thoughts and intents of the heart. In every thing we do in dealing with God's family, it highly concerns us to approve ourselves to God, remembering that he knows the heart. And if our sincerity be known to God, we should study likewise to let others know it by its fruits, especially those who, though they mistake us, show zeal for the glory of God. They fully explained their true intent in building this altar. Their desire was to preserve a tribute to God for future generations, and to use all possible care that their children may be looked upon as having a part in him.   (Matthew Henry)

Joshua 20

The idea behind these cities of refuge was not to provide a screen for guilty persons, but to give the person who accidentally (or, through no fault of his own) killed another person protection from the vengeance of the dead person’s relatives until the facts could be established. In the city of refuge he would be tried by the elders of the city to determine whether the death had resulted from accident (manslaughter) or premeditated murder in the first degree. If guilty, the person was turned over to the avenger. If not guilty of murder, he was expected to stay in the city of refuge he had sought out until the death of the nation’s ruling high priest. At that time he was free to go wherever he wished and the avenger was forbidden to harm him in any way. If he left the city of refuge before the death of the current high priest, he could be attacked and killed. This machinery for handling cases of homicide represented a great advance over the law of the desert and the laws of any other country in this regard.


New Commentary on the Whole Bible

Joshua 19

 51 These are the territories that Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel assigned by lot at Shiloh in the presence of the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. And so they finished dividing the land.

It's about time!!!

Not much to say today except thank goodness the dividing is done, but that just reminded me that once again God is a faithful and generous God.  They had all this work to do because of His generosity and blessings to them.  I usually say that God calls us to partner with Him in His plans and purposes, but partnering would suggest a sense of equal load.  In our relationship with God He does all the heavy lifting and we join Him in little ways.  It would have sounded really bad if the Israelites were complaining that they had to divide the land, that is so much work.  Kind of looking the blessing horse in the mouth.  I wonder if we are guilty sometimes of complaining regarding the little parts we must play in God's work in our lives?  Are we thankful or complaining.  Do we see the work as because of the blessings of God or do we see it as drudgery?

Well I have to go make breakfast - why cant God provide it and make for me too?

Joshua 18

6 After you have written descriptions of the seven parts of the land, bring them here to me and I will cast lots for you in the presence of the LORD our God.

It would seem like a flippant way in which to divide land if we looked at this scenario without God, but it is God who makes the difference.  He is sovereign and He declares to Israel and to us all, He has plans for us.  Plans to prosper us, not harm us.  Plans to give us a hope and a future.  The God who knows our lives from beginning to end and who gives purpose to our lives, tells us that if we trust Him He will take care of everything and He will provide all that we need to accomplish His purposes.

Psalm 33:10 through Psalm 33:11 (NLT) The LORD shatters the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes.   But the LORD’S plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.

Romans 8:28 (NCV) We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him.

So I guess the real question always comes down to do we trust Him?

One last thought...
Seems to me that the method for finding out God's will is secondary to simply making the decision that God will be the One who has the right to tell me what to do. 

Joshua 17

 12 Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. 13 However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely...  17 But Joshua said to the house of Joseph—to Ephraim and Manasseh-"You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment 18 but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out."

It was God's desire that the Israelites drive out the previous inhabitants of the land.  We may think that this is mean and spiteful of God but as with everything God commands there is a purpose behind it that we can only catch glimpses of.  Joshua reminds the Manassites that they are to drive out the Canaanites out but the Manassites are overwhelmed by the strength and determination of the Canaanites.  So Joshua has to remind them that though they are strong, they can do it.  God is on their side and when He asks us to do something then the impossible becomes possible.  But alas the Manassites did not follow through on it and decided to make the Canaanites slaves - seems like a good idea doesn't it?  The only problem is that is not what God had commanded.  As we discover later that decision leads to the Israelites turning away from God.

To apply the thought to us today...God calls us to root out habits in our lives and turn away completely from them, but often times we say, "It is too strong a habit.  I have been doing this for years and I cant change now."  We need to be reminded that no matter how deeply rooted the habit or behavior that God is calling us to root out, we can do it through His power.  Dont fall into the trap of just trying to manage it.  Leave it in but "keep it under control."  The problem is that after a while we let down our guard and that thing takes over again and turns us away from serving God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.  Destroy it.  Get it out.

Are there things that God is asking of you to completely destroy that you are holding on to?  Excuse me but I have to go get some Roundup so I can kill a couple weeds at the root in my own life.

Joshua 16

As I read these passages about the division of the land I cant help but remember the opening chapters of the book of Joshua where God continually reminded Joshua to be strong, courageous and not afraid.  God was preparing Joshua for what was ahead.  Although God had promised and guaranteed the Israelites the land of Canaan it was not going to just be given to them, it would take struggle and travail.  I think that God knew that they would recognize His power and might as a result of the struggle and the Israelites would appreciate just a little bit more what God had blessed them with.  But knowing the path ahead God gave Joshua a word to prepare him for the journey...only be strong and courageous.  I am sure that there were days when Joshua questioned God, got tired, discouraged and afraid that he would not be able to do what God had assigned him to do, but he held on to the instructions to be strong and courageous.  Because Joshua followed God's Word we get to these chapters that we can read with joy and celebration - the land is now ours (just as He promised) and we can divide it.  It may not have happened as quickly if Joshua had given up and chosen to walk away from God's directive to him.

God has a plan for our lives, individually and collectively.  To each of us He gives instructions for success and we need to trust Him and follow through.  As we trust and obey and partner with Him we will sooner or later find ourselves reaping the joys of trusting and obeying.  Don't turn away now, keep trusting God and following hard after Him.

Joshua 15

Imagine some four hundred plus years earlier when a man and his wife arrived in the land of Canaan.  He had left everything behind, all that was familiar, all that was comfortable and safe; and he and his wife had traveled to this strange and unfamiliar place because God had promised him the land of Canaan.  Abraham and Sarah lived like visitors in the land that God had given to them, never realizing the full extent of that promise.  It would have been easy for them to think that what they experienced was the full meal deal.  But God had so much more in store for him and his descendants.  

The next few chapters could feel like drudgery as we read about the division of the land but we need to read it with joy and gratitude for the Israelites who were experiencing the fulfilling of the promise of God.  We need to read the next few chapters keeping in mind God's promises to us and the fact that He is a God who never fails.  His timing is perfect and we need to remember that even when we think we are living fully in His promise He has more in store for us.  The best is yet to come!

Joshua 14

"I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, 'The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 10 Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said."

I love how God is faithful.  He proves it time and time again and today I see it yet again in this story.  He made a promise to Caleb and although it takes longer than 45 years in its fulfillment it still happens.  I suppose Caleb could have been upset and said, "I followed God and now I am 85 and I still don't have what God has promised.  In fact I helped everyone get their inheritance and now at my old age I have to go and still fight for what God promised me 45 years ago!"  But Caleb was not upset, instead he is thankful that at 85 he can still keep up with the youngsters and that is a blessing because he has the strength to go and claim the promises of God.

Here are a couple of my gleanings from today's reading and I see these particular patterns throughout the Bible.
God is faithful to fulfill His Word even though it may take longer that we expected.
God gives us something but we are required to step out in faith and receive it.
Sometimes the things that God promised us are not necessarily for us to enjoy but for a greater plan and purpose.  Caleb's descendants enjoyed the land much more than he did.

Just one more time let me say it...God is faithful, so do not grow weary in doing well for in due time you will reap a harvest if you do not faint.