Workmen Die, but God Lives
The first statement made in Joshua 1:2 is, "Moses my servant is dead." Moses was dead but not God.
The work of God is in no way hindered by the death of His servants, no matter how eminent they may be. The workman may be removed, but the work goes forward as ordained by God. This is God's doing.
I think of a remarkable organization that God has raised up in this century, starting it through one man. There came a day when God called that man home, and many people wondered if the organization would continue.
I can say to the glory of God that it is not only going on, but it is larger than it ever was.
When we recognize that the spiritual life is God's doing, we will begin to grow. Until we do, we will not grow.
God can change servants in order to show that He may use whatever instrument He pleases. He is not tied down by, or to, any certain individual.
God is sovereign and can terminate the ministry of any of His servants when He pleases. He may change His principle of working any time He desires. A Moses can die, but God is eternal. He never dies.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God" (Ps. 90:2 - Spurgeon note).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Never Forsaken by
Joshua 1:5- "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you."
Never Forsaken - In 1970 an Arizona lawyer named Russel T. Tansie filed a $100,000 damage suit against God. The suit was filed on behalf of Mr. Tansie's secretary, Betty Penrose, who accused God of negligence in His power over the weather when He allowed a lightning bolt to strike her home. The woman won the case when the Defendant failed to appear in court. I wonder if she ever collected?
When trials come or disaster strikes, it's easy to feel as if God is being negligent. When something we can't explain happens, we believe God has let us down. But the Bible makes it very clear that this is not true. God told Joshua that He would not leave nor forsake him. Actually, in the Hebrew language, the negative comes first and makes the thought even stronger: "not will I leave you" and "not will I forsake you." The order of these words emphasizes the fact that, no matter how difficult Joshua's circumstances might become, God would not leave and He would not forsake. He was as committed to Joshua as He had been to Moses. Could you use that same kind of commitment from God today? You have it. Read Hebrews 13:5 (note).
God's presence doesn't mean that things will always go smoothly. Christians don't walk around with protective plastic bubbles surrounding them. We experience cancer; we endure sorrow and heartache; we fail in business. God's promise, however, is that He will continue to walk with us and be faithful to us even in our sorrows or failures. His company will bring you comfort that will exceed your understanding (see note Philippians 4:7).
Be assured that as God was with Moses and Joshua, He is with you as well. Jesus promised, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20). Whatever difficulties you face, you will not have to face them alone. He will never, no never, fail you nor forsake you. That's His promise to you.
Only God can say never--and really mean it.
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
The Key to Good Success
Joshua 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.
The Key to Good Success - My local newspaper reported that a man and woman who tried to hop a Union Pacific train from North Platte, Nebraska, to Omaha were being held in Dawson County jail on trespass charges. But the couple wouldn't have gotten to Omaha even if they hadn't been apprehended; the train was headed to Kansas City.
Many people who think they're on the train headed for success are really going in the opposite direction. History is awash with examples of men and women who found a form of success, but lived to regret it. It was not what the Bible calls "good" success. Lord Byron, who achieved fame both as a poet and a libertine, wrote at the age of 35:
My days are in the yellow leaf,
God's success is far different; it's always headed in the right direction. Joshua was assured that if he lived consistent with what was written in God's Word, he would achieve success--but not just any success. God's promise to Joshua, as well as to you and me, is that if we live by all that is written in the Bible, we will achieve "good" success.
The key to good success is obedience to God's Word. If you conform your life to God's will, as it is revealed in His Word, you'll experience the kind of success that will be a blessing rather than a burden.
Only a good God can give good success
Step Into The River Is Wide
Tony Beckett and Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 1-3, Mark 16
Knowing and doing are two different things. One can know what to do and fail to do it because of fear. At times, obedience is incomplete due to fear.
The Israelites were concluding 40 years in the wilderness due to fear. What they saw as impossible kept them from doing what God had wanted. Now the nation was once again on the brink of entering the land.
A new leader stood before them. His frequent challenge was, "Be strong and courageous." That phrase is repeated four times in chapter 1 (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9 and 18) and expressed in slightly different terms in other verses.
It was time to move out. They knew what they were to do and now they were to do it! Notice what happened next. The spies brought back an encouraging report and the people prepared to move out. Their first steps, though, were into a flooded river-where their sandals were to meet the mud, so to speak.
"Be strong and courageous" was put to the test when they stepped into that dangerous river. But they obeyed and God blessed (Joshua 3:15-16).
There will be times in our life of obedience that our courage will be tested. Be ready to step into the river. God is faithful even when the river is wide.
"Today and every day, Lord, give me the courage to obey. I need the strength You give."
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Strong and Courageous
Joshua 1:9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Strong and Courageous - A child had to walk each evening past a dark, spooky house. Some adult friends tried to give him courage. One handed him a good-luck charm to ward off the ghosts. Another installed a light at a particularly dark corner near the house. A third took a more spiritual approach, saying, "It's sinful to be afraid. Trust God and be brave!" It was good advice, but not much help. Then one friend said with compassion, "I know what it is to be afraid. I'll walk with you past the house." Instantly the child's fears were gone.
This was what God did for Joshua. Joshua faced the fearful task of leading a group of nomads against the trained armies of established kingdoms. That was enough to make even the bravest man tremble. But God did more than give Joshua a battle plan or a pep talk; He reassured him, saying, "I will be with you wherever you go."
God does not promise He will not lead you into fearful situations. He may call you to serve Him in a land far from your friends and family. For most of us this challenge could be frightening. Or God may ask you to stand against the tide of popular opinion on your school board or at a city council meeting. And again your knees may knock and your voice tremble. But just like Joshua, you can do it because God also has given you the solution for your fears: He has given you Himself.
In Christ you have strength for every weakness and the courage for every fear. The psalmist said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [literally, the valley of dark shadows], I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4 - Spurgeon note). Are you facing a formidable task? Trust God's presence to dispel your fears and give you renewed strength and courage.
Courage is spelled C-H-R-I-S-T.
Joshua 1:10-18 - A rather sad note enters in with regard to some of the tribes of Israel. They did not all have the same degree of separation from the evil around them or the same degree of surrender to God.
The background for this lies in the fact that while Moses was still leader, the Israelites conquered some of the kings on the east side of Jordan and took possession of their lands.
It was good land with strong, walled cities and a countryside ideal for the raising of cattle. Two and a half of the tribes, Reuben, Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh, asked to stay on that side of the Jordan.
It must be said on behalf of these two and a half tribes that their warriors were willing to help the other tribes take the land across the river and possess it.
But the Reubenites and Gadites wanted to return to the other side of Jordan where things were more appealing to the eye and where there was ease, comfort, plenty and riches as the world would look at it.
They tasted of the blessings of the Promised Land and helped the others to secure it, but they themselves longed for the world--its pleasures and indulgences--and were eventually trapped and ensnared by it.
This is always the danger of those who would live on the border and not get into the land.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (see note Hebrews 12:1 ).
A Pagan Testifies
Joshua 2:1-14 - When the King of Jericho commanded Rahab to give up the two men she hid in her house, she lied to him. She said they went out at dark and she did not know which direction they took.
Rahab's lie cannot be condoned. Such deceit cannot be justified as far as Christians are concerned. We must remember, however, that she was a pagan woman whose heart and mind were just being opened to spiritual things.
