Monday, May 25, 2015

Joshua 8-12

Last week the Israelites, by faith and obedience destroyed the city of Jericho by marching around the city wall 7 times as God commanded.  On the 7th time around they shouted and the walls came down.  No one was spared except Rahab and her household.  We learned that all the spoils were to go to God, but Achan kept some for himself which angered God.  Because of that sin, God allowed the army of Ai to defeat Israel.  In this week’s study God is ready to bless Israel again and this time the fight against Ai would be different.

Joshua 8:1-29 – Ai Destroyed

God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Joshua 8:1.  God told him to take the whole army and attack Ai and He would deliver Ai over to them.  This was very different from the last time they tried to take Ai.  God’s anger had ended.  They were to do to them as they did to Jericho.  This battle would not be as easy as the battle at Jericho.  This would be a test of courage.  There would be more danger and more precautions needed to be taken.  God told Joshua exactly how to fight the battle.  He was to set an ambush and destroy the city completely, but this time they could take all the plunder for themselves (Joshua 8:1-29).  Joshua did as the Lord commanded and defeated Ai.

If you remember the last time Israel tried to take Ai, God let them be defeated because there was sin in the camp.  The spoils of previous battle at Jericho had belonged to God, perhaps because it was the firstfruits of the land captured by Israel.  It was this command that Achan had violated that led to defeat at Ai.  This was God’s punishment on them.  Now He changed their previous defeat into victory.  When we sin and disappoint God, we suffer defeat.  When we confess our sins, God will forgive us and give us victory.

Joshua made a plan for battle, moved his armies into position, and the fight was on.  God commanded Joshua to stretch out his javelin toward Ai.  “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city.”Joshua 8:18.  Joshua did as God commanded and Ai was defeated by the power of God.  This is similar to when Moses held out his staff so the Red Sea would open for Israel.  In Joshua’s first battle against the Amalekites, he was victorious as long as Moses held up his hands with his staff.  These were symbols God assigned to show the power of God through His appointed leaders.

The victory over Ai was complete.  All were killed and destroyed.  The people took the spoils of the city for themselves, just as God said they could.  Nothing else is said about further battles in this part of Canaan.  I am sure there were more, but Jericho and Ai were probably the major battles.

When have you obeyed and as a result, God gave you victory?

Believers are in constant warfare with the devil.  God is with us and we can be victorious if we stay faithful to Him.  God will see that we have the victory.  It may not be easy, because we still have to fight the war.  God guided Joshua in the battle to victory, just as He will guide us to victory.  We just have to listen, have faith and do what He says.

Joshua 8:30-35 – Renewed Covenant

Now there was a period of worship.  Joshua built an altar of uncut stones to the Lord on Mt. Ebal.  They offered burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings on it.  Joshua copied the Law of Moses on the stones.  They did just as Moses had commanded them to do in Deut. 27-28.  Half the people stood on Mt. Ebal and the other half stood on Mt. Gerizim with the ark in the middle.  By the ark being in the middle was a sign that God was there in the center of their lives. 

The uncut stones used for the altar were exactly like God had made them – without any added human workmanship.  This shows we can’t add anything to our salvation.  We can’t add or do anything, because salvation is by grace.  Jesus did all the work for us on the cross.

Burnt offerings were given to show that they had given themselves completely to God.  Fellowship offerings were given as a way to say thank you to God.  These offerings are like a picture of Jesus’ death.  Because of His death, we can give ourselves completely to God (burnt offerings); we can have fellowship with God (fellowship offerings).

There Joshua read all the words of the law, the blessings and the curses just like Moses commanded.  The stones with the law were there so the people couldn’t forget them, just as we have the Bible today.  This is God’s Word for us and we should read it often.  In the Deut. passage we saw that all the people agreed and answered with, “Amen”.

This is like it will be someday.  Similar things will happen.  There will be two sides – those who don’t know Jesus as Savior and those who do know Him as Savior.  On that day everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord regardless of which side they chose.  “…at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”Phil. 2:10-11.

Which side will you be on?
Have you acknowledged Jesus as Lord of your life?

Principle:  God blesses people who obey Him in faith.

Joshua 9 – Deception of the Gibeonites

When the kings west of the Jordan heard about Joshua and Israel’s victories, they became afraid and came together to make war with Israel.  The people of Gibeon were also afraid, but instead of wanting to make war, they wanted to make friends with Israel.  Their plan was clever.  They loaded their donkeys with worn out sacks and old wineskins.  The men wore patched sandals and old clothes.  They pretended to be messengers sent from far away, but really they were neighbors from about 25 miles away.  They said had heard of the Israel’s God and they came to make a treaty with Joshua.

Joshua and the Israelites believed the Gibeonites and made a peace treaty with them and let them live.  He didn’t ask the Lord if their story was true or what he should do, which was a big mistake.  This was an important decision that Joshua made.  If you remember in Deut. 7, God told Israel not to make agreements with the inhabitants of Canaan.  They were to kill all the people of the land.  We should never make important decisions unless we ask God first.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God…”James 1:5.

Joshua did what he thought was right.  Joshua was not perfect and neither are we.  When we do what we think is right without asking God first, that is call “being wise in our own eyes”.  “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?  There is more hope for a foolish person than for him.” Prov. 26:12.  God is definitely smarter than we are.  He sees and knows everything.  He wants the best for us and it is wise to seek His guidance before we act.  Heb. 11:6 says that “he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

What dangers are there when we do what we think is right instead of asking God first?
Do you seek God before making decisions, even small ones?
What are some rash decisions you have made?
What were the results?

