Job 1-2; we begin the readings in Job this week. The book begins with such a negative scene, one might wonder how it can help people of faith.
“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” Job 2:10b. This is an interesting principle of faith for all believers right now. As the Covid-19 continues, the political parties rhetoric, the social rebellion and destruction in our cities, the hurricane season with its destruction, the schools and university’s dilemma for opening and the professional sports teams forgetting they play a game not politics, have all added to a dysfunctional time of humanity. When there should be a drawing close to one another, we have social distancing and protective masks to wear. Churches are struggling with returning congregations and financial hardships. Now that I have gotten all the negativity out of my system for a couple of minutes, hopefully I can give you a message of hope and current reality for living.
The verse mentioned above somehow gets lost in the devastation that Job goes through. I a mere few chapters this wealthy, humble and man of God loses everything. Everything in his possessions, children and even his health. Yet, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” [1:22] I know that I am no Job! When we think about how Job’s situation started, we should be humbled by the question God asks Satan – “Have you considered My servant Job?” What a question! How did God come to ask this question? Obviously, our Father in Heaven knows that Satan is an accuser of the brethren and wants to hold us up as failures in the faith. SO here is Satan in the throne room of God and God “asks him where he came from. [1:7] I have come from roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” [1 Peter 5:8] From this we should know that the adversary is seeking whom he may devour. He is the force of darkness and the inhabitant of earth. Evil does not come from God; evil came from free will and Satan and we have chosen in our lives to chose self instead of obedience to God.
Back to Job, he did not sin in all that came upon him. His wife [2:9-10] tells Job to curse God and die. This does not sound like an encouraging wife to a man who has lost everything. Maybe she had in mind for him to end his pain.
But Job’s question in 1:10, should we accept the good from God and not also the adversity? All that we are going through right now is it persecution or adversity or punishment? Our choice will determine our response. God is good, and all the time God is good. We sing the song but are we convinced of this? James 1 tells us about the trying of our faith through tribulations and trials; so how are we doing? Are we complainers or comforters to others? Job was severely tested, yet he maintained his integrity.
God knew Job, Job trusted God. While Job could have rationally blamed God for all that had happened, he fully trusted in the LORD. As we have traveled through this chaotic 2020 year, I like many of you do not see a peaceful future or better yet a light at the end of the tunnel. We ask ourselves “when will this all end?” I do not know! I do know that we are to be the “Children of Light and Salt.” The world [lost] are looking to us for answers, but if we only give them disgruntled responses to difficult questions and not give them HOPE OF THE GOSPEL we have failed. Whether we live or whether we die we are the LORD’s.
We who trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, our redeemer and very present help in time of need; must resolve to stay the journey. Something about the story of Job – He was the only one tested; sure, there were effects on others, but he was the object of the Faith test. He was not perfect, and he did cry out to God for his day in court. But in the end, Job was sorely tested and endured the trials. Why because he trusted that in whatever came upon him, His God – Jehovah was able to deliver him!
The same powerful, loving, and compassionate God Job has is the very same one who is at work in our lives. Stay the course! Increase your faith through perseverance and trials. Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Encourage one another with these words.
Joshua 14-18 specific verses are found in 13:13; 15:63; 16:10 and 17:13. In these verses we find that the tribes of Israel did not fully obey the LORD in driving out the Canaanite tribes from the Promise Land. The Promise Land inheritance began in Genesis 12, 15, 17 and 22:16-18 as the promise to Abraham. This promise was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, the Patriarchs of the nation of Israel. It has been hundreds of years since the Promise was given to Abraham. But the promises of God are sure. God is not slack concerning His promises as some count slackness, but will bring about that which He has promised. This inheritance was brought about because of the faithfulness and love of God for His “peculiar” people. Abraham, Isaac nor Jacob got to enjoy the Promised land. Each one lived temporarily in the land, but the Land was inhabited. Moses saw the Land, but it was Joshua that brought the people into the Promised Land – a land that was described as “flowing with milk and honey.” The Promise of God included that “wherever the sole of your foot will touch, that I have already given to you.” Israel needed only to take possession of that which had been Promised. I believe there are many believers and churches that are afraid to move forward on the Promises of God. Fear is a paralyzer!
