Monthly Archives: December 2013

Joshua 9 – THE GIBEONITE DECEPTION

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Joshua 9 – THE GIBEONITE DECEPTION

A. Two different strategies of attack against Israel.

1. (Joshua 9:1-2) The southern kings gather together against Israel.

And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon; the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; heardabout it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.

a. When all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan . . . heard about it: When the Canaanite kings heard how the LORD delivered Jericho to Israel, they had reason to be afraid. When they heard how the LORD gave them victory over Ai, they had reason to be afraid.

b. They gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord: This is a classic, frontal attack – they will try to defeat Israel on the field of battle, in head-to-head competition.

2. (Joshua 9:3-6) The Gibeonites approach Joshua and Israel in another way.

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.”

a. They worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors: The Gibeonites will try to deceive Israel into making a peace treaty with them, though Israel was forbidden to make peace with any of the tribes of Canaan (Exodus 23:23-24).

b. Notice the methods of deception used by the Gibeonites. They were clever (craftily), they misrepresented themselves (pretended), and they even gave false “evidence” of their deception (old sacks, old wineskins, old and patched sandals, dry and moldybread).

c. Beyond their deceptive appearance, the Gibeonites simply lied. They said, “We have come from a far country” when of course they had not. All their other devices simply lead to strengthen the deception offered.

B. How Joshua and the leaders of Israel were deceived.

1. (Joshua 9:7-13) The Gibeonites explain their story to Joshua and the leaders of Israel.

Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?” But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?” So they said to him: “From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who werebeyond the Jordan; to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”‘ This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy. And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.”

a. From a very far country your servants have come: Plainly, the Gibeonites lied to Israel. But despite their lies, they have a proper admiration and honor for the God of Israel. Because of the name of the LORD your God; for we have heard of His fameshows that it is because God fights for Israel, they know it would be useless to oppose the nation.

2. (Joshua 9:14-15) Joshua and the leaders of Israel accept the deception of the Gibeonites.

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.

a. They did not ask counsel of the LORD: The Gibeonite deception was clever, and therefore powerful. But the real problem was that Joshua and the leaders of Israel never sought the LORD.

i. Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions: This shows that they trusted their senses instead of the LORD. “Look at this bread. Feel and taste how stale it is. Surely, they must have come a long way.” They walked by sight, not by faith.

ii. How much trouble do we find ourselves in for this very reason: they did not ask counsel of the LORD?

b. So Joshua made peace with them: Because they believed that the Gibeonites were from a distant land, they made the treaty with them. God allowed Israel to make treaties with distant nations, but not with the Canaanites.

C. The deception of the Gibeonites uncovered and dealt with.

1. (Joshua 9:16-20) Joshua and the leaders of Israel discover they have been deceived, yet they abide by their sworn oath to the Gibeonites.

And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them. Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim. But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers. Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them. This we will do to them: We will let them live, lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.”

a. Even though all the congregation murmured against the rulers, the rulers still knew they had to do what was right and honorable before God: keep their oath, even if it was a bad oath.

i. The rulers of Israel were wise in not allowing one sin (wiping out the Gibeonites) follow another sin (making the oath without seeking the LORD), especially in light of public pressure to do otherwise.

b. Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them.” It is a mark of godliness to hold to an oath, even when it is difficult. But he honors those who fear the LORD he who swears to his own hurt and does not change. (Psalms 15:4)

i. It is refreshing to see that going back on their word was not even really a possibility for the rulers of Israel. This was a simple matter, not even up for debate: we may not touch them.

c. Later, King Saul broke this vow to the Gibeonites and his sin brought famine upon Israel in the days of David (2 Samuel 21:1-9).

i. Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.” (2 Samuel 21:1)

2. (Joshua 9:21-27) A glorious punishment for the Gibeonites: Joshua makes them slaves to the LORD.

And the rulers said to them, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation, as the rulers had promised them.” 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 choose, even to this day.

a. Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation: Joshua could not kill the Gibeonites, but he could control them by making them perpetual workmen for the tabernacle service. They would serve in menial ways such as cutting wood for the sacrificial fires of the tabernacle and carrying water used in its service.

b. Significantly, there seems to be no complaint from the Gibeonites. They simply say, “here we are, in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.” Essentially, they were happy with the prospect of being incorporated into Israel, and by being made servants of the LORD, even if it was in menial service.

i. In this, the Gibeonites express the same heart David did in Psalms 84:10 : For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

ii. It is essential to see that they did this out of a love for the God of Israel, not out of weakness. Indeed, it was said of Gibeon that all its men were mighty(Joshua 10:2).

c. Because your servants were clearly told that the LORD your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land . . . we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing: The Gibeonites were not thrilled so much at being wood cutters and water carriers, but in knowing they could be those things for the LORD – and in knowing where they would be if they were not serving the LORD.

ii. Do we have the same heart? Can we rejoice in any kind of service, if we see we are in the presence of the LORD as we do it?

3. The Gibeonites find salvation in the God of Israel much like Rahab did in Joshua 2:1-24.

a. Both Rahab and the Gibeonites came to the God of Israel as sinners, Rahab as a harlot, and the Gibeonites as liars.

b. Both Rahab and the Gibeonites were willing at risk to forsake their former associations and be counted among God’s people.

i. The risk of Gibeon is explained in Joshua 10:4, where they are a target of attack for their dealings with Israel.

c. Both Rahab and the Gibeonites, after they found salvation through the God of Israel, had a rich history.