In spite of the fact that she lied, God used her to help preserve His servants. God used an enemy of His people to shelter two of them. This is in line with Proverbs 16:7, which says, "When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him."
Something of what was going on in Rahab's mind is disclosed in her conversation with the two men after she brought them out from their hiding place. What a testimony this was, coming from the person who was not saved in the way we use that terminology!
For 40 years the Canaanites had been in fear of the Israelites. This must have been a revelation to these men of the terror that had laid hold of the whole population of Canaan, leaders and people alike. They knew that they could not stand against Israel's God.
"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will" (Prov. 21:1).
Faith in Action
It is significant that it was a scarlet cord, or rope, that Rahab was to display in her window. This was symbolic of the blood of Christ, which, according to 1 John 1:7, cleanses us from all sin.
In Hebrews 9:22 (note) we are told that "almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
The protection that came to Rahab's household reminds us also of the incident of the Passover in Egypt. God instructed His people to sprinkle blood on the doorposts of their houses.
He assured them that when the death angel came to slay the firstborn in Egypt, the houses protected by the blood would not be entered. They would be spared.
The scarlet cord in Rahab's window protected her household just as the blood on the doorposts protected the Israelites in Egypt.
The New Testament makes special mention of Rahab with regard to this. James wrote: "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?" (James 2:25).
Rahab had a faith that worked. She aided the spies in their escape from Jericho and hung a scarlet cord from her window. This was faith in action.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (see note Hebrews 11:1).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Early in the Morning
Joshua 3:1 - 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.
Early in the Morning - During the American Revolution, it is reported that Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops at Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn't bother to read it until the game finished. Then, realizing the seriousness of the situation, he hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack. It was too late. His procrastination was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed, and the rest of the regiment was captured.
Unlike Colonel Rahl, Joshua was one commander who didn't hesitate to take action. The job ahead was a major one: lead the people of Israel across the flooded Jordan and into Canaan. Roaring downward toward the Dead Sea, the current of the Jordan is very swift at Jericho. In addition, the melting snows in the Lebanon mountains caused the river to overflow at this season of the year. The task must have been intimidating. You could understand if Joshua chose to stall as long as possible. But instead of procrastinating, he "rose early in the morning" and began to rally the people for the trip ahead of them.
When faced with tasks that are frightening or disagreeable, many people choose to put them off as long as possible. They find excuses to avoid unpleasant situations or make difficult decisions. But what a mistake that is. Often it only makes matters worse.
If you are faced with a challenging situation, don't procrastinate. Trust in God's strength and wisdom. Claim His promises of presence and protection. Then, get up "early in the morning" and go to it. At the end of the day, you'll be glad you did.
A job never started is a job never finished
Preparing to Move Out
Joshua 3:1-8 - There is a time for action, and there is also a time for waiting. There are times when we get in too big a hurry and are too impatient to wait on the Lord's time. On the other hand, there are some who lag behind and are not ready to move forward when they should.
We need to remember that God is never too late. If we really want to do His will, He will always do His part on time.
So there was a three-day delay when the people reached the Jordan River. This gave them the opportunity to become quiet before God and made it possible for Him to give them final instructions. It was when they were ready to hear that the orders were given.
The same is true in our spiritual experiences. We must make a decision and then act upon that decision. After we have acted on our decision, it may be that God will have us wait for a while.
This may sound like a paradox, but it is not. We need to learn to be calm before the Lord and await His time and timing for the events in our lives.
The reason for Israel's delay at the Jordan, and often the reason for a delay after God has made plain to us that we are to move ahead, is in order to see if we are in earnest. When this is evident, then further instructions are given us.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:19,20)
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Exalted by God
Joshua 3:7 - And the Lord said to Joshua, "This day I will begin to magnify you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you."
Exalted by God - How quickly man-made greatness fades! Before he attacked Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte seemed to have the world at his feet. But the Russian invasion turned into a disaster and Napoleon, fearing his position at home was in danger, left the French army and hurried back to France almost unaccompanied. Arriving at a river crossing, Napoleon inquired of the ferryman whether many deserters had come that way. Not recognizing the famous leader, the man responded, "No, you are the first."
God does not deal in such fleeting fame. What He offered to Joshua was something far better than anything man could give. As Joshua responded in obedience to God's Word, the Lord assured him that He would exalt him. Just as God had brought honor to Moses, so would He bring honor and respect to Joshua. This would not be a human grab for glory, but a gracious gift from God.
God offers the same to every Christian. As we make Christ the center of our lives and His Word the focal point of all that we say or do, the Lord will bring to us a glory that will outlast any honor that man could bestow. While we may not always be recognized by the movers and shakers of this world, the Scriptures assure us that we will be revealed in all our glory when Christ returns (see note 1 Peter 1:7).
Don't worry if those around you fail to praise you. Seek instead for the honor that comes from the Lord. That glory will last forever.
Eternal greatness can come only from an eternal God.
A Step of Faith
Joshua 3:9-17 - It is a never-to-be-forgotten experience when we hear a promise of God and step out on it in faith and then see God doing things on our behalf. The priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan River saw God work.
It would not have been enough for them to have stood close to the edge of the water and to have believed in the great ability of God to stop the flow several miles upstream and pile up the waters as though there was a great dam there.
If we were asked, "Is God able to do such a thing?" we undoubtedly would answer yes. But if each of us had to answer the question "Will God do this for me?" what would our answer be?
Every Christian is as precious in God's sight as the people of Israel were precious in His sight. What He promised them He did for them, and what He has promised you and me He will do for us. If we step out in faith, God will work on our behalf.
The Israelites did not make the mistake at the edge of Jordan of merely reckoning on God's ability to do what He promised. They did not stand to see what God would do.
When they received their marching orders to go into the river and the priests led with the Ark, then the waters parted. Those priests got their feet wet. That is the only way faith operates.
"Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:5).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 3:13 - "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."
Years ago visitors at one of the national mints were told by a guide that if they first dipped their hands in water, a ladle of molten metal could be poured over their outstretched palms without burning them. A husband and wife were part of this group. "Perhaps you would like to try it," the guide said to the husband. The husband drew back sharply, "No thanks," he said. "I'll take your word for it." The mint employee turned to the wife. "Would you like to try it?" She replied, "Certainly." She pulled up the sleeve of her blouse and thrust her hand into a bucket of water. Calmly she held her hand out while the metal was poured over it. It's obvious that the husband believed at one level, but he wasn't willing to put his belief to the test. The wife believed on a completely different level. She was willing to take a risk.
Joshua and his people also were faced with a risk. They needed to cross the dangerous, flood-swollen Jordan. God had previously opened the Red Sea when the people had to cross it, but this time the priests had to step into the water first and trust the Lord to open the way as they went. They had to get their feet wet and trust that God would honor their faith.
Many Christians dislike taking risks. They want the way opened before they move out for God. Often He graciously honors their desire. But we must remember that a risk is only a risk if God doesn't go with you. We need to step out and trust that God will confirm our faith at the appropriate time.
If your way seems blocked today, step forward by faith. Be willing to get your feet wet and then wait for God to respond.
God honors wet feet, not cold feet.
Memorials of Faith
Joshua 4:1-11 - Gilgal was not only established as a home base for Israel during the conquest of the land; it also became a place of remembrance. Joshua was instructed to establish a memorial at Gilgal.
