Saturday, March 28, 2009

God Gave Them Rest

We have galloped through the amazing book of Joshua. Tomorrow we finish.

Remember how just a few days ago it was all out war? One battle after another after another? And then to top it off, all the remaining kings got together to exterminate Joshua? If we could have interviewed Joshua during that time (if we got have gotten him alone for a minute) he would have said it seemed like war would never end.

But it did.

Now the relatively peaceful and boring job of administering the nation had occupied him for many years. In this passage, the division of the land among the tribes is reviewed. I chuckled at these verses.

49 -50 "They completed the dividing of the land as inheritance and the setting of its boundaries. The People of Israel then gave an inheritance among them to Joshua son of Nun. In obedience to God's word, they gave him the city which he had requested, Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim. He rebuilt the city and settled there. "

He had his pick of the country to choose his own "digs". So he chose a beautiful place, central in the territory, and militarily strategic. Again the combination of human and divine. He had requested the city. But they gave it to him in obedience to God's Word. God's word to whom? How did they know?

"Timnath-serah was nestled in the hills of southern Samaria in the Hill Country of Ephraim, thirteen miles southeast of Aphek and ten miles northwest of Bethel.
The city was situated on the road that linked Aphek in the Sharon Plain and Bethel. It therefore controlled the northwestern approach to the strategic Central Benjamite Plain.
Timnath-serah means "extra portion" or "portion of abundance" (Hebrew), a possible reference to the fact that this town was given to Joshua who had led the conquest of the Land. An alternate name for this location was Timnath-heres meaning "portion of the sun" (Judg 2:9). " (Source - The Internet) ((Always known to be accurate and reliable))

43 -44 And so God gave Israel the entire land that he had solemnly vowed to give to their ancestors. They took possession of it and made themselves at home in it. And God gave them rest on all sides, as he had also solemnly vowed to their ancestors. Not a single one of their enemies was able to stand up to them—God handed over all their enemies to them.
45 Not one word failed from all the good words God spoke to the house of Israel. Everything came out right.

They obeyed and prayed. They fought fierce battles. They worked hard to settle the land. In the end it all worked out.

And God gave them rest.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

God's Part - Man's Part

There is a great saying in Spanish.

"A Dios rogando
y con el mazo dando."

Even if you don't know Spanish you can see what a nice poetic feel it has. What it means is - "Crying out to God.
And swinging the hammer."

Many times we are in a quandry. What am I supposed to do? And what is God supposed to do? I know it is foolish for me to try to do it on my own.
But am I supposed to lay down in my hammock, pull my hat over my eyes, and pray that God would just do everything on my behalf?
Have you ever struggled to understand that balance? I do all the time...

Well, it appears that the clan of Joseph ended up being a bunch of whimps. (Joshua 16 -18).

14 "The people of Joseph spoke to Joshua: "Why did you give us just one allotment, one solitary share? There are a lot of us, and growing—God has extravagantly blessed us."
15 Joshua responded, "Since there are so many of you, and you find the hill country of Ephraim too confining, climb into the forest and clear ground there for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim."
Logical enough. You need more room? You want more land? Go get it. Be a Caleb. Conquer the people, conquer the property. Go into the hills, knock down the trees and build to your hearts content.

16 But the people of Joseph said, "There's not enough hill country for us; and the Canaanites who live down in the plain, both those in Beth Shan and its villages and in the Valley of Jezreel, have iron chariots."
Whine, Whine, Whine! What a bunch of wimps!

17 -18 "Joshua said to the family of Joseph (to Ephraim and Manasseh): "Yes, there are a lot of you, and you are very strong. One lot is not enough for you. You also get the hill country. It's nothing but trees now, but you will clear the land and make it your own from one end to the other. The powerful Canaanites, even with their iron chariots, won't stand a chance against you."
In other words, "Get up off of your fat butts and get to work!!!"
So its a balance.
And work...

This Boy's Got Game - Daughter's Got Game Too!

What a story!

Joshua has transitioned from General of a conquering army, to President and Administrator of an incipient country. The people are settling into to their new "digs", and seem busy and preoccupied with establishing themselves in the land.

In the middle of a rather boring passage, talking about who gets what land, comes this story.

If you remember back to when Moses sent 12 CIA agents into this land, you will recall that 10 of them were afraid, and two of them were bold. One of those faith filled warriors was Joshua. He has now been the leader of the pack.