4. The Gibeonites after Joshua 9:1-27.

a. The Gibeonites became servants at the tabernacle, just as Joshua had commanded.

b. Gibeon becomes a priestly city; the Ark of the Covenant stayed at Gibeon often in the days of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 16:39-40 and 1 Chronicles 21:29).

c. At least one of David’s mighty men was a Gibeonite (1 Chronicles 12:4).

d. God spoke to Solomon at Gibeon (1 Kings 3:4).

e. Gibeonites were among those who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:7 and Nehemiah 7:25).

f. These are examples of the great things God can do with people who are sinners, but come to Him in humility and love.

 

 


 

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Joshua 8 – VICTORY OVER AI

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Joshua 8 – VICTORY OVER AI

 

A. Plans for victory.

 

1. (Joshua 8:1-2) God encourages Joshua and gives him instructions.

 

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.”

 

a. It is often the most difficult to regain lost ground such as Ai. When we have failed at some point in our Christian lives, we need to know how to get back on track.

 

b. Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed: This was the first key to regaining victory. They had to receive encouragement from God. Though Israel stumbled through Achan’s sin as shown in Joshua 7:1-26, they dealt with the failure and now had to move on.

 

i. What is past is past. We must deal with it before God in repentance and dying to self, and then look forward to what He has for us right now.

 

ii. God wants us to use our failures in a good way, to use them as a foundation for great victory in the LORD.

 

c. Take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai: God wasn’t despondent or depressed, and He didn’t want Joshua or the nation of Israel to be either. Now it was time to get busy and set about being victorious for the LORD, because He has not abandoned them.

 

d. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves: God allows them to keep the spoil from the city of Ai. How foolish the sin of Achan seems now! He could have had all his heart desired, if he only waited on the LORD for it.

 

e. Lay an ambush for the city behind it: God gives Joshua a plan for conquering the city of Ai, and now he must follow it. When we need to regain the victory, we must follow God’s plan.

 

2. (Joshua 8:3-8) Plans made for an ambush upon Ai.

 

So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai; and Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor and sent them away by night. And he commanded them, saying: “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city; and it will come about, when they come out against us as at the first, that we shall flee before them. For they will come out after us till we have drawn them from the city, for they will say, ‘They arefleeing before us as at the first.’ Therefore we will flee before them. Then you shall rise from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. And it will be, when you have taken the city, that you shall set the city on fire. According to the commandment of the LORD you shall do. See, I have commanded you.”

 

a. Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor: This time Joshua does not send 3,000 men as before (Joshua 7:4). Now he sends 30,000 mighty men of valor. When we need to regain victory, they must use every resource, and the best resources for victory.

 

b. And he commanded them, saying: “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city.” Though God had given Joshua the general plan Joshua 8:2, He left it up to Joshua’s experience and sanctified common sense to lay out the specific plan of battle.

 

3. (Joshua 8:9-10) Joshua stays with the people.

 

Joshua therefore sent them out; and they went to lie in ambush, and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua lodged that night among the people. Then Joshua rose up early in the morning and mustered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.

 

a. But Joshua lodged that night among the people: Joshua was especially near his people during this crucial time of trying to regain victory. The people needed to know he was near, and they needed to follow his leadership.

 

b. If we will regain victory, we must live with and follow Jesus, who is our Joshua. He is always near to us at these crucial times in our Christian life, and always goes first to lead us into battle.

 

B. Victory at Ai.

 

1. (Joshua 8:11-13) Preparations for battle: Joshua and the people do exactly what the LORD commanded them.

 

And all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near; and they came before the city and camped on the north side of Ai. Now a valley lay between them and Ai. So he took about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. And when they had set the people, all the army that was on the north of the city, and its rear guard on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.

 

a. All the people of war who were with him went up and drew near: If Israel will regain victory, they must take the offensive. They don’t wait for Ai to bring the battle to them, bring the battle to Ai.

 

b. We often see the battle against sin in mainly negative terms, about what not to do. But we must take the offensive against the powers of darkness and temptation, and be busy about doing what the LORD would have us to do.

 

2. (Joshua 8:14-17) The ambush works; the fighting men of Ai leave the city.

 

Now it happened, when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose early and went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at an appointed place before the plain. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. So all the people who were in Ai were called together to pursue them. And they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. So they left the city open and pursued Israel.

 

a. When the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose early and went out against Israel to battle: The men of Ai tried the exact same strategy against Israel as before. Generally, Satan will stick with a strategy against us until it doesn’t work any more.

 

b. And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them: God directed Joshua to use a completely different strategy against Ai. When we see the diversity of God’s methods, we remember it is because He is a personal God.

 

3. (Joshua 8:18-29) Ai is totally defeated and burnt to the ground.

 

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 no 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. And it came to pass when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness where they pursued them, and when they all had fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. So it was that all who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand; all the people of Ai. For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves, according to the word of the LORD which He had commanded Joshua. So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day. And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.

 

a. And they struck them down, so that they let none of them remain or escape: The victory and God’s judgment is complete. Because of God’s faithfulness to Israel and Israel’s faithfulness to God, this is not a halfway victory.

 

b. Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai: If Israel will regain victory, they must show no mercy to their enemy, but crush the enemy completely at every opportunity.

 

i. We can summarize the keys for victory from this chapter:

 

  • Be encouraged.
  • Follow the LORD’s plan.
  • Use every resource, and the best resources.
  • Live with and look to Jesus.
  • Go on the offensive.
  • Show no mercy to your enemy.

 

c. So far, Israel’s experience is an illustration of their whole history, and the spiritual history of many Christians.

 

  • Obedience followed by victory.
  • Victory followed by blessing.
  • Blessing followed by pride and disobedience.
  • Disobedience followed by defeat.
  • Defeat followed by judgment.
  • Judgment followed by repentance.
  • Repentance followed by obedience.
  • Obedience followed by victory, and the cycle continues.

