Joshua 15

Scripture

Chapter 15 gives an overview of the land and towns allotted to the tribe of Judah. We also read an interesting anecdote about Caleb and his daughter Acsah. Caleb was been one of the first men appointed by Moses to spy out the land. Moses had sworn that for his bravery and obedience to the Lord, Caleb would surely inherit share of the land of Judah.

We just witnessed in chapter 14 Caleb’s boldness and faith in requesting that land he was promised from Joshua. Here in chapter 15 verses 13-19 we see Caleb taking possession of that inheritance. He then offers his only daughter, Acsah, in marriage to whomever can drive out the inhabitants of Debir. It just so happened that a man named Othniel did and married Acsah.

Upon receiving her inherited land, Acsah also asks her father for some choice springs and he gave them to her. Imitating her father’s boldness, Acsah also shows her faith by asking for a blessing and expecting to receive it.

Observation

Though only a few sentences long, this story of Acsah provides a shining example of the confidence we can have when approaching our loving Father. Acsah was not afraid or hesitant to ask for a blessing, and gladly received it with joy. She had confidence in her father’s goodness which in turn came from God’s goodness.

Application

What would you ask God for, if you could be sure it would be answered immediately?

Did you know that God is already moving and working in the details of our lives? If you have accepted Jesus, you are in His family and he is intimately focused on your wellbeing. You’re free to approach God with anything, no matter how small, and get this – your rightful inheritance as a child of God is EVERY GOOD THING.

I could ask for all the blessings in the world from now until my last breath and I still wouldn’t be able to name them all. Maybe I don’t necessarily need my own water source, but I can sure name a few things off the top…

However, this freedom comes with a disclaimer. James warns us that we must ask in faith, not out of a place of doubt.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:5-8 (emphasis mine)

I admit that there are many times I have prayed from an unexpectant attitude, doubtful that God cares to do anything about my needs. On the surface my prayers seem right, but if I do not believe in my heart that God is listening and longing to answer me, I won’t receive anything because I am being faithful.

Caleb showed his faith when he boldly asked for what he was to inherit. Acsah showed her faith when she boldly asked to inherit something else that was good. Will you boldly show your faith the next time you ask God for something?

Prayer

Father, we believe your Word is true and that your Spirit has changed and healed us. Sometimes I pray to you and my heart doesn’t really believe you will do the things you say you will. Soften my heart, calloused from disappointment, sin, the pains of the world. Grant that by the renewing of our minds  we may receive and accept our true inheritances in you, never afraid to ask you for even the most amazing gifts. All is yours and you give lavishly to those who love you.

Joshua 14

Scripture

The remaining tribes of Israel received land in Canaan as allotted by Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the tribal leaders. 2 These nine and a half tribes received their grants of land by means of sacred lots, in accordance with the Lord’s command through Moses.
Joshua 14:1-2

Observation

In case you’re just joining us, we have been following along in the book of Joshua, who has taken over leadership of Israel after Moses died.

The people of Israel, though one body of beloved people in God, were divided into 12 tribes, descending from the 12 sons of Jacob. These tribes were:

By this time, these 12 tribes had multiplied into thousands of God’s people, just as he promised Abraham (Genesis 17). As always, God remains true to his word.

Now that much of Canaan has been conquered we see the leaders using the system of lots to distribute land to the different tribes. God gave the execute direction and those rules must be strictly observed (Numbers 26:53-56).

We learn a few new things in chapter 14 –

  1. The tribe of Joseph became 2 “half” tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim.
  2. The tribe of Levi was not allotted land. God chose and appointed Levi as priests for his people. As servants to the population it would not do to have them all separated into their own land. Priests needed to be sprinkled in among the populace, so instead, they were given only towns in which to live (v 4).

Application

Now that they have done the hard work of fighting and conquering land, Israel now faces a new kind of challenge: To inhabit the land.

At this point, thousands of Israelites are still living closely encamped in one huge mass of people. It’s safe, familiar and for many of them, it’s the only way of life they have ever known.

However, God did not lead His people through all these trials just to have them stay in their same little comfort zone. “These countries were, not conquered to be left desert, a habitation for dragons and a court for owls” (Isaiah 34:13). The next step for Israel is to actually take possession and settle into their new home. (Easier said than done!)

Application

Israel wasn’t going to turn around and return to slavery in Egypt, nor are we walking in God’s will when we forsake a blessing because it’s a bit uncomfortable.