Soon Israel learned the truth about the Gibeonites and wanted to kill them, but Joshua and the leaders said they had made a treaty and must keep their word.  They had sworn an oath before the Lord (Joshua 9:16-19).  God takes promises seriously and when a promise is made it should be kept.  So Joshua let them live.  They said they had heard of God and really wanted to serve Him.  God knew their hearts and their true thoughts.  So Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the community and the altar of the Lord (Joshua 9:26-27).

The Gibeonites became servants of Israel.  They had lied because they didn’t know the right way to serve God, but God blessed them.  Joshua made a mistake, but God still used that mistake.  He can use our mistakes, too.

Principle:  God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Lessons for us:
Your enemy will surprise you.  (Satan is a master of disguises.)
Don’t assume everything you hear is the truth.
Deception will ultimately be exposed.
Appearances are deceiving.
Seek counsel from God.
Keep your promises.

Joshua 10:1-15 – The Sun Stands Still  

The king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had destroyed Ai and Jericho and that he had made a treaty with Gibeonites.  Gibeon was a big important city with good fighting men.  The king asked the 5 kings of the Amorities to come and help him attack Gibeon.  Gibeonites sent word to Joshua for help.  Joshua sent his entire army.  (Joshua 10:1-7) God again told Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand.  Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”Joshua 10:8.

The Gibeonites went to Joshua for help.  Joshua had made a promise to them and he could not disappoint them now.  Who do you go to in time of trouble?  Joshua’s name means “the Lord is my Savior”.  We have a Savior and we can always go to him when we need help.  He has promised to help and will not disappoint us.

What promises have you made?
Do you keep your promises?        
What about the promises you made to your spouse at your wedding?       

When Joshua arrived, the enemy was taken by surprised.  The Lord kept His promise.  The Lord sent confusion and Israel defeated them.  They, of course fled and as they fled God hurled large hailstones on them from the sky. (Another miracle of God)  This killed more of them than Israel did by their swords. (Joshua 10:9-11)

Joshua didn’t want the enemy to escape.  If night came, they might scatter and find hiding places.  So Joshua called upon God to stop the progress of time.  Joshua prayed to the Lord in the presence of Israel, “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.  So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nations avenged itself on its enemies.”Joshua 10:12-13.  The sun stopped in the sky and didn’t go down for a full day.  “There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man.  Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!” Joshua 10:14.

Here is another miracle that shows God’s awesome power.  God extended the daylight hours so Israel could have a complete victory over the enemy.  God heard Joshua’s prayer to reverse the natural order.  He extended the hours of the day long enough so that Israel could finish the battle. 

God kept His promise of victory for Israel.  God listened to Joshua as he prayed and praised God.  He will keep His promises to you.  He will listen to you.  Praise God in all He is doing in your life and praise Him so others can hear.  That is a great witness for God.

How do you give God the praises He deserves?
Do you praise Him in secret or for others to hear?

Principle:  The Lord’s power is not limited.

Joshua 10:16-43; 11:1-23; 12:1-24 – More Victories  

The 5 kings fled and hid in a cave at Makkedah.  Joshua sent men to guard the cave so the kings could not return to their cities as Joshua and Israel kept pursuing the enemy.  Then the kings were brought to Joshua and killed and then hung on trees.  At evening they were taken down and put in the cave where they had been hiding and large rocks were placed at the mouth of the cave.  Joshua took Makkedah and its king and totally destroyed everyone leaving no survivors. (Joshua 10:16-28)

Principle: We must control, confront and conquer our enemies.

What do you have hidden in your cave?
Do you have some king in your life that needs to be killed?

The evil kings in your heart need to be put to death so they will not rise up to try to destroy you again and again.  These kings may be immorality, impurity, sensuality, lust, idolatry, jealousy, anger, disputes, drunkenness, carousing.  They need to be killed!  We need to pull out those kings and nail them to the cross.  God’s way of victory is through crucifixion.  “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”Rom 6:11.

Joshua continued conquering the cities in southern Canaan.  He conquered Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, and Debir as the Lord handed them over to Israel.  He conquered from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon destroying everything and leaving no survivors as the Lord commanded.  They were all conquered because God of Israel fought for Israel.  Then Joshua and Israel returned to their camp at Gilgal. (Joshua 10:29-43). 

Joshua 11 tells us that word of Israel’s victories spread and now the northern kings wanted a fight with Israel.  These kings joined together to make war, but again the Lord told Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel, slain.”Joshua 11:1-6.  Again, Israel completely destroyed all these cities as the Lord commanded.  Joshua took the entire land and didn’t make treaties.  God had hardened the hearts of these kings to wage war against Israel so He might destroy them totally.  Joshua destroyed the entire land as the Lord directed Moses and gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. (Joshua 11:1-23).

Joshua 12 lists all the kings and territories defeated by Israel.  There were 33 kings defeated.  Moses defeated the 1st 2 kings Sihon and Og.  Joshua defeated 16 kings in the south and 15 kings in the north.

Principle:  We can defeat our enemies by relying on the Lord.

What are the spiritual enemies you are facing?
How much do you obey God’s Word in your daily life?
Do you take God at His Word and believe Him?
When are you tempted to compromise your Christian faith?

Next week we will continue to study more in the book of Joshua.  See you here.

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