The other guy was Caleb. I believe he was the only person born in Egypt who made it to the promised land. He now comes to Joshua. Listen:

"Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite spoke: "You'll remember what God said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me back at Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of God sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land. And I brought back an honest and accurate report. My companions who went with me discouraged the people, but I stuck to my guns, totally with God, my God. That was the day that Moses solemnly promised, 'The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance, you and your children's, forever. Yes, you have lived totally for God.' " (Joshua 13: 6-9) He sort of reviews his story with Joshua. Joshua was now a big shot, and apparently Caleb had not been in touch very much. He goes on...

"Now look at me: God has kept me alive, as he promised. It is now forty-five years since God spoke this word to Moses, years in which Israel wandered in the wilderness. And here I am today, eighty-five years old! I'm as strong as I was the day Moses sent me out. I'm as strong as ever in battle, whether coming or going. So give me this hill country that God promised me. You yourself heard the report, that the Anakim were there with their great fortress cities. If God goes with me, I will drive them out, just as God said." (Joshua 13:9-12)

Old guy, but full of gumption! Still strong! Still energetic! Is he asking for favors? Kinda, but not really. He wants permission to conquer some unconquered territory. Of course, Joshua says yes.

13 -14 "Joshua blessed him. He gave Hebron to Caleb son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. Hebron belongs to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite still today, because he gave himself totally to God, the God of Israel."

There were giants in that area, but apparently it was no problem to Caleb. 14 -15 "Caleb drove out three Anakim from Hebron: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, all descendants of Anak. He marched up from there against the people of Debir. Debir used to be called Kiriath Sepher. "

That was a great story, but it doesn't end there. Apparently this one battle was difficult, so Caleb offers his daughter as wife to whomever defeats the city. Caleb's brother does it (I guess bravery runs in the family) and gets the daughter as his wife. OK, so that part is a little weird by our standards, but stay with me.

This girl's got game too!

18 -19 "When she arrived she got him
to ask for farmland from her father.
As she dismounted from her donkey
Caleb asked her, "What would you like?"
She said, "Give me a marriage gift.
You've given me desert land;
Now give me pools of water!"
And he gave her the upper and the lower pools. "

She goes, "Hey papa, you just got all this land and what you give us is desert? I don't think so! How about some nice farmland with fresh water running through it?"

Caleb acceeds and she gets some great property.

End of story. Caleb and his daughter. Courageous. Bold. Adventursome. Fit. Energetic. Faith filled.

Pretty cool!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All Out WAR!

NOW I understand why God didn't let Moses cross over into the Promised Land.

Joshua started out taking one city at a time. One king at a time. Panic spread throughout the land. The kings started banding together. Five at a time attacked Gibeon. They were all defeated.

Joshua and the Israelites were on a rampage, breaking into the land from east of Jordan, then penetrating past what is now Jerusalem, turning south and taking all of the Jedean hill country down to Gaza.

This was a job for a young man! Non stop, all out war!

Miracles all over. In the account of Joshua 10:1-14 you read this: "

God threw them into total confusion before Israel, a major victory at Gibeon. Israel chased them along the ridge to Beth Horon and fought them all the way down to Azekah and Makkedah. As they ran from the People of Israel, down from the Beth Horon ridge and all the way to Azekah, God pitched huge stones on them out of the sky and many died. More died from the hailstones than the People of Israel killed with the sword." God sent killer hailstones!

A bit later, God caused the sun to stand still to give the army more time to finish. What! That's what it says! God caused the sun to stand still for a day. Follow this link for more information:

In Joshua 11 all the Kings of the west and north band together for a massive battle. Their property, thier culture, their very lives were at stake. They needed to destroy Joshua once and for all. They gathered for battle at the Waters of Merom.

(Now you know why God kept encouraging Joshua in Chapter 1.) Be strong and very courageous God says to him then. Now God says, "Don't worry about them. This time tomorrow I'll hand them over to Israel, all dead. You'll hamstring their horses. You'll set fire to their chariots."

It happened just as God said.

Joshua didn't even pause. He rooted out town after town.

23 "Joshua took the whole region. He did everything that God had told Moses. Then he parceled it out as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribes.
And Israel had rest from war. "


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Power Encounter

Today's reading is from Joshua 5 - 8. The story of the taking of Jericho. The debacle at Ai. The building of an altar on Mount Ebal. Lots of great, exciting stories.
But it begins with a time of obedience and cleansing. A time of worship as they celebrate the Passover. And then a Power Encounter.
13 "And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, "Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies'?"
Joshua is nervous. New leader. Land full of enemies. I would presume he was startled by a stranger with a weapon so close to him. Where were the Secret Service?
His attitude changes pretty quickly though when he hears the answer.
14 "He said, "Neither. I'm commander of God's army. I've just arrived." Joshua fell, face to the ground, and worshiped. He asked, "What orders does my Master have for his servant?"
15 God's army commander ordered Joshua, "Take your sandals off your feet. The place you are standing is holy."
Joshua did it. "
God was going to do a series of miracles on behalf of his people. But He does not share His glory. It was important that Joshua demonstrate that he knew who God was. And who he was. So God appeared to him. And Joshua bowed down.
Before God can do things of significance through us, we too, need to establish in our hearts, in our minds, in our souls - that we can do nothing without HIM!
Then He is free to do the miracles He plans to do, and wants to do, knowing that we will not stand proud and try to take credit for what He has done...