Can you think of a time of trial where God has led you through a battle?  Returning to your old ways makes all the fighting done in vain, so where did you go from there?

Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you so much for your provision and unwavering devotion to me and my welfare. You chose and accepted me as part of your family, and by definition I cannot be the same person I was when you found me. So do not let me be tempted to return to my old ways. Help me, day by day, to take possession of the wonderful new future you have in store.

Joshua 13

Scripture

“This is the territory that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and the Geshurites, 3 and the larger territory of the Canaanites, extending from the stream of Shihor on the border of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron.” Joshua 13:2-3

Observation

God tells Joshua (1) which lands are yet to be conquered and (2) specifies the distribution to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh.

Application
The Jewish nations were obliged by law to keep up this exact distribution and not transfer inheritances between tribes (Numbers 36:9). Doing that would be akin to regifting a birthday present, except instead of insulting your well-meaning aunt, it’s rejecting a gift from God!

Matthew Henry again points out the importance of these passages that seem “boring” on the outside:

And therefore we are not to skip over these chapters of hard names as useless and not to be regarded; where God has a mouth to speak and a hand to write we should find an ear to hear an eye to read; and God give us a heart to profit!

This information was given to us as part of sacred scriptures, to show that God always keeps his promises – namely the promise that was made to Jacob that this land would be given to his seed and no others.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for your Word that proves your promises are true and always kept. Remind us through your scripture to trust you fully each day; you have never failed us before and you never will.

Joshua 12

Scripture

These are the kings of the land whom the Israelites had defeated and whose territory they took over east of the Jordan,from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon, including all the eastern side of the Arabah…

Joshua 12:1

Observation

Chapter 12 is a summary of Israel’s conquests from the times when Moses was guiding Israel around from Egypt, until that point in time when Joshua was very old and at the end of his life. Not only is this Israel’s history of conquests, this is also a history of how the Canaan area came to be divided. 

Admittedly sections like this in the Bible (and there are many!) lack a narrative and take on a much more informational, historical voice. However, that is no excuse to skip right over them to the more exciting parts, though it is totally tempting, and I am guilty of doing that often. I try not to skip over it, but instead, search for something to learn. After all, ALL of scripture is inspired by God and worthy for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

Application

I like to use Matthew Henry’s biblical commentary because it is free and if you are using Biblegateway.com, you can simply click on it over to the right to learn more about your passage. Mr. Henry says

Fresh mercies must not drown the remembrance of former mercies, nor must the glory of the present instruments of good to the church be suffered to eclipse and diminish the just honour of those who have gone before them, and who were the blessings and ornaments of their day. commentary

Sure, Joshua’s achievements were all very admirable but God is showing us through scripture that we must not forget the wonderful miracles and saints that came before us. God was the one who brought both Joshua and Moses forward out of the crowd and called them to lead and proclaim Israel’s salvation.

Prayer

God, thank you for sending us so many wonderful people to speak your truth into the world. Thank you for your Word which is living and active, and still has more layers than we could ever ponder in a lifetime. Please help us to stay persistent in our pursuing of relationship with you through genuine prayer and quiet time with You.

 

Joshua 11

Scripture

More kings of the region heard what had happened to the combined armies of Jericho, Ai, Hebron, Jamuth, Lachish, and Eglon. More kings and armies representing several other regions gathered together to defeat Israel, forming a vast horde. They were the armies of: Hazor, Madon, Simron, Acshaph, the northern hill country, the Jordan Valley , Galilean foothills, Naphoth-dor, Canaan, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Hivites. In other words, a HUGE threat.

And yet, the Lord said to Joshua – “Do not be afraid of them. By this time tomorrow I will hand all of them over to Israel as dead men” (11:6). So Israel traveled to the water near Merom and attacked suddenly. And the Lord gave them victory over their enemies.

Observation

By this time Joshua has already conquered so many peoples, land, and kings that they are in a good rhythm of success. Joshua did not take this success for granted. He continued to wait on the Lord and listen for His commands. Regardless of how outnumbered they were, the Israelites continued to show up to battle and expectantly await the Lord’s help

Application

What kind of difficulty am I facing this week and how am I to tackle it? By myself, I am only limited by my human effort, but with God everything is possible. He loves to see our faith at work when we simply show up and expect Him to fight for us. No matter how outnumbered we may feel, no matter how difficult the task – God is for us and will make everything work out for the good of those who love Him.

