Tag Archives: Promised Land
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 18-22; life for the nation of Israel would be quite different than living in the Wilderness or Egypt. God was giving Israel the Promised Land, all they needed to do was live as the people of Yahweh; the many warnings were not heeded and Israel became prisoners in their own land.
After learning how to observe holidays and festivals, Moses reiterates the requirements for life in the Canaan land and the temptation to become like the inhabitants. God had chosen Israel to be His people, they and we are called to be “a peculiar people.” I have said this in sermons before – peculiar not weird. But then again I guess Believers are a bit weird.
When we take a close look at the kind of people living in the Promised Land, we find that every sort of cultic practice was acceptable and being routinely done. Even today, in our global culture we find many if not all of these spiritual, cult expressions having taken root in our lives to the extent we do not even think about their assistance or impact on daily life. God calls the “detestable things.” But when people are forbidden to do something, it seems there is this insatiable appetite to do that brewery prohibited thing. While we might try to discount or excuse the behaviors and actions as just the world being the world; if we look deeper at the root of the behavior, we will find that they are “spiritual” forces of darkness at work [Ephesians 6:10-18]. Believers must remember that “Lucifer, Satan, the Father of lies and the prince and power of the air is real and seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy.” [John 10:10a]
The list of forbidden behavior in the Promise Land by Israel – divination, omens, casting spells, mediums, spiritist, calling up the dead, witchcraft and sorcery. Quite a list of evil behavior. I have to admit it is a very “dark” list of topics. Now let us remember that because of Canaanites living in such a manner, they were being annihilated. We also must remember the testimony of Rahab in Joshua 2, the people knew that Yahweh was God. They lived in fear for 40 years of the Israelite’s, for they knew that God had given them the land. However, Israel lived in faithlessness for 40 years, never living in the Promise of God. My point, the tribes of Canaanites, Hivities, Jebusites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites were warned to “move out” but they remained in the Land God had promised. Te list of actions and spiritual cult behavior is the reason the tribes of Canaan was being evicted and destroyed. As Romans 1 tells us, even though they knew God, they refused to worship God as God; so God gave them over to the futility of their minds. There was nothing good about the depraved tribes and their sensuality of religions. Moses brings a strong warning not to get involved with the people and their cultic practices. Yeah i know Israel doesn’t listen. Sadly, neither do we today. A question we must ask is why are we looking around for “other gods” when we have the Great I AM who has done all things for our holiness and salvation? Why, because we are a fleshly and sensual people. My generation coined the phrase – “if it feels good do it.” Sad to say most of mankind leans this way of life.
Life in the Promised Land was built on obedience to the Law given to Moses. Instructions of how to handle civil crimes; creating “sanctuary cities” for the manslaughter killings. We find that Moses really is describing the civil government to be established in the Promised Land with Judges and courts. In chapters 19-22 we have explicit instructions of how to live in the new land.
When thinking about living “In the world, but not of the world,” we need to remember that while we live and have our being here for a time; we are only passing through. We are to be as pilgrims on a journey, our journey end at the throne of God who is the builder and protector is God. I do think today we [believers] have become too acquainted with how the World lives, that we have forgot who we are suppose to be. The adage “there is more world in the church, then church in the world” rings oh so true. This should not be. Will we be courageous to live like people of God or like people in the Word. The World is passing away – let’s hold on to the things of the world with a lose grip, and be the peculiar people – salt and light in the Land we live.
2 Kings 24-25; the end of the road for Judah. Fallen is Samaria and Israel – the Northern Kingdom [Lost 10 tribes]; a 150 later noting has been learned by Judah. Assyria and Egypt had been fighting for control of the “Promised Land” – somehow through pay-offs and treaties Judah was able to live in relative peace. Kings like Uzziah and Hezekiah who did right in the eyes of the Lord extended their existence. Judah was not without sin; but God was faithful to keep His covenant that he made with David even though Judah deserved the same judgment as Israel for their idolatrous ways. I think that Israel/Judah felt they were exempt from the judgment of God that He displayed on the Canaanite tribes. However, Israel and Judah followed the sins, iniquities, transgressions and abominations of the nations God had expelled out of the “inheritance” of Israel. This is not the first or the last time that arrogance and pride will cause Judah/Israel to be led into captivity. Jeremiah and so many other prophetic voices warned Israel and Judah to repent and return to the ways of the Lord. Jeremiah preaches 50 years, yet all he gain was deaf ears to his message.
