October 25, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 24

The Most Important Chapter in the Bible (Maybe)

Joshua 24 might be one of the most important chapters in the Bible. First, it starts off with a recap of Israel’s history that provides an excellent summary. Second, we get a hint at the troubles Israel is about to face and why they should have known better. And Lastly, we see the end of a great life as Joshua passes from this Earth.

1–13 Recap of Israel’s History

Boy o’ boy I wish I could unpack every verse. My wife already fusses at me for having long Jumpstarts. It is sufficient to say that as much time as you’d like to invest studying these verses would not be wasted.

I’ll make one quick point; this is a history lesson from God’s point of view—notice all of the “I’s” in this passage. Notice also verse 2 speaking of Abraham et al, “and they served/worshipped other gods.” This reminds me of Romans 5:8–11:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We understand Abraham’s salvation through Christ by grace through faith, which is made clear elsewhere in Romans. The point is this. Abraham and his father Terah were idolaters living in a land of idolatry. They did not know Yahweh God, nor did they seek him in any way. God invaded their lives. Because of Abraham’s response in faith, he has been blessed as the father of nations, and our spiritual ancestor (if not our literal one). God is the one who calls and redeems, our responsibility is to respond in faith.  

14–28 You Are Witnesses Against Yourself

In these verses Joshua lays down some hard truth. Yet, the people call out, “we will serve the Lord” (21). Joshua then tells them, “You are witnesses against yourself,” to which the people say, “We are witnesses.”

Think of this in terms of a legal proceeding. All of this is very official, and similar to the kinds of treaties we see in the ancient world between nations. These treaties, like was spelled out in the law tell both parties what they are obligated to contribute. In Israel’s case, God only required faithfulness.

29–33 The End of the Road

These verses recount the end of Joshua’s life. He lived a life of faith and is among the remarkably few biblical personalities who ended well. Bear in mind that upon entering the promised land only he and Caleb were alive at the time of the Exodus. This is because while all the spies agreed that the promised land was very good, only Joshua and Caleb believed that God could uphold his promise to deliver them into the land. He was Moses’ right-hand man and stayed a faithful servant of Yahweh until the end.

However, part of the reason for Joshua’s strong words in Joshua 24 is that he saw the writing on the wall. As we discussed in chapter 17, Israel had begun to cut corners in dealing with God’s commands. Instead of driving all the people from the land, there were a great number remaining. The consequences for not doing things God’s way were disastrous. Judges 2:10, after recounting Joshua’s death, says, “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” This point marks a spiraling nose-dive for Israel. The time of the Judges is a period where things continually go from bad to worse—but they can’t say they weren’t warned.

This passage illustrates how God moves in history and in our lives. How is God at work in your life and what things do you need to continue or cut-out so that, like Joshua, you might finish well?

By: Tyler Short

October 24, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 23

I’ll never forget reading my first John Piper book in college, Don’t Waste Your Life. It was written with college students in mind but one particular story stuck out to me that had more to do with the other end of our seasons of life, retirement. Read below to know what I’m talking about:

I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life. (John Piper)

The above account really struck a chord with me because I’ve noticed how many people really do think that retirement or their last leg of life is an extended sabbath or prolonged vacation. Not to say that one can’t take advantage of that season of life, but no one in the Bible wasted their retirement and Joshua is one who took full advantage of his old age by reminding God’s people who God is and how to continue to live for Him. Some of the greatest servants in the church & disciplers are people who have the experience, wisdom and time to invest in the future generations of Christ. So current retirees and future retirees at CPC, spoil your grandchildren, travel to those vacation spots you’ve always wanted to visit, sleep in every so often—but don’t waste this season where God can use you and your wisdom/experience more than any other time in the church. Remind the future generations what Joshua reminded them:

  • God keeps His promises.
  • Do not mix your faith with the worship of false idols. It never ends well.
  • God will protect you in your fight.
  • Keep your covenants with Him.

