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  • Joshua Gulley 10:48 pm on February 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: battle of Ai, , , , , Joshua, ,   

    the whole counsel of God 

    Joshua 8 records the battle the children of Israel fought against the people of Ai. It is an interesting study in military strategy, but more importantly, the end of the chapter provides a lesson for us regarding our spiritual lives. After the victory, Joshua built an altar, wrote a new copy of the law of Moses, and the nation held a ceremony in which the law was read to the people. According to the last verse of the chapter, “There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.” It was not enough to know some of the law. The people needed to know ALL of the law. As the Lord told Moses, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

    Lord, make us hungry to glean everything we can from the pages of Scripture, for we do not live by some of Your words, but by all of them.

  • Ron Thomas 7:17 am on October 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua,   

    The Way 

    In Joshua 3:4, the Lord told Joshua and the nation, as they prepared themselves to pass over the Jordan River, to make sure there is a distance of about 3,000 feet between the Ark of the Covenant and the first man to follow behind the lead of the priest carrying the ark. The reason for this distance is two-fold: first, the ark was holy and no man could get close without the Lord bringing judgment upon the perpetrator; second, “Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”

    Jesus said that He is the way the truth and the life; no man can go to the Father, but by Him (John 14:6). Earlier in His ministry to the nation He appealed to all who could hear His voice, “Come unto me all you labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In matters that pertain to righteousness it is so easy for us to think that we can replace our own way of thinking for the Lord’s. This is a catastrophic mistake. Are we so strong that we can create the heavens and earth? Are we so wise that we can make a plan even before the earth was created? Have we so much knowledge that we can tell the end from the beginning and all things that happen in between? Since we can do none of these things, isn’t it best that we follow the path the Lord has lain for us—having already gone Himself?


  • Ron Thomas 9:00 am on October 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Lessons in Joshua 1 and 2 

    1. Prosperity is found in the Lord (Joshua 1:8). What good will it do or be for a man who gains the world, but then loses his soul?
    2. The mighty men of valor lead the nation (Joshua 1:14). The word valor means strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness (Webster, 10th Collegiate, p. 2041). Those who are men of valor are to be the leaders in the congregation of the Lord’s body. What did Paul say to Titus (Titus 1:5-11)?
    3. Rejected authority results in a bad day for the rejecter (Joshua 1:18)! In this country, in our society, it is almost a badge of honor to resist those in authority. The Lord did not look upon those who do that with any virtue when it came to His will.
    4. Is there a lesson with regard to lying (Joshua 2:4)? Did the Lord need for Rahab to lie in order for the spies to have success? Clearly the answer is no. Whatever weakness a person may have, whatever there is in the way of short-comings and sins experienced, the Lord will not be pleased with such; He will, however, be pleased with those who live by faith. This was Rahab.
    5. That which the Lord did in history (Joshua 2:10-11), those things that were and are monumental with regard to His intervening in the affairs of man (to bring about His purposes), these things are not to be relegated to history books as points of fact. They are, on the other hand, to help us understand that with the Lord’s intervention people should pay particular attention. A great many people who call themselves Christians will say, and say it with emphasis, that they are not considering that which the Lord did as insignificant. Unfortunately they speak better than they live!
    6. When you say you will do something did you find a reason for not doing it? Honoring one’s word is crucial to credibility (Joshua 2:15-21).
    7. Those who go outside when they are admonished to stay inside pay a heavy price (Joshua 2:19-21).
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Joshua’s Farewell Address & Burial, Part 2 (JOSHUA 24) 

    Joshua begins the final chapter with a brief overview of the history of the Hebrews:

    “Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abrham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. Also I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to what I did among them. Afterward I brought you out. Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. So they cried out to the LORD; and He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, brought the sea upon them, and covered them. And your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. Then you dwelt in the wilderness a long time. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, who dwelt on the other side of the Jordan, and they fought with you. But I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land, and I destroyed them from before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose to make war against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. But I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he continued to bless you. So I delivered you out of his hand. Then you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the men of Jericho fought against you–also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I delivered them into your hand. I sent the hornet before you which drove them out from before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword or with your bow. I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant” (Josh. 24:1-13).

    What purpose does recounting their history serve? It reminds the old and teaches the young about their past and how God has always been there for them! The message of their history is unambiguous: God is faithful and will bless you if you obey Him! He will bless you in ways you do not deserve; He will give you success which you cannot fathom. Christians must take this message to heart today for Almighty God has not changed! Joshua concludes this rehearsal of their history by making the following appeal – “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD'” (24:14,15).

    He calls the nation to continued faithful action and declares the choice he and his family had made. If one desired to foolishly serve false gods, he would be allowed to do so, but that was not Joshua’s choice.

    “So the people answered and said: ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. And the LORD drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God'” (24:16-18).

    Joshua’s words are both true and persuasive. It makes no sense to forsake the true and living God for dead, powerless idols. Yet, that is precisely what they would do in time! This should cause us to pause and really reflect upon the direction of our own lives (cf. II Cor. 13:5). For example, when one gets married, he is dedicated to his wife until death parts them. But, how many marriages end prematurely in divorce? That was not the initial plan, but as time passes, often things change and what was once a solid commitment becomes weak and viewed in a different light. Such can also happen to one’s spiritual walk if he is not very careful to continually evaluate and come back to God’s standard! Over time it is easy to drift into beliefs and practices that one would strongly object to at some point in the past. Don’t let what happened to Israel happen to you, friends! “We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away” (Heb. 2:1). Joshua tried to warn them, and these people did remain faithful in the short-term. But, they failed to properly educate the next generation (cf. Jud. 2:10)!

    “But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the LORD; for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the LORD!'” (Josh. 24:19-21). This section is a bit confusing on the surface. Why does Joshua say that Israel cannot serve God and that He will not forgive their sins? Contextually, it would seem he is trying to say that their religion must be more than lip-service (which is where they were at currently to some extent)! If you’re only partially committed to God, you cannot serve Him properly and this will anger Him and He will not be gracious toward you. The people here reiterate a second time a pledge of loyalty (cf. 24:16,22).

    “So Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’ ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!’ So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem” (24:22-25).

    They needed to be fully committed to the LORD. It is mind-boggling that they still had some traces of idolatry in their lives even after all that God had done for them in conquering Canaan, but such was the case.

    “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel” (24:31). The people were faithful for a while, but it would not last as the book of Judges details. Joshua and the other leaders were strong, but there was a failure to properly train the children. Let me close with a powerful quote from Adam Clarke:

    “Thus nearly all the persons who had witnessed the miracles of God in the wilderness were gathered to their fathers; and their descendants left in possession of the great inheritance, with the law of God in their hands, and the bright example of their illustrious ancestors before their eyes. It must be added that they possessed every advantage necessary to make them a great, a wise, and a holy people. How they used, or rather how they abused, these advantages, their subsequent history, given in the sacred books, amply testifies.”

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Joshua’s Farewell Address & Burial, Part 1 (JOSHUA 23) 

    Great leaders make preparations for the future of the ones they lead, even when they know they won’t be around much longer to provide personal guidance. Moses, in the book of Deuteronomy, tried to prepare the people for his departure by reviewing their law and history and exhorting them to faithfulness (which leads to blessings) and pleading with them to avoid disobedience (which leads to cursings). In a similar fashion, Joshua, in the final two chapters of the book bearing his name, prepares the nation for his departure from this life by recounting some of their history and the great success God had blessed them with in conquering the Promised Land of Canaan. He calls them to spiritual purity, pleading with them to avoid all entanglements with idolatry and immorality, even some that persisted to that day. Most of the text of these two chapters is straightforward dialogue–requiring little explanation–and Joshua’s words are a powerful end to our study of this book and worthy of our consideration. I will read many of the verses from the closing chapters and make only a few comments.

    Joshua begins by acknowledging his old age and later states that he is about to die. He reminds them of what had been accomplished in his lifetime (namely, the dividing of the land and the conquering of much of it). But, there was still work to be done, so he says:

    “Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, but you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. For the LORD has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God. Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations–these that remain among you–and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you. Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed. Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all the good things have come upon you which the LORD your God promised you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the harmful things, until He has destroyed you from this good land which the LORD your God has given you. When you have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you” (Josh. 23:6-16).

    Although the nation was in great shape overall at the moment, that would all change if they decide, in the future, to abandon God’s ways. They needed to be full of courage and conviction or else they would drift into many problems (such is true for us today as well!). Sadly, as the rest of the Old Testament records, Israel lacked long-term fidelity to the Lord. The problems Joshua warned of soon became a reality. The initial cause of their apostasy is related to their incomplete obedience in destroying all the Canaanites from the land. Why didn’t they completely annihilate the Canaanites as instructed? The answer seems to be that once they possessed enough land to accommodate their people that they stopped putting forth the necessary effort to do all that God had required of them. They possessed the same attitude that many Christians seem to display today; that is, a willingness to do just enough to suit themselves. The Canaanites who were allowed to live grew in number and influence over the Israelites as decades and centuries passed. God was with Israel now and nothing could stop them, but tragically it wouldn’t always be that way.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    The Misunderstood Altar (JOSHUA 22) 

    As Joshua 22 begins, the men of battle from the two-and-a-half tribes that settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River are permitted to go back to their homes. They had faithfully fulfilled their commitment to helping the other tribes conquer Canaan. Joshua blessed them but also offered this warning, however – “But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Josh. 22:5). Although the Jordan separated them from the rest of Israel, God would still be watching them, and He expected them to keep the covenant. This is a great warning and lesson for us today, too!

    “And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan–a great impressive altar. Now the children of Israel heard someone say, ‘Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan–on the children of Israel’s side.’ And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered together at Shiloh to go to war against them” (Josh. 22:10-12).