 

C. Blessing and cursing on Ebal and Gerizim.

 

1. (Joshua 8:30-31) An altar built at Mount Ebal.

 

Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

 

a. Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: This is in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 27:1-26Deuteronomy 28:1-68. There, the LORD told Israel, when they came to the Promised Land, to come to these mountains, build an altar, sacrifice to the LORD, and read the law.

 

b. And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings: We see an appropriate act of worship, and consecration unto God, following a great victory. God always should get the glory. Even when men looked at the altar, they would not see elaborate carvings – though beautiful – drawing attention to man’s work (whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool).

 

2. (Joshua 8:32-35) Blessings read from Mount Gerizim, curses from Mount Ebal.

 

And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he 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.

 

a. He wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written: In this act of obedience we see Joshua as a man of the Book, obeying the command of Joshua 1:8. We also see Israel as a people of the Book ordering their lives after God’s Word.

 

i. This was even at a cost or inconvenience. The distance from Ai to Ebal and Gerizim was a long way to move all the tribes of Israel, from 20 to 25 miles.

 

b. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal: This was a beautiful place to do this, and the whole nation could hear this reading of the Law. The area has a natural amphitheater effect because of the contour of the hills.

 

c. According to Deuteronomy 27:1-26Deuteronomy 28:1-68, the altar was built on the mountain of cursing, Mount Ebal. We need the covering sacrifice exactly at the point where our sin and failures are revealed and God’s curse is pronounced on our sin.

 

d. This event, at this place, shows that Israel controls the middle of Canaan and the highlands. The rest is a matter of taking advantage of this strategic position.

 

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Joshua 7 – DEFEAT AT AI AND ACHAN’S SIN

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Joshua 7 – DEFEAT AT AI AND ACHAN’S SIN

A. Defeat at Ai.

1. (Joshua 7:1) Not all of Israel obeyed the law of the devoted things.

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.

a. The children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things: Joshua commanded the nation in Joshua 6:18 that they should not take of any of the accursed things, those things that were associated with the demonic and debasing worship and practices of the Canaanites.

b. The accursed things: The wars fought by Israel in Canaan were not to be plundering wars of personal gain; they were an unusual, sacred instrument in God’s hand, used for judgment against a society ripe for judgment.

c. So the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel: Israel could not be defeated by the Canaanites, but they could defeat themselves by alienating themselves from God’s plan and power.

2. (Joshua 7:2-3) Spies report from the city of Ai.

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.”

a. The recommendation to send only two or three thousand men was either a response of faith or self confidence. In the end it did not matter; in their disobedience, they could have sent 100,000 troops and it would have made no difference.

b. Israel’s success depended on their own state of being conquered by God; Achan’s rebellion showed that in that respect, they were not conquered by Him – and therefore open to defeat.

3. (Joshua 7:4-5) Israel is defeated at Ai.

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.

a. So about three thousand men went up there from the people: Joshua, a wise military leader, commands the larger number recommended by his military intelligence to be sent – but it makes no difference.They fled before the men of Ai.

b. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men: The thirty-six men killed were thirty-six more than were killed at Jericho, which was thought to be a much more difficult city to conquer. Though this number was small from a military standpoint, what it meant was staggering to Israel. It meant that Israel could be defeated in the Promised Land.

i. The defeat at Ai showed that what mattered was not the strength of the opponent, but the help of God. Without God’s help, all would be lost.

c. Therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water: The people of Israel had good reason to be afraid. Their panic was completely logical, because if God did not fight for them, they had nothing to expect but defeat.

B. Joshua goes before the LORD in time of crisis.

1. (Joshua 7:6-9) Joshua fears that it was unfaithfulness on God’s part that had caused the defeat.

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?”

a. Then Joshua tore his clothes: To tear your clothes and to put dust on your head both displayed mourning. Joshua is not only mourning the death of thirty-six men, but more so, he and the elders of Israel mourn the loss of the blessing and guidance of God.

b. Alas, Lord GOD, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all: For Joshua and the elders of Israel, this defeat was a national calamity. They do not take this defeat in stride; there is no “win a few, lose a few” mentality at work. They know that every battle matters, and there is always a reason for defeat, it doesn’t “just happen.”

c. Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! Joshua well knows that if God’s hand of blessing and guidance is not there, it would be better that they had come to the Promised Land. If God will not deliver them, all will be lost.

i. How different from so much of Christianity today! We are often so filled withman’s programs and power, that if God withdrew His blessing and guidance, it wouldn’t be missed for a long time.

d. Then what will You do for Your great name? This shows that Joshua’s over-riding concern was for the glory of God. Our greatest disappointment when we stumble should be that we have possibly caused reproach on the great name of God.

2. (Joshua 7:10-11) The real reason for defeat: Israel has sinned.

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 itamong their own stuff.”

a. Israel has sinned: The good news was that God had not failed the nation. The bad news was that this defeat was due to the sin of Israel. Joshua doesn’t need to fear that the problem is with God – it is almost comforting to find that the problem is with us!

i. This is why God tells Joshua to get up. He doesn’t need to beg God to changeHis heart towards Israel. Joshua must change Israel’s heart before God.

ii. God’s provision is for us to live a life of unbroken victory. But He will not make defeat impossible, taking away our ability to choose good or evil. He always makes it possible for us not to sin; here, Israel sinned, but they didn’t have to.

b. Israel has sinned . . . they . . . they . . . they also: God says that Israel had sinned, not only one man. It is staggering to think that the whole nation was found guilty, and thirty-six men were dead, all for the sin of one man and his family.

i. Paul speaks in similar terms concerning sin in the church; regarding sin among the Corinthian church, he says Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6) A small amount of sin accepted and tolerated among believers can infect the whole group.

ii. In this sense, the acceptance and toleration of the sin is worse than the sin itself, so it must be dealt with strictly.

c. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived: We should understand exactly what the sin was. Someone in Israel took things that were devoted to God, devoted either by their giving to His tabernacle, or by their complete destruction. One man stole from God, in the same way we steal from Him when we do not give Him what he directs us to give.

i. Leviticus 22:14; Lev_27:15; Lev_27:19; Lev_27:31 each demonstrate that in Israel, if you wanted to keep something that belonged to God, you had to pay a 20% (one-fifth) penalty. This was the same amount required for restitution in theft (Leviticus 6:4-5).

ii. The New Testament teaches us that giving should be regular and proportional (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), that it should be generous, purposeful, and cheerful (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). When we don’t give as God directs us, we must regard it as sin and repent of it.

