October 20, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 20

This passage of scripture is all about the justice of God and how He is honoring the promises He made to Israel. Have you ever just sat back and thought about how just God truly is? It is easy to sit around and look at our world and the chaos that is in it and think about how bad it is. To those who do not know Christ, they would look at everything and say that a good and loving God wouldn’t let these things happen. But for the one who follows Christ we know that is not the case. We look at God and see that man disobeyed Him, and because of that there had to be punishment. Separation from God and the sin that causes that is to blame for chaos and destruction. God is faithful and just.

In this passage the creation of the cities of refuge. They are places where you are guaranteed judicial due process. So your side will be heard. The passage gives the example of the manslayer and the avenger of blood. This refers to a person who unintentionally or without premeditation took another’s life. The avenger of blood is the kinsman-redeemer who is responsible for putting to death the manslayer. So the person would have no trial, instead they would just be killed. The cities of refuge are made for the opportunity for justice and not vengeance. God desires justice for both the innocent and the guilty.

Isn’t that so true for us today? We are all guilty of sin. We are all separated from God, and yet we are offered refuge. We can come to Jesus and He goes a step farther for us, because He stands on trial in our place and takes our punishment. God is still completely just because the punishment is paid.

Today take some time to praise God that He is just.

Today thank God that He is also gracious and merciful.

Today thank God that He is worthy of our trust, and that He always fulfills His promises.

By: Dakota Gragg

October 19, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 19

Joshua 19 is all about the land allotments being given to the various tribes of the Children of Israel.  At first look, this may seem like a chapter to skim or breeze through.  But when you realize what it means, it becomes a golden nugget to savor.

This is all the fulfillment of God’s promise made to Abraham in Genesis 17:8:

The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.

God is a promise maker and a promiser keeper!  Every time!  For many years they could not imagine this promise coming true.  They were slaves in Egypt – they were wonderers for 40 years in the wilderness.  Now God is making good on His promise.  You can trust Him!

But why now?  Why wait this long?  God honors and blesses obedience.  It took this long for them to obey and claim the promise of God.

What’s keeping you from God’s full blessings?  Is it worth it?

What promises has God made to you?  How has He fulfilled them?  Praise Him today!

 

By: Tim Parsons

October 18, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 18

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to attend Catalyst Conference with our staff. The theme of the conference was “Uncommon Fellowship.” Meaning basically, that within the body of Christ, fellowship occurs that is not common; it transcends race, culture, ethnic background, language, etc. It is Jesus who brings this unity and common fellowship to a gathering of people (the church) who have believed in Him and confessed Him as Lord. Speakers from all different nations, races, and backgrounds spoke and challenged the church of today to be about cultivating unity within the collective body of Christ, and in doing so, shine a light on the gospel to a deeply divided world. The message was clear: while there are denominational and doctrinal lines that divide the global body of Christ, a unified, not divided, church with “uncommon fellowship” will be the most powerful witness for Christ in a world that desperately needs Him.

In today’s text we see the account of seven of Israel’s tribes being given their allotments of land in the Promised Land. It is interesting to me that while Israel was one collective nation; there were specific tribes within the nation as a whole that had specific purposes. For example, the Levites were designated to be the priesthood of Israel (v.7). So, while they were collectively one nation they also had individual tribes that distinguished them from their fellow countryman. One verse that jumped out to me today in this passage in relation to this is verse 3:

So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?

It seems as if now that the vast majority of the Promised Land has been conquered and “lays subdued before them” the individual tribes seem sluggish to move forward and take their portion. Up until this point Israel had been fully united as one nation with one common focus and mission, to conquer the land God had given them. Now, that it has essentially been conquered they seem less enthusiastic in their individual tribes to urgently move forward with what God has for them.

The parallel I’m trying to get at is this: When Israel was completely unified, clear on their mission, and all tribes were pulling together, they were strong and effective in carrying out God’s plan for them (They conquered the land). Not only that, they were less hesitant. The same is true for the church today. As a part of the collective kingdom of God we should seek unity and not division. We must rally around the clear message, mission, and calling of the gospel that unifies all believers to be an effective light for Christ in this world. To be clear, I am not saying that we unite with others who claim to be churches that are clearly heretical in their theology and doctrine. I am saying that among Biblically sound churches we must seek to be a unified front for the gospel in a world that desperately needs to see that.  

Some thoughts to consider today: Are you bringing greater unity or division to the body of Christ with your words and actions? In what ways have you experienced “uncommon fellowship” with others not like you because of the gospel of Jesus? How can you continue to cultivate those types of relationships in your life and in the lives of the people you serve and lead?

By: Matt Mofield

October 17, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 17

I don’t know about you, but as I was reading Joshua 17 my mind began to wonder. I could stare at this passage all day without understanding any of it, but then I busted out the trusty ol’ Holman Bible Atlas (because everyone should own a Bible Atlas!) and found this handy-dandy map of the tribal allotments. Re-reading the passage with renewed zeal, things began to click.

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Looking back at Joshua 13:8 we see the tribes given land east of the Jordan River. Something happens in this verse that a casual observer will not catch. That is, in verse 7 we read “…and the half-tribe of Manasseh. [Now verse 8] Half the tribe of Manasseh…” (NLT) Did you catch it? The ESV makes things a little clearer with verse 8 referring to the “other half of the tribe of Manasseh.” However, because we see often repeated “the half-tribe of Manasseh,” it can be easy to miss that Joshua is talking about half of the half-tribe of Manasseh.

Hopping back into Joshua 17, we get what Paul Harvey might call “the rest of the story.” Joshua 17 is about the half of the half-tribe of Manasseh that settled on the west side of the Jordan River. Verse 1 harkens back to those on the east side of the Jordan mentioned in Joshua 13, while verse 2 and following are about “the remaining families within the clans of the tribe of Manasseh.” (NLT).

A great deal of Joshua 17 is understood through a careful study of the map. However, there are two notable events that break up the monotony of the land allotments. The first is when the daughters of Zelophehad (pronounced Ze-low-fa-had), who “had no sons,” approached the priest Eleazar and Joshua. While the ancient world was not especially kind to women, Joshua understood the heart of God and followed “the command of the Lord and he gave them an inheritance among their father’s brothers” (17:4, NASB). This was a big deal, and reflected God’s love that defies cultural norms.

The second event occurred in verses 11–18, noting especially verse 13. The map above represents the ideal for land allotments. The regions controlled by the 12 tribes never looked like what is pictured above. Not only did Israel face resistance, but even when they were capable of defeating Canaanites they chose not to expel them like God said, but to put them to work. As one commentator writes,

“Several cities located in the tribes of Issachar and Asher were given to Manasseh. These were the Canaanite fortresses of Beth Shan, Ibleam … Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo. (Dor, the third in the list, was also known as Naphoth.) Apparently it was considered necessary for military purposes that these cities be held by a strong tribe. The decision, however, was in vain for the sons of Manasseh, like the Ephraimites, chose tribute over triumph. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)  

The last few words are a scathing indictment for Israel. Instead of choosing triumph, taking the land God gave them, they chose tribute and permitted ungodly inhabitants. This arrangement would plague northern Israel with idolatry and their troubles will multiply greatly in the time of the Judges and after—all because at this moment, they chose not to follow what God had said.

God’s Word gives us a lot of instruction, and we may not always understand why God has arranged things as such. However, Manasseh’s example is that God wants what’s best for his people, but in disobeying his command, they set themselves and further generations up for unimaginable heartache and trouble. Disobedience has consequences.

By: Tyler Short