    To the uninformed, Israel’s response here may seem like an overreaction. “They gathered the whole army together against these two-and-a-half tribes because they had built a remarkable altar?! What’s so offensive about that?” one might ask. There is only one reason: God had given explicit instructions that all offerings were to be made at the tabernacle (cf. Lev. 17:8,9; Deut. 12:4-14). The Israelites assumed that their brethren had transgressed the covenant in a serious way (or were preparing to do so). Such an offense could not be ignored. They immediately sent a group of leaders to speak with the two-and-a-half tribes about the matter.

    “What treachery is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that you have built for yourselves an altar, that you might rebel this day against the LORD? Is the iniquity of Peor not enough for us, from which we are not cleansed till this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD, but that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? And it shall be, if you rebel today against the LORD, that tomorrow He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel. Nevertheless, if the land of your possession is unclean, then cross over to the land of the possession of the LORD, where the LORD’s tabernacle stands, and take possession among us; but do not rebel against the LORD, nor rebel against us, by building yourselves an altar besides the altar of the LORD our God. Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity” (Josh. 22:16-20).

    This rebuke is a bit premature, as we will learn shortly, but the nation should be commended for taking the matter seriously. They assumed (incorrectly but understandably) that the altar was going to be used for sacrifices, but they knew it wasn’t the authorized altar for such a purpose. They didn’t want a repeat of what had happened at Peor or Ai–where the rebellion of some cost the entire nation dearly (cf. Num. 25; Josh. 7). Thus, they invite these tribes to come across the Jordan and dwell with them if their current territory is insufficient or unclean in some way. They plead with them not to sin against God and stir His anger up against all twelve tribes!

    The two-and-a-half tribes give a reasonable defense for their actions. They clearly state that this altar was not for sacrifices, it was a memorial–and nothing more. One might rightly question their judgment here, but they did not sin. They had said amongst themselves – “Let us now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering nor for sacrifice, but that it may be a witness between you and us and our generations after us, that we may perform the service of the LORD before Him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your descendants may not say to our descendants in time to come, ‘You have no part in the LORD.’ Therefore we said that it will be, when they say this to us or to our generations in time to come, that we may say, ‘Here is the replica of the altar of the LORD which our fathers made, though not for burnt offerings nor for sacrifices; but it is a witness between you and us'” (Josh. 22:26-28). The leaders brought back this message to the nation, and Israel was satisfied with this response. Dialogue helped prevent an unnecessary battle! Even today it is true that open, respectful communication will go a long way towards peacemaking.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Land Promise Declared Fulfilled (JOSHUA 21) 

    “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Josh. 21:43-45).

    God had made some wonderful promises to the patriarch Abraham, and God always keeps His word! God gave them the land of Canaan for the time was right (i.e., the sins of the inhabitants of Canaan were overflowing and annihilation was necessary). Israel was victorious not because of their strength in numbers or skill in battle. They won because God wanted them to win! He gave them victory after victory, and they would enjoy continued success (“rest”) as long as they stayed true to the covenant.

    These verses seem simple enough, but they have significant application even for us today living in the Christian era. Allow me to explain.

    There are some today who hold premillennial convictions. In other words, they believe we are currently living prior to the “millennium,” and they contend that Jesus will one day return to reign on a physical throne in physical Jerusalem for 1000 years. It is not within our scope at this time to tackle this broad and sometimes varied false doctrine in whole, but rather there is one component of it that Joshua 21:43-45 deals with masterfully.

    Those who expect Christ to return for a physical reign understand that He must have a physical land to return to. Thus, many with premillennial leanings support the modern nation of Israel because they believe its existence is a prerequisite to Jesus’ return. These same people believe the Promised Land is still owed to the nation of Israel in some way, but the text above says “no.”

    The promise God made to Abraham approximately 4000 years ago has been fulfilled! It had been fulfilled in Joshua’s day! How much plainer can the text be: “The LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers…not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass”? If God had given everything He intended to give, and the Israelites squandered the land due to immoral living and lost possession of it (as will be shown in the remainder of the Old Testament), there should be no real expectation today that God must restore the land to the descendants of Jacob. Besides, true Israel today is of a spiritual nature, not physical ancestry–but I digress (cf. Rom. 2:28,29).

    God gave the land of Canaan to Israel and they would lose it. The land promise was fulfilled, and there is no requirement that it be fulfilled again in the modern era. I wish nothing but the best for any Jew living in Israel today (or anywhere in the world for that matter), but I do not believe the existence of that nation today is required for Christ’s return! He’s not coming to reign on a physical throne; the faithful shall meet Him in the air (cf. I Thess. 4:16,17)!

    There are other verses that underscore the same truth. For instance, Nehemiah 9:7,8 – “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram, and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and gave him the name Abraham; you found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites–to give it to his descendants. You have performed Your words, for You are righteous.”

    Finally, Deuteronomy 19 lends additional support to our conclusion that God had completely fulfilled the land promise centuries before Christ lived and that no one today can rightly say that God still must provide the Promised Land for the Jewish people. In that chapter it is explicitly stated that there should be three cities of refuge. However, the nation was told by Moses – “if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways, then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three” (Deut. 19:9). So, if six cities of refuge were ever established (and there were six ultimately), then God had fully given the land He had promised to the fathers (cf. 19:8). Almighty God keeps His word!

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Cities for the Levites (JOSHUA 20) 

    “The LORD also spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills a person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood. And when he flees to one of those cities, and stands at the entrance of the gate of the city, and declares his case in the hearing of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city as one of them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. Then if the avenger of blood pursues him, they shall not deliver the slayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor unintentionally, but did not hate him beforehand. And he shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the slayer may return and come to his own city and his own house, to the city from which he fled'” (Josh. 20:1-6).

    Moses was given detailed instructions pertaining to this subject in Number 35 and Deuteronomy 19. Although the Levites were not given large blocks of land as the other tribes received, God did want them to have a number of cities–48 in all–scattered throughout Canaan (cf. Gen. 49:7). Each tribe would give some of their cities to the Levites, along with common land surrounding it. The Levites were typically the most knowledgeable when it came to religion and spiritual matters. Thus, having them dwell throughout the land would maximize their influence for good among the nation, instead of having them all dwell in one region where their interactions with others might be more limited.

    Of the 48 cities, 6 were to be used for a very special purpose. They were to be cities of refuge. Under the Mosaic law, if person X killed person Y, then the nearest of kin to the deceased (person Z) had the duty to seek vengeance. He would function as the “avenger of blood” on behalf of the one who had been slain. Remember, their basic rule of law was “an eye for eye,” etc. (cf. Exo. 21:12ff). It was the duty of person X to flee to one of these cities of refuge for protection until a judgment was rendered. These cities were scattered throughout the land (3 on each side of the Jordan) so that wherever one was in the Promised Land, he could travel to a place of safety fairly quickly.

    After the slayer sought refuge in one of these cities, he was protected–at least until he had his day in court, so to speak. If he was found guilty of murder (i.e., premeditated killing based on hatred), then he would be put to death. Under the Old Law, convicted murderers must die–period! This ruling required at least two witnesses to the crime. If the slayer took a life accidentally (e.g., if an ax head came off the handle while chopping wood and it struck a person; cf. Deut. 19:5), then his life was safe as long as he remained in the city of refuge. If he left the city (for whatever reason), the avenger of blood could justifiably take his life. The only exception to this was that whenever the high priest died, the manslayer’s record would be wiped clean, in a manner of speaking. He could go home and the avenger of blood was not permitted to harm him. There were no other exceptions.

    Obviously, God takes the loss of innocent human life seriously and set forth these rules for protection of it. Even accidental killings were not treated trivially. The one who carelessly slaughtered another would have to remain in a city of refuge (likely for years and perhaps even for many decades). Manslaughter would radically change his life (as it also did for the victim’s family who lost a loved one).

    There is one interesting matter of typology that can be detailed here. As Christians, our High Priest (Jesus) never dies! Therefore, we-who, on our own merits, have hands stained with sin and are worthy of death–must always remain in our place of refuge (i.e., “in Christ”; Rom. 8:1). Our sins will not be cleansed with the passage of time if we are outside of Christ (i.e., outside the place of refuge). If we leave Christ and the spiritual safety He provides, we will eventually perish and be without hope.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Dividing the Land (JOSHUA 13-19) 

    “Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the LORD said to him: ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed. This is the land that yet remains: all the territory of the Philistines and all that of the Geshurites, from Sihor, which is east of Egypt, as far as the border of Ekron northward (which is counted as Canaanite); the five lords of the Philistines–the Gazites, the Ashdodites, the Ashkelonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites; also the Avites; from the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians as far as Aphek, to the border of the Amorites; the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon as far as the entrance to Hamath; all the inhabitants of the mountains from Lebanon as far as the Brook Misrephoth, and all the Sidonians–them I will drive out from before the children of Israel; only divide it by lot to Israel as an inheritance, as I have commanded you. Now therefore, divide this land as an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh'” (Josh. 13:1-7).

    Some argue that the listing here of unconquered towns and boundaries is incomplete. Regardless, it is clear that there is still much work to do! There remained many Canaanites yet to be destroyed from the land God had given the Israelites. However, Joshua’s old age prompted God to instruct him to proceed to divide the land among the tribes who had not yet received their inheritance. The land could be divvied up even though it was only partially conquered. Then, the individual tribes could proceed to fully conquer their allotted territories. It should be noted that although the Philistines were not descendants of Canaan (cf. Gen. 10:6,14), they were invaders in the land and were to be driven out.