3. (Joshua 7:12-13) The effect of the sin: they now have no power before their enemies.

“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.”

a. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies: Israel could not fight in God’s power and presence unless they walked in obedience to God. Israel was under a covenant with God that promised blessing on their obedience, and also promised curses upon their disobedience.

i. We are not under that kind of covenant. Our position with God is made by the work of Jesus on our behalf, not our own works. Yet if we want God’s power and presence in our own battles, we must walk in fellowship with Him, and this fellowship is hindered by our own sin and rebellion.

ii. Our position before God is secure in Jesus; but our fellowship with Him is hindered by our own sin (1 John 1:6). This fellowship with God is our wellspring of power to live in the Spirit.

b. They have become doomed to destruction: It is sobering to realize that a body in sin has no power before their enemies. It is wonderful to realize that once the sin has been dealt with, God’s power can again flow in our Christian life.

c. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you: When God deals with a particular area of sin, and when resist His work, His mercy makes us to fail in battle. We are most dangerous when we think we are “winning” battles with our own self-reliance.

4. (Joshua 7:14-15) Instructions for judgment of the sin.

“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.”

a. The tribe which the LORD takes: Though the identity of the sinning family was unknown to Joshua, it was known to God. Secret sin on earth is an open scandal before God. Therefore, we should therefore live our lives with “one set of books,” with one kind of life that can be seen by anybody, anywhere.

b. Then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire: Once God dealt with the one sinning individual, blessing could come again on the whole nation.

C. Achan’s sin publicly judged.

1. (Joshua 7:16-18) God exposes the identity of the head of the family that had sinned.

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.

a. Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken: This must have been an excruciating experience for Achan. How much better to simply walk in obedience to God!

b. All this time, Achan certainly remembered exactly what he had taken, and how he wished he had not taken it. But he – and we – should remember the regret of sin beforewe sin, not after.

i. Sin does have its pleasures. Taking those things gave Achan a good feeling. But the penalty of sin, both within us and upon us, outweighs any of the fleeting pleasures of sin.

2. (Joshua 7:19-21) Joshua confronts Achan, and he confesses.

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.”

a. My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him: Even when we sin and try to cover our sin, we can still give glory to the LORD by openly and honestly confessing our sin. Hidden sin always has a special power over us.

b. A beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels: Measured against the lives of thirty-six men and the welfare of the entire nation, what Achan gained was pretty insignificant. Truly, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10).

c. Think of how Achan could have rationalized his sin: “No one will know.” “These things won’t be missed.” “Think of how I’ll be admired in this beautiful Babylonian garment.” “I’m not hurting anyone.” “I deserve this.” The excuses can go on and on, but they all fall short.

d. When we are at the terrible place Achan is, we all feel terrible about our sin, wishing we had never done it – may God help us to feel terrible about our sin before we do it!

2. (Joshua 7:22-26) The confession confirmed and judgment executed.

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.

a. His sons, his daughters: Achan’s sons and daughters had specific knowledge of the sin, because it is unlikely that he could bury so much under their tent without their knowledge. At the same time, they were not necessarily stoned with Achan. Instead of being killed with their father, Achan’s children were probably called forth to witness the judgment against their father.

i. We notice the use of the singular in Joshua 7:25 and Joshua 7:26 (you . . . you . . . him . . . him), in reference to a person being stoned. The use of the plural in Joshua 7:24 and Joshua 7:25 (them . . . them . . . them) probably has reference to Achan’s possessions, not his children.

b. The Israelites aptly named this place Valley of Trouble (or, disaster, as it is in the NIV).

c. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger: Even this kind of sin, when it is dealt with, can be a spring board to victory again. Now Israel was again in position to walk in the power and guidance of God, after they had been conquered by God again.

i. This kind of victory only comes after a death. We need to die to such besetting sins, know that those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24) – the power and victory of Jesus’ resurrection are ours as we crucify our flesh with Him every day.

 

 


 

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Joshua 6 – THE FALL OF JERICHO

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Joshua 6 – THE FALL OF JERICHO

A. Obedience before the fall of the city of Jericho.

1. (Joshua 6:1-5) Instructions for the battle.

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, andthe mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, allyou men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear 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 longblast 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.”

a. Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel: Jericho itself was on full alert; from a human perspective, this would be a hard, if not impossible, battle. Yet from God’s perspective, the battle was already over, because He can say to JoshuaI have (in the past tense) given Jericho into your hand.

i. Up to this point everything had been more or less preliminary and preparatory. Now the real task before them must be faced and tackled. The Canaanites must be dispossessed if Israel is to occupy what God has promised them.

ii. Jericho was not an exceptionally large city; but it was an important, formidable fortress city. If Israel could defeat Jericho, they could defeat anything else that would face them in Canaan. Again we see the wisdom of God as opposed to human wisdom, in that Israel faces their most difficult opponent first.

b. You shall march around the city: The method of warfare was one that made absolutely no sense according to military intelligence. It required total dependence on God.

i. It required great faith from Joshua, because he had to explain and lead the nation in this plan.

ii. It required great faith from the elders and the nation, because they had to follow Joshua in this plan.

c. The wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him: It was a plan for victory whereby it would clearly be the work of the LORD. Yet God gave them something to do, so that Israel could work in partnership with God.

i. Obviously, it was something that God could have done without Israel’s help at all, but He wanted them to be a part of His work – as He wants us to be a part of His work today.