Later on in the chapter we read of the setting up of another memorial, this time in the river itself. These two memorials made of stones were to be reminders to Israel of their safe passage through the Jordan River.
From the standpoint of the types involved, these two memorials remind us of the two aspects of our identification with Christ.
First of all, the stones in the Jordan speak of the Israelites' having died to the past. Whenever an Israelite came into that area, he would see the stones and would be reminded that it was there Israel passed through the place of death as it were.
The second set of stones was set up at Gilgal, the place of Israel's first night's lodging. They speak of new life out of death.
These stones were taken out of the river as the Israelites marched through, then brought with them to the camping site. They therefore speak of Israel's new life on the other side of Jordan--a resurrection life.
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (see note Romans 6:4).
A Place of Spiritual Resurrection
Gilgal marks the place of spiritual resurrection.
Christ not only died, but He was buried and rose again and then ascended to the right hand of the Father.
Very little is said in many Christian circles these days concerning the resurrection life, and practically nothing at all is said about the life of ascension. But we find in the Bible that these are spoken of very clearly.
We read in Joshua 4:19,20 that the people came up out of Jordan and camped in Gilgal, and the 12 stones that they took out of the river were piled together in Gilgal by Joshua.
The Jordan River speaks of the place of death and Gilgal the place of life. We repeat this because we need to remember it. The corresponding New Testament truth is found in Ephesians 2:5; 2:6 (notes) and is very important for our learning and growth.
Even when we were dead in sins, God quickened us together in Christ and raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ.
This is our ascension, not for the future but for the present. There is a time in the future when He will come and resurrect these bodies of our humiliation and give us resurrection bodies
But even now in our spiritual life we have already been raised together with Him and seated with Him in the heavenlies. In our position before God we are not only delivered from the self and sin life, but we are identified with Christ in His new life.
"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (see note Colossians 3:3).
Evidence of Separation
As far as Israel was concerned, there was no inheritance possible to them until they were circumcised. This was clearly stated in Genesis 17 where the covenant concerning the land was given. So now, as the nation stood at the edge of Canaan, it was necessary that they follow through on the sign of separation, which for them was circumcision. This was the sign God made with Abraham, and it was to be continued by his posterity.
The people renewed their separation through circumcision and also renewed their relationship by celebrating the Passover. Egypt with its bondage was behind them; the desert wanderings were over; Jordan, the place of decision, was crossed; and the nation was now ready to conquer Canaan. A new kind of food was necessary as Israel went against her enemies and took possession of the country.
Joshua soon discovered that he was face to face with the Captain of the Lord's hosts, the commander of the Lord's armies. Here was the Warrior and Leader, coming not to help but to take charge.
The Captain of the Lord's hosts came not only to direct the armies of Israel but also to fight for Israel and with Israel and through Israel. This is the same truth as is taught in Ephesians 6:10 (note) where we are told to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
"For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (see note Philippians 3:3).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 5:9 - 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.
Rolled Away - According to one source, Americans spend $50 million a year on subliminal message tapes designed to help them do everything from improve their self-image to learn a foreign language. Unfortunately, the National Research Council has concluded that subliminal messages simply don't work. Despite all the hype to the contrary, these tapes don't deliver the life-transforming changes they promise.
But there is one source who always delivers on His promises--God. As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, they needed to renew their covenant with God. This relationship required that circumcision be performed as a sign of the covenant. Those Israelites who left Egypt had been circumcised, but those males born during the wilderness wandering had not (Joshua 5:4-5). It was now time for the younger generation to take their stand and have the "reproach of Egypt" rolled away.
Circumcision is no longer a sign of the covenant relationship with God. When Jesus died on the cross, the outward sign of circumcision was replaced with the inner presence of the Holy Spirit. He is the fulfillment of the promise in Ezekiel: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezek. 36:26). When the Holy Spirit comes in, the old life is rolled away and we become "a new creation" in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
This experience can be yours as well. If you are still walking in your old life, why not receive Christ today and let Him roll your sins away? The reproach of the past can be replaced with a hope for the future.
Christ doesn't improve you; He transforms you
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
The 'What Man'
Joshua 5:13-15 - 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?"
The "What Man" - While watching his father tune up the family car, a five-year-old boy announced, "I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a ?what man'!" His puzzled father asked him to explain, so the little boy elaborated, "A ?what man' has a place where people bring their cars when there is something wrong with them, and he tells them what to do."
Israel had reached a point in their invasion plans where they also needed a "what man." Jericho was surrounded by fortified walls and defended by trained soldiers. Both were seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Yet as Joshua stood near the city, pondering what to do, the Commander of the Lord's army appeared to him. Most Bible scholars believe this to be a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. Joshua fell down before Him and said, "Tell me what you want me to do."
Often in life we need a "what man." Situations arise leaving us totally confused about what to do. That's when we need to turn to the Lord. Only the Lord God is capable of being our "what man." He has a plan for us that works out all the "whats" and "whys" of life. Through Jeremiah the prophet, He said, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11).
Seek the Lord, read His Word daily, and find out what His will is for you. Avail yourself of His wisdom and you'll discover that He always knows what to do.
The "what" is never a secret to God.
The Captain of the Host of the Lord
The vision of the divine presence ever takes the form which our circumstances most require. David's then need was safety and protection. Therefore he saw the Encamping Angel; even as to Joshua the leader He appeared as the Captain of the Lord's host; and as to Isaiah, in the year that the throne of Judah was emptied by the death of the earthly king, was given the vision of the Lord sitting on a throne, the King Eternal and Immortal.
So to us all His grace shapes its expression according to our wants, and the same gift is Protean in its power of transformation; being to one man wisdom, to another strength, to the solitary companionship, to the sorrowful consolation, to the glad sobering, to the thinker truth, to the worker practical force--to each his heart's desire, if the heart's delight be God. So manifold are the aspects of God's infinite sufficiency, that every soul, in every possible variety of circumstance, will find there just what will suit it. That armour fits every man who puts it on. That deep fountain is like some of those fabled springs which give forth whatsoever precious draught any thirsty lip asked. He takes the shape that our circumstances most need. Let us see that we, on our parts, use our circumstances to help us in anticipating the shapes in which God will draw near for our help.
A Key to Future Victories
Joshua 6:1-14 - Israel was assured of victory over Jericho. It was the key city to the whole campaign in Canaan. Once that obstacle was removed, the armies of Israel could spread out in all directions. So it is no wonder that we find in this incident of history an abundance of spiritual lessons.
Israel herself could not retreat. They had no alternative except to go forward in victory or suffer death. The death the Israelites might have suffered would have been that of dying at the hands of their foes.
In the spiritual realm our danger is in succumbing to the Enemy because we do not apply the victory.
Humanly speaking, Jericho was so strongly fortified as to be almost incapable of being taken. It guarded all the passes to the interior of the land of Canaan. Consequently, so long as Jericho held out, the land was safe from invasion.
We find that the same experience meets us once we choose to go on in Christian warfare. Invisible forces rise up to try to stop us and will succeed unless we follow our Captain implicitly.
The enemy, Satan, will get us to consider our weaknesses, such as temperament or lack of ability or self-control, but these are the very things over which the Lord will give us victory.
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (see note Philippians 4:13).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
It's a Mystery to Me
Joshua 6:3-5 - "You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days… But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. Then it shall come to pass, when they make a long blast 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."