Prayer

Lord, I have allowed my sin to take me away, day after day, without consulting you or giving you a chance to fight on my behalf.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Help me to please you with my words and actions. Help me to show up and just take one step at a time. I know that you will take care of me while I work out your will for my life.

Joshua 10

 

Scripture

The king of Jerusalem, Adoni-zedek, saw what had happened to Jericho and Ai, as well as what had happened to the Gibeonites. He knew that Gibeon was a large city and had many strong skilled warriors. And yet they too were under the rule of Israel. Adoni-zedek gathered 5 nearby kings and their forces as allies to defeat the Gibeonites for  having made peace with Israel. The combined army was made up of the men of Hebron, Harmuth, Lachish, and Eglon.

When the Gibeonites heard that they were to be attacked, they were frightened and sent messages to Joshua: “Don’t abandon your servants now,” they pleaded, “Come at once! Save us! Help us!” (10:6).

Joshua and his entire army set out from their homes in Gilgal to defend the Gibeonites from these five armies. Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”

Observation

Israel conquered the whole region of Canaan, leaving no survivors. Here, the Hebrew word for “destroyed” means “Complete consecration of things or people to the Lord; either by destroying them, or by giving them as an offering.”

I believe in the sovereignty of God. I trust his wisdom, plan, and timing. I also have a lot of questions. It’s hard for me to reconcile the deaths of people, the children, the animals that you ordained. Why, and what am I to think about this? I think it’s important to remember that we will never have all the answers. I know several people who do not believe, precisely because they do not understand God’s reasoning and because of that, can’t trust that what He says is true. And to that, I say: God is God. He created everything from nothing. How could I, a small-minded, limited created being, presume to understand God’s mind? I have accepted that I will never be able to understand everything, and I’m okay with that because I know that my Father in Heaven is good. Note that this doesn’t give me license to be blindly led around without thinking anything over for myself. As a Christian I am still responsible for carefully testing everything according to truths found in God’s Word. However my faith in God is bigger than any issue I can’t work out in my limited understanding. 

Application

It also makes me think of the fact that I have been trying to conquer my own “demons” In my heart there are several territories where foreign and unwelcome demons are living and taking root. I need to be like Joshua and kill those living in the Lord’s territory so I can take over. God has given me a soul immortal so that I may live with him forever. But by virtue of living in the world and being a human, it’s been taken over and I need to participate in the complete consecration of “things” either by destroying them or giving them over as an offering.

Prayer

Lord, would you make clear to me the things I need to vanquish in order to move into the land where you have called me? Help me to pinpoint and destroy them so that I can repent begin again, turning to you, to obedience and to live in the light of your wisdom.

Joshua 9

Scripture

The people of Gibeon had heard about what happened to Ai and Jericho and were afraid for their lives. They decided to lie to Israel about their true identity in order to trick them into a peace treaty, ensuring their safety under Israel’s occupation of their land.

Joshua accepted their story and entered into an agreement that the people of Gibeon would be slaves of Israel; he did not consult the Lord first. A few days later, Israel found out that the Gibeonites had lied, but they could not attack them because they had sworn by the Lord not to hurt them.

The Israelites grumbled about this, but the leaders would not budge.

We promised them in the presence of the God of Israel. We can’t lay a hand on them now. But we can do this: We will let them live so we don’t get blamed for breaking our promise.

(vv. 19-21)

Observation

I admire the fact that even though they had stumbled once, they did not give up obeying the Lord, EVEN THOUGH it would have been so much easier to get out of it by committing just “one more baby sin”. I’m sure that if it were me, my first instinct would be to go back on my word because that’s so much easier than choosing the hard way. Israel learned immediately from their mistakes and made the right decision the next chance they got.

Application

It’s never too late to repent and start obedience again. The Lord does not give us victory because we have a perfect record of obedience. He keeps his promises to us to give us victory because HE is perfect and loves us perfectly – His kindness and mercy toward us reminds us who he is and who we are in him. We are wretched, constant grumblers like the Israelites. But it’s never too late to begin again.

Prayer

Dear Lord, forgive my vacillations, between you and myself. I will always return to you, no matter how many bad mistakes I have made, as long as you give me breath it is not too late to repent and begin fresh. That is the gift you give in Jesus – that we can turn to you and renounce our old ways.