The Nation of Israel that entered into the Promised land had for years tasted of the goodness of God through daily provisions. Their clothes nor shoes wore out for 40years! The people had the presence of God daily and evening in the Cloud of Smoke and the Pillar of Fire. We today have the very presence of Christ indwelling in us, the Holy Spirit inhabits our flesh. We should be able to go forward with confidence and boldness in the power of God! Yet we all will hesitate or only parasitically accomplish what we know God wants us to do. In the verses I listed above we read that tribe after tribe failed to drive out the Canaanite people fully. They spared them and conscripted them to labor. This is not the command from God. Destroy the people, their, children, their flocks and all that they possess. Pretty clear, we may not like it but this was the command of God. God prepared the Canaanite people with fear through the powerful acts displayed along the way. The early victories were affirmation that God was with them. In times of disobedience to God tactics, Israel suffered. We experience the same today in our churches. God has not asked us to think of how we should do His work; He has clearly outlined what our mission and task is for us. Israel wound up becoming enslaved all over again by the very people they were to dispose of; they became the captive not just physically, but spiritually. The nation of Israel always had gods of their past with them. See Joshua 24:14–16. I believe that Israel got comfortable with partial obedience and possession of the Promised Land. I also believe that churches get comfortable when they have a building, money in the bank and members in the seats. The vision wanes and apathy sets in to the people of God. Instead of evangelizing the lost, we accept members with just a cursory filling out of a decision card. I know that there are lost in the church today as members and serving on leadership teams. Churches have become a place where attendance records rewarded. All a person has to do today to be put in leadership positions is show up for church services. Please do not think I am saying leadership is that way in all cases. There are many many churches that get things done correctly.
Back to Israel, they actually embraced the enemies. They gave their sons and daughters to be married with the Canaanite people. They adopted their customs and cultic worship. There became a mixed multitude of people in the Promise Land. Darkness has more affects on the Light that the reverse. We cannot compromise with our convictions. Obedience to ALL of God’s commands is not optional.
Why is the Church in the state of decline today? Evangelism is nearly none existent – the world has taken our culture captive. Christianity has already lost the cultural battle; churches now listen more to what it takes to get people to come to church, then going and bringing people to Jesus.
In chapter 18 we read of how seven tribes did not even take possession of their inheritance. Joshua asks the question “How long will you put off entering to take possession of the Land that the LORD God of your fathers, has given you?” Can you imagine being given an inheritance and not taking possession of it? This isn’t some lottery winner afraid of coming forward, these are the people of God that have waited for years to be in the Land. How Long Will you Wait? We could be asked the same thing today – Church how long will you wait before you “occupy” the community that God has given you? Will we continue to be disobedient to the commands of God? Or will be get after the vision and mission that our God and Savior has called us to do? The world is waiting, why are we?
Joshua 7-13, The conquest is on! Jericho was a great victory, the people must have thought this is going to easy, why did we wait so long to begin the conquest! In my last blog I said that arrogance can be defeating and so it was at Ai. It took less than a battle or two for the “sons of Israel to act unfaithful.” Achan takes what was determined to be under the “ban” which means he took what God had set apart. Judgment comes quickly. The anger of God burned against the sons of Israel. Disobedience has consequences, severe consequences. Our God is a jealous God. He demands obedience, my father demanded obedience and trust me I know what happens if I disobeyed either one! Sometimes the judgment is delayed, it wasn’t until the next battle that the punishment became evident. Imagine Joshua knowing God is giving the victory, and when the defeat of Ai happens, I am sure Joshua was bewildered – Like What just happened God? Joshua gets his answers quickly, to the point – There is Sin in the Camp! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that sermon. The Camp is the people of God. God vowed, I will not be with you unless you destroy the things under the Ban that is in your midst. You will not be able to stand before your enemies, until you get this right. Zero tolerance. In the Camp might as well say “In the Church.” Achan sinned deliberately, so did Annais and Sapphira, so do we, and God has zero tolerance for such.