It's a Mystery to Me - In speaking of things beyond our understanding, the famous orator and statesman William Jennings Bryan declared, "I have observed the power of the watermelon seed. It has the power of drawing from the ground and through itself 200,000 times its weight. When you can tell me how it takes this material and out of it colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of it a white rind and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with black seeds … when you can explain to me the mystery of a watermelon, you can ask me to explain the mystery of God."
Joshua was faced with the mystery of God as well. Upon hearing the plan given by God, surely someone must have asked him, "How will marching around a wall, blowing trumpets and shouting knock down that wall?" Certainly it was beyond understanding. But the mysteries of God usually are.
Divine mysteries abound. We don't understand how a child could be conceived without a father, but it happened (Luke 1:34). We can't comprehend how an infinite God could be housed in a finite human body, but He was (see note Colossians 1:15). It's beyond our comprehension that one man's death could pay for the sins of the world, but it did (see note Romans 5:18). We don't understand, but that's okay. God's mysteries are not for us to explain; they are for us to accept by faith and act upon.
If you're struggling to understand a mystery of God, don't trouble yourself. The real issue is not whether you understand; it's whether you are willing to obey.
Faith obeys when explanations are lacking.
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
God's "Haves" and "Wills"
Joshua 6:12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
As they had miraculously left the land of Egypt, Israel had now entered the land of Canaan by a similar miracle. All the people were safely across the swift waters of the Jordan. The army of Israel encamped at Gilgal. Having settled in the land, Joshua and the people were now ready for their first great test?the capture of the outpost of Jericho.
Since Jericho was the most secure stronghold in a string of fortifications defending the eastern front of Canaan, there were many anxious Israelite hearts the night before the conquest began. Joshua himself was pacing the ground at the edge of the Israeli encampment. While meditating on how to attack Jericho, a man appeared to Joshua with a sword drawn in his hand. Intrepidly Joshua asked, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" (Joshua 5:13) The powerful figure identified himself as the Captain of the host of the Lord. This title, so often afterward applied to the Son of God, revealed to Joshua that this was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Joshua must have known immediately the identity of this warrior for he fell on his face to the earth and worshiped Him.
Joshua 6:2 records, "And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor." Although it was the night before the once-a-day treks around the city of Jericho, the Lord's promise to Joshua was, "I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof." Their lines of battle had not yet been drawn. The fighting had not yet begun. Yet the victory was certain. Even before the event occurred, God said "I have done it."
How can this be? How can God say the battle is won before it is begun? The answer is that God is above time. He has no futures nor pasts, only an eternal present. He always deals in what is for Him the "now." Frequently God uses the words "I will" and "I have" interchangeably.
Consider the similar experience of Abraham, recorded in Genesis 17. Abram was ninety-nine years old when the Lord God appeared to him and, as Joshua did, he fell on his face before the Lord. The Almighty God was about to make a covenant with Abraham that he would become the father of many nations. To Abraham God said, "Neither shall thy name anymore be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee" (Genesis 17:5). To a childless ninety-nine-year-old man, whose wife was nearly that age, God said, "A father of many nations have I made thee."
In quoting that promise in Romans 4:17 (note), the Apostle Paul notes, "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb" (see note Romans 4:19). It did not matter that Sarah was well beyond the age of childbearing. God said He had made Abraham the father of many nations and we can count God's "wills" as God's "haves."
As twentieth century believers, the promises of God to us which have yet to be fulfilled are in the eternality of God already fulfilled. Thus the Lord Jesus promised, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again" (John 14:2-3). Although this is an event in history future, nevertheless, it is a promise as certain as if it had already been fulfilled. God calls things that are not yet as if they already are.
Hence, even though the battle plan was strange to Joshua, the defeat of the enemy was sure. Trusting the God of completed promises, "Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD" (Joshua 6:12) and the children of Israel proceeded to the conquest of Jericho. Another great victory was won for the Lord God whose "haves" and "wills" are interchangeable.
A Shout of Faith
According to Hebrews 11:30 (note), the walls of Jericho fell down by faith. Some people want to attribute the collapse of the walls to an earthquake.
It makes no difference to us what means God used. Whatever He did was timed so that after Israel had passed around the city the 13th time, and when the trumpets blew and the shout was made, then the walls fell. It took place just when God said it would.
God will speak again, and this time to the whole world. Just as the shout of the Israelites preceded the judgment on Jericho, so the Lord Jesus will come for His saints, descending from heaven with a shout and with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first (see note 1Thessalonians 4:16).
Then will follow the Great Tribulation, the time of awful judgment for the earth. Hebrews 12:26 (note) prophesies of this when it says of God, "Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven."
Peter described it in 2 Peter 3 in these words: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (see note 2 Peter 3:10).
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:52).
Dr Woodrow Kroll
And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
Every few years the countries of the free world participate in national elections. The democratic system of government provides the opportunity for men and women representing their parties to campaign, make promises and pledges, and run for office on the basis of their platform and promises. Generally the winner is the person who promises the most and who, in the minds of the voters, can actually deliver on those campaign promises. Unfortunately history has taught us that most political promises are little more than campaign rhetoric and the voters have justifiable reason for concern about their validity. In contrast to this are the promises of God in which the believer may have absolute confidence. God has a perfect record of keeping His promises.
The story of Jericho's conquest is a fine example of the completed promises of God. Prior to their entrance into the promised land, Joshua sent two men across the Jordan to spy out the city of Jericho. These spies came to the place where information would freely flow among the men of the town. They entered the house of Rahab the harlot. Although the life of Rahab as a harlot was certainly not condoned by the Israeli spies, nevertheless apparently the Lord God had been working in the heart of Rahab. When the king of Jericho attempted to track down the two spies, Rahab hid them on her roof among the sticks of flax. She confessed her faith in Jehovah God saying "The LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath" (Joshua 2:11). Because this woman aided His secret agents, God promised Rahab and her household salvation in the midst of the peril of her city.
God's battle plan for the defeat of Jericho was unconventional, to say the least. Joshua would command seven priests, bearing seven trumpets of ram's horns before the ark of the Lord, to march around the city walls in silence for seven days, once each day until the seventh. On the seventh day they would march seven times around the wall. Then amid the blast of the seven jubilee trumpets and the war cry of the people of God, the destruction of the stronghold at Jericho would take place.
The children of Israel did as God commanded. "And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day and compassed the city after the same manner seven times" Joshua (6:15). On the seventh circuit of the seventh day the people shouted and the walls of Jericho fell down flat. The army of Israel entered the city unhindered and utterly destroyed all that was in the city, with one notable exception--the household of Rahab. Because they obeyed the Lord explicitly, the people saw two great promises of the Lord performed on the same day. The city of Jericho, the strongest outpost of the Canaanite defenses, had been utterly destroyed as God had promised. Likewise Rahab and her household had been spared destruction, as God had promised.
But there is one final promise of God that can be seen in the conquest of Jericho. In verse 26 Joshua counseled the people, warning them, "Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it." To show that God means business when He makes a promise, Joshua imprecated a solemn curse on anyone who would rebuild the now-destroyed Jericho. This curse was literally fulfilled in the fate of Heil, the Bethelite, who rebuilt Jericho in the reign of Ahab (about 925 B.C.). Heil's firstborn son, Abiram, died as he was laying the foundation for the rebuilding of Jericho. Also his youngest son, Segub, died while he was setting up the gates of the city (1 Kings 16:34). What God promises, God performs.
