Joshua 1-4

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Can you believe we are now beginning our 7th book of the Bible together!!!  WOW!!!  Isn’t it a great feeling!!  Joshua has 24 chapters that we will read in 7 days.  The first 12 chapters reveal how God leads Joshua to conquer the Promised Land.  The second half is about the dividing of the Land, Joshua’s final address to the Israelites, and Joshua’s death.  The Israelites will FINALLY enter the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua who continually and humbly submits to the authority of the Almighty God.

Chapter 1 — We begin with God reminding Joshua of HIS promise to Abram.  THIS promise is about to come to pass.  God told Joshua “I WILL GIVE YOU…”  This was God’s promise; however, HE expected HIS people to TRUST and OBEY HIM in the process.  This land was God’s PROMISE.  HE is the GIVER of ALL things.  However, as in most of our lives “gifts” don’t usually fall into our laps.  We often can see a gift about to happen in our own lives; we can see EXACTLY what God wants for us; but we usually have to DO something.  We often have to reach out and TAKE the gift, and the process of reaching out and taking is not always easy.  A gift in our own lives may be drug and/or alcohol free living, debt free living, living in sexual purity, living a life that is healthy with exercise, and weight maintenance, or even trusting God to bring HIS choice of a mate into our lives.  All of these examples (and I KNOW I could have listed many more… but we’ll start with these) require that we DO something on our part to enjoy the gift.  They all require TRUST and obedience in and for God; BELIEVING that GOD really wants the BEST for us; KNOWING HE will give us the STRENGTH to move out in FAITH and DO whatever we must DO to RECEIVE the GIFT(s). 

This is where Joshua and the Israelites are at this point.  They are standing on the edge of the Promised Land.  They can see it.  They can most likely smell the fruit and vegetation.  They can ALMOST touch it.  God reminds Joshua that NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO STAND AGAINST YOU.  Isn’t that TOTALLY awesome!!  Remember that Joshua had been into the Promised Land before.  He had seen all the good and he had seen the enemies.  HE BELIEVED God.  HE TRUSTED God.  HE KNEW that when God said this to HIM >>>>>> he had NO doubt that God meant it.  God tells Joshua: “I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.

We see a few familiar things here:

  1. Be STRONG and COURAGEOUS.  God knew what HE was asking of them would NOT be easy.  BUT…. IT WOULD HAPPEN WITH GOD LEADING THE WAY, opening doors, parting waters, stopping the sun, doing miracles!!!!  HOW are WE to be strong and courageous?? Philippians 4:13 (KJV) states: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthenETH me.” (Remember when you see ETH on the end of a verb in the KJV it means it happens over and over and over… to infinity…. Over again!)  The Greek word for “courage” is “tharsos” or “tharseo“.  It is used interchangeably with “good cheer”.  It literally means “boldness and confidence.”  We see this in Mark 6:50.  Courage to face our trials and challenges is a result of understanding, trusting, knowing God’s sovereignty and HIS total character.  So HOW do we get strength and courage?  We get it the same way Joshua got it … by knowing, trusting, believing in, having FAITH in our God.  We are fortunate that we have the living Word to teach us and guide us in these very things. We get it through prayer, reading the Word, LISTENING to HIM, obeying HIS Word, sharing our testimonies, etc.
  2. Be careful to obey ALL the law and do not turn from it.
  3. Be careful to do everything written in it.
  4. THEN you will be prosperous and successful.
  5. Do not fear, do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.
  6. THESE STEPS WERE STEPS OF HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL AND PROSPEROUS IN JOSHUA’S TIME ….. AND IN OUR TIME!!  🙂

Verses 10-18 — Joshua tells the officers of the people to get the people prepared to cross the Jordan in THREE days and to go in and TAKE the Promised Land.  (get ready cause here we come… get ready cause here we come) 🙂

Joshua reminds the Reubenites, Gadites, and the ½ Tribe of Mannesseh (referred to as the Transjordan tribes in Numbers 32) that they must keep their promise.  These 2 ½ Tribes already had their land (their promise) and  had begun making the land home for their wives, children, animals, crops, etc.  Now, it was time for them keep their promise to TAKE the Promised Land for the remaining Tribes.  AFTER THAT they could return to their families and their land.  The Reubenites, Gadites, and ½ Tribe of Mannesseh respond beautifully … they tell him… “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.”  WHEW!!  I was so glad they kept their promise!!

Chapter 2Rahab … don’t you just love her story and how God used her?  Joshua SECRETLY sent 2 spies from Shittim (does this ring any bells??…. remember Phinehas .. who stabbed the Israelite and the Midianite woman for doing the horizontal mambo in the Israelite camp because sex was a form of worship to her gods.) “Secretly” stands out to me because I am betting Joshua did not want a “replay” of the 12 spies.   Rahab protected these two Israelite spies and could have lost her life for doing so.  The king she served had heard about the spies and wanted them dead.  However, she agreed to protect and help the spies escape if they would spare her and her family.  The spies agreed, giving her three conditions:  1. she must distinguish her house from the others by hanging a scarlet rope out of the window so the Israelites would know which home to spare. 2.  Her family MUST be INSIDE the house during the battle.   3. She must not later turn on the spies.