After faithful King Josiah is killed, there is a series of kings with a very limited reign and influence. The world power shifts at this point from Egypt and Assyria to Babylon, more specifically to King Nebuchadnezzar. Because Judah persisted in rebellion and idol worship, God allowed Babylon to come to power and lead them [Judah] into captivity and make the Promise Land desolate except for the poorest of people. The Promise Land laid waste!!!!!!! Why? Easy answer Judah and Israel left God for gods – But I think that the Promise Land had become so polluted, God and to “Purge” the land of the people and idols so He could restore it again under Ezra and Nehemiah. Sometimes I think that there needs to be a purging of the Church Body before God can do His work in the lives of the Remnant.
An undertone is how God is Merciful even in His judgment. There were three deportations by Babylon – the land was stripped of all the royalty, educated, skilled and craftsmen. Judah was also allowed to continue [return] to worship Yahweh. The exile of Judah was prescribed and implemented under the Hand of God. Jeremiah told Judah “don’t resist the Babylonians, but go into the land, build houses and live among your captive masters. Isaiah 45-66 is called the Post-Exilic chapters of Isaiah or better known as Deutro-Isaiah. Many prophets foretold of the return of God’s people after 70 years in exile.
As bad as it was in the destruction and deportation of Judah, the siege of Jerusalem and the starvation of the people; God was still merciful in that He did not destroy all the people, but left a remnant. We may be looking at a similar situation here in our own USA; the condition of the Church is deplorable; the Gospel has been polluted; we worship our worship not God in our services. I truly believe God is not pleased with the Bride! But there is a remnant that hold to the Truth of God’s Word, it will be the Remnant that God will use – like the Church in Sardis there are those who have not “soiled their garments.” We the Church today must take heed to the warning given to Strengthen what remains, to Hold fast to the Truth.
Years ago America thought it was invincible from attack from an enemy on its own shores – thinking that the distance was too far for the enemy to attack unnoticed – then Pearl Harbor happened and took away the arrogance and pride of invincibility. God is doing a great work among many other “pagan” nations. The Chinese and the Muslim countries are experiencing great numbers of converts to Christ. Yet here in America the church is dying and has gone into apostasy in much of the land.
Will America be restored? Will there be a revival? Will the Church heed the warnings of Israel and Judah? Will America have to Fall before it returns to the Lord? All questions we must answer personally and collectively.
Numbers 20-21 are two more accounts where the people of God; Israel are still the stiff-necked people. The change in their hearts has not been made. Time after time the people will rebel and then when things go haywire, they cry out in distress for the LORD to deliver them. One would think that after so many times of rebelling and failing that after the Lord delivered them, the people would get a clue. Wait a second, this sounds like how many believers live their lives out! The Book of Judges is reflective of the roller-coaster ride many professing Christians experience. The on and off dedication to the Lord is cause for so much agony and heart ache. Chapter 20 starts out with Miriam dying, the older sister of Moses. So at Kadesh, after refusing to enter the Promised Land, the people start singing the same song about “why have you brought us out here to die, would that we stayed in Egypt.’ If we think about this a bit; if the spies had just brought the glowing report of food and sustenance about the Promise Land, then the people had to be satisfied with the Manna and Quail now; I’m sure we would complain a bit too. However, this complaining has its effect on the Leader. Now leaders are human beings too; but that doesn’t give us excuse. In the heat of the conflict, Moses gets angry and instead of “speaking to the Rock” he strikes the Rock twice. The water comes forth from the Rock – but the event of rebellion against God has its consequences. Moses will not be allowed to enter in the Promised Land when the time comes. In Deuteronomy Moses is not sick, or blind, in good health, but taken up the Mountain that overlooks Jericho, Moses sees the picture of “what could have been.” Joshua will lead the people across. Now I have to admit I was a little ticked about the harsh punishment Moses received because he disobeyed God. I thought of all the ways that the people behaved, and felt that God should give him another chance – in fact Moses addressed the punishment with God – and the Father got ticked “what I have said, I have said – no more talk about it!” Only until I was reminded of how close Moses was allowed to get to God and the privileged position he was in did I understand that if anyone should have gotten it right – Moses would have been it. Speak to the Rock, don’t strike it. The is a metaphor of Jesus – Jesus only needed to be struck/die once. We do not need to repeatedly re-crucify Him. Also Moses struck in anger at the people. I wonder how many times have we struck out at God when people made us angry?