Whether the promise is for salvation, as in the case of Rahab, or for destruction, as in the case of Heil, the promises of God must never be taken lightly. Whatever God promises, God performs. You can count on it.
A Wrong Time to Pray
A failure to pray always makes us insensitive to sin. If we do not take time to pray, we will often not recognize sin for what it is. When we pray in the time of victory, we will not have to plead in the time of defeat.
When Joshua bowed his head in prayer following Israel's defeat, the Lord told him to get up and do something. This may sound like a contradiction to all the teaching we have had on prayer, but it is not.
God was simply telling Joshua that it was not the time to pray in the way he was praying. Israel had sinned; it was Joshua's responsibility as leader to erase this sin from Israel's life. The fault for this military reversal did not lie with God but with Israel.
How often we, like Joshua and the elders of Israel, are inclined to blame God when things go wrong. We sometimes say when reverses come that God has forsaken us.
Some people harden their hearts against God and blame Him that things are not going as they thought they should go. Yet had these individuals gone to God in the first place, they would have been directed in the proper way.
God knows from the very beginning what He is doing and why He is doing it. He knows all the underlying causes that are related to all the incidents in our lives. There is nothing hidden from Him.
"He did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart" (2 Chr 25:2).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Let the Victory Beware
Joshua 7:3-5 - 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." 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.
Let the Victor Beware - On November 16, 1776, Fort Washington fell to the advancing British troops and General Washington was forced to retreat. Secure in his victory, General Howe chose not to pursue the Continental army, but ordered his men into winter quarters instead. On Christmas night, Washington ferried a portion of his troops back across the Delaware and mounted a surprise attack. The British were caught off guard and more than a thousand Hessian soldiers were taken prisoner. On the heels of victory, the British experienced a stinging defeat.
Joshua had the same experience. After an overwhelming victory at Jericho, his soldiers were routed by the defenders of a pile of rubble (Ai literally means "ruin"). While the defeat was brought about by sin in the camp (Josh 7:10-13), the attitude of those in leadership was one of arrogance and conceit. Their overconfidence set them up for a humiliating defeat.
Someone has said that the most vulnerable moment for a Christian is the moment following a spiritual victory. We are often basking in the glow of our accomplishments. Our guard is down. And Satan knows that this is a prime time to attack.
If you are experiencing a time of spiritual success, give God the glory. At the same time, be on guard. Continue with your spiritual disciplines and maintain an attitude of watchfulness. As the Scriptures warn, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).
The more "puffed up" you are, the better target you make.
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
It Only Hurts Me
Joshua 7:11-12 - "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. 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."
It Only Hurts Me - We never sin alone. A study of 8,415 adults revealed that those exposed to secondhand smoke experienced a 10 percent increase in the thickening of their carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain. Thickening of the carotid arteries is a major cause of strokes. Other statistics indicate that drug and alcohol abuse is costing businesses more than $60 billion a year in absenteeism, workplace accidents, higher insurance costs, waste and low productivity. This cost is passed on to consumers in the prices of goods and services.
Achan may have thought that his sin affected only him. Yet when Joshua went before the Lord to find out why his army had been defeated at Ai, God said, "Israel sinned." Achan's sin caused grief to Joshua (Josh 7:6-7), to the families of the 36 men struck down at Ai (Josh 7:5) and especially to his own family (Josh 7:24-25). Achan's sin not only hurt him, but everyone around him.
People still excuse their sin by saying, "It doesn't hurt anyone but me." But the facts prove otherwise. Sin hurts everybody either directly or indirectly. A study claimed that a New York City subway token, which costs $1.25, would cost only $1.19 if no one evaded fares. The cost of a property-casualty policy costs $600, but if no one committed fraud, it would be $540. A spreadsheet software package costs $495, but if no one pirated programs, it would only be $322.
The next time Satan encourages you to sin, just remember that you won't be the only one who gets hurt. Sin hurts all of us.
Satan is the only one who comes out ahead when we sin.
Dealing With Sin
Several steps were involved in this account that are a guide with regard to the handling of sin and the cure of it in the believer's life.
First of all, the stolen goods were brought out from hiding. Sin, whatever its nature, has to be brought into the open. The person who attempts to hide his sin cannot prosper.
In the second place, they brought Achan to Joshua, who in this case stands in the position of Christ. Our Lord is both the Saviour from sin and the Judge of sin.
In the third place, this sin of Achan's was laid before the Lord, for all sin is directed against Him. If in the process of our sin we have affected others, then they, too, should hear our confession.
Public sin should be publicly confessed. It was only after this that Achan and his family were taken and stoned to death; then their bodies and possessions were burned. It is clear from this that the family was party to the father's sin, not innocent victims of it.
God's way of curing sin among believers in our day is given in 1 John 1:9. There we read, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The word "confess" means to "bring out into the open." We lay our sins out before the Lord and agree with Him concerning them. So we lay our sin out before the Lord completely and judge it. Thus the word "confess" also means "I agree with the Lord in this matter."
"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7).
Solid As the Rock
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 8:1 - Then 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."
Solid As the Rock - Gibraltar is a small peninsula of the southern coast of Spain near the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. Covering most of this peninsula is an enormous mass of limestone 1,398 feet high. This rocky mass has become a symbol of stability and certainty, and from which we get our expression, "Solid as the Rock of Gibraltar."
Yet God's word is just as solid--and even more so. Three times God spoke to Joshua of future events that were as good as done. In Joshua 6, God said of Jericho, "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king and the might men of valor" (Joshua 6:2). And that's what happened. In Joshua 8, He said to Joshua concerning Ai, "See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land" (Joshua 8:1). Sure enough, it came about (Joshua 8:18-25). Then in Joshua 10, God promised Joshua victory over the Amorites, saying, "Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand" (Joshua 10:8). Again, God came through on His word (Joshua 10:10-11).
While the Rock of Gibraltar will some day crumble, God's words never will. Jesus promised, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (Matt. 24:35). In a day of instability and change, we can be confident that what God says, He will do. What He declares, He will perform.
If you are feeling bewildered by upheaval in your life, look to the Rock--not the rock of Gibraltar, but the Rock of Jesus. Take Him at His word; He will never change.
Don't settle for the rock when you can have the Rock. (Christ, the Rock, the Stone - Click here for Scripture chain & chart (would make a great Sunday School series))
New Orders and Methods
With regard to the continuing effort to subdue Ai, Joshua received new orders. He was to follow a different method than what was used to bring Jericho down.
The Lord does not always do things the same way. The method followed for Jericho's capture was not repeated for any other city or fortress in Canaan. So for Ai there was a new plan.
God never changes in His character, but He does not necessarily follow the same plans in everything He does.
In our own personal lives, God has made it plain that He is not stereotyped in the way He does things. We are told in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 that God has diversities of operations.
The passage reads: "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."
There is but one Holy Spirit, and He guides and plans in your life and mine and in the work of God today.
The glory belongs to the Lord and not to us. It is God who gives the strategy to retake what has been lost in our lives just as He formulated a new strategy for the capture of Ai.
The way back may seem to be hard at times. We don't like to travel that road. We don't like to face our sins. The Devil makes us ashamed, but God says the only way is to go back, as He has planned the way for us and that way only.
"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way" (Ps. 37:23 - Spurgeon's note).