Joshua goes on a seek and destroy mission. He parred down the tribes, to Judah, then to clans, that of Zerahites, then to the family of Zabdi the family of Achan. During the interrogation we find that the very temptations that beguiled Eve in the Garden of Eden were at work in Achan’s heart. We must be careful not to think more highly of ourselves then we should for 1 John 2:15-17 tells us the same temptation are at work in us. The penalty was death – sin always has a penalty of death. Israel took all of Achan’s family, livestock and possessions out and stoned them to death and burned them and buried all that was left.
I wonder what would happen if our Churches today took such a hard line on disobedience and sin in their midst? DO we wonder why there is no victory or moving of the Holy Spirit? Could there be sin in the camp? Could it be isolated to your family, to you specifically ? Zero Tolerance. To him who knows to do good and does not do it, it is sin. God was true to His word. He demands Holiness, nothing less.
The remaining chapters for this week tell us how the LORD provided victory. Even the craftiness of the Gibeonites to deceive Israel and remain alive. The conquest moves rapidly after sin had been eradicated from the camp. Numerous kings of the Canaanites are defeated in chapter 12. This victory season prepares for the division of the land to the various sons of Israel. But something happens in chapter 13 that causes great consternation to me. Chapter 13:13, “But the sons of Israel did not dispossess the Geshurites or the Machinates.” Instead of destroying the people of the land, their livestock and possessions, the tribes spared the people and allowed them to live as conscripts to them in the land. DISOBEDIENCE – to deviate from the commands of God is to usher His anger. Now I realize some of you may be thinking, well they just showed mercy. God had already judged them. This would be King Saul’s sin as well when he saved King Agag. The enemy must be defeated completely not partially. The enemies like Satan himself seeks to survive to fight another day. This key verse will be the downfall of Israel and they get steeped into Baalism. ZERO TOLERANCE for sin folks!!
Joshua 4-8 has so many highs and lows it is hard to capture all theses chapters contain. Last week we left Joshua in the Jordan river. They are picking up rocks in the middle of the river to erect a memorial to the LORD when they reach the other side. While preparing to write this, I stopped and thought about the Jordan Crossing, and it came to me while it was vital to step into the river, it was just as important to come out the other side. I have known many believers that with jubilation they jumped into the”Jordan river” and fail to reach the other side. Jordan must be seen as a passage way to all that is ahead. The Journey would continue to Jericho and on to Jerusalem eventually. But we have to get out of the Jordan and face the task before us.
After all the celebration of crossing and coming up on the other side, the river closes behind them just as it did with the Egyptians. Point is that the journey is before us not behind us. There was work to do, land to clear of the tribes who even though they knew God gave the land, refused to leave, but rather stayed to experience the mighty strong of the LORD. Once on the other side of the river, there was some consecration that needed to be done. God gave the mark of circumcision to Abraham. Every male child was to bear this mark. However, in the wilderness this ritual was not done. The time had come to Israel to be who they were called to be instead of making their own decisions and living in rebellion. This generation was going to do what the LORD said, in all things. SO every man of war was circumcised. The nation camped at Gilgal and observed the Passover, which was suppose to be an annual celebration/festival. In the wilderness Israel threw out all they had been instructed at Mt. Sinai. It was time to restore the covenant with God and serve Him. Think about this, every man circumcised, and they stayed in place until they were healed. Imagine now the onlookers in Jericho – looking on and wondering, “Why do they wait?” The nation under Joshua’s leadership restored covenant life that had been ignored in the Wilderness. God, I believe used this time to renew and restore the people’s faith and allegiance to Him as Yahweh.