    The half tribe of Manasseh, the Reubenites, and the Gadites had already received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan (cf. Josh. 13), but the other nine and one-half tribes would receive land west of the Jordan (cf. Josh. 14-19). The land would be distributed by lot (cf. 14:2). Much of the text in Chapters 13 – 19 is devoted to geographically describing the boundaries each tribe was given. Since a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, we have included an image below that shows approximately where the tribes ultimately settled (along with the locations of the six cities of refuge, which will be discussed in Josh. 20). This image is summarized from the written descriptions included in the book of Joshua. In all, there are 13 tribes mentioned: Levi, Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Judah, Ephraim, Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan. Although there were only twelve tribes originally, Joseph was given a double portion by his father and each of his sons (Ephraim and Manasseh) became recognized as a tribe. That is the reason why there is no tribe of Joseph listed (cf. 14:4). Also, although Levi is mentioned, the priestly tribe would not receive a large block of land as the other tribes did. The text explains why – “Only to the tribe of Levi he had given no inheritance; the sacrifices of the LORD God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as He said to them” (Josh. 13:14).

    Joshua 18:1-6 reads:

    “Now the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of meeting there. And the land was subdued before them. But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: ‘How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you? Pick out from among you three men from each tribe, and I will send them; they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance, and come back to me. And they shall divide it into seven parts. Judah shall remain in their territory on the south, and the house of Joseph shall remain in their territory on the north. You shall therefore survey the land in seven parts and bring the survey here to me, that I may cast lots for you here before the LORD our God.”

    At this point historically, five tribes had assigned territories, but the remaining seven did not. What were they waiting for? It was not time to rest but to keep working toward the goal God was making possible for them. After a full survey of the land was made, lots were drawn and Joshua made the rest of the territorial assignments. Then, it was up to the tribes to go out boldly and fight for the land God desired to give them.

    Sadly, there are a number of verses in these chapters that foreshadow dark days ahead for Israel due to incomplete obedience in completely purging the land of idolatrous influences. For example:

    “Nevertheless the children of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maachathites, but the Geshurites and the Maachathites dwell among the Israelites until this day” (13:13).
    “As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Israel could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem to this day” (15:63).
    “And they did not drive out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephaimites to this day and have become forced laborers” (16:10).
    “Yet the children of Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities, but the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land. And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out” (17:13).

    Some of these verses appear to have been written after Joshua had died and his influence for good had diminished (cf. Jud. 2:7-11). As long as the children of Israel were faithful to God, they were unstoppable. But, they were slow to fully claim the blessed land God had given to them, and their zeal waned over the decades. As a result, it wasn’t until the days of King David that certain portions of the land were fully claimed. The book of Judges records the tragic cycles of apostasy the nation of Israel entered into over and over again. Ultimately, although they destroyed many (and perhaps even most) of the Canaanite peoples, there was a remnant that remained in a number of areas and they would prove to be a perpetual thorn in Israel’s side for a variety of reasons. If only Israel had fully obeyed God, I suspect their history would be much different and much better.

    Before concluding our consideration of these chapter in the book of Joshua, let us take a look at an interesting portion of text concerning Caleb.

    “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: ‘You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. So Moses swore on that day saying, “Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.” And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.’ And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance” (14:6-13).

    It seems appropriate to close this lesson with a focus on such a strong, faithful man like Caleb. If only the nation had wholly followed the Lord like Caleb did, then they could have begun the conquering four decades earlier! Caleb is encouraging to us in several ways. He trusted in the Lord, and God took care of him his entire life. He was still able to do great things in his senior years and he was not satisfied to rest on the sidelines. May we always use our talents and abilities to faithfully serve the Lord, even if we have done so for decades and regardless of whether or not we are as capable and strong as we once were. There are still giants to conquer, so to speak, and they will be conquered by the ones who walk mightily with the Lord in faithful obedience.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    More Conquering by Joshua (JOSHUA 10-12) 

    The day in which the sun stood still was a day of tremendous victory for Israel. Detailed information is provided in Joshua 10:16-27 regarding the subjugation of the five kings they were battling against. As the kings fled, they decided to hide in a cave, but the Israelites trapped them inside with large stones until they had opportunity to come back. When they did return, they opened the mouth of the cave and brought out the five kings. The Israelites put their feet on the necks of the kings, symbolic of complete domination. Then Joshua encouraged his people very similarly to the way God had encouraged him back in Joshua 1 – “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (Josh. 10:25). Joshua then proceeded to slay the kings and hang their bodies on trees for all to see until sundown.

    The remainder of Joshua 10 provides a list of the other cities and their kings whom the Israelites conquered in the southern portion of Canaan. The Israelites fought battle after battle, never losing to their enemies since God was with them and made them successful. They left no survivors. Although the names of these cities may mean little to us today (e.g., Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, etc.), each one represented a community of idolaters who were involved in wickedness which God could not tolerate any longer. Thus, they were destroyed in accordance with God’s will through Israel, and their land and possessions were given to Israel in harmony with the promise God had made to Abraham centuries earlier. “So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded” (Josh. 10:40). There is nothing unethical about the Israelites’ behavior here. They are following the orders of the Most High God, and certainly He–as Creator and Sustainer of the Universe–has the right to inflict vengeance against wicked people in the manner in which He chooses (e.g., Gen. 6:5-7; II Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 21:8).

    As Chapter 11 opens, the Canaanite kings of the North heard about the destruction Israel was inflicting in the South and they decided to band together and attack Israel. “So they went out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots” (Josh. 11:4). One might suppose such large numbers would intimidate the Israelites, but God gives the order to attack courageously and the people do so. “So Joshua and all the people of war with him came against them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and they attacked them. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who defeated them and chased them…they attacked them until they left none of them remaining. So Joshua did to them as they LORD had told him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire” (Josh. 11:7-9). A numerically superior enemy is no problem for Jehovah! But why destroy great military weapons like horses and chariots? Because God wanted the people to continue trusting in Him, not things (cf. Deut. 17:16; Psa. 20:7)! Besides, how much good did the horses and chariots do for the Canaanites?!

    “As the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses. Thus Joshua took all this land: the mountain country, all the South, all the land of Goshen, the lowland, and the Jordan plain–the mountains of Israel and its lowlands…He captured all their kings, and struck them down and killed them. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. All the others they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the LORD had commanded Moses” (11:15-20).

    Joshua 12 is a summary listing of the 2 kings Moses conquered to the east of the Jordan River and the 31 kings Joshua conquered to the west of the Jordan. Some have estimated that several decades are spanned in these chapters. Regardless of the amount of time covered, these chapters reiterate a common Biblical theme–trust and obey the Lord in all things and you will be blessed with victory! Furthermore, there is a time for everything–including war (cf. Eccl. 3:8).

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Sun Stands Still (JOSHUA 10) 

    “Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it–as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king–and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty” (Josh. 10:1,2).

    Here we learn that Gibeon was a great city and full of mighty men, yet they had made peace with Israel since they feared for their lives! Initially the Canaanite peoples had planned to join together to defeat Israel, but now they redirect their focus toward the Gibeonites. They first want to vengefully destroy Gibeon for making peace with Israel.

    “And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, ‘Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us'” (10:6). The Gibeonites know they cannot survive without help, and they plead with Israel not to forsake them (i.e., their servants).

    “So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.’ Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword” (10:7-11).

    Joshua quickly responds to the cry for help and marches the Israelite army all night to Gibeon. God removes any doubt in their minds by affirming that they will be successful. The Canaanites, who were intent on destroying Gibeon, were likely not expecting Israel’s arrival and attack upon them. They quickly retreated but were slaughtered by both the sword and large hailstones the LORD directed against them (cf. Job 38:22,23). The Canaanites had no hope of success for they were fighting against God!

    “Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the valley Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies” (10:12,13). Clearly, Joshua wanted more time to completely vanquish the enemy. He didn’t want them to escape once the sun went down. So, he prays for a miracle, and he receives it!

    “So the sun stood still in the midst of the heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel” (10:13,14). Skeptics point to this passage and say: “That’s impossible!” They then speak to the catastrophic problems they claim would have resulted if God did stop the Earth from rotating for a day. Thus, they contend that the passage must be understood figuratively. They might assert something ridiculous like this example: “The battle was so large that the Israelites believed it had to take more than one day to win it, and it just felt to them like it must have taken more than one day.” Some spend lots of time trying to explain away the miracles the Bible records in so many places. I see no need to do such. I do not claim to know exactly what happened over Gibeon during that period, but I believe God made it possible supernaturally. Did God slow down the setting of the sun (i.e., the rotation of the Earth)? Did He stop all celestial movement in the Universe for a day? Did He merely refract the light of the sun into that area for a long period of time while the rest of the Earth continued as usual? No one knows and that’s just fine. We don’t need to know (cf. Deut. 29:29). Joshua prayed for divine assistance and he received it! Almighty God who created the Universe and everything within it, could certainly extend the sunlight for a battle in any way He desired. Nothing is too hard for Him!

    As a side note, don’t fall victim to foolishness that purports to support the Bible. There has been a story circulating for years about NASA computers finding a missing day while making astronomical calculations. It’s not true, friends. The story is pure fiction. To repeat such as truth only destroys one’s credibility. We don’t need made-up science to validate the truth of God’s word!

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Crafty Gibeonites (JOSHUA 9) 

    “And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowlands and in the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon–the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite–heard about it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord” (Josh. 9:1,2).

    Significant news spreads quickly, even without the aid of modern technology. The people in the vicinity of Jericho and Ai knew what had happened to these cities. They quickly united together against their new mutual enemy–Israel! In that era, each city was basically self-governed (like a country unto itself). There were kings in most cities, and they would cooperate with other kings and make alliances when necessary for protection. Such was the case here. They hope to find success working together as a team against Israel where their neighbors had failed individually.

    “But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, ‘We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us'” (9:3-6).