By: Erik Koliser

October 22, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 22

One goal—“to keep the commandment to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and serve him with all your heart and soul…” With this instruction, the Eastern tribes of Reuben, Gad, and eastern Manasseh are released by Joshua and sent back to their own regions. These tribes had fulfilled their duties to fellow Israelites and now take their places in the designated regions. Just to summarize for a second—they construct an altar, which my Bible calls, “of imposing size,” (v. 10). This was built on the Israelite’s side of the Jordan, but visible from either side. When the rest of the Israelites heard about the altar, they prepared to go to war against them, for fear that the eastern tribes had turned to idol worship, inviting God’s wrath on the nation.

It turns out that it wasn’t as they expected. These tribes constructed the altar as a witness to them and to their children that they belonged to the LORD. Once they’d had a chance to explain themselves, the other tribes accepted the explanation and war was deemed unnecessary.

One possible lesson from this passage is a reminder not to jump to conclusions, and, that if you suspect that someone has done wrong, it should be handled in the way God ordains. Yet, I’d like to focus instead on the instruction spoken by Joshua in v. 5. Then we’ll view the story through that lens.

Joshua sends the eastern tribes out with the reminder of what truly matters, what’s important. “Only be very careful to…” he urges them, and then lists (observe the law, love the LORD your God, walk in all his ways, keep his commandments, cling to him, and serve him). I like the way this is worded. By the way he begins, “only,” you’d think he’s about to give one focused assignment, but rather what we get is a list of six different instructions, each distinct, but all meant for the purity of their worship.

What I love is the vigilance the Israelites show against idolatry, at least in this one chapter. Knowing their past—that they’re prone to getting sidetracked and worshiping idols—the western tribes recognize a potential misstep in their brothers and go quickly to restore them. But they do it in a righteous, unassuming way. They allow the brother tribes to explain themselves and then accept them back once understanding is had, to the glory of God.

For us:

  • The Israelites recalled their own sin and how it impacted not only the guilty individual, but those associated with him. Do you see that your sin affects not only you but those around you?
  • The Israelites showed zeal to keep their hearts pure in worshiping the true God alone. Are you zealous to keep yourself and your family pure in worship? With what idols do you need to make war?

By: Taylor Gilliam

October 21, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 21

There are two fantastic highlights in today’s reading. The first exposes a good moment of obedience for Israel. The second points to the faithfulness of God.

Israel has not been known for her obedience thus far in the scriptures. If you were to classify Israel, you would more than likely use words like complaining, unsatisfied, proud, unfaithful, unwise, wayward, defiant, etc., not obedient. But in verses 1-3, you see a moment of simple obedience:

Then the leaders of the tribe of Levi came to consult with Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the leaders of the other tribes of Israel. They came to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan and said, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us towns to live in and pasturelands for our livestock.” So by the command of the Lord the people of Israel gave the Levites the following towns and pasturelands out of their own grants of land. Joshua 21:1-3

This is a great moment for the Israelites. They didn’t question God or try to come up with a better plan. They followed the Lord’s plan for the Levites according to what He told Moses to do.

I don’t know about you, but I typically try to add to God’s plan or find my own way to follow through with what He has told me to do. This is a great reminder to trust God’s commands and simply obey. Why? Because He is unwaveringly faithful.

The Israelites heard all kinds of promises from God, but many wondered if these promises would ever come true. They probably asked questions like, “When will God come through on His word?” or “Why follow a God who doesn’t keep His promises?”.

We get to the end of the chapter, and we are reminded once again of the incredible faithfulness of our great God:

So the Lord gave to Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true. Joshua 21:43-45

GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES! As if it were not clear enough, the word “all” is used in the Hebrew text 6 distinct times in verses 43-45. What an awesome reminder. Never forget the faithfulness of the Lord, especially as New Testament Christians. We have so many to cling to, but none greater than Jesus Himself:

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” ascends to God for his glory.
2 Corinthians 1:20

Additional Study Help
Someone GeoCached Joshua. Here’s a link to GoogleEarth that helps with all of the geography mentioned in the Bible. It works by Bible chapter. Check it out with Joshua here…

By: Todd Thomas