Deciding Without Praying
The Gibeonites wanted Israel to make a league with them, which was contrary to God's instructions. God had said all the Canaanites were to be destroyed. Unfortunately, the leaders of Israel believed the lying Gibeonites and did as they suggested.
We are no match in ourselves for Satan's subtle ways. We can defeat him only as we remember the admonition of Proverbs 3:5-7 to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to lean not on our own understanding.
We are to acknowledge God in all our ways, and He will direct our paths. It is when we turn to Him that He gives us wisdom.
Israel's problem was that they were presumptuous, acting on the basis of their own wisdom. In our case Christ has been made unto us wisdom, but we must watch.
Be especially careful of decisions that have to be made under pressure. This is an area I have been careful about with regard to my own life, and it has paid off.
When someone comes along and tells me that I have to make a decision right now because the opportunity might be gone by tomorrow, then I am even more on the alert. That kind of argument, particularly with spiritual things involved, could be Satan's subtle way of deception.
Many persons have been led from the work of the Lord into side issues because they made decisions suddenly without consulting God.
"Seeing then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (see notes Ephesians 5:15; 16; 17).
Making Godly Decisions
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 9:3-6- 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."
Making Godly Decisions - Decisions are part of our life every day. We decide what to wear when we get up in the morning. We decide what to eat, what to listen to on the radio or watch on television. We make a multitude of other less-than-earthshaking choices daily. But sometimes we face decisions that have a major impact on our lives. These may affect whom we marry, where we live or what job we hold. But big or small, the choices we make should honor the Lord.
Joshua was faced with an important decision soon after he entered the land of Canaan. God had warned him not to make treaties with any of the neighboring peoples. Yet when a group of people showed up who claimed to live far away, he had to reject or accept their plea for peace. Carefully Joshua and his advisors inspected the moldy food and worn-out clothing. Yet verse 14 says, "but they did not ask counsel of the Lord." Only after they had finalized the agreement did they learn they had been tricked.
Deception and misrepresentations are rampant in our society. Salespeople try to rush us into making immediate decisions. Television promotes an unrealistic view of life. Advertisers imply promises they can't fulfill. In the midst of it all, we need to seek the counsel of the Lord. Only the principles in His Word will enable us to make choices that consistently honor Him.
When you need to make a decision, don't rely on human wisdom alone, but look to God's Word. Ask Him to reveal His truths that will enable you to make wise and godly decisions.
When the right decision is important, the right counsel is imperative.
Learning From Mistakes
Once the league was made by Israel and the Gibeonites, God held Israel to it. He would not let them destroy the cities or the people. God works on this principle in other areas in our lives today.
Even when we make mistakes, we are still under obligation to carry through our part of the transactions we have entered into. Where we involve ourselves and God's Word in our testimony, we have to stick by the promise made.
Take for example the subject of marriage. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:12, "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away."
If a mistake has been made in marriage by a believer's marrying an unsaved person, the Christian is to make the best of it and trust God for the rest. If the unsaved partner wants to continue on in the marriage, the marriage must not be broken up.
Israel and Joshua had made a mistake. This mistake drove the Israelites to prayer. The presence of the Gibeonites among them was a constant reminder of the mistake made. The mistakes at Ai and Gibeon were not made again during Joshua's lifetime.
Satan was not able to discourage the Israelites from going on in their conquest of Canaan. Neither should a mistake we have made cause us to give up. Let us confess it to God, forsake it and go ahead.
"Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (2 Cor. 8:21).
God is Sovereign
Whatever God did either to the sun or the earth or whatever else was involved, the result was that there was light for a period extending about the length of another day.
God, who is the God of the impossible, aided the Israelites by prolonging the daylight and by showering hailstones upon the Amorites.
Concerning that day, Joshua 10:14 says, "And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel."
Joshua knew his God. He had become acquainted with Him personally. This was especially true at the time he met the Lord as the Captain of the Lord's hosts.
Joshua's knowledge of the Lord, however, must have begun with his years in Egypt, then increased during the 40 years he spent under the tutorship of Moses in the desert.
Serving as Moses' minister, Joshua saw the mighty miracles of God and was introduced to some of the more personal aspects of God's dealing with Moses and His people
Joshua was one of the two men who dared to believe God the first time the spies were sent into Canaan. He knew that God was sovereign and accepted God's sovereignty for his own life.
When reading in the prophets for my devotions, I am constantly impressed by the presentation of God's sovereignty, His limitless might and the finality of His Word.
What He says He will do, He does. Time in no way limits Him. Do you know this God as the Bible presents Him?
"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (see note Ephesians 1:11).
Possessing an Inheritance
We read in Joshua 11:23: "So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war."
The important word in this verse is "inheritance." Joshua gave Israel the land for an inheritance.
But in Joshua 13:1 we see, "Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the Lord said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed."
This appears on the surface to be a contradiction with what chapter 11 says. God had given all the land to the Israelites, but they were responsible to go in and possess it.
They were promised, according to Joshua 1:3, "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you."
We also know now that God gave them the land for an inheritance. It was divided among the tribes as is outlined for us in the Book of Joshua. Nevertheless, each tribe had to go in and possess the land in order to enjoy its benefits.
So is it with our possessions in Christ. These must be appropriated on an individual basis. The Church as a whole is blessed only as we individuals possess what is ours in Christ.
Our inheritance is in Him. In fact, He is our inheritance. A good illustration is given us in 2 Samuel 3:17,18: "Now then do it" (2 Sa 3:18). See also Colossians 3:1-3.(see notes Colossians 3:1; 3:2; 3:3)
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (see note Romans 8:17).
Tony Beckett and Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 13-15, Luke 1:57-80
Key Verse: Joshua 13:13
Great promises and great victories fill the pages of the Book of Joshua. Israel moved into the Promised Land and conquered it with God's help. Jericho fell, literally. Ai was ultimately defeated. The sun even stood still-all striking evidence that God was fighting for Israel (Joshua 10:14).
Yet when the details of the conquest are examined beginning in Joshua 13:13, a sad fact needs to be noted. The Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah. The significance is not the names of the people but the fact that they were allowed to remain in the land. As you continue to read Joshua, you will find this phrase repeated: "did not drive them out completely."
The account of Joshua tells us about God's promises and Israel's victories. But it does not hide the fact that sometimes the fulfillment of the promises was limited by Israel's incomplete obedience. Lack of faith and incomplete obedience allowed some of the people to remain in the land.
God's instructions were clear. His promises were certain. The failure was not God's but the people's. They failed and ultimately bore the consequences.
Always strive for complete obedience; never stop short of it.
Whatever God gives you to do, do it completely. Unfinished tasks can be more troublesome than the effort of doing it the first time.
Friends in Deed
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 14:6-7 - Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: "You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart."
Friends in Deed - Dr. Abraham Maslow, famed research analyst, estimated that the average American meets only about 50 percent of his need for love, interpersonal support and intimacy. In the latter stages of his research, Dr. Maslow became even more negative in his summary: "The truth is," he said, "the average American does not have a real friend in the world."
That stands in stark contrast to the friendship we see between Joshua and Caleb. First teamed up by Moses as partners to explore the land of Canaan, they also stood steadfast together when the people rebelled and wanted to stone them (Num. 14:6-10). Joshua was later selected to replace Moses as the leader of Israel, but that seemed to have no effect on their friendship. Forty-five years later we find them fighting shoulder to shoulder as Israel sought to solidify its hold on the Promised Land. And in the midst of the conflict, Joshua fulfilled a promise. Joshua 14:13 says, "And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance."