    Not everyone believed the wisest strategy was to join together and try to snuff out the Israelites with sheer numbers. There was a group of people from Gibeon (the chief city of the Hivites) who deduced that deception was the best approach in this case. They would play the part masterfully, pretending to be foreigners from a faraway country. They knew the Israelites were to destroy all the people of the land, so they pretended to be from far outside the land hoping the Israelites would see no need to slay them. Their disguises and story worked, thanks to carelessness on the part of the Israelite leaders.

    “Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the LORD. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them” (9:14,15).

    What a shame! Israel makes a huge mistake here, and it was completely preventable. They failed to seek advice from their ultimate leader–God! They blindly accept the Gibeonites’ story and enter into a covenant with them. Three days later, however, the Israelites learn the truth. They’d been duped! The people want to attack, and are justifiably upset with their leaders about this matter. But, the rulers had sworn protection to the Gibeonites and they would not break their word.

    “Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, ‘Why have you deceived us, saying, “We are very far from you,” when you dwell near us? Now therefore, you are cursed, and none of you shall be freed from being slaves–woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.’ So they answered Joshua and said, ‘Because your servants were clearly told that the LORD your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. And now, here we are, in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.’ So he did to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they did not kill them. And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, in the place which He would chose, even to this day” (9:22-27).

    Fear motivated the Gibeonites to attempt to deceive the Israelites, and it worked. They were content to be slaves, which was much better than the alternative (i.e., death). Friends, there are several significant lessons that can be gleaned from this chapter:

    Even faithful men can be deceived if they become careless. Don’t be swayed by appearances; judge with righteous judgment (cf. John 7:24).
    Always seek counsel from God before making important decisions (cf. Prov. 3:5,6).
    Do not make hasty vows (cf. Eccl. 5:2).
    If you do make a foolish vow, keep it, even if it causes you great harm (cf. Psa. 15:4). Two wrongs do not make a right!

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Ai Defeated (JOSHUA 8) 

    With the trouble Achan caused behind them, the Israelites were ready to destroy Ai with God’s blessing and continue their conquest of the Promised Land of Canaan – “Now the LORD said to Joshua: ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it” (Josh. 8:1,2).

    Although they had lost three dozen men at Ai earlier, there was nothing to fear now since God was with them. God instructed all the men of war to fight, and not just a few thousand as had been done on the former occasion (cf. 7:4). Joshua instructed the people accordingly and employed the very effective plan of attack that God commanded. 30,000 mighty men of valor were sent away by night to position themselves behind the city of Ai secretly. They would lie in ambush, waiting for the proper moment to strike. Commander Joshua would lead the rest of the men toward the front of the city as if they were going to attack. Then, when the men of Ai came out to engage them in battle, the main group of Israelites would turn and run, as if they were scared and defeated. No doubt this would embolden the warriors of Ai who had seen cowardly behavior out of the Israelites on the prior occasion. The plan was executed perfectly. As the men of Ai pursued the Israelites they left their own city exposed and open to attack! They would soon learn a hard lesson–things aren’t always as they appear!

    “Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Stretch out the spear that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.’ And Joshua stretched out the spear that was in his hand toward the city. So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on fire. And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended to heaven. So they had not power to flee this way or that way, and the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers. Now when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. Then the others came out of the city against them; so they were caught in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side. And they struck them down, so that they let none of them remain or escape. But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua” (8:18-23).

    As commanded, all the inhabitants of Ai were annihilated–12,000 in all. Spoil was taken by the Israelites since God had authorized it on this occasion (if only Achan had waited!). The king of Ai was hanged and thus humiliated publicly (cf. Deut. 21:22,23). The city was turned into a burned heap of desolation!

    Afterward, Joshua constructed an altar and made a copy of the law of Moses. This too was prescribed by God on an earlier occasion (cf. Deut. 27ff). The people assembled for the reading of the law in what we might call a natural amphitheater. Half gathered near Mount Gerizim and the other half near Mount Ebal, with the ark of the covenant–attended by the priests–in the middle. The priests blessed the people and then Joshua proceeded to “read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them” (Josh. 8:34,35). The people needed to know the law in order to know what God expected of them. If they obeyed Him, they would be blessed, but if they disobeyed they would be cursed–just like the Canaanite people they were in the process of destroying from the land.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    The Mistakes of Achan (JOSHUA 7, part 3) 

    “So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken. He brought the clan of Judah, and he took the family of the Zarhites; and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. Then he brought his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. Now Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.’ And Achan answered Joshua and said, ‘Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it'” (Josh. 7:16-21).

    In a systematic way (with God’s help), the guilty tribe, family, household, and man are identified. Achan is branded as the guilty party! His fear must have increased exponentially as Joshua slowly closed in on his household. Why didn’t he simply come forward and confess his wrong doing? Evidently his heart was hard. Did he have some hope that he would not be exposed as a thief and a deceiver? Did he foolishly believe that his sins would not find him out (cf. Num. 32:23)? Did he entertain the notion that Almighty God would not see his wickedness since he had hidden the stolen items? Some today ignorantly believe their sins are shielded from God’s perception. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). God sees everything and blessed or punishes accordingly!

    After being labeled as the violator, Achan confessed all. His problems began when he “saw among the spoils” several items of significant value and desired them for himself. No doubt this was a temptation to many Israelites when they destroyed Jericho, but God’s word had been clear. Everyone denied themselves and said “no” to temptation, except Achan. Achan’s prolonged, lustful look at that which could never be his opened the door for thievery. Many today ruin their lives as Achan did by setting their eyes longingly on things or people who can never be theirs! As Jesus said in Matthew 6:22,23 – “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”

    “So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver under it. And they took them from the midst of the tent, brought them to Joshua and to all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day” (Josh. 7:22-26).

    Achan’s story was confirmed; the stolen items were found among his possessions. The people obeyed God by putting to death the violator along with his family (who, we might assume, had knowledge of his wickedness and shared in it to some degree). Achan had caused a great deal of trouble for the nation as a whole, but no longer would he be a hindrance upon them. With the sin properly removed, God would now bless His people again. Here is another great lesson for the church today: If sin exists in a congregation, it must be dealt with properly, not ignored (e.g., I Cor. 5).

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Israel has Sinned! (JOSHUA 7, part 2) 

    “So the LORD said to Joshua: ‘Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you. Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you. In the morning therefore you shall be brought according to your tribes. And it shall be that the tribe which the LORD takes shall come according to families and the family which the LORD takes shall come by households; and the household which the LORD takes shall come man by man. Then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel'” (Josh. 7:10-15).

    God mildly rebukes Joshua by telling him to get up and get busy! There was work to do, and prayer alone wasn’t going to solve this problem. The nation had sinned by disobeying God’s explicit instructions. They were guilty of stealing and deception. They needed to address their transgression properly if they wanted God to be with them in battle again and enjoy success. There was no other way for them to be restored to the LORD. Even today friends, when we do evil, God will not be with us. As Peter wrote – “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil” (I Pet. 3:12). Prayer is powerful, but it does not replace repentance!

    Every time I read Joshua 7, I am struck at the impact one man’s sin can have. In a nation of a couple million people, one man’s sin led to military defeat, widespread doubt, and unnecessary death (for several dozen innocent men). Even today one man’s sin can cause tremendous heartache and pain for many. The Israelite nation as a whole had entered into a covenant with God, but they had not kept it because of one man’s covetousness. God had not failed them; they had sinned! God would assist them in solving this problem, however. He would help Joshua identify the guilty party the next day. In the meantime, Joshua was to exhort the nation to sanctify itself. Once the guilty party was identified, he would have to be executed if the nation wanted to be restored to God’s favor.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Defeat at Ai (JOSHUA 7, part 1) 

    “But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel” (Josh. 7:1).

    The battle at Jericho had gone so well, or so it seemed! The city walls fell down flat, Rahab had been delivered as promised, and everything else had been utterly destroyed by Israel as the LORD had commanded. But, there was one exception that was unknown to the nation. Achan had secretly kept some of the items from Jericho that belonged to God (in other words, he had taken of the “accursed things”) and had consequently brought himself and the whole nation under God’s curse. That which was a secret to the nation was plainly known by Almighty God who is omniscient.

    “Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, ‘Go up and spy out the country.’ So the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, ‘Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.’ So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water” (Josh. 7:2-5).

    The Israelite success at Jericho was just supposed to be the beginning of their conquering. Their next target was a nearby city, Ai. Spies are sent to gather information, and they return with a confident message. There were few people at Ai, so there was no need to send the whole army to fight. They believed sending a couple thousand would be sufficient, and they were probably right had Achan not sinned at Jericho. Nevertheless, because of Achan’s wickedness God was not with the men who attacked Ai. The men of Ai defeated the Israelites and killed three dozen men as they fled. Suddenly, the confidence of Israel vanished into thin air; their courage evaporated!

    “Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, ‘Alas, Lord GOD, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all–to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will You do for Your great name?’ (Josh. 7:6-9).

    This defeat devastated the nation. They had been on top of the mountain, so to speak, after destroying Jericho, and now they are deep in the valley of despair. If they couldn’t take a small village like Ai, how could they succeed to take all the land of Canaan? Wouldn’t their enemies learn about their failure and plot against them to surround them and annihilate them from the land? Joshua, with clothes torn in mourning and dust on his head, conveyed these sentiments to God, prostrated before the ark. He wishes they had stayed on the east side of the Jordan and simply settled there. He doesn’t understand why God has allowed this to befall them! Although God will provide an answer in the next portion of text, it is unfortunate that Joshua’s faith wavered on this occasion. God had promised them the land, and God is faithful! Instead of entertaining thoughts of doubt, Joshua should have been inquiring as to what they had done wrong so it could be corrected. Friends, there is a lesson here for us. Sometimes when we fail miserably it is because of our sins. May we never doubt God when adversity strikes, but let us first examine our own life to determine whether it is in order before the Lord.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Conquering Jericho (JOSHUA 6) 

    “Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua; ‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him” (Josh. 6:1-5).