Cool Postings

Two postings I just had to share today.

We start our 11th premarriage class tonight. We have 7 couples going through. It lasts for eight weeks. Today I got a posting from one of the people who went through our last class - Fall of 2008. She is young. Got married between the end of the class and now. Here it is...

"I love Jesus!!!
My husband is my best friend.
I have incredible friends and family
and have more than enough to live a life of contentment.
God is so good."

Like that one? Here is another. This one from an older, very mature believer who has weathered the bumps and disappointments of life. Here is what he writes...

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out and proclaiming:
Wow, what a ride!"

Isn't that great!

Probably not a surprise - that last guy rides Harleys as well! We plan to ride together this summer.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Strength! Courage! Don't get off Track!

Joshua is under 40 years old. Moses is dead. He is the anointed and appointed leader. He has been by Moses' side for years. But now he is in charge.

Joshua was not a rebel. He never chaffed under Moses' leadership. He never participated in all the complaining that different people had done over the years. Most of those people were dead.

A good leader needs to know how to follow well, in addition to leading well.

Now God is talking to Joshua. The task is huge. The group he is leading is huge. Here is what God says to him:

"Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don't get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you're going. And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed." (Joshua 1:4-8)
Joshua wasted no time. He told the leaders to prepare the people. In three days they were going to cross the Jordan and start their invasion. He sent two spies to Jericho, the biggest close by city, to scope it out. God told him He would roll back the waters of the Jordan.
14 -16 "And that's what happened. The people left their tents to cross the Jordan, led by the priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant. When the priests got to the Jordan and their feet touched the water at the edge (the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest), the flow of water stopped. It piled up in a heap—a long way off—at Adam, which is near Zarethan. The river went dry all the way down to the Arabah Sea (the Salt Sea). And the people crossed, facing Jericho.
17 And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot."
Huge miracle! Amazing! God was still with them! God was with Joshua! Their reputation surged ahead of them as people whose God was the Almighty God!
Lots of lessons here. Joshua and the people did their part. They depended on God to do what they could not do. Joshua and the leaders were ahead. By faith, the priests stepped into the river. They believed God for the miracle, and put their pride, reputation, even lives on the line in faith.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Last Words of a Dying Saint

Today we say good bye to Moses.

He sings a song, writes a poem, says a blessing over them, gives some last words, and climbs slowly up Mount Nebo, never to be with the people he has led again.

7 -8 "Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyesight was sharp; he still walked with a spring in his step. The People of Israel wept for Moses in the Plains of Moab thirty days."

His last words are rich. I could blog for a month.

"For it's God's Name I'm preaching—
respond to the greatness of our God!
The Rock: His works are perfect,
and the way he works is fair and just;
A God you can depend upon, no exceptions,
a straight-arrow God.
His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,
throw mud at him but none of it sticks." (Deuteronomy 33:3-5)
From his last song. Copyright words and music - Moses

After he finishes his song, he says this: "Take to heart all these words to which I give witness today and urgently command your children to put them into practice, every single word of this Revelation. Yes. This is no small matter for you; it's your life. In keeping this word you'll have a good and long life in this land that you're crossing the Jordan to possess."

Moses tries to pound into the people that you have to HEAR the word of God. You have to OBEY the word of God. You have to PRACTICE the word of God. "Dear God, pound those words into MY heart..."

From the blessing he spoke over the people:
"Oh, how you love the people,
all his holy ones are palmed in your left hand.
They sit at your feet,
honoring your teaching,
The Revelation commanded by Moses,
as the assembly of Jacob's inheritance. "

And he was not quite through. One of the most beloved Psalms of all time is attributed to Moses - Psalm 91. If so, listen to some of the words:

14 -16 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!" (Psalm 91)

Whoever wrote the end of Deuteronomy had a beautiful tribute to a "one-of-a-kind" follower of God:

10 -12 "No prophet has risen since in Israel like Moses, whom God knew face-to-face. Never since has there been anything like the signs and miracle-wonders that God sent him to do in Egypt, to Pharaoh, to all his servants, and to all his land—nothing to compare with that all-powerful hand of his and all the great and terrible things Moses did as every eye in Israel watched."