Joshua and Caleb were friends indeed and friends in deed. It was a friendship tested by time and trials, but a friendship expressed in commitment and deeds. What had been promised in words was fulfilled in deeds.
Perhaps you are blessed with such a friend as Caleb. If so, find a way today not only to say how much you appreciate this friend but to show it as well. Follow the admonition of 1 John 3:18: "Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."
A friend in deed is a friend indeed.
Failing to Appropriate
Joshua 18 starts on a sad note. We read in verse 1: "And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them."
The land was conquered. The hard battle for it was over. Yet we learn (v. 2), "And there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes, which had not yet received their inheritance."
That means they had not gone into the land to possess it. It had been given to them, but they had not gone in to receive it. No wonder Joshua admonished them, saying, "How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?" (v. 3).
In Joshua 21:43 we read, "And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein."
The thought is that they had a home in which they could settle. The Lord gave them rest from their enemies, and "there failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass" (v. 45).
But they did not go in to possess it. They subdued the people and made them pay tribute. This was coexistence, not dispossession.
This program was a fruitful source of trouble for Israel. It is also a dangerous one for us to follow with regard to sin and the failure to appropriate our possessions in Christ.
"Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him" (see note Hebrews 10:38).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Joshua 18:2-3 - But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: "How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?"
How Long? Some people refuse to wait. On June 22, 1997, Thomas and Corilee McClurkin peacefully celebrated their golden anniversary. But it wasn't that way 50 years ago. The month of June in 1947 was exceptionally soggy in Nebraska. The Loup River flooded it banks and stranded the bride-to-be in her hometown of Poole. Undaunted, Thomas set out in knee-deep water in an old Chevy. Upon reaching a flimsy railroad bridge that had been nearly washed away, he abandoned his car, crawled across the bridge and walked to Ravenna. Once there he persuaded the owner of a two-seat airplane to fly him to Poole to pick up his bride. The marriage took place only 13 hours late.
This kind of eagerness, however, seemed to be lacking among the Israelites. Seven of the tribes had yet to make any headway in possessing their inheritance. Even though God promised that He would give them the land, they failed to move forward aggressively. Joshua's accusation (v. 3) implies that the problem was not with availability but with motivation. How long, he wondered, were they going to wait?
The same question could be asked of many Christians. How long will it be before we avail ourselves of the vast spiritual riches God has made possible? He has given us the privilege of life-changing prayer. He has made it possible for us to study His Word in any number of translations. We are new creatures in Christ, with all the potential that can be found in such a position. When will we possess these riches?
Don't delay. Begin today to possess all the spiritual benefits God offers you. Now is the time for you to take what God has promised.
God can only give what you are willing to take.
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Rest for the Weary by
Joshua 22:4 - And now the Lord your God has given rest to your brethren, as He promised them; now therefore, return and go to your tents and to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of the Jordan.
Rest for the Weary - William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, received a letter from his wife while he was on a long trip. She wrote in part, "Your Tuesday's notes arrived safe, and I was rejoiced to hear of the continued prosperity of the work, though sorry you were so worn out. I fear the effect of all this excitement and exertion upon your health, and though I would not hinder your usefulness, I would caution you against an injudicious prodigality of your strength. Remember a long life of steady, consistent, holy labor will produce twice as much fruit as one shortened and destroyed by spasmodic and extravagant exertions; be careful and sparing of your strength when and where exertion is unnecessary."
God also is aware of this truth. After five years of battles, Joshua declared, "God has given rest." It was not that the land had been completely conquered, but it was time for the people to rest anyway.
Some Christians are quick to remind us that "Satan never takes a vacation." That may be true, but Satan is not the example we want to follow. One scholar who studied the Gospels claims that during the three years of Jesus' ministry, ten periods of resting are mentioned. If Jesus felt it necessary to punctuate His ministry with seasons of rest, how much more so should we.
Being alone and resting for a while is not selfish; it's Christlike. Taking a vacation is not fleshly; it's spiritual. God's kingdom is not advanced by those who work themselves into a coronary or nervous breakdown. God gives rest to the weary, so don't be too proud to take it.
Come apart for rest or you may come apart forever
Courageous in Godly Living
To be courageous in the face of dangers confronting them was not only God's will but also His command. This is equally true with regard to us today.
We are to be courageous in godly living as we seek to live according to the Word of God. All three members of the Trinity are working in our behalf so that all we have to do is by faith accept and appropriate what has been provided.
We may face defeat at times, but we are not to dwell upon our defeat. We are to return to the Lord, confess our wrong-doing, forsake it and go on with Him. We are to forget those things that are behind. There is more land to be possessed.
A negative admonition follows. Joshua said, "That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you." There were still many pagan people remaining in Canaan, but the Israelites were not to have fellowship with them.
God's people were not to copy the heathen forms of worship but to be completely separated from them. There was to be no coexistence with the enemy.
This is also true in the Christian life. There is to be a putting off of what is evil and a putting on of the armor of God (see note Ephesians 6:10-17). The Israelites were to cleave to the Lord their God and put off the ways and beliefs of the Canaanites.
"In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him" (see note Ephesians 3:12).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Pass It Along
Joshua 23:6-8 - Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.
Pass It Along - Sometimes we wonder why God allows certain things to happen to us. "Why did God allow my child to die?" "Why was I stricken with cancer?" "Why do I have to face such a struggle with finances?" There's no one answer that fits every situation. But sometimes God allows us to undergo certain experiences so we can pass along the things we learn to those following us.
As he assumed the leadership of Israel, Joshua faced times of great fear and uncertainty. In the midst of those difficulties, God encouraged him with the exhortation, "only be strong and very courageous" (Joshua 1:7). Furthermore, the Lord commanded him, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth … that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it" (Joshua 1:8). Joshua had learned a great deal from the hardships he suffered and, as he approached the latter years of his life, he shared this wisdom with the ones who would be leaders after he was gone.
As God's people, we have a responsibility to pass on to the younger generation those truths God has taught us. Some call this "mentoring." The apostle Paul exhorted both Timothy and Titus to encourage the older generation to be teachers and encouragers of those who are younger (see notes 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:3; 2:4; 2:5).
Don't waste the wisdom God has shared with you. Sometimes younger people don't seem to want to listen, so be creative in your mentoring. Learn to pass on truth in the form of stories or even write them in a notebook. Don't let the truths God has taught you go to waste.
If God considers it a lesson worth learning, we must consider it worth sharing.
The Way to Victory
We learn in Joshua 23:9,10 that nothing can stand before the person who will dare to trust God. Everything is in the favor of those who trust Him. With God on their side, total victory is assured.
This is true with regard to us in our spiritual warfare. The enemies are great and more powerful than we are, but they are helpless when we go in the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Admonition was added to these assurances as Joshua spoke to the people. He warned them that they must be careful how they conducted themselves and that they, above all, must love the Lord.
This positive and then negative approach would serve to alert the Israelites to their blessings and also to their dangers.
We, too, must not turn back in defeat but go forward in Christian victory. There are evil things that will entangle us and ensnare us, so we must get rid of them. These may be but little things in our lives, but the little things can destroy us.
We are warned in Hebrews 12:1 (note) to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
Nothing is to be allowed to hinder us. The weights spoken of in this passage may not be sins, but they could lead to sin or at least they could hinder us.