    God is faithful and always keeps His promises, and so the time has come for the Israelites to conquer their first city in the Promised Land of Canaan–Jericho. Jericho was a heavily fortified city; it was the largest and strongest of the land. If they could destroy it, none of the other Canaanite cities would be able to stand before them. Archaeological digs have proved that the city had walls in the past. Some have estimated them at approximately 12 feet high (perhaps much taller) and 6 feet wide. Additionally, some have noted a ditch beyond the wall approximately 27 feet wide and 9 feet deep. Conquering a city with this level of defense would, on the surface, seem to be an exceedingly difficult challenge, but all things are possible with God (cf. Matt. 19:26)! A wall that was tall and thick and a ditch that was wide and deep would not thwart the will of the LORD! The inhabitants of Jericho are terrified of Israel. They are not allowing anyone in or out of the city. They are on red alert, so to speak. God affirmed that He had given Israel the city before the fighting had even begun! It was as good as theirs in the mind of God. Interestingly, this gift God gave them was only received after one week of obedience (cf. Heb. 11:30)! God provided detailed instructions to Joshua regarding how they could lay hold of this gift (in other words, there were conditions to receive the gift). Even today, friends, there are wonderful gifts God has reserved for us (e.g., salvation), but we will never receive or enjoy them if we are unwilling to claim them on God’s terms (for salvation specifically: faith, repentance, and baptism).

    “Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD.’ And he said to the people, ‘Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the LORD.’ So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the LORD advanced and blew the trumpets, and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. The armed men went before the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard came after the ark, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, ‘You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.’ So he had the ark of the LORD circle the city, going around it once. Then they came into the camp and lodged in the camp” (Josh. 6:6-11).

    Joshua explained to the people what God expected of them in regards to overthrowing the city. Faith would be their victory here since this plan was unlike any other before or after it (and their faith does not falter)! What military mind would concoct an attack plan founded on marching around the wall, blowing trumpets, and shouting after the thirteenth lap? Indeed, God’s ways and thoughts are not ours; His are far supreme (cf. Isa. 55:8,9)!

    “And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. Then seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually and blew with the trumpets. And the armed men went on before them. But the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, while the priests continued blowing the trumpets. And the second day they marched around the city once and returned to camp. So they did six days” (Josh. 6:12-14). I wonder what the watchmen of Jericho thought as Israel approached the first time only to march around it silently (except for the sound of the trumpets). I wonder what they thought on the subsequent days. Certainly fear would have been blended with confusion, and perhaps even some ridicule as the week wore on.

    “But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: ‘Shout, for the LORD has given you the city! Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in her house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.’ So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword” (Josh. 6:15-21).

    The wall fell flat–absolutely amazing! Although the text does not explain, it seems reasonable that the wall fell outward and into the ditch, thus making passage over it and into the city possible. The oath made to Rahab was kept. She and those with her in her home were spared the gruesome death that awaited everyone and everything else that drew breath in Jericho. Everyone was killed, regardless of gender, age, or social standing. Even all the animals were slain. One might wonder: Why? Why destroy perfectly good animals? The answer is simple: they belonged to God and He wanted them destroyed. That answer should suffice. To take something that is God’s is to steal and to bring oneself under God’s curse (e.g., Josh. 7; cf. Lev. 27:28,29). The consequences of sin go far beyond the guilty individual; the effects often bring pain and death to others.

    “But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, ‘Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.’ And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Josh. 6:22-25).

    The only items that were to survive from Jericho were the precious metals that would be used in the service of the Lord. Everything else would go up in smoke! Why utterly destroy a city that could be used by the Israelites? Why not just kill the people and then take over? Again, the answer is the same: The city belonged to God and He wanted it destroyed. This city was the “firstfruit” of Canaan, so to speak, and it belonged to God in the fullest sense. The Israelites were welcome to the spoils of the other cities they would soon take.

    “Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, ‘Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.’ So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout all the country” (Josh. 6:26,27). I Kings 16:34 provides the historical follow-up to the curse pronounced here. Clearly, God did not want the city to be rebuilt. The one who did so would pay a dear price regarding his family.

    Joshua 6 is an incredible account of the complete destruction Israel brought against the city of Jericho made possible by the power of Almighty God. It is clear that God gave specific instructions and the people were blessed when they obeyed them. It required great faith to follow these unique directions without modification. Likewise, today there are challenging instructions that God has given us in the New Testament. Do you have enough faith to trust God completely and show your confidence by obeying Him at all times and in every way (particularly when you don’t understand the need for a specific command or think there is a better way)?

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on October 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    The Commander of the Army of the LORD (JOSHUA 5, part 2) 

    “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, ‘Are You for us or for our adversaries?’ So He said, ‘No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’ Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so” (Josh. 5:13-15).

    This section of the text has fascinated Bible students for millennia. It is brief, yet full of intriguing information. The time is near for the battling in Canaan to begin. The people of the land would not yield their homes and cities to Israel without a fight. Joshua, perhaps while contemplating Jericho’s approaching demise, noticed a Man nearby who had His sword drawn and ready. I believe a strong case can be made that this is not a man at all, and neither is He a created angel; He is God Himself in a humanoid form! This is a reasonable conclusion since He accepts worship from Joshua, a thing no man or created angel can rightly do (e.g., Acts 10:25,26; Rev. 22:8,9)! This very well could be an appearance of “the Angel of the LORD,” a theme we have written about before (cf. the archived lessons from http://www.audioevangelism.com/dlybrd/transcripts/DB_2007_01_17_text.htm, http://www.audioevangelism.com/dlybrd/transcripts/DB_2007_01_18_text.htm, & http://www.audioevangelism.com/dlybrd/transcripts/DB_2007_01_19_text.htm).

    Joshua valiantly approaches Him and inquires as to whose side He is on. It was necessary that Joshua know the difference between friends and foes (and so it is with us today). Would this Man be supporting the Canaanites or Israel? His reply is that He is not an ally to either side; rather, He is the commander of the Lord’s army! He is there to lead God’s cause. His authority greatly exceeds Joshua’s, and Joshua realizes this and prostrates himself. God’s leadership for His people had not ceased merely because they had now reached the Promised Land.

    There are so many questions we might like to ask about this scene, but our curiosities are not important. God has given us the information we need; many secrets belong to Him and Him alone (cf. Deut. 29:29). Although we have come to a chapter break in our Bibles, keep in mind that the original text did not have such divisions. There is good reason to believe that the beginning of Joshua 6 is a continuation of the dialogue between Joshua and the Commander (i.e., “the LORD” – 6:2). As God spoke to Moses from the burning bush (preparing him for his mission in Egypt), He had him remove his sandals (cf. Exo. 3). Likewise, as He speaks to Joshua on this occasion (preparing him to destroy Jericho), He has him remove his sandals. Why? Because God is holy and must be revered! Both Moses and Joshua humbly showed proper respect and reverence for Almighty God. Do we show a proper spirit toward our Creator and Savior by the way we speak, think, and act? May we strive to be holy as He is holy (cf. I Pet. 1:16).

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on September 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Circumcising the Second Generation (JOSHUA 5, part 1) 

    “So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites, who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel” (Josh. 5:1). Recall that Jericho’s inhabitants were familiar with certain amazing portions of Israelite history (cf. 2:9,10). It seems that all the land of Canaan knew about the LORD and what He had done for Israel (both past and present, particularly the temporary drying up of the Jordan River). The proximity of the Israelites to them is what is really bothering the Canaanites now. Their courage had failed them! They were scared by Israel and the LORD. They are too afraid to even attempt to attack Israel at this time, which is a great blessings to the Israelite people who are about to do something very important but which would leave them very vulnerable to any attack.

    God commanded the people to make flint knives and use them to “circumcise the sons of Israel again, the second time” (5:2). Since it is impossible for one to be circumcised more than once, this obviously refers to the nation as a whole circumcising the second generation of males who had been born in the wilderness and never circumcised as was required (cf. Gen. 17:12).

    “And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: All the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way, after they had come out of Egypt. For all the people who came out had been circumcised, but all the people born in the wilderness, on the way as they came out of Egypt, had not been circumcised” (Josh. 5:4,5). With the exception of Joshua, Caleb, some priests, and those who were less than 20 years old at the time of the exodus, all other Hebrew males alive at this time had been born in the wilderness and were all in need of having their foreskins removed in order to obey God (evidently, while wandering in the wilderness they neglected the rite of circumcision). Thus, all males under the age of 40 would need to be circumcised right away. This would have been a monumental undertaking. The pain involved in circumcising an adult male is extreme, and it would have taken great commitment and faith on the part of the people to submit to this order. How so? Because for several days after all the men were circumcised they would be in no condition to defend themselves if attacked by the Canaanites (e.g., Gen. 34:24,25). They would have to rely on God and endure the pain, simply because it was the right thing to do. Friends, sometimes today when we carefully follow the way of the Lord, we will suffer greatly and our only recourse is to wait patiently and rely on God (cf. Matt. 16:24). Do you trust God enough to obey, even when it is going to be painful and perhaps leave you exposed to danger?

    “Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. 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” (Josh. 5:10-12). Several days after the circumcisions, the nation kept the Passover feast. Afterward, they began eating of the food available to them in the bountiful land of Canaan. God had miraculously provided bread from heaven for them for decades, and some of them had eaten manna their entire lives! But that was no longer necessary. The physical resources of the land flowing with milk and honey were more than sufficient to provide for them. God does not continue to use supernatural power to meet a need when natural means become sufficient. Such an observation is quite relevant for the Christian age when considering the cessation of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit toward the beginning of the second century (cf. Mark 16:20; I Cor. 13:8ff; James 1:25). The miraculous gifts continued until God’s word was fully revealed and confirmed; then they became unnecessary and ceased, just like the manna in Joshua 5.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on September 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Twenty-Four Memorial Stones (JOSHUA 4) 

    “And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying: ‘Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, “Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.”‘ Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: ‘Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, “What do these stones mean to you?” Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever'” (Josh. 4:1-7).