The culmination of restoration ends with the giving of manna and quail after Israel ate of the food of the Promised Land. How faithful is our God!! Just to reassure Joshua about who was fighting, the epiphany of the mighty warrior known as the “Captain of the Host” is revealed to Joshua. Quick to ask are you for us or against us, the answer comes back – neither I am come as Captain of the Host of the LORD. We fight so many battles thinking we can defeat the enemy before us, only to get defeated by our own arrogance. This encounter is a reflection of the Burning Bush on Mt. Horeb and Moses. This is Holy Ground – God prepared His people, consecrated them and restored them as His people. It was now time to go forward under the Banner of the LORD.
Now, I’m a military man, so i do understand enough about battle tactics to say what Joshua was asked to do to take Jericho is strange at best. But imagine, the warriors as they in full battle dress and how each day they walk around the city of some seven miles in diameter, then retire back to camp. Except on the seventh day – they marched 49 miles, 7 times around the city, then the Trumpets were blown by the priests and kept blowing. The walls fell and the city was taken. How did all that happen? Rahab saved and her family, the Jericho itself cursed if anyone ever built on it. Oh, Jericho belongs to the Palestinians today. FIrst is secured, man that was easy! Over confidence can be defeating. I’ll talk of AI next week.
The point of this blog – are we willing to return to the requirement of Holiness, faithful obedience to secure the victory of God over our enemies? To follow God in spite of how ridiculous it seems? Who is fighting your battles, you or the Captain of the Host of the LORD?
Joshua 1-3 shows the leadership of Joshua and his ability to lead people where they should have already gone. The new generation listened and were prepared to go where their ancestors were unwilling because of carnality and fear. Surely this new generation of Israelites had enough of wandering aimlessly in a desert land! rarely does opportunity knock more than once, unless it is the unfinished plan of God. The point of raising up a nation from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was to have a people for God’s own glory. To have a witness to the majesty and power of Elohim. I am sure that just as the early nation had set backs because of lack of faith, we to have been the object of our own disobedience. When we think through the work of God in the Old Testament to make a people, a specific people, and peculiar people for His own work, we must remember God’s plans will not be thwarted by us. There were upwards of over 1 million people who died after being delivered out of Egypt. Oh what could have been, but it was not to be! We all have missed the perfect will of God, yet God is patience with us, he doesn’t give up on us – I am thankful for that, because there are times I give up on myself!
We could look at these first chapters in Joshua like a Second Exodus, for there is familiar language and actions that were done crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan. For example the memorial stones gathered and erected to answer the questions of the young ones when they see the stones. Forgive me for the side note here – our nation has been embroiled in a rebellion that is trying to destroy the journey so many people in America have been through and the destruction of the Memorial monuments that were erected for us to explain bad talk about their meaning. We cannot sanitize our lives from all the wrong we have done, but we can learn from the mistakes and evil by remembering and being reminded about the events of human actions. We live history, sometimes it is really ugly, sometimes glorious, but either way it is life of mankind. How are others to keep from making the same wrong decisions? Teach them when they ask about the memorials. There are many events i wish i could go back and do over, but i have to remember those events formed me and others for who we are today – do i throw out the baby with the bath water because the water is dirty- No, we confess and move on in life, having learned from it.
Okay, back to Joshua, there was a significant attitude shift at Jericho, we are going forward, we will trust the LORD and press forward to the Land that was meant to be ours forty years ago. Just as Moses sent spies into the land for 40 days, here we find the objective was view the land, not take a vote of whether they should go across. The Spies meet Rahab the harlot, living on the outer wall of the city. We know how she used the scarlet ribbon to designate her home. Side note – you think that’s where “the red light district” phrase came from? Rahab brings a testimony about what Jericho already knew, they were living where God had given Israel to live. There was faith in Jericho! The people were ready, knowing that this massive nation that camped on the river of Jordan would take the Land. Rahab secured safety for her family and a covenant similar to that fatal night of the Passover when God delivered Israel from Egypt. Rahab has a great testimony and even though she is a “gentile” she is included in the linage of Jesus. God rewards faith – everyones faith!