In case you missed it Rahab was a prostitute.  Because of her profession she most likely heard many stories of the Israelites and their God and she wanted to be a part of all  their God had to offer.  The way the city was built meant that a prostitute would have lived on the very outside wall of the city.  The wealthier, the leaders, the king, the royalty … lived on the inside of the city so they were more insulated from weather and war.  The people without “significant” titles or positions or the “lowest of the low” lived along the outside walls of the city.  GOD KNEW THIS!!  God used Rahab’s position as a good thing.  First, she had great knowledge of the ONE TRUE GOD from her “customers”.  Second, the location of her house on the outer wall allowed her to hang the scarlet cloth from her window so the Israelites would KNOW her house.  The Israelites AND GOD destroyed the entire city of Jericho.  ONLY Rahab and her family were spared.  Ultimately, Rahab married Salmon, an Israelite from the tribe of Judah.  Her son was Boaz, the husband of Ruth.  Her descendants were David, and ultimately Jesus.  Interestingly, Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, is her direct descendant!!  She was part of a pagan world system, a prostitute, who by her conversion was enabled to become a legitimate bride of an Israelite.  She serves as a symbolic forshadowing of the church and Gentile believers (you and me).  She was the first recorded Gentile convert!!!  Rahab had great FAITH.  She is one of TWO women in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11.  The last thing I want to point out about Rahab is that doesn’t the scarlet cloth out of the window remind you of the blood of the lamb that was placed on the door posts on the first Passover so the Israelites’ first born males would be saved and they could flee Egypt??

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. (Hebrews 11:31)

Chapter 3— Crossing the Jordan.  So how do they know which way to go?

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. (Joshua 3:3)

Until last year, I hate to admit that I never knew there were two separate events of the parting of water!!  The Lord parted The Red Sea with Moses.  NOW….. He is stopping the water from flowing in the Jordan with Joshua!!!  THIS entire generation did not see the Passover, the Red Sea Parting, the Trumpets at Mount Sinai…which was God’s way of showing the 1st generation that they were FOLLOWING HIM… not Moses.  The 2nd generation is standing on the edge of the Promised Land and God needs to affirm this with them… they are FOLLOWING THE LORD not Joshua!!  YOU ARE NOT FOLLOWING A MAN…I THE LORD AM TAKING YOU TO THE PROMISE LAND.  Not ONLY did God STOP the water flowing from upstream (it piled up in a heap before their eyes in a town called Adam) while they crossed over; but He also held the water back so each Tribal leader could return for a large STONE.  The stones would be a remembrance for them and future generations of the water being held back by GOD for them to cross the Jordan into the PROMISED LAND.   After the people crossed, and the STONES were gathered, the Scripture states in verse 14: “That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all  Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses.” THEN the Lord told Joshua to command the priests carrying the Ark to come up out of the Jordan.  Once God KNEW that the people KNEW HE made their crossing the Jordan possible, HE exalted Joshua so HIS people would follow Joshua’s leadership.

One thing that stands out to me with the Jordan waters being held back was that the Levites carrying the Ark HAD to step INTO the Jordan BEFORE the water stopped flowing!!  Did you catch that??? The priests carrying the heavy Ark HAD to step INTO the water BEFORE God stopped it from flowing.  PLUS… the priests had to stand in the middle of the dry Jordan, holding the Ark, while everyone crossed over.  THEN the priests had to STAY in the middle of the Jordan (with the Ark… not a light object to carry or hold) while the Tribal leaders returned for their stones from around the area where the priests stood!!!  So… bringing this home… is there something in your life you are waiting on God to “fix” or “do” or make things line up better for you before you take the necessary action to live your best life for HIM????  He may be calling you to STEP IN THE WATER BEFORE HE POURS OUT YOUR BLESSINGS. 🙂 Ummmmmmmm….. so many ways this speaks to me!

Keep in mind that the time of year that the Israelites were crossing the Jordan was during their harvest time.  This meant that the Jordan would have been FULL to overflowing.  The snow from the mountain tops had melted/was melting and caused the river to swell.  It would not have been just a trickle of water they could have stepped over.  It would have been VERY deep, VERY wide, and have STRONG currents ….. RAPIDS flowing and 40 foot SWELLS!!  One would have HAD to have FAITH to STEP into this water that could have possibly knocked them over WITH THE ARK (remember they could not touch it at ANY time!!) The time of year would have been in the month of Nisan/Abib (Mar-Apr)!!!  Crops were planted in their month of Kislev (Nov-Dec).  Does Nisan/Abib ring any bells???? ….. It is the same time period of the first Passover, The Last Supper, our Easter celebration, and when they entered the Promised Land.  Is that NOT AMAZING!!!

In Deuteronomy, the one thing we see is that the 1st generation lacked FAITH and it kept them out of the Promised Land. It was lack of Faith and obedience that kept Moses from entering the Promised Land.  God made a covenant with Abraham because of his FAITH.   Rahab was rescued and redeemed because of her FAITH.  The Faith of this 2nd generation is incredible!  Not only do they trust that God will do what he says by putting their feet into this rapid, treacherous water; but the priests carrying the Ark STOOD there until all God had commanded the people to do was done!!

So… do you stand with God, step out in FAITH, and put your feet in the deep rough water …. Or do you stay on the shore and miss the blessings HE has???

Sharing HIS love,

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