    It appears that twelve men (one from each tribe) had been selected to cross the Jordan last (cf. Josh. 3:12). When they crossed, each one was to pick up a large stone (though not so large that one could not carry it on his shoulder). They would then pile up the stones at the encampment that night (Gilgal, specifically) as a memorial to God’s great act of power that day. He enabled His people to cross the Jordan River on dry ground! This would be something their children would inquire about. They would want to know why the pile of rocks existed at that location, and this would be a wonderful opportunity for the parents to teach and review the history of God’s people. Additionally, the rocks would serve as a memorial for the adults. When their faith in God was weak or doubtful, they could be reminded of God’s omnipotence and care for them when they saw the rocks at Gilgal.

    The twelve obeyed Joshua’s command, but a careful reading of the chapter reveals that actually there were two piles of twelve stones that served as memorials. In addition to the one set up at Gilgal, Joshua “set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day” (Josh. 4:9). The verse does not teach that the stones are still piled there today, but that they were still intact at the time of the book’s writing (presumably a number of years after the events in this chapter took place). It is unknown how large these stones were or if they were visible during the harvest time where the river flooded. But, surely they were visible at certain times and would also serve as a reminder.

    After all had crossed over as quickly as possible (cf. 4:10) and Joshua had arranged stones in the midst of the Jordan, the priests who carried the ark then came up out of the Jordan. “And it came to pass, when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD had come from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet touched the dry land, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before” (4:18). The miracle God provided ended, as we would expect, as soon as it was no longer needed. What a favorable impression this whole event should have made in the minds of the people. Joshua was their leader and God was with them! They were now ready to conquer the land they had entered.

    Friends, we today need to respect and honor the divine customs and memorials given in the New Covenant for ourselves and teach them to our children (e.g., the Lord’s Supper; cf. I Cor. 11:23ff), that we may never forget and that they may learn God’s greatness and love! May we teach our children faithfully at every opportunity (cf. Deut. 6:6,7) or else a generation may tragically rise up that does not know the Lord or His great works (cf. Jud. 2:10)!

    • Wayne Reitz 8:59 am on August 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Are the 24 memorial stones visible today?

    • Mandy 9:02 am on May 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I came across your article as I was preparing to teach Joshua 4 to my Sunday school children. Thank you for your perspective on this passage. I was wondering if you would share your biblical perspective of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 in regards to it being a divine custom as well. The reasons Paul states for these instructions are based on three divine reasons, headship, creation order, and the angels, rather than a local custom. How do you view this passage in regards to is application today?

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on September 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Crossing the Jordan River (JOSHUA 3) 

    After the spies returned from Canaan and gave a good report to Joshua, he led the nation to the Jordan River and they camped there. After three days, instructions were circulated to the people regarding what they were to do the next day. They were to be prepared to follow the ark of the covenant as it was carried by the appropriate Levites (the priests), but they were to remain about three-fifths of a mile behind it (a respectful distance). God must be in the front (such is still true today; cf. Matt. 6:33)! He must be the One to lead them into a land that was new to them–Canaan!

    Joshua then said to the people – “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you” (Josh. 3:5). They were to prepare themselves by renewing their commitment to fully following God, and if they did, He would do great things for them. On the next day Joshua instructed the priests to cross the Jordan River, leading the people. The LORD also spoke to Joshua and said – “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” (3:7). How would crossing a river exalt Joshua in the minds of the people? We shall soon see!

    At this time of year, the Jordan would be flooded and difficult to cross safely with a couple million people and countless animals. The great God of heaven would take care of this difficulty, however, in a miraculous fashion. Consider Joshua 3:14-17:

    “So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.”

    As the feet of the priests touched the edge of the water, God’s mighty power went to work. Not only did God stop the source of the river so the people could easily cross, He also apparently dried the ground upon which they walked. The priests stood in the middle of the river bed on “dry ground” (when the water stopped they would have been walking through a muddy mess if only the water were diverted elsewhere). The LORD is amazing! Imagine the awe as the nation walked through the riverbed on dry ground; picture the excitement and their confidence in God and Joshua being strengthened (e.g., Exo. 14). This would prepare them mentally for the many battles that were to come with the people of the land (i.e., the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites). If they were on God’s side, they could not fail since God can do anything He desires! No lives were lost as they entered into the land of Canaan; in fact, other than the priests, there is no evidence that anyone even got wet sandals!

    In each aspect of the crossing, God spoke, Joshua issued a corresponding command, and the people obeyed. Friends, may we today be known for our willingness to listen to God and obey promptly the message He communicates through His inspired word!

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on September 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Lessons from a Prostitute (JOSHUA 2, part 2) 

    The commander of the army is dead. The invasion is to start within three days and the younger replacement commander needs to learn the position and strength of the enemy. He sends two men to infiltrate the enemy camp and report back. After crossing the river, they reach their destination and hide in a prostitute’s house. The opposing forces learn of their mission and begin the search for the spies whom the prostitute hides on her roof. They escape detection. She and her family are promised safety when the invasion comes.

    That sounds like quite a story, doesn’t it? Over three thousand years ago, these events unfolded and were recorded in the early chapters of the book of Joshua. Moses, the servant of the Lord, was dead. Joshua, his replacement, had been given the rule over God’s people. The Israelites were encamped on the east side of the Jordan River. They were ready to begin conquering the promised land! As a wise leader, Joshua determined to send spies into the land of Canaan to learn what he could before they entered it as a nation. He had been a spy himself in former days, and he knew well the value of service which brave, watchful, and tactful spies could render.

    We do not know much at all regarding the specifics of what the spies did in the land. No doubt they did their best to blend in and not draw attention to themselves. The spies decided to stay the night at the home of a woman named Rahab. It appears that she was a business woman engaged in the manufacture of linen. This is a reasonable conjecture because of the stalks of flax she had arranged on the roof (presumably to dry) and also because of the scarlet cord she possessed.

    Rahab suspected the danger to which the spies were exposed and immediately hid them under the flax stalks on her roof. She did this so that if the officers came to search for them, they would not be discovered. The king of Jericho had great cause to fear for the enemy was at his door. He sought to find and destroy them. Rahab misled the officials who came searching for the spies. She indicated that it was not her business to be too inquisitive regarding her visitors, but that they had left and could be caught–if pursued quickly. The officials took her at her word.

    The spies, after hiding in the mountains for three days, returned to report back to Joshua. They informed Israel that the Canaanites were afraid of them. Had they wanted to discourage the people, as the evil spies did in Moses’ day, they might have told them what they had observed: (1) that Jericho’s walls were high and strong, and (2) that Jericho’s king was extraordinarily vigilant, having nearly captured them. But, these spies were of a different spirit. They, believing God’s promise, imitated Joshua and took the optimistic approach. It would put courage into the most cowardly Israelite to hear how their enemies’ hearts were full of fear (cf. Deut. 11:25). There was no need for Israel to be afraid, even of their most powerful enemies, for the Lord could make any enemy afraid of them.

    Well, now that we’ve summarized this historical event, let’s dig a little deeper. What can we learn from Rahab the prostitute? In general, we can see that she is a tremendous example of faith. We know this because she was selected as one of the few from the Old Testament to be remembered for great faith (cf. Heb. 11:31). Let us now consider six specific lessons we can learn from Rahab.

    Rahab believed in God’s existence, as Joshua 2:9-11 indicates. She may have been the first Canaanite whom the Israelites met across the Jordan, and she ended up being their friend. Had these spies gone to any other house, they might have been betrayed and killed. Canaanites were typically idolaters. They worshipped the sun, moon, heavens, thunder, and lightning. They practiced self-mutilation and infant sacrifice. In Jericho, particularly, they buried their dead under the floor of their homes and at times severed the head from the body to be plastered and worshipped.

    It was no small thing for Rahab to confess what she did at the end of 2:11 – “…for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Her confession seems to indicate that she had set aside the religious beliefs of her people. Her faith in Jehovah was reasoned from facts. She had come to believe in the God of Israel by what she had heard. Interestingly, Jericho’s king had also heard about the great things God had done for Israel, yet he was unwilling to accept that the Lord had given them the land. Instead, he resolved to hold out against them with all his might. Some believe when faced with the facts, and others disbelieve in spite of the mounting evidence.

    Rahab also believed in God’s promise (2:9; cf. Gen. 12:7). She knew that the Lord had given the Israelites Canaan. Although Rahab had only heard of the wonders God had done, she spoke with more assurance of His promise than many of the Israelites who had witnessed God’s wonders firsthand! Many Israelites perished for their unbelief. Jesus once said in John 20:29 – “Blessed are those that have not seen, and yet have believed.” We, like Rahab, must believe in God’s promises and “walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7).

    Rahab’s faith in God caused her to betray her country. Under normal conditions, we count the betrayers of our country as the worst of criminals. In her case, however, she knew God had given the Israelites the land of Canaan. It would have been wrong to join with those who attempted to hinder them from possessing it. The higher duty to God supercedes the lower duty to country and to family. When there is a conflict, we must always obey God rather than men (cf. Acts 5:29).

