Monday, May 11, 2015

Joshua 1-4

I thought it might be fitting to study the book of Joshua since we just finished The Life of Moses.  Our study ended with Deuteronomy 34, the death of Moses.  If you remember, Joshua was a helper to Moses for many years.  God chose him to be Moses’ replacement as leader of Israel.  He was filled with the Spirit of wisdom because Moses Had laid hands on him. (Deut. 34:9).  Joshua’s name means “Lord is my Savior” in Hebrew.  The name Jesus means the same thing in Greek.

The author of the book is thought to be Joshua.  The purpose of the book is to give the history of the conquering of the Promised Land and to show that God fulfilled His promise of providing the land to His people.  It is the first of the 12 historical books:  Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther.

Joshua 1 – Joshua Prepares the People

In the first chapter Joshua prepared the people to cross the Jordan.  Moses and the entire generation of disobedient Israelites were now dead.  God has Joshua lead the people into Canaan.  God assured Joshua that He would be with him and never leave.  “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you.” Joshua 1:5.   God told him to be strong and courageous and to not let the Book of the Law depart from his mouth.  He was to meditate on it day and night and do everything that was in it.  (Joshua 1:8).  God told Joshua to remember what He commanded him.  “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9

How often do you spend time in the Word?
How do you let it be your source of encouragement and guide for living?
How can you be strong and courageous?

Principle:  God will never leave you or forsake you.

Joshua 2 – Joshua Sends Spies

Joshua was very clever soldier.  He trusted God and he knew he had to show his trust by his actions.  The best way to enter the land was to destroy the city of Jericho.   Joshua sent 2 spies to check out the land.  The king of Jericho heard the spies were in the city and went to look for them.  God probably brought the spies to Rehab’s house, because He knew her faith.  Rehab, who was a prostitute, protected them and hid them on the roof of her house.  She risked her life.  This showed great courage.   

Why would they have gone to a prostitute’s house?  Maybe it was because her house was part of the city wall and they could reach it easily and it was a good way of escape.  Another reason may be since she was prostitute, the townspeople wouldn’t be surprised that 2 strangers came to see her.

She told the spies that she knew God had given them the land and how God had parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape Egyptian slavery.  She acknowledged that their God was the God of heaven and on earth.  She asked them to promise to protect her family, because she had shown kindness to them.  The spies agreed. (Joshua 2:1-14).

The king locked the gates to trap the spies inside Jericho.  Rahab helped the spies escape by letting then down from her window by a rope and told them to hide in the hills.  She would bring her family into her house and when the Israelites came back to destroy the city.  She tied a scarlet cord from her window so when they returned those in her house would be spared.  The men returned to Joshua and told him everything that happened.  They said the people of Jericho were melting in fear.  They were sure that God would bless them and they would be able to enter the land. (Joshua 2:15-22). 

The scarlet cord reminds us of the blood put on the doors in Egypt at the first Passover when God killed every firstborn in Egypt as judgment.  God told the Israelites to put blood of a sacrificed animal on their doors for a sign.  When God saw the blood, He passed over that house and no one in that house was killed (Ex. 12:12-13).   This also reminds us of the blood of Jesus who saved us from God’s punishment for our sins when He died on the cross.

Rahab is mentioned in Matthew as an ancestor of Jesus.  She was not an Israelite, but God chose her because of her faith.  Rahab became the wife of Salmon, the great-great-grandmother of King David.  She is mentioned again in Hebrews 11:31 as one of great faith.  Then she is mentioned again in James 2:25 for what she did for the spies.

James 2:26 tells us that “faith without deeds is dead”.  Rahab’s faith was definitely alive.  Her actions defined her faith in God.  She showed faith, courage and love.  She is a heroine for all believers. 

How do you show your trust in God?
Do your actions show it?
How do you have faith like Rahab?

Principle:  God protects the faithful.

We can learn a lot for the story of Rahab: 
God uses common people to help us support our faith.
 God uses all circumstances to stretch our faith.
God uses many methods to sustain our faith.

What unusual person has God sent in your life to speak to you?
Through what circumstance is God stretching your faith?
When has God put you in danger and how did you react?
Who has God put in your life to get your attention?

Joshua 3 – Another Miraculous Crossing

The Israelites camped for 3 days by the Jordan.  Then Joshua told the people to follow the ark as they crossed the Jordan leaving about 1,000 yards between them and the ark.  They were not to go near it.  They were to follow it because they didn’t know the way since they had never been that way before (Joshua 3:1-4).  This is a picture for us to follow Jesus’ every step.  “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”1 Peter 2:21.