Finally the day comes to make ready and go across the Jordan. God enabled them to walk across on dry ground, the Ark of the Covenant and the Levities in the lead. Can you imagine what it must have been like to finally advance out of the Wilderness? Or even to watch from Jericho as nearly 1.6 million people descend on the city! Jericho had heard what God did in Egypt and the Red Sea, now they were watching an enactment of the power of God before their eyes! And so the journey begins finally. How many today are waiting to do what God told them to do years ago? Well, it’s time to get ready and Go!
From Moses to Joshua
Deut. 31, 34 select verses; Joshua 1-2. In Deut. 31 we read a repeated statement to Joshua, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.” This statement is also repeated in Joshua 1 in various ways five times. Obviously taking the reign and reins from Moses would be an overwhelming assignment from God. Moses had served God forty years. He was the Friend of God; He had a closer relationship than any human. Moses was not perfect we know, for even his own disobedience at Merabah with the “smiting the Rock” twice carried a severe consequence in that he would not lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses was the one who fought with Pharaoh to release the people for Egyptian slavery, he received the LAW on Mount Sinai, it was his leadership over the last forty years in the wilderness that keep the people safe and secure until a generation died. We can think what it must have been like for Moses, this great hero to hear – “You will not lead the people to crossover into the Land.” One act of disobedience? Really? This reinforces the doctrine that NONE are righteous, no not one. God does not bless disobedience. Moses even argues with Good to let him lead the people – finally God tells Moses, No and that it!
I have learned that in pastoral ministry I may want to lead the church to achieve memorable and monumental heights; but I was not the person, but I was preparing the people for the person who was coming behind me This is remarkably similar to John the Baptist and Jesus. While this can and does have a disappointing effect, I have to remember that this is not about my GLORY but God’s and HIS Kingdom. I like Moses and many pastors have been allowed to share some of God’s Glory in the work of the ministry. Moses and we have to remember this is the WORK OF GOD not man. So, Moses is told he is not going across the Jordan, but God does tell him I will let you see the LAND that I and giving to the people. In Deut. 32:48-52 is the recounting of the “Last Mountain” Moses would climb. Moses was the last of his generation to die before Israel went into the LAND. But he had one more mountain to climb. Moses is a leader and a servant of God; great is his testimony – but even though he was an icon in Israel; Israel had to move forward without him.
Now, think about all this and you Joshua have been anointed with the laying on of hands to succeed Moses. Okay, can you see the admonishment to Joshua to “Be Strong and Courageous?” Big shoes to fill right? No Joshua had his own shoes to fill. Just as God had trained Moses for his task, Joshua was also trained for his task. We know that Joshua was a great warrior and how he fought many battles in the Wilderness. This prepared him for what was ahead in the Promised Land. I am sure there have been many a preacher that took over from a long tenured pastor, and probably did so with fear and trepidation.
The wonderful word “As I was with Moses so will I be with you.” What a message! Joshua would go forth in a commanding leadership that was distinguished by a Conquering and Courageous Faith. Just as Joshua prepared the people to cross over; He had already put fear in the people in Jericho. Imagine that for 40 years, the Canaanite people lived in fear of the conquering people led by the Strong arm of God; and Israel never came to conquer for 40 years. This also speaks of the patience and mercy of God for the tribes – they had a choice to get out or be annihilated. Rahab’s story tells us of the fear that gripped the people. “We knew that your God was God.” Josh 2:8-10. Makes me wonder how many lands has God prepared for the Gospel to conquer, yet He cannot get His people to get out of the Wilderness and into the Promised Land?
I like Joshua, he had the mentality of a military general “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” Joshua did not have a business meeting to find out what the people wanted to do – He was commissioned to OBEY God not the people. This brings a great question to the surface – should we have business meetings? I know it is important to listen, but shouldn’t the command of God negate the wishes of the people. The Church was meant to go forth with the Gospel, not debate whether it is right or not. Joshua gave the people 3 days – get ready for we are going across the river into the Promised Land and leave this Wilderness behind! Oh, Joshua was 80 years old. Point You are not done until God says you are done.
