Week 14, 2018 – Reading thru the Bible to Know God better…

Welcome to the Company of Rarified Air! We are about one-fourth the way up the mountain. Take a deep breath and…let’s climb some more!

DAY ONE – Joshua 7-10

With the victory at Jericho behind them, Israel, flushed with a sense of excitement and expectation, considered little Ai, their next target, a sure thing. What a shock they felt when Ai beat them back and killed 36 Israelites. On His face before God, Joshua questioned everything, suddenly afraid and lacking confidence. What happened next was a revelation–one man had sinned, and he must be found and dealt with. Every tribe was examined and Judah taken; every family was examined, then every man in the family, until Achan was taken. Only then did he reveal his greed and deceit–he had stolen a garment and some silver/gold and hidden it under his tent. Thirty-six men died as a result, and the entire congregation faced destruction. Therefore, Achan and all he possessed, along with his family were removed from the camp and stoned in the valley, after which their remains were burned with fire and covered over with a heap of stones. Restored to grace, Israel was ready to renew the campaign under Yahweh’s direct guidance. Dare we ever believe our actions don’t have some larger effect on those around us? Living in daily repentance is an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up. Lord, have mercy!

An amazing campaign then ensued in the entire hill country and lowlands with multiple cities/kings gathered to fight against Israel. Methodically and strategically Joshua led the troops until every city was overthrown and every person removed as Yahweh had instructed. Only then would Israel be protected from the rampant demonic religions of the pagans. Though we don’t fight in the physical in the same sense today, imagine the overthrow of evil the Lord has planned for this earth, the ultimate purging of the land and release from the conspiracies of all the Lord’s enemies! It is literally beyond our comprehension; as someone has said, “…above my pay grade!” Yet all that happened in Israel, as the apostles and prophets and yes, Jesus Himself indicated, “…were our examples.” Acts 3:20-21  …and that he may send Christ Jesus, who was ordained for you before, 21  whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets. Restored to the original–that is the hope and expectation of all of us who serve our Lord faithfully and face bravely the mounting conflicts growing around us every day.

DAY TWO – Joshua 11-14

“Then the land had rest from war.” So chapter 14 ends. These chapters record the extensive battles Joshua and Israel fought against the kings of Canaan–all the tribes of Canaan. When it was over, 31 kings were dead and the campaign was at an end. Joshua was old, ready to retire. Distributions of land were made to the nine and one-half tribes of those remaining, and Israel entered her inheritance. Yet there were many remnants of the inhabitants remaining scattered throughout the land. What of them? Israel’s instructions were to completely destroy them and remove their memory from the earth. Yet there they were. And Israel’s future was jeopardized unless they were gone. So… what now? Well, even after all the miraculous interventions of Yahweh, He allowed the remnants to be there as a test whether Israel would go ahead and finish the work. And they didn’t; they failed the task. And yes, you guessed… those remnants became a thorn and snare to God’s people. Eventually intermarriage and pagan religious practices unraveled the Theocracy and left Israel completely vulnerable, in spite of God’s wonderful plans, instructions and divine intervention. We have something to say about the how things turn out even in our times…

As Israel defeated all the kings of Canaan and left them without any leadership, so Jesus destroyed the powers of death and hell and left them without protection.  Remember what Joshua and Caleb reported when they spied out the land for Moses– Numbers 14:9 (NLT)  Do not rebel against the LORD, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”  The darkness, deception and perversion of our times is in spite of all that God has done and does through the name of Jesus. And as our Heavenly Father rescued the earth through the triumphant ministry of our Lord Jesus, so He will send Jesus again to provide a final solution to the evil that has persisted against God’s work in our world. As Israel needed their God then, we need the Lord every day that we live. As Israel failed to completely drive out the pagans, we live in this world by faith in God and His wonderful promises. Yes, Satan was destroyed as to his leadership, for Jesus took over heaven and earth with all authority! Our mission is clear–follow Jesus, fight the good fight of faith, and resist the evil that persists in our worldly space. And while we are at it, we get to rest in Him. James 1:2-4  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, 3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4  Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothingAs the Lord intervened then, He intervenes now. Don’t be afraid of the evil; its protection has been removed, and God’s people have the upper hand. Rejoice that we get to live by faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ!