Joshua 8

Scripture

Now that Achan and his family have been rid of, the Israelites set out once again to destroy Ai, as the Lord commanded. Before they do, however, God gives them his blessing.

Observation

God does not hold our sins against us forever. He accepts our offerings and contrition (in this case, the effort of Israel to rid themselves of the disobedience of Achan) and blesses us when he sees we turn away from sin.

Application

There are certain things God asks of us, and you success is guaranteed when you obey. He has given us his inheritance of heaven and of adoption into his royal family. However, the process of taking possession of that inheritance is often easier said than done. Sometimes it is frightening, sometimes he asks us to do things that don’t make humanly sense. But I know that his thoughts are higher than my thoughts and his ways are higher than my ways. Who can know the mind of God except for the Son and the Spirit?

Prayer

Lord, I am having a hard time with the stoning and destruction of people throughout this book. That you not only ask us to take part in your creation, but also destruction of it. It seems to go against everything you stand for; yet I know that you are good. Help us to understand your plan. 

Joshua 7

Scripture

The next job was to take over the city of Ai. This was a small city, vastly outnumbered by the tribes of Israel, so Joshua only sent 3,000 men. However, Achan, one of the men of Judah had stolen some of the loot from Jericho that was intended for destruction.

Because of this disobedience, the Lord was angry and did not bless their attempt to take Ai. When Joshua tore his clothes and wept for the loss, the Lord said

Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?  Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep … I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction (vv 10-12).

When Joshua brought this to everyone’s attention to discover the guilty party, Achan did not proactively confess. Instead he waited for every single tribe to be searched until at last he was caught and singled out. His family was stoned to death along with himself, his possessions, and all his animals.

Observation

God had set Jericho apart to be destroyed. Since Achan disrupted that plan, the Lord was completely justified (being Just himself) in punishing Achan and stopping his family line. 

Application

When we disobey we get in the way of his will for us. And don’t forget – his will is good! He wants the best for us like a good Father, but he also demands obedience. I know that the word “obedience” is a difficult one to swallow for some people. It conjures up ideas of tight-lipped disciplinarians and corporal punishment. Please don’t confuse that image with God because that is not who He is:

Education is the most powerful weaponwhich you can use to change the world. (1).png

Obedience to God is not a blind following despite your own conscience, but rather a natural response to His kindness when we have turned our minds, hearts, and attention to His faithfulness. He chose us, not the other way around.

Prayer

Thank you God for loving us and choosing us before the world was created to love you back and love each other. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die for us and cause these old ritual laws to be unnecessary to us today. If not for your sacrifice of perfect love, we would still be living in a world that required death as the price for sin.

Joshua 6

In Chapter 6, the people of Jericho have shut their city gates. Shutting the gates of a city in those times was tantamount to publically declaring that they were being overrun with enemies. Joshua roused his troops according to the Lord’s plan, to:

jerichojoshua“‘March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in'” (vv. 2-5).

The Israelites then took over Jericho, destroying everything except for the articles of silver, gold, and bronze which went into the Lord’s treasury, and Rahab and her family who had harbored the spies. Joshua pronounces a curse on anyone who attempts to refortify Jericho:

“At the cost of his firstborn son
    he will lay its foundations;
at the cost of his youngest
    he will set up its gates.”

Observation:

David Guzik sums up what we learned:

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 the LORD, not in human ingenuity.

Application:

I feel like I keep repeating the same thing, but scripture is repeating it too – Obey God and let others see. The world will not fail to see the fruits of your faith. They may not like it, they may not agree with it, but we must realize that people notice how you live. So live according to God’s word all the more, knowing that you are an active participant in God’s plan for the world!

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. -James 1:5

Prayer

Lord, help us to keep in close step with the Spirit so that we can experience your power at work in the world. We pray for faith like Joshua, obedience like Israel (sometimes), courage despite discomfort, endurance in the waiting periods, and trust in You.


Jericho today.png

Tangent time!

Now this is where my degree in archaeology meets with my passion for scripture.  Jericho is still standing today so, the question is, has Joshua’s curse ever been fulfilled?

According to Professor T.F. Wright, it wasn’t until 500 years later in the time of Ahab after several acts of disobedience, a man of Bethel rebuilt the walls and gates of Jericho, making it into a defense for the northern kingdom (read about it here: 1 Kings 16:34). There are some conflicting theories and very interesting archaeological evidence on this available for further reading here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3140746