The second event is the Snakes – The same song is sung “why have you brought us here” – this time the complaining of the people to Moses draws the ire of God. He sends a plague of fiery snakes on the people. The people start dying because of the snake bites. Moses begins to intercede for the people to the LORD; God gives the cure to the people – don’t look at the snakes on the ground look at the standard with the bronze serpent on it. Jesus uses this metaphor about Himself – just as Moses lifted the serpent up in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up. As the people “looked and lived” by believing [faith] the serpent standard would heal; so it is with people who look to Jesus who was lifted up on the Cross. Healing from sin and death is a result of our faith looking. The symbol of the medical field is one similar to the Nehushtan. As the people of Israel were plagued with the fiery serpent that caused death, so are we people who are plagued by sin and death [Satan the serpent] the cure then and now is to Look and Live. Look at the Savior and live. For all the healing mankind needs is found not with a snake on a standard, but the Son of God on the Cross.
I find that Numbers 13/14 to be some of the saddest chapters in the Bible. After having camped at Mt. Sinai for a year, the nation of Israel is finally on its way to the homeland – the Promised Land. The blessing of God that was promised to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 12/14/17/22 is finally coming to a crescendo; but the lack of faith by the generation appointed to enter the land results in children wandering in the wilderness for forty years, watching their disobedient parents die. The tribes of Israel had been witness and recipient to the power of Yahweh for the last 18 months. They had tasted of His provision of manna, water and quail. The people had personally received the mercy of God during their rebellious behavior [Exodus 32]. Each tribe afford the privilege to send out a scout to see the Land of Promise and bring back a report. The orders were to “spy out the Land; investigate the cities and people of the Land and bring back some fruit from the Land.” For 40 days the spies enjoyed the provision of the land; all the while collecting data about the Land God said He would give them. I cannot imagine having to cut down a sapling tree in order to carry back a cluster of grapes. The question – is the Land as God said it would be? Is it a land “Flowing with milk and honey?” True enough was the report from the 12 spies. But – oh, why did there have to be a “But”? Yes the land is like the Lord promised – but the cities are fortified, and there are descendants of Anak in the land [Anak or the Nephilim are ancestors of the Philistines – remember Goliath was a Giant some 9 feet tall.] Fear had gripped the 10 spies who saw the obstacles in the land not the opportunity of the land. Caleb tries to quiet the people; fear has gripped them – their thought obviously was that they would just walk into the inhabited land and take it without fighting or conflict. Just as Egypt saw the “strong hand of the Lord” so will followers by faith. The people saw their own limits and determined that even though the land was as described – they were like “grasshoppers” and would be nothing more than cannon fodder for the giants. Walking by sight says we can’t – walking by faith says we can’t but God can!
Caleb and Joshua some men who were 40 and 45 at the time relived that God could do what he said. Joshua the son of Nun had been the commander of the armies and witnessed the “battle strength” of God during the fighting of the Amalekites. [Exodus 17] For he had been part of a battle with the enemy where if Moses hands being lifted up , fighting a battle he couldn’t lose; and when Moses hands were down, fighting a battle he couldn’t win. The faith of Caleb and Joshua would be rewarded, not on this day though. The crowd or mob that was forming would win the day. FEAR won that day. Numbers 14 is just as sad – for now the people have realized no promise land, so they complain against Moses and Aaron. “Would that we would have died in Egypt” – Let’s get another leader and go back.
Moses challenges the people not to rebel and not to fear the people of the land. I wonder how many churches have not conquered their “land” because of fear of the people? We find out later that the people of the land were already gripped with fear in the story of Rahab [Joshua 2]. In Numbers 14:18-19; there is a great warning and punishment for failure to accomplish what God had set out to do through us. To know that our rebellion will be found in the 2nd – 4th generations – this is the great influence and impact that we pass on to our children and grandchildren. While that is the negative, we also know that faith expressed is a source of influence for good to the generations that follow us. After the people of Israel had been chided for disobedience; they try to go take the land in their own strength. This is a big mistake; this was the source of their fear – Not by the strength of man, but by the Power and authority of God the Land would be theirs. The change of mind and attempt to do what only God could do ended in disaster. Doing the right thing at the wrong time is still disobedience. The people of Israel and the church often have learned the difficult lesson following God. Many a church has balked at the “Promised Land” because they saw obstacles. Would that Churches today would trust more in the power of Jehovah than in the programs of men!