2. (Joshua 6:6-7) Joshua tells the priests and the people.

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.”

a. Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests: Joshua had to tell the priests, because what they were asked to do was unusual. Normally, priests and the ark of the covenant did not go with Israel to battle.

b. Take up the ark of the covenant: The ark would be prominent in this victory, even as it was in the crossing of the Jordan River. Israel had to keep their hearts and minds on the LORD who was present with them, instead of putting their hearts and minds on the difficulty of the task in front of them.

c. And he said to the people: Joshua had to tell the people, because what they were asked to do was unusual. This was no customary way to conquer a walled, fortified city.

3. (Joshua 6:8-14) The march of the first six days.

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. 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 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 the camp. So they did six days.

a. When Joshua had spoken to the people: Joshua does not hesitate to do what the LORD has told him to do. Often, our delays to obey God show that we really don’t believe Him.

b. So he had the ark of the LORD circle the city, going around it once: Jericho was not a large city; they could easily march around it in a day’s time. As the people of Jericho saw the Israelites marching around their city, they probably had a sense of both awe and horror.

c. It took courage for Israel to do this; Israel was wide open to attack during this time, and it would have been easy for the people of Jericho to attack them from the high position of the walls.

d. It took endurance for Israel to do this; the march was for six days, and they had to persist in something that didn’t seem to make much sense.

e. In this, the helplessness of Israel was revealed; through six days of silent marching, they had a good look at the walls that seemed to be impenetrable – they knew that this was a battle bigger than they were.

4. (Joshua 6:15-16) The march of the seventh day.

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!

a. On the seventh day: This march took place over a period of seven days, meaning that Israel had to have marched on a Sabbath; but this would be a work of God’s sovereign grace and power, not of human works.

b. Shout, for the LORD has given you the city! The command was given for the people to shout. After the days of silence, this comes as a recognition that God would now given them what He had promised. The LORD has given you the city!

5. (Joshua 6:17-19) The command to destroy the city and to save Rahab is given.

“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 the 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.”

a. Only Rahab the harlot shall live: Joshua is careful to take care of Rahab. Her faith in the living God would find support by God’s people.

b. Joshua had to command the people of Israel to stay away from the accursed things. By this he means the idols and things associated with the demonic and depraved worship of the people of Canaan.

i. The severe judgment that is brought against Jericho, and all of Canaan didn’t come because they were in the “way” of God’s people. It came because this was a people who were in total rebellion against God and in league with the occult, as the artifacts recovered from this period demonstrate.

c. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD: All the valuables belong to God; Jericho is the “first fruits” city of Canaan, and so the valuables are set apart to the treasury of the LORD.

B. The taking of the city of Jericho.

1. (Joshua 6:20-21) The walls come down and the city is destroyed.

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.

a. The wall fell down flat: We are not told that Israel knew this would be the result of their obedient marching and final shouting. They may have been as surprised as the people of Jericho were at the way God decided to deliver Jericho into their hands.

b. They utterly destroyed all that was in the city: Why was Israel commanded to practice such complete destruction? Because the greatest sins of the Canaanites were spiritual: When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.(Deuteronomy 18:9-14)

i. Such judgment seems harsh to us, because it is harsh – and we must recognize, that at unique times, God has commanded that such judgment come to pass. I may happen either through an army that He has used (as is the case here), or through judgment that He directly brings (such as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:24-25).

c. Israel took the city: They took, after God had given (Joshua 6:2). It was clear that God gave, but that Israel had to take by obedient, persistent faith.

i. So it is with all victory in the Christian life – God gives it to us in Jesus Christ; but we must take it from Him by obedient, persistent faith.

2. (Joshua 6:22-25) Finishing up the battle.

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.

a. Bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her: Rahab and her household were saved. They coupled their faith in the God of Israel with a willingness to follow through on what God’s messengers told them to do: stay at the house with the scarlet cord hanging from the window (Joshua 2:17-19).

b. They burned the city and all that was in it with fire . . . Joshua spared Rahab the harlot: In this, we see a contrast between judgment and salvation. All of Jericho heard about the God of Israel (Joshua 2:8-11), but only Rahab responded positively in faith towards God with that knowledge.

c. So she dwells in Israel to this day: This shows that Joshua was written at the time of Joshua; this was not the fanciful re-construction of an imaginative writer working centuries after the fact.

3. (Joshua 6:26-27) Joshua curses the man who would re-fortify Jericho.

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.

a. Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho: This was fulfilled in 1 Kings 16:34, which says In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.

b. This completes the story of Israel’s victory at Jericho. We can learn from the things that marked their victory.

  • Faith: Joshua and Israel believed the battle plan.
  • Obedience: Joshua and Israel followed the battle plan exactly.
  • Courage: Israel followed the battle plan despite danger.
  • Endurance: Israel followed the battle plan over a period of time, even when it seemed that nothing was happening.
  • Israel did not rely on carnal scheming and worldly methods; their trust was in theLORD, not in human ingenuity.

     

 

 

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Joshua 5 – CIRCUMCISION AND PASSOVER AT GILGAL

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Joshua 5 – CIRCUMCISION AND PASSOVER AT GILGAL

 

A. The second work at Gilgal: A radical obedience.

 

1. (Joshua 5:1) The fear of Israel’s enemies at the faith and obedience of Israel.

