Monday, May 18, 2015

Joshua 5-7

Last week we learned Joshua sent spies to check out the city of Jericho and how Rahab, the prostitute protected them when she hid them from the king’s men.  Then we saw another miracle from God when He stopped the waters of the Jordan so the Israelites could cross into the Promised Land.  Then memorial stones were set up as a remembrance of what God had done and so all peoples of the earth would know His power.

Joshua 5 – Preparing for Victory

All the Amorite kings heard how God dried up the Jordan so Israel could cross and were afraid to face Israel.  (Joshua 5:1)  God told Joshua to make flint knives and circumcise the people.  All the circumcised men had died in the wilderness because of their disobedience so now their children who were born in the wilderness needed to be circumcised.  After they were circumcised they camped until they were healed.  This time of healing would be a blessing and protection from God.  Circumcision symbolizes the cutting off of the old life and replacing it with a new one.  It was the reinstating of God’s covenant with Israel. (Joshua 5:2-9)

Israel trusted God in this time of vulnerability.  They completely depended on God’s protection.  They learned what it meant to trust God through obedience.  We need to recognize our need for God and depend on Him.  He is in control.

Do you trust God in all things?
How do you prepare for victory?
Do you make holiness and worship a priority?

While they were camped, they observed the Passover and ate the first fruits of the Promised Land.  Finally, no more manna.  I am sure they were glad of that.  Manna sustained them in the wilderness, but now they had the fruit of the land.  This was just the beginning of the abundance the land had to offer. (Joshua 5:10-12)

When Joshua was near Jericho, the commander of the Lord’s army appeared to him with a sword.  The commander told Joshua to take off his sandals because he was standing in a holy place.  Joshua fell face down and did as he said.  (Joshua 5:13-15)  

This battle at Jericho would be a battle between the Lord and the Canaanites.  The Lord Himself will win.  God would demonstrate His power.  It is the same today.  Life is an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power.  He is the Commander and He gives us orders.  We are to listen and obey.  He will give us strength and defeat our enemies.

Who is your captain?
Do you listen for His voice?
Do you obey His commands?
How do you look to Him for strength?

Some think the commander is Jesus Himself.  The Old Testament mentions someone thought to be Jesus in Gen. 32 – God or Jesus fought with Jacob, Judges 6 – God visited Gideon, Dan. 3 – When the king put the 3 Jews into the fire, he saw God or Jesus with them.  There are other passages with appearances of “the angel of the Lord”, which is also thought to be Jesus or God Himself.  Jesus declared Himself in John 8:58 to be existent before Abraham.  It is logical that He would be active in the world.

Principle:  God was active in the Old Testament and is active in the world today.

Joshua 6 – Victory at Jericho

The city of Jericho was on lock down.  No one entered and no one left.  They were terrified of the Israelites.  God told Joshua exactly how to capture Jericho.  They were to take the ark and all the armed men and march around the city wall once a day.  The 7 priests were to blow 7 trumpets, but the people were to be silence.  They were to do this for 6 days.  Then on the 7th day they were to march around 7 times with the priest blowing trumpets, but on the 7th time around when the trumpets sounded all the people were to give a loud shout and the walls of Jericho would collapse.  (Joshua 6:1-11)

The people needed to know that God was with them.  They needed to see the ark to help them know He was helping them.  We don’t need to see anything.  We know God keeps His promises and is with us at all times.  We know God is on our side and will fight our battles.  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”Rom 8:31.

The number 7 appears several times in this story.  In the Bible it usually means something is complete or perfect.  God’s plans were perfect for Joshua and the Israelites as they are perfect for us.  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jer. 29:11.  (This is my favorite verse.)

The next morning they did exactly what God said.  They didn’t argue.  It probably seemed strange to them as sometimes what God tells us to do seems strange.  God always knows best.  We shouldn’t doubt, but obey His instructions.  On the 7th day they marched around 7 times and on the 7th time when they shouted, the walls came down allowing the army to enter and capture the city.  The entire city was destroyed by the sword and burned.  Only Rahab and her household were spared. (Joshua 6:12-25)

God had already given the city to them and all they had to do was obey (Joshua 6:16).  God has given us victory over our enemies, too.  Our greatest enemy is sin.  Jesus defeated sin and gave us victory when He died on the cross for us.
Why would God kill everyone including women and children?  The civilization in Canaan was completely wicked and they had to be destroyed because they did not repent and turn the God.  Deut. 20:18 tells us they did detestable things in worshiping their gods and would teach the Israelites to do these bad things.  God had to punish them.  We cannot begin to understand God’s ways.  All we know is that His ways are true and just.  Only He is able to judge.

