And So Joshua Did

As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did.  He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.  (Joshua 10:15 NKJV)

Isn't it nice to see examples of such obedient servants of the Lord?  While they certainly weren't without their mistakes, because after all, leaders are people too, Moses and Joshua ultimately did their best to do all that God demanded of them, no matter how difficult.  Because of their obedience, they were also rewarded by God.  In Joshua 10, we see listed the conquests of Moses and Joshua and see that even though God hardened the hearts of the rulers of the lands (Joshua 10:20) to rise up against Joshua, the peoples of these lands could not be victorious over Joshua because God was with him.  It is interesting to me that God would go to the lengths He does to prove He is God - even changing peoples' hearts so that they are against Him and worthy to be conquered.

I want to be like Joshua & Moses, doing all that God has commanded me to do, finishing His work.  But what exactly is that?  Is our work ever really finished?   What is God asking you to do in your life right now?  Finish the task, or start the task, whatever the case may be, knowing that God will be with you to the end.

The Sun Stands Still

In my last post we left Joshua and the Israelites after they had just erroneously made a covenant with the Gideonites to allow them to live in their land.  Remember that the Israelites didn't ask for God's guidance in the matter, they relied on their own wisdom and thus ended up disobeying God's orders.  It must be remembered however, that God did not reprimand them for a mistake.  After all, this time they didn't purposely disobey.

We find in Joshua 10 that five different Canaanite kings decided to band together and attack Israel.  To me, this would be a pretty scary time to be living, especially as an Israelite when everyone is out to get them.  But God delivers Joshua & Co. once again from destruction:

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 10:8)

Have you ever "heard" God say that to you?  If you haven't heard Him before, I bet you were not listening very carefully.  God loves to deliver His people to show His glory to the world.  Look at verse 10:

So the LORD routed them before Israel... (Joshua 10:10)

God is moving all of the time, just like He was back then in Joshua's day, routing the approaching armies into the direct path of waiting Israelite soldiers. God facilitated the victory!  (See also 10:19, 25, 30, 32, 42).   God delivers on His promises when we are obedient to His ways.  He also listens to our prayers and cries for help just as He did that day when the sun stood still.

And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.  (Joshua 10:14)

The Lord heeded the voice of a man.  God listens.  Still.   

To think about:    Is there an area in your life where you desperately need victory?  When was the last time you fervently asked God for help in that area?

Pray Before You Act

Does anyone remember the story of Joshua and the Gibeonites from Joshua 9?  The Gibeonites were a people living in the land of Canaan who deceived Joshua & Co. into making a treaty with them.  The Gibeonites were afraid of Israel because of all that God had been doing for them and sent a group of men all dressed down (they put on old clothes, brought moldy food, etc.) so that Joshua would think they had travelled a long distance.  You see, Israel was allowed to make treaties with peoples from far away lands, just not from this in their own "back yard".   To make a somewhat long story short, Israel made the treaty with the Gibeonites and then found out that they were deceived and realized the mistake they had made.

Here is the key.  The people of Israel did not pray for God's guidance before they made their decision to make a pact with the Gibeonites.   Aha!

Joshua 9:14 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions, but they did not ask counsel of the Lord. 15 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.

The one thing to note is that God did not reprimand Israel for their mistake.  In the following chapter we see more victories by the people of Israel.  While their decision wasn't the smartest one they could have made and it wasn't God's intent, God did not punish them for not asking His opinion on the matter.    I believe God gave them grace because while they forgot to consult God, they weren't willfully disobedient.  After all, they were deceived by the Gibeonites.

When was the last time you entered into an agreement, a ministry, a job, etc,, without praying to God for guidance?  We all have done it.  We just remember in the future that asking for God's advice might keep us out of "trouble" and help all of us busy ladies be less overcommitted!     :)

From Victory to Defeat

Isn't it amazing how we can have a huge victory one day and the next day disaster strikes?  What is different at these times from one day to the next?  While sometimes, the difference between a victorious day and a defeated day is nothing more than circumstances out of our control, other times the answer lies in our actions.  This truth can be seen between Joshua 6 and 7. 

I left off the other day with Joshua leading the nation of Israel to victory over the powerful city of Jericho  (Joshua 6).  This was their first conquest after crossing the river Jordan into the land that God had promised them.  At last, they were in the promised land.  However, in the next chapter we see that Israel lost their nerve and ran from Ai.  Joshua even got upset with God because of the defeat and started blaming God for what happened.  So, what really happened here? 

Joshua 7:1 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.

Can you see what happened?  Someone, specifically Achan, disobeyed God and took some spoil from the city of Jericho, when God specifically forbade it.  (Joshua 6:18).  One man's disobedience reaked havoc on the whole nation because God got a little bit irritated!!  Look at God's response to Joshua's cries:

10 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.  12 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. (Joshua 7:10-12 NKJV)

Can you see what happened?  God's presence wasn't with Israel because of their disobedience.  Clearly stated.  I don't know about you, but this little passage speaks volumes to me.  I wonder what things I have in my life that God doesn't want there.  I wonder what "accursed things" I need to give up in order to ensure that God is with me in all that I do.  Do you wonder the same things?

Again I pray for God to search my heart and show me those places I need to change.  I want to do all that God has for me to do and be all for Him that He will make me to be.

Challenge:  Pray this passage to God and ask Him to reveal to you areas that you need to change in order to inherit your promised land:  "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)

Our Captain, Our Lord

In my last post I spoke about how God is with us to help us in any personal change we need to make.  As I read through Joshua, I'm reminded of God's presence with us through conquests as well.

In Joshua 5 we find our man, Josh, getting ready to lead the people of Israel into their first battle for their promised land.  God had dried up the flood stage Jordan river so that Israel could cross over on dry land and the people of Jericho were shaking in their sandals because they had heard of the miracle.  I'd be shaking too if I knew that the people coming to attack me had that kind of supernatural power on their side.  Wow.  God's purpose with that miracle was accomplished.  He wanted all the people of the earth to know that His hand was powerful.  (Josh 5:24) What better way to do that than by parting the waters of a raging river?

Jericho's people were shaking behind their walls and Joshua was flat on his face before God. 

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand.  Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?"

"Neither," he replied, " but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come."  Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence...  (Josh 5:13-14 NIV)

Then the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men...(Josh 6:2 NIV)

Readers, what is your Jericho?  What is your promised land?  Is it a ministry that God has called you to do or a personal stronghold that He has asked you to conquer?  We get so afraid sometimes of taking that next step in our faith walk with God that we become paralyzed.  Did you notice that the captain of God's armies came down to talk to Joshua?  Like with Joshua, God is with us too, and has most likely gone ahead of us to prepare the way by parting the waters of the river blocking our paths.  We are fighting God's battles too and the captain of His army is on our side.  We just need to remember that God is in the miracle business and follow His instructions for our lives.  Like Joshua followed God's instructions to march around the city of Jericho and sound the trumpets to make the walls fall down, God can do the same for us.  Just look at His track record.