    God praises Rahab in the New Testament, even though she was not exactly a role model as a prostitute and liar (Joshua 2:1-6). Some would have us question the Old Testament Hebrew word used to describe her as a harlot–in an attempt to suggest that she was just an innkeeper. The New Testament Greek is plain enough, however. She was a harlot (Heb. 11:31; James 2:25). Harlotry was often a part of pagan worship. It is possible that she had ceased from this kind of behavior, and the reproach had simply stuck to her name long after repentance and reformation of life. For example, Simon the leper (Matt. 26:6), though cleansed from leprosy, wore the reproach of it in his name as long as he lived; perhaps the same is true with Rahab the harlot. Although she is referred to as a prostitute, both her faith and good works are praised. Friends, even today when God’s grace has washed away our sins, we often still must bear the reproach of them.

    But Stephen, she lied–twice! Did God approve? No, of course not. Some improperly use this passage to try to build a case for situation ethics (cf. Rom. 3:8). I believe it can be confidently affirmed that God never approves of lying (Prov. 6:17; Eph. 4:25). The Lord is all-powerful and could have protected the spies–if He had so desired–in a way that did not require sin. The point we should stress is that Rahab was accepted in spite of her lies, not because of them. Other great Bible characters are complimented in the sacred text for their good qualities, though guilty of egregious sins (e.g., David the adulterer and murderer). Being a Canaanite, Rahab may not have been taught the evil of lying, but God accepted her faith and pardoned her infirmities.

    The question should be asked: On what account was Rahab commended? For her prostitution? No. For her treachery to her country? No. For her lies regarding the spies? No. For what then was she commended? She was eulogized for her faith in Hebrews and for her works in James. It must be understood that most of those who are commended in Hebrews 11 are not praised in their entirety (e.g., Abraham lied, Noah got drunk, Samson fornicated, etc.). The men and women listed therein are praised for some worthy act or as an example of heroic faith.

    In spite of her sins, God allowed her to be saved from the destruction of Jericho. Remarkably, she was eventually listed in the genealogy of His Son (Matt. 1:5). She became a princess in Israel! Most expositors suppose that Salmon was one of the spies whom she befriended at a critical moment. If this is the case, then it is a beautiful love story! Matthew, in the Lord’s genealogy, mentions only four women–Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (implicitly). Three of these have tainted names (regarding sexual immorality) and the fourth was a Gentile.

    God can use people who have made mistakes, and He will welcome them into His kingdom (cf. Matt. 21:31). Those who helped kill Jesus became the first Christians (Acts 2:36ff). Paul was a murderer and a blasphemer before he became a disciple of Jesus. The Corinthians had been immoral, but God forgave them (I Cor. 6:9-11). People can change and become great workers in the kingdom of God–no matter what their past!

    Rahab pleaded with the spies in Joshua 2:12,13 – “Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”

    Rahab’s petition was very reasonable. Since she had protected them, she wanted them to protect her. It was the least they could do for one who had saved their lives by risking her own. Those who show mercy should expect to find mercy (Matt. 5:7).

    Self-preservation is a strong motivator. She did not want to die. How many today desire to go to hell? Self-preservation should motivate us to do all that we can to be saved. Tragically though, most spurn the invitation (Matt. 11:28-30; Rev. 22:17). Some reject deliverance due to pride and others due to prejudice. Anyone who rejects God’s deliverance is foolish.

    The spies promised to protect Rahab, and her relatives, provided three conditions were met. First, she would tie the scarlet cord (used for the spies’ escape) in the window to make her home easy to identify (Josh. 2:18).

    Second, she would bring all whose safety she desired into her house with her and keep them there (2:18,19). When Israel’s army arrived to take the town, none of Rahab’s family should leave her house. This was necessary since her family could not be distinguished from any others if they were not in her house. It was reasonable, since they were saved purely for Rahab’s sake, that her house should be their place of refuge. They would have to separate themselves from the others inhabitants of Jericho if they expected to be saved. It is interesting to note that the New Testament teaches that those who are added to the church must keep close to the society of the faithful. If one escapes the corruption that is in the world through lust, he must be careful to avoid being entangled therein again (II Pet. 2:20-22).

    Third, she should keep silence (Josh. 2:14,20). If she uttered their business, betrayed them while they were gone, or made the agreement public, then they would be clear of the oath. Rahab did not question the terms of her deliverance. She gladly obeyed them. Today, those who seek spiritual deliverance should also gladly accept God’s conditions and not resist them (e.g., John 8:24; Acts 2:38).

    Rahab brought her family into the house of safety. The provision she made for the safety of her relatives is a commendable example of natural affection. We should do all that is within our power to save our families from physical and spiritual threats.

    Rahab secured her future by seizing the opportunity of the present (cf. II Cor. 6:2). She foresaw what was coming, and secured the favor of the conquerors. Noah saw what was coming, moved with godly fear, and prepared an ark to save his household (Heb. 11:7). If we truly believe that those who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel will suffer God’s eternal vengeance (II Thess. 1:7), then won’t we flee from the wrath to come (Matt. 3:7), lay hold on eternal life (I Tim. 6:12), and do everything within our power to encourage others to do likewise? Only a selfish person would seek his own deliverance and do nothing to help save others.

    Rahab is used in the New Testament as an example of faith that saves (cf. Heb. 11:31). Her faith was practical, bringing forth fruit in works. Had she said to the spies, “I believe in God and that Canaan is yours, but I dare not show you any kindness,” her faith would have been inactive or dead. Such a faith will justify no one (Jam. 2:24-26).

    Rahab was saved in the same general way that every sinner is saved–that is, through a living, active faith. It is certainly true that the specific expectations God has placed upon humanity have changed over the millennia, but God has always required a faith that works through love (Gal. 5:6).

    She could only be saved in her house. There was no other place where she could find deliverance. This has always been God’s practice. Noah could only be saved in the ark (I Pet. 3:20,21). The firstborn of the Israelites could only be saved in the houses properly marked with blood (Exo. 12). Naaman could only be cleansed in the Jordan river (II Kings 5). Our deliverance is also limited to a designated location. We can only be saved in Christ (Eph. 1:3; II Tim. 2:10)! For Rahab or her family to depart from her house would have been to exit the realm of safety and embrace certain death. Likewise, if a Christian is going to be saved, he must faithfully remain in the church.

    The scarlet cord the spies escaped by would be critical in Rahab’s own salvation (Josh. 2:18). It would mark her house as a place of safety. Likewise, when a person today is taught the truth, develops faith in Jesus, repents of his wickedness, and is baptized into Christ’s church, he ought to go and teach others also. He ought to labor to show others the means of his salvation, and strive to persuade others to obey the gospel.

    Friends, Rahab believed in God–do you? Rahab desired deliverance–do you? Rahab also desired that her family be spared–do you desire this for your family? Rahab was justified by an active faith–do you have an active faith? Rahab’s deliverance was limited to a certain area–and so is ours. Rahab used the means of her salvation to save others–do you?

    This woman, Rahab, who we know was a prostitute–at least at some point in her life–has shown us some great lessons today.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on September 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Rahab of Jericho (JOSHUA 2, part 1) 

    “Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, ‘Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.’ So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.’ Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, ‘Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you may overtake them.’ (But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof.) Then the men pursued them by the road to the Jordan, to the fords. And as soon as those who pursued them had gone out, they shut the gate” (Josh. 2:1-7).

    Jericho was a tremendous city in that day. Excavations at the city’s location indicate it was one of the earliest fortified cities. It is believed that Jericho was defended by a wall 12 feet high and 6 feet wide. Beyond the wall was a ditch, 27 feet wide and 9 feet deep, cut into the rock. Jericho was the first city the Israelites would attack, and if they could take Jericho, they could take any city in Canaan!

    Although there is no textual indication that God commanded the sending of the spies, the possibility still remains that He did. The spies would provide Joshua with helpful tactical information about Jericho. They were sent secretly, perhaps to avoid a repeat of what had happened back in Moses’ day (cf. Num. 13 & 14).

    The spies ended up at a harlot’s house for lodging. What better place could they go to avoid being seen or taken special note of? Despite their desire to blend in, they are identified as Israelite spies. The king sends men to arrest them, but Rahab lies to protect them, not once but twice! She lies about not knowing where they were from, and she also made up a story about them leaving before the city gate was shut. Contrary to the thinking of some, this does not justify “situation ethics.” We will have more to say about this at the end of the lesson.

    Rahab had evidently suspected they were in danger since she had hidden the spies on her roof. After the authorities leave, she engages the spies in dialogue.

    “Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: ‘I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.’ So the men answered her, ‘Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours. And it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you” (Josh. 2:8-14).

    From Rahab’s words here, we learn that news travels fast (even without the internet!). The inhabitants of Jericho were familiar with the military successes of the Israelites. They knew about the Egyptian disaster in the Red Sea. They knew about the slaughtered Amorite kings. And know they know that Israel is headed toward them! The city of Jericho is terrified (i.e., their “hearts melted”) because of the Israelites, which explains the king’s desire to capture these spies. As Rahab speaks her personal faith shines through clearly (e.g., “I know that the LORD has given you the land”…”for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath”). Although she lived among heathens, Rahab was a believer in the true God and she knew what was about to happen to Jericho. Thus, she begged the spies to swear to protect her and her family when it was time to conquer the city. She was hopeful they would do so because of the kindness she had shown them.

    “Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. And she said to them, ‘Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there for three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.’ So the men said to her: ‘We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.’ Then she said, ‘According to your words, so be it.’ And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window” (Josh. 2:15-21).

    The spies accept her request for mercy and make an oath with several conditions: (1) Don’t tell anyone about this, (2) Have all of your family with you in your home for safety, and (3) Bind the line of scarlet cord in your window (so her home would be easily identifiable). If any of these conditions were not fulfilled, the oath would be void. She accepts these conditions as she helps them to escape and provides good advice for their personal safety.