What is your Jericho?
What walls have you put up against God?
How strong is your faith?

Israel was instructed to keep away from their idols or it would bring trouble on them.  All the silver, gold, bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must be put into His treasury.  So they were to give everything to God. (Joshua 6:19)

Joshua pronounced a curse on anyone who tries to rebuild the city of Jericho.  The Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout the land.  (Joshua 6:26-27) 

The book of Joshua tells us many times that God was with Joshua helping him in everything.  God continued to counsel and direct him as to what to do.  All the inhabitants of the land heard of his wisdom and courage through the power and presence of God.  We need God in everything we do.  We need to seek His counsel, ask Him for wisdom and be faithful and obedient.

Do others see the power of God in your life?
Do they see you as faithful and obedient?

Principle:  God’s power is unleashed when His people are faithful and obedient.

There is no doubt that the wall of Jericho fell by the power of God.  It is hard for some to believe this miracle.  The people trusted that if they did what God said, they would see victory.  They had faith.  We are saved by faith.  It too, is hard to understand.  The walls fell by faith.  Faith should motivate our whole lives.  Let us have the kind of faith that moves us to trust and obey God.  The walls fell because God said they would.  God keeps His promises.

How strong is your faith?
Do you trust God will do what He says?

Lessons from the story of Jericho:
We learn that God keeps His promises. 
We learn God’s ways are different from man’s ways. 
We learn the awesome power of God.
We learn the relation between grace, faith, and obedience.
We learn that trust and obedience brings victory and rewards.

Joshua 7 – Achan’s Sin

 Achan didn’t do as God commanded.  He took some of the spoils of Jericho for himself.  I guess he thought no one would notice.  What was he thinking?  God knows everything.  There is nothing we can keep Him from knowing.  “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”Ecc. 12:14.  “… your sin will find you out.”  - Num. 32:23.  The Lord’s anger burned against Israel (Joshua 7:1-2).  This sin would have a huge effect on what would follow.

Why was God angry with all of Israel?   God viewed the nation as a unit.  There was sin in Israel’s camp and God wouldn’t continue to bless them as long as it was there.  This doesn’t mean Achan was the only one who had sinned, but his sin was a direct disobedience.  Our sin impacts everyone.   God is holy and no sin is a small matter to Him.  He must deal with us and the sin in our lives.

Joshua planned his next attack by sending men to spy out the small town of Ai.  They decided it would take only a few men to defeat this town so they sent 2-3 thousand.  Israel was defeated and 36 Israelites were killed.  This caused Israel to be afraid.  Joshua started to blame God since God had allowed them to be defeated.  Joshua thought other people would hear of this and not think God was great and good.  (Joshua 7:6-9)

Then God told Joshua the real reason they were defeated.  He told him that Israel had sinned by taking some of the valuables found in Jericho when God told them to put them in His treasure.  (Joshua 7:10-12)  God gave instructions and they must be obeyed just as it is important for us to obey God’s instructions in His Word. 

God revealed that Achan was the one who sinned and told Joshua that he must be punished.  Joshua       confronted Achan and he confessed his sin.  Evidence of his sin was found by finding the things he had stolen.  They were sure of his guilt.  Then all of Israel stoned him and his family.  The punishment was severe, but it was a warning to Israel.  They must obey God.  Now the Lord’s anger ended and Israel could expect God to bless them again.  (Joshua 7:13-26)

When have you tried to hide something from God?
What were the results?
Have you repented and asked God for forgiveness?

Lessons from Achan’s sin:
God will expose and punish sin in His timing.
God will punish sin severely.
God gives us examples of His wrath on sinners, so we should walk in fear of God.
God sanctions capital punishment.
Sin cannot be hidden from God.
Our sin can cause trouble for others.
We should confess our sins before we are caught.
We should be aware of covetousness which is idolatry.

Principle:  “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”Luke 8:17

Next week we will continue our study in Joshua.  See you here.

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