There is a danger of losing what we have gained. We can be sure of this: Our sin will find us out.
"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4).
Not One Thing Has Failed
Recognizing that his death was imminent, Joshua told the Israelites that he was going the way of all the earth and then reminded them, "Ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof" (Josh. 23:14).
What a faithful God! What He promised He fulfilled.
As I think back over my own life and God's dealing with us at Back to the Bible Broadcast, I too have to say that not one thing God has promised has failed. I have failed at times to appropriate what God has for me, but He has never failed.
It is this very fact that should cause us to press on with Him. He is faithful and willing, in fact eagerly desirous, to see us go on to the end in victory. So why not appropriate all things that God has provided for us?
A serious warning is also given. God was faithful in keeping His promises to the Israelites. He was faithful in blessing. He was equally faithful in judgment when that was necessary.
The same warning is needed by us. God has offered us everything in Christ. He will not fail, but if we go back in our Christian experience, we will be the losers.
To know truth and not obey it is to retrogress. God wants us to grow in the knowledge of Christ and appropriate by faith all that has been provided for us.
"If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself" (see note 2 Timothy 2:13).
All of Grace
In this final part of his discourse, Joshua rehearsed God's wonderful deliverances of Israel, beginning with God's calling of the people in Abraham and His protection and leading of the patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob.
Israel's deliverance from Egypt, the opening of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh's army are briefly retold.
God's protection and provision for them in the wilderness, His deliverance of them from the Amorites, from those who would have enslaved them and tried to curse them, and His bringing Israel safely into Canaan, giving them a glorious land as a gift, are recounted.
Then Joshua added that God did not give them the possessions in Canaan because they deserved them. They did not merit His gifts.
God said, "I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat."
Salvation becomes ours only as we believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
"But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace" (see note Romans 11:6).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
Not For Sale
Joshua 24:13 - "I [God] have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant."
Not for Sale - During the Spanish-American War, Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, was working in Cuba. One day Colonel Theodore Roosevelt came to her and offered to buy food for some of his sick and wounded Rough Riders. But she refused to sell him what he wanted. Roosevelt could not understand. He cared about his men, and he was willing to pay for the supplies out of his own funds. So he went to the surgeon in charge, who said to him, "Colonel, just ask for it!" A smile broke over Roosevelt's face. Now he understood--the provisions were not for sale. "I will ask for it," he said, and when he did, he got the food at once.
Joshua reminded the people that all they possessed--their land, their cities and their vineyards--were not the result of their own efforts. Certainly they had confronted the enemy. Obviously they had engaged in many dangerous and bloody battles. But those victories were not the ultimate source of their possessions. Instead, all that they owned was a gift from God.
God is not in the retail business. All of our good deeds, our generous gifts, our religious activities could not begin to buy our salvation. But God is willing to give it to us. When we receive Christ as our Savior, all that God has is ours for the asking.
Enjoy God's gracious gifts today. Thank Him for providing them without price and without cost. They are yours not because you buy them, but because God gives them.
God's gifts are free, but they are not cheap.
We Must Choose
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Joshua admonished the people first of all to fear the Lord. This does not mean to be afraid of Him but to place reverential trust in Him. With such trust in the Lord they would follow Him with confidence. With such fear of the Lord there would be a hatred for evil.
So what he was asking the Israelites to do was to have an attitude of heart of complete trust in God. Because of this, then, they would avoid evil and walk in faith.
The second admonition was to serve the Lord. Israel was to serve Him in sincerity and in truth. After a proper attitude of heart comes the activity of the mind and the body.
To serve in truth means to serve in perfection and with stability. For us this means to serve the Lord now with a perfect heart.
We must put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the wiles of the Devil. We need this in order to fight the battles of the Lord successfully.
Joshua warned the Israelites, in the third place, to put away those things that God did not allow. The idolatry so characteristic of Canaan, with all its attendant evil, unbelief, carelessness and backsliding, was to be put away.
It was not a matter of following majority opinion but of finding out what God wanted and doing it. Joshua made it very plain that the Israelites had to choose whom they would serve. We, too, face the same issue.
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
Dr. Woodrow Kroll
You've Got to Choose
Joshua 24:15 - "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
You've Got to Choose - Sometime ago many newspapers carried a story about a woman who was divorcing her husband after discovering he had two other wives and several children by each of them. His explanation? He couldn't bear the thought of hurting any of them, so he had married all three. He was a traveling salesman, so he was able to carry out the farce for several years. Rather than facing a hard choice, he took the easy way out.
Once established in the Promised Land, the Israelites also were confronted with a multitude of choices. And the choices weren't necessarily easy. They could worship the gods of Egypt. These were gods that their parents had known from their long years of servitude. Familiarity made that tempting. On the other hand, the gods of the Amorites, the nation they had conquered, offered opportunities to indulge the flesh, which many likely found attractive. Some may have stood betwixt and between, but Joshua was not afraid to make the hard decision. Boldly he declared, "As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord."
Choosing to serve the Lord is not always an easy decision. Sometimes it means going against the religious beliefs of your family. Other times peer pressure and the desire to "fit in" make us hesitant to declare openly our commitment to the Lord. Many people find it easiest to behave like a chameleon, changing colors to fit whatever group they happen to be with. But that only temporarily avoids making the hard decision.
Today, decide to take a stand. Whom will you serve? Will it be yourself? Will it be the gods of pleasure or wealth or ease? Or will you choose the God who loves you? Making a decision for Christ may be hard, but it's a choice you will never regret.
The easy choice is seldom the right choice.
The People's Choice
The people were decided and definite in their reaction to Joshua's admonition. They responded with a definite decision to follow the Lord.
Warning the people that they were making no light decision, Joshua said to them, "Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins" (Josh. 24:19).
They needed this reminder. God is holy and cannot coexist with sin. He is a jealous God and will not take a secondary place. We cannot serve God and live in sin.
The Israelites assured Joshua that they would obey the Lord, for they said (Josh. 24:21,22), "Nay; but we will serve the Lord. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses."
There was even a covenant made, and Joshua took a great stone and placed it under an oak as a witness of the people's intention to serve God.
The generation that made the promise was true to its word. We learn in verse 31: "And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel."
This was a good beginning, and what a different history we would have had if each succeeding generation of Israelites had reached the same decision and stayed with it.
"For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there few that find it" (see note Matthew 7:14).
|DISCLAIMER: Before you "go to the commentaries" go to the Scriptures and study them inductively (Click here for 3 part overview of how to do Inductive Bible Study) in dependence on your Teacher, the Holy Spirit, Who Jesus promised would guide us into all the truth (John 16:13 - primarily applies to original disciples, but secondarily to believers, cf 1Jn 2:20, 27). Remember that Scripture is always the best commentary on Scripture. Any commentary, even those by the most conservative and orthodox teacher/preachers cannot help but have at least some bias of the expositor based upon his training and experience. Therefore the inclusion of specific links does not indicate that we agree with every comment. We have made a sincere effort to select only the most conservative, "bibliocentric" commentaries. Should you discover some commentary or sermon you feel may not be orthodox, please email your concern. I have removed several links in response to concerns by discerning readers. I recommend that your priority be a steady intake of solid Biblical food so that with practice you will have your spiritual senses trained to discern good from evil (Heb 5:14-note).|