DAY THREE – Joshua 15-18

Psalm 24:1  A psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.  Borders and boundaries– we don’t always like them, but they are necessary. In our world, the entirety of which is ‘owned’ by God Almighty, borders define the limits of our expansion. Acts 17:26-27  From one man He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries. 27  “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us.  The tribes of Israel were now assigned borders to define their inheritance. Within their boundaries they were to settle and steward the land, which meant driving out the remnants of those nations being dispossessed. With their leadership and protection removed, those remnants had lost their lease, which now belonged to the respective tribes. Yet the record shows that Israel never finished the job. Within their bordered territories those remnant peoples remained, clinging and defiant, and were never driven out as commanded by Yahweh. They were reduced to slavery, but their very presence became a snare that led to trouble for God’s people. Repeated bouts of idolatry learned from the pagan remnants plagued Israel in coming generations and threatened to unravel God’s gracious plans for a Messiah to eventually come. Israel’s borders today remind us that the Lord is faithful to all the wonderful purposes and plans He has for them and for us.

What a lesson– remnants of the old life we used to live before Jesus saved us seem to hang around, clinging and defiant. But their power is broken, and they have lost their lease! Our life belongs to the Lord; we belong to Him, and fresh borders and boundaries have been established in our attitudes and behaviors. We settle into our new life in Jesus and steward God’s precious gifts we have been given. We defend our borders and we develop God’s Presence within our territory. We live with faith, hope and love, sustained and guided by The Holy Spirit who shares our space. Wow; what blessings we have inherited from Father in Heaven! Today is a day to praise Yeshua (Jesus) and give copious thanks!

DAY FOUR – Joshua 19-22

One of the most cryptic words in scripture occurs here: Joshua 21:45  Not a single one of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything He had spoken came true.  Hundreds of years before this Yahweh God made a covenant with Abraham to bless him with innumerable descendants and to give them the land Abraham traversed throughout his life. Canaan was to be extinguished; Israel was to replace the pagan nations and inherit their land forever. And it was done. Do you comprehend? Everything that Yahweh God promised was fulfilled; not a word failed to materialize. This is historical fact; and, if it alone is true, how it demonstrates the powerful future that remains for the people of God. All of God’s promises are now being fulfilled in Messiah Jesus, just as Israel’s destiny was carried out through Moses and Joshua. And since Abraham is held up by St. Paul in Romans as the ‘father of faith’ for all of us, how much more confident can we be that every future blessing is already secured and assured? The question then remains, how should we live out our calling in these most interesting and intriguing times?

For over forty years, from Goshen in Egypt to Canaan and its territories, all was provided by God for an orderly transition and a future life. Israel had rest, her enemies were broken, cities and riches had been claimed, and every tribe now had a permanent home for their families to live and serve God and each other. When they left Egypt they were slaves; when they settled in Canaan they were God’s people by covenant– free and blessed with a theocratic society that set them above and apart from the other nations. Never had a people undergone such radical transformation and never had they been handed such hope for the future. Joshua 21:45  Nothing failed of any good thing which Yahweh had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass. 

DAY FIVE – Joshua 23-24, Judges 1

Legacy is what we leave behind. An old man now, Joshua is ready to die, and yet another season is about to descend upon Israel. The old leader wisely gathers the people a final time to affirm a legacy left by Abraham and Moses and hopefully, generations yet to come. That legacy is built on Yahweh God and the covenants that He has made with a man, a family and a nation. Will it continue? Will God’s plans ever find a finishing point? Every generation has to answer that question in its own collective and individual hearts.

“Serve Yahweh, not the gods of the remnant nations left in the land around you.” “We will serve the Lord (Yahweh). All you have said we will do.” “No, you cannot serve Yahweh God, for He is jealous, and He won’t accept your idolatry and apostasy.” “Yes, but we will serve Him.” And so went the conversation between Joshua and the elders of Israel. History records that they did serve the Lord so long as the elders who outlived Joshua were alive. But in the process, they achieved only moderate success in the continued campaign to drive out utterly the remnant nations still sharing the land. That project was never finished…ever; and history also records the results of that unfinished business!

Joshua said, “Serve whom you will; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That is legacy. It’s what he left behind, a lifetime of faithfulness and completion. That can be respected and replicated, but it can’t be inherited. I cannot pass legacy to my children; they may observe it, evaluate it, and choose it as an influential part of their lives going forward; but they cannot inherit it. Neither can they serve the Lord I serve unless they make that choice individually. As the life I live here and now wanes, only my legacy weighs upon me. Everything else finds its place, but legacy has become my passionate pursuit. “Teach us to number our days, that we may incline our hearts to wisdom.”

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