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Month: November 2016

Joshua Waits

Joshua Waits

It appears to me, that this Old Testament book of Joshua is an important part of God’s plan for His people.   It was written to give us an account of the LORD fulfilling His promise to the Patriarchs;  by giving the land of Canaan to Israel in a “holy war”, which meant it would be a conflict with religious overtones rather than a political motivation.  It was what He had promised.(read Joshua 1:2-6 & 21:43)

God’s perfect plan was to conquer Canaan (which He considered a lost world), with His Abraham Covenant in order to reach that lost world through the seed of Abraham! The covenant God made with Abraham promised unconditionally to give a land, a  posterity, and a spiritual blessing to the Patriarch and his descendants. (Gen.12:2-3)  Then God said He was giving the land to Israel forever!  (Gen. 13:15)  It’s important to note and keep in mind, that God gave the boundaries of that land to Abraham (Gen.15:18-21); and later He reaffirmed it to Isaac (Gen. 17:19-21).  So the book of Joshua records the fulfillment of that covenant to Israel as her faithful God had promised centuries before. That the land was later lost and taken from them doesn’t reflect on God’s character,  but on the failings of the people to keep His laws.

Losing the land would be as punishment from God as was warned in Deut. 28:15-68).  “But Israel must possess the land forever according to the promise, something that awaits the return of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel.  (read Isaiah 49:8)” [The Bible Knowledge Commentary page 326]

God had just brought the Israelites through four events:  1) the crossing of the Jordon, 2) the ceremony of circumcision,  3) celebration of the Passover after many years, 4) eating the food produced in Canaan.

Joshua had not received any divine message or instructions even though it seemed the next step would be to capture Jericho.  So he set out to evaluate the situation.   I wonder how he felt when he first saw the large fortified walls that were “up to the sky”. (Deut. 1:28)  Jericho was a city ready to fight.  And Israel wasn’t equipped with what they would need like battering rams or catapults.  All they had was slings, arrows and spears.

Joshua knew the battle had to be won, because there was no where to retreat.  They had just crossed the Jordan. Futhermore, they could not bypass the city because that would leave their camp with women, children, goods and cattle exposed!

While pondering these heavy thoughts, Joshua was startled when he saw a Soldier bearing a sword.  He immediately asked, “Who goes there–friend or foe?”(5:13)  “The response was startling and revealing.  Something occurred that convinced Joshua this was no mortal soldier.  As with Abraham under the oak at Mamre, Jacob at Peniel, and Moses at the burning bush, Joshua knew he was in the presence of God!

“The Commander of the army of the LORD” stood with a drawn sword, indicating that He would fight with and for  Israel. Immediately, Joshua fell on his face and worshiped, saying, “What does my LORD want to say to His servant?”  The reply of the LORD was brief but urgent.  “Remove your sandles, for the place you are standing is holy.”

Now Joshua had thought this battle was going to be between two armies and he was to be the general-in-charge!  But, the LORD had other plans!, This battle was going to be the Lord’s battle.

I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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The Manna Ceased at Gilgal

The Manna Ceased at Gilgal

When we left the Israelites, they had just witnessed the mighty hand of God as He had held back the Jordon River for them to cross over on dry ground.  But even more than that, it had placed Joshua in highest regard in the eyes of the people, just as they had thought of Moses.  Joshua was the nation’s leader now.  This fulfilled God’s promise in Joshua 3:7:  “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.”

God was also working in the lives of the kings of the Amorites and all the kings of the Canaanites.  When they heard the report that the LORD had dried up the Jordan River to allow the children of Israel to pass over, they began to fear Israel and lost their will to fight.  God had also promised this would happen in Joshua 4:23.   God is always true to His promises!!

But preparation had to be made before this new generation of Israel would be ready for battle.  As a sign and seal of the covenant between God and Abraham;  God had commanded that every male child who was eight days old, was to be circumcised for all generations.  (Genesis 17:9-14)  Since they had spent 40 years in the wilderness, this symbolic physical act  making them God’s people, had not been observed.  But. this was what separated Israel from other nations.  This was stepping out in faith and obedience and declaring we are the LORD’s people!   It was a new generation that was willing to fight for their God.  They trusted God so much that they were willing to become vulnerable while they were healing; for they were camped right before Jericho, a mighty military city for the Canaanites.

It was during this healing time that they actually observed the Passover Festival.  “And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.  Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.”  Joshua 5:11-12

Now this place called Gilgal became a  camp for Israel in their conquest of Canaan.  They returned there after battle and it was here they were strengthen in remembering all that had happened there: the memorial of the stones from the river bed where the Ark of the Covenant had stood; their obedience in their circumcision, and their redemption.

It is good to have a place like Gilgal in our life.  A place where our hearts were circumcised and we became His by accepting the blood of Jesus on the cross and felt the power of the Holy Spirit!  Take time to remember your Gilgal!!

 

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The Hand of The LORD is Mighty

The Hand of The LORD is Mighty

I’m sure you  remember the passage where the LORD parted the Red Sea so God’s chosen people could cross over on dry land when they escaped from slavery in Egypt!  Now we are talking thousands of people and all their livestock and possessions their Egyptian neighbors had given them!  When Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, the LORD brought up a strong wind all that  night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided like a wall on each side.  (Exodus 14: 21-22)

But did you know that the LORD repeated that miracle again when the Israel nation was ready to cross into the Promised Land?  I have read it many times, but honestly had forgotten it!  It was just as exciting to read this time as it was when I read it in Exodus!  The feeling this time was more relaxed.  They didn’t have the Egyptian army chasing them with their chariots and horses!   And this was a new and different generation that had not experienced life in Egypt, but had been born while traveling in the wilderness. I’m sure they had heard the stories of the LORD’S miracle at parting the Red Sea.

So 40 years later, as they are ready to take the land God had promised their forefathers,  Joshua was instructed by the Lord to command the priest’s to bear the Ark of the Covenant and lead the Israel people across the Jordan River.  “And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” (Joshua 3:13 NKJV)  And as soon as the feet of the priests touched the Jordan River, the waters parted and there was dry land!  The priests holding the Ark of the Covenant stood firm in the middle of the Jordan River and all of Israel crossed over Jordan on dry ground!

Now the LORD had instructed Joshua to take a man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  They were to go to the place where the priests had stood with the Ark of the Covenant and take a  large stone from that spot, put it on his shoulder, and carry it to the other side.  After the people had crossed to dry land; the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant also crossed to dry land and a large rock was  taken up for each tribe of Israel.  Then the waters of the Jordon returned to normal and the water overflowed the banks as before! (Joshua 4: 18)

This is the time when we celebrate our Thanksgiving, which was a tradition that was started after the pilgrim’s had gathered their  first harvest in their new land.  The children of Israel and our early settlers were likely feeling about the same way about this time!  It had not been an easy journey! It had been a long journey!  But, they had finally arrived and were full of excitement and anticipation for what lay in store for them in this new land that was to become their very own!

This is a special time for us to remember our own forefathers and what God has done for us to live in a free country because of the faithful men who came here in order to worship the LORD in a free land!  It’s important to take this time to explain to our children so that they will understand and remember and can pass that memory to their children.  And that tradition of passing on to future generations the importance of special times was started in God’s Word.

Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’  then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’;   for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over,   that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4: 21-244; 4:5-7)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!  I pray you will take this opportunity to teach your children, family and friends how we came to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving!  That God has a Mighty Hand and has given this land of freedom of religion to us and we must never forget that it is a gift from the LORD!  God bless your family and God bless the United States of America!!

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