March 18 Joshua 3-6
March 19 Joshua 7-10
March 20 Joshua 11-14
March 21 Joshua 15-18
March 22 Joshua 19-22
March 23 Joshua 23-24; Judges 1
At the end of last week’s reading, we saw God telling the people to be strong and courageous. Why did He need to say that? He had brought them to the edge of the Promised Land … oh … there are people in the land, and now they had to conquer it!
But first, they had to cross the Jordan. Once again, God provided a dry surface to cross on. This time, He had the priests touch the river. After they crossed the river, every uncircumcised male was circumcised, and the day after the people first ate from the land, God’s manna ceased. Pretty powerful indication that they had arrived!
God tells the people over and over to follow His ways, to not turn to the right or the left. But already people are testing God. After the first battle, Achan decided to take some of the bounty that God had set apart for Himself. God shows the people how serious He is – Achan, his family and all his possessions are destroyed.
God tells Joshua that He has given them Ai . After the battle, Joshua reads God’s covenant to the people. They build an altar and give thanks to God. I’m sure there was quite a party! Here we are – we’ve made it to the land, and God is for us. We can do whatever we want …
… and then they find out that it doesn’t work quite that way. Even though they were the children of God, they weren’t invincible or perfect. Men from Gibeon came to Joshua and lied to him. And Joshua, God’s chosen leader …
… did not ask counsel from the Lord. 15 And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them. Josh 9:14-15 (ESV)
When the people learned of the deception, they had no choice but to honor their covenant. The Gibeonites were turned into wood cutters.
Have you ever been in a position where you just “knew” that your actions were in accord with God’s plan – but instead of praying about it, you went ahead with what you “knew” was right? How did that work out? Were you stuck with commitments you’d made, just as God’s people were stuck with their covenant? Did you remember to ask God the next time a situation like that arose? Of course, this was all in God’s plan, but I can’t help but wonder how history would have changed if Joshua had asked counsel from God.
More battles – more miracles. God is showing His power to His children! He is also showing the people already in the land that He is the only true God. He reminds His people over and over that they need not fear, because He is with them!
Have you ever been in a circumstance where a person just doesn’t like you, or always acts bitterly toward you, or in some way shows disdain for you? Have you prayed and prayed for that person, but nothing changes? I wonder if Joshua and the people felt the same way about all the peoples that they conquered. After all, weren’t they God’s chosen, on a mission from God Himself, and in the land that God promised? Why did the people of the land seem to hate them so? God provides the answer:
For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the Lord commanded Moses. Josh 11:20 (ESV)
We see here that although God has promised stuff to His people, it’s not a free walk to get them. They have to earn their promise – they must walk faithfully. God won the battles for His people, but in return, He expected the people to be obedient to Him. And when disobedience occurred, God was swift to punish.
Have you claimed God’s promises, and then expected Him to “perform” for you, even though you live a sinful lifestyle? Have you expected God to do something for you, but you don’t pray, you demand? Do you hold up your end of God’s bargain? Don’t misunderstand – salvation is a free gift which you can’t earn, work for, or be good enough for. But once you’re saved, God expects you to grow, to learn His ways, and to make changes in your life so you evidence the fruit of His Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal 5:16-26 (ESV)
We see the land’s division by inheritance, and after that … rest. I found these verses particularly comforting, because it reminds me that God will always do what He promises, even if I can’t always see where He is leading, and even when it seems that I go from trial to trial.
Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. 44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. Josh 21:43-45 (ESV)
At the end of the book, we hear of Joshua’s impending death. As he lay dying, he called all his tribal leaders to his side to give last words of advice. These words obviously applied primarily to Israel, but there is an implication for us as well.
Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7 that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8 but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day. 9 For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. 10 One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you. 11 Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. 12 For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you. Josh 23:6-13 (ESV)
What part of today’s society are you “clinging” to? Are you dating a non-believer, or a believer in another god? Do you cling to the “god” of wanting more? Or are you doing your best to love the Lord your God? We all have areas where we fail God. We are given wonderful promises for our obedience, and when we disobey, God is clear about His response.
But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you, 16 if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Josh 23:15-16 (ESV)
Finally – we are exhorted to choose. Will you serve the true and living God, or will you be enticed by the world? It’s a choice each Israelite had to make, and it’s a choice we make today. I pray that you will choose to serve the Lord.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond 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.” Josh 24:15 (ESV)
What stood out for you this week? How would you summarize the book of Joshua? Please leave a comment or send me an email. I’d really like to know!
Congratulations for making it through 12 weeks of Bible reading. It’s now a habit! Keep on reading every day. You’ll be amazed at what you find in this wonderful Book. And you’ll be amazed at what you see next year that you missed when you read this year!
See you next week.