    “They departed and went to the mountain, and stayed there three days until the pursuers returned. The pursuers sought them all along the way, but did not find them. So the two men returned, descended from the mountain, and crossed over; and they came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all that had befallen them. And they said to Joshua, ‘Truly the LORD has delivered all the land into our hands, for indeed all the inhabitants of the country are fainthearted because of us’ (Josh. 2:22-24).

    After safely avoiding those who were pursuing them, the spies return to Joshua with a positive report. The LORD had promised them the land, and even the inhabitants are terrified of them! Soon Jericho’s worst fears would become reality.

    We have focused most of our comments in this lesson on observations from the text itself, but there are many practical points to be gleaned from this context. We will have more to say about Rahab in our next lesson.

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on September 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Joshua’s Leadership Accepted (JOSHUA 1, part 2) 

    After the Lord exhorted him to be strong and courageous, Joshua commanded the people to prepare their provisions for crossing the Jordan River and entering into the land God had promised to give them (cf. Josh. 1:10ff). He also gave special instructions to the two and a half tribes who had chosen to take their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan (where the people were encamped presently). They had given their word that they would help the rest of the nation fight the Canaanite people west of the Jordan. Joshua was reminding them of their commitment. Then, when the conquest was complete, they would return to their land which they had already received (cf. Num. 32). We learn from Joshua 4:13 that 40,000 men of the two and a half tribes crossed the Jordan to fight, while approximately 70,000 remained with their families to secure the land, work it, and protect the women and children (cf. Num. 26:7,18,34).

    The reply of the people to Joshua’s commands is impressive – “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the LORD your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of good courage” (Josh. 1:16-18). The people embraced Joshua’s leadership. Any who resisted and rebelled would be executed! Joshua was a capable leader and the people were ready to enter Canaan and accept God’s gift as they conquered the land. Joshua, who was full of divine wisdom (cf. Deut. 34:9), would lead them to victory, although, as we will see in the chapters to come, they did not fully obey God’s word. Their fundamental mistake was in allowing some of the heathen peoples of the land to live when God had commanded their annihilation! Their corrupting influence would eventually be the downfall of Israel. God was faithful to them in fulfilling His word, but their faithfulness to Him was not constant, as the whole of the Old Testament illustrates quite well.

    Let’s close our study of Joshua 1 with the following poem:

    When God desired His pledge to keep and save alive mankind’s hope,
    He found a man named Noah who placed the pledge inside a boat.

    When written law was needed, and the mountain quaked and rocked;
    And the people cowered at Sinai’s base, there was Moses on Sinai’s top.

    As Canaan land before them stretched, to Jordan’s eastern bank they’d come.
    Thanks be to God Moses’ mantle fell upon the noble son of Nun.

    And as we to our own Canaan press, the New Jerusalem to see,
    Our souls are cleansed, our hearts are blessed. There was Jesus who died for you and me.

    You may not be a Noah, keeping hope alive in gopher wood.
    You may not be a Moses, as he at Sinai’s summit stood.
    You may not be a Joshua, who fought for land to Israel given.
    And you’re not the son of God, who gives us hope from earth to heaven.

    But you are you, the only one like you there ever will be.
    So face the task before you set, and be all God wants you to be.

    Although I do not know the author, the poem expresses a powerful message about Noah, Moses, Joshua, Jesus, and even you! There is a constant need in every generation for proper spiritual leadership and guidance. God will bless those who desire to serve Him and who are willing to cooperate with him (like Joshua) in the fulfillment of His will. May we all strive to serve the Lord to the best that our abilities and opportunities allow!

  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on September 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Be Strong and Courageous (JOSHUA 1, part 1) 

    “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying:

    ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them–the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go'” (Josh. 1:1-9).

    And so begins our study of the Old Testament book of Joshua! This section of text is clearly transitional from the leadership of the great man Moses to his assistant Joshua, traditionally believed to be the author of this book bearing his name. Moses died at the end of Deuteronomy because it was time for the Israelite nation to enter into the land of promise, but he was not permitted to go (cf. Num. 20). Joshua had great leadership skills, but he had followed Moses’ lead for decades. How would he do as the earthly leader of this great nation? Would he be faithful like Moses or would he falter under the pressure and forsake the way of the Lord?

    As the book unfolds, it is clear that he would do the former. It seems reasonable to suggest that immediately after Moses’ death, Joshua was full of doubt and fear. Thus, God exhorts him (at least three times) to be strong and courageous! With a little encouragement to simply do what he knew was right, Joshua would be an outstanding leader, the likes of which would not be seen for generations (e.g., Judges 2:7ff). Moses had obviously trained this capable man well!

    The LORD informed Joshua that He had given (past tense!) the land to Israel which had been promised to their fathers long ago (cf. Josh. 1:3; Gen. 12:7). The great territory described already belonged to them, but they still had to trust and obey in order to lay hold of this great gift from God. As He did for Moses, God essentially promised Joshua invincibility in battle (cf. 1:5), conditioned upon His fidelity to the Lord’s way. He would have to be mighty, fearless, and submissive to the word of God (which had been recorded in the Law of Moses), and then he would be unstoppable. God promised Joshua that He would never leave him or forsake him. He would be with him everywhere and at all times. What a comforting thought! Joshua believed it, and it no doubt enabled him to “be strong and courageous.” What about us, friends? Are we strong and courageous for the Lord and His church today? We must be, and it is easier knowing that God has promised to never leave or forsake us either! With God as our helper, there is nothing to fear–period (cf. Heb. 13:5,6; Matt. 28:20)!

    God explicitly told Joshua not to turn from His word “to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Josh. 1:7). We might say it like this today: “Don’t bind where God has not bound and don’t loose where God has not loosed. Respect the words that God has delivered; don’t add to or take away from them.” Furthermore, Joshua was instructed to continually be thinking and speaking about the Law. If he was careful not to let his mouth or mind stray from God’s words, he would be able to properly obey. As a result God would bless him with success (and so it is today). Be strong and courageous–like Joshua!

  • Stephen R. Bradd 4:00 am on September 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua   

    Daily Studies in JOSHUA 

    Greetings fellows. Ron asked if I would continue his daily chapter studies beginning in Joshua and I agreed to do so. Admittedly, I won’t do it exactly as he as done, but hopefully what I post will be of some use. I have appreciated reading Ron’s comments through the Pentateuch.

    Ron was faithful in posting from 1 chapter per weekday. I will post something every weekday, but I may cover only a portion of a chapter or perhaps several chapters. I’ll let the content drive my posts and not chapter divisions. Anyway, I’ll schedule these to post early each morning. I’ve got 22 posts for the book of Joshua. I’ve got to get busy working on Judges!

    Your comments, questions, or challenges are always welcome!

  • Ed Boggess 8:50 am on March 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Jericho, Joshua,   

    Sunday evening Joseph Horton, my associate preached on Joshua 5:13-15. He made a very good point, one which I had never realized and was glad to learn. As Joshua was readying for the battle against Jericho, a “man” appeared with a sword drawn. Joshua asked him, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” The “man” answered, “Neither, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” The “man” is correctly capitalized in the NKJV. I believe it was our Lord, but even if not, he certainly represented God, for when Joshua bowed and worshiped, he was not rebuked, as he would have been had it been less than God. But the key point is in the answer “neither”. God is not on Israel’s side and against Jericho. God is not on America’s side and against Islamic nations. “God so loved the world” – all the world and all the people. It was a lesson Peter finally grasped: “I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Jericho fell because it resisted God, but Rahab was saved because “whoever fears and works righteousness is accepted.”

  • J. Randal Matheny 5:17 pm on January 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Joshua, No fear,   

    Don’t be afraid of taking the helm 

    Transitions leave people uncertain over the inevitable change that must occur. Add to that following in the tracks of the greatest leader of all time. Plus, the responsibility of finishing a great task. Taking charge at a sensitive time. Overseeing the lives of millions of people. Even the bravest would quail at such a moment.

    We should not think ill of Joshua, then, were he to shrink from the task. And while nothing is said about his state of mind, the book opens with God’s bracing call to take over where Moses left off. In that commission, one gets the impression that Moses’ successor might have thought of cutting and running.

    1:1 After Moses the Lord’s servant died, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant: 1:2 “Moses my servant is dead. Get ready! Cross the Jordan River! Lead these people into the land which I am ready to hand over to them. 1:3 I am handing over to you every place you set foot, as I promised Moses. 1:4 Your territory will extend from the wilderness in the south to Lebanon in the north. It will extend all the way to the great River Euphrates in the east (including all of Syria) and all the way to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 1:5 No one will be able to resist you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not abandon you or leave you alone. 1:6 Be strong and brave! You must lead these people in the conquest of this land that I solemnly promised their ancestors I would hand over to them. 1:7 Make sure you are very strong and brave! Carefully obey all the law my servant Moses charged you to keep! Do not swerve from it to the right or to the left, so that you may be successful in all you do. 1:8 This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful. 1:9 I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do” (NET).

    Moses had been the first and only leader of Israel. Now, Joshua would face the groaners, the complainers, the rebellious, the disobedient without the humility and wisdom of his mentor. But the One who made Moses into the man he was would also accompany him every step of the way.

    No fear, only faith in the great promise of God.

  • Larry Miles 8:32 am on January 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Joshua, ,   

    God Commissions Joshua 

    After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Children of Israel into the Promised Land. Here in Joshua 1:1-9 we read of the commission given by the LORD Himself. We can make application for ourselves from this passage on how we are to regard the Word of God.

    He promises Joshua and us that, if we obey Him He will never forsake us. (Joshua 1:5) Joshua 1:7-8 tell us what the LORD told Joshua regarding the Word of God. Christians today must appropriate these verses for themselves. Remember, no truth of God’s Word is truly yours until you find it for yourself in the Bible. We must be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11. (More …)

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