 

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 whowere 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.

 

a. Their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel: Melting hearts are a great thing, if they melt unto repentance. But sometimes hearts melt before God, and then solidify again into an even harder state.

 

b. When our spiritual enemies see that we are trusting in God, and are willing to step out in obedient faith – even when it seems crazy – they instantly lose confidence in their battle against us.

 

c. We may forget, but our spiritual enemies always remember that If God is for us, who can be against us?(Romans 8:31) They know that when we are really trusting in God, their defeat is assured.

 

2. (Joshua 5:2-8) The circumcision of Israel at Gilgal.

 

At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. 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. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people who weremen of war, who came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD to whom the LORD swore that He would not show them the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers that He would give us, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Then Joshua circumcised their sonswhom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed.

 

a. Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time: Apparently, all during the forty years of waiting in the wilderness, none of the sons born during that time had been circumcised. Now God commanded that this be done.

 

i. Joshua makes clear the reason why there was a new generation born in the wilderness: because the old generation did not obey the voice of the LORD, and take the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey by faith.

 

ii. This new generation was raised up in . . . place of the generation of unbelief. God’s work would go on, but the people of God who had unbelief would not share in it.

 

b. Then Joshua circumcised their sons: Circumcision was always a powerful act of consecration to God. In it, an Israelite said “I’m not like the other nations. I listen to God and do what He says I should do.” It was stepping out in faithful obedience and identifying yourself as one of the LORD’s people. It was renouncing the flesh and the world. It was dying to self and living to God.

 

c. They stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed: Obviously, this was suicidal from a military standpoint. All the men of fighting age were made completely vulnerable and unable to fight for a period of several days, till they were healed.

 

i. Genesis 34:24-25 describes how Simeon and Levi killed all the men in a city after tricking them into having them all circumcised. While the men were unable to fight properly, they were slaughtered in retaliation, because the prince of that city had raped Dinah, the sister of Simeon and Levi. This could have been the fate of Israel here in Joshua 5:1-15.

 

d. So, not only did Israel cross over the Jordan at a militarily undesirable place (right in front of Jericho, the strongest military outpost of the Canaanites), they also incapacitated their army for several days. They did this because they trusted God, and His directions, instead of their own wisdom.

 

i. They were put in the place where they could trust in nothing but God alone – a hard place, but a good place.

 

ii. God only asked this of them after He showed His greatness by the Jordan River crossing. When we remember all the things the power of God has done in our lives, we are willing to trust Him with a radical obedience.

 

3. (Joshua 5:9) The effect: God rolls away their reproach.

 

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.

 

a. This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you: What reproach? What dishonor? Their shame from Egypt, the shame of their degrading slavery.

 

b. God called Israel to a place where they saw themselves as they were in Him. By faith, they could see themselves as an obedient, trusting people, and to stop seeing themselves as they were in their slavery and bondage.

 

i. Of course, this is the same work God wants to do in us, taking away the dishonor and shame of our previous sin and rebellion, and seeing ourselves as who we are in Jesus.

 

c. How was the reproach rolled away? By their radical trust and obedience to God, by taking the specific action He told them to.

 

B. The third work at Gilgal: A redemption remembered.

 

1. (Joshua 5:10-11) The Passover is celebrated: looking back to their redemption from Egypt.

 

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.

 

a. And kept the Passover: The original Passover itself could never be repeated, but there was power in its remembrance. They were to always live remembering that they were a people delivered, and remembering God’s work of deliverance.

 

b. In the same way, we are to be in constant remembrance of our redemption at Calvary, and live our lives in the shadow of the cross.

 

2. (Joshua 5:12) A new source of provision: God stops the manna.

 

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.

 

a. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land: When the people were able to provide for themselves from the rich produce of Canaan, God stopped the manna. He didn’t want them to get lazy, but to enter into a new partnership of trust with Him.

 

i. You had to trust God to bring the manna every day; but you also had to trust Him to provide for you through other means.

 

b. They ate the food of the land of Canaan that year: God always provides; but He is perfectly free to change the source of His provision from time to time. We need to trust in Him, not in His manner of provision, or we will stumble when that changes.

 

c. The city of Gilgal became a beachhead and camp for Israel in their conquest of Canaan. They returned there after battle and remembered, finding strength in the remembrance of the memorial, their obedience, and their redemption.

 

i. It is good to have a place like Gilgal in our life. This is a place where we first come into God’s promises, a place of memorial, a place of obedience and redemption.

 

3. (Joshua 5:13-15) Joshua meets with the Commander of the army of the LORD.

 

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.

 

a. Behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand: Joshua boldly approaches this mysterious Man with a drawn sword. As a shepherd over God’s people, he has a responsibility to see if this man is a friend or a foe.

 

b. Joshua puts a logical question to this impressive Man: Are you for us or for our adversaries? The response of the Man is curious, almost elusive. “No” was not a proper answer for Joshua’s question.

 

i. In a sense, the Man refuses to answer Joshua’s question because it is not the right question, and it is not the most important question to be asked at the time.

 

ii. The question really wasn’t if the LORD was on Joshua’s side. The proper question was if Joshua was on the LORD’s side.

 

c. The Man announces who He is: Commander of the army of the LORD. This is God Himself pulling rank on Joshua, who himself was a great military leader – but he was notCommander in Chief.

 

i. We know that this Being, standing before Joshua, was God. Though the titleCommander of the army of the LORD could perhaps apply to an angel (such as Michael, based on a passage like Revelation 12:7), Joshua’s falling down and worshipping is inconsistent with angels, who never receive worship (Revelation 22:8).

 

ii. Army of the LORD here is used in a way that implies that the armies commanded are angelic armies. This is a Being who commands angels.