Jeremiah 32-37 is our reading for the week. There really isn’t anything new as far as the preaching message of Jeremiah to Judah and the leadership [king, priests and prophets]. However the significant message is that the Promised Land has become so polluted that nothing grows. When Israel came out of Egypt, they were destined for the Promise Land, they were blessed to be a great nation, and had the blessing of Yahweh with them. In Numbers 13 we find the story of how the spies were sent in to “seek out” the Land. Now they spent 40 days in the Promised Land eating and enjoying the land of “milk and honey.” However, when they reported back to the leadership and people, 10 of the spies said the land is as the Lord God has said, but there are giants in the land with fortified cities. “We are like grasshoppers in their sight.” In other words we can go there. Two spies, Joshua and Caleb said, we can do this, the Lord our God will give this land to us. The majority ruled, actually fear ruled the day not faith. It would be 40 years before Israel would go into the land. God “purged” Israel of the sin, grumbling and anarchy that kept them in the Wilderness. For 40 years, Israel moved around in the wilderness – dying. When the people of God had been purged of the faithless people, Joshua was able to lead them into the Land that was already theirs. The point is that the people did not act on what God said, but on what man had said. God said “Go” but the spies said “No.” Our Heavenly Father will allow you to die in the Wilderness if you chose – but His plan will still be valid. When Israel did finally go in – they did not fully occupy the land. In fact we know that 2 1/2 tribes stayed on the wrong side of the river! After God “Purged” Israel, then He began purging the land promised to His people. In that Israel did not fully purge the Canaanite tribes out of the land, but began to co-habitat with them, produced apostasy and cult worship of Baal.
When we approach our passage for the week, we find that God is doing the same thing again. The deportations to Babylon guaranteed a “Remanent” to be returned to the Land. Those that remained behind would be “purged” with sword, famine, and pestilence. In Jeremiah 32:29, fire is going to be used. Herein lies the work of God again. He will purge the Promised Land of the sin and apostasy of His people. When God was done with Jerusalem [through Nebuchadnezzar] nothing but ashes remained. The bodies laid in the streets and became carnage for the vultures. The Land lay desolate for 70 years, just as God had said. After the “purging” God would draw back His people from the places they had been scattered. They would be His people and He would be their God.
Even though Israel benefited from Jehovah, given the Law and blessings as His people, they did not FULLY serve Him. They served Jehovah when it was convenient. The people still wanted their gods of the world. we find today in our society, the same is true, for churches, communities and countries. “with their mouth they serve Me, but their heart is far from Me.”
Come with me to the time of Jesus’ ministry – the same thing is being repeated. The People of God are not godly or righteous. They have polluted the Land again, except this time it is with hypocrisy and spiritual debauchery. The religious leaders of the day were “caught up in a system” of their own making. They appeared righteous outside, but empty full of dead men inside. As Jesus preached the conflict became evident. When Jesus sent the disciples out, “go to the Lost Sheep of Israel.” Just as Judah and Israel rejected the prophets who spoke the message of God, the religious leaders would reject Jesus. The parable about the Landowner and the workers outlines my point. The vineyard was leased out so to speak, when harvest time came, the owner sent His emissaries to get the harvest, they were killed. Finally, the Son of the owner was sent – they killed him and claimed the inheritance. The Last Straw parable would be a good name for this. When the people of God reject the Message of God, they will be “purged and refined with fire.” In AD 70 – the very same destruction that happened in 587-582 BC returned. God would purge the Promised Land again. This time a more grave situation, the very Son of God had been rejected and killed. The Promised Land laid waste until after 6 million Jews were “purged” – then they were allowed to return – again from the places that God had scattered them. It was better to be scattered than to stay and die. But mark this – God will cleanse the Land of sin. Wake Up America – the Land is polluted and purge and fire are coming!