Joshua told the people to “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”Joshua 3:5.  God wanted them to be holy and ready.  They probably needed to wash themselves and offer sacrifices to Him to show they were sorry for their sins.  We need to confess our sins and be ready for Him.  We can’t work for God if we are sinful. 

Are you willing to consecrate yourself to God’s purposes?
What sin do you need to confess?
Are you ready for God to use you?

The priests were to carry the ark and walk into the river.  They had to step out in faith and stand in the middle of the rushing river.  They had to be strong and courageous.  They would be the last ones to cross.  There are times when we, too have to step out in faith not knowing what will happen.  We just need to trust God.

The ark was a wooden box and in it were the 10 Commandments.  It symbolized the presence and power of God being with His people.  God has always led the people and was still leading them.  By following the ark they were allowing God to lead them.  If they didn’t follow the ark they would get lost and wouldn’t know where to go or how to live.

How are you allowing God to lead you?

(Joshua 3:9-13)  Joshua told them that God was the one giving the instructions.  He didn’t want the honor for himself.  He wanted God to get the honor.  He told them that God was alive and not like the gods of the Canaanites who could not do anything.  God is still alive today.  Jesus is alive and will help us each day of our lives.  God would help them with their enemies.  We have enemies today, too.  We have mostly spiritual enemies.  “For our struggles is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”Eph 6:12.

When the priests reached the water and their feet touched the water, the water stopped flowing.  God stopped the water and gathered it up in a heap.  This sounds a lot like the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea when they fled Egypt.  The priests stood in the middle of the dry Jordan with the ark while everyone else crossed over. (Joshua 3:14-17) 

How do you consecrate yourself and wait on the Lord to do wonders?
How do you step out in faith?
Do you trust God and put your feet in the water?

Principle:  God is sovereign and controls all of nature and circumstances.

God does miracles all around us every day.  He not only does big ones, but many small ones.  We just need to look for them and recognize them in all situations.  There are miracles we can see and those we can’t see.  We can see the miracles of nature.  The trees and grass becomes green in springtime, the flowers bloom, the sun shines, the rain falls, the cool breeze blows – these are miracles!  There are many unseen miracles, too.  The guardian angel that protects you from accidents, the phone rings with that long awaited  job offer, that raise you’ve been waiting for, that good report from your doctor, that perfect dress you found, and on and on – these are miracles!

Do you prepare each day for what God has in store for you? 
Do you expect His miracles? 
Do you spend time in prayer asking him to open your eyes to see His miracles?  

Joshua was a man of faith and believed that God would help the Israelites cross the Jordan.  The priest showed their faith and obedience by standing in the middle while everyone else crossed.  The people showed their faith and courage and crossed the river.   The book of James tells us that faith is dead without action.  God wants us to step out in faith and do what He commands.

Joshua 4 – The Memorial Stones

After they had crossed the Jordan, the Lord commanded Joshua to have a man from each of the 12 tribes were to take a stone from the middle of the Jordan to use as a visible monument and would serve as a remembrance that God had cut off the waters of the Jordan for the people to cross.  “That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses.”Joshua 4:14.

Then the Lord commanded the priests come out of the Jordan.  As soon as they did the water of Jordan returned.  Joshua took the 12 stones and set them up at Gilgal.  They were to tell their descendants that these stones was represented what God did that day.  “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4:24.

We have memorial monuments today.  We have communion to remember that Jesus died for us.  We have baptism which memorializes what Jesus has done in our personal lives.  We have church steeples that all can see and know that is where God is worshiped.  We have testimonies from believers of what God has done for them in their lives.  We need to remember all God has done and never forget that He is always with us and is doing miracles every day.

How do you recognize the miracles God does in your life?
Do you take them for granted?
How do you remember what Jesus has done for you?
What are your memorial stones?

Principle:  Setting up physical memorials to spiritual milestones reinforces the reality of God’s power.

This crossing of the Jordan event in Israel’s history was important.  It signified the cutting off of their past and entering into a new life.  The stones were to remind them their old life was buried in the Jordan and now they were able to walk in a new life.  Our baptism signifies we are burying the old life and entering into a new one.

I hope you will join me next week for Joshua 5-7. 


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