 

iii. As well, Joshua refers to the angel as my LORD; but most of all, the command to remove his sandals (a picture of our humanity and contact with a “dirty” world), was to Joshua (who read and knew Exodus 3:4-6 because he was in God’s word) clear proof that the Man standing before him was the voice from the burning bush.

 

iv. The idea of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, appearing as a man before Bethlehem is provocative, but logical. We know that He existed before Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); why should He not, on isolated but important occasions, appear in bodily form? This idea is also evident in passages like Genesis 18:16-33; Gen_32:24-30, and Judges 13:1-23.

 

c. And Joshua did so: Joshua’s total submission to Jesus Christ shows that he knows who is really in charge. It also is a virtual guarantee of victory for Israel. When we follow after the Commander of the army of the LORD, how can we lose?

 

d. Why did Jesus come to Israel at this strategic time?

 

i. He had come to instruct Joshua in the plan to capture Jericho. Joshua will carry out a plan in the following chapter that is so improbable it could only have been initiated at the direct command of God.

 

ii. Most of all, He had come to conquer Israel – before Israel could conquer anything else in the promised land, they had to be conquered by God – and Joshua’s total submission shows that they are conquered by Him. This is the missing element in a life of victory for many Christians; they have not been, and are not continually being, conquered by God.

 

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Joshua 4 – MEMORIAL STONES

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Joshua 4 – MEMORIAL STONES

 

A. Crossing the Jordan River is finished and the ark of the covenant comes from the midst of the river.

 

1. (Joshua 4:1-9) After the nation crosses over, God commands Joshua to set up a memorial of the crossing.

 

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.” And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. Then 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.

 

a. When all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan: Israel was now on the other side of the Jordan – in the Promised Land. But what is life in the Promised Land like? Is it one glorious vacation time after another? No; for Israel it was a place of battle, but most of all, it was a place of trust – they knew they had to trust God with every thing they had, because the challenges only got bigger in the Promised Land – but so did the blessings.

 

i. Most of us would have wanted to rush on through and take care of Jericho – why not take advantage of the time when they are all afraid of you? But God is never in a hurry; and He knows that beyond us doing something, we must be something for Him – so He takes time out to conquer Israel spiritually before they can conquer Jericho under His guidance.

 

b. Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm Each tribe was to send a representative to take a stone – undoubtedly a large one – from the dry river bed where Israel had crossed over, so the stones could be set up as a memorial.

 

c. That this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come: The purpose of this memorial was so that the people of Israel could teach their children about the great things God had done, so that the work of God would not be forgotten among the generations.

 

i. We often fail in our trust of God because we forget the great things He has done, and often the faith of our children is weak because they have never been told how great God is and how real His working is in our lives.

 

d. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan: Joshua also set up a pile of memorial stones in the very bed of the river Jordan, so that when it was lowered in a season of drought, those stones could be seen and would testify of the time that God had completely dried up the Jordan.

 

i. Especially in a time of drought, we need to remember the great things God has done.

 

2. (Joshua 4:10-18) The nation passes over, the priests come through, and the Jordan returns to its normal flow.

 

So the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the LORD had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua; and the people hurried and crossed over. Then it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over, that the ark of the LORD and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people. And the men of Reuben, the men of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses had spoken to them. About forty thousand prepared for war crossed over before the LORD for battle, to the plains of Jericho. On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life. Then the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, “Command the priests who bear the ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan.” Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, “Come up from 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.

 

a. So the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished: The priests stood with the ark of the covenant for the entire time it took the nation to cross over. The visible token of the presence of God had to remain in the river through the entire crossing.

 

b. And the men of Reuben, the men of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the children of Israel: The people content to settle on the east side of the Jordan stayed on their side of the Jordan, but sent their armies over to fight on behalf of the rest of the nation, just as they had promised (Joshua 1:12-16).

 

c. On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel: God fulfilled His promise to Joshua (Joshua 3:7), raising him up as a great leader for Israel, even as He had done for Moses.

 

d. The waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks as before: The manner and timing with which the Jordan returned to its natural flow shows that this event was supernaturally arranged by God.

 

B. The first work at Gilgal: memorial stones set up.

 

1. (Joshua 4:19-20) The stones are set up as a memorial in Gilgal.

 

Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal.

 

a. They camped in Gilgal: Gilgal will become their base of operations for the conquest of the entire Promised Land. Therefore, it was appropriate that the first work at Gilgal was to set up a memorial to God’s great works.

 

2. (Joshua 4:21-24) The purpose of the memorial stones.

 

Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; “for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

 

a. What are these stones? There was obviously a purpose in the memorial stones for the people of Israel themselves. It is so easy for us to forget the great miracles God has performed on our behalf.

 

i. We don’t remember the past great works of God so that we can live in a dreamland of the past, thinking that the best days of our Christian experience are behind us. We remember them as a point of faith, so we can trust God for greater and greater works in the future, because we have seen and experienced His past faithfulness.

 

b. Then you shall let your children know: There was an important purpose for theirchildren, so they would have a point of contact with God’s work in the past, and remember that God’s work did not begin with them and their time.

 

c. That all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD: There was also a purpose for the world, so they would know that there is a God in heaven who can work miracles, a God they should seek with all their heart.

 

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Joshua 3 – CROSSING THE JORDAN

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Joshua 3 – CROSSING THE JORDAN

A. Instructions for crossing the Jordan River.

1. (Joshua 3:1-2) Camping by the Jordan: Israel faces up to their own utter helplessness to accomplish what it set before them.

Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and they set out from Acacia Grove and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they crossed over. So it was, after three days, that the officers went through the camp;

a. Came to the Jordan . . . and lodged there before they crossed over: God told the people of Israel to wait three days at shores of the Jordan River (Joshua 1:11). All that time, the people of Israel saw a rushing river, swollen with spring rains laying in front of them. They must have asked, “How can we ever cross this river?”

i. It was one thing for a few spies to make their way across (as happened in Joshua 2:1-24), but here we are talking about a nation ofmillions, with all their possessions – how will they make it?

b. At a moment like this, all the wonderful talk about living in the Promised Land can sound pretty hollow. There is a seemingly impossible obstacle blocking the way – how will God do this one?

2. (Joshua 3:3-5) The ark of God will lead the way.

And they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”

a. When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it: Joshua didn’t send his Army Corps of Engineers first. Instead, he sent the priests who carried the ark of the covenant, which was the visible representation of God’s presence with the people. Joshua knew this was a spiritual problem, not a feat of human engineering.

b. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: God required that they keep some 1,000 yards behind the ark. This was for two reasons. First, to respect the holy nature of the ark of the covenant. But also, it was to make sure that everyone a clear view of the ark. That you may know the way by which you must go shows that the ark of the covenant led the way. Israel would accomplish this impossible task as they set their eyes upon God’s presence, and followed only after His presence.

c. Sanctify yourselves: Because this would be a spiritual battle, Joshua requires that the people have a spiritual preparation. Sanctify yourselves means they were to separate themselves from common things to focus in on the LORD, and to see that the LORD will do wonders among you.

3. (Joshua 3:6) Joshua’s step of faith: he sends the priests to walk across a swollen river Jordan.

Then Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

a. Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over before the people: We should assume that God told Joshua to do this, and that he wasn’t working out of foolish presumption. We can also assume that God spoke to Joshua about this as Joshua was in God’s word, reading and remembering the crossing of the Red Sea.

i. We see Joshua’s success depending on and growing out of the promise ofJoshua 1:8 : 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. Joshua obviously had the word of God on his lips, on his mind, and in his actions.

b. So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people: Even with God’s specific guidance, and with specific guidance from His word, this is still and impressive step of faith for Joshua. Living and walking in the Promised Land comes from this kind of faith, not a slavish reliance on a “law” relationship with God.

i. Faith leads us into greater victories than law ever could.

4. (Joshua 3:7-8) God’s encouragement to Joshua.

And the LORD said to Joshua, “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. You shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.’“

a. This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel: As Joshua takes a step of faith, God encourages him all the way. God always wants to encourage and help along our faith, but we may have our ears closed to His encouragement.

b. That they may know that as I was with Moses, so I will be with you: God will make Joshua a leader like Moses in the eyes of the people, and He will do it by using Joshua to miraculously lead the people across an impossible body of water.

c. After Joshua had obeyed the previous guidance, based on faith and his understanding of God’s word, now God gives him more specific instructions: when you have come to the edge of the water . . . you shall stand in the Jordan.

5. (Joshua 3:9-13) Joshua encourages and instructs Israel.

So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.”

a. By this you shall know that the living God is among you: Joshua understands the way God connects events in our lives. The fact that He will move on behalf of Israel here is taken as a promise of His future blessing and movement for them.

b. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan: Joshua knows that the ark will lead the way – again, this is a spiritual battle to be won.

c. The waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap: Joshua’s general outlook, as communicated to the people, is refreshing. The impossible problems in their way are not seen as an oppressive trial, but as a glorious opportunity to see God work.

B. Crossing the Jordan River.

1. (Joshua 3:14-15) The faith of the priests and of Joshua.

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),

a. The feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water: The priests begin the procession, with the ark of the covenant some 1,000 yards in front of the people, and the priests came and walked right into a river that looked like it wasn’t going anywhere.

i. Who knows how long the priests stood there in the river? It might have been a moment; but it may have been a long time – but in a situation like that, a moment seems like a long time!

b. We usually want the river to be dry before we even make a step; but God was truly calling Israel to step out in faith.

c. For the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest: Joshua reminds us that this was not a time when the Jordan was reduced to a trickle. Because of the spring rains, at this time of early harvest, the river was swollen and overflowing its banks.

2. (Joshua 3:16-17) The Jordan is stopped and the people cross over on dry ground.

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.

a. The waters which came down from upstream stood still: In some miraculous manner, God stopped the flow of the Jordan River. He may have used a natural occurrence (an earthquake has often been suggested), but the timing of it was at the hand of God.

b. As well, even with the flow of the river stopped, it was miraculous that the people could cross over on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan. God miraculously dried the riverbed so that they didn’t slog through marshy mud.

i. This miracle obviously connects with the miracle the nation knew some 40 years earlier: the passing through the Red Sea. God brought them out of Egypt’s bondage with a miracle, and He brought them in to the Promised Land with a miracle.

c. How did it happen? What was the key to this amazing miracle? Notice the centrality of the ark of the covenant of the LORD. The ark is referred to 14 times in these 17 verses. This was all about the trust of Joshua, the priests, and Israel had in the God they knew was present with them.

i. The ark of the covenant cleared the way for Israel. This was spiritual work, not work for Israel’s “Army Corps of Engineers.”

3. To face such impossible challenges in our lives, we must look unto Jesus, our Joshua. He always leads us.

a. Jesus is the fulfillment of the ark; He is Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us”(Matthew 1:23).

b. Jesus has cleared the way to victory over all things: Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the cross(Colossians 2:15).

c. As we keep our eyes on, and follow behind our victorious Jesus, the river of impossibility will dry up.

d. To the cynic, who wonders if they haven’t tried that and been disappointed, we must ask them: “Have you really tried this? Have you truly walked according to God’s word, trusted in Jesus and been disappointed?” Perhaps your disappointment is actually in your flesh.

 

 


 

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