In our day of 2020, I had so many grand expectations; I have not abandoned that vision. I do not know what lies ahead, but then neither did Joshua. Let us press forward to the high calling in Jesus. Most of all “LET US GET OUT OF THE WILDERNESS! Be strong and Courageous!
Deuteronomy 28 probably is one of the most significant chapters for its message to the New Generation crossing the Jordan into Jericho. It also is a significant warning to the whole nation about its future. The most important trait about a believer of Jesus Christ and Jehovah is obedience. Chapter 27 talks at length about the Curses on the people/nation if they disobey the Word of God. In Chapter 27:13-26 every verse begins with “CURSED IS HE.” Israel nor the believers throughout history can claim they did not know. God has provided extensive directions for living in this world. The problem is that humanity wants to live like the rest of the world in disobedience and flesh sensitive satisfaction.
In chapter 28 we find an extensive dialog about what will happen if the people of God follow the whims/worship of the Canaanite nations. What started out wonderfully under the leadership of Joshua, fizzled two generations later. Instead of being light and salt, the nation embraced the customs, cults, and carnality of the very people they were to dispose of from the Land.
We as believers today must heed the warning and the devastating results of disobedience. I find that in the CHURCH, our methods and practices are governed by what the LOST world will allow us to do. We must become a holy and devout people to God in Heaven and repel the inclination of trying to live “riding on the fence” with this world.
As the people of God, we must embrace our calling to be a “peculiar people” and obey God rather than man. We know the story of how Joshua and his generation, and the generation who witnessed the “acts of God” in taking the Promised Land; but we find that by the 3rd generation, Israel gets satisfied with “partial conquest” of the Promised Land and begins living with the Canaanite people groups.
This become a snare for the people of God. We are admonished that we cannot serve God and Mammon – in other words we can embrace the world and serve God simultaneously.
When we investigate the words of Deut. 28, they are more than a warning; the words are prophetic. I mean they are foretelling what will happen to the Nation of Israel. After a lengthy exposition on what the curses will be if they disobey; God brings an account of “witness” to the people. In Deut. 31:19-20; heaven and earth are witness against you today that I have set life and death before you – the blessing and the curse. Choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants “by loving the LORD God, by obeying His voice and holding fast to Him.” These are strong words; that were reaffirmed by Jesus when he said that we are to “Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength” in Mark’s Gospel.
In Deut. 28 God reveals the story of Israel’s future. We find that because Israel would not obey God, but played the harlot, that they were overcome by the land. Point – darkness quells the people of God. The curses that were meant for the LOST were put on Israel. Israel was a rebellious and stiff-necked people, so are we. Instead of conquering the Promised Land, Israel was conquered. Instead of remaining in the Land, that sought after the god of Baal. Israel went into captivity after hundreds of years of disobedience. The Babylonian captivity [587 BC] came as fulfillment of Deut. 28. But look how longsuffering God was towards His people! Prophet after prophet was sent to remind and warn Israel of impending judgement – but the messages fell on death ears. Again, the prophecy of Deut. 28 comes to reality in AD 70 when Titus the Roman general destroys Jerusalem and the Temple. Even then Israel did not repent and return to the LORD.
So, here we are in 2020, pandemic and chaos abound across the globe. Will the people of God in this generation he the words that Israel did not? Will we continue to live like the world and be overcome with its darkness? When I read and reread this chapter I got convicted and overwhelmed with the judgment of God on disobedience. AT a time when it looks like evil is winning the battle, I have to ask the question to all of us – Where are the soldiers and warriors of the Cross? We cannot blame past generations for our disobedience today. We are accountable to the Father for “it is OUR WATCH.” Children of the Most High God – Put on your Armor and prepare for battle by prayer, obedience, and holiness.